Bestselling Books and Birthdays

I am all up for trivia. Not that I am very good at it compared to many people. A lot of how I feel about trivia relates, of course, to my specific interests. Since I do read a lot and download Kindle books from Amazon, I get their book newsletter weekly. The one from last Friday had an article about what was the bestselling book from the year you were born with the list going back to the 1920s. Not a category I had come across in my readings.

Here we go…

My birth year of 1952:

The Silver Chalice by Thomas B. Contain

This historical fiction novel follows a silversmith named Basil tasked with creating a silver chalice to hold the Holy Grail. Two years later, a film adaptation was released starring Paul Newman as Basil in his first studio role.

Bob's birth year of 1953:

The Robe by Lloyd C. Douglas

Ten years after first topping the Publishers Weekly list, The Robe once again took the crown. Written by a former minister, The Robe follows a Roman tribune, Marcellus Gallio, and his slave, Demetrius. Stationed in Palestine, Marcellus participates in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, but is filled with guilt over his belief that Jesus is innocent, and eventually becomes a devoted Christian himself. This book was also made into a movie starring that Welshman, Richard Burton.

Toybob Cats

This show was the debut of the Toybob cats from Russia. They had some kittens there who were adorable. The price ranges from $1500 pet to upwards of $3000 or so for breeding cats. The kittens were calling my name wanting to find a home with us.


Ramona and the Genius

Ramona Marek, a Facebook friend and cat writer, was set up as a vendor next to us. She was selling her book which I had written a testimonial quote for the book. She is a sweet person and a lot of help for us during the cat show. She sold 15 books and I am pleased to see she did well.


Show Hall

This is a big cat show in numbers of entries and the gate. Here is the show hall off across the convention center at the Holiday Inn near the airport.


Scooper Bowl

At lunch time, they had the scooper bowl for young people. You had to scoop as many Jelly Beans from the cat litter box as you could in 1 minute and demerits for too much litter.

It was fun to watch and I did get a video of the activity. Here is a photo.


Kitty In Window

How much is that kitty in the window. The one with the cute little sweater since we don't have a haricot. This is either a Sphynx or a Rex cat but couldn't tell for sure at the distance.


Pre-Cat Show

Headed up to Portland today to have a booth at the TICA Portland International Cat Show.This is the first experience being at a cat show as an exhibitor for me. Here is the booth set up though we moved the banner onto the table.


Irish Falconry and Language

Due to the interest of Shakespeare with falconry, the language of Irish falconry entered our lexicon through his writings. More here.

"“Now she’s ‘under your thumb’,” Healy-Rennison explained with a smile.
“Quite literally,” I replied, amused to learn the etymology of a phrase that I’ve used for most of my life. Only now I was standing in the place where the phrase was born – in the wet green woods of the Anglo-Irish gentry, with a giant hawk on my wrist, her jesses wrapped around my little finger. “Yet another phrase we get from falconry,” said Healy-Rennison, who advised me to add the extra grip of my pinkie."

The Old Book of Cats

Even in 1868, people were crazy about cats. The Book of Cats by Charles Henry Ross was printed. It was an encyclopedic version or chronicle of feline facts and fancies, legendary, lyrical, medical, mirthful and miscellaneous. He argued in support of the cat where some people were repulsed by cats. A very fun illustration and fact-filled old book about our feline friend found here.

The Long Goodbye and Inauguration

Today Barack Obama exits as 44th president and Donald Trump succeeds as the 45th. It seems like it was a very long goodbye by Obama and I was among those who looked forward to moving past his presidency. I felt he was dangerous to the Constitution and also safety of the American citizen. I don't like the interest groups who supported him and he made it clear through his actions he did not support all the people, just the ones who agreed with him. I wish I could say national healing would start but there is too much division now in classes and political thought. I don't think we can come together unless it is an outside threat. A shame.

Blue Sky

I read a book a number of years ago called "The Cuckoo's Egg" which was about a physicist finding the trail of a major computer hacker/bad guy. The physicist worked at UC-Berkeley and described how one test he took for his advanced degree was a question of "Why is the Sky Blue?". Well, hundreds of years ago, a scientist invented the cyanometer just to measure the blueness of the sky. Read about it here.

First Synthesized Human Speech

We have Siri and Alexa talking to us through our phones, tablets and other devices. Where did the original debut occur for synthetic speech? It can be found here.

"Today, machine-made voices talk to us all the time. They act as personal assistants for our cell phones, manage our smart homes, and, occasionally, call from unrecognizable phone numbers to tell us we are final contenders in big-money sweepstakes.

Electronic voices may be commonplace now, but the road to speech synthesis is littered with the remains of devices that promised to bring us the voice of the future—but didn’t last beyond their novelty value.

One of the most fascinating relics of this quest for electric speech is Bell Labs’ Voder, the first device to bring us wholly synthetic speech. Even if it sounded like a robot demon."


New Thought On DB Cooper

Is there a new lead about DB Cooper and who he was? I remember the saga of DB parachuting out of the airplane between Seattle and Portland with money. See what the story and the new theory is. Is he dead or did he survive? The mystery is what fascinates people.

Canadians and 'Eh'

If you haven't heard a Canadian say 'eh" or 'aboot', you haven't been around and certainly don't know many Canadians. It is a bit of a joke about this lovely group of people but why do they say it?

Well, this article does give a bit of the story behind the phrase. When you are done, you realize it shows how nice and polite Canadians are.

"Canadians are not particularly amused when you eagerly point out their “eh” habit, but the word has become emblematic of the country in a way that is now mostly out of their control. In response, some have embraced it, adopting it as an element of Canadian patriotism. But what even is this word? How did it come to be so associated with Canada?

“Eh” is what’s known as an invariant tag—something added on to the end of a sentence that’s the same every time it’s used. A tag, in linguistics, is a word or sound or short phrase added after a thought which changes that thought in some way. The most common tags are question tags, which change a thought into a question. “It’s a nice day, isn’t it?” would be one example. The tag “isn’t it” turns that statement of fact into something that could prompt a response; the speaker is asking for confirmation or rejection.

But “isn’t it” is a variant tag, because it will change based on the subject and tense of what came before it. If you’re talking about a plural subject, you’ll have to change that tag to “aren’t they,” and if you’re talking about something in the past you might have to change it to “wasn’t it.”"

Marilyn and the Dress

Was there really more detail and film behind the skirt blowing scene of Marilyn Monroe's for the movie "The Seven Year Itch"? Shooting this scene led to the break up and divorce of Marilyn and Joe Di Maggio. This article tells more about a fellow who liked to shoot home movies and that his family found many years later film of what happened during the shooting of this scene. Fascinating.

"It happened one night in the late summer of 1954…

In the famous street scene, the two are leaving the movies as Ms. Monroe pauses over a grate to enjoy the breeze from the subway as it blows up her dress on a hot summer night. “Isn’t it delicious?” she purrs. The breeze came from a large fan under the grate operated by the film’s special effects chief. The night — Sept. 15 — was actually quite chilly. But the stunt worked. It became known as “the shot seen around the world.”"


Zombies and Humans 100 Days

I do like Zombies and Zombie trivia. I came across this article where some people decided to game out the Zombie Apocalypse. Well, Zombies would have us down to about 287 humans in 100 days. Not good news.

Read about how it happens here.

Debbie Reynolds

I have always been a Debbie Reynolds fan since I was a kid. I loved watching her play and sing in "Tammy and the Bachelor". Oh, that wicked Elizabeth Taylor and smarmy Eddie Fisher. It was so sad to hear of Carrie Fisher passing last week due to a heart attack and then her mother, Debbie Reynolds, died the next day.

Here is some information about our Unsinkable Debbie.

A Unique Library

I came across this column about the library of Guillermo del Toro's home. He has wax figures of Edgar Allen Poe and H.P. Lovecraft. It is a very unique and cozy library that looks like a Sherlock Holmes type library. An overview about this can be found on Ace of Spades here.

Board Meeting Day

Winn had its October board meeting today. Time-wise we got done in a good bit of time at just over 2 hours. These are very draining sessions and it is hard to get anything else done though we did make it to Costco too later on.

Off Road Music

Bob found a webpage that offered some playlists of music when driving around Prince Edward Island. Now that is what I call an interesting and fun bit to explore here.

Scottish Whiskey Heritage

Scotland is set to open a several million pound museum to honor their illegal whiskey heritage. This will have a visitor centre. I would love to visit since we have been close to where this will be in the Cabach area in the northeast. We have been on the Whiskey Trail south of Inverness and along the eastern coast to different distilleries. Read about it here.

Phantom of the Opera Version

One of my favorite musicals is Phantom of the Opera. The songs are spectacular and soaring. I came across this version with Josh Groban and Kelly Clarkson, both who are wonderful singers. Enjoy!

Pioneer Girl Marked

One of the TV shows I watched for the past few years was "Hell on Wheels" which was based on the building of the transcontinental railway. One of the characters was named Eva whose life was impacted by tattoos placed on her chin from when she was kidnapped by a Native American tribe when she was a child. The character was likely based on this depiction of Olive Oatman, whose retrobituary is here.

Sunset Today

The sky was very colorful off to the west tonight past the garden and trees. Very striking.

Quakers and Spies

My ancestors were Quakers right up until my great grandparents on my mother's mother's father's side of the family. They split from the Quakers at some point likely in the late 1800s but they came over to America with the Quakers. It was interesting to read this book review about on of Stalin's American spies who was a Quaker and a true believer in Stalinism, even when he was arrested and kept in prison in the USSR.

Most Addictive Songs

In a scientific study, the most addictive song is "We will rock you" by Queen. The second one is more recent which is "Happy" by Pharrell Williams. See the rest of the list which I would agree with a number of them.

Fashion Museum Display

I came across this fascinating video of women's fashion/dresses over time morphing from one style to another. The display is from the Rijksmuseum in the Netherlands. I cannot speak Dutch and the site is written in Dutch. The video and pictures are worth viewing though here.

Chocolate Milkshake Day

Today is Chocolate Milkshake Day! A good one to celebrate…

Star Trek and Gene Roddenberry

Star Trek as a TV version and later as a series of movies is part of our culture now. There are a lot of Trekkie fans out there, very dedicated and die hard. The person who conceived Star Trek and is considered the inspiration behind it is Gene Roddenberry. From this article, he was not necessarily a nice man and often others were the individuals who gave the series the uniqueness and great scripts to carry it forward. An interesting story to learn a supposed hero is not so heroish in reality.

DNA Of The Plague

It appears scientists have found the DNA of bacterium left behind by London's great Plague in the 1660's. While it appears it is not likely to be active, hopefully they keep the bacterium under close wraps. The scientific find and historical nature make this very interesting to learn from. More of the story here.

The Falling Man

Today is the 15th Anniversary of the horror and attack to our country on 9-11. One of the most iconic images and the story behind it was of The Falling Man. More on this unforgettable story here.

Old Time Radio

In trying to clean up and move some items from the garage, Scott was willing to take the old time radio/78 phonograph cabinet to his house as furniture. I restained it and he was going to give it a polish. He plans to see if it can be made to work again. It looks quite nice and I hated to leave it in the garage to continue to deteriorate.
It still has buttons for old radio stations in Portland like KGW.

Annie Oakley

We have all heard the legends and myths from the Wild West days. One name that stands out on the female side as a sharp shooter is Annie Oakley. A figure in Wild Bill's Wild West Show but little known of her life. This trivia piece gives nice coverage to the person behind the legend, Annie Oakley.

Seal Team 6 and 2002

The Fog of War they call it. Currently they are considering a Medal of Honor for a man who may have been mistakenly left behind in battle, who fought on against the enemy until almost rescued he did succumb. The story is here.

"An airman with the unit is being considered
for the Medal of Honor after new video
analysis suggested that he fought alone
bravely in a 2002 battle on an Afghan peak."


Patricia and Cats

Bob and I had lunch today in Eugene with Dr. Patricia Shea. She finally completed the purchase of Cat Care where she is the owner. It is so good to have a friend and good cat person owning the place to where I can feel I can have a relationship with practice and cats again. Good food and good times at Cat Care and good Thai food at TaRaRin.

Dr. Zhivago's Lara

Was there a muse for the character Lara in the great novel, Dr. Zhivago? Did Boris Pasternak have a lover who was also doomed in the system? His great niece states he did. More information here from a review of her book.
Dr. Zhivago, the movie by David Lean was extraordinary piece of film making.

Irish Travellers

There are the Romany who travel in Europe and also in parts of the U.S. There is a group of Travellers in Ireland who are Romany like but not Romany. They follow their own ways and have set gender roles. One person got close enough to spend time with them and photograph them. Here is more detail on their lives.

National Food Days

Here is the calendar for National Food Days for 2016. Very likely that these days carry over to 2017 and beyond. How cool is this?

The Melungeons

Not far from where my paternal grandfather and family were located and also my maternal ancestors came from, there is located an obscure group of American people, the Melungeons. I have never heard of them yet that means little. There is so much to learn in this world. Were my people part of this group since they are located in far NE Tennessee and the Clinch River Valley. Who knows. But more on the Melungeons here.

" Some lived over the state line on Stone Mountain, in other craggy parts of western Virginia and North Carolina and in eastern Kentucky. But the ridge and this valley were their heartland.
The story of the Melungeons is at once a footnote to the history of race in America and a timely parable of it. They bear witness to the horrors and legacy of segregation, but also to the overlooked complexity of the early colonial era. They suggest a once-and-future alternative to the country’s brutally rigid model of race relations, one that, for all the improvements, persists in the often siloed lives of black and white Americans today. Half-real and half-mythical, for generations the Melungeons were avatars for their neighbours’ neuroses; latterly they have morphed into receptacles for their ideals, becoming, in effect, ambassadors for integration where once they were targets of prejudice."

Airplane Jokes

The family loves Airplane movies and jokes. Now they have had a panel rank the humor, jokes. I don't think I agree. How can you downgrade the phrase, "I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue." See all the rankings here.

Staples Out

Here is the new look of a scar post staples. Not the prettiest knee in the world.

Ace Wrap Off!

My first doctor visit post-surgery. They heavier wet resistant bandage is off and a lighter one is on. I still have to cover it to shower but if feels good to have it gone.

Music Preferences

I like music, especially certain types of music. There are a few types I don't enjoy much. My children like a whole different form of music over my choices. Now why is that. One can find out here.

DIY Cat Planters

Well, I seem to have plenty of time for reading on the internet and Facebook. I came across a link to make some very cute cat planters out of plastic bottles. Find it here.

In Home Physical Therapy

I had my first physical therapy session at home. Her name is Kathy and she got me going on some exercises for my knee. I seem to be coming along OK and able to do the exercises.

Shell Grotto in Margate

Some one built a spectacular shell grotto in one part of England. There are secrets here. See how it looks and learn more about it here.

Leg Wrap

Just to historically note my big wrapped knee with an Ace bandage and my two compression socks to prevent blood clots. Very pretty look.


Home Today

I was discharged from the hospital late morning. They keep a person 23 hours and then they send them home. We had to pick up my pain medication prescriptions on the way home and do a few other errands. I am tired and want to get home to my new recliner to heal. I did get 2 sets of flowers, one from Lisa and a great one from Bob.

Knee Surgery

I went in early this morning and underwent right partial knee replacement surgery. In the hospital with an ice pack wrap around my leg and leg massagers. One large ace wrap around my leg too. Help to get in and out of bed while using my walker.

Noah's Ark is There

There are ancient depictions of Noah's Ark and the parting of the Red Sea. They have been found in an ancient synagogue in northern Israel. History comes alive through time and from work of the past.

Painted House in Part

While a bit on the dark side since I took this in the evening as the sun was going down, here is the main body of Scott's house in a darker gray color.


Can piranha strip a human to a skeletal carcass in no time? It looks like another Urban Myth is down the drain. While they could do this, it appears from this story description that they are unlikely to since they really are more shy than we think they are and usually bite and nip on people.

Rubber Duckies

Where did the Rubber Duckie come from? How is it our bath time buddy?
Here is the story of our favorite duckies, or chickens or chickens like kitties…

The Hellfire Club

I like to read quick romantic historical novels for tension relief (though not much time lately for this). A number of the novels set in England have referred to the Hellfire Club. I tended to think this was more Urban Legend but it appears this was a real club of English notables and possibly even Benjamin Franklin in part. This piece lends the thought these men were just naughty boys though I suspect there were some truly illegal and possibly evils deeds done at the time.

Nielsen Ratings

TV shows live or die by their ratings, Niesen ratings. The information tells advertisers which shows and which demographics are watching what show so they can purchase ads. Buyers and viewers drive input and then TV based on the ratings drives output, a bit of a circle. It is more complex than that and here is a history of Nielsen ratings.

Bob Painting

The major project of Scott getting his house painted started this weekend. I got a picture of Bob putting on primer. The green color is the old color of the house.


Another spot that Bob and I would like to visit is Newfoundland. We were closer than usual when we were in the Canadian Maritimes. We read a fascinating book about this province years ago and have wanted to visit since. There is a historical site, L'Anse Aux Meadow, which is on the uppermost northern tip of the province. I'd love to see this area though it is a challenge to get there in a way. I came across this description of one intrepid traveler who made the journey.

Best Breakfasts in Britain

I am not sure when we will get back to Britain again though I wish it could be soon. I did come across this page that offered some opinions of the best places there for breakfast. Check them out.

Book Tidying Up?

I like to have my house and "stuff" organized as the next person. Have I achieved that? In a small way yet I am a collector/accumulator. It is just a fact. Some of the largest and heaviest parts of this are our books. I probably bought and brought home more of them than Bob.
Now I read this article about the magic of tidying up with a section on books. Really? The title of this article is the heartbreaking difficulty of getting rid of books. Now that is really close to home and true.

Longyearbyen, Northernmost Town

When visiting our friends in Walnut Creek, John and Josie Fike, they talked about visiting Norway in 2014 and going very far North to see the sites and visit a former au pair, Lisa, who lived there.
Here is an article about Longyearbyen, the most Northern town on Earth and is also in Norway.

Rainbow Time after Storms

I was able to get some photos of the rainbows that came up when a thunder and rain storm moved through the valley around Las Vegas.

thunderstorm-Vegas-top 7-7-16
rainbow-vegas-bottom 7-7-16
The rainbow…


Thunderstorms in Vegas

While we were in Vegas, we had a number of thunderstorms that came during daytime, early evening daylight and also in the wee hours of the morning in the dark. I was able to get some pictures out our window of the weather. There was some reflection but still interesting.
thunderstorm-Vegas-top 7-7-16

View from the Ranch

I got some really nice photos of the area. It was a lovely area to visit and photograph. Here are the mountains and the valley that one would view every day from the porch of the Spring Valley Ranch.
spring-valleyview 7-3-16

Spring Valley Ranch

Here is the Spring Valley Ranch house that is set up as a visitor's center at the State Park One can picnic and walk around close by. The area lives off of springs and a small lake to provide water to the fields and yard. Hay is grown and there are burros and beef cattle in the area. They hold outdoor movies in the area too.
smith-valley-ranch 7-2-16

Red Rock Country

This afternoon, since all the work and stress is essentially over, we took Marybeth's rental car up west of the resort to the Red Rock country and driving loop. There are trails and overlooks there. They have a neat visitor's center there too. It was hot but lots of fun. We also made it to Spring Valley Ranch, a state park, that is what was a working ranch in this area and also once owned by Howard Hughes (though he never visited).
redrockcanyon 7-1-16

2016 Winn Symposium

The Symposium for 2016 is over. This is one of the main events and projects I have to prepare for and work on each year. It is a lot of work yet it is nice when it comes to a conclusion and the audience is happy with the results.

The Panama Canal Today

One of the most interesting engineering marvels and changes to history of commerce was the building of the Panama Canal. It marvels those who see it today. Yet, it is not without its controversy and problems today. Read it here.

Herbs and Roses

Our two lovely rose bushes with apricot and mango/peach colors along with our herb beds sure look lovely. The creeping red thyme ground cover is also growing and blooming!

Settling at Suttle

I caught this photo while at Suttle Lake of a family enjoying the water, the view of the lake and time together.

Suttle Lake

Went over to Bend today to see our attorney for the Estate. On the way home, we stopped to eat at a picnic table at Suttle Lake. It was peaceful and beautiful as always.

Rainbow in the Eve

While we had the thunderstorms going on near the mountains the other night, there was a short wide rainbow that cropped up over the hills and mountains to the east.

The Parterre Look

Our English garden parterre looked quite lovely last night while sitting on the deck and enjoying the twilight.

Trees At Twilight

Thunderstorms off in the mountains to the east. The sun streaming from the west. I caught the Douglas fir trees glowing in the twilight.

The World's Ugliest Color

I have had to work with colors with my work with Winn. I also have had to deal with Pantone color which we have a color for Winn materials. Some researchers in Australia believe Pantone 448C is the ugliest color. If you are curious and want to know what that color is, check it out here.

Solving a Stonehenge Mystery

So how did the prehistoric Britons get the stones of Stonehenge to there from a quarry in Wales. You have to read this link to find out.

Roman London

A significant archeological finding was recently discovered in London offering more information on Roman London times.

"Archaeologists announced Wednesday they have discovered hundreds of writing tablets from Roman London — including the oldest handwritten document ever found in Britain — in a trove that provides insight into the city's earliest history as a busy commercial town.
Researchers from Museum of London Archaeology uncovered more than 400 wooden tablets during excavations in London's financial district for the new headquarters of media and data company Bloomberg. So far, 87 have been deciphered, including one addressed "in London, to Mogontius" and dated to A.D. 65-80 — the earliest written reference to the city, which the Romans called Londinium."

Home Again, Jiggity Jig

Last day in Denver and it has been hot. Hot enough that when we were at the Denver airport this evening to catch our flight home, a thunderstorm passed overhead with a heavy downpour. Our luggage got quite wet from sitting outside while this happened.

Matthew Kornya

I got to take my huge help, Dr. Matthew Kornya, with the Winn blogs out to dinner here in Denver. It was great getting to know Matthew better. He is a true cat lover and sharp guy on medicine.

Mile High and Storms

Went out to food and drinks with the VIN crowd in the evening at a nice French bistro restaurant. While eating and drinking (sparkling water) there was a pretty loud thunderstorm that broke overhead with wind, rain and noise.


Headed off to Denver for the ACVIM meeting today but not until we made our first batch of canned strawberry jam from our berry plants this year. Before it was freezer jam, this year it is onward and upward for canned.

Crime and DNA

I didn't realize that transfer of DNA occurred at times so significantly that DNA could implicate and then allow conviction someone of a crime. It has likely happened and did almost again before this was found to be at times flawed and not infallible. Read about how DNA can implicate the innocent.

Analog vs Digital Pictures

Photography: analog versus digital. Photography has come a long way from when I got my first camera and especially the Olympus 1 which I loved. It is great to delete bad pictures versus printing poor ones yet one wondered if print film was a better quality. This article indicates the answer is No. We are still maintaining a good bit of quality, or even better.

Crime: The Unabomber

An interesting piece about how a literature professor helped the FBI narrow down the suspects, catch and convict the Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski. True crime is an interesting read when it is kept to the the facts and not Hollywoodized.

The Lonesome Cave

In Romania, they found a cave that has not been exposed to the outside world for over 5 million years. Evolution there is different than what occurred on the rest of earth. The cave is crowded with insects and the ecosystem is fragile, few are allowed in to see.

"The few who have ventured into Movile Cave have discovered it’s crawling with life — literally. The residents of Movile Cave are not concerned with the high levels of carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulphide in the air. With just half the usual concentration of oxygen, human visitors need breathing equipment to survive. The cave gets more crowded with insects the worse the air gets.

Most creatures in Movile Cave are believed to have arrived over five million years ago when limestone sealed the entrance. Most insects have since adapted to the complete darkness by losing their eyes and pigmentation. Many have also developed longer legs and antennae to feel around in the dark."

Bone Church in Czech Republic

In the Czech Republic, there is a church that holds the remains of between 40,000 and 70,000 people. Many died during the plague in the 1300s, other in wars in the 15th Century. The bones have been used to increase the decorative appearance inside the church. It is a bit macabre. See it here, the Sedlec Ossuary.

Scotch Whiskey

I like single malt Scotch Whiskey. It was fund to take the Whiskey trail south and southeast of Inverness in the Highlands of Scotland. One of our favorites is Talisker from the Isle of Skye, another is Clyneleish from the Brora area on the NE coast of Scotland.

Here is an article suggesting some good scotch whiskeys that are more reasonable in price, since they have gotten expensive.

Pet Sounds

The Beach Boys I know. I grew up with their music. I did not know the album, Pet Sounds, though based on this article it is a shame I did not. This is a wonderful tribute to music and especially to this album considered one of the best ever produced.

Dickens Minor Characters

I have always enjoyed Charles Dickens books. I love the BBC TV productions of these stories. I was hooked when in high school we studied "A Tale of Two Cities" and one understood the symbolism there.

So is there more to Dickens? Check it out.

"Allow me to introduce Mr Plornishmaroontigoonter. Lord Podsnap, Count Smorltork, and Sir Clupkins Clogwog. Not to mention the dowager Lady Snuphanuph. As for Serjeant Buzfuz, Miss Snevellicci, Mrs. Wrymug, and the Porkenhams… who the dickens are all these people? Why do they have such weird names?

They are the best of names, they are the worst of names, from an age of onomastic wisdom and hypocoristic foolishness, an epoch of… well you get the picture. You may recognize this raggle-taggle cast of minor characters, in all their rich variety, as stemming from the fevered imaginings of one Charles Dickens."


I am known to overdo the punctuation or often not use it as appropriately as it should. Where did it come from and why is it important? You mean you did not read "Eats Shoots and Leaves"? Check out this bit about punctuation and learn your grammar!

Women Can Do It-The Barclay Challenge

Do you think you could walk 1000 miles in 1000 hours? This is the Barclay Challenge. A man did it first, Captain Robert Barclay Allardice. Women back in the day were considered not to be able to do this sort of physical activity or at least "win" at it. See how the challenge was met, when and by whom.

Wine Tasting Heard Round the World

For so many years, French wines were considered the top of class in taste. Nothing could touch them. Then at one point in the 1970s, a surprise happened where California wines came out of the shadows and beat the French wines in a tasting test. The world has never been the same again. Another story to read.

The Amerikans

I have watched the TV show, The Amerikans, on FX since it started. The concept is a deep cover family, parents came over from Russia and are very American like spies for the Soviet Union in the 1980s. Their children do not know they are spies and they assume they are a normal American family.

I came across this story of a family of much similar circumstances. The parents were deep cover spies for Russia and the children did not know of the deception until the FBI arrested the parents. Now the sons must live in Europe and wish to be able to return to the U.S. Read the story.

At Civic Feline Clinic

We made a visit to Civic Feline Clinic today. It was fun and sad to see the old place. It has been sold to NVA, corporate practice. Here is my long time technician and friend, Michele. She came to work for me in 1988 which is a long history.


Family members know that one of my favorite movies is Aliens. One loves to quote lines from it. I have a kindred spirit of Melissa Kennedy who also loves the movies and the quotes. I did find this information of some facts one can find about the movie I didn't know.

Manhattan Transfer

One music group Bob and I love to listen to the music is Manhattan Transfer. We have seen them perform several times while we lived in the Bay Area. The lead singer has passed away but the group is still going strong. Great Doo-Wop music. Here is a description of their current status and a show they put on in Minneapolis.

Freddy Mercury

If you like music and love to listen to Queen, you will understand why you do and what makes the lead singer Freddy Mercury so special. Check it out here.

Music and The Bridge

I am totally weak about understanding music.I love to listen to it but I know little about the notes and basis of it. I did find this article quite fascinating about how music is coming lately to dropping "the bridge" from writing of songs. I have heard of the bridge while watching American Idol and as they show mentors helping the young artists learn the craft. The article describes what a bridge is and why it is going away in many ways. The other cool thing is that there are a number of videos in the article of music I love to listen to.

Mary Shelley and the Seeds of Frankenstein

Mary Shelley is the author of the novel, Frankenstein. Her family roots are a bit famous and also likely dysfunctional. Her early life and marriage was also dysfunctional which may be some of the psychology behind the wounded soul of a grab bag person of Frankenstein. This article explains more of her life and marriage to Lord Percy Shelley and life around another aristocrat, Lord Byron.

Gaelic Language

I downloaded a new album by Runrig the other day. Yay!! Some of the songs are sung in Gaelic. Just to show how special Gaelic is too parts of Scotland and Scottish immigrants (especially to parts of Nova Scotia), I found this article that showed where Nova Scotia is reviving their Gaelic culture. Certainly they have the Gaelic college on Cape Breton Island we stopped at. I learned to love the sound of Gaelic just listening to Runrig on BBC Gaelic driving around Scotland.


As we ate at the Horseradish for lunch, one can see the set up inside the restaurant. They have music on Friday and Saturday nights. We had a lovely salmon and cream cheese with herb dip with chips. Yum. We also bought some really good cheese to take home, Humboldt Fog is among the best.



Out For A Drive

Having not done anything relaxing and fun plus today was a beautiful sunny day, we went for a drive through countryside we have not been before. West of Corvallis and in the Kings Valley area. The trip culminated in lunch at the Horseradish cafe in Carlton, OR. This is very much in the heart of Oregon wine country.
I did get a very nice photo of one of Oregon's covered bridges, the Ritner Creek bridge over Ritner Creek near Kings Valley.

Sunny Saturday

I have been away from my blog for over a month due to travel and tragedy. I have tried to take this weekend to do more for myself and allow some stress healing from too much work. It wasn't the best start since dinner from last was not the best for me.

I am starting to catch up. I have the fans on, the outside door open and the sun is shining. I downloaded the new Runrig album yesterday and am listening to some celtic rock while I sit here and type. Yay!


Tracing Fairy Tales

We've had fairy tales in our lives for longer than we think. They have traced back tales like Little Red Riding Hood for centuries, some to even the Bronze Age. Even Beauty and the Beast. Some to Indo-European backgrounds. Here is more information based on research.

Hitchcock Movie Tricks

Alfred Hitchcock was well known for his cinematic technique and subtle messages. This article talks about the hidden trick in most classic Hitchcock scenes.

"That’s the thing about Hitchcock’s movies: the twist matters less than realizing you had a hundred opportunities to guess it."

Fire Alarm in the Morning

The fire alarm came blaring on in our room at the Hyatt Place in Austin, TX at 3 a.m. After getting dressed and grabbing my phone, we found the exit stairs and walked 16 floors down to the street. Not a fun walk and it was alarming since it did not seem like a drill. Surprisingly, there weren't as many people down below as I would expect.
Come to find out, some college guys broke a sprinkler head on the floor above us and the water was coming down to the 16th floor. They only evacuated those two floors. People did not leave or have an alarm they heard on lower floors. Fortunately my laptop was OK and the rooms affected were around the corner and down the all.

It was a killer for a bad knee to walk down the stairs.

A Big Baseball Card Find

David and Bob at times in their lives had a baseball card collection interest. Bob's mom, Dorothy, likely tossed out his cards and maybe some worth money………a Mickey Mantle card? Here is a story about one person who lucked out and found some very valuable Ty Cobb baseball cards which are the most desired in such collecting circles.


Since I like to read I came across this page listing a number of different interesting reads and authors currently. Some included some podcasts.

Well there is evidently a and here is the story behind it. One of the biggies, Microsoft, was behind this bit of trivia.

A New Blue Color

Well, for all of its not as wonderful things politically, Oregon does have some wonderful scenery and things it has invented. Cool story in the news where one of the departments over at Oregon State University developed a new intense blue color. It has also been patented. Way to go and it is a new color where Indigo Blue was developed many, many years ago.

The Real Dude

Before Bill and Ted or even Napoleon Dynamite there was a real King of the Dudes. His name was Evander Berry Wall. He was a fashion dandy for several decades. More about this Dude here….

Mc or Mac

Enjoying Scottish history, It is fun to read about where the prefix Mc or Mac comes from for Scottish names. The terms means "son of" and one is just an abbreviation of the other. This has not relationship to one being derived from Scottish roots over Irish. Read more about this here.

True Crime Serial Killers

True Crime stories can be fascinating to read or watch. I guess though not for the people involved. I came across this article about the 7 creepiest serial killers in American history. Some I had never heard of. Definite sociopaths found here.

Columbine Lessons

One of the saddest days in current times was the day Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold terrorized their high school and killed a number of their classmates and a teacher. The high school was Columbine and located outside Denver, CO. It has been the source of a lot of soul searching and study. The mother of Dylan Klebold has written a book and is speaking out about how to engage in our children's lives and maybe not miss clues to things going very wrong in their lives. One such piece about this is here.

Why Are Barns Painted Red?

I asked this question of our friends in Norway once. All their barns are painted red. There is no other color noted. No blue, no yellow, no brown or ? Well, it appears our trivia site has provided an answer to why barns were painted red in earlier times. Now it is just habit I suppose.

"When such paint became cheaply available via mass production in the late 1800s, farmers often stuck with the color red because, thanks to the abundance of iron oxide, red paint was still generally the cheapest paint on the shelf (although this is certainly not the case today)."


A Swan Son

So why is the term Swan Song associated with a final performance? Read more about it here.

"This expression is generally thought to have its genesis in the over two thousand year old idea that swans sing a beautiful song just before death. Although this is technically not accurate, there is a hint of truth to it in select instances. For instance, the Whooper Swan, which as its name suggests is known for making a bizarre honking sound, has been observed to sometimes make a noise as it expires."

Bob Hope

Growing up I always enjoyed Bob Hope - movies, TV (the Oscars), and his entertaining the troops. I received a link to one of the Bob Hope videos of entertaining the troops at Christmas. He was one of a kind.

Pre-Valentine's Day Romantic Quotes

Well, someone had to do it. Run a survey of people on what they consider the most romantic lines from literature, film, and TV drama. It appears that the line most picked is from the movie Sense and Sensibility…………..

''My heart is, and always will be, yours''

The rest of the list can be found here.


Lovely Sunrsie

We had a striking sunrise this morning. I could not help but grab a photo. It really stood out!lovely-sunrise-2-9-16

The Real Steve Jobs

I have always been an Apple product fan since I got a MacIntosh product back in the 1980s. Hard to believe that that old Mac Plus cost over $3500 and needed a back up hard drive. We have come a long way, Baby, on computers. Much to the influence of Steve Jobs. Interesting and difficult guy. I saw a documentary on TV recently that is mentioned in this article. It was interesting and enlightening. He did change our world or how we look at it. Few have done so in the manner he did. Read about it.

Amazing Survival Stories

I came across this webpage today about some of the most amazing stories people have of survival in bad circumstances. They overcame adversity to live when others may have died or did die.

Another Book List of What Have I Read

Here is another booklist. It is a list of the top 20 books people lie about having read. I have read 17 of the 20.

Psychopaths In Movies

This fascinating article talks about how a group of psychiatrists viewed 400 movies to determine which characters were truly a psychopath in nature. Norman Bates is not it. Neither is Hannibal Lecter. A psychopath has a combination of cold-heartedness and violence. The number one character chosen was Anton Chigurh played by Javier Bardem in "No Country for Old Men". He was a chilling movie character.

Margaret Thatcher

I have come to admire the Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher. I am sure this would drum me out of many English homes who don't. I do remember the turmoil of labor in the United Kingdom and it seemed to be Britain was on a precipice of being dangerously irrelevant on the world stage. She stabilized the country in my opinion and brought it back more to relevancy. It remains sadly unknown if that would continue. Here is an article about Margaret Thatcher or at least a review of a book about her. It can explain why many people such as myself admire her.

Brrr It's Cold Outside

As we cleaned off the windshield of our Subaru to head into town and onto shopping in Albany, there was a bit of ice to remove. The weather has turned chillier overnight. So in respect to the cold, I did come across this article about how one feels when they begin to experience hypothermia and "freeze to death". Not something I would profoundly wish for.


My long awaited presentation at the TICA cat show in Portland happened today. The people were very nice and I am glad to have had the opportunity to be there. It was also great to see Dr. Leslie Lyons there also. My presentation pales compared to her experience. I will need to control my physiological responses for talks and am not sure how to do this currently.

Thunder Bay Books

I am a big lover of books and bookstores. I don't like to pass up bookstores and can browse in them forever or as long as the feet and knees hold up. There seems to be a bookstore in Thunder Bay area which is Canada that is dedicated to books that are obscure. A description here and…………….

"What’s most fascinating about Nicky Drumbolis and his one-of-a-kind collection isn’t its value, which he estimates is in the millions, or its size – although it includes roughly 50,000 titles, and fills the building, floor to ceiling – but the focus. He has devoted a great portion of his life and livelihood to work that, as he describes it, “slips through the cracks.” Pamphlets and hand-sewn chapbooks that were produced in minuscule print runs; novels and poetry collections published by the most obscure of presses; the work of authors whose names the world has forgotten, if it ever knew them."


I am a student of history and also fascinated by many current events. I try to keep up. I am an Israel supporter though I don't agree with everything they do as a country. One of the most fascinating parts of their history and the ongoing saga over the years of terrorism was the hijack of an airplane carrying many Israelis and diversion to the Entebbe Airport in Uganda. The hostages were held several days and the rescue by an Israeli Government strike team is considered the best hostage rescue ever. A book covering the topic thoroughly has just been published and the book review is found here.

17 Equations That Changed The World

I am not a math whiz. Bob is much better in this area than I am. I do hold my own if needed. One has to admire those who focus on math or utilize equations to better mankind. I came across this article that spells out the 17 primary equations that have changed our world over time. Some go back to B.C. times and one includes the Law of Gravity equation. Have fun with seeing the summary about each of these important steps forward.

Thirteen Hours Continued

As mentioned for yesterday, Bob and I went to see the movie "Thirteen Hours". It was definitely well worth it. Here is another article that captures the movie well.

Thirteen Hours

Bob and I went to the movie, Thirteen Hours, this late afternoon over in Corvallis. The movie is about the September 11, 2012 Benghazi outpost attack. It was a riveting movie and disturbing. I can say my reaction was blood-boiling anger that our government disrespects its citizens and also the heroic public servants and military (in uniform and ex) whose service is crucial to our protection and survival. I came across this review of the the movie says and I think it is accurate.
When we left the theatre, Bob felt sick to his stomach……….mostly figuratively but I think a bit literally too. He was tearful. One man when we left commented "That curdles your blood". Bob said one older gentleman left the showing in tears when Bob had to visit the restroom. A very emotional film.


Due to a number of internet sites going to monthly subscribers, some links may go to articles where a subscription or login is needed to view the piece.

Reading List Comparison

So what did school books look like and cover as subject matter 100 years ago versus a selection today? I probably have seen a few of these old school books and have had a few in my possession. I'm not sure I could locate them in our many materials now though. We know students are not being educated overall as well as years ago and this demonstrates it. The classics are frowned upon. Too old and too much leaning toward being racist, etc. I guess we sacrifice our knowledge or love of it for the PC state that is being forced upon us.
Here is the list comparison.

Alan Rickman

"Hans, Boobie………you are no more." Alan Rickman, the English actor, has passed away. I always enjoyed his performances. He was memorable and helped make Die Hard the hit Christmas movie it was. Yes, I said Christmas movie. My family is firmly in that camp. He was also great and understated in Sense and Sensibility. One could always wish to have such a dedicated swain who would stand by their love and support them through thick or thin. The great Mark Steyn wrote a wonderful article, capturing Alan Rickmans' essence as an actor.

Fairy Tales History

How long have Fairy Tales been around…………..maybe since before Christianity……….back to the Bronze Age. Little Red Riding Hood is one example………..

"In 2013, Jamie Tehrani from Durham University did this for Little Red Riding Hood, charting the relationships between 58 different versions of the tale. In some, a huntsman rescues the girl; in others, she does it herself. But all these iterations could be traced back to a single origin, 2,000 years ago, somewhere between Europe and the Middle East. And East Asian versions (with several girls, and a tiger or leopard in lieu of wolf) probably derived from these European ancestors."

The story about the stories' history can be found in this article.

Runaround Sue

I had a blast coming across an article that described Dion's creating of the Number One hit song, Runaround Sue. Dion was almost lost to music legend the "day the music died" when Buddy Holly, Richey Valens, and The Big Bopper died in a plane crash. He ended up missing the flight, I believe due to illness. Back to Sue. I loved the story about how he found his back up group and it is spectacular to click the link and listen to Dion singing "Runaround Sue".

Mammoth Hunting

Archeologists have found the remains of a mammoth hunted down about 45,000 years ago in the Arctic. From skeletal findings, it looks like there is evidence the creature was stabbed and butchered. Some of the earliest evidence of human presence in the Arctic, they say by at least 5,000 years. Here is a description of what they found.

Indian Summers

Downton Abbey is in its last season but another Masterpiece Theatre show held my interest this fall. It is Indian Summers and is focused on the time in the 1930's and 40's when the people of India were transitioning out from under the rule and influence of Great Britain. It is lavish and an interesting clash of cultures. Find an interesting story about the serial here.

ET, Go Home

I came across an interesting article about how Drew Barrymore, the little child in ET, had to grow up on her own while barely into her teenage years. It is an interesting tale and I am glad I had a more stable home with my family. You can read her story here.

Who Should Write Military History?

One of my side interests is history, especially military history. So it seems that a historians' panel is looking at and stating who they believe should write good military history. It may not be who you think. Check it out here.

"It’s an old question: Does one have to have military experience to write and teach military history? Panelists at the American Historical Association’s annual meeting, all of them military veterans and academics, offered fresh perspectives on the matter here Thursday. And while their responses differed somewhat, a common thread emerged: strong evidence and scholarship and -- hopefully -- good writing should matter more than personal insight."

Mass Extinction in New Jersey

Behind a Lowe's Store and shopping center in New Jersey, archeologists down to students are checking into a quarry where they believe there was a mass extinction of living creature. The sediments are 66 million years old they are sifting through. The public is welcome to sift through fossils here too. Learn more about it here.

British Folktales

I came across this article about 9 supernatural stories that come from the British Isles. One explanation of why is…

"From dragons to devil dogs, from fairies to vampires, history is full of tales of mysterious creatures that haunt the British Isles. Now, in her new book, Carolyne Larrington from the University of Oxford explores how such folktales are deeply embedded in the British landscape, and reveals how through history they have helped people to deal with ubiquitous concerns about life and death"

Who and What are these creatures or folklore stories can be found here.

Old Town in Detroit Lakebed

Bob and I went for a drive earlier across the foothills and mountains through Quartzville and over to Highway 22. Making the circle we went by Detroit Lake. It was obvious this was a dry year and the water level was very low. It got so low toward the end they found and old wagon and parts of the old Detroit town that used to be along the river before the dam was built and the area covered. More here.

New Phone

I guess one of my Christmas gifts to myself is updating to a new IPhone 6s. I would have liked to have waited until next year for the IPhone 7 but I don't think it would have worked due to storage limits I was running into lately. I would have had to start deleting items from my phone. Not really something I wanted to do.

What Is Counter Terror

With the number of mass shootings increased in recent days, a mix of Jihadi terror and spree killers, I read with interest this piece about there are really two types of shooters. There may be a few exceptions or blends but primarily two. In knowing their habits of how they do their attack, one can learn better how to deal or find them. So read about the two types - the terror soldier and then the lone wacko.

A Fascinating Tale

I will never life a life of a "beautiful" person or one of the elite. I doubt I will come close even at all. I guess it doesn't make it unusual to be fascinated about a long ago story of murder and a bit of family mayhem in the family of a peer in Great Britain. I guess their lives are not so wonderful after all even with the money, glitz, etc. Here is a story in The Telegraph of what is believed to be the ultimate fate of Lord Lucan and the mystery from that came from it quite awhile ago.

Frank Sinatra

In the past few days, the world was recognizing the 100th anniversary of Frank Sinatra's birth. Definitely an interesting man when you read his story. May or maybe not someone I would have liked personally. He was a great singer or storyteller with song and a very good actor. I have a number of CDs of his music, 2 where they did duets with him singing with others (blended in studio and not sung together in person). I also snagged a couple of old vinyl records of his as momentos one time. Read some more about his life story. Another great expose of his work can be found on Powerline.

From Prison To Actor

Danny Trejo is one of those unforgettable actors. Some of it is because of his acting but most of it is due to his "looks". He was actually in prison in his early years, leading a bad life. He changed his life around and was able through lucky breaks to be "found" and develop a career as an actor. More about his story here.


Cat Adoption Team

I attended my first Cat Adoption Team meeting last night up in west Portland area. Fortunately the weather cooperated……….no huge rain and windstorms as we have had for the past few days. It was a pleasant gathering in a very lovely remodeled old farm house. More about Cat Adoption Team can be found on their website.

Question Of The Day

Do Zombies eat brains? Considering I do like to watch Zombie stuff or Zoobies as the inside joke is here, more Zombie trivia is worth checking out. Beyond the bit of content extracted, you can check out the theory here.

"In regards to why the zombies feed on brains, the closest we’ve ever come to an official explanation is a quote from Return of the Living Dead’s writer and director, Dan O’Bannon, who suggested that the undead felt the need to feed on the brains of the recently living because it somehow made them feel better by easing their pain. Avid fans of the zombie genre have tried to expand on this reasoning by asserting that zombies eat brains and guts because of the high levels of serotonin they contain, something that is kind of alluded to but by no means confirmed in the film’s official commentary where the production designer for the film, William Stout, notes that the idea of eating brains somehow alleviating the zombie’s pain “makes sense“."

Terrorism is here

Today was another unspeakably bad day. Radical islamic terrorism has hit our shores again. 14 people dead and 21 injured at an attack on a meeting/holiday party at a regional convention center in San Bernardino. So much of the details don't make sense. The two perpetrators have been located and are dead. The whole scenario is alarming.

Rain and Portland

Bob and I made a dark, rainy trip up to Portland tonight to attend a talk about veterinary practice purchases from Simmons and Associates. With the commute, it took about 45 minutes or so to go from the I-5 curves into downtown Portland. Yuck. The meeting was a good one and we felt had a lot of good information.

New York City Underground

Many of the major cities in the United States have an underground. Some are more extensive and they have tours that are designed to highlight the features of this underground architecture, etc. I came across this article about the secret nature of New York City's underworld, all in video format. See it here.

The Beauty of Editing

I like music and I love to see when people can artistically edit film and music to make something new. This has been going around Facebook recently. Someone has taken old films with dance scenes and fit portions of the steps to synch with a current song from 2015.

Extinct Cave Lion Cubs

The found the well-preserved remains of two cave lion cubs in the frozen ice sheet of Siberian Russia. The cubs were from a time period of over 10,000 years ago and a very rare find, An interesting archeological find and read about it here.

Coffin Births

So do women deliver babies after they die. Evidently they can and do. Here is some trivia information about this issue from Today I Found Out right here.

"Historical texts bear this gruesome curiosity out with clinical chill. In 1551, one of the earliest known documented cases of coffin birth was recorded: a victim of the Spanish Inquisition, swinging at the gallows, gave birth hours after her execution. In 1633, in Brussels, a woman who died in labor convulsions gave postmortem birth three days later. In 1650, a parish register noted, “April ye 20, 1650, was buried Emme, the wife of Thomas Toplace, who was found delivered of a child after she had lain two hours in the grave.” In 1677, another woman died in labor; six hours later abdominal movements were observed and still eighteen hours after that her deceased child was born. In 1861, sixty hours after a woman died in convulsions, she “gave birth” to her eight month old baby."

Dating Years Trivia

How did we derive the year dating terms BC/AD and BCE/CE, the later I never seem to use. A lot of this reverts back to Roman times. Read more here.

BCE (Before Common Era) and BC (Before Christ) mean the same thing- previous to year 1 CE (Common Era). This is the same as the year AD 1 (Anno Domini); the latter means “in the year of the lord,” often translated as “in the year of our lord.” (It was thought when the AD dating system was created that its year 1 was the year Jesus of Nazareth was born.)

Anno Domini was the first of these to appear."

Finishing Up

Not much to say for today. The conference was done for the day at noon. I grabbed two beignets in the hotel lobby. Just out of the fryer and with powdered sugar. Karen took us out to our hotel and along the way we had lunch. Dinner next door at VooDoo BBQ and Grill. It was a good place to eat. I'd recommend it. Three little kittens outside waiting for leftovers. I gave them part of my chicken pieces. Sad bunch.

Follow the Leader to Arnaud's

Tonight we had the ABVP Awards Dinner and the treat of following a festive New Orleans dressed woman who lead us to Arnaud's for dinner. Kim Buck as President was dressed up and had boas too. A nice evening among people.follow-the-leader-11-14-15

Central Grocery

Part of the fun of getting a muffuletta sandwich is to visit Central Grocery right down in the French Quarter and near the open market. Full of food items to buy. They are so busy selling at lunch that the sandwiches are ready to go and the place is busy. See the line in this photo.

Muffuletta Sandwich

Before the conference started, we made a quick trip to Central Grocery so Karen and I could share a muffuletta sandwich. A must for my trip to NOLA. Yum, their olive salad.

Phone Keypad Trivia

How did we get the star and pound symbols added to our phone keypads? What did they mean and now how do we use them? It is interesting how all of our everyday uses happen. Read more about this on The Straight Dope.

Lunch Out

I finally was able to get out of the house to have lunch with my friend, Laurie. We went to the 1847 Bar and Grill at the new hotel in town. They made a good Pastrami Reuben sandwich which is my favorite. Laurie had a great looking clam chowder and turkey sandwich. Nice, relaxing place to eat and the service was good and friendly.

American Pharoah versus Secretariat

American Pharoah was the first thoroughbred to win the Triple Crown for several years. A number of horses came very close but lost at the Belmont Stakes. He did the Trifecta this year and just completed his racing career with a win. Someone matched up video to see which horse would win if they raced against each other, American Pharoah or Secretariat. Check here to see the outcome.

Dilbert and Daily Rituals

We all get in habits or rituals that happen every day. Whatever we do it must be done just a certain way. It must be comforting for us. It makes our world steady and safe. Like last night I had a hamburger from Carl's Jr for dinner. I like to eat around the edge first to eventually reach the juicier middle. Bob is used to how his mother and grandmother did things and will try to boss me in the kitchen to do the same. Doesn't go over well.

"I goofed around with the idea of creating physical triggers, but like most self-improvement techniques that require focused attention or (gawd forbid) homework, I never really followed through with it.
But I was recently reminded of a workaround for all of that self programming. I can just do what Dilbert does. Or the guy who created Dilbert anyway."

Read the whole article here.

Tawt I Saw a Puddy Tat

Mark Steyn is a writer who Bob and I enjoy reading. He is has a needle sharp wit that he uses in his writing and TV discussions. It appears he got a cat a year ago and quite enjoys having him. The cat is named Marvin. Mark Steyn did a Halloween video and he is a cat album coming out. More about it here.

Sleepy Hollow

Currently on TV, there is a show called Sleepy Hollow. It is an updated, demon related take on the Sleepy Hollow legend of Washington Irving's. There have been a number of movies made about the town and also Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman. Ooooo, Spooky, more so than what goes for spooky nowadays.
If a person wants to know more about what is legend and what is true, it can be check out here in this article.
So just in time for Halloween tomorrow,…..

"In a small town just 26 miles north of New York City, the Halloween season is bigger than Christmas. And it’s all thanks to the legend, almost 200 years old, of an infamous headless nightrider.

A short 40-minute express train from New York’s Grand Central transports you to the “drowsy shades of Sleepy Hollow” — previously North Tarrytown, before the good citizens voted in 1996 to rename it to capitalize on the tourist trade. Here, as Washington Irving described him in “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” a dark-horse-riding specter was “said by some to be the ghost of a Hessian trooper, whose head had been carried away by a cannon ball, in some nameless battle during the revolutionary war…” "

Winn Riders Day

Today is National Cat Day and also the day that my friend, Glenn Olah, took off on his two day, almost 330 mile bike riding journey to raise money for cat health with Winn Feline Foundation. He got Bob a bike kit with all the Winn logos, cat paws and everything on it. We donated! Here is Bob in his Winn bike kit.

When Arcades Were Like Video Games

The world is changing quickly. I have never been into games or even video type games though I remember the old PacMan game and Space Invaders. How long ago was that? In Lebanon we had our roller skating rink. It is still there but abandoned and no one has purchased it. Ah, nostalgia.
Here is an article with a lot of photos showing an old arcade where kids used to go to play stand up game machines versus on the computer or on our phones.

Porto Portugal

I was not able to go to the International Society of Feline Medicine meeting this past summer in Porto, Portugal. I'm sure it was wonderful to visit. I was surprised to read of the struggles of Portugal and that Porto has been a bit of a ghost town trying to come back to life. See more about Porto here.

Atomic Gardens

I came across an interesting article that seemed to take me back to being a child in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Much of the photos were in black and white. LIFE magazine was big in those days for capturing what happened in our world. This article describes how at one time people were encouraged to buy irradiated, "atomic-energised" seeds to plant for gardens in their own backyards. Read more here and look at these striking old photos from those days.

A Woman Helped Get Us to the Moon

There is always so much more we can learn about in our world. Women are not always associated with mathematical accomplishments but this was a wonderful tale of one woman who helped write software code for men to walk on the moon. Family and all. A really cool story found here.

Mountaineering - Death in the Clouds

Mount Everest has always been a challenge and a source of fascination. In 1996, there was a large loss of life and dramatic rescues of survivors that have made it into the best seller book list and also movies. I came across a fascinating story about how many people have died climbing Everest and where most of the deaths have occurred. The story primarily covers more recent deaths and how many bodies are left on the mountain. Also, what it means to the people they left behind. A fascinating article.

Why Hands in Jackets in Portraits

I guess I am going to have to do this for my next talk. Happy

"Conveying calm assurance, the practice of placing one hand inside of a top garment is ancient, dating back to before people even wore jackets, at least as we think of them.

In the 6th century B.C., it was considered rude in some Greek circles to speak with the hands outside of the clothing, especially when conducting matters of state. "

"Wishing to convey that the sitter was both of “good humor, and suitably elevated in character,” the pose of “hand-in” was soon adopted. Ironically, it became so popular among the English ruling class because (they thought) it conveyed them “in a manner deemed agreeable and without affectation.”

More detail is found here on how to be looking like Napoleon.

Cats and Catnip

Here is more information on why cats (or at least some) cats love catnip and will respond quite goofily to it.

"Catnip, which is a perennial herb in the mint family, contains a chemical called “nepetalactone” that is released when catnip is crushed. When cats get a whiff of nepetalactone, most will start rubbing themselves against it, playing with it, sometimes eating it, and generally will act quite bizarrely."

Our First Genome

DNA has been found on the recovered remains of a 4500-year-old human skeleton in Ethiopia. This is the first time DNA has been able to be extracted. They wonder if they will be able to go back further at some time in even older humans, possibly a million years back in time. Read more here.

"A team of scientists reported on Thursday that it had recovered the genome from a 4,500-year-old human skeleton in Ethiopia — the first time a complete assemblage of DNA has been retrieved from an ancient human in Africa.

The DNA of the Ethiopian fossil is strikingly different from that of living Africans. Writing in the journal Science, the researchers conclude that people from the Near East spread into Africa 3,000 years ago. In later generations, their DNA ended up scattered across the continent."

Yogi Berra

Yogi Berra, one of the Yankee baseball greats, passed away today at the age of 90. He was great with baseball and also his "Yogi Berraisms". Here is a link to Powerline's tribute which also includes a link to 53 of his greatest lines. Another great story is at

Elmore Leonard

One of Bob's and my favorite TV shows was Justified. Just the best to us. It is no longer on TV. The person who wrote the character of Rayland Givens and the inspiration behind the scripts was Elmore Leonard, author. I came across this NYBR article about the Elmore Leonard. Enjoy!

Misused Words

If you want to know what are some of the most common misused words currently, you can go here. Otherwise it might be fun to visit Grammarly which can have some cute catches of misused words by people.

The Thing

I think I have watched John Carpenter's movie, The Thing, probably 100 times or better. Just about every time it is on. I had it saved on our DISH hard drive until it crashed. Well, if you like to know 13 different fascinating facts about The Thing you can go here.

Murder and Macabre

What makes us fascinated by gruesome crimes? Why do we enjoy reading about the macabre? Or watching True Crime stories on the TV. A new book about "Murder by Candlelight" might tell us some of the story. Here is a book review about this interesting but gruesome topic.

"Beran frames his arguments within a recounting of some of the most notorious murders of the 19th century, exploring how and why these tales are so fascinating. In one skillfully wrought volume, he cleverly feeds our appetite for horror even as he probes this appetite. He lets us contemplate our fascination at the same time we’re experiencing it, watching as he explores its origins philosophically, historically and psychologically."

Possible California Disaster

Bob and I lived down in Walnut Creek, CA for 20 years. We lived near the Sacramento River delta and would spend some time camping or visiting the area. I came across this article about how with a major earthquake and the right circumstances, the delta levees could break down bringing in sea water. The increase in salinity would for one be disastrous for the area. As with the dams further up near the Sierra Nevadas controlling the drinking water sources for Northern California, little has been done to improve the levee infrastructure. California could be sitting on a major disaster for the large population that lives in the state. Read more about this situation here.

American Dream

“Somebody left the American Dream in the toaster too long. It's now burnt to a crisp.”
― Joe Bageant

Some days it seems better to want to turn off the TV, stop reading the internet and papers. Hunker down for the nightmare of what American looks like anymore to pass.

A City Destroyed

Another Michael Totten article. (Related) He seems to find a way to bring home the culture of a city or geographical area. Cities don't have to be destroyed by mass weapons, they can be destroyed economically or culturally. His focus in this article is about the city of Sousse in Tunisia. This city was a resort city for many in Europe for a wonderful vacation along the Mediterranean. A few months ago, an ISIS inspired person took a weapon and killed 38 people while they relaxed along the beach. Now the tourist industry in this city and this country are decimated. Certainly achieving what this evil person wanted. One hopes the country will come back but it may take a long time to do so or never.

Charlie Chaplin

Charlie Chaplin in many ways was before my time. His life with his one wife, Oona Chaplin, did make the gossip columns periodically. He was "the" or "one of the" pre-eminent silent movie stars of the earlier age of film. He made his reputation as portraying himself as the Little Tramp. It is interesting to read a synopsis of his life and career. It brings his work a bit more into perspective.

The Korean Peninsula

A fair amount of hostilities have occurred between North and South Korea over the last 60-70 years. Even currently, North Korea is making noise about trying to attack South Korea because "they exist". I came across this trivia story about how North Korea sent an assassination squad to South Korea in 1968 to kill President Park Chung Hee. They did not succeed but one member was captured. Shortly after the South Koreans tried training a group like the Dirty Dozen to do the same to Kim Il Sung. They were never deployed and were abandoned on the island they were sent to train on. An interesting story of skullduggery.


Bob and I went to see a digitized version of Psycho in a very well done remodel of an old theatre in Salem. Seeing the movie there on a big screen made one really appreciate the nuances versus seeing it on TV. There is a lot of movie history and art of filmmaking associated with this movie. To learn more about how Hitchcock did it, read the story here.

Enjoying the Spread

The ballroom last night was set up for some very nice food selections from Jake's Grill in Portland. The room was set up very well, much like a relaxed "speakeasy" in some ways with Big Band type of music playing in the background. Sofas and tables around with lower lighting. It was fun. I liked the set up for the food. Much like Oregon in a way.

Portland Time

I spent the day today up in Portland at the Banfield Summit. I finally got an invitation to attend. It was quite a nice event and the topic this year was Design Thinking. A new way to problem solve. The evening function was a very nice networking set up in a ballroom of The Sentinel Hotel. One of my networking experiences was catching up with Joyce Briggs from ACCD. Here we are together.

Aging and the Endoplasmic Reticulum

I always knew that the endoplasmic reticulum was a cool name and "undervalued" or lesser known in cellular structure. Here it is coming out from the shadows to be a factor in aging in people. More details can be found here.

"The question of why we age is one of the most fascinating questions for humankind, but nothing close to a satisfactory answer has been found to date. Scientists at the Leibniz-Institut für Molekulare Pharmakologie in Berlin have now taken one step closer to providing an answer. They have conducted a study in which, for the first time, they have shown that a certain area of the cell, the so-called endoplasmic reticulum, loses its oxidative power in advanced age. If this elixir of life is lost, many proteins can no longer mature properly. At the same time, oxidative damage accumulates in another area of the cell, the cytosol. This interplay was previously unknown and now opens up a new understanding of aging, but also of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's."

Dunnotter Castle Photo

My Dunnotter Castle photo that was submitted to Ceiva for their travel photo contest showed up on the revolving photo frame from Ceiva. It is always exciting to see one of my photos displayed. Here it is in all its glory.

Picking Losers

You know the feeling when it seems you like something and it should catch on. And it doesn't or at least for a very long time when you want it to stick around because you love it. What about when it happens over and over again. Surprise! It appears that they use people like me (us) who continually pick or buy losers through Big Data to determine which products are likely to not catch on. Some of use just doom it right from the start. Just read about it and weep. It won't be around long anyway.

Best Movie Soundtracks

It looks like AMC did a list of the 100 Best Movie Soundtracks, or I guess it is from Entertainment Weekly. I would have to say after watching the movie the other night the soundtrack from "The Last of the Mohicans" is right up there for me. Also, "Rob Roy". Just because of the type of music I like. There 3rd on the list would be tops too for me as "Saturday Night Fever". Here is the list. My two mentions are not on the list and neither is Footloose. Are you kidding me?


Another iconic movie anniversary. It is now the 35th anniversary of the movie Airplane. What a goofy movie. Comedic lines played straight, "I picked the wrong time to quit smoking". It also took some serious actors and turned them into pretty good comedic actors - Peter Graves, Lloyd Bridges, Leslie Nielsen. It also hit a bit of the double entrendre edge, a little raunchy. Bob and I have loved it over the years. Our favorite story was of being in California, the boys were small and his mother, Dorothy, was visiting. Airplane was on TV and I was watching it. She was not amused at these scenes and I felt like slinking under the rug. Very juvenile humor but I guess not in front of your serious mother-in-law. Well, certainly if you want to read about it, go here.

Skeleton Lake

In 1942, Indian forest ranger H.K. Madhwal came across something rather disturbing: a lake filled with bones. Hundreds of people died in the lake, all at once. But what killed them?

Roopkund Lake is located in the state of Uttarakhand, India. The lake sits at over 16,000 feet in elevation, and it freezes over—so the skeletons are only visible during a brief thaw. Madhwal found it at just the right time to see the bones. But how old were they? And what were they doing hanging around in a lake?

For more info and video, go here at Atlas Obscura. Hear about how they died. Interesting!

Meat From The Sky

Another strange tale from 1876. People in Bath County, Kentucky noticed what they termed chunks of meat falling from a perfectly clear sky. The first theory was that it was Nostoc. An interesting item, Nostoc, and how it comes about. In the long run, it was a different theory that was more likely. Reading about this strange phenomenon is best.

Prehistoric Island

One sees movies or TV shows about people being shipwrecked on an island where there are natives or cannibals or something menacing. Well, there really is an island like that is this day and age. It is found in the Bay of Bengal. The people there will kill anyone who comes on the island. They shoot arrows and throw spears at any planes or copters that fly above. The island is called North Sentinel Island. It is curious though what the natives call it? More information here. The trees provide so much cover they hide visualizing where the people are.


A photo from this past spring up in the Cascades. Layering of brush, deciduous trees and evergreens. Unique coloring through the layers.

A Ranch the Size of Texas, Almost

One can buy themselves a ranch in Texas. One for $725 million at least. The famed Waggoner ranch is for sale. It is a sale ordered by judges on the family who cannot come to agreement on how to split up the ranch. More about the ranch here.

FOR SALE: Largest ranch in the U.S. within a single fence. Texas fixer-upper with more than 1,000 oil wells; 6,800 head of cattle; 500 quarter horses; 30,000 acres of cropland; tombstones for legendary cowboys, long-dead dogs, and a horse buried standing up. Favorite of Will Rogers and Teddy Roosevelt. Colorful history of drinking and divorce. Fifteen-minute drive to rib-eyes at the Rusty Spur in Vernon. Ideal for Saudi oil sheiks, billionaire hedge funders, and dot-commers who can tell a cow from a steer. Profitable. Zero debt. Property taxes only $800,000 a year. Price: $725 million.

SOS Distress

So what does SOS as a distress signal stand for?

It is commonly held that “SOS” is an acronym for “Save Our Ship” and thus often written “S.O.S.” In truth, SOS is not an acronym for anything.

So why was SOS chosen to signify a distress signal? The thought was that SOS- in Morse code signified by three dots, three dashes, then three dots- could not be misinterpreted as being a message for anything else. Further, being sent together as one string (with no stops), it could be sent very quickly and needed very little power to transmit.

So, despite what you might have read elsewhere, as the 1918 Marconi Yearbook of Wireless Telegraphy and Telephony notes, “This signal [SOS] was adopted simply on account of its easy radiation and its unmistakable character. There is no special significance in the letters themselves…”

Sherlock Holmes' Mail

Sherlock Holmes lived at the famous address of 221B Baker Street. It wasn't a real address when Arthur Conan Doyle was thinking him up as a character. The address was only added much later. When it did, as a bank, the mail flooded in to this famous address. The bank hired a secretary to respond to the letters coming in. More about the story here.
I have been by 221 B Baker Street in London though not right to the museum there. It seems that I come close but have not taken the time to stop and take tea there. Winking)

The Original Werewolf?

Was there an original werewolf long before Lon Chaney? Maybe the Werewolf of Bedbug in Germany, a man called Peter Stumpf. More here.

What he reportedly confessed under threat of torture was that at age 12, making him 37 at the time of his capture if these reports are accurate, he’d engaged in the art of black magic and succeeded in summoning the devil. Stumpf continued by explaining that Beelzebub had presented him with a magical belt that would allow him to assume “the likenes of a gréedy deuouring Woolf, strong and mighty, with eyes great and large, which in the night sparkeled like vnto brandes of fire, a mouth great and wide, with most sharpe and cruell teeth, A huge body, and mightye pawes…”


Another assignment was to do motion. The bee from last week was also caught in motion between lavender sprigs. A bit of a fun picture.
thebeeweb 7-16-15

A Canal Reflection

Just a short walk from Linn Benton is the canal that runs through Lebanon. It is always a nice source of reflections on a sunny day.


One of the assignments for the photography class was to get a photo demonstrating reflections. I thought this one was different with the skeleton in the Linn Benton office next to the reflection of a truck aimed at the chest of the skeleton. Implied trauma.

Harper Lee

One of the best and interesting books out there to read is Harper Lee's, To Kill A Mockingbird. It was her primary novel and until now she had not written another book. This first one was so huge and noted by so many people that it seemed to drive Harper Lee into seclusion. Now she has written another, Go Set A Watchman, which I believe is a followup with Scout as an adult. The first chapter has been place online so people can read this anticipated book. So let's 'go set a watchman'.

The Tough Founding Fathers

Who were the toughest, possibly "Don't mess with me" type of Founding Fathers. Who gave their all to the cause even though it was putting their lives on the line. Interesting article in all of this. Who would you pick? Hamilton sticks out.

Class Today

My photography class is being held tonight. I didn't get the assignment but went out and shot a few quick photos in our parterre garden. The bumblebees were out enjoying the nectar of the lavender.

Links on Independence Day

It seems we need to treasure our Independence Days even more now. Our liberty or those of us who treasure it or treasure it differently are seeing it slip away. Here is an interesting page of different links to thoughts, speeches, articles about events and thoughts around Independence Day. Good reading and a way to keep this information handy. From National Review here.

Full Moon in Toronto

We had an absolutely gorgeous full moon over the harbor last night in Toronto. Walking back from the restaurant it was spectacular. I didn't have my good cameras so had to do with the IPhone. Getting a closer shot lost a bit yet here it is.

Hockey Hall of Fame

Bob was able to visit the Hockey Hall of Fame today with Steve Dale and Brian Holub. I unfortunately was trying to catch up and work prior to our Winn Symposium. Work never ends. Steve is blocking as goalie today.

Toronto Board Meeting

Busy day today with the board meeting in the middle of the day. Not much time for anything else other than dinner with part of the group at an Italian restaurant in the evening. With some light heartedness and some seriousness, here is Glenn, Steve, and Drew at the meeting.

10 Best Independent Bookshops

Too bad this survey was compiled by the Guardian newspaper. Not my favorite but I am glad that Powell's Books in Portland is number one. I do like Mr. B's Emporium of Reading Delights in Bath England. I will need to go back and check this out. But do read the list and look at the cool photos.

Reality Today

Exchanges established by the federal government are exchanges established by the state. Rachel Dolezal is black. Iran will honor an agreement not to develop nuclear weapons. ISIS is a JV team. There’s an epidemic of sexual assaults on college campuses. Michael Brown had his hands up and pleaded “don’t shoot.” Caitlyn Jenner is a woman. Obamacare is working. 2+2 doesn’t necessarily equal 4. The polar ice caps are disappearing. The IRS is doing a decent job. The border is secure.We’ve ended two wars responsibly. Hillary Clinton turned over all work-related e-mails. An $18,200,000,000,000 debt can grow without mention. People who burn down buildings and overturn cars aren’t thugs. The OPM hack is manageable. We’ve reset relations with Russia. Entitlement reform can be kicked down the road. We’re more respected around the world.

Reality is Now Discretionary, Peter Kirsanow

The Obsolete Man

Lately, it has seemed as if the United States is drifting or being pushed more to a Semi-totalitarian state. The rule of law is vanishing or what has been the rule of law for over 200 years. It is an unsettled feeling on where we are going. I am a non-conformist when it comes to being told what I must think and say. I tend to dig in my heels and say "No Way". I am feeling that lately. A recent article referred to the path we are taking was predicted by a Twilight Zone episode in 1961, The Obsolete Man. How soon will we, or I, become The Obsolete Man for real.

Storms In The Distance

The weather has gotten increasingly hotter. We were supposed to have some clouds and mugginess on Sunday. It seems to have come in more this evening. I could see black clouds and sky to the SouthEast. I think storms were headed this way but then headed more north along the Cascades. At dusk the view East looked more like a sunset and it is not the right direction. A lot of thunderheads and pink sky (strange color).

California History

California is going through a major drought, especially from the central part of the state south. VDH who lives in Selma in the central valley for many years is writing about serious issues if this continues and the coastal populations cannot get their water in a few years. California is very desert like having lived east of the San Francisco Bay in drier geography.
To know more about some of the water history and a discussion of lakes that have vanished over time in California. One is Tulare Lake. It was once the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi River. Hard to believe. See if here.

Photography Again

I signed up for a creative photography class again. Something to do as a hobby and to get out of the house. I am getting burned out and need to push myself to other ventures. We did a quick photo shoot around the school.
I'm not sure I am really happy with how I did but am adding one with a long line shot down the side of the building and the sidewalk.

Atomic Ghosts

Well, the old Cold War is over and they are now putting together remnants and historical artifacts of that time into a historical park. It does seem a bit eerie. Are we on the verge of a new Cold War but with Arab nations in the Middle East? The photos are fascinating and this article is a bit of a jaunt back into our recent history related to nuclear weapons and our relationship with or against the Soviet Union. What would Stalin say?

The American Actor

I have frequently commented that the movies and TV shows from Britain are better productions and better acted. They seem gritty and not so Hollywoodized. Now someone has written an article in The Atlantic about what is wrong with the American male actors that they are not getting the good roles in American productions. Many actors in series here are from the UK, Ireland, Australia, or New Zealand. They seem to be able to handle the American accents and handle the parts like they are natives.
Read about it here and see if you agree with the authors and me that there seems to be a big issue regarding American actors.

Goodnight Moon

If you want to read an interesting tale of a children's book that started out small in sales and later blossomed into a major bestseller in that category. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown was said to be hypnotic to children when read and would put toddlers to sleep quickly. The author assigned the royalties in her will to a family's children who were close to her. The middle child received huge royalties as the book sales grew… but,

"You’d think that a story about a children’s book might have a happy ending; perhaps Albert would use his money wisely and generously. No. In 2000 Joshua Prager tracked Albert Clarke down for the Wall Street Journal, writing that “in the intervening years, the trajectories of Ms. Brown’s book and the boy who inherited it began to diverge with strange symmetry.” Prager describes a life of squandered millions, murderous fistfights, theft, a sequence of broken homes, domestic violence, lost custody of children, clothing bought and thrown away instead of being washed, houses bought and sold at a loss, vagrancy, debt, drug abuse, and arrests on an array of charges ranging from menacing and resisting arrest to criminal possession of a weapon, criminal trespass, assault, and grand larceny. According to Prager, Albert Clarke said he believed-with no supporting evidence or corroboration from any source-that Brown was his real mother, a notion his older brother Austin characterized as “delusional thinking. It’s a fairy tale that makes him feel better.” "

Author's Of Our Own Fate

It is sad to read an article that is a good demonstration of what a large portion of the world is headed to in direction. People who make poor choices in life and live off the spoils and generosity of government in the role of father or parent. One can make good choices and raise themselves above this lifestyle or do little and continue down the same path of victimhood. I realize this is not P.C. in current times yet it is reality as I have seen it around me in others. A very interesting read.


If you want to learn more about Paganini and also why the violin was considered the Devil's instrument, read here.

"At the height of his fame and fortune, Niccolò Paganini, arguably the greatest violinist ever to live, was both the toast, and the bane, of Europe. Considered by most a musical genius, by some a musical god and by others, the Devil’s minion, Paganini’s virtuosity, appearance and bearing had some believing his skill could only come after he had made a pact with the Devil."

David McCullough

David McCullough is a very good author and also TV voice. He has written a number of interesting books and now has one out on the Wright Brothers. He was recently interviewed for his interests in books to read. The questions are quite good and it gives you a sense of his interests. At least other authors to give thought to.
Read about it here.


In all of the writing I need to do for my current work, Bob and I talk a lot about wording. He commented the other day that we both have a propensity to overuse prepositions. Then the next day here comes this comic.

Peaceful Neighbors as Mass Murderers

How can groups of people live a number of years side by side, carry on business and daily activities, yet subsequently end up murdering those same neighbors on a mass scale? Genocide in Armenia, Rwanda, Bosnia, Cambodia, currently in Syria and Iraq? What syndrome allows this to occur?
A discussion of the underlying physiological nature of this issue is discussed here.

Drone Views of Damaged Cities

Here is a drone's eye view of cities where they have been de-populated due to radiation leaks (Chernobyl, Tomioka) or population moving out (Detroit). There are 36 photos. People used to live normal lives there and now they are uninhabitable or next to being so.

Thomas the Train

Choo Choo Ryan as mentioned a few days ago had an awesome birthday. A lot of his gifts centered around his interest in trains, especially Thomas the Train. There are a number of versions of Thomas to purchase. They seem cute and harmless.

Little did I know that Thomas is not well liked in Great Britain. He is too authoritarian I guess and regimented. Not good for the kiddos. For a little history about Thomas the Train or Tank Engine, you can read about the reverend who invented him.

Early Feminists

If one reads about English literature and especially from the Regency period, you will see mention of Mary Wollstonecroft as an early spokes person for women. Of course, many of us know her daughter better, Mary Shelley, who wrote Frankenstein.
Now and author has written a biography of both women within the realm of the same book. Usually mother and daughter have been treated as individuals and separately. Here is an interesting take and review of this new book. It may be one I will need to consider buying.

Tardigrades, Tough Creatures

Cockroaches are said to be able to survive a nuclear war. Actually the toughest creature on Earth is a tardigrade, or Water Bear. More about them here.

"They are also the only life form known to be able to survive the near vacuum of space for extended periods. (Note: humans can actually survive the near vacuum of space for about 90 seconds without long term damage, but we have nothing on this creature.) They can lie dormant for 10-100 years and then come back to life with a drop of water. When it comes to durability, nothing on Earth can match the very real “Water Bear”- a tiny creature the size of a grain of sand (averaging about a millimeter long) that is often lauded as the toughest creature on planet Earth.

There are over 1000 known species of Water Bears (called such because when they walk, their gait loosely resembles plump little bears ambling along on eight legs). Also known as “tardigrades” (from the Latin “tardigradus” meaning ‘slow walker&rsquoWinking, they thrive in the most extreme environments on every corner of the Earth- from the Equator to the Polar regions- forests, swamps, deserts, tundras, mountains, glaciers, hot springs- from the highest point on Earth along the Himalayan mountain range, to the deepest parts of the sea, tardigrades are there. Less excitingly, they can also be found in your backyard where you can usually find them in common moss, lichens and ferns, feeding on natural detritus in the undergrowth."

Burying Caesar

Was Julius Caesar the greatest person (besides Jesus) who lived? Or at least one of the greatest? He certainly had an impact over a lot of history and a wide range of the known world in his day. From Britain to Egypt, he made his mark.
Now someone has written a book about his death. Was this the most famous assassination in history? Possibly, maybe up there is Lincoln's too.
To read more about this book of his time and final days, please go here.

The Claque

We have heard of "laugh tracks". So throughout history, there have been people available for hire or use who offer clapping at performances. It is to help boost enthusiasm in the audience for the performance. Here is more info about what a claque means.

"…a theatre or individual could order anywhere from a handful of well-placed plants to a large audience full of enthusiastic supporters to fill out empty seats or bolster the desired reaction to a début play or performance in order to influence subsequent reviews."

Civil War Songs at the New

Recently a vocal ensemble presented a collection of songs, hymns, and fiddle tunes at the Cooper Union in New York City. The hall was where Abraham Lincoln made his famous Cooper Union speech in February 1860 as he ran for the Presidency. Read more about it here.

Laura Ingalls Wilder

A book has come out recently that is a mix of old and the new. It is a book based on Laura Ingalls Wilder's experiences with comments and footnotes from the editor of the book. It has become a big bestseller and is only in hardback. The first edition is selling around 10 times the issue price. It is not an e-book at this time due to the complexity of the book. Fascinating on how we still treasure the touchstone pieces of literature from earlier days. Maybe a number of us don't want to be entertained by Kim Kardashian and her family after all. A book review is found here.

Roman Era Grave

They keep metal detecting and then digging to find fascinating caches of their history in Great Britain. Recently, a man found the grave of a wealthy Roman individual. The items were likely dating from around 200 A.D. Mosiac pottery, bronze jugs, and coins were part of the mix. More information can be found here.

Real Jurassic Park

So will we really try to do a version of Jurassic Park some day in the near future. It appears they are looking at bringing back different extinct species through using samples of their DNA, De-extinction they call it. More can be found here.

Jurassic Park has a lot to answer for. It made the idea seem so simple. Take the DNA from a microscopic drop of dinosaur blood, preserved for 65 million years in the gut of a mosquito trapped in fossilised amber. Carry out a bit of jiggery-pokery involving chaos theory and Jeff Goldblum. Insert the dino DNA into the yolk of a crocodile’s egg and leave to incubate. Soon you’ll have a thriving menagerie of once-extinct beasts roaming the jungles of someone’s private theme park. The 1993 Hollywood blockbuster and Michael Crichton novel of the same name may not have invented the idea of “de-extinction” but they certainly put it out there as a concept. And like all good works of science fiction, it showed what goes wrong when scientists get above themselves. A rampant T-rex is, after all, the ultimate invasive species.

Celtic Music

Bob and I love to listen to Celtic Music. This is why we had a good time listening to this trio at the Scottish Festival. Their name is Golden Bough. They are funny and have lively music and ballads. We got one of their albums.

Scottish Festival in Linn County

We went to Albany today to visit the Linn County Scottish Festival. It had been on a two year hiatus.
Here is the Eugene Highlander Pipe and Drum band getting ready. We saw them march in with the NW Scottish Honor Guard.

100 Bestselling Used Books

I came across an article about another article covering what are considered 100 of the bestselling used books. I have read over time 31 of them and have around 10 more in my library that I have not read. So I am close to reading or buying about half of the list. I suppose that makes me a bookaholic or at least somewhat well-read. The list is found from AveBooks here. This is a good used book site.

Justified and Westerns

The TV show Justified is set to finish its last season in a few weeks. It is just about the best TV series of all time in my book. The acting and writing are superb. It holds your attention every week. I have always been a Timothy Olyphant fan along with many of the others in this series. Now I came across an article discussing how the series and the main character, Raylan Givens, relates to the western genre and modern manhood. More of the discussion can be found here. At least, I can get away from all the secular progressive garbage on the internet and look at a mix of traditional and modern concepts with this show.

Rachel Lu thinks heroes of the western genre like John Wayne embodied a noble vision of American manhood as honorable, reliable, and self-sacrificing—everything a good American man should be.

Understood in that light, Lu argues that the FX series “Justified,” although it has elements of the western genre, is thoroughly modern, its characters “infused with far more moral ambiguity than John Wayne typically faced.” The show’s protagonist, Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (played by Timothy Olyphant), might dress like a cowboy, but “as a family man, he leaves much to be desired”—because he sleeps around with strange women and refuses to join his wife and baby in another state. By contrast, the show’s villain, Boyd Crowder (the excellent Walton Goggins), is devoted to one woman and his “devotion even inspires dreams of respectability.”

Margie At Work

I caught a good photo of Margie Scherk, a long time friend from Vancouver, BC, Canada, hard at work during the Winn Feline Foundation grant review. She really concentrates on this.

Early Sunrise

We have been getting a number of lovely early morning sunrises again lately. This is from last week but lovely still to see and also to have some nice weather hanging around.

Hello, Jello

Well, who would have thunk it? Gelatin has been around as a "delicacy" since the 15th century. Jello has itself as part of the mix, over a century. Jello is a mix of a name of gelatin and jelly. How cool is that? Learn a little more about the history of jello here.

Books About Madness

Well, with my busy schedule lately, I have not been able to do much in the reading line. Certainly I can't keep up with the books I'd like to get through. I do like to read about what ones are out there. Here is a list of great novels about madness. Interesting and quite mad I would guess. Check it out here.

Baseball and Spring Training

While in Tampa, people were headed to the region to go to spring training games for the Grapefruit League. My cab driver said that Tampa was the center for a number of teams spring training camps - Yankees, Tiger, Blue Jays for some. So the trivia question of the day is why do baseball managers wear their team's uniform instead of a suit like in other sports? Well, you can find out about it here.

Some History of Paper Making

Another trivia question is about why paper yellows and becomes more fragile. Paper came to be made out of wood pulp, a mix of cellulose and lignin. Both can oxidize a bit and therefore, discolor. Acid-free paper which lasts longer for more important documents has much less lignin in it. They do not deteriorate so quickly. To learn more about the history of how paper came to be and how it is made can be noted here.

St. Patrick's Day

Just getting home from a long trip and needing to catch up, I did not get a chance to partake of St. Patrick's Day celebrations. I also found that an online class I was taking starts tonight so no rest for the wicked as they say. I did come across this trivia article about why Ireland does not have snakes. A lot of it comes down to the fact that it IS an island and nothing to do with Saint Patrick. More information can be located here.

The Unknown Soldier

I had to get up early today for a long day of travel to Tampa, Florida by way of Denver. I felt fortunate that the flights were on time and I had no problems getting there. The city seems interesting and I wish I had more time to explore.
One additional bit of trivia for the day is about how the concept for the Unknown Soldier came about. Sites are not just located in the United States where we are most familiar as Americans. Here is some background to read about how an unknown soldier is selected. We have visited the Tomb in Arlington Cemetery and it is solemn and inspiring.
tomb-of-unknown-soldier --11-15

Still Snow

When we stopped at the Mt. Jefferson viewpoint, we were fairly high in elevation. There was still a small amount of snow in areas. Usually where the shade prevails and little sun enters the area. The nights are still cold. We are faced with some issues with dwindling snow and water sources in the mountains. The reservoirs have the look of a bombed out crater with some water.

William Blake

Bob and I have visited the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, England. It was a fascinating trip through the museum and they had really good food there as I remember. I came across this article about William Blake, a well-known writer/artist. His exhibit is considered different. So if you wish to enter that world and find out why, look here.

Ketchup or Catsup

I wonder if my oldest son will still want to put ketchup on his scrambled eggs if he finds out that ketchup was first found in China and based on fermented fish guts. YUMM! It evolved over time into the version we use know as a condiment, though the British introduced the term, catsup, at one point. Catsup it was called in the U.S. for many years until the term ketchup took over more. So from fermented fish guts through mushroom and walnut mixed sauce to a tomato base. What a journey! More found here.

How Sadie Hawkins Day Came To Be

Sadie Hawkins Day has become a bit of the cultural lexicon. It actually was thought up by Al Capp, the cartoonist of the Lil' Abner cartoon series set in Dogpatch. Lil'Abner had a 40 year run in the papers. I do remember the cartoon.

"The way Al tells it, Sadie was the daughter of Hekzebiah Hawkins, one of the town’s first settlers, who had the dubious distinction of being the “homeliest gal in all them hills.” After waiting not-so-patiently for 15 years for a suitor to show up at her door, not a single prospective husband arrived to court her. With each passing year, Sadie became more and more panicky, as did her father, who did not relish the idea of supporting a spinster daughter for the rest of her days."

"For today’s young women, Sadie Hawkins Day doesn’t seem all that relevant anymore. But for a few decades in the middle of the twentieth century, it served as a social bridge between the years when women rarely left the home and the sexual revolution."

More about how it all came about in between then and its status now, find it here.

The Plague

Interesting theory. Scientists now believe that the plague to hit Europe in the Middle Ages was more spread due to gerbils than due to rats moving from trade routes to on ships.

"What we are suggesting is that it was gerbils in Central Asia and the bacterium in gerbils that eventually came to Europe," Stenseth says. The scientists used climate records to check their theory, and they found a tentative link. When the climate in Asia was good, gerbils are thought to have thrived; but when it went bad, the population crashed. And about 15 years after each boom and bust, a plague outbreak erupted in Europe. The theory is that fleas carrying plague jumped from dead gerbils to pack animals and human traders, who then brought it to European cities. The research team's results appear in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

More here.

Origin of Valentine's Day

Returning to my information trivia roots, there was a short informational email about the origin of Valentine's Day. A day where it seems everyone wants to dine out and the restaurants were full. Bob and I went to the movies for a change and for our Valentine's Day entertainment. We went to see the movie we had been anxious to get to see, American Sniper. A very good film and one that we both were glad we made it happen. The comments one would see about the movie of how the theatre was dead silent at the end were very correct. Our theatre was so quiet and solemn as we exited, plus a had a tear or two that wanted to clear a path down my face.
Well, on to the origin of Valentine's Day which can be found here.

"While not thought to be directly related to modern Valentine’s Day traditions, the beginnings of celebrating love (of a sort) in February date back to the Romans. The feast of Lupercalia was a pagan fertility and health festival, observed from February 13th through the 15th, that was celebrated at least as far back as 44 BCE (the year Julius Caesar was assassinated). Some historians believe it goes back even further, though with possibly a different name."

The Heart Shape

Where did the heart symbol come from? We recognize it world-wide. With Valentine's Day tomorrow, it is worth taking a look and understanding where the symbol derives. Find it here.

"Something like the familiar heart symbol goes back many thousands of years. Specifically, several pieces of pottery going back as far as 3000BC clearly show the unmistakable symbol. However, in these instances, the symbol is noted to be a simplification of either a fig or ivy leaf, not a crude representation of the human heart, and seemingly, at least initially, not having anything to do with love. Fast-forwarding through history and we find many cultures using a similar symbol, such as depicted in Grecian, Cretian, Minoan, Mycean, Roman and Corinthian pottery, along with many others. In these instances, again, the symbol doesn’t appear to be representative of a heart, but of various leaves.

For example, the early vine leaf imagery in Greek culture was mostly used to represent Dionysus, the god of wine, fertility, and ecstasy, among other things. For a more straightforward example of the ivy leaf imagery having a double, suggestive meaning, in the city of Ephesus around fourth century A.D, the symbol was used to represent a brothel."

Picturesque Winter Towns

I came across this link showing 30 of the most picturesque winter towns. Beautiful photos and fun to look at.

The Bold Into Space

Well before man projected himself into space, others pioneered the path they took so people could follow. Those other were animals, usually monkeys or dogs. To read more about their exploits, it can be found in this random thought column here. They led the way in our space race.


I like maps. In fact, I love maps. Old maps are the coolest and such a snapshot of history "then". I came across this article about some maps that have helped shape the world. Check them out here.

Three Short Horror Stories

I came across online one time some links to online stories and books. One portion covered some favorites of shorter horror stories. Here is a set of three labeled, "Pigeons From Hell" by Robert E. Howard.

Freight Farms

Parts of agriculture could be changing. Hobby farms are out there. Someone has come up with a concept of mini-farms. Could it make farming better in some ways. Interesting concept on freight farms - farms inside shipping containers. Look here.

Radio Signals

Bob is better at noting this since he would listen to the radio when he lived up in Quincy and he would be able to hear the powerful stations from San Francisco at night. Occasionally when we listen to AM radio while driving we can find certain stations on a night trip. So why does AM radio travel farther at night? Listen here.

Full Moon

We were fortunate to have a clear night and a rising full moon. This is a cell phone photo so not my favorite mode but the closest camera around. I love to watch the moon come up over the mountains. So striking.

Cheez Whiz

With all the snacks with chips and dips, cheese whiz has to be among them. Certainly mixing some of this type of cheese with salsa and heating it in the microwave makes a nice nacho cheese dip for chips. Great for watching the big day of the Super Bowl and snacking. We won't be participating with other people so no socializing. Funny thing to read about Cheese Whiz being developed to use in Britain to make Welsh Rarebit (funny story behind the making of this dish).

Singing and Brenda Lee

Brenda Lee was discovered around the age of 10. Her one biggest hit was "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree". She even sang with Elvis in her early career days. The song mentioned was a flop in early stages yet now has gone on to sell well over 25 million copies. Interesting story.

What The Deer Think

Now I will show what the deer think and how they show off for the camera. Interesting how it gives the time and temperature. BRRRR for 34 degrees at around 6:40 in the morning.

Trail Camera

Scott and Melissa got us a motion detecting Trail Camera for the Christmas holiday. We finally got it put up about 10 days ago. Bob brought the memory card in to load anything on the computer. First we do have the main wildlife in this family checking out the camera to see how it is working.

Megyn Kelly

One of my day to day heroes and I love to watch is Megyn Kelly of Fox News. It was nice to see that the New York Times (worth mostly cage paper on the political area) did a feature on her. Check it out.

The Internet Alexandria Library

History has described the immensity and loss of the library at Alexandria in Egypt. We lost so much when that library was burned. People think that everything that is on the internet is there for all time or certainly for a very long time. Often it is not and is purged in days, weeks, months, and maybe years. Now people have created the internet Archive and are saving webpages for posterity. They are the "go to" people for this effort. Read about it in detail here.

Flaming Trees

The sunrise was quite unique this morning where the sun "peeked" through the edge of the cloud cover over the eastern hills and mountains. It created a flaming look to the sky and behind the Douglas fir trees. Quite spectacular.

The DFR Speech

Last night was the State of the Union speech. I could not watch the speech. Too tired of being lied to. All I can say is that everything I have been on out takes and discussions of the speech is that it should not be the SOTU but the DFR speech (Divorced From Reality) on both domestic and foreign policy. 'Nuff said.

The Fall

Earlier this year I watched the first season of an interesting crime drama set in Belfast, N. Ireland. It was really good. Netflix was promoting the second season to watch so I got started doing so on my IPad. I was hooked. It was about the best or one of the best crime shows I have ever viewed. Intense and the characters were fascinating to watch. The male lead playing the serial murderer was great, really great. He played the man as such a normal family man who hid such intelligent evil under this normal surface. A master manipulator up against a female chief inspector who was determined to find and capture him. Cat and mouse play or mouse and cat play. Toying with each other and the people surrounding them too. A good TV series out of Northern Ireland, The Fall.

Disorganized Books

I saw this photo of a book store (I presume since it looks like the used book store in Lebanon looks like or looked like before it moved). The title for the picture was " one can never have too many books" which is true. Certainly this can feel like our house feels with all the books yet we aren't terribly disorganized………they are just in bookcases in most every room of the house.

Andy Kauffman Equals Elvis

I came across this link to old video of a sketch on the Tonight Show of early Andy Kauffman. About 2 1/2 minutes in he switches to doing Elvis Presley. Or is it Elvis becomes Andy? Funny and great memories. Nicely done by Andy who died too early. "Tank you veddy much!"

A Funny Fish Habit

I came across one of the "Today I Found Out" trivia pieces and had a real chuckle at the title about fish that "Talk with Farts". I didn't realize that herring had such an interesting aspect to their makeup. Gee, I wonder what people would be like if they moved around in schools directed by how they passed gas.
Check it out here.


I love to read when I have the time. I do most of it on a tablet because I can read across different e-book sellers platforms where I have purchased books. We do have 2 ereaders in the house.
I came across this link to info about BookBub as a source for discount electronic books.

"Josh Schanker, a Boston-based digital entrepreneur, thinks that he might have the solution. Like the DailyDeal, his company, BookBub, sends out a free daily e-mail that highlights deeply discounted books. However, unlike Amazon's service, BookBub offers bargains for users across all major reader platforms, including the iPad, the Kindle, the Sony reader and the Nook. More importantly, though, it allows users to select books across 17 different genres -- far more than the four offerings that come in each Daily Deal e-mail."


Yesterday Bob and I had a batch of buttered popcorn. On a rainy, gloomy Sunday afternoon, freshly popped hot popcorn is comfort food. The batch was small because we were operating on the small batch of popcorn kernels in the jar left to pop. So on to why does popcorn pop?

"So why does popcorn pop? There are three main elements of popcorn that have to come together to produce popcorn kernels that are good for popping. Those three elements are: the percentage of water content; a hard, undamaged, water impermeable shell; and a starchy center."

Parisien Jihad

We have been through 3 days of intense news coverage of an overwhelming loss of life through execution shooting of a cartoonist publication office and then a Jewish market in Paris. Most of the perpetrators are dead now yet one woman is still on the loose. She was the spouse of one of the dead gunmen. France now has their most severe terrorist attack and are reeling from it. An interesting article and discussion of how France came to this pass and what they now how to look forward to with jihadists in their midst.

Celsius and Fahrenheit

Growing up in the United States, you get used to using Fahrenheit for temperatures. Once you go outside the U.S., you will have to get used to Celsius for temperature and learn to convert it (if you don't have a conversion app on your Smartphone). I have had to learn to convert of to write medical information in a combination of Fahrenheit and Celsius. How did we get to this difference or where did the determination for the two different levels come from? Read on to learn about Daniel Fahrenheit and Anders Celsius.

Shelby Foote

Potentially the most authoritative collection on the Civil War is the 3 book series of Shelby Foote, The Civil War. We have owned this set for many years. It is well done. This article is a fascinating piece of how a young man became immersed in this subject and spent almost 20 years writing a classic on this particular war. Well done, Shelby, well done indeed.

Ebola Story

Ebola has been ravaging west Africa,especially in three countries. It did make its way over to the United States and I think it will again very possibly. At one point in the spring of 2014, it looked like they had the disease under control and on the way out as an epidemic. It smoldered and came roaring back in the summer. Here is an interesting story about how that was allowed to happen.

EMP Museum

We toured the EMP (Experience Music Project) Museum at the Seattle Center. We stood in line for an hour to do the 4-D Game of Thrones Climb the Wall Experience of 1 minute. They had everyone sign a release of risk and warned of problems due to the experience. I thought it was a bit ho hum and the movie Friday night in 3-D and being near the front of the theatre was more disconcerting. More alarming standing in line trying to save my knee than looking through the 4-D goggles.
Went to the Fantasy, SciFi, and Horror Movie sections. "Here Be Dragons"……..


Breakfast at Lola's

I love Eggs Benedict for breakfast. Just about the ultimate breakfast item and Lola's makes the best. Great poached eggs, done just perfect. The potatoes are smashed garlic ones and are a great compliment to the other items.


Beatrix Potter, Naughty and Mice

Many of us have been exposed to the stories of Beatrix Potter. Cute little stories of mice and rabbits. I can't say that I am knowledgable about her stories. I have seen the books and have some of the stories in children's book I own. My biggest exposure is visiting the Royal Doulton store in Vacaville, CA where they sold Beatrix Potter figurines as collectibles. I bought some of the ones that I found cute and cat related. Learn more about Beatrix Potter's life and stories here.

"No Christmas story is more charming than Beatrix Potter’s The Tailor of Gloucester, set in the Regency, “in the time of swords and periwigs and full-skirted coats with flowered lappets.” The author said that it was her favorite of all her tales for children. With an important commission due on Christmas day—the mayor is getting married, and needs his resplendent coat “of cherry-colored corded silk embroidered with pansies and roses”—the tailor falls ill. He is hungry, poor, old, and desperate. But he has always been kind to the mice who infest his house, much to the disgust of his servant Simpkin, a cat—and it is the mice who come to his aid in his illness, finishing his commission on Christmas Eve with their nimble sewing, singing cheerfully in their communal act of seasonal charity."

Moving Through Crowds

Brownian movement. Well, maybe, maybe not. I know as I move through crowds when I look to move around people, many of them seem to move right into my path and slow me down. I am not sure why they seem to find a way to block my movement. Maybe what I see is not what the study here found.

" In a study published last week in Physical Review Letters, physicists say they have found a principle at work in crowd motion. Rather than behaving like particles, people appear to move in a uniquely human but roughly predictable way—driven by precise but unconscious calculations that help us avoid collisions.

“People, as they move through crowds, are always extrapolating into the future and deciding how far they are from colliding,” says Brian Skinner, a condensed matter physicist at the Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois and one of the authors of the paper."

Peter Pan Continues

I just wrote about how Bob Hope was part of my growing up. So was the yearly show of Mary Martin playing Peter Pan on TV, flying across the stage. There have been many renditions of the story of J.M. Barrie's. This is the visual that will stick with me through my days. While we have so many other new animated figures the young ones watch on TV, Peter Pan will be timeless. So much more of a story and imagination. This is what we miss so much in this day and age, imagination. So much is spoon-fed and simple, PC and poll tested for quick absorption. What we need are those times of reflection and time for us to let our thoughts blossom and fly along with Peter Pan.
Mary Martin as Peter Pan………..
mary-martin-peter-pan- 12-20-14

Bob Hope, Entertainer

Growing up and during many formative years, Bob Hope was the entertainer who signified entertaining for the military troops overseas or the MC of the Oscar night show. I also loved the earlier movies he did with Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamarr. They were frequently shown on the few TV channels we would get out of Portland through the TV antenna. Could one call him the Entertainer of the Century? I would think so since he lived a long and productive life entertaining. A biography has been written of his life and accomplishments. To read the book review and learn a little more about him, it can be found here. He was a funny guy and could put you in stitches.

The Night Before Christmas

So who wrote The Night Before Christmas tale? There is some dispute about who was responsible. One fellow has been described as the most likely though a distant relative through his wife may be the author. At least his family claims so. It is certainly a story that is ingrained in our Christmas holiday culture. Many children have been raised looking for Santa to deliver the presents in a setting with the stockings hung with care and not a creature was stirring. Not even a mouse or if they did, our cats would get them. Read on about this lovely poem from 1823, so long ago it was just yesterday…….


So how did Xmas come about in our vocabulary. It isn’t just an abbreviation that is non-religious. X is the letter in the Greek alphabet that stands for “Chi” which in Greek is short for Christ. This information has been found and used in different style guides. Fun to know more about the origination of words that we think are just trivial. They actually have a deeper meaning. Check it out here.

1927 Bristol Sessions

I bet most people have not heard of the 1927 Bristol Sessions. Not being a music student, I had not until recently. On our trip to Nashville recently, I wandered through the music store associated with the Country Music Hall of Fame. While I was contemplating purchasing an album of Emmy Lou Harris’ (fine voice), I decided on a CD compilation called the 1927 Recordings of the Bristol Sessions done in Bristol, TN. The artists feature were Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family. I got the inkling that this was a defining moment for country music and what I understand is called “root music’. These individuals were pioneers in bringing the music that traveled from the Scots/Irish areas to the Appalachian region into our awareness. A beautiful film that shows what this might mean is worth viewing, “Songcatcher”, starring Janet McAteer and Aidan Quinn. The 1927 Bristol Sessions is the first recording done of “root” music in the United States and it is interesting to listen to.
Now I see today that I was up with this interest since there is a New York Times Book Review on two books covering this phenomenon in American Music history.


PEZ and Instant Cake Mixes Related

What does PEZ and instant cake mixes have in common? They were invented by the same young man many years ago. The teenager felt the light baking powder his grandfather had to sell was better on a person’s digestion. Voila, it moved on to creating instant cake mixes. With the soul of an inventor, he went on to invent PEZ and hire someone to invent the dispenser which in different forms is very iconic. Read about it here.

“As a teenager, the inventor of the PEZ confectionery created one of the world’s first ready-made cake mixes, popularly selling it throughout the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

The teenager was Eduard Haas III. Haas III’s grandfather, Eduard Haas I, was a doctor who invented a type of “light” baking powder which he advocated over yeast in recipes as he felt it was easier on people’s digestive systems. As a teen, Haas III began selling and promoting his grandfather’s baking powder at his father’s wholesale grocery store.”

Video Stores in These Times

In our small town, Blockbuster and Hollywood video stores closed a long time ago. They were pretty big stores here. There are no other video stores where there had been three. Netflix, Redbox, and Amazon or DISH Network streaming have taken their business model away.
Some video stores though have been able to survive by finding a niche market in these current times. This article describes how they are doing it. It probably is a version of an interesting video store that was located in Pleasant Hill CA when we lived down that way. The store was Einstein’s Video. They carried the New Releases but they also had a lot of lesser known cult or artistic videos. I liked going in there and finding a TV series or video series to watch that I did not want to purchase but did want to view. I don’t know if they are still in business yet I hope they are or their spirit of enterprise lives on.

Jason and the Argonauts

When I was younger I enjoyed watching such movies as “Jason and the Argonauts”. The Ray Harryhausen special effects were cool and well done for that age of cinematography. They still show these movies often on the weekends on TNT or other movie channels.

There is a Greek poem called “Argonautica” and entertains much of this type of tale. More detail can be found here about this work and how it stimulates the imagination and story-telling of today.

“Back in the 1950s and early ’60s, there flourished a cinematic genre now sometimes called sword-and-sandal. Loosely speaking, this category included B-movies featuring Steve Reeves as Hercules, mighty epics such as “The Fall of the Roman Empire” and gorgeous fantasy swashbucklers, many with special effects by Ray Harryhausen, including “The 7th Voyage of Sinbad.” What weary aging heart wouldn’t love to be 12 again on a Saturday afternoon, seated at the Palace Theatre waiting for the opening credits of “Jason and the Argonauts”? Remember the bronze giant Talos! The flying Harpies! The Clashing Rocks! The fight with the skeleton army!”


Once and awhile a person comes across a quite off-the-wall, a bit humorous, unique piece of news. This information struck me as a bit of Monty Pythonesque satire even if true. What leaps to mind is the term from MP of “I fart in your general direction”. Certainly gaseous related humor finds a home in the Thayer family, even the female side. I remember going to Las Vegas with my mother and grandmother and listening to a Los Angeles radio station and the Tom Lykus program. He spent an hour having people call in about what were the grossest things the people had seen or experienced. One story was about a farting episode referred to the Birmingham Blunderbuss. More detail could be covered yet some delicacy must be maintained.
So a Frenchman has developed an anti-flatulence pill or at least one to make them smell like roses. His reason is explained with the following and more detail occurs in the article.

“65-year-old inventor says he came up with his range of indigestion tablets after he was "nearly suffocated" by the smell of farts”

Sentences and Prepositions

Bob has a better memory and understanding of English grammar than I do. What I was exposed to was not absorbed to the level of sticking with me. Many times he reminds me you should not end a sentence with a preposition. Well, this rule overall is full of hooey. Just see what Churchill thought of this.

A great man once said, “This is the sort of English up with which I will not put.” “

Read about it here and see where definitely one can use prepositions at the end of a sentence.

“As for today, according to the Oxford Dictionaries, there are four primary types of sentences where it sounds more natural to end a sentence with a preposition:

Infinitive: Joe had no one to go with.
Who, what, where type questions: What song were you listening to?
Passive: The cat was let in.
Relative clauses: That’s the man she lived with.”

Paperback Books and World War ll

Did paperback books help win World War ll for the Citizen Soldier? Did it help with their war experience and to pass the time? Maybe this was their type of dime store novel. Find out the background here.

“A decade after the Nazis’ 1933 book burnings, the U.S. War Department and the publishing industry did the opposite, printing 120 million miniature, lightweight paperbacks for U.S. troops to carry in their pockets across Europe, North Africa and the Pacific.

The books were Armed Services Editions, printed by a coalition of publishers with funding from the government and shipped by the Army and Navy. The largest of them were only three-quarters of an inch thick—thin enough to fit in the pocket of a soldier’s pants. Soldiers read them on transport ships, in camps and in foxholes. Wounded and waiting for medics, men turned to them on Omaha Beach, propped against the base of the cliffs. Others were buried with a book tucked in a pocket.”

A Page for Free Books

Here is a webpage for accessing a number of free books. One such section is the 51 volumes of Harvard Classics. A lot of other items are able to be found here too. At least a lot of free reading.

Birth of Alien Solar System

Scott had gall bladder surgery today. We ended up spending a good portion of the day at the Lebanon hospital. Saw my cousin, Linda, there and had a nice chat about family and remembrances of her parents. Surgery went fine though Scott was a sleepy sore person for that evening.

On another note, here is some information from National Geographic magazine about the birth of an alien solar system. The space photos from the Hubble Space Telescope are great. It is an interesting site.

“Only one million years old, HL Tau sits in the constellation Taurus, the Bull, and is some 450 light-years from Earth.
Our own Earth was born more than 4.5 billion years ago from a similar "protoplanetary" disk, explaining astronomers' interest in witnessing planetary origins around a nearby star.”

The Big Apple

Another Trivia Day. Why is New York City referred to as The Big Apple. Read about it here.

The earliest documented reference to New York being referred to as “The Big Apple” comes from a 1909 book by Edward Martin, called The Wayfarer. In it, he uses the moniker in a metaphorical sense, rather than a proper name for the city:

"Kansas is apt to see in New York a greedy city… It inclines to think that the big apple gets a disproportionate share of the national sap…"

Crowd Size

Trivia Day again. Today I Found Out recently covered how crowd size is determined. This can be a controversial issue because people use the numbers to boost the importance of their issue or message. Usually people of a leftist persuasion can get by with exaggeration while others cannot. It is interesting to read in this story about how a fairly simple mathematical look at determination was the basis for what is done today. Read about it.

John Cleese Speaks or Is It Basil Fawlty

There is no doubt that one of the people I enjoy mightily in the humor and acting side of life is John Cleese. His TV show Fawlty Towers was the best, the number one comedy in Britain. It is a gem.

He has just written an autobiography that should be interesting. There is an explanation for the “dead parrot” sketch in the book. That would be worth the price of admission or buying the book. Unbelievable that he just turned 75. Makes one feel old, though watching his humor makes one feel young. Happy Who else can maneuver those silly legs for “The Ministry of Silly Walks” in Monty Python? More about John Cleese here.

Thor's Hammer

I seem to live in a family with younger males who like Avenger movies. I do a bit too. With one of the main characters being Thor, his hammer comes into play with any reference. How can he be worthy and lift this hammer when many others cannot. You can read the theory here…………………and some excerpts below.

“In the Avengers: Age of Ultron clip, Tony Stark speculates that there is a biosensor in the hammer’s shaft that recognizes when Thor has grasped Mjolnir. He is correct, in a sense—though it is not Thor’s fingerprints that the hammer is reading. Most likely it is taking some complex biological and psychological profile that calculates the “worthiness” of whoever is trying to lift the hammer. This is consistent with the scene in the clip where Steve Rogers (Captain America) is able to move the hammer (albeit slightly), while Tony Stark and Jim Rhodes, using thruster-assisted Iron Man and Iron Patriot gloves, are unable to budge Mjolnir at all. But if someone the hammer’s nanotechnology has determined to be “unworthy” tries to raise Mjolnir, how does it prevent itself from being moved?”

“Here the answer lies with Newton’s First Law of Motion, which states that an object at rest will remain at rest, if no net force acts upon it.”

“After all, they couldn’t put it in a comic book or Hollywood movie if it weren’t true!”

Scarred Landscapes

History still shows and bears the scars of what are scenes from our war time history. A photographer has made a project of taking a number of photos from above and from different perspectives of the battlefields of World War I. The images are beautifully photographed and haunting. In the long run they are downright amazing. Please view them here. People lived and died here. No wonder the British call it Remembrance to

Where Bad Guys Go To Be Buried

Ever wondered where the bad guys, gangsters and outlaws are buried? Some people visit President’s gravesides, there are probably those who like to visit where the troubled have final resting places. Here is a story showing where to find 8 of these people. I don’t know if I would list Doc Holiday as an outlaw. Interestingly, he is related to Margaret Mitchell, author of “Gone With The Wind”. Go here to learn more about these burial sites.

Where Art Thou, T-Shirt?

T-shirts are everywhere. Under our outer wear shirts, a fashion item themselves, a public statement, or just an advertisement, we all wear them. We don’t give any thought to where they came from, how they were invented. Surprisingly they are a newer piece of clothing. Check out their history here.

“Relatively speaking, the t-shirt is a fairly new addition to our collective wardrobes and it has only been an acceptable piece of clothing in its own right for around half a century. While the garment itself has existed in a recognisable form (albeit with wider necks and shorter sleeves) since the early 20th century, it was almost universally considered to be underwear and it was rarely, if ever worn in public.

So where did the t-shirt come from? It’s thought that it evolved from a kind of all-in-one underwear made from red flannel known as the “union suit” which was popular with workers in the 19th century. The union suit was patented in 1868 in New York and was based on a similar kind of underwear that had been popular with Victorian women. While the Union Suit excelled at keeping men warm, it was all but useless at keeping them cool in hot weather, unless that is, it was cut in half, which many workers did. In so doing, they inadvertently created the top half of what many would recognise today as “Long Johns”, a similar garment which consisted of two pieces of long underwear.”

Zombie Obsession

I have featured articles by Michael Totten on this blog before. He is an interesting writer and also a fellow Oregonian. He has also written a Zombie book, Resurrection, which probably will lead to a sequel. The book is optioned for a movie. Because of this, he has written an article not related to war or distant locations, but one about our Zombie obsession (which I admit I have). I am a Walking Dead fan. I like to watch Zombie movies and shows and read the books. It is different and not run of the mill, even if there is a lot of Zombie stuff out there. Check out his look at where The Walking Dead has been over the last years and Zombie mania.

“Zombies seem to be everywhere these days. Barnes and Noble called the decade from 2003 to 2013 a “Golden Age for zombie fiction.” Max Brooks—son of comedian Mel Brooks—has written several zombie-themed books, the most popular of which—2006’s World War Z—sold more than 1 million copies and inspired the blockbuster 2013 movie of the same name, starring Brad Pitt. (I recently jumped into the genre myself, with a novel called Resurrection, which has been optioned for film.) Zombies dominate the video-gaming world. Dead Rising 3 for Xbox One and Microsoft Windows, released last November—the latest in a zombie-killing franchise—has already sold 1.2 million copies, at $50 a pop.”

Got My ABVP Recertification Certificate

This is probably not the best picture and I hope to see if a better one comes along from ABVP yet it shows me getting my second ABVP recertification. I made Bob go along to Nashville to see me get this for one thing since he had to put up with me working so hard to review and write items for points. I am up on the stage with others in the group. Unfortunately the one of me accepting the award is out of focus. The Patron Club was a really nice location to have a dinner. A really cool place as part of the Bridgestone Arena for the Tennessee Panther hockey team.

True Thoughts on Conversation

“The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing in the right place but to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment."
-- Lady Dorothy Nevill,
British writer

A very accurate statement. One should consider whether what they say will advance the conversation or the understanding associated with the conversation. Will it achieve what you want or will it detract? Is it a “fly-by” just to be hurtful or at least unhelpful.

The Princess Bride

Some movies make “cult” status, sometimes quickly, other times over time. “The Princess Bride” is said to be of the latter category. It is certainly one I enjoy to watch and it has one of the most quoted lines from any movie in it. Mandy Patinkin delivered it. Patinkin is a wonderful actor and singer. One of my wishes was to see him perform and I did finally get to do so in San Francisco a number of years ago. He was smaller than I expected and pale (probably due to stage makeup). He did put on a good show. All I can say is read Cary Elwes book about the movie and read this article about it all. INCONCEIVABLE!

Kooky Kansas City Cats

Sports fans are a bit strange and two guys who are long time Kansas City Royals baseball fans. By painting some wrestling one-suits with cat faces, they have become quite well known around TV for their attire and support of their team. Especially in the playoffs and World Series. We need to get the Catsuit Guys to say a good word for Winn Feline Foundation. See more about them.

Wind Storm

Today we had the biggest windstorm that Oregon has had since in December 2006. We missed that one because we were in Chico visiting Bob’s cousin and husband. The wind then got up to 100 mph gusts. Not so bad yesterday but it was very blustery. We went to Eugene for some shopping and lunch. The outer doors to Macy’s kept blowing open and bringing with the wind a lot of leaves into the store. It was nice to get home so we could get away from the Suburu being buffeted along the road. Power went out for about an hour. I like storms but would have liked to be at the Oregon coast snuggled up next to a fire and watch the storm hit the coastline. That is lots of fun (unless one would be out in a boat). They had to evacuate the Port Orford harbor yesterday because the wind was so bad.

More Hot Zone

Richard Preston is the author of the book I mentioned a few days ago, “The Hot Zone”. He has an article today in The New Yorker called, “The Ebola Wars”. He has such an interesting way of writing about diseases to bring it all down to the feeling it is right in front of you waiting to be touched (or not touched in this case). I wish we could have him communicate the real life scenario than the basic hacks from the government who make you feel like they just lie to you or want to talk down to a person. For his take on the current Ebola situation in west Africa, go here.

The most dangerous outbreak of an emerging infectious disease since the appearance of H.I.V., in the early nineteen-eighties, seems to have begun on December 6, 2013, in the village of Meliandou, in Guinea, in West Africa, with the death of a two-year-old boy who was suffering from diarrhea and a fever. We now know that he was infected with Ebola virus. The virus is a parasite that lives, normally, in some as yet unidentified creature in the ecosystems of equatorial Africa. This creature is the natural host of Ebola; it could be a type of fruit bat, or some small animal that lives on the body of a bat—possibly a bloodsucking insect, a tick, or a mite.

Before now, Ebola had caused a number of small, vicious outbreaks in central and eastern Africa. Doctors and other health workers were able to control the outbreaks quickly, and a belief developed in the medical and scientific communities that Ebola was not much of a threat. The virus is spread only through direct contact with blood and bodily fluids, and it didn’t seem to be mutating in any significant way.”

Surviving Ebola

What helps some people be able to resist and/or survive Ebola? Knowing some of the background of this type of immunity would be useful. More information found here.
Ebola virus particles on a cell’s surface.....


“People who survive Ebola can lead normal lives post-recovery, though occasionally they can suffer inflammatory conditions of the joints afterwards, according to CBS. Recovery times can vary, and so can the amount of time it takes for the virus to clear out of the system. The World Health Organization found that the virus can reside in semen for up to seven weeks after recovery. Survivors are generally assumed to be immune to the particular strain they are infected by, and are able to help tend to others infected with the same strain. What isn't clear is whether or not a person is immune to other strains of Ebola, or if their immunity will last.

As with most viral infections, patients who recover from Ebola end up with Ebola-fighting antibodies in their blood, making their blood a valuable (if controversial) treatment option for others who catch the infection. Kent Brantly, one of the most recognizable Ebola survivors, has donated more than a gallon of his blood to other patients. The plasma of his blood, which contains the antibodies, is separated out from the red blood cells, creating what’s known as a convalescent serum, which can then be given to a patient as a transfusion. The hope is that the antibodies in the serum will boost the patient’s immune response, attacking the virus, and allowing the body to recover.”


Ebola and The Hot Zone

We have been going through a serious period over the past 2 weeks where a traveler from Liberia brought an Ebola infection with him and transmitted it to two nurses treating him. Troubling and I don’t feel our medical authorities have been handling the situation with due caution and appropriate controls. Too much minimizing and I feel that they forget the serious concerns discussed in the book, The Hot Zone, from the 1990s where an outbreak in monkeys near Washington D.C. was considered a major concern. I talked with two veterinarians featured in that book and this is a level 4 virus in how they handle it. High mortality and one we don’t want in the population. Here are some facts coming in about this clade of Ebola virus and how to deal with it.

The Origin of Blackmail

Another situation of “Did you know” and “Today I Found Out”. What is the origin of the word and concept Blackmail and the lesser known phrase “buttock mail”. You can check it out here.

“Blackmail” has its roots in the early 16th century, first used by English farmers living on the England/Scotland border. It derives from the Middle English word “male” which itself is thought to derive from the Old English word “mal”. In Old English “Mal” is described as thus: “lawsuit, terms, bargaining, agreement”.

Al Jolson

I enjoy reading about different facts in life. It gives a person some perspective about the truth and not the myth. Al Jolson was a singer who was well known for the movie, “The Jazz Singer”. He also did a song in blackface referring to “Mammy”. Not what would be acceptable today as a performance thought there are often ones worse that are not acceptable. One can find out more about Al Jolson and his career here.

Early Cell Phones

Cell phones are ubiquitous. They are everywhere and it seems almost everyone has one (well some have resisted). Here are some interesting facts about the earliest cell phones and how they evolved. The first handheld weighed 2.4 lbs. Now they weigh around 0.25 lbs. What a difference and why they are so popular for one reason. Technology moves on.

Who Invented the Internet

One of the interesting facts from the Today I Found Out website. For further information on this and surrounding facts, check here.

“The genesis of the internet itself was a group effort by numerous individuals, sometimes working in concert, and other times independently. Its birth takes us back to the extremely competitive technological contest between the US and the USSR during the Cold War.

The Soviet Union sent the satellite Sputnik 1 into space on October 4, 1957. Partially in response, the American government created in 1958 the Advanced Research Project Agency, known today as DARPA—Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The agency’s specific mission was to

…prevent technological surprises like the launch of Sputnik, which signaled that the Soviets had beaten the U.S. into space. The mission statement has evolved over time. Today, DARPA’s mission is still to prevent technological surprise to the US, but also to create technological surprise for our enemies.

To coordinate such efforts, a rapid way to exchange data between various universities and laboratories was needed. This bring us to J. C. R. Licklider who is largely responsible for the theoretical basis of the Internet, an “Intergalactic Computer Network.” His idea was to create a network where many different computer systems would be interconnected to one another to quickly exchange data, rather than have individual systems setup, each one connecting to some other individual system.”


Sad Losses

I heard today of the deaths of two people who had a really positive impact on veterinary medicine. One was Dr. Lorie Huston who received the Winn Feline Foundation Media Award this year. The other was the also too early loss of Dr. Sophia Yin who was inspiring to many on better and gentler techniques in handling dogs and cats. She offered so much. I salute their work and mourn their loss to us and all the animals whose lives were bettered and many more who will be so.

Irving Berlin

Irving Berlin is considered the epitome of song writers. He has written so many of our well known iconic tunes. One of the best known and often sung is “God Bless America”. He learned to appreciate the value of America and what it means to those who live here. Besides his super political columns, Mark Steyn is well-versed in musical history. Enjoy his column on Irving Berlin.

“Irving Berlin was a Jew and he endured slights: When he married a society girl, Ellin Mackay, she was dropped from the Social Register; when Ellin's sister took up with a Nazi diplomat in New York and went around sporting a diamond swastika, she suffered no such social disapproval. Throughout his life, fate seemed determined to test to the limit Berlin's faith in both America and the simple certainties of popular song. But he never forgot being a child in Temun, Siberia, when the Cossacks rode in and razed his village, sending his parents scuttling west. About his adopted land, he had no doubts, and his were the words Americans turned to in the wake of September 11th.”

God Bless America Land that I love.

Stand beside her And guide her Through the night With a light from above…

God Bless America My home, sweet home.

Wandering Cows

In returning a favor to our neighbor to check and feed her horses, Bob caught some neighboring cows visiting her driveway. They seem to be on the loose and were probably checking out the tasty vegetation that she has along the edge.roaming-cows-9-26-14

Doh, The Simpsons

Have you ever wanted to say, “Doh”, like Homer Simpson? I bet you have. I even had it as a phone sound at one time. The Simpsons are 25 years old and still going strong. They still shine and have not taken on any dull behavior. Now if you look at the Thayers........well, they are a bit worn around the edges. Happy Just get a feel, a taste of the Simpsons here.

Winn Recognition

It was a really good meeting and one that also brought Winn forward to other cat-loving veterinarians. It was a good time to see old friends and have dinner with them. A special moment for me was to have one veterinarian who I know through the IACD group who said she was happy to see me because I was one of the few people she hoped to see at the meetings. It makes me feel great that I can make others enjoy their experience there. They certainly make my day too. Here is a good slide up on the screen to see.

Drew Baby

My old buddy, Drew Weigner, was at the meeting. He is on the board now of Winn Feline Foundation. We found time to do a little dancing and also to connect up at the Winn booth. He is my other dancing partner.

Winn Drawing Winner of the Winnie

Here is our “Winnie Marchin’ In” winner here in Indianapolis. Her name is Rachael Miller and she was THRILLED to win the Jamie Perry print in our drawing. I hope she got it home safely. It would be great to see Winnie in her new home.

South Korea Boogies

The conference was attended by a young veterinarian from South Korea. He knows Karen from stopping and visiting her practice in Metarie. He is a kick because he stopped at our table and used a photo pole holding his IPhone to take a selfie with them and himself in the middle. Cute gadget and can be the ultimate selfie gizmo, for sure. I was able to catch him on the dance floor dancing to the DJ’s music. For once, I got his photo instead of the one he got of others.

Winn Sponsored Talks

Winn’s sponsored speaker started today in his lectures. Here is Dr. Webb with Dr. Peter Mundschenk, a friend. Peter is moderating the session. Dr. Webb highlighted Winn and Winn’s research where people really sat up and took notice. Very good talk and a lot of interest. I was able to get a podcast done with Dr. Webb and it went well!

The New Winn Website Has Launched

The new Winn Feline Foundation website has launched today. It has been a wish for at least three years and a definite for the past year. It certainly has consumed my time and my life for the past weeks to months. It looks great. I feel like we should take a big bottle of champagne and break it over something much like they do with a ship launching. Though that is a waste of good champagne and be fund drinking it slowly.

Stained Glass Cats

Here was one of my favorite parts of the practice. I remember when I had the fellow from Russia who was an artist in mosaics and stained glass. I commissioned him to do this piece to replace the glass side window at the entrance. It is an original and a very nice piece. I wish I still owned it.

Civic Feline Clinic Waiting Room

Bob and I stopped by Civic Feline Clinic to say hello. We were able to see Teri, Michele, Angela and also Dr. Ellis. It was fun to be in the old stomping grounds. I miss the feel of owning the practice and seeing it grow. I don’t miss the stress. Here is the waiting room with one of the hospital cats.

Dr. Niels Pedersen's Retirement

Part of the weekend at the International Cat Conference was to participate in the retirement party of Dr. Niels Pedersen who led the Center for Companion Animal Health at UC-Davis. He has a long history in feline medicine and was very much a pioneer in viral research in cats. Here he is listening to a scientific presentation during the conference.

Winn Feline Foundation at UC-Davis

Here is Bob in his nice green shirt with the Winn logo. Our Winn Feline Foundation table all set up at the International Cat Conference at UC-Davis.

Old Home For Sale

Our former home in Walnut Creek is for sale. They are asking $799,000. They have made interior changes though the yard, etc. is not as nice as when we had it. We texted our boys about the sale. Scott asked if we could give him a down payment to buy it. Of course, his comments were all in fun or semi-fun.

Creole Culture

I have enjoyed my trips to the city of New Orleans. It is an interesting place to visit and see a different life style. One photographer/writer has chronicled how the Creole culture that helped create part of New Orleans and its look can also be found in Cuba and other parts of decaying Latin America. A look at how that is through his lens.

“While it actually resembles no other city upon the face of the earth,” wrote Lafcadio Hearn of New Orleans, “it owns suggestions of towns in Italy, and in Spain, of cities in England and in Germany, of seaports in the Mediterranean, and of seaports in the tropics.” There’s no better illustration of this than the photographs of Richard Sexton. For four decades Sexton has been playing a transcontinental game of Concentration, pinballing between New Orleans and the cities of the Creole diaspora—Havana, Quito, Cartagena, Cap-Haïtien—documenting resonances in architecture and style. His photographs have now been collected in the gorgeous Creole World: Photographs of New Orleans and the Latin Caribbean Sphere, and are on display this fall in a free exhibition at the Historic New Orleans Collection.


A Changing World Order?

Is the world as we know it changing? Is the economic prosperity and hope for increasing democracy seeping away in current times?There are some who believe so. Time will tell. I believe the next 6 to 12 months could be very dangerous and significant months.

Russian Art as Propaganda

There is a current art exhibit on display in a newer museum in Moscow. The concept is the art of “Soviet Realism”. Of course in Communist times, this type of realism is very much propaganda. A discussion of the exhibit and how it is a look into this time frame and heritage of the Russian peoples can be found here.

“The term "Soviet Realism" conjures up images of workers and farmers nobly engaged in their labors—inflated to mythical status—and depicted in a kind of debased academic style. Produced at a time when Soviet authorities scrutinized art for its content and its execution, demanding ideologically worthy subjects as well as expressive methods that would be easily understood by the masses, works of this kind were offered in direct contrast to the "decadent, bourgeois" styles that flourished in the West, those that embraced abstract forms and individual expression—both anathema to Soviet aesthetics. Much of it is more properly understood as propaganda than as fine art.”

Today I Found Out

I recently came across a website that sends out daily trivia facts to your email. It is called Today I Found Out. It is quite interesting. One can learn about how the word “boycott” came about or how the maximum occupancy for a public room is determined.


To get a sense of the mystique and superb nature of Elvis Presley as an artist and at the height of his artistry, this article will give some insight about a recent packaging of his work from 1970. A restoration, per se. ‘That’s the way it is’.

Why Do We Read?

To gain ‘wisdom and insight’ to get a bit of that in your life, check here.


Bob and I have visited art museums in a number of locations. We both have seen the work of Caravaggio. I can’t remember if it was in London or if in San Francisco. The painting was stunning and had so much emotional impact. I came across this piece about a Caravaggio painting that had been lost for many years. It had been long in the dining hall of a Jesuit location in Dublin. Quite a strange mystery surrounding this. The painting is called “The Taking of Christ”.

Some pictures depict mysteries; others have mysteries attached to them. Caravaggio's "The Taking of Christ," a painting that now hangs proudly on a wall in the National Gallery of Ireland, fits into both categories. For almost two centuries it had gone missing.

Ice Bucket Challenge

The big craze right now through social media is to raise money for ALS by having someone dump a bucket of ice water over you as you pledge to give a certain amount of money. It has raised $44 million dollars as a campaign for them. I went to a picnic last night where one person did the challenge while there. Here is a photo of how it looks.

Fawlty Towers Dining

One of my most favorite TV shows and also the funniest is the British TV show, Fawlty Towers, starring John Cleese. It was voted the funniest of all TV shows in 2000 in Britain. Little can touch the sarcastic humor there. What a hoot. Now people have found a way to bring it to you by way of offering a Fawlty Towers dining experience show. It has traveled the world though mostly seen in the UK. You can find out more about the show and the schedule.

Ghosts Inspire Books

Do ghosts inspire books? According to Esther Freud, an author, the cottage she bought in a Suffolk England village did. The famous Scottish artist Charles Rennie Mackintosh has lived in the home at one time. His presence seemed to infuse the home with other spirits, such as a boy of 10 or 12. Macintosh’s work is everywhere in Scotland or at least its influence and replication of look. His style is esthetically pleasing too many, including me. I’d love to have many items that have that look but cannot afford them. Nice to read a bit about him.

Artifacts in the Atlantic Ocean

A curious find near Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. They found a 22,000-year-old mastodon skull and tool on the seafloor. This, if proven true, might show that there were earlier settlers than previously thought in North America. It might change our thinking of when people came here by some thousands of years. This is “food for thought”.

War Poets 100 Years Ago

There was a lot of poetry and literature that came from the angst and terrible times of World War I. Amazing thought and words on paper. With the War’s Centennial, there is an effort to highlight and showcase the poetry from that time. One example is Wilfred Owen, a soldier and poet, who died just before war’s end. More information is located online. Here is a demonstration of some of that work.

Three lives hath one life—

Iron, honey, gold.

The gold, the honey gone—

Left is the hard and cold.

—Isaac Rosenberg, from ‘August 1914’

Meeting Smarts

Some days I feel that I am hopeless at coming across intelligent in meetings. Maybe that fear will be no more. I found this bit of “wisdom” or humor about the “10 Tricks to Appear Smart During Meetings”. I can use all the help I can get. Check it out here.

University of Oregon

Another article to stir the juices or maybe annoy a person greatly. Universities are becoming a mess. I tried to find the right description and mess seemed to be the best word. What is upsetting about this particular article is about the amount of money the University of Oregon’s student government has available a $15 million budget. Larger than some necessary departments for the city of Eugene. What a wasteful system and the students can’t seem to get along as it is. Maybe they all want to fight over the “pot” (of money and not marijuana).

The Marx Brothers

With the past two days covering the memory and work of Robin Williams, I can across this article about the 100 year commemoration of the Marx Brothers. Their type of comedy was a bit frenetic like Robin Williams so they seem to be a bit of a fit. I have always laughed at their early movies together. The article has a bit more focus on a number of their TV performances together. It is interesting to read that their body of work in movies and TV is not as extensive as one would imagine. They also brought a lot of laughter into our world.

One Top Ten Robin Williams Performances

As we all remember Robin Williams, one site put together their top 10 performances of his. As I watch different clips, I have to marvel at his ability, his genius. I also have to laugh which can be a rare quality in this day. Please watch and enjoy a little time away to NeverNeverLand here.

Till We Meet Again, Robin Williams

Sad news today of the passing of Robin Williams, comic and actor. Of course, I never did meet him.Yet, one feels that you know of him through his work. He was an amazing comic genius. When I first saw him on Mork and Mindy TV show I could not believe the quick facile changes he did between routines. No one was like him, other than his hero, Jonathan Winters. He could make you laugh at the drop of a hat, anytime. It is though with incredible sadness that I write this........


It is good to feel success in tackling an unknown project. I am not a designer or crafty person. I can be determined to try something and make it work. I was able to load InDesign on my Mac computer and update a number of files that I have been waiting to tackle. I was able to make great headway and just need a few pieces of information to finish this up. It is really a satisfying feeling.

Elements Table of Famous Inventors

Someone did a fund table of using a graphic to coordinate different famous inventors or scientists. It is a form of the Elements Table of people and their names. Enjoy!

Vietnam Today

Michael Totten is at it again, writing great travel pieces for unusual areas of the world. This time instead of Cuba, he has visited Vietnam. His description of the country, people, cities and government now compared to the days of the Vietnam War are fascinating. The country has rebounded and though is a bit totalitarian, it is not repressed the same way it is in Cuba. More of a bustling entrapeneurial spirit present in the people. Here is the article. The hot weather sounds a bit intimidating and not my type to enjoy though.

“Ho Chi Minh would be appalled if he could see Vietnam now.”

World War l and the Movies

A look at World War l and its depiction in film...........

“Beyond their stated or implicit concerns, movies in some way always reflect the times in which they were made. And films about World War I are no exception. In the century since the start of the war, variously commemorated throughout Europe and the U.S. this summer, the conflict has often been portrayed on screen—represented at different times as either a misguided enterprise or a glorious cause. Less appreciated is the Great War's use as propaganda tool as new hostilities arose throughout the 20th century and into the present one. Such pictures shed light not only on how the war itself was perceived at different points following its conclusion, but also on the manner in which subsequent generations bent the narrative to their own purposes.”

John Wayne

John Wayne was and is an American hero and movie start. At least to a large number of people. Now I do remember some liberal-minded teachers from my high school days who felt he was over-rated as an actor compared to others. I think they did not like his gung-ho pro-American war movies and took it out on his acting. Compared to many other actors, he was larger than life and he entertained. He still does. I came across this article written by someone who had been a driver for John Wayne. It describes him as a very nice man who did not like to hurt or embarrass others. You can read the story here.

New Favorite Phrase

What is the difference between a cat and a comma?

One has claws at the end of its paws while the other
has a pause at the end of a clause...

Fiddler on the Roof

Fascinating story today from the son of Joseph Stein. Stein was the playwright who put together Fiddler on the Roof. It has been around 50 years since it was brought to Broadway and became a success. A success well-deserved since I am a big fan of Fiddler and its music. I doubt I would have been a favorite of Mr. Stein’s being he was a fan of Communism and Stalinism. He did put together some great comedy, plays, and music though. Read about it here.

Hall of Fame Day

Bob is a big lover of baseball. I, of course, picked up a lot of it from him and especially during the days that Tony LaRussa managed the Oakland A’s. Tony and his wife were clients of mine and they loved cats just like we do. We often competed on how many cats we both had in our families. Today, we watched Tony get the recognition he deserved as a baseball manager when he was inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown (a beautiful area of the country). For a little more of a read on the induction, check here.

Vicksburg's Fallen

There was a beautiful cemetery at the Vicksburg battlefield that held many of the fallen from that period of the war. The fallen were laid out amongst trees under rows of white headstones. Very quiet and solemn, along the Mississippi River. The cemetery is next to the Cairo Exhibit. I was able to get a number of photos from there, one showing the headstones while a hawk was taking off above them. Not as close as I would like but interesting.

Eleven Best Monty Python Moments

I am sure everyone who is a Monty Python fan has their best moment of the group, maybe more than one. Here is a compilation of someone’s top eleven moments. I have enjoyed pretty much all of them though I have to say I am particularly fond of The Cheese Shop skit since I am a big lover of cheese and would truly hate having someone keep telling me they are out of all my favorite cheeses.

Outdoing Monty Python

There is always someone in the world who has to take Monty Python humor beyond the its limits. Example: the person who built a fart machine formed into the shape of buttocks and aimed toward France from Britain. Well, they have fought a lot of wars over the centuries between the two countries so I guess the animosity could still be smoldering. Read about it here.

Brandolini's Law

So, from now on, it will be referred to the Brandolini’s law (a.k.a. the Bullshit Asymmetry Principle) which states that:

“The amount of energy needed to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude bigger than to produce it.”

‘Nuff Said.

Is It a Pre-War World?

There is a lot of speculation during this 100th anniversary year of the start of World War I that events in the world have many similarities now to that distant year. Do they? As in many instances, yes in a number of ways, and no in so many other essential matters. Walter Russell Mead is one of the best writers and foreign policy analysts out there. You can read his thoughts here.

An Unbroken Hero

Recently, an amazing man and a hero out of World War II passed away. The man is Louis Zamparini and he died at the age of 97. He was a pilot in World War II who survived his planed crashing in the Pacific war theatre followed by many days afloat in the ocean trying to make land. He was then captured by the Japanese and with that, survived a brutal incarceration by the Japanese through to the end of the war. Mr. Zamparini was the central focus of the best selling book, Unbroken. For a moving summary of his exploits and character, it can be found here from the Weekly Standard.

Are We Going Down That Path?

There is going to be endless speculation of whether 2014 closely resembles 1914 enough in turmoil to where we end in a major world conflict. Will it happen? Anyone’s guess and here is another article speculating on the topic.

Congrats to Cat Video Festival

It looks like my good friend Karen and her sidekick “cats” got good publicity and recognition from the local media. May the New Orleans cat video festival live on for a number of years. Check out the nice article.

Why Are We Always Hungry

As a person who struggles with her weight, too much of it, and trying to control what I eat, here is an interesting article proposing why we are always hungry. Here is one of their key questions:

“But what if we’ve confused cause and effect? What if it’s not overeating that causes us to get fat, but the process of getting fatter that causes us to overeat?”


Science Getting It Wrong

There have been a number of recent articles, this one in particular, about whether “peer review” is working as currently established and that a number of studies don’t hold up to the light of day. Many study results have been questioned and the results de-bunked. A recent scientific publishing company had to withdraw about 45 or more papers from their publications due to poor science. After having been through a grant review of research proposals, we need to do better than what this paper describes and be much more critical of the scientific methods used by some researchers. The study design or methods don’t hold water and should not be funded.

Iraq Falling Apart

Why is Iraq quickly disintegrating into a failed state and breaking into different competing regions when it was more on the road to a country that held democratic elections? One good article and opinion is found here. Our current foreign policy lacks good leadership and understanding of the region. We do not have a President who truly knows what he is doing and really is more a poster person for the Presidency than a substantive individual. Whatever makes him political points are all that matters. The rest of us and the world can go hang.

Dressing Up

With the New Orleans as a near future destination, I took some time to travel to Eugene and do some clothes shopping. I have been trying to build my wardrobe up, casual and more business like as I am to take this new position. I will have to dress to match the part and be more official. Added a few dresses to the mix. Good to have some new clothes!

Gene Based Diet

Maybe there is something to that phrase “You are what you eat.” Researchers are finding genetic mechanisms that affect taste perception and food preferences. This could explain why some hate cilantro, dill, coconut, etc. while I happen to like all of this. Now the strong taste of lemon, nah. Cloves, awful! Bring on the specific taste tester genes and read about it here.


Years ago when I worked for my first cat veterinary practice role, my employer was a nice and wise person. I tend to be a bit of a sensitive dweller on things such as criticism. I build it to the nth degree. She gave me a short writing or quote about criticism and how to not think it is all about my view yet could there be some part that I should consider is correct. For more discussion and a way to take criticism well, read this WSJ article here.

Rare Old Photos

Every now and then, an internet site has an article that displays rare photos of past events. This article is an example and has a number of interesting photos ranging over the many decades photography has been available.

Johnny Cash Lost Decade

Johnny Cash was a truly great Country Western singer. His music is a joy to listen to and watching some of his older TV specials are relaxing and great fun. I’m glad I have some of his music in compilation albums. For one look at his career and music, this article gives some insight into a period where his music did not catch the public’s attention and why. Plus what came before and after this decade.

Shirley Temple's Music

I am a huge fan of Mark Steyn’s writing. He ranges from current affairs, demography to film and music. He did a wonderful exposition on the music of Shirley Temple. These are such songs as “On the Good Ship Lollipop” and “Animal Crackers In My Soup”. Enjoy Mark’s take on the what Shirley Temple offered us as a talented individual.

Shirley Temple Movies

Earlier this year, Shirley Temple passed away. She was an amazing singer, actress, dancer, child star, etc. I enjoyed her movies when I was growing up. Certainly a good person and mother to our friend, Stephen, was a huge Shirley Temple fan and has lots of memorabilia. Here is a nice article about how Shirley Temple was a bright light during a decade of Depression.

Top 100 Movie Quotes

I think everyone has some favorite move quotes or maybe one in particular. I have run into drivers who can recite all the dialogue from a Monty Python movie or an Abbott and Costello one. My sons and husband are good at remembering quotes form Mel Brooks movies. It can be quite obnoxious but side-splitting.
Here are a couple of sites about movie quotes. One is a chart form of movie quotes and the other is from the American Film Institute.

Kids, Books and Cats

I wish they had this type of reading program when I was a kid and went to the Lebanon Library. I love to read and certainly enjoy being around animals, especially cats. It would have been close to heaven to be able to go and spend time with cats at a shelter and read to them while there. This is a fun article and I can just feel the tension leave just reading and looking at the pictures. Please check it out here.

More View of Havana

Michael Totten has written another version of his travels or travelogue involving Cuba and Havana. It is a fascinating perspective of what the current political situation and government has made of Cuba from the pre-Communist days. He wanted to visit a Communist country and experience what that means as a tourist and a better appreciation of what the citizens of that country live with.

“Marxists have ruled Cuba for more than a half-century now. Fidel Castro, Argentine guerrilla Che Guevara, and their 26th of July Movement forced Fulgencio Batista from power in 1959 and replaced his standard-issue authoritarian regime with a Communist one. The revolutionaries promised liberal democracy, but Castro secured absolute power and flattened the country with a Marxist-Leninist battering ram. The objectives were total equality and the abolition of money; the methods were total surveillance and political prisons. The state slogan, then and now, is “socialism or death.” “

Andrew Breitbart Quote

I always enjoyed and admired the person and spirit of Andrew Breibart. He tackled life and people head on, fearlessly. He challenged the norm and yet with good spirits. He certainly gathered friends and foe alike. He wanted people to be warriors to the truth on their own. I believe we still miss his presence in this stressed out world, semi-nightmare world we live in currently.
I bring this up because it was a good news day yesterday. I re-certified for ABVP feline for another 10 years. The hard work to pursue it instead of letting it lapse paid off. I got my new 60mm macro Nikon lens for my Nikon camera so I can film closeups better. How exciting to pursue! Here is a great quote from Breitbart to stick on my wall and remember.

“Walk towards the fire, don’t worry about what they call you. All of those things are said because they want to stop you in your tracks. But if you keep going, you’re sending a message to people who are rooting for you, who are agreeing with you. The message is that they can do it.”


Tolkien and Beowulf

The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings stories have captured the book world for many years and the movie world in the last 10 plus years. Have you ever wondered where some of the Middle Earth language came from? Thought about what were some of the underpinnings of characters and threats found in the stories?
Read this article to learn more about how Tolkien translated the early Old English story from the eighth century time period of Beowulf. Tolkien’s son has released the translated version for publication. Tolkien was a professor of language and Old English in his day. The article is quite interesting in how this came about and a description/comparison with other translations of Beowulf. What do some of those unique words mean?

Proposal 4 Years In Making

Some people are very clever about how to go about important events in their life. They take a chance and try something unique. It is heart warming to read a few days ago about a young man who wrote in his journal right after the first date with a young lady that he planned to marry her someday in the future. It took 4 years of going through college and finishing while traveling the world to reach the proposal date. During those travels, he video taped his planned proposal in each location he visited while lip synching to The Proclaimers’ song, 500 miles. Enjoy this lovely story and video here.

Memorial Day 2014

To remember a great place to be on Memorial Day, here is Arlington Cemetery with Arlington House at the top of the hill. So many sad, yet wonderful memories and sacrifices recognized in this hallowed area. I have seen big, rough looking men weep at ceremonies at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It is humbling.

Quien Es Mas Macho?

It is always good to laugh. Good humor is hard to beat and so much a life saver at the same time. The earlier days of Saturday Night Live was gold. A lot of good comedians came from that time period. I came across this video skit from SNL that included the great Bill Murray, the wonderful Gilda Radner (Bless her soul), and heart throb Ricky Nelson. It is a hoot and displayed the superb talents of Murray and Radner in timing and sense of humor. Ricky Nelson is along for the ride, the straight guy. Enjoy the show!

9-11 Memorial

The 9-11 Memorial Museum below Ground Zero is set to open about now. It is said to already be considered a big tourist attraction for people going to New York City. There has been some controversy surrounding the opening though overall it has been touted positively in the way the museum has handled the displays. An interesting description and mapping of how the museum is laid out is found here.

IPhoto on the IPad

I decided to play around with the IPhoto app on my IPad. It can do some photo editing so I figured it was worth a try and some manipulation. I took a recent photo of Ryan when he was here last. I cropped it down and adjusted the color a little. Here is is standing on his own doing his own, “What’s in the Bag?”

For Sale, Dracula's Castle

Bran Castle, the setting for Bram Stoker’s Dracula, is up for sale. The castle is a 13th century fortress owned by the Hapsburg royal line and is considered for purchase by the Romanian government. Bram Stoker never visited the castle and relied upon a description of Bran Castle as the setting for Dracula. Stoker also drew inspiration for the vampire character from Vlad lll, the Impaler, born in Transylvania in 1431. Read about it all here.

“And in the novel, Stoker describes the Transylvanian Count's fortress as sitting high above a valley, perched on a rock above a flowing river. As the Bran Castle website notes, this castle is the only sucortress in Transylvania that fits the bill.”

Bran Castle

A World Digital Library?

Will a world digital library come true? What would accelerate that possibility? Some of it is the cost to provide subscriptions to scientific periodicals for libraries. They are being priced out of the market. Groups are digitizing books to include in libraries. People are concerned that information is becoming less free and shared with those of fewer resources. Read about it here.

“All over the country research libraries are canceling subscriptions to academic journals, because they are caught between decreasing budgets and increasing costs. The logic of the bottom line is inescapable, but there is a higher logic that deserves consideration—namely, that the public should have access to knowledge produced with public funds.”

Poll of Top 10 Favorite Books

A Harris-Nielsen poll this past March listed the top 10 favorite books of people. They also polled as per ethnicity and also political persuasion. The Bible is the top favorite. Coming in second for men is The Lord of the Rings series and for women it is Gone With the Wind. Read about the breakdown of popularity here.

50 Books That Make You Enjoy Reading

Real Simple send out daily recipes and tips. They included one today about “books that will make you want to read”. The fifty books are primarily children’s to young adult’s books though there are some adult type reading in the mix. I have read a good portion of them and would agree with the ones presented overall. To go through the list, you can check it out here.

Dr. Strangelove is True

The New Yorker came out with an article stating that the movie, Dr. Strangelove, is mostly true. This particular movie is made by Stanley Kubrick and is a black comedy about nuclear weapons. I have not seen it yet it is a cult classic among movie buffs. Check out their discussion here regarding this unusual movie.

Photos from the Past Decade

As they start in this piece, “Welcome to the New Millennium”. There are many iconic photos here and some less known. It does give a taste of the history and feel of the 2000s. Thanks for the memories in photos. The original collection link was lost.

Face Painting

My fun while waiting for the weary runners to cross the finish line and the pirates to get their eye patch burnished is to take photos of what intrigues me. I enjoy catching children enjoying what life presents them. Some very cute young girls were getting their faces painted or waiting to do so while Nicolas was pirating. Here is a young lady being transformed into a very sweet bunny.

Better Writing

What a nice day out today! In errand running today, we bought a number of our garden and herb plants for the year. Bob got them planted in the raised beds next to the parterre garden. Spring is here!
Well, on to the subject of the day......writing. I find writing is a struggle for me. I have lost the underlying rules of grammar, punctuation, and some spelling due to lack of use and age. As I go along though, I find I need better writing skills even more. The demand is higher on what I need to provide others. I have been trying to read some of the books I bought in the past about how to write better and with more of a punch. A lot of it is just doing it with the “practice makes perfect” concept behind it. I came across this article that i saved to blog about. It covers why everyone who teaches should teach writing. It has a number of good points to back up what I am saying here about myself. Please read on.

The Deadly Flu

In a fascinating part of history, the time of the Spanish Flu in 1918 is at once intriguing and devastating. More people died from the Spanish Flu than in the War to End all Wars, World War I. Many of the dead were the overly healthiest, younger people in their 20s and 30s. Why did they die in higher numbers? No one really has known the answer to date, yet now researchers feel they have found it. One key issue is that young people were more susceptible to secondary bacterial infections that more easily lead to death. The other is the more common strain of the flu picked up genetic material from bird flu about the year 1900. Read about it here.

“Exposure to previous strains of flu virus does offer some protection to new strains. This is because the immune system reacts to proteins on the surface of the virus and makes antibodies that are summoned the next time a similar virus tries to infect the body.

But the further away the new strain is genetically from the ones the body has previously been exposed to, the more different the surface proteins, the less effective the antibodies and the more likely that infection will take hold.”

Boston Marathon

The Boston Marathon was held last week, one year after the bombing at the last Marathon. It all seemed to go off well and the winner on the men’s side was an American of Somali background. People injured in the bombing are still recovering from one year ago. A good news article about the bombing is found here in Boston Magazine.

Art Walkin'

No matter how many times we have driven by Cottage Grove while traveling I-5, we have never visited the downtown area. This evening we drove to Cottage Grove to the Crafty Mercantile shop to participate in our friend’s, Dr. Patricia Shea, showing of her art in the store. Each month Cottage Grove has an Art Walk and people come out to visit the downtown and see the “wares” on display. It looks like Cottage Grove has done some revitalization and it seems to be helping. Patricia’s friends and clients came to see her work and visit. She has done a great job in her painting. Here is one example of a print she donated to AAFP for their silent auction years ago.


Literature About Nothingness

One of television’s great comedic shows is Seinfeld. The concept behind it was writing about the “nothing” in our lives. Even a number of shows focused on Jerry and George developing a TV show for a network about “nothing”. As I read this particular article about Paul de Man and his rise (and fall) in the field of literary theory, at the end I felt his work was about the nothingness of his work and theory. I have to admit that I do not have an in depth background in the liberal arts. This story was fascinating because of all the background of Paul de Man himself and how he fooled so many people about who he was and his work. In some ways, another fine example of how we elevate the cool without knowing the substance.

“Twenty-five years ago, literary theory went through a crisis, and it has never really recovered its reputation. The crisis would have happened even if Paul de Man had never existed, or had never left Belgium, from which he emigrated to the United States, in 1948. But de Man became its symbol. His story, the story of a concealed past, was almost too perfect a synecdoche for everything that made people feel puzzled, threatened, or angry about literary theory.”

Dante's 'Divine Comedy'

I have read some of the classical literature but not as much as I probably should. I had no idea of the value of Dante’s classic book, ‘Divine Comedy’, as a possible self-help book. It was written about 700 years ago yet people find value in the trials and tribulations Dante found in his own life. One columnist for the Wall Street Journal found just such a benefit in reading the book when his life seemed to take on depressing challenges of its own. You can read about his experience here.

“Everybody knows that "The Divine Comedy" is one of the greatest literary works of all time. What everybody does not know is that it is also the most astonishing self-help book ever written.

It sounds trite, almost to the point of blasphemy, to call "The Divine Comedy" a self-help book, but that's how Dante himself saw it. In a letter to his patron, Can Grande della Scala, the poet said that the goal of his trilogy—"Inferno," "Purgatory" and "Paradise"—is "to remove those living in this life from the state of misery and lead them to the state of bliss."

The Comedy does this by inviting the reader to reflect on his own failings, showing him how to fix things and regain a sense of direction, and ultimately how to live in love and harmony with God and others.”

This Season of Justified

Last Tuesday was the last show of this season’s episodes of Justified. It was a riveting season. The writing, dialogue, and acting were superb. I am a fan of each and everyone involved with this TV show. Bob and I are not the only fans. Many others feel the same way. Here is a great explanation of why this is one of the best crime shows ever as the article tells us. I heartily agree.

Good Friday and Passover

Tonight Bob and I went with our neighbors, Diane Winterboer and Josi Lewis, to the Crawfordsville Church to attend a seder dinner. Passover and Good Friday occurred this week very close together, much like they did in Jesus’ day. We had soup and bread, again much like at the Last Supper Jesus had. At the Last Supper, Jesus shared Passover traditions with his disciples. He knew he was going to die and his life was forfeit for our signs. The pastors shared the traditions of Passover and what they meant in Jesus’ day. There was coverage of the history of Passover and the symbolism of each item and ritual performed. It was very educational. Passover stood for freedom of the Israelites from Egypt and it still stands for freedom to this day. Jesus offers freedom to us as we accept the gift of him dying for our sins.


How does it feel when one reads in a foreign newspaper that the United State government has evolved to an oligarchy. For me, it makes me feel sad. Northwestern and Princeton Universities have published a study indicating that we are at that stage. I do agree with their premise because I am becoming less sure that the citizens of this country can affect change. The people with money and influence control the process. The article is found here.

“The peer-reviewed study, which will be taught at these universities in September, says: "The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organised groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence."
Researchers concluded that US government policies rarely align with the the preferences of the majority of Americans, but do favour special interests and lobbying organisations: "When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organised interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the US political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favour policy change, they generally do not get it.””

Cults and Brainwashing

Long ago when I was just in college, Patty Hearst was kidnapped from her apartment in the East San Francisco Bay area. She was an heir to the Hearst Publishing Empire (William Randolph Hearst) and college age herself. It was a cause celebre because she later showed up with her kidnappers as a perpetrator in a bank robbery. She was eventually captured and convicted of this crime. The sentence was commuted later because it was shown that she had been brainwashed by this violent cult. The Federalist online has an interesting discussion of the case and how brainwashing is considered to work in individuals. The author compared the techniques of achieving this to how the media and culture are brainwashing the public in general in current times. Certainly we are being “nudged” to accept a change in social mores or be shunned by society around us. An interesting article that can be found here.

On a side note and the 6 degrees of separation concept, Patty Hearst’s sister was engaged at the time of the kidnapping to someone I knew well after that time. His name is Francis Morgan and is a Welsh friend of our good friend, Stephen Morgan.

A Pinwheel

Well, in doing some goofy takes to get photos in a close up mode yesterday, I got one with a pinwheel held against Bob’s bright blue shirt. In cropping out the Adam’s apple and neck of the Bob, I got this colorful photo. Nothing super but a bit of fun.

Photography Class

Bob and I spent most of today at the Linn County Fairgrounds and Expo Center. The Ag Extension Office was holding a photography class related to the 4-H clubs in the area. It was interesting and one could pick up some tips along the way. I would like a macro lens for my camera. But until I do, I will have to try for photos like this one of a straw hat and flowers on a bench.

A Goodbye

Bob and I met Maureen and Lisa for dinner tonight. It was a goodbye dinner with Maureen and a hello dinner for Lisa to continue with Winn. Maureen has a new job which started today and will no longer be working for Winn other than some small support on the side. We will miss her and also be glad that we have Lisa to carry on the day to day support that Winn needs. Here is a photo of me with Lisa and Maureen.

West Point

We made a jaunt up with Glenn to the town of Highland Falls to visit the military academy at West Point. Highland Falls is a small town along the Hudson River. George Washington established a military post there during the Revolutionary War to help protect the Hudson Valley and the bend in the river was a natural spot to set up defenses against the British. We went through the visitors center and then on to the West Point Museum. A lot of history of West Point and war is found there.

Raised Gardening Beds

It is the time of the year to start thinking about shrubs, vegetables, new trees, new berry bushes, etc. Sunset Magazine always seems to have great articles to share and here is one on building the perfect raised bed.

Springtime Creeks

Here is another view of a creek flowing into the South Santiam River. The run-off from the snow and excess rain has been pretty heavy. The contrast of the water with the green moss on the rocks is striking.

Tree Moss

At this time of year due to the rain, one sees a lot of moss covering the trees, rocks, and fallen stumps. It becomes a very colorful green. I was able to capture this moss-covered tree at the edge of the South Santiam River.

South Santiam Area

We left for Bend Oregon yesterday, stayed overnight, and returned today. It snowed in the mountains and on the passes overnight. I could not stop well for pictures of the area though did get some with the camera phone. We did stop on the side wood bridge at Fernview Campground next to the South Santiam River. I got some wonderful colorful photos of a creek nearby and the trees and rocks at this time of year.

Does It Really Mean This?

Many of us have run across the Latin appearing wording that is used as a wording placeholder on the web. The three main words that start the phrase are “Lorum ipsum dolor.” I am running across these words right now as we develop the new Winn Feline Foundation website. Someone has now translated the text. To see what it means, read about it here. Of course, there are places on the web that have their own translation version (highly made up) to this notorious placeholder phrase.

Negotiating with Steve Jobs

I ran across this interesting article written by a woman entrepreneur. She was an early person into the personal tech world and offered a service that Steve Jobs could use for his company NeXt. She describes what negotiation with Steve Jobs was like and really how to get around a bottom line that could be a win-win for both groups. The take-aways she introduces are worth reading. An interesting story from the business world found here.

Stress, Really?

The past 10 plus days, especially just the past 3, have been very busy and stressful. There has been a lot to do and some really stressful, difficult points of the days. Lots of decisions to make and hope they are right. Renee had a funny cartoon on her Facebook page that I saved as an image. It certainly fits this moment in time.

Monty Python Skits

I came across an article tonight be a writer/blogger who told the story of how Monty Python saved her life. Probably more on the figurative side versus the literal. The insight into human nature is definitely amazing along with being just plain funny. The point of her article is that the three best sketches to her are probably not the funniest. I know some of my favorites are the Cheese Shop, the Dead Parrot, and the Ministry of Silly Walks. The second sketch on her list is also one a thoroughly enjoyed for the repartee between John Cleese and Graham Chapman. The dialogue is crisp and one can sense the frustration of being up against bureaucracy. It is called The Argument and they are good at arguing. Check it all out here.

The End of Oranges

We like oranges in this household. We had the best orange tree when we lived in California in Walnut Creek. The oranges were so sweet and tasty, especially cold. Now there comes an article where a large percentage of the orange groves in Florida are infected with a bacteria that keeps the oranges from maturing. Nothing can be done to cure it. They can spray to help prevent the take over of the orange trees. This is an expensive process and often is a losing one in the long run. You can find the full story here. So will it be the end of our orange juice?

Top 10 Books People Lie About Reading

Here is a list of the top 10 books people lie about reading. They say they have read the book so they appear knowledgable and important. Of the list, I have read four. Most of these many years ago. One is a a favorite of mine,
A Tale of Two Cities. Check out the list here. See how you stand up against the group. I would say, I would like to read the whole list since they are a good group to do so with.

Best Bookstores in the World

Read about 18 of the best bookstores in the world people should visit just once. A concept that would be great if one had time and then money to do so. Powell’s Bookstore in Portland did make the list. Many in the rest of the world did also. Some pretty cool photos to be found in this article and list.

Books Presidents Like

There have been a number of these blog posts that talk about books. There will likely be many more. I did come across this one article that told of the favorite books of all the 44 Presidents. You can check out the reading material here.

Checking Out Poetry

Do you like poetry? I find that I do, at least certain types and when I am presented with it. We probably don’t appreciate it as much as we should. Certainly, my favorite is Emily Dickinson. I seem to find her work will dig into my psyche more than most poets. I did come across a Poetry Foundation online where one can find certain poets and their work with some background information along with the poems. It is a good source to have handy so here it is.

Following French Fries

Yesterday, the subject was growing and continuing to grow herbs. Now one can take the herbs grown and use them in recipes to make different types of french fried potatoes and/or dipping sauces. I have a weakness for really good fries, especially the thinner homemade variety. Or the curly cut homemade variety. I did come across an article that had descriptions and links to several different methods of cooking french fries. Bon Appetit!

Regrowing Herbs

Bob is the gardener in the family. He does a wonderful job with the corn, beans, and tomatoes. I am more the herb grower though I admit I don’t spend much time taking care of them. I came across this article about 10 vegetables and herbs that one can supposedly buy once and regrow forever (likely story when it comes to me). I wouldn’t mind having one of the Aerogardens where I could grow some herbs during the winter with the UV lighting as part of it. Each item in the article has a description and link on how to keep them going. One of the list is cilantro which I have a terrible time maintaining so here is hoping the ideas are good here.

Above Cities by Photography

One type of composition in photography is to get a view that is spatial and repetitive. Repetition in the right manner can be colorful and intriguing. In this article, the photographer has photographed from above cities or parts of cities to capture a unique outline along a shore or the appearance of rows of buildings. We frequently don’t get to see our world from above. It is a totally different perspective. It certainly seemed to demonstrate that when Bob took photos of our home from above while flying in Mike Winterboer’s plane.

Winter Sunrise

A winter sunrise from January 26th. It has been a cloudy winter so we have not had the bright and spectacular sunrises of some past years. I was able to snap an early photo on a frosty morning of the most recent colorful sky.

Dinner at Canaletto's at the Venetian

After a long, yet super productive day of research grant review, we all head off to eat at Canaletto’s Restaurant in the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas. Our dining area was on the second floor and overlooked the canals full of gondolas in the hotel. The ceiling was painted with blue sky and white clouds overseeing the Italianate look to the business courtyard. The entrance to the Venetian leads to a vaulted ceiling with gold gilt and paintings much like the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Very cool and very extravagant surroundings. Our waiter, Michael, is in the background. We ordered off our own little Winn menus with our Winn logo.

Board Meeting

Here we are at the Winn Feline Foundation board meeting at the Palms Resort and Casino in Las Vegas NV. Maureen is demonstrating the new Winn website pages on her computer that are the basic demo pages for how it will look.

Fantasy, The End of the Worlds?

Some are speculating that we are seeing fewer and fewer authors who create fantasy otherworlds that become cultural touchstones. George R. R. Martin is the most current who has done so. Where are the new C.S. Lewis, Tolkiens, Baums, Carrolls, and Barries just to name a few. This article poses the question and discusses what the prior authors thought of their genre.
On another note, some of the reason there are fewer authors catching on in the culture of fantasy might be found in this clever blog article by Sarah Hoyt where she writes of the dysfunction found in the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association. It will put a smile on your face with the interesting way she mixes short descriptions with photos and gifs.

The Black Death and European Genes

Did the Plague, or the Black Death as it also is known, alter the genetic makeup of the people of Europe? Scientists with a recent study do believe so. As they said in the movie, Monty Python’s The Holy Grail, “Bring out your dead!”

“The Black Death of the 14th century may be written into the DNA of survivors' descendants, new research finds.

The study reveals that Roma people (sometimes known as gypsies, although this is considered a derogatory term) and white Europeans share alterations to their genetic code that occurred after the Roma settled in Europe from northwest India 1,000 years ago. The plague of the 1300s, which killed at least 75 million people, is a likely candidate for forcing this evolutionary change.”

Animal Photo Bombs

It is great to get a good laugh with animal photos. One of the big things shared on the internet are what are called “photo bombs”. Someone or something unexpectedly shows up in part of a photo that should be a normal photo that displays a “visitor” in the picture. Most of the photo bombs are with people. Someone put together a group of photos where animals are photo bombing the scenes. I suspect some are photo edited. They still are fun to view. Here is one where the cat steals the march on the dog from the background. The photo is an image saved down from this website.


Rosanne Cash

I have been coming across different articles about Rosanne Cash, the singer and daughter of Johnny Cash. I believe the articles relate to her recent album release, “The River and The Thread”. The lyrics and music were a collaboration with Cash and her ex-husband and in addition, her current husband. This particular article describes her interest in the stories behind ballads. She in particular talks about an Irish singer who she particularly appreciates, Paul Brady.

Cat Photography

Now after seeing a few of the recent dog photos I have taken, I did come across this article of a man who describes how to photograph a cat. He has been performing this line of photography for years and is offering his advice or secrets on how to do it better here in this article.

Little Free Libraries in Communities

Awhile ago, the local paper had a story about individuals who built small sharing libraries in their communities. It described how they built the sharing center outside. I just recently saw another article on the internet about how many of these little free libraries are popping up around. More beyond the excerpt below can be read here.

“Some of the best things in life are free.

A subscriber to that notion, and an avid reader, Judy Selle is apparently the first Decatur resident to offer a Little Free Library at her home. “I live in such a nice neighborhood, I wanted to give something back,” she said.

Selle, a member of the Decatur Public Library's Book Club, got the idea from her cousin, Jean Lawyer of Heyworth, who encountered one of these small outdoor libraries-on-a-stick at a New England bed and breakfast in summer 2012. Lawyer's husband, Dennis, then had one built for her as a Christmas gift later that year.

She followed suit to honor Jean Lawyer's mother – the late Mary Lou Bollero – a beloved aunt and a former librarian at Holy Trinity High School in Bloomington.

Measuring about 26-by-20-by-12 inches, Selle's library opened for business in October in the front yard of her South Shores home and contains approximately 40 books divided into four sections – one for hardcovers, another for paperbacks, a third for children's books and a fourth for copies of the Herald & Review when she's finished reading it.”


Morning Sun Breaks Over Ocean

Before we left the Shearwater Inn early this morning, there was a beautiful break in the clouds where the sun burst through to highlight the sky, ocean, and beach. I was able to snap some photos from the room balcony. Here is just one of the several photos I took of this sight.

Ukraine Today

For the past few months, the country of Ukraine has been in turmoil. A large number of the population are objecting to their leader’s cave-in to Putin of Russia to scrap a treat tying them closer to the European Union. Russia wants to rebuild their sphere of influence, much like what the geographical set up was for the Soviet Union. The Ukraine, being a large country and often the breadbasket for much of the surrounding countries, is key. What happens here has a lot of impact for Europe, Russia, and also the United States. The Ukraine has been important in much of the European and world’s political power plays for the past two centuries. And how they have suffered for it. It was a battleground between Germany and Russia in the 1930s and 40s. The people are standing up to their government and are “in revolution”. It is interesting though to note that the western part of Ukraine is more Europe disposed while the eastern portion has maintained its Russian ties. This article shows a large number of photos of what has been happening in Kiev recently.


A surprising bit of news hit the media recently..............Velveeta is likely to be in short supply due to the demand for snacks and appetizers made for eating while watching the Super Bowl. Velveeta is a staple. How could it be in short supply? Shades of Velveetapocolypse. The world is in serious trouble since this follows shortly after mention of a Siracha shortage and Sirachapocolypse. Our taste buds will never be the same. I have proof that I will post on this page that we will not experience a shortage during this crucial time. Around about notice of this crisis, I caught an article about the history of Velveeta. Velveeta has a history? Actually quite a long one and was once a cheese rising in popularity. Check it out here.

“Velveeta's popularity increased throughout the '30s, '40s and into the '50s--studies of consumer preference done in the 1930s found that two-thirds of Americans preferred processed cheese to natural cheese. But it wasn't just the product's advertised nutritional advantage that kept consumers interested.”

Origins to English

There are many early languages that serve as the basis for many of our English words. The languages are Latin, Germanic, old English based, and also Viking. Viking because they conquered a large part of the British Isles and their culture intertwined with the Anglo-Saxons. One has to visit York, England and visit the Viking Museum there to get a better flavor of this. The whole city has areas that show the influence of Vikings from centuries ago. I came across this webpage that covers a number of English words that derive from the Vikings. It is a bit of fun to sort through their examples.

EReaders and Libraries

Well, I have to call myself a reader. One of my mottos in life is “reading is breathing”. That means it is essential to life, my life. In the last 5 years, ereaders have become part of the reading landscape. I have one friend who buys all his books, especially textbooks related to his field of work in electronic format. Easier to read and to store. I have a number of books in electronic format and have taken to reading them more on my IPad since I can buy Kindle, Nook, and IBooks as such. It is handy and easier than holding or carrying large books especially while traveling. I still take a print book on a plane since they have not allowed electronics powered on the first and last 10 minutes of a flight. I still take pleasure in sitting in a chair reading a good book and the joy of seeing my library shelves at home stuffed with lots of good books. We should be the Berlin library. I did find an interesting discussion about how some view ereaders versus having space taken for a physical library. You can enjoy the article here and see a bit of our library with the library cat, Oscar, standing in the doorway. What a life.......a recliner chair, a window seat, a cat, and books.

Five Worst Fighter Aircraft

Following what was a discussion of flight and why birds and planes fly in a V formation, here is an article about the five worst fighter aircraft of all time. One of the first ones mentioned was the Buffalo which had a nickname of The Flying Coffin. That does not engender any sense of confidence. See what others are on this list and why by reading here.


In less than 30 minutes, ABVP (American Board of Veterinary Practitioners) will close the application process on their member website. I have submitted all my materials for re-certification in feline practice for another 10 years. The materials must be accepted for at least 500 points in various entries to achieve re-certification. I have almost 380 points above that though all might not be accepted. I feel I have worked hard and tried my best to accomplish this. My prayer is that it is acceptable and good enough. I need to now relax and leave it in the hands of God. He will take care of me.

World War I and After

As I mentioned on a previous post of January 1, there is a lot of commentary about current world status opposed to factors surrounding pre-World War I days, during and then post-war changes. This is all stemming from the centennial time for the beginning of World War I. Part of this article supposes that the after effects of World War I changed the political environment enough to grow Progressivism and the advance of the administrative state. How are does that relate to today? How are Progressives from that time alike or different from today’s. Could the world commit suicide again 100 years later?

Hitchcock and the Holocaust

It was not a well known fact that Alfred Hitchcock, a master film maker, produced a documentary in 1945 of the liberation of the Bergen Belsen concentration camp. Hitchcock was so disturbed by the images he saw on the film and also due to other factors that the film has not been shown. It was archived away for many years. It is now to be released. Five of six reels of film were stored at the Imperial War Museum, a museum Bob and I visited while on a London visit. It is an excellent spot to spend time in and understand history. The repeat playing of Neville Chamberlain’s words when he told the British people about the Munich Pact which sold out Czechoslovakia are haunting and chilling in hindsight. The article can be read here and an excerpt from it follows. I would really like to be able to see what the Imperial War Museum has done here to digitally master this documentary and add other film with it.

“Now, finally, the film is set to be seen in a version that Hitchcock, Bernstein and the other collaborators intended. The Imperial War Museum has painstakingly restored it using digital technology and has pieced together the extra material from the missing sixth reel. A new documentary, Night Will Fall, is also being made with André Singer, executive producer of The Act of Killing, as director and Stephen Frears as directorial advisor. Both the original film about the camps and the new documentary will be shown on British TV in early 2015 to mark the 70th anniversary of the "liberation" of Europe. Before that, next year, they are due to be shown together at festivals and in cinemas.”

Nuclear Test Site Photos

I came across an interesting article that showed some of the “light glare” to the sky from the nuclear tests done in Nevada northwest of Las Vegas. A lot of this glare could be seen in the skies around Los Angeles. The photos bring back memories of “hiding under your desk”, fallout shelters, and emergency test ban radio. The article talks about the radiation cloud drifting in the direction of Utah. Certainly there was concern that St. George UT was affected and that some movie actors could have developed cancer later in life due to this exposure. The actors would include John Wayne and Susan Hayward as two of those mentioned. Take a gander here.

Winter Storm Warning

Today the weather forecast and reality has been for the worst winter storm for this winter. It was quite blustery and was planned to be even more so over at the coast. I wish we could have been there. Gusts were up to 35-50 mph here in the valley. We did get one spell with really blustery winds and some thunder in the distance along with a big downpour. Lots of limbs and leaves everywhere. The power bounced on and off for the morning. I probably should have gotten a photo to demonstrate the gloom yet I guess all it would be is gloom. It is much more fun at the coast looking at the waves burst over the rocks and listen to the wind howl. Storm chasers!

The World View from Mead

Walter Russell Mead writes for The American Interest. His columns are very well-written and a thoughtful, balanced look at domestic and foreign policies and affairs. He did recent columns listing first his picks for The World’s Biggest Losers for 2013 and then The 10 Biggest Winners of 2013. This may not match other’s picks yet WR Mead still presents a reasoned look at his. Certainly one can learn a bit about current affairs by reading these articles.


One of the most interesting books Bob and I have read is Melanie Phillips book, Londonistan. She covers the increasing Islamization of Great Britain where she lives. She has a very interesting blog that I will catch from time to time. This article does not come from her yet covers much of the same topics that she covers. It is disturbing being the Anglophile that I am. I am not surprised though considering the large population of Muslims Bob and I would see in our last visit to London. So many come from the Middle East with money to live part of the year. The heart of London is coated with the hajib. This is a long article yet one worth reading to get a sense of where Great Britain is headed.

More Books Game

I have finally encouraged Bob to add an item to his Bob’s Blog. He was interested in the top 10 books game that I posted on December 14, 2013. He had a struggle because like me there are far too many books that we like and have made a big impression. Bob let himself get bogged down in the worry of getting them all listed right. I advised just start writing and get it rolling. The inspiration will come and crowd out the angst. So far he has 15 books listed which I am breaking up into sections and placing on separate days.
It is difficult to remember them all. More come to light every day that are good reads to recommend or make an impact. I realize that I did not add in “A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens. The description of Madame Dufarge sitting and knitting the names of all the aristocrats who should be guillotined into her work is timeless and frightening. The French Revolution was not romantic, it was very mob-like and dangerously evil.
I was also watching a Masterpiece Mystery movie of Agatha Christie’s “A Pale Horse”. No question that she is the grande dame of murder mysteries and a fascinating read. So many British authors have followed in her footsteps to offer up wonderful books.


A Russian photographer has made a bit of a name for himself through the internet by posting photos of a unique style of his girlfriend facing a unique travel spot with his hand extended to her as if following. The photos are posed beautifully and in a style to set off his girlfriend in a wonderful light surrounded by the loveliness of the physical surroundings. He started this as a personal blog and it has grown due to the viral nature of the photos being shared by many. One can see more about this “Follow Me’’ series here.

Abandoned Places in This World

I caught an interesting page of photos and listings of 38 different abandoned sites around the world. The photos are quite striking. It is definitely an interesting piece to look through. One spot they listed was abandoned for many years though is now inhabited and available for viewing. That spot is Eileen Donan Castle in the Highlands of Scotland. It is one of the most photographed spots in Scotland, justifiably so. Bob and I visited there several years ago when we made a big tour of Scotland. We stayed at a B&B right across Loch Alsh from the Castle. It made a great view and we had a base for several excursions around the area. The town of Dornie had a nice little restaurant called Peggy’s which offered good Scottish food. Here is a lovely photo of Eileen Donan castle that I took on that trip with the Isle of Skye way in the background. Loch Duich starts to the left of the castle where it meets Loch Alsh. Loch Duich leads toward Shiel Bridge at the end and the Seven Sisters. A road off to the west from Shiel Bridge heads over the mountains to the small settlement of Glenn Elg, an interesting this community, resting at the edge of the Kyle of Lochalsh, across from Skye. There is a broch built nearby Glenn Elg from very early times of the people of that area.

Some Current TV series

With Justified due to start a new season in a few weeks, there is a good article in the Wall Street Journal pointing a person to some of the different, interesting TV series coming up. I watched the first season of the beginning series listed, The Americans. It is a good one to follow yesterday’s blog on Whittaker Chambers. This series is about two sleeper agents from the Soviet Union who live as husband and wife in the United States in the Reagan years. They are espionage agents dedicated to finding secrets that will benefit their handlers in the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. Enjoy reading about some possible shows to follow right here.

Tolkien Phrase and Morality

I read in one recent article that there is a lot of the basic traditional human nature to be found in Harry Potter books as in JRR Tolkien’s work. One example they used and I saved is this......................

“Asher-Perrin’s piece is a particularly clear expression of the
animating moral sense that has attracted people to Harry Potter since
the first book came out. The moral universe of Harry Potter might best
be summed up by a quote from the movie version of JRR Tolkien’s The
Hobbit. In that movie, one of the characters say that some believe “it
is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I
have found. I’ve found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk
that keep the darkness at bay… small acts of kindness, and love.” “


Cat Animations

Some people are way too clever for me. There is a fellow on the internet who has done one of these clever things. He is posting animations of him and his cat, Ella, into different scenarios with the technique and look of different artists. It states that he has done this for 100 different cartoonists’ styles. Such artists such as Gary Larson, Berkeley Breathed, etc. He terms his animation scenarios as Mikenesses since he is Mike. I hope Ella does not mind being put into such awkward and interesting positions. Check it out!

Cuba Current

There has been a fascinating series of articles written by Michael Totten about his visit to Cuba. He is a great observer of a country and its people in current times and turmoils. He has written about several countries in the Middle East. Travel and recording his observations of such areas is his goal and work. He has added an observation of the real life Cuba, for the people who must life there every day.

The 10 Books Game

I saw this idea on Ricochet today...............doing a 10 books game. As the blog author notes…

“List 10 books that have stayed with you in some way and why. Don't take more than a few minutes and don't think too hard. They don't have to be "great" books, just ones that have touched you in some way. As always the 'why' is the most important part.”

To get a sense and see what others have listed for their 10, you will need to read through the comments. I will start with my list though I will probably need to come back to finish at a later time.
P.S. I thought I might have a problem gathering the 10, I actually should have more.

Anne of Green Gables/Lucy Maud Montgomery: I was an only child and had to often live with my own company and thoughts. Anne reminded me of myself in many ways and the need to find those kindred spirits in our lives. LMM brought to life a world of wonder on the farm on Prince Edward Island. I can only say how special it was to see LMM’s home.

The Secret Garden/Frances Hodgson Burnett: Another young person’s book, of loneliness and friendship, developing within a wonderful bit of nature, a secret garden.

The Third Reich/William Shirer: The book that totally grabbed my interest in history, especially military history of World War I and World War II. It is a large book yet it showed how small things can change the course of history or could have done so and possibly saved many lives or set a different course. I have learned the concept of counterfactuals.

Undaunted Courage/Stephen Ambrose: Another history that grabs you and is written in such easy understandable wording. The story of Lewis and Clark’s journey across the continent and what they faced in this journey. I have been to St. Louis, the beginning of the trek and we have been to Fort Astoria where they wintered at the end. Their story is really a lot of the story of the Pacific Northwest and Ambrose draws you into their story with a firm grip and does not let go.

Outlander/Diana Gabaldon: Time travel and romance. Two intertwining factors mixed with a Scottish Highlander warrior and a capable American woman.........what more can you want. Emotional chemical highs, bodice ripping, and other tasty reads. This book got me into romance novels as “tension relievers”.

Katherine/Anya Seton:
I read this book many years ago. The romance between Katherine Swynford and John of Gaunt (third son of King Edward III of England and father of King Henry IV). Their children and descendants had a huge impact on the future of English history especially in the 15th century of England. The book made me a Plantagenet history buff for a lifetime.

The Bronze Horseman/Paulina Simons:
A sad and beautiful story set in Leningrad between two souls falling in love and dealing with the horror of totalitarianism and war during World War II. Simons’ writing seems to burrow into your soul and consciousness and take root. Her writing and this story was even one Bob found enjoyable and he liked it.

A History of the English Speaking Peoples/Winston Churchiil:
Churchill is an awesomely impressive writer of history. I have read through these 4 volumes several times and learned so much that makes me an English history fan forever. I have other sets of his..........World War I, World War II, and on his ancestor, John Churchill-the first Duke of Marlborough.

Dracula/Bram Stoker:
The ultimate initial horror story. Hide under the covers and read so Dracula won’t find you and suck your blood. Great read and shiver maker.

Salem’s Lot, The Night Shift, The Stand/Stephen King:
The contemporary horror story author. I read all of King’s earlier works. I do find later ones more of a slog for me. These three kept me up late at night unable to stop reading to see what fate awaited me when I did.

The Stranger Beside Me/Ann Rule; Helter Skelter/Vincent Bugliosi: Both are the ultimate in True Crime reads. Written by authors who know how to bring you into the mindset of the criminal(s), the victims, and all the other people who surround them and are impacted by the crime.

The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Simarillion/ JR Tolkien: An author and a set of books to take your imagination to another level. Not science fiction yet other world claiming. Other peoples even. The menace of evil in the world and how goodness and determination of will can fight against it. Who will win out.........Sauron and his hordes of Orcs or little Hobbitses bolstered by Elves, Dwarves,Wizards, and kingly Men.

The Bible:
Enough said. I have read the whole holy book and it is the ultimate read.

I know I could keep going though this should be enough to get a conversation going, don’t you think? I got to the unlucky, lucky number of 13 in a manner of speaking.

Cats Take Precedent

One should always enjoy unique situations and the cleverness of other people’s methods. It was with pleasure that I noted today that someone had place a double-sided sign along Wheeler Street (a frequently used truck route) in Lebanon admonishing drivers to slow down since that location was a cat crossing. The two different signs were very cutely done and I had to get some pictures, especially with the snow in the background. I sincerely hope the cats in the area appreciate and take advantage of the care this cat lover and artist has shown by making these signs.





It is great to be overall finished with all the items and work I needed to do for recertification with ABVP. I uploaded all the information onto their website and paid for my application. I am at least one month ahead of the deadline to do so. Yahoo, the hard part is done!
We celebrated by going over to the Winterboer’s home for their second annual Christmas dinner. Mike always grills a great tri-tip and everyone else brings great things to taste. I made a corn casserole using the sweet corn Bob grew and also this Herb Roll recipe that is so easy to do. People really enjoyed the rolls and I was asked to share the recipe.


Finishing up all the details for uploading on the ABVP certification. It will be a long night adding items for CE for each lecture hour onto the website, one lecture at a time.
The second part of the Peter Jackson movie, The Hobbit, is opening Friday night. I wish we could see it. It will probably have to be at a later time. I did see this article by Bill Whittle that talks about Tolkien’s relevancy to the menace and evil of the current times. I would have to say I have seen that myself in his work (or at least the movie version). The following is an excerpt, a small piece of the article.

“Sauron is not evil because he wears black armor. Sauron is not evil because he is warlike. Sauron is the embodiment of evil because all of his strength and power is deployed to bend every living creature to his will.

To that end, he has put all of his strength and will into a single Ring of Power: the circle, the zero -- golden and beautiful and precious, it will draw every living soul into its bottomless depths.”


With the new IPhone I have, I am trying to use the camera when possible just to test it out. I don’t think the quality is nearly as good as a camera. It does offer convenience to shoot when it is handier than having a camera. I got this photo as we traveled down the I-5 freeway coming back from Albany at sunset time. It was a gorgeous sunset with lots of red color over the mountains. It would have been nice to get a still photo though stopping along the road probably is not a good idea.........too many reckless drivers.

Clouds Move In

Weather changes can be interesting. A cloud cover moved in late this afternoon around dusk. It was a slow moving diagonal front coming from primarily the north. It was interesting to watch its slow movement and how it contrasted with the setting sun. I was able to capture a view of it with the IPhone camera.



It was just a quiet cold day outside, though very clear and sunny. A day for reflections. I am including one of the photos I took for a photography class in Lebanon that demonstrates “reflections”.

Christians Under Attack

It is very disturbing to read the level of hatred and violence that is being directed toward Christians in different part of the world. Here is an article that lays out the descriptions and number of violent attacks in the month of September 2013.

“The same month that Obama tried to wage war on behalf of the jihadi rebels in Syria (citing "human rights" concerns), some of the war's worst atrocities were committed against that nation's Christian minority, most notably in Ma'loula, an ancient Christian region where the inhabitants spoke Aramaic, the language of Jesus.”

Thanksgiving and War

A quiet day of Thanksgiving for just the two of us. We made an awesome meal with plenty of food though toned down on the fats and sugars for a change. We watch some TV, a lot of the Godfather series since it was featured. At the same time, I can across this article on this peaceful day which contemplates “Why should we study war?” Why indeed. Let us hope we can avoid such a calamity though with the diplomatic furbelows and misunderstandings of the current times, I don’t know if I hold my breath for peace. We shall see.


Today I did my 5th presentation in a row to the first year class at the CVM of Oregon State University. I spend 2 hours discussing cats, taking a medical history and doing a physical exam, carrier training, and handling of cats. I think it has turned into a decent presentation though I wish I had more time to spend working with them and their cats that they bring to the class. The students are really a good group of young people and each class seems so different in make up.

No Can Opener

One of the hot shows on cable TV is Doomsday Preppers. Scott seems to like to follow the survivalist mode and similar websites, blogs, and TV shows. They do have a bit of interesting and useful information. One that I found fun to watch and have not tried is how to open a can when you do not have a can opener (though I hope you can find a cement block and strong fingers). You can watch how to do it here.

Old New York City Photos

Someone had a lot of fun finding and putting together a number of photos from the Gilded Age in New York City. It is filled with photos of the Vanderbilts and their mansions plus other wealthy people from that time. 5th Avenue in New York must have been something to see in those days though most of the American people would not have had the stature to come close to these homes other than by imagination. One can check out the article here.

Vaccine Slippage

There are increasing reports of outbreaks in the companion animal field of canine distemper, canine parvo, and feline panleukopenia due to lack of vaccine coverage in locations of higher animal density. The same issue is occurring in the human arena due to people’s “fears” of vaccines. There are now outbreaks of whooping cough and measles that can be deadly to the very young and even susceptible adults. Disease we long thought were very diminished or gone from the scene. A discussion of the issue can be found here.

Brother's Photo Re-creations

Two brothers have given their mother a wonderful gift by re-creating photos by posing at their current older age in a similar place and manner to childhood photos. It is a hoot and would have been fun to do. Not only in the similar vein of posing but also in being able to visit the same locations as before. Some places have changed in exterior look, such as in the buildings. It just shows what a little fun and ingenuity can do.

States' Names

If you want to know more about where your state’s name comes from (etymologies), you can check here and here.
In the case of Oregon.................

The origin of the state name is uncertain, but "Oregon" might have been derived from a 1715 French map which refers to the Wisconsin River as "Ouaricon-sint."

Another opinion is that the name "Oregon" stems from an English army officer's proposal for a trip in 1765, in which he refers to "the River called by the Indians Ouragon." Oregon was admitted as the 33rd state on February 14, 1859.

More Foundation Work

The day started off with a 6:30 a.m. meeting of the board for the ABVP Foundation. Good discussion ensued though some how zip, zam, zowey, and swoosh I was elected as Treasurer of the Foundation. Some more responsibilities on my shoulders. A full day of lectures and even more info on item writing in the evening. I had fun later in the evening by eating sweet potato fries and having fun chatting with Glenn Olah and Jim Olson.

Halloween in Arizona

Off to Phoenix, or really Glendale, in the “Valley of the Sun”. Good flight on Alaska and they have improved their service to the public. I had my first experience with Pre-Pass at the Portland Airport. Shorter line with no taking off my shoes, taking out my computer, and removing liquids from my bags. Yoo Hoo! The ABVP meeting looks really to be a good meeting and it is great to say hello to old friends. This is a growing area of Phoenix with sports stadiums, hotels, entertainment spots and malls.
Wore my “cat ears” to the end of the day reception for a Halloween feel.

Military History Books

Victor Davis Hanson, an author of history and military aspects of it, has listed some of his recommended books for reading on Pajamas Media. He is an exceptional author in my opinion, well above my intelligence level. Other writers have their selections in this section of the website. Check it out here.

Thrones of Desert and Ice

I have mentioned before how I enjoy reading and watching the book series of George R. R. Mitchell. A mix of kings, queens, and country across the frozen north to desert wasteland. One discussion of the series and TV rendition is found here.

Like Pizza?

If you like pizza, here is a recommendation by state in Zagat’s for their favorite pizzas (lost the link). Our two favorites when we travel are Serious Pie in Seattle and Solaris in Bingen WA, across the Columbia River from Hood River OR. Locally, we usually go to James Gang Pizza in Lebanon.

Society and Revolution

Investor’s Business Daily has an 8 part series of articles exploring society, socialism, communism, and our lives. The first part is on France and the propaganda of the French Revolution. The eighth part is on Lenin and the disintegration of marriage. I have not gone through all the parts yet wish to post here for future reading and other’s interest.

Book List of Your Own

The following blog post has a unique feature, a list of 100 books that the post’s author enjoyed and read. So, instead of having angst over how many one may have read in this list……….make your own book list. I would have to say that I have only read about 25% of his list, a % number the author is frustrated by when he reads other book lists.

Challenge Science Results?

Being involved with the Winn Feline Foundation and reviewing research grant proposals, I found an interesting article through The Economist. Their premise is that researchers are too complacent in challenging their results or of others. Many studies’ results cannot be reproduced………..they are “one offs”. They also challenge the peer review concept and that results should be challenged by open discussion after publication. Here is the article, others can decide how they view this issue.

What Is A Yeti?

A British scientist feels he may have an answer for the mystery of the Yeti. He believe that the creature seen and described in those sightings is an ancient polar bear that still lives in the Himalayas.

Research by Professor Bryan Sykes, a geneticist from the University of Oxford, has not only uncovered a genetic match between samples thought to come from the elusive creature and another that lived more than 40,000 years ago, but also suggests the beast is still roaming the mountains.
Professor Sykes conducted DNA tests on hairs from two unidentified animals, one found in the western Himalayan region of Ladakh, in northern India, and the other from Bhutan, 800 miles east.
The results were then compared with other animals’ genomes stored on a database of all published DNA sequences. Professor Sykes found a 100 per cent match with a sample from an ancient polar bear jawbone
found in Svalbard, Norway.

Additional information can be found here in the article from the Telegraph.

All Star Cardinals

Powerline Blog had a recent post with discussion on who would make up an All Star lineup of the St. Louis Cardinals. The post is here and interesting reading. Tony LaRussa is the choice for manager of the team of all who have gone before. He did do a bang up job there and after doing a good job as manager of the Oakland Athletics where Bob and I knew him and his family.


When my beloved grandmother died in 2005, it was a sadly blessed relief. For at least 7 years, she was declining into dementia and her actions took a toll on the family especially my mother. She would not let Mom out of her sight for over a second and became impossible to deal with when it happened. The fun and joy of the type of person she had been was gone. I also believe that the huge closeness my mother and she had over the years--traveling together--was deeply strained. There appears to be a possible treatment on the horizon out of Great Britain. Details are covered in this article here.

Work and Movies

The morning today was taken up with the Winn October teleconference board meeting. It appeared to go well and it is great to have it all completed for this year. This is probably a day to have followed up and watched one of the movies listed in this article of 15 underrated films from the 2000s that are worth considering watching.

Designer Genes?

Are we on the verge of a change in the way we can program genetic code to develop more antimicrobials? Will this lead to better designer genes, nothing, or will we some day “Unleash Hell” through the unknown consequences? A description of the new concepts in developing designer genes is found in this article.

Reprogramming bacteria to produce proteins for drugs, biofuels, and more, has long been part of the job for bioscientists, but for years they have struggled to get those bugs to follow orders.
Those days may be over.

LaRussa's Cats

The Wall Street Journal has a cool article about Tony and Elaine LaRussa and their work with ARF. It also focuses on their household of cats which I was the veterinarian for covering about 15 years. It looks like they still have Sierra and Kachina. Since I have been gone from there for 10 years, many of the cats they have are new and therefore, unknown to me. I was certainly there at the start of ARF and as a big supporter for it. Evie was housed at my hospital for a number of months until she went to live at a home rescue shelter associated with ARF. Here is the article.

Financing talks

Another full day of lectures. Margie Scherk spoke for the morning and it was nice to say hello. Bob and I got to spend some time with the Bank of America finance person on site. We also talked with a lovely lady who also organized different insurance plans for practitioners who are looking to establish a practice. It all looks promising. The 5 Musketeers had dinner at an Italian restaurant, Luciano’s. The hot bread with herbed olive oil was spectacularly tasty.



Got a later than usual start and made it to the Southwest Veterinary Symposium Design Conference for the afternoon. There was a lot of good information present and a great deal of “food for thought”. Marybeth made it to San Antonio and we attended evening lectures together. I was surprised I was able to stay up to 10 pm to do so. Bob helped Tim and Karen to set up the booth for Art for Cat’s Sake.

Outwitting Plagues

Malaria has been a scourge world-wide to the human race. A recent article talk about looking at a totally different method to control the spread of the malarial Plasmodium parasite. Scientists plan to vaccinate the mosquitoes. Read about how they do it here.

Clever Work

I came across a story about a family who were clever in how they took advantage of a product promotion and giveaway. If they purchased a particular chocolate pudding and sent in the product labels, they would earn air miles on American. They have well over 1 million miles that they are using to take trips around the world. They continue to build on the air miles and have higher member status to get travel perks. This probably was done around the year 2000 so whether anyone could do a similar program now is unlikely. It was clever how they used a small amount of money with some effort to obtain a very nice perk of travel. Read about it here.

Cat Island

There is an island off the coast of Japan, Tashirojima Island, where cats rule. They outnumber the humans on the island and help drive tourism. The story can be found here after reading an excerpt below.

Tashirojima is a dwindling two-port, 100-person fishing community where cats outnumber humans many times over. It's a real-life cat haven, where dogs are reportedly banned from entering and monuments to the feline overlords are plentiful. The story goes that cats first prospered on the island back when occupants raised silkworms and enlisted their four-legged friends to help keep the destructive mice away. Later in the 1800s, when Tashirojima's fishing grounds became popular, fishermen came to believe that the island’s cats gave hints about weather patterns and the day's catch. They doted upon the strays that would wander into their inns and thought that feeding them would guarantee prosperity.


Coastal Symbiosis

After several visits to the various western states coastal sites, I don’t think I have seen such a gathering of seal types in one location like I did near Cape Arago and Sunset Bay west of Coos Bay, Oregon. It was amazingly noisy with all the “barking” that they do. Interspersed with the different types of seals are birds, such as pelicans. They seem to be at ease with each other and Mother Nature as the ocean waves break over the rocks they share.

Pier Pilings

There are a number of interesting compositions along the river shores near the Coast. It makes it hard to pick which is the best of the bunch. It is just fun to play around with what is there. Here are some Coquille River pilings that look like sentinels at watch, protecting the near by shore from invaders.

River Delights

All the time we spent in Bandon, the daytime was lovely. Really fun to get some great photos of the ocean, rivers, and life around the area. I was able to get some good photos of the Coquille River pilings at low tide with a fishing boat in the background. Earlier morning with light from the east is a great help in doing this. Lovely reflections in the water.


Cape Arago and Coos Bay

On this day we headed north to Coos Bay to see the area west of that town and visit the state parks, beaches, and the lighthouse there. It was another warm day with sun. How spectacular can that be! We found the community west of North Bend very depressed economically with many abandoned buildings. The state parks and beaches were not crowded and were lovely to visit. Great to come back to with the rest of the family.
Cape Arago Lighthouse

Bandon to Brookings

We had not spent any time on the Southwest Oregon Coast so that was our trip this holiday. We got into Bandon at about 9 pm last night in the midst of coastal fog, mist, and rain. We had a nice motel lined up by Table Rock. Our room was spacious and comfortable, called the Anniversary Room. Lovely, bright red and gold furnishings.
After a nice breakfast, we headed south to make Brookings, the last town on the Oregon coast before California. One highlight was stopping at the oldest lighthouse in Oregon, built in 1870, called Cape Blanco. The day before this, the weather had been foggy and misty. One could not see the lighthouse from the gate area below. The Langlois (pronounced Lang-less) and Hughes families were keepers for the lighthouse. They raised families there in bad weather and isolation.
Cape Blanco Lighthouse

40th Anniversary

Today is our 40th anniversary. What a milestone and miracle. I remember worrying about making our 25th due to concerns about my health. We did it. It started a beautiful morning with the sun shining brightly in Bandon. What a perfect day for photography! Here is my earlier morning photos of the Coquille Lighthouse with the sun from the east highlighting it.
Coquille Lighthouse at Bandon


Lee Child is due to have a new Reacher novel out within a few weeks. He is one of my favorite authors to read. I got Bob hooked on his books too. His books are not fluff and I feel each word used means something. It is “to the point” type of writing. So, it was with enjoyment that I came across this article of another Lee Child fan. I can see from other authors listed that this person and I would have a lot to talk about. He poses the question of which book is a person’s favorite of Lee Child’s. I have to vote the first I read, 61 Hours. It was taught and tense. It pulled me in to where I could not put it down. I love the mental analyses Reacher goes through to evaluate a tough situation or where a fight can ensue. He plans it out and it usually works. The bad people are “toast” in the end. Yahoo!!!


On one of our prior excursions around Scotland, Bob and I took a good portion of the Whiskey Trail. We have also visited sights on the Isle of Skye (Talisker………..a peppery single malt). Both of us enjoy a good single malt though we do like it on the rocks. We will drink it neat but don’t like it as well. Neat is the way one is supposed to enjoy a Scotch. In this article, they talk about drinking it with Ginger Ale. Bleech! I don’t like Ginger Ale as it is. It is fun to watch the different short segments of video watching Brian Cox saying Lagavullen or Glenfiddich or Balvenie.

Points and More Points

I am trying to assemble all the possible points I can gather to reach 500 points to recertify for ABVP diplomate status in feline. If so, this will be the 3rd set of 10 years I will embark on. I believe I will have 473 before hoping a book chapter I did would offer me other points. I spent a good portion of today making a list and planning to the ability to demonstrate and amass 200 points of this in Continuing Education hours. I feel good that I have made this effort and have a good plan to achieve this goal. I most likely will add some exam items to the group so I have a big overage and hopefully will not need to worry about this for a long time.

Webster Knows Dictionaries

The man who developed the first U.S. dictionary was Noah Webster. He was a lesser known Founding Father. He helped to build the U.S. Census, develop worker’s compensation, copyright law, and benefits to others along with publishing the first dictionary for our country. The book sold over 100 million copies. His cousin was Sen. Daniel Webster so it was a talented family all around. To learn more about him, look here.

Justified and Writing

One of the best TV shows around is Justified. Timothy Olyphant portraying Reylan Givens is a superb actor and made for that role. The writer who wrote the short stories that Justified is based upon is Elmore Leonard. Mr. Leonard passed away the other day at an age in his 80s. He was a very popular author and there was a recent article re-posted from 2001 that discussed his views and rules on writing. He advised easy on the adverbs, exclamation points and watch the Hooptedoodle. I find it always pays to listen to someone who has demonstrated they know what they are doing and he fits that bill. Here is another article from someone else who Elmore Leonard gave good life advice.

Lawrence of Arabia

I was off to a day of relief work in Eugene. Time to get back into the swing of things and thinking veterinarian so not much time to ponder blog articles and post. Here is another look at T.E. Lawrence, or Lawrence of Arabia fame. His impact appears to live on to this day in the Middle East. Interesting discussion that he was a bit of a self-promoter.

Colorized Photos

What a pleasure to view old black and white photos from the past that have been colorized.It gives the scene and past another perspective. Maybe the colorization brings the scene more into reality versus a remoteness when viewed. Here is a post with some examples, one from the Civil War era. An extended look of the group of photos is also here.

Typhoid Mary Today

Scientists appear to have found how Typhoid Mary was able to spread typhoid as a carrier. Another medical mystery seems to have found an answer.

When Typhoid Mary died in 1938, in medical exile on a tiny New York island, she took untold numbers of Salmonella typhi to her grave. No one knew how the bacteria managed to thrive and not kill her.

A team of microbiologists from Stanford University and UC San Francisco has found a tantalizing clue: a bacterium strain similar to the one responsible for "healthy" carriers such as Typhoid Mary shows an ability to hack the metabolism of the cells sent out to defend from infection and heal trauma.

Read the story here.

Conversation In This Day

One thing I am most interested in is improving my ability to converse or communicate. Or at least to understand it. It shapes our relationships with others and can either make our life better or much worse with its use. Here is a recent article on conversation and some “rules of the road” to follow. One key principle is to focus on the other person.

Final California

Paul Rahe finished up his travelogue with a description of arriving to Mountain View California and his impressions of what he saw there. Based on his itinerary, they traveled through the eastern part of Oregon and he did not comment. I believe he missed some of the unique nature of that area. It is geologically different and much like traveling back in time to a different era. He did impart some great advice in this piece, one I wish he had used to describe parts of Oregon too.

Twenty-nine years ago, when I headed off to Istanbul as a fellow of the Institute of Current World Affairs, the executive director of that outfit instructed me to send back a newsletter soon after my arrival describing my first impressions. "You will forget that which left you wonderstruck," he observed, "as you get used to the place. That fleeting sense of wonder is invaluable." And so it was.

His coverage and observations of parts of the Bay area are good. We lived 20 years in the East Bay area in Walnut Creek. It was a bit different than the Peninsula area of Mountain View yet close enough.

Road Trip Travelogue

Professor Paul Rahe is a gifted writer and thinker. He has written a book about how our government and political system is subject to the drift of “Soft Depotism”. We certainly seem to be aiming that direction. He and his family are traveling to the West Coast where he has a 10 month visiting professor gig in Mountain View California. He decided to write about his family experiences on the trip while visiting national parks and landmarks. His dialogue mixed with videos of the different locations can be found on the Ricochet website here and here. I will most like write about additional postings in later days since they are just entering Idaho with these two links.

What Kind of Ending?

I saw an interesting discussion yesterday about whether a person might prefer stories, shows, or movies that have happy endings or crave reaching that ultimate “downer” of a bad ending. I probably tend to lean toward the happy ending side. What I really like is a good, well-written, clever story. Something that makes you think or surprises you. The article under discussion did go further and covered 4 different examples of how different predictable patterns occur to destroy dramatic tension. Certainly, we all go to a thriller or drama and wonder who will be killed off or which character(s) will be left at the end. I would often speculate with our friend, Stephen, on who will be left standing. We often came close to getting it right. It can be a fun guessing game and you try to determine the pattern or profile they will want to have at the end. What sort of story ending do you like? Can you tell how a story will end or who will “not be there” for the next season? Happy

Books That Changed My Mind

An interesting column the other day by Scott Johnson of Powerline Blog. He contemplated about books that had changed his thinking, primarily with the focus on political leanings. I have not read any of the books he listed. I would have to spend some time considering what I would list in a similar situation. I have written in this blog about books that have changed my beliefs or interests in the past. Some books that would come to the foreground that have had an effect are Melanie Phillip’s Londonistan. It has had a huge impact on my understanding of how our Western culture and civilization is being challenged. Another book is William Shirer’s tome, Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. It taught me about how the little twists and turns of our history lead to such huge upheavals to civilization along the way. One small change could have headed off a historical travesty or sent events off into another direction. The old counterfactual aspect of history.
I am sure there are many other books that I can add here. I will return to this piece to add more in the future.

King Leopold's Ghost

Another of the myriad of books I own is one about King Leopold of Belgium, King Leopold’s Ghost. In the 1800’s, he decided he needed to have more territory as a colony and income for his kingdom of Belgium. He moved soldiers into the country of the Congo in Africa and over time, made the population slaves to his industry. Stanley of history fame was actually his agent in the initial colonization of the Congo His industry was the takeover of the rubber industry. Many of the population died during this occupancy and he was able to hide it from the rest of the world for awhile. Eventually, word leaked out. More details about the dark chapter in history are found here.

Pilot Error

There has been a lot of focus the past few days on a Boeing 777 plane that crashed on landing at San Francisco International Airport. It is an airport I have flown into a number of times. The weather was good at the time and from all the news coverage and a look at the site, I said early on this had the hallmarks of pilot error. All the data and information is leaning that way currently. This morning has a posting of a video that followed the whole landing and it is a miracle the plane did not cartwheel at the end as initially reported. I can see why they felt it had landed on its top based on eye witness reports after viewing this video.

Garden Parterre

Our garden parterre is looking a bit more established or older. The boxwoods still have some issues of parts of the plants dying for some reason and then coming back. Here is a view of it this summer.


Symposium and podcasts

My Blue Yeti microphone failed me tonight and I was not able to use it to record audio for the Symposium. I had to use the laptop microphone which was OK though more tinny in sound. We pulled off another well done Symposium with lots of good feedback. Dinner at The Grant House was great and the food very nicely done even if most of the conversation was pointed toward travels in Africa which we have not done.

Bob, was videographer, for the event along with Otto Wolf.



Off to Vancouver WA today. It is great to see that this year’s Winn meeting is close to home and we can drive. It is a bit cloudy, rainy and muggy for Oregon. The Winn board meeting was tonight and I was elected President for another term. Here is how it went down with me looking like I am working and Betty White as my sidekick.


England and the Raj

The historical underpinnings of India as a part of the English empire has been controversial. Belief was that India, its resources, and its people were exploited by the British. There is an article and recent book that states British rule most likely gave India its basis as an economically growing country. Read the whole article here.

The period of colonial rule, spanning some 200 years, is routinely depicted as the systematic plundering of a nation. The popular view is that the Empire stripped India of its natural resources and gave little in return, leaving the place all but destitute when independence was finally granted in 1947.

Now, however, a new book written by an Anglo-Indian challenges this notion. It asserts that in fact Britain laid the foundations for modern-day India and the prosperity that it enjoys today.

Hunkered Down

One of the “catch up all the work on hold” days. I had to spend most of the day from early morning until evening hunkered down over the computer getting Winn Feline Foundation materials ready for the board meeting and answering emails. It might be a more pleasant thought to consider the Seattle skyline from the waterfront.

Mexican Morris for Mayor

Dogs have run for mayor, now it is a cat’s turn. Morris the Mexican Cat is running for Mayor of Xalapa in eastern Mexico. I must say that he is healthier and cleaner looking than most cats I have seen on the west coast of Mexico. As a black and white handsome cat, he has my vote. You can check out Morris here.


Cattin' Around

Off again to work in Eugene for 2 days. Trying to get some money to pay toward the meeting in Seattle. It will be good to see cats again and Patricia to chat about cat medicine.

Colorful Clouds

Last night as the sun was setting and the rain clouds were thinking of accumulating, I got this photo of color imprinted on a fluffy cloud above the Douglas Fir trees. It was a night of a colorful sunset.

Puget Sound

Well, while I was slaving away learning about cats and meeting with friends, Bob was out riding the ferry across Puget Sound to visit Bainbridge Island. Here he is with Juliana and Grace Pettey, the daughters of our good friends from Largo, FL, Rick and Deb Pettey. Juliana and Grace, I have from good authority, are like typical kids, they love to torment each other and are much loved by their parents.

Space Needle in Seattle

While I was off having a good learning session, Bob was off sight seeing around Seattle. Riding the bus, visiting parks. The weather was sunny and he was able to get a photo of the Space Needle from a different direction. The restaurant and food are really nice and one can have a great visit with friends there.

Seattle Bound

Post web design planning webinar, we hit the road to Seattle for the ACVIM meeting. It should be decent weather with possibly a little rain though not much. We are staying at the Homewood Suites which is a convenient and comfortable location to the Convention Center. Dinner is planned at Asiaggio’s with good friend, Joanna Guglielmino. Italian food on the horizon…..Yum!

Book Riot Listings

I like having my book library. I know that many have shifted to having their library easier and on their E-reader. I like the use of the E-reader too though it does not fulfill the deep sense of owning a treasure trove of the written word and knowledge. Here is a link to 10 of the top libraries of the rich and famous listed on Book Riot. Personally the Stone House library at the John Adams home in Quincy, MA is right up there to me. Otherwise on this list, I would pick the library at William Randolph Hearst’s castle near Cambria, CA.

Photo Contest

Ruralite Magazine is having their calendar photo contest again this summer. I thought I would try this year to send in some photos. I can hope that something may be picked. I did send in an offshoot of this photo scene. It is fun to watch kite flying at the beach. These were quite striking kites that day. Devil cats to us.

Nicolas Is Six

Nicolas has his sixth birthday today. It sounds like he had lunch with his Mom and baby brother and know that this is HIS day or birthday. The celebrations will happen with the family on Sunday. Nicolas enjoys playing in our water fountain, especially with sticks and other objects………

Kipling's Indian Families

One area of history that I have marginal knowledge of is that of India. There has been much intertwining of peoples between those of India and England through the East India Company. As previously mentioned, Rudyard Kipling has written so lyrically about India. Here is another example of his work and some of the families and history that have made up parts of India. It is definitely another world from Oregon.

Reading Room

The past few days have been very rainy and blustery. The type of days one just wants to go into hibernation and not venture out. When I hibernate I like to grab a good book, curl up and read it for several hours. I came across this picture earlier of a book room that was so appealing. We have our library here though I could certainly entertain spending time at Casa de Muse.

Memorial Day

The family all met down at the Lebanon IOOF cemetery yesterday to place flowers on the graves there. I have photos of the site that I will probably save to show in later years’ posts. Nicolas was curious about the headstones and who were the people associated with them. First Scott, then Grandpa Bob, and then I told him of his new found great and great-great grandparents he had acquired. The cemetery is always so beautiful yet solemn at this time of year.

Here are more photos from Washington D.C. and remembrances of honoring the dead and remembering the fallen.
From an Ace of Spades blog post………..

I have seen this ceremony more times than I can count. I never cease to be humbled by it, by the sentinels of the 3rd Infantry Regiment, US Army at Ft. Meyer. The Old Guard. 21 steps. Hurricanes. Snowstorms. Or the brutal summer heat in Virginia.
This tomb will always have a guard.

Vietnam War Memorial, 2007
“When I was a kid (1984 or so), we visited the Vietnam Memorial. I remember my dad searching for his fallen comrades. He looked in the book, found the panel, then I remember him tracing the names with his fingers, tears in his eyes.”
Read the full story here.

Memorial Weekend Memories

If one cannot stay home and enjoy Memorial Day weekend with family, I believe one of the best and most special places to visit is Washington D.C. on Memorial Weekend. Watching Rolling Thunder ride into town. Well over 60,000 people on motorcycles roar onto D.C. streets. I will never forget watching these big men in leather jackets, looking tough and serious while shedding a tear at a ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington Cemetery. Everyone should experience Memorial Day at this hallowed area at least once. It is unforgettable. Another spot that caught my heart was then going to the World War II Memorial and reading the testimonials left behind by sons or daughters written to their beloved fathers who served in that war. In memory of what military service people mean to us, please read this story here and also watch the video here. Please consider thanking a military person for their service at the next opportunity. They deserve our respect.


Arlington National Cemetery

Nat Geo Photos

I enjoy learning about and using different photography skills to take photos. I won’t win contests most likely though I like to challenge myself to do better and be creative.
Nat Geo has recently sent out their early favorites for their annual photography contest. This list includes 42 photos and they are cool. You can find their list here at the Atlantic website. I will include a photo from around 2003, taken in eastern Nevada at Great Basin National Park with the snow capped mountain nicely framed by the trees.


Gilda Radner

Back in those long ago college days, it was the early hey-day of “Saturday Night Live” on television. One of the best characters and one I will never forgot when troubles get to piling on was Gilda Radner’s portrayal of Roseanne Roseannadanna. Roseanne was often a network anchor reading the day’s news. She would say with her scrunchy little voice a profound thought…………..”If it’s not one thing, it’s another!” Ain’t that the truth. Gilda died way too young of ovarian cancer. I came across this remembrance from Bill Murray of one of the last times he spoke with his friend, Gilda Radner.

Technology Headaches

Today has been a day for development of big technology headaches and maybe some hoped for resolution. Our DSL internet has been a major sore point lately with slow speeds, in and out service (it could rival In-And-Out Burgers), and downright internet stoppages. The past week has been very bad for this. I was unable to access an online classroom Monday night due to internet access issues. Today, the phone went out while on hold to talk to CenturyLink about their service. With a phone service repair (a local equipment station card was bad and needed to be replaced) and modem switch out, everything is working more consistently. Time will tell. Our ISP needs to really spend money to upgrade equipment in our area and it probably won’t happen soon or at all. Plus, my battery back up/surge protector is beeping and may need a batter replacement. Sigh!!

Movies and Memorable Quotes

Richochet has an interesting blog synopsis from yesterday. They ask for readers to comment on which movie they feel offers the most memorable quotes. Aliens, Blazing Saddles, Space Balls are just some that frequent this household. A number of others crop up in the comment list………………Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Casablanca, The Princess Bride and with a large number of quotes in our lexicon, Wizard of Oz! You can check one type of article out here.

From Wizard of Oz………

  • We're not in Kansas anymore.
  • Ding, dong, the witch is dead.
  • Follow the yellow brick road.
  • Yes, my pretties.
  • Toto, too?
  • If I only had a brain.
  • Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.
  • Antie Em, Antie Em.
  • And your little dog, too.
  • We represent the lollipop guild.
  • Are you a good witch or a bad witch?
  • Oz, the great and powerful.
  • If I were king of the forest...
  • Somewhere, over the rainbow.
  • What do they got that I aint' got? Courage.
  • There's no place like home.

To Aliens…………….

  • "That's it man, game over man, game over! What the **** are we gonna do now? What are we gonna do? "
  • "Hey, maybe you haven't been keeping up on current events, but we just got our kicked, pal!"
  • "Allright, sweethearts, you heard the man and you know the drill! A**h***s and elbows!"
  • "Get away from her, you *****!"
  • “We are going to lift off and nuke this site from orbit. It is the only way to be sure.”
  • “Why don’t you put her in charge!”

More Kipling

Approximately 50 unpublished poems of Rudyard Kipling have been found inside a house in Manhattan. The poems have now been published in three volumes. One such poem is --

Never Again In Any Port

Never again in any port
That sailor people use
Can we or our broken sons consort
With the joyous shipping there
After our shame we have lost our right
To the fellowship of the sea.
We dwell alone without the camp
Shall our habitation be.

To read about what was found, please go here…..

Rudyard Kipling, circa 1913


Windmills on the Green

Just another shot of the powerful windmills in the Palouse Hills above a mix of green (new) and beige (old) wheat fields.

Windmill Country

While driving through the Palouse, there are stretches of open countryside with large swatches of windmills. They can be fascinating to watch and try to photograph. In this photo, I tried to see if I could get a decent picture with the light highlighting the windmills against a darker, cloudy sky.

Doggie Driver

Stopping in Colfax WA as we set out to leave the Palouse Hills, this canine (doggie) driver seemed to be settled in to say “Goodbye” to the Thayers. I hope he shares the controls with his owners or it will be a “dog fight”. I hope the owner of this vehicle can “CoExist” with this dog.

Scholarship Dinner

Our journey up into the Palouse was our third trip to attend the Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine Scholarship Award dinner. We provide a scholarship to support a student interested in feline medicine. The student this year was Caitlin who was at the dinner and dessert with her husband, Nick, and grandparents from Port Angeles WA, Myra and Don.
Here I am celebrating Washington State University with Caitlin.

Palouse Farming

We headed up through the Columbia Gorge to stay overnight in Walla Walla. We enjoy this city and its good food and wine. Traveling around in the Southeast Washington fields and rolling hills, you can see the isolated homes and spots of agriculture. One example is this rake just off the road next to an early wheat field.

Spring Weather

A cold front that is circling from Northeast to Southwest weather patterns is moving through today. Some waves of rain, hail, and wind. The day ended up last night with the sun setting brilliantly and exposing waves of mist and clouds. This picture is when the clouds got colorful near the end.

The Cat that Walked by Himself

In exploring more of the reading site of Rudyard Kipling poems, books, and short stories, I came across this short story about The Cat that Walked by Himself. It is definitely a demonstration of what the cat thinks of himself versus what man and the great canine enemy think of cats. It is just a fun example of Kipling’s style of writing and imagination. Read it here. Illustrations here.

The Man Who Would Be King

Rudyard Kipling is considered one of England’s greatest poets and authors. He certainly held large sway on the public during the lead up and time of World War I. His writings of the Indian sub-continent certainly carried the imagination of many people. I became more focused on him an a person when watching the movie, My Boy Jack, which told of Kipling’s gung ho support for England aggressively pursuing war against the German Empire in World War I. That passion stirred his son, Jack, to join the military where his life was lost as so many young men did in those times. Kipling felt the loss keenly because he felt he was much the cause of it. I had read some of his work though not “The Man Who Would Be King”. A fascinating read from a great writer. Please read the short story here.


Great Military Reads

This webpage is enough to make a book lover, especially one of military history, go happy-crazy! If one had the time and money, you could use it all up in buying and reading these books. Of course, there is the library though it costs annually here since we do not live in town. This is a history book lovers dream of a webpage. Yahoo!!!! I do have a number of these books and can definitely attest to the author’s skill at writing………Antony Beevor, Nathan Philbrick, Kearns Goodwin, Hastings, Ambrose.

The Thayer Library (in part)

Tolkien Ring

JRR Tolkien wrote The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings series of books. They are a fascinating read and the movies have resonated in society with familiar messages. There was a recent story that Tolkien’s One Ring that reunites the many had a basis in fact or history. A recent ring from Roman times is on display and was seen by Tolkien at one time in his career. Could it be the One Ring?

The ring is believed to be linked to a curse tablet found separately at the site of a Roman temple dedicated to a god named Nodens in Gloucestershire, western England. The tablet says a man called Silvianus had lost a ring, and it asks Nodens to place a curse of ill health on Senicianus until he returned it to the temple.
An archaeologist who looked into the connection between the ring and the curse tablet asked Tolkien, who was an Anglo-Saxon professor at Oxford University, to work on the etymology of the name Nodens in 1929.


Japanese Revolutionary

Sakamoto Ryoma was a revolutionary during the times of Japan’s exposure to Western Culture. He saw Commodore Matthew Perry’s ships come into Tokyo harbor in 1853. One can see his story here.

Sakamoto Ryoma is easily one of the most famous and influential people in Japanese history. Idealized by many Japanese boys, Sakamoto led a revolution to overthrow the Tokugawa shogunate during the Bakumatsu period. Tales of his charisma and bravery have been heralded and praised in media ever since. His life was cut short by assassination at the tender age of 31, but his legacy will live on forever.

Wonder Weekend

It is a beautiful spring weekend and this morning came with no clouds in the sky. A little mist to hug the valley and cling to the hills. It is sad to have a cold and be under the weather when such a day comes about. It should get up to 75 degrees today and what a day that will be. Here is a photo of what spring is like!

Hi Ho

As the Seven Dwarfs of Disney once sang, “Hi Ho, It’s Off to Work I Go” today in Eugene. It is due to be a very rainy, breezy drive home. Working with cats. Shall I wonder which is a Pisces and which is a Capricorn like me?

A Blood Feud

History has made much of the Hatfield and McCoy feud along the Kentucky-West Virginia border. More broadly damaging yet less spoken of is the blood feud or hatred between Robert Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. Bill O’Reilly covered it in his recent book, Killing Kennedy.
Robert Caro has written the fourth volume of a 5 volume history of Johnson. A lot of the book covers this feud and its impact on the people around them and also American history. A description of this feud is covered in the New York Times Book Review of Caro’s book here.

High Tech Med

This article is not specifically about veterinary medicine though drug development and diseases on the human side still has implications on the veterinary side. We are several years behind in regard to some of the targeted therapies. The article though also talks about how as Big Pharma looks at more specific targeted therapies that won’t sell to large numbers of people, will the costs and regulation make them balk at providing this need.

High Debts and New Veterinarians

The Thayer Family offer a $750 scholarship at the Washington State University to a student who has a strong interest in feline medicine and surgery, need and scholarship. We have done this for 4 years including this up coming awards program in April. We are proud to help a student. Student debt load is overwhelming. I believe more veterinarians could help the current students in this area and offer scholarships, especially in the area of cats. So little is done there. Though this article is not altogether correct, it still puts a spotlight on an area that needs strong discussion. I graduated without debt though little money. I don’t know what I would do if I faced having to pay off the equivalent of a house loan right after graduating.

How Wars Start

It is not the ArchDuke Ferdinand flash of a match that starts a war. It is the underlying problem and volcano of issues that build the real reason. The desire for territory or power, the resentment of a possible lack of respect or face in front of your peers. The article linked here give a good discussion of where the deeper meaning lies to start our greatest wars.

Parenting Post-Apocalypse

One has to laugh a bit at how we can get caught up into the Zombie “culture”. A bit of escapism for sure. It really is getting in deep when you start analyzing the parenting of characters on The Walking Dead. You would have to grow up fast or you would end up Zombie food. Just to get a sense of the discussion just read about it here in The Atlantic.

Libsyn and Podcasts

What a great feeling when you tackle a challenge and get it done. I had not gone through their website process of publishing a podcast and its description. I loaded two of them today of 10 min. interviews with Dr. Jessica Quimby and on research funded by the Winn Feline Foundation. The podcast episodes were fun and educational. They probably are not accessible at this time.


I came across this article in The Atlantic Magazine online. They posted 50 photos from the year 1963. A number of the photos were key influencers on issues of that day. One photos is of an older Buddhist monk who set himself ablaze in protest to the suppression of the monks in South Vietnam by the government. The photo helped to lead to the government’s downfall. Another was a police dog lunging a a black youth during marches in Alabama.This photo’s appearance got the Kennedy government more deeply involved in moving Civil Rights for African-Americans forward. Of course there are the photos of the time around President Kennedy’s assassination in November. An interesting read about this time in history is in Bill O’Reilly’s book, Killing Kennedy. A look at the world 50 years ago.


All morning consisted of our Winn board meeting. Lots to do and get done. Then off to the airport to get home from Houston by way of United. The flight was fine, left on time and got in early to Portland. One lady sitting a row ahead was also reading research grants though on breast cancer. In talking with her, she said they have found targeted immunoglobulins to be a huge advancement in the last few years, especially in the area of lung cancer. She said she was a medical oncologist. It would have been interesting to chat longer.


Our 2013 grant review was today. Half of the group was on a teleconference phone line, the rest were able to make it to Houston. Winn Feline Foundation is lucky to have such a great group of people wanting to help cats. Out to Chez Nous, a French restaurant for dinner tonight. Good food and drink all the way around. As the Marines say……….HoooRaaaa!

Houston, We Have a Problem

Heading out the door at 8 a.m. Most flights out of the Northeast were canceled and so any of our group from there had to stay home and attend by call. I had to get all the info gathered for the meeting I could since I would be the backup go-to person. I am glad I had a First Class upgrade for the flight segments on this trip. Just to make me feel better and less stressed. Houston, here I come.

Occam's Razor

Tomorrow I head off on a flight to Houston. The annual Winn grant review will be Saturday followed by a board meeting. I upgraded to a first class ticket using miles to treat myself. It has been a busy and stressful time over the last few months.
I found an interesting article about Occam’s Razor and its use in science. The article is here. The thought of keeping to the simplest or null hypothesis is in its way, comforting.

Science deals with facts, experiments and numerical representations of the natural world around us. Science does not deal with emotions, beliefs or politics, but rather strives to analyse matters dispassionately and in an objective way, such that in consideration of a given set of facts two different practitioners might come to the same interpretation….

William of Occam

Which brings us to the matter of Occam’s Razor and the null hypothesis. William of Occam (1285-1347) was an English Franciscan monk and philosopher to whom is attributed the saying ‘Pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate’, which translates as ‘Plurality should not be posited without necessity.’ This is a succinct statement of the principle of simplicity, or parsimony, that was first developed by Aristotle and which has today come to underlie all scientific endeavour.
The phrase ‘Occam’s Razor’ is now generally used as shorthand to represent the fundamental scientific assumption of simplicity. To explain any given set of observations of the natural world, scientific method proceeds by erecting, first, the simplest possible explanation (hypothesis) that can explain the known facts. This simple explanation, termed the null hypothesis, then becomes the assumed interpretation until additional facts emerge that require modification of the initial hypothesis, or perhaps even invalidate it altogether.

Shakespeare Uncovered

PBS has been showing different TV programs on some of Shakespeare’s plays using different actors to moderate the program. Tomorrow night should have Hamlet with David Tennant describing the play. The Tempest is the other one on the same evening. Information about PBS’ series is found here.

The Plantagenets

With the discovery of Richard the III’s bones, a recent article online discussed the over 300 period the Plantagenet’s ruled England. The period began with Henry II, son of Queen Maude and Geoffrey of Anjou, and ended with the death of Richard. Henry the VIII did all he could to eliminate Plantagenet descendants who could have been a threat to the Tudor dynasty. He did a good job though some did carry through. I love the Plantagenet’s and their strong, often ruthless history. They were what drew me to love English history. It is fun to see it carried into today’s current news.

Old Bones

Exciting news today! They have confirmed that the skeleton located under a Leicester car park is the skeleton of King Richard lll of England. He was killed at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 at the end of the War of the Roses. The used the DNA of direct descendants of his sister, Anne of York, to confirm. The plans are to reinter his remains at Leicester Cathedral early next year. Here is information regarding how this historical find came about.


Monty Python

Was Monty Python irreverent? Were they revolutionary? Led to the collapse of normal life? They certainly were funny. Which ones are your favorites? The Cheese Shop? The Spanish Inquisition?
The Ministry of Silly Walks? Here is a take on the subject that the best of Monty Python were not always the funniest. I still think these are funny.


Old WWI Photos

I have mentioned similar information on the blog in past days about World War I. I have numerous books and photo books of the history of World War I, the war to end all wars. There was a recent story about some photos that have come to light about this War. These photos can be accessed here.
Many individuals experiences in that war shaped their future achievements-- C.S. Lewis, Rudyard Kipling, J.R. Tolkien. Novels such as by Sebastian Faulk can give a feel of what soldiers experienced in that troubling time.
Here is a description from C.S. Lewis:
Although Lewis rarely spoke of his war experiences, he did touch on the subject in his 1955 partial autobiography “Surprised by Joy:

Through the winter, weariness and water were our chief enemies. I have gone to sleep marching and woken again and found myself marching still. One walked in the trenches in thigh gum boots with water above the knee; one remembers the icy stream welling up inside the boot when you punctured it on concealed barbed wire.
Familiarity both with the very old and the very recent dead confirmed that view of corpses which had been formed the moment I saw my dead mother.
I came to know and pity and reverence the ordinary man: particularly dear Sergeant Ayres, who was (I suppose) killed by the same shell that wounded me. I was a futile officer (they gave commissions too easily then), a puppet moved about by him, and he turned this ridiculous and painful relation into something beautiful, became to me almost like a father.
But for the rest, the war – the frights, the cold, the smell of H. E. (high explosives), the horribly smashed men still moving like half-crushed beetles, the sitting or standing corpses, the landscape of sheer earth without a blade of grass, the boots worn day and night till they seemed to grow to your feet – all this shows rarely and faintly in memory. It is too cut off from the rest of my experience and often seems to have happened to someone else.

Missed The Titanic

The Smithsonian also had another article on their site about seven important people who missed sailing on the Titanic and therefore, lived. One was Theodore Dreiser, an author of An American Tragedy, a novel that was the source for the movie, A Place in the Sun. I bring this up after seeing a web page that discussed who they considered the top 10 horrible of the horrible people in novels. The male figure in the Dreiser novel is one who comes to mind when he kills his fiancé to be with another woman he fancies better.
Also, one of the seven is Marconi, the pioneer in wireless radio signals. We visited the site on Cape Breton Island, Glace Bay, where Marconi had his wireless tower located on this side of the Atlantic. Read about it here.

Into The Wild

Fascinating story online on the Smithsonian Magazine website about a family of Old Believers, a religious group in the Soviet Union, who retreated deep into the forests of Siberia prior to World War II. They were not noticed until 1978 when petroleum engineers were exploring energy producing sites. The family had not had contact with anyone in the outside world for almost 40 years. They lived off the land and often were starving as a result. The mother did die of starvation when a long, cold Siberian spring damaged any food crop they had.


Years ago, I went to see Charleton Heston speak in Walnut Creek. It was fascinating and he discussed at that time you need to know English to advance in this world (so much business and art occurs in English). This article talks about a version of that concept. Those who have larger vocabularies know and can do more.

So there’s a positive correlation between a student’s vocabulary size in grade 12, the likelihood that she will graduate from college, and her future level of income. The reason is clear: vocabulary size is a convenient proxy for a whole range of educational attainments and abilities—not just skill in reading, writing, listening, and speaking but also general knowledge of science, history, and the arts.


Sometimes I feel a bad trait I have is lack of motivation (along with procrastination. I have to fight against both. I have developed techniques against procrastination. I cannot say the same for motivation. Here is a link to a number of easy ways to stay motivated.

Single Malts

An interesting story about how they found rare bottles of scotch whiskey beneath the floor boards of Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton’s expedition base. It is an interesting story about what they did with them.

Talk about whisky on ice: Three bottles of rare, 19th century Scotch found beneath the floor boards of Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackelton's abandoned expedition base were returned to the polar continent Saturday after a distiller flew them to Scotland to recreate the long-lost recipe…..Bottled in 1898 after the blend was aged 15 years, the Mackinlay bottles were among three crates of Scotch and two of brandy buried beneath a basic hut Shackleton had used during his dramatic 1907 Nimrod excursion to the Antarctic. The expedition failed to reach the South Pole but set a record at the time for reaching the farthest southern latitude. Shackelton was knighted after his return to Great Britain.



A note on some old and very much less used collective nouns. These are legitimate uses and have been written up and used in the past. A few prime examples……..
1. Business of Ferrets
33. Parliament of Owls
43. An Impatience of Wives
47. A Neverthriving of Jugglers

You can read all about the list and improve your knowledge and vocabulary here with 50 collective nouns.

General Lee

I have written in this blog about General Grant. His opposite in the Civil War was General Robert E. Lee. No question another leader who inspires leadership and devotion from the people he led. An example mentioned….

To invoke such a presence, to feel it like old music always new, invariably gives pause. The young officer in Stephen Vincent Benet's "John Brown's Body" pauses before he enters Lee's tent to deliver his dispatch. Looking at the shadow of the figure within bent over his papers, knowing that The War is inevitably winding down, the messenger can only wonder:

What keeps us going on? I wish I knew. Perhaps you see a man like that go on. And then you have to follow.

To read more about this, look here.

19th Century Germany

To look at some fascinating images/photos from 19th century Germany, the webpage can be found here. I have visited Germany and the city of Berlin. I will have to scan my slide of the Brandenburg Gate to compare to the photo of the Gate from that older time period.


Romany History

In the 1990s, Bob and I made a trip to Devon by way of Salisbury and Winchester. We traveled down a busy main 2 lane road that headed toward Exeter. We were faced at one point with a fascinating spectacle not seen here in the United States. In the opposite lane approaching us was a Romany wagon being pulled by 2 horses and lead by a Romany man, young, with his family in the wagon. Behind the wagon, there was a long line of cars waiting for an opportunity to pass. The present rushing to meet the past and go beyond. A clash of cultures. I will never forget that scene because of the contrast and seeing history coming up to meet us.

For an interesting discussion of how the Romany migrated from northwest India to Europe and how they have been able to track that migration through genetics, please read here.


Being a fan of history and also having visited Scandinavia, I found this article on what archeologists have discovered what they believe are the reasons the Viking settlements were abandoned in Greenland in the late 15th century. They do not believe it was due to starvation and disease but more due to economic and identity issues. For the full article, go here.

So, if it wasn't starvation or disease, what triggered the abandonment of the Greenland settlements in the second half of the 15th century? The scientists suspect that a combination of causes made life there unbearable for the Scandinavian immigrants. For instance, there was hardly any demand anymore for walrus tusks and seal skins, the colony's most important export items. What's more, by the mid-14th century, regular ship traffic with Norway and Iceland had ceased.

As a result, Greenland's residents were increasingly isolated from their mother countries. Although they urgently needed building lumber and iron tools, they could now only get their hands on them sporadically. "It became more and more difficult for the Greenlanders to attract merchants from Europe to the island," speculates Jette Arneborg, an archeologist at the National Museum of Denmark, in Copenhagen. "But, without trade, they couldn't survive in the long run."

The settlers were probably also worried about the increasing loss of their Scandinavian identity. They saw themselves as farmers and ranchers rather than fishermen and hunters. Their social status depended on the land and livestock they owned, but it was precisely these things that could no longer help them produce what they needed to survive.

Although the descendants of the Vikings had adjusted to life in the north, there were limits to their assimilation. "They would have had to live more and more like the Inuit, distancing themselves from their cultural roots," says Arneborg. "This growing contradiction between identity and reality was apparently what led to their decline."


Energy costs and poverty

2011 seemed to be the year of the 99% versus the 1%. I am totally opposed to class warfare in any way shape or form or language. I did read this interesting blog article about what the poor and truly poor live with day in and day out. Almost all of us who live in the United States are in the global 1% based on this article’s premise. The poor survive on so very little in money and that when our leaders talk about how it is OK for energy prices to rise, they don’t think about how that rise can have such a true impact on the poor. It is not rhetoric but reality. Well written and food for thought, the article is here.

More Family Beach

While at the Oregon coast I like to take a lot of photos. The ocean waves look great though photos also need interaction and activity, so getting photos of families or pets can add a bit. One set of photos I took the first day where of a family with two little boys who were enjoying running in the sand with their father (when they weren’t hanging close to mom). Enjoy!
family and beach-1-10-13

Land and Transport

Being a history buff and married to a person who has a Masters in Agricultural Economics and background in transportation, I found this article fascinating to read. In Canada, farms were laid out in ribbon-like pattern along a transportation route. This was developed by Cardinal Richelieu in the 1600s.

The transportation-centric layout of ribbon farms in North America traces its roots back to medieval times. When France was trying to stabilize its colonial foothold in the New World back in the 17th century, Cardinal Richelieu (an adviser to the king and powerhouse in French politics) hatched a plan. To encourage more intensive settlement, he parceled the land similarly to the way it was divided in France: in long, thin strips oriented perpendicularly to a transportation route – which in Nouvelle France was primarily the St. Lawrence River.

This concept was different in the United States where the land was plotted and the transport systems brought to it as described here……

Much of arable North America, however, was not allocated in ribbon farms. The Public Land Survey System carved up large portions of the United States into one square mile sections, each of which were subdivided to create farms and aggregated to form townships. Canada adopted a similar system, the Dominion Land Survey, for its prairie states.

So when the U.S. started with square farms, the process and the results were the exact opposite from ribbon farms: We plotted the farms first and then pondered the logistics. It’s therefore no surprise that Americans feel transportation should come to us instead of the other way around. We pick a place to live and then figure out how to get where we need to go. If no way exists, we build it: roads, arterials, highways, interstates … and so on.


Best Sitcoms

Conversation can be a lifeline and lifeblood within our lives. One can learn so much about people and new ideas through stimulating conversation. Listen to the person next to you, don’t overlook them or dismiss them. A great way to get conversation going is to ask a “Who is” or a “What is” type of question. Certainly, I would imagine there would be a lot of discussion over what are the top 100 sitcom episodes of all time. Certainly, one writer has a list here. Number One on his list is a good one: Never Bathe on Saturday from the Dick Van Dyke show in 1965.

His Number Two is actually my favorite and part of a series that I saw in a British paper listing the top British comedies of all times--Fawlty Towers. The episode in question is titled, “Communication Problems”. I was dying laughing watching this the first time. Basil Fawlty’s interaction over “missing money” with an older woman with a hearing problem was superb. The other episode in their list from this series is “The Germans”. Bob and I still will look at each other and say, “Don’t mention Z-War!” We stayed in the late 1990s at the Lewtrenchard Inn in Devon England. There were two German men eating dinner in the hotel’s dining room who could substitute for the German men in this episode. Basil Fawlty brought it all in focus for us. Life is the basis for sitcoms, just look at Seinfeld.


Hello, Bookstores Again

Are printed books dead? Is reading left to just e-readers? Have bookstores gone the way of the dodo bird?
While I think e-readers have their place and I like to use them, I do talk to people about books and many still love the feel of a printed book. When you drill down discussions about what is successful as a business, one thing that always seems to stand out---relationships. if you make it about relationships and what is unique, you have a chance to make your idea or project work. People want to connect and also feel they are doing so with what was special to them at some point in their lives. I enjoy the art of reading (though I seem to achieve less of it these days) and have linked to an article here about reading. I also noted this wonderful article about how an author opened with another book enthusiast a newly successful bookstore in Nashville when two prior bookstores had closed. She was told bookstores are dead and no longer will exist……..e-readers and Amazon is the future. She is showing the fallacy to that and how people are looking for the unique relationship books can have in our lives.



A couple of interesting shots while staying at the coast. Our room faced a vacation home on the side of a dune hill next to the hotel. The family had placed a couple of “Andy” and “Annie” figures in the window much as if they were looking back at the snoopy neighbors, like us.


A beautiful wave roll…………..



We rang in the New Year with those people in New York City. Probably with those in Chicago though not with those on the West Coast. Pretty quiet here out on the farm.
We are going to spend the day enjoying some personal interests and trying to relax. A foggy start to the day though it is to be sunny at some point. Happy New Year!


Unbroken Codes

Throughout history, especially in the last century, codes have fascinated encryption specialists and the average person. Queen Elizabeth I used a spy network who worked with secret codes. Wired Magazine often has some fascinating articles on topics of interest, including the article here about 7 unbroken codes in history. One of those that has fascinated people and criminologists since the 1970s is the code the Zodiac serial killer used. An example of the code is following.

Night Sky

Look to the night sky………..watching the moon, stars, and planets is always fascinating. 2013 is to be the year of the Ison Comet. Read about it further here. Another article about how this comet might rival the moon in amount of light intensity is here.
By late November it will be visible to the unaided eye just after dark in the same direction as the setting Sun. Its tail could stretch like a searchlight into the sky above the horizon. Then it will swing rapidly around the Sun, passing within two million miles of it, far closer than any planet ever does, to emerge visible in the evening sky heading northward towards the pole star. It could be an "unaided eye" object for months. When it is close in its approach to the Sun it could become intensely brilliant but at that stage it would be difficult and dangerous to see without special instrumentation as it would be only a degree from the sun.



Another day rising to see a brilliant winter sunrise. I may have the largest collection of photos of sunrises there are in the world. We just seem to get a chance to see a number of them over the Peter Mountains out our bedroom door.



End of an Era

Surprises come, even at the holiday time. My former business partner at Civic Feline Clinic in Walnut Creek CA, Dr. Josie Thompson, has announced in the hospital’s newsletter that she is retiring. She is planning on focusing on photography, travel, and her new granddaughter, Savannah. All of those are good places to start. As one of our clients we had together titled a forwarded email announcing the retirement, “An End of an Era”. Certainly, it is for both of us. I started the practice in 1983 on August 23. David was 3 years of age and Scott was 4 months old. Josie joined me as an associate in 1987 and partner in 1988. We were partners for 15 years at Civic Feline Clinic. We built a good business. Our sons were of the same age and grew up together though went to different schools. Lots of memories from over the years……………..lots of cats and clients to cherish.


Memories of 25 years of Civic Feline Clinic in 2008……….



Anne Shirley's Play

Last night Bob and I did something a bit out of the ordinary. We went over to South Albany High School and watched a play put on by the students of “Anne of Green Gables”. The student playing “Anne with an E” was a great fit. She seemed to match the personality of Anne quite well. Bubbly and talkative. She had the red hair and pigtails necessary. She also looked and acted very much like Jasmine, Melissa’s daughter. She certainly seemed like she could be a big sister to Jasmine. One can get caught up in the illusion of bosom buddies, kindred spirits, Lake of Shining Waters, Diana Barry, Gilbert Blythe, Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert all over again. It was a pleasant evening…….one filled with memories of books holding girlish memories and adult joy of visiting Green Gables. Another view of Green Gables house with Bob near by.


A view of “Anne with an E” ’s room……….


Bomber Jackets

What we collect or what interests us, defines us. One type of collectible that has a following is in the paintings found on World War II leather bomber jackets. I came across a fascinating article about this form of collectible. To my amazement, the first picture in the story was of a jacket painted “Winn’s Warriors”. Oh, to have that jacket what with my role in the Winn Feline Foundation. We should all have the motto of Winn’s Warriors as we volunteer for this wonderful Foundation. As the artwork emboldened our air boys, something similar might make us emboldened to work hard for cat health studies to make the lives of cats even better. To read about the bomber jacket art of World War II, go here.


Grant's Regret

During the Civil War, General Grant issued an order expelling Jews from the army’s Dept. of Tennessee and also from the suppliers for that army. This was a very anti-semitic order which haunted Grant. He came to personally regret his action and believe that he had done a huge injustice to this group of people. Grant went on to compensate for that error and become a huge supporter of the Jewish population. There is a current book discussing this issue. It is one history I have not purchased though I plan to do so at some point. We have a leather bound copy of Grant’s memoirs, considered the best written of any President’s memoirs. A story about Grant’s General Order No. 11 and its impact is here.


More London Blitz

My mother’s best friend and co-worker, Irene, later became her sister-in-law and therefore my aunt. Irene was a war bride from London. She would share with Mom some stories of life in London during the bombing. I believe Irene lived in a neighborhood not far from Victoria Station. It was a lower middle class neighborhood. To see how far one could conceive the effect the bombing could have on London, its buildings, and its populace, take a look at this interactive map developed to show where a group has found each bomb landed during the Blitz. Looking at a close view here, there were 2 bombs that landed near the apartment of Tom’s we have stayed at while visiting London. St. Paul’s Cathedral survived the bombing intact as the picture below indicates.



Last night was our first time at attending the volunteer fire fighters’ holiday dinner. It was held at Station 34 near Cheadle Lake and was a barbecue/potluck. There was probably about 100 people present as a mix of families with children. The children were enjoying the games and toys available for them. We sat with our next door neighbors the Hartmans and also another couple from Fire Corps, Ron and Jackie. Ron and I spent a bit of time talking about books, reading, and history. He was quite impressed with “Team of Rivals” by Doris Kearns Goodwin. It is the basis for the movie out now, Lincoln, which is getting good reviews.
There was a white elephant gift exchange. Our gift of a P-Touch labeler was traded a few times, so it was popular.We ended up with a book, “How Mrs. Santa Saved Christmas”. We will probably give that to Jasmine or one of the families to enjoy. All in all, it was a nice evening had by all.

Today is also December 7, the day that will live in Infamy--Pearl Harbor attack in 1941. In memory of all who we lost that day.



One location I would love to see on vacation is the Little Bighorn Battlefield area and also the Black Hills/Mt. Rushmore of South Dakota. Being a history buff, the story of Custer’s last battle is intriguing to follow. I think the best book I have read is Nathan Philbrick’s book, The Last Stand. Larry McMurtry, another very good author, has a new book out titled Custer. An article reviewing his take on Custer’s personality and record was written for the Wall Street Journal Book Review here. Love him or hate him, Custer was not a boring individual. It is a shame that his hubris lost the lives of so many of his relatives and men.


Naval Notes

A couple of interesting notes in history, past and recent. November 30 was the 60th anniversary of the Battle of Tassafaronga. This was a naval battle the United States fought with the Japanese as they tried to intercept Japanese warships trying to deliver supplies to Guadalcanal. The battle was a strategic victory for the U.S. yet a tactical defeat with the loss of the USS New Orleans. Read about the battle here.


USS New Orleans

The following day lead to a story about the de-commissioning of the USS Enterprise aircraft carrier. The big E has a long and distinguished history. A short reference to the USS Enterprise is here. Another more detailed article also is found in the Weekly Standard. This article covers information about different missions and also about the various men who captained the ship. Because this is a nuclear powered ship, it will take years to de-commission the carrier to remove the nuclear reactors safely. It sounds like the ship will be ported in Norfolk, VA though the article did not seem to be clear on that topic. If all the walls could talk or whisper tails of the men and exploits the Enterprise has seen over its 61 years in action. That may come to pass if this magnificent ship becomes a floating museum as other famous ships have in the past. Enjoy a story of the big E here.

uss-enterprise bottom 12-4-12

USS Enterprise

All That Glitters

Today is the last day of November. Best to get this month past with all its gloomy political news and move on to more positive things. Time to consider getting down Christmas decorations and see if we can join the holiday cheer. One picture of trying to get in the mood from last Saturday and make it glow. Here is a photo that shows “All that Glitters………is not Gold!”


Bigfoot and Us

Bob and I went to the county Neighborhood Watch Council meeting tonight in Albany. The main topic is on disaster preparedness which we should have a reasonable background on due to Bob being part of CERT (Citizens Emergency Response Training) and we have had local training for our Berlin Community. I was able to share the Incident Response Information form I put together to collect data on who in our community can manage certain skills and has items that can be utilized in a local disaster to help all of us. The form seemed to generate interest among some in the group so I emailed it to them in electronic format.
The sergeant for the Linn County Sheriff’s Office who handles the CERT training spoke to the group. It was ironic that he showed a video out of New Zealand about the need for being rescued and you can’t expect an imaginary Yeti to show up and save you (if in the high, wild, snowy mountains). A few days before this meeting there was an article about a Texas veterinarian who feels she has confirmed that Bigfoot’s DNA merged with humans through sexual intercourse 15,000 years ago resulting in hairy hominid hybrids. Check out the article here.

Faces of the Civil War

Periodically, one comes across an interesting article, topic, or grouping of pictures. It certainly makes an interesting note to the blog and a way to keep it at hand. I love history and the world behind the Civil War or War Between the States or War of Northern Aggression is an interesting one to follow. We have been fortunate to be able to visit some Civil War battlefields. It is difficult to say which ones are the most interesting though I feel Appomatox in Virginia is the most sad or haunting. One day I will need to add to this post about what made us visit there when we had plans to sightsee elsewhere. What started this post is a grouping of photos called the Faces of the Civil War, check the beginning out here. A second set of the photos can be found in part 2, here. The Liljenquist Family donated over 700 tintypes and ambrotype photographs to the Library of Congress. What a wonderful gesture and part of our history. Many of the people are unidentified. Since my family had those who fought on the side of the North, there is always a remote chance that an ancestor or relative is in one of these photos.
I hope the gun is not loaded.

Oh so young looking!

War of 1812

While in Nova Scotia, we were able to visit the main city, Halifax. We spent two days there and went to see their version of the Tattoo. The first full day was spent primarily visiting the Citadel which was within a few blocks of our hotel. This fortress was the main military installation for this region and it sits upon a hill overlooking the city of Halifax. They have a lot of students who are hired to be in costume of the day. They give tours and there are a number of videos and tours that can be enjoyed while there. In the main building on the upper floor, they have a military museum. One section of the museum is dedicated to Canada’s involvement in the War of 1812. The war is certainly a factor in our history too. Since this is the 200th anniversary of the war and is a major celebration in some areas. The Atlantic Maritimes were a primary region of Canada affected. One recent article in a Canadian publication, the National Post, has a number of links to topics on this subject.

A marching band at the Citadel

Speaking to Students

This is the fourth year in a row that I have spoken to the freshman class of veterinary students at Oregon State University. It went well and I covered cats, medical history, physical examinations, and cat friendly handling in a two hour period. I think I have my Powerpoint Presentation in pretty good shape and it helped teach the students how to appreciate and understand cats. I always forget to get my picture taken as I do the lecture though the following photo was taken by Annie last year after the talk where I am holding a Winn Feline Foundation anniversary book.

Lost Lands

An interesting graphic came up in a story on The Atlantic Wire. This is a constantly moving map outlining the parts of the United States that were Native American Lands in different times in our history to the present time. It certainly is illuminating and probably distressing to Native Americans when they see it. If someone is interested in seeing this moving map and story, check it out here.

Fall Days

Not much to blog about today. It is a day of catch up email and small items while trying to also catch up on sleep and energy after work and travel yesterday. Eight hours of flying and changing planes. Today is one of our gray type of fall days with fog and rain on the horizon. It would be nice to have had a sunny day like I saw in Philadelphia and Minneapolis yesterday. It just brightens up the world a bit. Here is a photo demonstrating what a similar day last year looked like. We have a week ahead of rain and wind to look forward to for the holidays.


Drilling Down

All of today was spent in NAVLE item review. The day was focused on all cat related items and we finished the day with my items. Two of our group did not make the review so we will finish with their work tomorrow. We have the read our items aloud so we have time to absorb them and drill down into the vignette and distractors to be sure we have a good question for use. Here is a good example of how it feels to keep drilling down.


Real Books

I am flying to Philadelphia today. One thing I used to do when I flew before 2009 was take a number of books with me. It was comforting yet it was also heavy. With the onset of the electronic reader, I have a number of books at my fingertips to read though I always have one small book for take off and landing because of the rule of everything powered off then. E-readers have taken off and in one way they will make it easier for more people to read. Unfortunately, they are the bane of the written book and bookstore, primary and used types. This article describes the loss to us who love books of being able to walk into a bookstore and spend time browsing and enjoying the look and feel of a book. Electronic readers and internet book sales have taken a lot of that away. (VT)


Remembering the terrible sacrifices mankind made during the battles of World War I, Veterans Day was established. Practically every town in Britain has a World War I memorial to recognize the names of those who were lost in battle or subsequently from injuries suffered.
This article talks about a particular painting done by John Singer Sargent that is hanging in the Imperial War Museum in London. I have visited this museum and it is worth a visit. I most likely saw the painting though I cannot say it stands out in my memory. The painting focuses on men moving through a field of injured men from being gassed while they are seeking help at the nearest aid station. Poisonous gas was one of the most horrific parts of the war and a terrible death for those affected. One set of books (2 volumes) I have a lot of memories about is one given
to me by my grandparents they had bought after the war. It focused on the United States involvement in the war and the last section had numerous photos of soldiers damaged by the use of gas.


Not to Speak

In 1996, I was diagnosed with cancer. A major form that is often fatal due to its severity and ability to metastasize. Maureen Reagan was diagnosed with a similar form that year and she passed away in 2001. Today was a big day for the United States and for our government. I do not feel I can even address what today is because it ended so heartbreakingly badly. The one thing I do realize is that the end result of the day reminds me of how I felt when I received my diagnosis of cancer. There is no way around that fact and now I must plan how to work out of the sadness. Sad

What is Community?

There is so much sadness and devastation following Hurricane Sandy in the Northeast part of the United States. One community so very hard hit is Staten Island, one of the burroughs of New York City. They claim they are the least appreciated and that most likely is correct. There has been a recent article about one woman who took photos of the community of Staten Island in the 1980s and what life was like there. It is an interesting look at another part of the country and across the continent from Oregon. Such a difference in weather and life experiences in many ways. While here, we had another intriguing sunrise where the clouds are highlighted differently with early morning light.

Oldest European Town?

Archeologists are excavating an area near Provadia, Bulgaria where they believe the remains of the oldest town in Europe is present. They estimate that the settlement was from between 4700 to 4200 B.C. They believe that approximately 350 people lived there and may have worked to mine rock-salt deposits nearby.
To read about this point in history, you can read it here.

China's Step Back

The Wall Street Journal had a fascinating article about a book called Tombstone by a Chinese author on a little known time of trouble in China. The author was a Communist authority and he was able to use his position to study papers and records detailing a serious famine among the people when Mao Zedong forced them into collectivization during the Great Leap Forward. He lost his own father to starvation in 1959 and did not realize it was due to this policy of Mao’s. This happened during the years of 1958 to 1962. Millions of people died of starvation, much like they did in the Ukraine and Belarus in the 1930s. Mao could certainly make a run with Stalin as a most evil individual in world history. One way to learn about this little known fact is to read it here. It certainly does not jive with the appearance China gives to the world now as a dominating economic force.

Intersection of History

Abraham Lincoln was a great man and an intriguing figure in history. I have several books about his life and family plus the turbulent times he faced. One of the books features his death by assassination and subsequent funeral set against the collapse and surrender of the South with Jefferson Davis on the run. His funeral procession from Washington DC to the final resting place traveled through many miles and many places. It was a national spectacle of mourning. There is a recent book that I will most likely get called Rise to Greatness, about Lincoln and the first year of his Presidency. He faced many challenges and could certainly teach any of us about how to focus on a better horizon for this nation. This photo of the funeral procession shows a young Theodore Roosevelt at the window of his grandfather’s place watching the procession go by. An intersection of history and American Presidents.



The East Coast is being pummeled today by Hurricane Sandy as a major storm. Huge wind gusts and flooding from the storm surge on the ocean and bay sides. One interesting note is an article about how the Old Guard continues to patrol the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington Cemetery. They have done so for every second to every minute to every hour since April of 1948, no matter the weather (see below). To visit and see these honored soldiers guarding this tomb is inspiring and humbling. Arlington Cemetery was closed today to the public due to the severe weather conditions. It is interesting to view a list of what is considered the top 10 worst disasters over the last century. Hurricane Sandy will add an eleventh to the list, especially if it in any way aids the current President to be re-elected.
tomb-of-unknown-soldier --11-15

London Blitz

Here is an interesting video noted on a webpage that gives a different look to how the people of London dealt with the blitzkrieg unleashed by Germany in World War II. I am now reading a book called Savage Continent about life in Europe from 1944 to 1949. The start of the book mentions how many homes and structures were destroyed during this phase of the war. 202,000 homes were destroyed and 4.5 million were damaged in the London area.


Major Storms

The East Coast is preparing for what is termed the Frankenstorm. This storm will have a resemblance to the Perfect Storm of 1991. It is a hurricane with a warm weather surge that meets a cold front coming from the West and North that will collide. They expect a huge surge of water to hit Long Island with lots of rain (flooding) and then snow inland. The barometric pressure drop is impressive from their models.
In anticipation of this problem, there have been a couple of interesting articles about preparing for major weather systems and also how to handle being stranded by weather or other problems when flying. Both of these pieces have good information to consider and are just a bit different from the usual discussions on how to prepare or deal with an emergency or life’s changes.


It is not exciting to have one of your history beliefs possibly shattered. Though it is interesting at the same time to have new knowledge and recognition come to the forefront.
I just read a recent article that there is a belief that the Battle of Hastings (1066 A.D.) was not fought on Battle Hill near Hastings, but was fought about 1 mile northwest on another hill, Caldbec Hill. They believe that there could be 10,000 bodies from the battle located in that area. Of course, they plan for an archeological exploration of that area. It is sad to think that Bob and I have visited Battle Abbey and walked the Battle of Hastings grounds. We looked over the terrain where so much of English history changed and probably our history here in the States. We were possibly not looking at the true area and missed the real historical spot. Historical concepts will be turned a bit upside down if this is found to be a correct theory and the battlefield is located elsewhere. Just think though of what they may find if they do locate all the remains of soldiers from so long ago.

Bayeux Tapestry


About 15 years ago there was a bestselling non-fiction book called The Hot Zone. It covered an outbreak of Ebola virus in an area on the East Coast. Ebola is highly contagious and has an almost 100% mortality. An outbreak is greatly to be feared. In addition to that book, another titled The Coming Plague covered a number of possibilities for disease outbreaks with different agents. Both books were frightening in concept. Recently, Bob and I watched the movie, Contagion, that was a hypothetical spread of a lethal virus spread from incubating in bats to pigs and on to people. It also was highly contagious and lethal. There is a new book out that covers how close humanity is to having RNA viruses “spillover” from animals to humans and be the next plague. Spillover is the title and an article of how RNA viruses (Ebola, Marburg,SARS, Hanta) are a threat as we encroach closer into their territory and hosts.

Marburg virus

How Many Books?

I have never counted the number of books we have in our house (and in the tack room of the barn). Certainly, the movers counted dollar signs and weight of books when we moved back here to Oregon. The numbers have certainly grown from those days and do not encompass the number of e-books through Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and ITunes we have for readers.
So I have to mention an article by a gentleman who talks about being a bibliophile. The article is titled “My 6,128 Favorite Books”. There is certainly a bit to describe the type of personality disorder people like us have. I could probably be the lending library for this community.
The following photo was downloaded from the article (courtesy of Thomas Allen).



Last evening was our third show in Eugene where we saw Natalie MacMaster. The last time was about 4 years ago. Natalie is a world renowned celtic fiddle player with “Close to the Floor” dancing abilities as she fiddles. She is a 5-time mom with the newest child being almost 3 months old. As one audience member said as we were leaving, “She does not disappoint”.
She had her oldest child, 6-year-old Mary Frances Leahy, on stage. The genes and environment showed through since Mary Frances danced up a storm and played the fiddle to a lively tune. A Star is Born and a proud Mom too.


Night Out in Eugene

A rainy, blustery day led to a night out at The Shedd Institute in Eugene to see Natalie MacMaster perform. She is from the small community of Troy on Cape Breton Island. I will cover more about her tomorrow.
The sky was a mix of odd colors, dark and light orange last night as we took the freeway. This is probably not the best picture depiction though will give some idea of the hills and sky.


Booker Prize

Tuesday was the announcement of the Booker Prize. Hilary Mantel, an author from Derbyshire, won her second Booker prize for the second book of the trilogy on Thomas Cromwell, “Bring Up the Bodies”. She is one of a few authors to win two Booker Prizes and the sequel mentioned was the first to win as such. The original book is “Wolf Hall”. The third book will be titled “The Mirror and the Light”. I have read the first of her series and will have to read it again. I will need to purchase the sequel and read it soon. BBC appears to be planning to show this as a mini-series and they also will have a series like The Tudors on The War of the Roses. Oh, I bet that will be something to watch!

Garden Bounty

We have learned over the past several years as we plant a bigger garden and add fruit trees that our bounty of food types keeps increasing. This year we have done less in the canning arena and more in freezing. Currently, we have gotten out the Excalibur dehydrator and started dehydrating fruit. Kathy showed us how she dehydrated watermelon so Bob has worked at getting a batch done. I like the results. He also worked at doing several trays of Fuji apple slices. Dehydrated apples are a great treat. The biggest issue is the time needed to cut up the items into the right sizes. It can be tedious and we need to find easier ways to do it quicker.
On another note, I am adding in a photo taken just outside Goldendale of an old, unoccupied house. The surrounding ground was interesting and there was a squirrel sitting on top of the chimney too.


River Sculptures

Women can have an uncanny knack of driving the men in their lives a little bit crazy. One tool we can use if the desire for men to get “somewhere” and not stop the car for anything except an emergency (one they would deem an emergency). “Pedal to the metal” is Bob’s mantra and he will do it. I have learned over the years I need to stop, not that I want to or I might want to. Too wishy-washy for “driven” men. Happy
I did make Bob and Scott a bit perturbed on our trip back from Quincy WA last Sunday when I asked to stop to take a photo of an interesting art sculpture on the Columbia River at a park next to Vantage WA. “Really, you have to stop to do this?” Sarcasm really ups the ante and makes one dig in their heels. So, off I went to get my photo before the sun set in the West shortly after. I think the photo was worth it on multiple levels.

Whither Scotland?

In reading different news articles, one comes across interesting current affairs. One of those was an article in the Daily Telegraph commenting on how the Scots at one time were the envy of the world in ingenuity and vitality. Maybe not for the emigres, yet the clearances were a boon to the rest of the world with the arrival of hard-working industrious Scots people. They are seeking their independence from the United Kingdom. Evidentally, the country is much more on the government assistance wagon and it is approximately 88% who take more than they contribute in taxes. This may be where we are headed in our country if we don’t change course.
At least though the article was disturbing about entitlements, it did have a link to about 20 gorgeous pictures of Scotland and the life of the people there. I am including a photo here of the rugged Highlands and heathered hills north of the River Dee valley and near the River Don. The day was getting cool and about 10 days later this part of Scotland had snow.


The Highlands near Alford, between Kildrummy and Craigievar Castles.


Mostly a recovery and try to feel better day. The need to finish up some odds and ends while planning other things that need doing. I did send off some photos to Dr. Niels Pedersen of his friends accepting the Excellence in Feline Research Award for him at the AVMA meeting in San Diego in August. Here is one photo where the AVMA President, Dr. Rene Carlson, is presenting the crystal cat statue.


Miller Trust Review

Today was the 2012 grant review for the Miller Trust proposals. It is held by teleconference and we were able to get finished in 2 hours. Unfortunately, my cold was about at its worst and is a day of managing my cough, fever, and poor energy levels. Here is a photo of the review group at work at an earlier time.


Quiet Day

Taking a quiet day today. I am definitely feeling the effects of the cold I have been trying to fight off. I think it would be a good day to again highlight the work of Laura Seeley. Karen and Tim have left behind the art Bob and I purchased from Art for Cat’s Sake. I will have to get it all framed and up on the walls.





Fall is here since the days are warm and the nights are cool. The trees are starting to change colors. Some quickly, others less so. It has been dry and only 0.04 in. of rain this month so far which is low. The creeks and rivers are low on water. When we were out driving the covered bridge route the other day, I was able to capture this shot off the Larwood bridge of the river, changing tree color with reflection, and rocks.
Larwood area-9-28-12

Laura's Art

I took some close ups of Laura Seeley’s pendants for her to use on her website. She sent me a link to the site to show that she had used two of the photos (the two on the left). Check out Best Friend’s Gallery. Here is an example of Laura’s pendants and how they glow. The eyes certainly do here. Wouldn’t they look nice around your neck?


Foster Reservoir

Marybeth headed home today. We drove her up to PDX to fly to Oakland. It will be sad and quiet with her gone. Bob has a bad cold that started Monday night so he headed to bed to rest. I am hoping to not catch this virus since I go to Schaumburg, IL this saturday.
As we said goodbye to Tim and Karen, we stopped along the viewpoint at Foster Reservoir. With the sunny weather, we had a lovely view of the lake and the mountains. Someone was out sailing on the peaceful-looking water.

Send Off For The Becnels

Karen and Tim are headed off over the mountains on Highway 20 to see Yellowstone Park on the way home. We gave some suggestions to stop to see the Painted Hills as they traveled toward John Day. Tim likes to get photos like I do so it is a photographer’s paradise with the colors.
Yesterday, we went to see some Linn County Covered Bridges and to the Roaring River Fish Hatchery. It was a short and fun trip with everyone. It is cute to see this following photo of Karen with a rock Bob retrieved for her to do a painting on. We are here to please. It will be neat to see the outcome. Karen in front of the Larwood Covered Bridge.

Home With Guests

Back home again last night. We brought my dear friend, Marybeth Rymer, back with us to stay a few days. Karen and Tim showed up around noon to have a nice houseful of guests to share our home with. This was a very special time since it is infrequent that we have friends who can take time out to come visit this way. It is all the better when they are special friends.

The fall has been dry and overall, sunny. There are forest fires in the central part of the state. The smoke particulate in the air helps create a haze in the daytime and adds to color at sunrise and sunset. The sun was freaking amazing this morning as a red globe rising over the Peters. I have never seen anything like it living here. Usually it is a beautiful sunrise yet not a big globe. What a sight!


More Old Friends

It is the final day of lectures today and it is a full one. Just a little more time to get in a few hugs and chats with good friends. I do not see them enough. Such good and dear people, all who are dedicated to the love of cats.

Here is my good buddy and dancing partner, Drew Weigner, with his daughter. She is busy in the geology department at Idaho State University in Moscow, a lovely university and area.



Traveled last night up to Seattle for 5 days of veterinary conferences. Last evening I took some time to do 2 podcasts with Dr. Jessica Quimby of Colorado State University. The podcasts will be used to generate interest in Winn’s research.

Today will be spent in lectures with 12 other veterinarians listening to Dr. Quimby lecture and also hearing about Onsior and Atopica as products from Novartis. I will be podcasting the talks to share with the IACD group (International Association of Cat Doctors). It will be great to see the group and hear all the new information available.

Bob and Tim Becnel were able to go to a Seattle Mariners baseball game. Here is the manager, Buck Showalter, with one of his assistants at the game.


Thought Changes

There was a very interesting article a few days ago that offered some great advice on how to change your thought processes for a positive impact in your life. The list goes like this:

1) Making yourself impervious to criticism.
“Once you internalize this sort of thinking, insults no longer have any impact because the very fact that someone is treating you in a deliberately insulting manner makes his opinion irrelevant.”

2) How to make a final decision.
From Richard Branson……….“When you have to make a decision, think carefully about it, pick the best option, and then don’t revisit it again unless you receive new information.” Don’t keep second guessing yourself.

3) The key to getting over mistakes.
Going down a judging pathway does not help and is counter-productive. The author accepted a subtle truth……….
“You always do the best you can right now.”

4) How to stop reacting over minor issues.
Definitely a problem I can obsess over. I have probably wasted a lot of my time in life doing just such a thing.
Again, from the author………..Because once someone told me that if something was bothering me I should ask myself a simple question, “Will this matter in five years?” Ninety-nine percent of the time, the answer was “no.”

5) How to have a more active life.
Now this is where much of the horizons talk should come in, where one should take on challenges and learn new things, stretch those mental muscles. As the author states………“If you have to choose between two roughly equal options, always take the one that leads to you doing something.” If your friends invite you to go to a movie and you’re kind of torn about whether to do it, you go. If you have a chance to go to a conference and you want to go, but you’d also be just as happy spending the weekend at home, you go.



How exciting to see one of our photos from our trip to the Atlantic Maritimes be used in a travel photo display in our local paper. The Albany Democrat Herald posted one of our photos of French Harbor on PEI. They requested people to send travel photos and a travel tip to the paper and they would show the best ones. Probably 12 photos were picked and ours was one. Our tip was to plan more time to visit Prince Edward Island………two days is not enough where two weeks would be better. This is the second photo I have had placed in this paper. It certainly makes my photography hobby a lot more fun and rewarding. Here is the photo they printed.

Fly Me to the Moon

The National Cathedral in Washington DC held a national memorial for Neal Armstrong today. Diana Krall sang “Fly Me To The Moon”. It is good to think of times that were of a serious bent where our national will and interest was promoted and applauded. We could do what was considered impossible, not just spoken about and then left to molder as current times. Neal Armstrong will be buried at sea. His family’s wish for him is that everyone will take time to wink at the moon. Here is an example of his subtle humor, to me the best kind. Humor carries us through each day.

Apollo 17 commander Gene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon, recalled that Armstrong was once asked how he felt when he was guiding the Eagle lunar module down to the moon's surface with only 15 seconds' worth of fuel left. The way Cernan remembered the story, Armstrong thought for a moment and answered, "Well, when the gauge says empty, we all know there's a gallon or two left in the tank." When the laughter subsided, Cernan added, "Now there is a man who has always been in control of his own destiny. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is vintage Neil Armstrong."

Wink at the Moon……


Joy of Books

One article I cut out recently was titled, “ The joy of finding just the right book”. The article was written by a bookseller from up near Portland. He describes being able to feel the joy that a client shows when they find the right book in his store.He describes that finding that just-right book is much like a hungry person discovering a lavishly stocked banquet table. I just got in 3 new books yesterday from Book of the Month Club. All will be interesting. I find quiet joy in adding to my stack or stock of books. One can see the joy of books and reading from this photo of our library/office. It does not cover all the books and bookcases in the house.

Wine Tasting

In the late afternoon, we headed to L’Ecole No. 41 winery which is along Highway 12, west of Walla Walla. Its setting is at an old schoolhouse that was used right up until about 1974. The Baker family bought the school and started a winery there. This function was a wine tasting with catered appetizers along with featured wines. The function was to celebrate the wineries 30th Anniversary. All in all, it was a very nice function where we purchased some good wine. Who knew Bob was a two-fisted wine drinker (besides his wife). Happy

The Gorge

We are headed out this morning to drive along the Columbia River gorge on the way to Walla Walla WA. I have been along the gorge innumerable times, especially when younger, and did not appreciate the scenery as I do now. It is a geographic and scenic marvel. I am including a photo taken from the Washington side of the river east of The Dalles looking back to Mt. Hood.


Living close to reservoirs and lakes here in Oregon, I would love to have a boat. Certainly, it would be wonderful to have a sailboat on to use on the Columbia River. Sadly, they do like to use up money for maintenance and so we most likely will not get a boat.

Here is a lovely sailboat in a setting east of Halifax on the way to Cape Breton Island.


You Are My People

I keep coming across interesting comments by Neal Armstrong. There was a one hour show on Discovery Channel about the moon landing and a bit of personal history on Neal Armstrong. He was known as a shy and unassuming yet brilliant person. His home town of Wahkeponeta, OH has the Neal Armstrong Air and Space Museum. There was a short segment where he gave a “thank you” speech after the landing at his home town where he said with a shy smile, “You are my people and I am proud to be one of you”. What a heartwarming testimony to his roots!


Full moon through our birch tree!

Travel Photos

There was a listing in the local paper today about sending in your preferred travel destination photo. Both Bob and I sent in a photo each from our mix. I sent in one of the women re-enactors from Fortress Louisbourg and he sent in one of French Harbor on PEI. They also wanted a travel tip too. My tip was to participate and enjoy in local celebrations and living history re-enactments. It adds to your trip and the memories. Another photo from that day at Fortress Louisbourg.

Blue Moon Month

I am going to continue the theme around Neal Armstrong tonight. This month is a Blue Moon month. There will be a full moon twice this month which is a circumstance that happens every 3 years or so. Right now, there is an almost full moon up in the sky to the east. There was a full moon on August 1 and another will occur August 31. Hopefully, I can get more photos.

There was today a letter shared that had three outstanding paragraphs Neal Armstrong had written. It is an inspiration for our future and also another way to look at those Horizons……………….

In my work I depended on many people. In space flight, whether it be a fellow crewman or a flight controller in mission control on Earth, I was often trusting that person with my life. When you depend on others, you want to be able to trust them. You’ll want to know that they say what they mean and they mean what they say. And they will want to feel the same about you. Your word should always be beyond question.

There is much uncertainty to life. Good health may be taken away from you without warning. Material possessions may be lost due to circumstances beyond your control. The one thing that cannot be taken from you without your consent is your character, which includes your beliefs, your ethics, and your principles. So guard them with care. They are your most valuable possessions.

The 21st century has much promise. Remarkable things may be created and achieved, and each of you will have the opportunity to play a role in achieving and creating a better world. I know you will true. Good luck. I wish I had your future.

Neil Armstrong

Man On The Moon

There are a number of postings showing up today about the speech written by William Safire in 1969 that Richard Nixon had in hand but did not have to give. This speech has been remembered due to the death of Neal Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon.

I was 17 and on a People to People tour of Europe when the first moon landing came about. My first memory was being at our hotel in Berlin Germany (in those days, divided into free and communist sides by the Berlin Wall). There was news coverage of the moon landing on an old television at the hotel showing the astronauts on the moon. Being so far from home and unable to understand German on the TV made it difficult to absorb the significance. It was only later in reading of the complexity of the landing does one understand the heroism and nature of our astronauts. I also remember this high point for our country in the news was also in counterpoint to a low of news of Teddy Kennedy’s behavior at Chappaquidick MA. The Lion of the Senate could not and should never overcome the disgrace of what happened that night in my opinion. From heroes to cowards in the news in such a short time period.

Back to the speech that never was spoken (and we can be thankful to God it never was)………….

Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace.
These brave men, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, know that there is no hope for their recovery. But they also know that there is hope for mankind in their sacrifice.
These two men are laying down their lives in mankind’s most noble goal: the search for truth and understanding.
They will be mourned by their families and friends; they will be mourned by their nation; they will be mourned by the people of the world; they will be mourned by a Mother Earth that dared send two of her sons into the unknown.
In their exploration, they stirred the people of the world to feel as one; in their sacrifice, they bind more tightly the brotherhood of man.
In ancient days, men looked at stars and saw their heroes in the constellations. In modern times, we do much the same, but our heroes are epic men of flesh and blood.
Others will follow, and surely find their way home. Man’s search will not be denied. But these men were the first, and they will remain the foremost in our hearts.
For every human being who looks up at the moon in the nights to come will know that there is some corner of another world that is forever mankind.

Where are you tonight Neal Armstrong?

Memorable First Sentences

There are those questions that make you think and engender others to share their thoughts too in answer. I read a blog post today on the blog, Richochet, that was written by Peter Robinson. He is a very interesting fellow who interviews many leading figures of our times. The interviews are fascinating discussions and certainly, he has to craft questions that enhance dialogue and therefore, learning. His question on this blog was about which books have individuals read, in this case, autobiographies, with memorable first sentences. One of his examples is the superb autobiography of Ulysses S. Grant. The comment section went on to include thoughts from members on their favorite first sentences. I jump into books so fast that I am past a first sentence in light year speed. So, I went back to see what LMM wrote for “Anne of Green Gables”. It is long, yet pulls you right in to the heart of the story about a girl and Avonlea.

“Mrs. Rachel Lynde lived just where the Avonlea main road dipped down into a little hollow, fringed with alders and ladies’ ear drops and traversed by a brook that had its source away back in the woods of the old Cuthbert place; it was reputed to be an intricate, headlong brook in its earlier course through those woods, with dark secrets of pool and cascade; but by the time it reached Lynde’s Hollow it was a quiet, well-conducted little stream, for not even a brook could run past Mrs. Rachel Lynde’s door without due regard for decency and decorum; it probably was conscious that Mrs. Rachel was sitting at her window, keeping a sharp eye on everything that passed, from brooks and children up, and that if she noticed anything odd or out of place she would never rest until she had ferreted out the whys and wherefores thereof.”


Haunted Wood Hollow at Green Gables House


As it has probably come through, I love Scotland and its history. With my love of books, I tend to read about military history and also, historical fiction. Who could not love to read about a “brae Scottish laddie” in his kilt, with sporran, Skhien Dhu, and often times, a sword. Ah, and that accent!

I came across an interesting article today from someone who has studied medieval sword fighting and writes about how it is not like we think or it is often portrayed. It is good to get the real “skinny” on how this is done and good that there are craftsmen out there who do not want to let the art die and instead do what they can to bring it back. Maybe he is a character from a Lynn Kurland romance/time travel novel.

Warrior clansmen and their weapons

A Big Book Sale

The blog would not be complete without showing another child who seemed to enjoy the pizza party the other night. Nathan, David’s new nephew, is about 16 months old now and growing. He is usually a happy fellow whenever everyone gets together. He certainly had fun mashing the pizza pieces around. Happy

I can’t pass up the opportunity to mention a story that really hit my interest in books. The author, Larry McMurtry, has owned 4 used bookstores in the town of Archer City, Texas. Each building has thousands of books!
He recently held what he called the Last Book Sale to bring the numbers down as he closes up the bookstores. The books were sold in boxes of topic or interest type. Powell’s books seems to have left with scores of boxes of auctioned books. Mr. McMurtry hoped to turn this town into another Hay-on Wye, which I have visited three times in Wales (just over the border from England). It is the book lover’s paradise. His idea never panned out for Archer City. It would have been a wonderful dream and experience to attend this Last Book Sale. I just go to the modest ones here in Lebanon, though the sales at the library branch in Walnut Creek could be crazy with book buyers grabbing all the best books they could haul.

Finally It Worked

Technology can be a challenge. Certainly it is this week. Verizon decides to change their data billing plan to a “share everything plan”. Right now I would vote for “share every headache plan” is a better term. My IPad needed to switch from a pre-paid credit card plan to one involving the share everything data. In the process, I lost my 3G data service to the IPad and it has taken 5 days to get it back to receiving 3G service. Wireless still worked, yet that would not allow me to use it in areas without wireless access. In the process, I had my apps, music, books, video, and photos wiped off the IPad. I spent more time than I could afford to give up on the phone and monitoring uploads and downloads to get somewhere with this.

I am getting it all back in some fashion though not exactly as before. I still have to get some photos on the IPad to share when I want to have the opportunity. Fortunately, the tablet does take some fair photos of its own. So, to just relax and have better thoughts after all this work, I will add in a photo of that David took of a hummingbird hovering over a watering hose in our parterre garden. I felt a bit of perilous hovering the past few days too.


Conversation With Neighbors

One enjoyable part of spending some down time with your neighbors is getting to know them through conversation. What are their lives like lately……….work, home, garden, hobbies. As I talk with them, I realize further that we are blessed with good neighbors and friends. If we are in need or trouble, they will step forward to help us out. We would do the same in return. It is special to know that you have support and good people have your back.


Fire Station and Fire Corps

I sat down with Bob Thayer to discuss the importance of Fire Corps to our community, city, and county. Fire Corps is led by Kathy Fitzwater, a Berlin Community neighbor who lives on Upper Berlin Rd. To learn more about Fire Corp and its benefit to all of us, please click on the following podcast link and allow a little time for it to load (or right-click on the link to download it to your computer to play).


Fire Corp volunteer, Bob Thayer

Our local Fire Station is the center of our community. Captain Dan Hartman (one to the right) keeps this local fire station in tip top shape. He and his wife, Connie, make the station as accessible as possible to community gatherings. The fire station and volunteers help protect our homes, lower our insurance rates, and offer that gathering spot. Our volunteers, like Jared pictured with Dan, make this system work for the safety of all of us.

To demonstrate the importance of the Fire Station, the following is a photo of the local fire truck leaving the station to attend a fire call in Lebanon. There was an electrical fire under a house’s porch and the owners were fortunate to be home to see the smoke and call in a fire emergency. Here are our hard-working volunteers headed out.


Calls, Calls, and More Calls

Most of today was spent on the phone playing catch up with Winn business and “where we are at” in certain tasks.

I am happy to report that we may have someone who would be an excellent selection that is interested in becoming President Elect of Winn and following behind my Presidency. Having some certainty to board development and the future is exciting. Who knows, maybe we can leave a legacy similar to Thomas Jefferson. Maybe………………..


Playing Catch Up

It is best to be honest and admit that most of the day was playing catch up on little tasks for Winn and home. A lot of it is spent on the computer or phone. We got our new microwave in so all these little tasks seem to help in the catching up process.

In the meantime, it might be fun to put a photo taken with my IPad of a little boy, Nicolas, at his 5th birthday party in May enjoying a tasty cupcake. Happy


Home Again, Home Again

First Class flight for two hours last night to get back to Portland. Paul Jones and his wife, from Woodburn, were on the flight. Surprise, was Margie Scherk on her way to Vancouver BC. So, at least there was a little conversation with people I knew before the flight took off.

Today is a catch up day. Lots of emails and details to work out. I could use some soothing food, drink, or music. Or maybe a secretary. Happy

PetCo Park in San Diego

Second Tapestry

Here is the second historical tapestry at the Fort Royal museum.........

Over 100 volunteers worked together to design and stitch these tapestries covering the history of Port Royal for the Acadians and Fort Anne for the British influence.

Tapestry at Port Royal

I am back to reading the book, “A Great and Noble Scheme”. The section covered now is just prior to “Le Grand Derangement” in 1755. The Acadians had a rich life in that they enjoyed their families and farmed the surrounding land well. It is unfortunate that this lifestyle was caught between the continental tug of war and colony interests of the English and French with religious connotations tossed in. As we toured the fort museum, we were able to view beautiful tapestries of their history by Acadian descendants. As you can see from the photo, the colors are outstanding and very rich. This would be wonderful in any setting.



One reason this website was first set up three years ago was because of my interest in coaching. Part of coaching is active listening, asking questions, and encouraging conversations with and among others. One book I really enjoyed and took a course twice on was Fierce Conversations” by Susan Scott. The courses were taught by two wonderful people that I think of highly and consider friends. The people are Dr. Jeff Thoren and Sally Stamp of Gifted Leaders. I cannot recommend them more to others for coaching and facilitation. They care about the people and the results.
Today, I participated in a one hour webinar from DialogueWORKS on the 9 Points of Good Dialogue. It was interesting and also a followup to what I have learned before. It is important to listen to what others say, not pre-judge, and ask authentic questions. Care about what you might learn from others. In some of the area of emotions playing a part in our conversations, he mentioned “We don’t know what we know!” and “Tone is the emotion that fills us up.” Or in our house, we would joke with the kids--“Maintain low tones!”. The fellow with me in the picture below listened and heard my need to park close to The Citadel in Halifax so I did not have to walk up a steep hill with my right knee. He was so kind to have a photo taken with me when we came back for the car.


Anne and Lucy

Why is “Anne of Green Gables” so fascinating and intriguing for people that there is such a cottage industry built up around the author’s childhood home? I have visited Margaret Mitchell’s home in Atlanta and while it gets a lot of attention, there is not nearly the people visiting nor the infrastructure surrounding it. Does Anne have a deeper grip on our inner person, do we relate more to her than Scarlett of Gone WithThe Wind? Or does Atlanta have so many other draws that drain away a lot of the interest in Scarlett, therefore Margaret Mitchell?I loved both books in different ways. Anne reached out to me as an only child with her forays into her new world and trying to fit in at home and at school. LMM’s relatives who maintain her legacy said she wrote in her diaries every day. The diaries are now being published over time slowly by her relatives. One could purchase the prior volumes at the homesite bookstore. I bought a small Anne figure for my desk and an interesting book of photos and writings of and about LMM there. The family autographed the book for me though I assume they do that for many people there. It is comforting to sneak a little bit of your childhood into your life.

Learning Continues

The learning must continue and how to be more handy also.

It certainly seems as if problems come in 3s, maybe even more. Our microwave has had the digital screen fading in and out over some months now. We can jazz it up by flipping the breaker switch and it will work for awhile. Yesterday, right in the middle of a dishwashing cycle, our Fisher and Paykel dishdrawer flipped an error code and started beeping at us. This is not good beyond the hassle and cost. It is not easy we have found to get a service person for this brand of dishwasher. It will be a major-major brand for the next one. You buy nice products that seem upscale brands, you buy upscale headaches if you live in the country and away from bigger cities. The mid-valley would be a good place for a good appliance repair person to set up a business.

Now, my Mac Pro laptop came up with a “death” screen this morning. A curtain of gray descended on it while working and up popped in multiple languages (it has to be bad if in Japanese too) that I must restart the computer by pushing the power button and then pushing it again. Just a gray screen with code and this message is the result. So it will be off to Paul’s Computer Repair tomorrow and hope for the best. Paul Aziz is also the photography instructor who encouraged the blog a day. Talking with his wife, they will be going to the Linn County Fair today just like we are doing. I had to pull my Time Capsule backup of the blog over to my IMac to stay current and not lose what I have done. Right now, the entries are disordered so that may be a problem in itself.



Somehow I did not get a blog in yesterday so I must do two today and since we got our package of “goodies” that we shipped from Bangor ME one week ago, this is the second for today.

Another trigger for me to start using and enjoying my interests like photography comes from someone I know asking me last year, “What do you do for fun?” It was distressing to think that I am frequently not letting myself relax and enjoy my interests and passions. Many times I let the complexity of how to do them overwhelm me and not at least give it the “good old college try”. Reading is one of my passions and my slogan is “READING IS BREATHING.”

One book I had made note of and planned on getting was “Quiet” by Susan Cain or subtitled, “The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.” I have taken the Meyers-Briggs test and am a good fit for an ISFJ.
The “I” definitely means that I am an Introvert and I say with a big “I”. I have to coax myself to move out from that umbrella term and reach out to meet new people or strangers. One has to do this if they want to do the best thing for the groups they work with. It is often the best thing for us anyway. I have met some very nice people by reaching out.

The one thing I know is that I do get frustrated that as an introvert I am often taken for granted by others or the “larger than life” types fill the void you leave and one then might as well be a speck on the wall. On the jacket of “Quiet” it states--- “ ‘Quiet’ shows how dramatically we undervalue introverts, and how much we lose in doing so.”
One thing that means is that I first must not undervalue myself. Look up “Quiet” too.


Ready to shoot!


You find you really should like and want to eat seafood if you spend any time in Maine or the Canadian Maritimes. At this time of year, lobster is available most places. Lobster Rolls are very common along the Maine coast and we saw them advertised a lot around Bar Harbor.

The lobster is mixed with a mild “sauce” that is probably a mayonnaise type base. The rolls the lobster is placed on are interesting because they look a bit like a slice of thick toast that has a flat bottom about 1.5 inches wide with the two bread sides. This type of roll is actually better than a Hot Dog bun because it does hold the food inside much better. It just looks really strange!

Lobster boats are everywhere and Lobstermen the same at just about every small coastal town and harbor. These individuals are up at 4 to 4:30 a.m. during the season (May to July). They start checking their lobster traps close to shore and up to maybe one mile out. One fellow we met at the B and B we stayed at in St. Joseph du Moine put out about 300 traps to check every day. Of course, they have to measure them and check claw size, females for eggs, and other factors. One look at the symmetry of lobster traps........

The reason I am writing about lobstering is that while we were traveling home, there was a news article about how lobster prices have dropped for Maine lobstermen. There has been a glut of soft-shelled lobsters on the market and the season started sooner. The drop in prices is making it difficult to make any profit currently. Lobstering looks like hard work though in the Maritimes, those lobstering seemed to live in comfortable settings or homes.

Just another area we are struggling with in the USA, with the decrease in Maine lobster prices.

Winn and "Winnie"

Tomorrow will be a busy day trying to work on some Winn tasks and doing phone calls for different parts of Winn.

I thought I would make today’s post a mention about Winn’s new mascot, “Winnie”, who was brought to life by Jamie Perry, the artist from Glen Ellen CA. I have asked some friends for input about “Winnie” and the comments back so far have been positive. Feedback is always helpful and positive feedback even more so. So here is the first of the new look in the Winn enewsletter with the introduction of “Winnie”. Welcome to the cat world!


Catching Up

Well, I have made my lists of tasks to be done and the house also needs cleaning. How depressing after such a lovely time away! I need to do my daily post and make an effort to go back and place new photos from the trip in the blog.

One thing I was amazed at while we traveled was how the different cultures sprung up next to each area and in such short distances. In one spot, we would feel such a Scottish influence and in another down the road, see such an Acadian influence. As I mentioned, one of my highlights was listening to a young Acadian girl in her Evangeline costume at the Eglise Saint Bernard play her fiddle (or her violin as she said she also played classical music). I enjoy having the video of her playing. Here is a photo of her though not a close up unfortunately.


As you can see the lovely interior of this Catholic church. The arches overhead were striking and there was an organ in the back loft. I can imagine a musical production here would be outstanding.

Interior of Eglise Saint Bernard

What's In A Name?

I realize that I have not spent any time at the start explaining the meaning behind the “BenThaer-Horizons” website name.

When I first considered doing a website 3 years ago, I was strongly looking at going into Coaching-work and lifestyle type. I am still interested in that field though I found I could not focus the time and money to do what it takes. One also needs a business plan or just a plan to make it successful, productive, and, hopefully, money-producing. So that is where the Horizons part comes in. I do want to think about new horizons and fresh outlooks to take a positive, hopeful look at life’s opportunities. Bob and I also love Scotland--the lochs, the glens, and the bens (mountains). There are a lot of mountains around us here in Oregon. If you combine Ben and Thayer (shortened to Tha’er, the domain name can’t take apostrophes, so Thaer), we felt it sounded like someone would say, “BenThaer” as we would joke when we would see an article or picture of a particular place, “We’ve been there”!
Convoluted, yet Thayer logic.

Well today is going to be a catch up day, plus tomorrow and the day after. I will have to get back to making lists of items that I must accomplish for the Winn Feline Foundation. I also need to learn more about this website software and podcasting, etc. Lots of little tasks to work on.

So to enjoy more of that today, a lovely sunny summer day in Oregon, here is a shot of a wonderful field of color just north of Silverton OR we saw on our drive home yesterday morning. We have our dogs home and the kitties are happy to see us. Oscar is talking more to us that he has in the last 4 years we have had him. I can just hear it, “Please don’t go away again!”


The Evangeline Trail

It was with sadness that we left our hosts in Annapolis Royal. Bill and Ann Marie were about the best B and B hosts you could find. We shared a number of stories and laughs while there. We met a lovely couple, Bob and Susan, from Halifax during the first two days. They were so kind to share some of their lobster purchased over on the Bay of Fundy. Fortunately, Susan was an expert at cracking lobsters since we are ham-handed. It was so good! Now, when it comes to pig, Susan is less apt. They went to the local Pig Feed just down the road at the community center on the night of Canada Day. We wanted to go and could not get tickets for the same time. When it came time that the roasted pigs were carried out “in whole” and served right off the pig, Susan said she could not look at the pig or eat it. The production and look were too much for her.

Well, on to packing up and going down the Annapolis River Valley to follow the Evangeline trail. The farm land was impressive, especially around Kentville and the Acadian dyke land of Grand Pre. Grand Pre is the center of “Le Grand Derangement”. On july 28, 1755, the Acadians (the men) were invited to meet with the area’s Governor. While there, they were surrounded by troops and promptly separated from their families to be transported to ships and dispersed to other areas. This is the start of the Acadians being sent to New Orleans, Quebec, New England, and France. Despite the dispersement, the Acadians have survived and carried on their traditions. They could not have had a better spokesperson as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in his poem, Evangeline.

Evangeline statue at the National Park

The National Park service has a lovely museum and headquarters in Grand Pre. The Park covers about 14 acres with lovely gardens and it also looks over the dykelands the Acadians developed. There is a memorial church on the grounds and it gives more history and color to the trials of the Acadians. Just this last Saturday, the Park Service found that this site had been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, one of 16 in Canada (three in Nova Scotia).


While at the church, I noticed two children enjoying the church cat. The young man said he loved kind of people. So Bob got a photo of us with Evangeline, the 16 year old church cat.


We got to Halifax about 4 p.m. and prepared to attend the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo at the Convention Center in Halifax. The Tattoo was spectacular and full of talented people. The U.S. was represented by the Band of America’s Few. It is made up of retired Marine band members. The focus this year was on the Queen’s 60th Jubilee year, the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, and the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. Highlights were the 1812 Overture at the end of the first act and the high wire scaffold act above the center arena floor of the Paris Police Officers Group who perform impressive gymnastics. The pipes and drums at the Tattoo.


Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo


Wine Tasting and the Acadian Coast

July 2 was a very pleasant day of sightseeing. We drove west and south to visit the Bear River community. It is developing into a wine area and we stopped at Annapolis Highlands winery. They have a Pinot Gris that is good and different from a Pinot Gris made in the West of the United States. It is a bit more tart, less sweet than an Oregon wine. After a great lunch at My Dream Cafe on the Bear River (and it is on, since part of it is on stilts in the river), we drove down the Acadian coast.

One pretty stop was the Gilbert Cove Lighthouse on the way to St. Bernard’s. It was interesting because we watch a seagull harass a Bald Eagle near the lightlhouse.


St. Bernard’s has the largest stone church in North America. It is very large and impressive from a distance. While visiting, a young Acadian girl came to see her brother at the church and started practicing her violin. I got 2 great clips of her playing. It was very special and she was lovely and very good at her craft. The church is renowned for its acoustics and many international artists have played there. I would say the acoustics are special.

Eglise’ St. Bernard

About 5-7 miles further down the road is another large wooden church at Church Point. This is a very unique church with many wonderful stained glass windows. It has a wonderful story and the interior walls are lined with canvas. The following is an example of the church and then its stained glass.

Eglise’ Saint Marie

One of the 20 odd stained glass windows.

Last but not least, the full moon over the Annapolis River at high tide. What a beautiful sight!



Maine Stopover

We traveled up I-95 this afternoon and reached Bangor Maine in 4.5 hours. It is not a very scenic drive since there is mostly just scrub trees alongside the road. It appears that the East Coast seems to favor not cutting plant growth alongside roads where in the West, we have a much better view of the countryside from our freeways. It is much nicer to view the Willamette Valley or the Columbia River Gorge than have the view blocked by trees.

Bangor seems to be a nice city with some large barn-like homes near the downtown. They look like they have a lot of square feet or would hold a number of apartments. It is difficult to adjust to the New England abruptness or crustiness, especially with servers at restaurants. It is no-nonsense business, “What do ya waaant” type of request and don’t interfere with their work. Bob asked tonight for Zinfandel and they said they had it. it was White Zinfandel and when he said he had asked for a red Zin, it was “Oh, you want a Chianti”. Different reality! Bangor is Paul Bunyon Country and also has a museum of The Maine. It is a shame we don’t have more time here. On to Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor ME daytime tomorrow, a thunderstorm is threatening tonight.

Peirce Memorial to Lumbermen in downtown Bangor.

"It is but the farm of a Patriot' - John Adams, 1788

Getting around early, we made the 10:15 tour of the Adams Historical Site in Quincy MA. The tour leaves from the National Park Service store at Hancock Plaza. The trolley goes first to the birthplaces of John Adams and John Quincy Adams. The houses are next to each other. It reminds me of The Alamo in that the houses and some lawn are right in the middle of many homes and businesses in a large neighborhood.
The Adams home is below where they lived after John Adams was Peace Envoy to France and Ambassador to Great Britain. There were many original antiques and paintings. The Stone Library was wonderful with 14,000 books belonging to the 4 generations of Adams. The desk John Adams wrote many of his papers and worked on the Massachusetts Constitution is there. This is felt to be the oldest, standing Constitutions in the world and the basis for our Constitution. You can feel the respect and awe for this document by the National Park Service guides and the public. One wishes that many in our current government and administration could have such respect for our federal Constitution. Instead of fund-raising, maybe some historical sight-seeing is in order.

“John Adams is an honest man, often a wise one, and absolutely at times, out of his senses.”
Ben Franklin, in Paris.
RapidWeaver Icon

Made in RapidWeaver