Sunday, January 31, 2016


Sunday is the day we go to church, watch ball games, catch up on the laundry or the house cleaning.  Sunday is the day to read, to knit, to visit, to just enjoy.

For me, Sunday is often the only day I have to catch up on my cleaning, laundry, relax, and do anything else I need to do because most weeks, I work Monday through Saturday.  This is true more so in the spring than in the fall.

I've started using a planner to make notes on what I need to do.  I usually make a list and I've just discovered its the start of a bullet planner.  I didn't realize I was kind of ahead of a trend!

My list for today
1. Laundry
2. Write more entries for blog due to long 12 hour days Tuesday to Saturday.
3. Clean kitchen and living room including boxing a couple things.
4. Clean bathroom or at least the toilet and tub.
5. Exercise and dance.
6.  Fix a big dinner so I have leftovers for lunch tomorrow.
7. Find material for work.

I realize many people are so organized they can clean the house every night, get everything done and have time to repaint a room.  Me?  I'm not the most organized person and I like my down time so I can recharge my batteries for the next day.  I like to sit and read a book from start to finish.  I like feeling like I'm giving me some ME time.

For years, I forgot about me till it hit a point where I felt stressed all the time, where I felt I was never home, never able to just relax. I felt like I fit the image of the on the go woman who had to get to her next meeting.  When people called me at work at all hours rather than my house because they knew I'd be there, I took a step back and decided I was not giving me time for me.

That was the turning point for me.  I made the vow that I would be home on Sunday's so I could give me the ME time I need.  I try not to work more than 3 nights a week and I try to have time every day to just sit and read.

Am I succeeding?  Mostly but its still a struggle.  I tell myself it is one day at a time.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

15 Strange Ice Cream Flavors

   I love ice cream, especially any type of ice cream that has chocolate in it.  As I said the other day, my local ice cream shop tried out asparagus ice cream which was green and looked good but it just didn't appeal to me so I didn't even try it.  The other night I did a search for the strangest or weirdest flavors of ice cream and I found some doozies.

I will admit that none of these really appeal to me but they are quite popular where they are made.

Ice Cream Sundae, Ice Cream, Ice1.  Crocodile egg ice cream is made using crocodile eggs instead chicken eggs and is found in the Philipines.  The owner said the crocodile eggs are surplus from the local crocodile park.

2.  Coronation  chicken ice cream from England.  It was created to celebrate the Queen's diamond jubilee. 

3.  Octopus ice cream from Japan.  Apparently its all the rage over there.

4. Haggis ice cream.  It is made with that dish from Scotland.  The shop also makes a yorkshire pudding flavor and sausage and mash.  None the the three appeal to me.

5.  Horse meat ice cream which has pieces of raw meat blended into the ice cream. This is another flavor from Japan.

6.  Creamed cod ice cream that is made to look like the fish in fish and chips and is actually fried.

7.  Spaghetti and cheese ice cream from Venezuela.  It is a cheese flavored ice cream with strands of spaghetti mixed in.  No pasta sauce involved.

8.  Bourbon and cornflakes ice cream from San Francisco.  Its referred to as the secret breakfast.

9. Cicada ice cream made in Missouri.  The cicada are mixed with chocolate and sugar before being added to the ice cream.

10. Bone Marrow ice cream from Portland.  It has smoked cherries mixed in to blend with the marrow flavor.

11.  Ham and Cheese ice cream found in Venezuela.  It has both flavors mixed in to create the sandwich experience.

12. Foie Gras ice cream from France.  It has gained enough popularity to stay on the menu

13. Lobster ice cream comes from a shop in Maine.  The bits of buttered lobster are mixed throughout the ice cream.

14. Lox ice cream with lots of nice pieces of lox that you usually find on bagels.

15. Grass ice cream made with edible grass and found in Queens New York.

There were a couple of flavors that I found so gross, I couldn't stomach adding them to this list.

Friday, January 29, 2016

No Way!

Vienna, Austria, Building, Door  I often read the odd news on the UPI site.  Some of the news can be informative, other pieces can be "What?" while others are just down right funny.

One headline told us that the  police kicked  in the door of an opera singer after they mistook his singing as screaming.  Yes, you read that right?  Singing that sounded like screaming!

The event took place the other day in Amsterdam, Netherlands.  According to the article, police dispatch received a report of a man screaming in terror.  The caller indicated it might involve domestic violence.

When the police responded, they heard what sounded like screams of agony from the apartment in  question.  they knocked on the door as is standard procedure but no one responded so being concerned, they kicked the door in only to find.........

The singer wearing headphones while attempting to sing along with his music.  He never even heard the police knocking, or his door being bashed in.  Talk about being surprised.  The only thing the singer was guilty of was bad music.......LOL.

The next head line that made me laugh took me to a forest in New Zealand where a hunter shot down an airborne camera drone.

According to the article, the drone operator was attempting to get pictures of the forested area.  At the time, he was sharpening his ability to keep the drone still so the shot would no look like someone was driving along a bumpy road.  It was at this point an unidentified hunter hidden in the forest shot the drone down with a high powered rifle.

The owner managed to film the event using both the gopro camera mounted on his head and the flying drone.  Although the drone was shot, it was repaired and the owner will be able to use it again.  The hunter was never found but it appears the shot was made from the hills above where the drone was flying.

The owner named his drone "Termy" after the Terminator because he was able to repair the drone.

Since this article hit the newspapers, the video has been posted on Youtube so if you are interested in seeing the event, check it out.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

The 15 Most Popular Flavors of Ice Cream.

Ice Cream, Sundae, Ice Cream SundaeYou scream, I scream, we all scream for ice cream.! I admit, I love ice cream as much as the next person but my favorite flavor of ice cream is created by a small artisan ice cream shop just off of the university. 

It's a small shop that has all sorts of flavors.  One time, they offered asparagus ice cream (it didn't appeal to me) and another time a sesame almond which was quite good.  Some flavors use locally produced lagers and ales but I've never tried these.

My most favorite type of ice cream is the wonderfully delicious Ginger Showers.  Its vanilla ice cream with chocolate sprinkles and minced candied ginger mixed so its evenly spread through out the mixture.  Each bite fills your mouth with a spicy sweet taste. It is not made very often but when it is available, I buy a couple pints to take home.

Now for the 15 most popular flavors of ice cream!
1.  Vanilla
2. Chocolate
3. Butter Pecan
4. Strawberry
5. Neapolitan
6.  Chocolate Chip
7.  French Vanilla
8.  Cookies and Cream
9.  Vanilla Fudge Ripple
10. Praline Pecan
11. Cherry
12. Chocolate Almond
13. Coffee
14. Rocky Road
15.  Chocolate Marshmallow.

This comes from the International Ice Cream Association in Washington, DC.

It really doesn't matter if you favorite flavor is on the list.  What matters is that we enjoy the delicious treat is fantastic on a hot summer day.  I love trying to lick all the drips off the cone before it gets soft and the whole mess threatens to fall off.  I will always have great memories associated with summer and ice cream.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Take Up The Sword!

Sport, Gymnastics, Frog, Funny, Fitness  I stumbled across a website to help a segment of the population. It comes from the Stumble upon 25 websites that will make you look like a genius.  At number 6 is the one that made me laugh called Nerd Fitness.

It may have started because nerds have such a bad reputation for not eating right and not exercising.  This site is designed to help people exercise and improve themselves so they are healthy geeks.

The owner of the blog spends much of the front page giving good advice about not comparing your performances to other people's performances.  He also talks about comparisons leading to the dark side so you know he's a Star Wars Fan.  He asks people to join the rebellion to learn how to stay healthy without a gym and to make changes that stick.

Although he does offer a on-line fitness academy, there is a whole page of free resources to explore and use from exercising to eating to creating new habits.  I checked out the angry bird workout based on the game and it was quite a workout.  I don't think its one I would start with myself because I'm lacking arm strength.  Yes that is on my list to improve.

However the Lord of the Rings workout is much more my style and seems to be better to do if you are not in the best of shape.  There is also a playground workout for people who live near those open spaces.

I love the whole section on eating properly including a nice piece on eating vegetables.  I know someone who only ate ketchup and french fries as his vegetables.  Me, I love vegetables and I eat them prepared in as manly different ways as possible.  I'd rather eat vegetables than any other food.

There is a wonderful section on building habits including an article on how not to suck at building new habits,  It starts out exploring the one trap we all fall into.  Making a list of New Years resolutions twe jump into with such intensity that we end up failing.

There are a couple of other sections but if you are a nerd or you just want to improve your heath, go check it out and enjoy the nerdiness of the site.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Top 10 Popular Scents in Woman's Products.

Gift, Present, Bath, Set, Shower, Gel  Lets face it.  We tend to have our personal favorites for the way we want  shower gel, soap, shampoo, and other personal products to smell.  I have my favorites and they tend to be scents that are light and airy.  I do not like anything that is over powering and smells as if they are going to take over the world.

You find stores at the malls that sell all sorts of products but for some of us, the combination of scents are so overwhelming, we never even venture in and most of the time we give them wide berth.

I know there are trends for popular scents used in these types of products.  I am not sure how the scents are chosen except through the use of market research or surveys.  It used to be that every large mall had people working there to interview people as a way of getting their opinion on various products. Now we have all those surveys that pop up on our screens.

So, now the list of the top 10 popular scents found in women's products.

1. Lavender is the top scent.  It is found in all sorts of body products and when it is mixed with other scents, it makes small changes so as to add depth to other scents.

2. Vanilla.  The scent that is associated with decadence. It does blend well with mint, floral, and citrus scents.

3.  Coconut.  A fragrance which reminds people of summer and is found in so many things from sunscreen to lotions.  Although the scent if often found on its own, it is sometimes mixed with lime or another tropical fruit.

4.  Grapefruit.  This one is uplifting and energizing while being a very natural scent.  It mixes well with florals and other citrus.

5. Lemongrass.  This has a citrus smell with a bit of spice to give it extra depth.  It mixes well with florals or peppermint or ginger.

6. Tea Tree oil.  This is in the same category as Eucalyptus and is often found in soaps and shampoo.  It is often used as an anti-acne lotion.

7. Bergamot. This is the most popular citrus aroma.  This is actually a sour orange that is grown for for its oil rather than for use as food.   It blends well with the mints and lavender.

8. Eucalyptus.  The same scent found in those mentholated rubs.  In recent years the scent has become popular in   It has beneficial properties which help with it popularity.

9. Lemon.  The pure scent is rather tart so most companies mix in sweeter scents so its more like lemonade.

10. Peppermint.  The scent is uplifting and peppermint is quite cheap to grow so its an economical scent to produce.

This list has scents I enjoy but not always in my body lotions.  We all have our favorite scents and buy the products according to those preferences.  It always seems like the scents I love most disappear forever and I have to find a new favorite.

By the way, if you buy a product that lists vanilla essential oil in it, its wrong.  Vanilla beans cannot survive the heat needed to create vanilla essential oil.

Monday, January 25, 2016


Crack, Wall, Background, MaintenanceThere is still a bit of confusion as to whether there was one big earthquake or one smaller quake followed by the 7.1 one.  Personally, it was scary during the short shaking that felt like 5 minute. 

One of the hotels in Anchorage had the sprinkler system go off due to the quake and that lead to a bunch of people evacuating to the parking lot.  I heard the siren from the hotel but I thought it was a fire truck or the police.

Several bars were open and the patrons spilled out into the parking lots and streets while clutching their drinks.  I got this from someone who had been in the bar at the time.  Many people at my hotel, took off down the stairs to the lobby as a precaution.  I also heard there were a few structural engineers staying at one of the local hotels.  Apparently, the wife of one got up and was trying to dress to go downstairs but the husband woke up long enough to look around and told her it was safe and promptly went back to sleep.

Turns out that although no one was hurt, there was property damage down in the Kenai area.   Kenai is a town, south of Anchorage, located much closer to the epicenter and thus felt the tremors much more.  Four houses burned down due to a gas line rupturing and then erupting into flames.  I read about one man who got stuff out between the first and second fires.  He had bought the house less than 2 weeks earlier.

Today on the way home, there was a rumor of an 8.0 magnitude earthquake happening somewhere near Adak which is in the Aleutian islands.  I did a bit of research and it may have been from a radio show that was comparing the latest earthquake with one from June 2014.  I think someone caught that bit and started texting it to others and it was spreading.

As of today, everything was back to normal in Anchorage.  The city and state had sent engineers and workers out to check the bridges in and around Anchorage, Kenai and places between as a safety matter and the school districts sent folks to check all the buildings, again all as a precaution.

So in case anyone was wondering, the extent of damage was not bad at all and was less than it could have been.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Shake, Rattle, and Roll

Earthquake, Disaster, Home, DestructionEarly this morning at around 1:30 AM, the room started shaking. Talk about rocking and rolling,  I felt as if I were suddenly on a boiling, angry ocean.  I knew it was an earthquake.  This was not the first earthquake I’ve been in but it was the first one I was NOT on the ground level when it rolled through.

I woke up just after the room began shaking.  Through a fog of half sleep, I decided it was an earthquake, so being originally from Southern California, I went to Plan A.  So my first thought through the shaking was:
 1.I need to get to the bathroom door frame because it is the safest place.
2. I’m on the 7th floor. 
3. No way is that going to protect me with several floors above me. The doorway is not going to remain standing while the rest of the building falls.
I’d probably end up as the filling in a sandwich of floors.

All this time I had not moved.  I still stared at the light coming in the window while the building danced.  So I threw that idea out the door and went to Plan B:
 1. I could crawl under the bed which might offer protection.
2. This is a hotel so the mattress is on one of those wooden platforms designed to keep you from loosing anything underneath it.
3. The bed is so close to the ground that I might have fit under it when I was 5 but not as an adult.

Ok, toss that plan out the window.  At this point, the quake was still shaking the building, so I came up with my final plan. One born out of desperation and insanity.
1. Hide under all 5 pillows strewn over my bed.
2. It might offer some protection in case the hotel falls apart.
3. Maybe not.
Yes I did burrow under the pillows and the shaking finished about that time.  I waited, hidden under the protection of my pillows, breathlessly wondering if there would be any significant aftershocks.

About 10 min later, I called the front desk to verify there had been an earthquake.   An hour later, I turned on the television to see if I could find out anything on the event.  Yes, I has having trouble going back to sleep.  The earthquake was mentioned on Fox News as being a 7.1 Earthquake originating in Pedro Bay, south of Anchorage. No injuries or damage reported. This was around 3 AM

I finally got back to bed around 3:30 but I never got back to the same deep sleep I experienced before the earthquake.  The only reassuring thought I had through the event is that my hotel and others in the downtown area were built after the devastating1960’s Good Friday earthquake.  The front desk said that until it reaches a magnitude of 8.1, they don't have to evacuate because the hotel meets current building standards.

I still prefer to be on the ground floor, in a house, rather than a multistory building because I feel so much safer.

Note: due to the internet being down, I couldn’t post it first thing this morning but had to wait till after they fixed the internet which meant I had to go to my conference first and wait till the now to post this.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Planetary Walk

Solar System, Planets, Space, Mercury  Last night, I came across the center of the universe!  It was the beginning of a walk through downtown Anchorage called the Light Speed Planet Walk and it was created by the local rotary club.

The walk was set up so that the scale of the distance between each planet mimics how long a ray of sun might take to get to a certain place based on a leisurely pace.  Due to the way its set up, many visitors only get as far as the Earth or possibly Mars between

The distance between the Sun at 5th and G and the Earth at 5th and K takes about 8 minutes which is the same time as it takes a ray of light to travel from the sun to the earth.  Isn't that cool?

The walk is designed so that the first few planets are only a block or two apart but as the planets get further from the sun, the distance gets bigger.  For instance, the sun is at 5th and G, mercury at 5th and H, Venus is at 5th and I,  Earth is located at 5th and K, and Mars is at 5th and Elderberry Park.  So this part is a short skip, hop, and jump through downtown.  

Jupiter, Sky, Space, Planet, UniverseOnce you get past Mars, the distances between planets increase and it takes longer to get to your next planet.

Jupiter is found at  Westchester Lagoon which is a nice 45 minute walk from the starting point.  From there, Saturn is out at Lyn Ary Park which is about 1 hour and 20  min from the sun or a nice 35 min walk past Jupiter.

Point Woronzof Park is designated as Uranus and is another 1 hour and 20 min past Saturn.  That puts it about a 2 hour and 40 min walk from the starting point.  Neptune is further out along the coastal trail or another 1 hour and 35 minutes past Uranus.

By this point, you've been walking for four hours and 15 minutes.  Finally there is Pluto.  Yes I know it has been declassified as a planet but this walking trail was made before the change in its status.  The location is Kincaid Chalet or a nice 5 hour and 30 minute stroll from its starting point.

If you'd like to check out a map of the walk to see where it goes, click here to see how it follows the line of the coast.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Wanted: One Stolen Storm!

Snow, Blizzard, Gondola Lift, Skiing  Areas of Alaska are known for their winter storms.  They are used to blizzards dropping tons of snow to create huge piles of snow, yet right now, the state is not getting the snow dumps.

A huge storm is moving eastward, blanketing the land in tons of snow, shutting down everything from schools to airports, the roads to the highways.

This morning on the news, the huge storm there made the news.  Apparently, there has been so much snow already, that people in many states are told to stay home and not even venture out because the roads are already a total mess.

The airlines have already started canceling flights and have gone so far as to cancel flights tomorrow because they expect the weather to continue so this is a preventative measure.  The idea is to keep people from going out into the nasty weather and to keep people from piling up at the airports.  In Washington DC, one inch of snow apparently paralyzed the whole town. 

One time, I was back east in Virginia visiting relatives.  There had been snow the night before, about 1 inch, the school district decided to cancel school.  I was shocked but the explanation was simply they did not have snow plows in the area.

I suspect this may be part of why everything is shut down besides having a total dump of snow.  Many places do not have the proper equipment. Did you know a front end loader or road grader could be used to clear the roads?  They use those in parts of the west and in Alaska.  

My friend in TN keeps complaining that our storm got loose and came down to her, could we take it back?  I told her she stole it and needs to return it.  We laugh about this because every time she gets

Years ago, I lived in Colorado.  A storm blew in that closed down everything including the airport except for the sports team.  People did everything they could to take the team on snow machines etc to the airport to a special plane so they could get out.  I tell you the editorial column was filled with complaints from people who couldn't get out that day.

In the meantime, I'm enjoying the beautiful weather here while I watch the news and see everyone who is stuck.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

I Didn't Know That.

Sunset, Yellow, Sun, Cloud, Silhouettes  Today, I flew into town on a small 6 person plane.  The plane flew close enough to the ground that it looked like there were tons miniatures scattered across the countryside.  It was breath taking.

At one point, I watched a tiny string of power lines go from what looked like a power plant through the town, stopping just past the last house.  The whole village looked like it could have been found on the table filled with toy soldiers.

The day was so beautifully sunny and clear, you could see for miles.  You could see the blueish pink sky just after sunrise.  I saw every house, ever river, ever lake, every bush.  Then I saw something so cool that I didn't know could ever be seen at this time of year.

In the summer, I have seen the light shine across the land, reflected off the lakes, rivers, and puddles but I've never seen anything as cool in the winter.  Usually our days are short and even at midday, it is not that bright or sunny.  More often than not, its snowy, windy or just overcast. 

Imagine to my surprise when I looked out the window to see the sunlight rolling across the land as if it were a huge body of water on a summer day!  What makes it different is the whole land was covered in snow with enough patches of ice sprinkled across the terrain to reflect the sunlight.

I never knew ice could reflect light in the same way as the lake in the picture above. My words cannot do justice to the overwhelming beauty of the scene. I wish I'd had my camera handy to take pictures but in the small 9 seat plane,  my camera and cellphone were in my backpack that was stored in the back of the plane behind a screen.  There is really no foot room or storage space in the small plane so I couldn't take any pictures but the picture will be imprinted on my mind and will remain with me for the rest of my life.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

11 Weird Popcorn Flavors

Popcorn, Snack, Bowl, Food, Movie  Most people I know love popcorn.  They love it sweet, salty, buttery, or in any number of other ways.  You eat it at a movie, in the park,  or on your bike ride.  Kids love eating it so the butter ends up all over them.

Popcorn is sold all over the place including supermarkets,  events, school events, sporting events, movies, etc but there are some interesting flavors out there that are not run of the mill and are not usually served.

I found 11 unusual flavors that are not normally available except in certain stores.

1.  Wasabi Ginger Kettle Corn.

2. Gin and Tonic popcorn .

3. Mince Pie popcorn.

4. Birthday Cake popcorn complete with sprinkles.

5. Dill Pickle popcorn.

6. Mexican Mole popcorn.

7.  Margarita on the rocks popcorn.

8. Sesame and seaweed popcorn.

9.African Peri Peri popcorn.

10.  Chinese 12 spice popcorn.

11. Ketchup popcorn.

It was fun researching the topic because I learned something new.  These flavors come prepackaged but there are recipes out on the internet for many of these flavors.  All it takes is a quick search and you'll find several different choices. 

Happy hunting!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016


Eilean Donan Castle, CastleI just discovered the Outlander  television series based on the books by Diana Gabaldon. If you are not aware of the story line, it involves a nurse who falls back in time from 1946 to 1743 in Scotland.  It topped several book lists and has been translated to the small screen.

I realize that its been out for a while but I just discovered it on Amazon when it was on sale and I took a chance on it.  It turned out to be absolutely fantastic, breath taking and riveting but it has a fair bit of nudity, sex and violence.

The story begins in 1946, a few months after the end of World War II.  A war where her husband worked in intelligence and she had spent the war, working on the lines as a nurse.  They were on their second honeymoon before he began his teaching assignment at Oxford.  Due to a magical moment, she was transported back in time to the highlands of Scotland.

It is a story of her time there as she adjusts to a society with different sensibilities than ours.  Due to her skills, she was designated a healer for the clan.  She slowly gains their trust as she helps out the people who are becoming her own although she has the idea that if she can get back to a certain set of stones, she'll be able to return to her own time where her husband is.

Believe it or not but she heard a song that appeared to be about her since the main character traveled back in time and when conditions were right, she'd return.  That gave her hope that if she could get back to the stones she'd go home.

I finished season one.  It was awesome, kept my attention but as mentioned earlier it was a bit rowdier than I like but I would still recommend this series.  The other reason I loved it was the scenery.

It brings back memories of the multiple times I've visited Scotland.  I often take the train, stay in small towns in B & B's where I check out the local activities.  I always ask for suggestions of places to see.  Due to the suggestions, I've seen fund raising events, visited horticultural places, museums, etc.  It was great.

Someday, I'll be going back to spend more time exploring the countryside.

Monday, January 18, 2016


Fiji, Sky, Clouds, Landscape, Mountains  When I was 15 years old, my father decided it was time to move to Australia.  I think he'd always wanted travel the world because by the time I graduated from high school at the age of 18, I'd attended 12 different schools.  The opportunity came because my father had been offered a job, sold the house and then the opportunity fell through so it opened up the chance for him to follow his dream.

So we were off to Australia as our next place of residency.  On the way down, we stopped in Fiji for a few days so we didn't become over tired and we got to see a new place.  We arrived after a very long plane trip that began in Hawaii and ended in Nadi, Fiji.

Just before the plane landed, we had to fill out forms and people came through the cabin spraying it with some sort of disinfectant or insecticide  to keep the population safe from imported bugs and diseases.

After landing, we went straight to the hotel.   I'm not sure who made the hotel reservation but we stayed at a nice, local establishment with open windows for air conditioning and a cook who didn't know much about cooking.  At breakfast, the menu listed eggs so when we ordered eggs, we were asked how we wanted them prepared.  The usual question which evoked the usual answers of "Scrambled, Over Easy, Fried".  Turns out, it didn't matter because we all got hard boiled poached eggs served on rather dry toast.

Later in the day, my father hired a taxi to take us around the area.  It was the first time I'd ever been in a country where cars drove on the "other" side.  It took a bit to get used to but other that oddity, the tour was fantastic.  It was a beautiful, exotic, and awesome.  We stopped at a small place where we bought our trinkets to remind us of our trip.  I suspect it was a tourist place but think about this, they had to earn their money some way.

It was here I had my first experience with a fried egg sandwich.  It was not something I'd ever run across but seems to be quite British in nature.  They were available in Fiji, New Zealand, and Australia.  I also learned something about milkshakes.  The milkshakes I had down there, in all three countries were so different.

I'd grown up on thick, rich, mouth watering creations.  I always went for chocolate ones because the flavor just explodes with every sip.  The ones down there were so much thinner.  I think they took milk, threw in one small scoop of ice cream and some chocolate.  The blender made it foamy and it was more like a liquid drink, than the thick, can barely get through the straw mixture I was used to.

Its always good to have memories of places we've been.  Those memories provide a nice warming in my body, in my soul and in my heart for a time when I was young and free.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Top 10 Most Expensive Cities in The World

Ship, Hainan, China, SkylineI've been following Ryan Biddulphs blog recently in which he shares his adventures as he travels the world.  His latest post made me wonder which cities are the most expensive to live in.

As with any list, the top 10 or 11 change as one city slips and another gains.  In addition, there are several different lists based on different criteria such as cost of luxury apartments, over all costs or other things.

Business Insider created their list based on the Economist Intelligence Units biannual report on cost of living.  Yes, many places on their list appear on other lists but this report seems to look at the overall picture as they look at 400 different costs rather than just a specific segment.

1.  Singapore.
2. Paris, France.
3. Oslo, Norway.
4. Zurich, Switzerland.
5. Sydney, Australia.
6. Melbourne Australia.
7. Geneva, Switzerland.
8. Copenhagen, Denmark.
9.  Hong Kong.
10. Seoul, South Korea.

I had an idea that Paris was expensive due to watching one of those International House Hunters type shows but I didn't realize it topped out at number 2.  A friend moved to Denmark a few years ago and mentioned trying to get a certain type of apartment because it was essentially rent controlled.

Although, the United States didn't make this list, they did make the list on the top 10 luxury property with Los Angeles, California and New York City, New York.  Shanghai, China made the same luxury list, Moscow, Russia made the most expensive list

In the scheme of things, I doubt I'd ever get a chance to live in any of the places.  I might visit a couple of them but right now I'm still trying to figure out how to buy the house I want that is about $100,000 more than what I can easily afford.  Oh well, who knows what the future will bring.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Snow, Snow, Snow

Schnedach, Deep Snow, Snow, Roof, Hut  I woke up to a rather nice blizzard.  I looked out the door to check the weather and several snow flakes were thrust into the entry way by the wind howling outside.  I couldn't see the airport but I could see the school which is about two minutes away.

This year the snow's been a bit late and isn't as bad as in the past. The snow I've shoveled off the porch is barely even to the bottom of the porch.  They say the world is warming up and based on what I've seen round here, it could easily be true.

One year, one of the guys who live a few doors down from me decided to come home during the blizzard.  He lost sight of the light on the maintenance shed and trudged through onward, hoping to find his apartment.  When he finally stopped to take a look to see where he was, he discovered he was standing on top of his next door neighbors roof!

One winter, we had so much snow fall, that I'd often open the front door to a solid drift of snow and had to dig my way out.  I took a trash can and scooped the snow, then dumped it into the bathtub to melt.  I continued the process till I dug my way out.  Since then, I've moved to a different apartment.  The door opens out instead of in so if I get a drift of snow built up, I'll have to call someone to dig me out.....LOL.

Another year, we had so much snow, you could see paths dug down to the doors.  I had to carve stairs in the pile of snow in front of my porch so I could climb up and over the railing, then back down to my door. Out here, people have their own, home built saunas.  That was the year, people ended up digging tunnels of a sort so they could use them.  Saunas out here are used to stay clean and healthy.

There are other parts of the state that have had even worse amounts of snow.  The first year I lived here,  the city of Valdez was inundated with over 500 inches of snow.  The newspaper showed the roads with extremely steep walls almost suffocating the cars as they drove through the thin narrow corridors.

There was a picture of a guy standing on the roof of a two story,  who shoveled the snow upwards, adding it to the already tall pile snuggled up around the house.  The road out of Valdez is often just a corridor until the pile of snow actually fades down to something reasonable.

I don't know about what is happening in Valdez but out here, we haven't gotten that much snow in the past couple of years.  We get flights most of the week instead of once or twice a week as in the past.

I realize its hard to picture walls of snow, houses buried with holes leading through the snow to the surface but used to be quite normal.

Friday, January 15, 2016

The 11 Worst Snacks To Eat.

Biscuit, Nutrition, Food, Eat, BakeryI love to snack.  I snack when I'm bored, when I'm tired, when I'm hungry, just whenever.  I try to be good and eat things like apples, carrots, or nuts but I don't always have those around or they just don't appeal to me.

I am like most other people in that I have a weakness for salty treats.  I really try to resist but those salty treats call my name and haunt me until I indulge.  I decided it was time to find out what the world considers the worst snacks to eat, so they are:

1. Potato chips are high in salt, low in nutrition, and fairly high in fat.

2. Crackers are high in salt and low in fiber.  Many people expect crackers to provide a boost but that is a misconception.

3. Granola or a cereal bars for the most part are be full of empty calories with lots of sugars, honeys and fat. 

4. Pretzels have little or no nutrition and can raise the blood sugar more than chips.

5. 100 calorie snack packs are not satisfying, do not control blood sugar levels and are seldom nutritious.

6. Rice Cakes are often made out of white rice and are considered as nutritious and tasty as Styrofoam packing peanuts. The flavored varieties are often loaded with salt and sugar.

7. Honey roasted salted nuts which taste so good but whose salt, sugar and fat outweigh any benefits from the nuts.

8. Diet soda is affects the craving center of the brain and increases the appetite.

9.  Dried fruit because the liquid has been extracted from the fruit, leaving condensed sugars .  Our bodies are not equipped to hand this much sugar in one sitting.

10. Cheetos which are made from highly processed corn that has been fried, had sodium added to it and then dusted with a orangish - red powder.

11. No fat yogurt with fruit on the bottom has more sugar in it because when they take out the fat and replace it with sweetener.  Research indicates that if you cut back on sugar, it can result is a 2 pound weight loss in a relatively short time.

The other issue with any of these snacks is simply that most of us never look at the side to see what constitutes a serving.   It could be 5 or 1/4 cup or 12.  I know when I eat chips, I don't think about the serving size and probably eat two or three servings at one sitting.

It turns out that a few of my most favorite snacks are on this list so I am going to have to find myself healthier alternatives.  They are out there but you have to carefully read the list of ingredients before you buy, even if it is labelled as a healthier alternative.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Flights of Fancy

 Today was one of those days.  You know the type of day where you have meeting after meeting that you'd rather not be at.  The ones, you'd rather be hiding from but you don't have a choice.

When I survive  a day like that, I go looking for pictures that make me laugh, or lighten my spirits.  Photos that take me away from reality into whimsical fantasy.

I sorted through my pictures and came away with these two of large sculptures that are crazy enough to put a smile on my face.

This wrapped "rock" in the foreground makes me  think of that story by O'Henry called "The Ransom of Red Chief".  I picture some little energetic kid who grabbed ribbons of different colors and wrapped the rock while it was asleep. Perhaps the kid ransomed the rock?

The rock on the left hand side of the picture to the right looks like it could be part of a giants  necklace.  It looks like the jump ring fell off and landed there. Perhaps, it was strung up this way because it used to hang in a museum?

The other one on the right side of the photo resembles a perfect thumb print all over.  If you look carefully, you can see the swirls spreading outward from a center point in blue and black.  The shape resembles an apple without the deep dent at the top.

Perhaps, its a an over sized billiard ball that escaped a giant's table and rolled across the ground till it stopped on the slight pedestal.    Could it be modeled after the  wrapping  paper found on a fancy piece of candy?  Who knows?

I love looking at pieces of art like this and speculating.  I don't read the labels because I fear they will rip my whimsical musings from me.  Yes, I sometimes lay down in the grass and look up at the sky finding bunnies, lambs, steep buildings, and other things as they coalesce  in and out of existence.

After looking at these pictures, I felt so much better.  I feel as though I can face the world without wanting to hide.  In case you are wondering, these sculptures rest in front of the Waikiki Aquarium just on the other side of driveway that circles in front of the building.   

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Period Shows

Foyer, Hotel, Holiday, Tourism Over the past week or so, I've been having a wonderful time catching up on a couple of period shows based in the last era of elegance but before the world came to a crashing change.

 Of the three shows,  One is from the 70's, another from the 90's and the final one from this year.  I love well done shows but these three span approximately the same historical time period, from the teens to the twenties.

I got hooked on this type of drama when I saw Upstairs, Downstairs a show that gave us a peek into the happenings of the two different classes who inhabited the same house.  The rich who lived in the upstairs and the servants who lived below and made sure everything ran smoothly.

 I remember the cook who ruled the kitchen, kept her helpers working and managed to produce good food every day, even during war time.  I laughed with them, cried with them, and just loved it. When the show went off the air, I felt as if a good friend had died.  I know they tried to resurrect it years later to cover the 30's and perhaps the 40's but I never actually got a chance to see that version.

I just discovered a lovely show that only lasted two seasons about a family run hotel called The Grand.  The story line focuses on the family who owns the hotel, their trials and tribulations along with the serving staff who kept the place running.

Although it is a period piece, the overall  story lines that show a darker edge than Upstairs, Downstairs. It explores those who marry for convenience, those who make choices that may not be accepted societal,  those who survived the war, even a how a family continues its way of life while trying not to lose money

 The writers do an excellent job of showing the mind set of some of the war veterans,  the sniping and gossiping staff members, and the calculating family members. The writers show both the strong and weak points of the characters.

 Finally, the most recent of the three.  Its all the rage and is finishing its final season at least overseas.  Yes, Downton Abbey, a show that provides a different view of the same society that both Upstairs, Downstairs and The Grand gave us. Although it takes place away from London, you see the same class distinctions but the difference is the American element.

We see a change in members of the family as off spring marry, have children of their own, live and die.  It is lovely watching the growth of the characters from the early teens to the twenties.  I booed the man who was after a fast buck, who operated on both sides of the law.

The common thread for these three shows simply boils down to  making the audience care about the characters.  They drew us into the richness and ambiance of  the times.  We laughed with them and cried with them.  They made us feel something for the characters to the point, the characters could have been real.

The writers put the words on paper, the actors brought the words to life, and when the film is played, it becomes a reality for many of us.  I love any show that is well written, makes me a part of it so I care about what happens to them.  There are other shows I love.  Perhaps, I'll share more another time.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Top 10 Baby Names of 2015

Baby, Hand, Dad  It is now 2016, the year of 2015 is done and the babies have started arriving but we can look back at the most popular baby names to see what could be the most popular this year.

Name tend to be popular over a span of years, one moving up to the top 10  while another moves down. Most of the names from last year will probably be the same this year.

 According to babycenter you can select a name that are similar so that your child has a name that is unique but still similar to the most popular names.  For instance, Ziva is one of the suggested alternatives to Zoe.  If you watch NCIS, they had a character by that name from Israel.  She left the show about 2 seasons ago.  They suggested Kellen, instead of Caden.
The top 10 girls names are:                      
2. Emma
3. Ava
5. Mia
6. Isabella
7. Zoe
8. Lily
9. Emily
10. Madison

The top 10 boys names are:
1. Jackson
2. Aiden
3. Liam
4. Lucas
5. Noah
6. Mason
7. Ethan
8. Caden
9. Logan
10. Jacob

When I was expecting, I pulled out a book of baby names and thumbed through them until I found just the right names.  I didn't pay any attention to the popular names.  I also didn't pay attention to suggestions.  I wanted to find just the right names.  The ones that rolled off the tongue and would be theirs.

Did I do it?  I think so.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Old Man Basketball

Man, Old, Hat, Portrait, Moustache, Men  Out here, most people continue playing basketball after they graduate from high school. That is the big thing for people to do other than play bingo.

In fact, when I first heard the term, I thought I'd be seeing men over 65 playing basketball.  It turns out, the old men are anyone over 35.  Geez, I didn't think 35 was old but I guess it is with basketball.

I had the privilege of watching the old men play and they were funny.  They were almost as good as the 3rd and 4th graders but not as cute.

The old men are known for some of the following moves.
1. The ball is passed and hits someone's head, foot, arm, or other body point.
2.  The ball rolls across the floor between the arms or legs of people trying to get it.
3.  The ball gets ahead of the person dribbling the ball.
4.  During the 4th quarter, several of the old men are walking rather than running.
5.  The jump shots are made from 1/2 inch off the floor instead of 6 inches.
6.  The person who throws the ball in from the side takes a bit longer to get there.

Usually when the ball is tipped, one team sends in their 6"5" guy against the 5"7" opposition and the shorter guy just shrugs, tries to hit the ball but knows he won't get it.

Most quit playing by around 50, maybe 55 and are as fun to watch as the Harlem Globe Trotters or the 3rd/4th/graders.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

The 10 Most Ineffective Ways To Exercise!

Soldiers, Army, Basic Training, Mud It is January, a week after  the new year began, when people have started working on their resolutions.  It seems most people include a resolution dealing with exercise.  Rather than check out the best types of exercise, I thought I would find out which exercises are the most ineffective.

We all have friends who recommend  this one or that one that worked for some friend of theirs.  You have a friend who is a self-styled know-it-all who repeats the "No pain, no gain" mantra which has been proven outdated.
So here are the 10 most ineffective ways to exercise:

1.  Running on the treadmill.  Running on the treadmill for an hour is only good if you are training for a marathon, not for losing weight.  It is much better to mix cardio with some weight training.

2. Sit-ups.  Doing sit-ups to flatten the ab is old school and ineffective because it only works a very small section of the abs. Don't ever do this with straight legs.  If your legs are straight, you might injure your back but again, its not that effective. Its much better to do the plank or a side plank to work more abdomen muscles.  Honestly, I hated sit-ups in school and had trouble doing them.  I could never sit fully up without some oomph.

3. Touching toes.  Remember these from elementary P.E.?  You know you bend down, touch your toes, stand up and repeat?  I was the kid who couldn't touch my toes except occasionally when the wind blew the right way.  This is not considered a good exercise as it really does nothing.

4.  Spot reduction.  There is no such thing as spot reduction through exercise.  It is better to exercise the whole body and eat properly with the correct amount of protein.  The idea you can reduce certain parts of the body is a total myth.

5. The seated abductor machine.  It turns out this machine does not actually work the outer thighs.  Instead, it works a deep muscle in the hip.  Over working that muscle could lead to your sciatic nerve hurting.  Side leg raises accomplish more than using the machine.

6. Upright rows using weights. This particular exercise could cau compression of shoulder and lead to rotor cuff injury.  I never knew this one was bad.  In fact, its one of the exercises that appears on so many of my DVD's and I've done religiously.  Professionals recommend straight armed raises instead.

7. Seated leg extensions.  Doing these with a leg extension machine is not considered safe.  Unfortunately, the resistance is on the ankles which places pressure on the knees and could easily injure the knees.  It is recommended people do a split squat instead which is easier on the knees and healthier.

8. Calf raises.  You know those ones where you raise up onto the ball of your foot and down.  What works better is to walk, run, hike, or run stairs.  The movement itself works calves and you don't need to do anything separate unless you are a serious bodybuilder.

9. Bicep curls.  Wow.  It turns out the reason this is put on the list is because most people use momentum to do the curls rather than muscles.  If the bicep curl is done correctly, it only works smaller muscles and is not really effective.  Supinated chin ups are much more effective at working more muscles.

10. Bench dips.  These are done when you hold on to a bench or the sides of a chair and move down and back up.  Its like a backwards push up where you sink and then push up.  It supposedly works your triceps but in reality it works the deltoids and opens you up to possible injury. 

Its interesting that a few of these, including the bench dips are on included on several of my exercise DVD's.  I now know which exercises not to do when I do those DVD's and what to substitute.  So I will be making changes to my exercises.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Its Basketball Season

Kid, Happy, Smiling, Basketball, Fun  I bet when you read the title, you immediately thought of your favorite team like the Celtics or the Golden State Warriors.  You know, those games you spend the weekend watching with all the snacks, camaraderie and the soda or beer.  You cheer when they sink a basket or steal the ball or you groan when your guy misses the basket.

In my case, I don't spend my weekends watching televised games, I head over to the local elementary to catch them live.  The elementary school runs a program for grades 3 to 6 so they can learn the finer points of playing basketball.

Last night, they had the first games of the seasons for grades 3 and 4, 5 and 6, finishing off with middle school.  I absolutely love watching the 3rd and 4th graders play basketball because besides being cute, they are almost as funny to watch as the old men. 

I've reffed, kept score, coached, and watched them play.  They are just learning so some of their moves are not standard.  Some of the more common moves are:

1.  Instead of stealing, they grab the ball and the person with the ball won't let go or they grab it back and all the sudden they are wrestling and end up on the ground fighting over it.

2.  Traveling is defined as the kid picks up the ball and runs with it rather than trying to dribble.  When they do dibble, the ball sometimes gets moving faster than them and it runs off.

3.  Passing turns out to be handing the ball off, or throwing it by bouncing it off the floor under the hands of the opposing team, to their teammate. 

4.  The ball gets loose, rolls in front of a child who can't stop in time and they end up kicking the ball across the floor so one of the other children jumps on it followed closely by several other teammates who pile on top so it looks like something out of a football game.  Or the ball rolls out of bounds.

5.  Of course, some of the smaller children dribble the ball under the arms of the taller kids rather than moving out of the way.

I absolutely love watching them.  They keep the audience entertained as well of the Harlem Globe Trotters and everyone has a good time.  Maybe tomorrow I'll share how entertaining it is to watch the old men's basketball.

Friday, January 8, 2016

It's Friday!

Silhouette, Woman, Girl, Movement  I absolutely love the end of the workday on Friday because I know I have two days off to hide, vege, cook, sing, dance, or just be. 

It is so nice to know I don't have to get up at my usual 6:30 AM but can stay in the warmth of my bed enjoying my dreams.  I love knowing I don't have to be in bed at a certain hour but can wait till I am ready.

I can spend time making a nice lush breakfast with a full spread of eggs, fruit, toast, or explore a cookbook for something that sounds mouthwatering.  I have the time to actually prepare and savor my food instead of throwing it together and inhaling it.

I enjoy just puttering when I clean house because I can enjoy music in the background or take frequent breaks to see what the latest development in my books is.  I can exercise during the day instead of trying to work it in just after dinner or maybe first thing in the morning.  I might walk over to the post office instead of trying to get off work before it closes.

I have some electronic kits I can play with.  I'm in the middle of soldering a European police siren and then I have a watch to put together.  It looks kind of like a Steam Punk watch and that is my next project.  I can also create things with my copper tape and conductive ink pen.  I want to try to make blinky cards.

Then there is reading, reading, and more reading so I can catch up on the stack of books I keep.  I have fiction, cookbooks, knitting books, gardening books and jewelry making books.  I need to find something to make this weekend  Its all relaxing which I need after a long hard week.

Someday I"m going to quit and work at home but I need to get a few things lined up first and then I"ll be a free woman.  Yeah!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Cats, Snakes and Holes

Cat, Pets, Cat'S Eyes, Mieze, Dear  I've discovered a nice website called Medium which has essays on a variety of topics from the mundane to the humorous to the sad.  I wrote a piece on Affluenza not being a defense but mostly, I enjoy reading other peoples writings.

Yesterday, I came across this hilarious piece on a cat, a sledgehammer and a selfie.  It is the story of a man who went to extreme lengths to find a cat who had disappeared into the walls.  I laughed through the whole piece, loved the drawings and the videos. 

One reason this struck a chord is I know two people who went through similar events.  One with a cat and one with a snake.  The first is a friend who lives out in California.  One day her cat disappeared and she searched the whole house before she heard meowing in the wall near the garage.  She tried to figure out exactly where the cat was before silence struck.  She was not able to.  Over the next week, she'd hear meowing periodically from different locations.  About the time her son started tearing the walls apart, the cat magically appeared in the closet in her room.

This was long before the selfie stick came out so she had to look the old fashioned way.  She had to listen and follow the cries of her cat.  The cat was dehydrated and hungry but fine.  I think she had her son go through to look for holes to patch but I'm not sure he ever found any.

The second one had to do with a snake in the local science room.   I'm not sure how the snake got out of the fish tank but it did and disappeared completely.  The science teacher tore the room apart looking for the snake.  He found a small hole near the corner by the heating pipes but could not figure out where the snake went.  He gave up and after a while decided the snake was probably dead yet there was no rotting smell anywhere in the building.  So he just shrugged his shoulders and went about his business.

A week or two later, the night security was making their rounds at about 3 AM and I gather the guy spotted the snake slithering across the floor, screamed loud enough for the other security guy to come running.  They promptly called the science teacher to come get his stray. 

I heard about it the next morning from the science teacher.  He was thrilled the snake had been found but was not happy to be woken up in the middle of the night.  He reinforced the security of the cages to make sure neither the snakes could get loose on their own, nor be let loose by a mischievous student wanting to play a prank.

I suspect everyone knows someone who has undergone the same type of adventure as the author of the piece. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

I Love Reading Odd News.

I regularly read the Yahoo Odd News because they end up with quite a few interesting pieces of news.  I've found these pieces make me laugh, smile, be aghast, or just undergo disbelief.  The news they have on this page, is varied and covers the gambit.

Newspaper, Paper, Pencil, GlassesFor instance, I just checked the page and I found a cool article on the family of a two year old who lost her arm to cancer.  They adopted a kitten who had also had a limb amputated.  The young lady's arm was amputated when she was 10 months old.  This year her parents decided to adopt a kitten with an amputated limb and they found one.  So on Christmas, the young lady became proud owner of a kitten who was like her.  This article made me smile.

Then there was the article on a teen aged bank robber who forgot to check out the bank before trying to rob it.  A 15 year old decided to rob a Chase Bank in Detroit. One of the bank tellers activated a set of electronic locks which trapped the young man between two sets of doors as he tried to get away.  He was trapped until the police got there to arrest him.  I laughed when I read this.

Talk about trying to get the most out of people, there is a company in Pennsylvania who wanted to get as much work out of their employees.  They insisted their employees clock out when ever they went on a short break or even to the bathroom!  Can you imagine that!  It turns out the Department of Labor took the company to court because people were not making minimum wage due to the clocking out.  The company lost and is required to pay around 6000 people 1.75 to cover back pay and damages.

I couldn't believe that but then I thought about my sister-in-law who worked for a company who required people to call in the day before they were sick.  If they waited till the day of, the company got nasty about it but as pointed out, you often don't know you are going to get sick over night and cannot call in the day before.

Of course there is the story about some Phoenix firemen who rescued a 13 year old boy from a chimney.  When I first read the title of the piece, I couldn't figure out how anyone could get into a chimney unless they were trying to clean it as they did back in the 1800's.  Well, it turns out the young man was playing on the roof with some friends and he fell into the chimney.  I guess the kid climbed up on the chimney, lost his balance and got stuck.

Apparently, he was the third person this year to end up in the chimney, the other two were adults who had gotten locked out of their houses and tried to get in using the chimney.  Instead, they got stuck and had to be pulled out.

Finally, a story that made me shake my head, is the story of an elected official in Pennsylvania who refused to be sworn in.  Apparently a woman ran for a seat on a township's board of supervisors in the last election, won, then refused to be sworn in because............  Ta-da! "She didn't have the time for the job"  Furthermore, she didn't meet the residency requirement either.    So now the she wants the board to select her replacement while the incumbent she replaced has a lawsuit saying he should take the seat since he received the most votes of all legal candidates.

So if you enjoy fun news, check out this site.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Subsidized Housing

House Insurance, Protect, Home, Care  In many parts of the United States, housing is so expensive that the average person cannot afford to buy.  Even professionals do not make enough money to afford a house.

We've all heard about section eight housing for those with limited income.  In some places, there is rent control where the landlord cannot raise the rent until they put the apartment up for rent.  Unfortunately, these options tend to be only available for the very low income but what if you are a white collar worker.

Imagine, spending four years getting your degree so that you can pursue your life long dream of teaching.  You find a job in an area you want to be in but your salary just doesn't stretch to afford a house.  You might find an apartment that takes half your salary.

Think about this!  You make $45,000 per year but the average house price is $600,000 per year and apartments are in the $2000 per month range.  Neither is particularly affordable.  So what do you do?  Do you find a place to live that requires a 2 to 3 hour commute each day?  Do you find several roommates so you can afford to live closer to work?

Many teachers find themselves in this predicament and districts cannot keep people because they cannot afford to live in the area.  So districts are looking at floating bonds so they can build subsidized housing for their employees.  This is not just in the cities but it is also in areas which are considered playgrounds for the rich such as Aspen, Colorado.

This idea is quite common in Alaska out in the bush and has been for many, many, years.  When the Bureau of Indian Affairs ran the schools, housing was automatically provided so teachers had a place to live that was more comfortable than local housing.  Once districts formed, they inherited BIA housing and built new housing as the old housing wore out.

Even today most bush districts continue to provide housing, especially in the more remote areas. Many villages simply do not have enough vacant housing  available to be rented and this eases the housing situation.

It appears the rest of the country is finally catching up to what Alaska has been and continues doing.

Monday, January 4, 2016


Stamps, Letter, Rarity, Colors This is going to be a banner year for both Science Fiction and Science Fans.  The United States Post Office has announced three new stamp sets they will be issuing this year.  I admit, I'm a geek when it comes to these stamps.

The first set of stamps is being issued to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the original Star Trek.  Star Trek a series that lasted about 3 years, spawned several more series and movies.  Recently the movies have been re-imaged to appeal to a whole new generation. A concept that spawned several firsts including a interracial kiss.

Star Trek was the series that inspired people to dream of space travel, of going where no man has gone before.  It ignited passions and a whole new generation of scientists.  Star Trek showed people what it could be like out in space before man first set foot on the moon.  So the Post office is releasing a set of four forever stamps to commemorate Star Trek.

The second set of stamps feature the planets of our solar system.  The stamps are in full color and are shots I've never seen before.  The photos are so sharp, they make me drool.  The colors are so juicy, I'd love to have clothing in some of the shades.  Neptune is in a beautiful deep blue that is almost purples in areas or Mercury appears yellow and blue.  I want to reach out and touch each of the planets.

The final set is a two stamp set with a  photo of Pluto taken from the New Horizons spaceship and the other stamp is of the space craft itself.  This is really the first picture we have of Pluto. The New Horizons spaceship was launched back in 2006 to go take pictures of Pluto

The Postal service issued a stamp back in 1991 which had the caption "Pluto Not Explored" as a way of reminding people that no spacecraft had gotten close enough to see what Pluto was actually like.  Now this stamp states "Pluto Explored" because pictures have been taken and transmitted back to Earth and we know what it looks like.

A year with wonderful planets and honoring the 50th anniversary of a legendary television series.  I will have to keep my eyes open for these.  Enjoy.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

McDonalds Does More Than Serve Food.

Cheeseburger, Meat, Bun, Cheese, Burger  I enjoy reading newspapers because I can take my time going through the piece of news.  I am not limited to a 15 or 30 second news bite on television.  For instance, there was a cool article on the homeless in Asia.  Yes, I realize that is a problem here in the United States but one of our global businesses is viewed differently overseas and has a different marketing strategy.

In the United States, many of the homeless live in boxes, under a bridge or even on the beach. In some places, the city provides a van to collect the homeless because if they are allowed to sleep outside, they could easily freeze to death.  Sometimes, the homeless might hang out in libraries where they are warm and dry but once the building closes for the night, they are back on the streets again. 

In Asia, things are a little different.  McDonalds has adopted a different marketing  strategy.  They are working to integrate themselves into the community.  They want to be the place where people come to eat, celebrate birthdays, conduct business meetings, or just be a place to hang for a few hours with your friends or by yourself.  Some of the places even offer local favorites the same as those in Hawaii offer raman noodles.

The homeless begin arriving just after the evening cleanup.   They scrounge for food, stake a corner or take one of the booths, eat and then hanker down to catch a few hours of sleep before the morning wake up call is made. In the morning, they are awoken and after a quick combing of the hair with a fork, a splash of water on the face, most are ready for the day.  Some head out while others stay to beg for money, a newspaper, or even food before they hit the streets. 

Since McDonalds considers itself a part of the community, many owners consider the homeless as community members so they are welcome to use the premises, just as everyone else does.  The only difference is they are asked to quit sleeping when the morning rush is due to start.  It would appear the homeless do not try to take advantage of this generosity, they only want to stay safe and warm.

I believe the difference in attitudes can be attributed to the differences in culture but it could be more.  It could be they are trying to be an integrated part of the neighborhood.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Have You Ever Wondered About Street Names?

Away, Direction, Decision, Solution  Have you ever been driving along the freeway or down a country road and noticed the name on the street sign?  You looked at it and wondered how it got its name?  I ran across a few on a drive from State College, PA to Philadelphia, PA that got me to thinking.  So I offer my speculation and then added what information I could find on a few of the streets.

One of the first exits I ran across was for Electric Avenue.  I wondered if it was the street that ran by the electric company or perhaps it was the first street powered by electricity in town!  Could it have been the street with the first electric trolley?  I know the exit was in an town that had been around a couple hundred years.

The second street I found interesting was Progress Avenue.  My first thought was that it was named because people would walk up and town the area but then it could have referred to a part of town where the latest building techniques, styles, or even the place in town that gets the gas or electricity first.

Then there was the Union Deposit Street which could be the road that went by the Union railroad depot.  Depot is short for depository so perhaps this is the way they referred to depots, years ago.  After a bit of investigation, this is the road that goes to the town of Union Deposit which grew up around the Union Canal.   Another fun one was West Girl Scout Road which I suspect went by the original Girl Scout camp in the area, thus the name.

What about Swamp Ridge Road?  I have no idea where that name came from but Hopewell Furnace Road would have been associated with the iron mines in the area.  From what I'm told, furnaces were built near iron mines so the ore did not have to go far before it was processed. Turns out the road  lead to the original Hopewell Furnace which processed iron until around 1883, when it closed down due to a change in the method of processing. This furnace was founded by a family who did the processing.

Finally, there was Conestoga Road.  I'm wondering if this road lead to the factory that made  Conestoga wagons used by thousands of people who traveled west back in the 1800's.  After a bit of research, it appears that this road might have been part of the Old Conestoga Road which at one point was the shortest route between Philadelphia and Harrisburg.  If it was part of the Old Conestoga Road, it would have been a turnpike originally.