Thursday, March 31, 2016

Not Again!

Schnedach, Deep Snow, Snow, Roof, Hut  See the picture there.  The one showing several feet of snow on top and surrounded by snow!   That is what most of the places in the area look like this morning.  Even though the blizzard raged all night, its still going strong this morning.

My neighbor was sweet last night when he took time to dig my doorway out so I could get in.  I live in a four-plex that is set up with two apartments, a boiler room and two apartments.  Each apartment has a common door that opens outward.

That means every time,  we get snow, I have to push the door open so that it pushes the snow aside.  You may wonder why the door does not open inward?  If it did, one of us could not get out.  We have a entrance way that is about 3 feet by 4 feet called an arctic entrance and our doors open into that.

So last night around 6:30, I came home to a cleared out door area. Around 10 PM, I opened the iced shut door and moved some snow out of the way.  I woke up at 3 and got up to push the door open because the storm was blowing hard and forcing snow to stick to the windows.  Well it stuck.  It took quite a bit of hip power to get the door open just enough for me to get an arm out.

I grabbed the ice chipper and ran it under the door bashing whatever I could reach.  I jabbed everything behind the door I could reach until it moved.  I admit, I was not going to get dressed to go outside to shovel enough snow to fully clear the door.  I figured I could do that in about 4 hours when I was up and dressed.

Talk about being wrong!  I could barely open the door to get my arm through it.  I once again jabbed the ice chipper under the door, loosening what I could.  I reached behind the door and chopped everything I could reach.  It didn't do much good, so I repeated the whole process enough to move the door.

Once I got the door open enough to slide through while holding my breath to make me as skinny as possible, I got out with shovel in hand so I could shovel enough snow to clear the door.  I was not going to stand in the snow blasting wind to clear the whole porch.  Once the immediate area was clear, I came back in to eat breakfast and write this.

It is 7:15 AM right now and I have no idea if work will be on time, be delayed, or cancelled.  I go in early so if work is cancelled, I'm gone before the call goes out and I find out when I get to work.  There are a few of us who are always there before starting time and we always miss the call.  I'll do an update later on, once I find out the status.

I hope you have a good day today and don't have a full fledged blizzard in your location.

UPDATE - There is work and I'm here

UPDATE - UPDATE They sent us home early due to the blizzard being even worse.  I had to borrow a neighbor's shovel to chip the ice off the doorway and remove another 8 inches of snow to get my door open.   I know I'll shovel a few more times tonight to keep the area clear. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The 11 Most Dangerous Places on Earth.

Volcano, Silhouette People, Silhouette
That volcano is still erupting and causing flights here in Alaska to be canceled. I know it can be dangerous living by a volcano as evidenced by Pompeii but I wondered where are most dangerous places on earth are found.  One list I found listed places filled with murder, theft, and other crimes.

I admit I wasn't thinking about political unrest when I thought about dangerous, I was thinking more about places that were so beautiful that they were dangerous.  After a bit of searching, I found them.

1. Bardarbunga Volcano, Iceland. This volcano is the second largest of the 30 scattered throughout Iceland.  Its been currently active since August of 2014.  Aside from being very unpredictable, a volcano can emit poisonous gas.

2. Mount Everett, Nepal.  Since 1953, 250 people have died trying to climb to the top. Only about 100 to 200 people per year attempt the climb.  Its said that the view form the top is spectacular.

3. Danakil Desert, Ethiopia.  This place is extremely barren and covered with salty soil, not to mention temperatures that constantly hover around 120 degrees. It has a nick name, "The cruelest place on earth".  In addition, there are high crime rates in the areas around this desert.

4. Tatouine, Tunisia or Tatooine from the original Star Wars Films.  The Skywalker farm has attracted science fiction fans for years but there is some political unrest in in Libya, the country next door,  that has sparked rumors about ISIS in the region.

5. Death Road Bolivia.  This 11,000 foot road runs from the Andes down to the rain forest.  It is so treacherous that it has earned the name "Death road.  It is extremely steep with few if any barriers causing approximately 200 to 300 bicyclists and motorists to be killed each year.

6. The Eiger, Switzerland is one of the toughest climbs known to man. The north face is nicknamed "The murder wall" because of the number of lives it has claimed.

7. Honduras is a beautiful country but it has rampant malaria, poor medical care and their sanitation is lousy.  So if you go, ask for bottled water and no ice.

8. Gouffer Berger Cave, France is a set of ancient lime stone caves that are absolutely beautiful but dangerous.  Nicknamed "The Killer Cave", it is especially dangerous during heavy rains because the tunnels flood and can trap people.

9. Devil's Swimming Pool. Victoria Falls.  When the dry season hits the area, the levels of the water in falls deceases to the point that the rock lip at the edge fills with water and forms a swimming area just inches from a 100 meter drop.

10. Jacobs Well, Wimberly, TX.  This is a spring that forms a swimming hole and extends down for 10 feet or so.  Often cave divers enjoy going down and exploring the area but open water divers have problems and can end up dead. Local authorities discourage anyone from diving there.

11. Mount Huashan hiking trail, China.  This hiking trail is one of the most perilous in the world.  The trail has extremely narrow rock ledges or wooden boards attached together act as foot holds while there are metal chains attacked to the rock  for hand holds. There is a history of fatal falls but the view is absolutely breathtaking. 

I tried to find places of beauty that were deadly rather than going for places classified as dangerous due to crime or war.  The pictures that accompanied each location were so  breathtaking that I bet the same views in real life leave viewers speechless. 
Bárðarbunga Volcano, Iceland Read more at:
Bárðarbunga Volcano, Iceland Read more at:

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

They Shut Down!

Wing, Plane, Flying, Airplane, Sky  If you read this blog on a regular basis, you'll know I live in the huge state of Alaska.  It is bigger than Texas and California.  It is a state that has fewer roads than any other state.  The airplane is the workhorse that carries people, mail, and groceries to villages that dot the state.

Well this past Sunday, a volcano erupted down in the Aleutian chain, south of a tiny place called Cold Bay.  The volcano, Pavlof, spewed ash 20,000 feet into the air.  This cloud continued upward and outward blanketing the atmosphere.

I realize some of you are wondering what the big deal is about a volcanic eruption.  Unfortunately, due to the way the prevailing winds blew the ask, most of the routes in the state were effected and air travel closed down.  The biggest airline, Alaska Air, ended up canceling flights to the major cities of Barrow/Deadhourse, Bethel, Kotzebue, Nome, Fairbanks, and other hubs.

Many of the regional airlines also  shut down because of the ash, so not much flew in the state for 24 to 30 hours.  It can be dangerous to fly when there is volcanic ash floating in the air because the ash itself is used as an industrial abrasive.  If the ash gets into the engine, it can cause the engine to shut down.  Its like flying into a sand blaster.

According to my neighbor who was trying to fly out of town yesterday, nothing flew because of the ash.  I thought the flights were cancelled due to the nasty wind outside that blew enough snow across the landscape that one of my coworkers had to dig herself out.  Apparently, she opened the door to a wall of snow and needed to move some of it before she could escape her house.

Airlines are careful around volcanic eruptions due to the possibility of crashes.  Back in 1989, when Mt Redoubt blew, a KLM flight ended up with enough ash in the engine that it quit and the plane lost altitude before the pilots were able to start the engines again.

After living up here for many years, I don't mind when airlines err on the side of caution.  I'd rather get to my destination in one piece than not make it at all.  Yes, I do grouse about delays but I still am relieved they are cautious.  Have a great day.

Monday, March 28, 2016

My Inner Child

  There are times when I get tired of being an adult.  You know, of being the responsible one making sure certain things get done.  Worrying about paying the bills, cleaning up everything and trying to find time for me.

Boy, Child, Fun, Beach, Sea, ColorsSometimes, I just want to let my inner child lose.  That part that loves to go outside in shorts and t-shirt to play on the swings and swoop down the slide headfirst, doing a belly flop at the bottom.

There are times, I want to run through the sprinklers, letting the droplets fall on me and around me.  I want to walk through mud, letting the stuff just slide through my toes leaving me with that gooey shivery feel.

I'll let you in on a secret.  Sometimes I do let my inner child out.  Once in a while at work when no one is around, I'll skip down the halls just because I feel like it.  Sometimes, I'll take my shoes off and walk along the edge of the lake barefoot, just because I can.

I think being an adult can be overwhelming and causes way too much stress in our lives.  I know all the usual ways of beating stress but just once in a while I let my inner child out to play so I can be carefree and young.  I just love feeling as if I do not have anything to worry about.

Occasionally, in the mornings before work, I'll step out on the snow covered porch in my bare feet.  Yes, its cold. No, I can't be out there for very long.  I even hear my mother's voice telling me to come inside before my feet turn to blocks of ice and fall off.

I'm not sure I'll ever go down the side of a hill in a mud filled gully but I can stop to enjoy the blooming flowers.  I can pick those small wild flowers to take home and put on the dining room table, just like my mother did with flowers we brought home to her growing up.

Last night, I put on some music (ABBA) and just dances as if I didn't have a care in the world.  It was wonderful just dancing around and having fun. Did you know, its great exercise?

So take a moment to rediscover your inner child.  Take a minute to dunk your graham crackers in milk, blow the biggest bubbles you can so you scrape the gum off your nose, play boat with your celery, or just spread bubbles across the landscape as you have fun.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Little Known Uses of Duct Tape.

Tape, Sticky Tape, Sticky, Office, PaperI was reading the latest issue of Make Magazine and I found a cool list of little known uses of duct tape.  I was like wow because there are things on the list I didn't know about.  Not at all.

I have used it in the past for a fixing rips in baby mattresses (A cat clawed it) and for shortening dance pants so they'd stay up during a recital.  I also know its used on ducts so when I saw this list, I really was surprised.

Apparently, duct tape was created back in World War II when the military needed a waterproof, cloth based tape.  It was developed by a subsidiary of Johnson and Johnson. and used on ammo cases to keep them safer.  

It actually was suggested by a woman who worked with ammo boxes in a munitions factory and had two sons fighting in the war.  At that time, a paper tape was used to seal the boxes but it didn't always open right and that  created other problems.  She suggested using a cloth based waterproof tape but her bosses wouldn't implement the idea so she wrote the president.  He liked the idea and the rest is history. 

So its time to share the information, so we can all learn something new.

1.  It can be used to open a tightly sealed jar.

2. It can be twisted into a cord.

3. It can be used to make a splint, a butterfly bandage, or hold a gauze pad over a blister.

4. A length can be hung down from the ceiling to catch flies.

5. Tape around the bottom of pants so water doesn't seep up during wet time.

6. It can help prevent glass windows from shattering during a storm. (I wish I'd known about this one during the last cyclone I was in.)

7. It can be used to hide a small key on the underside of the car.

8.  Models can be created out of it.  Models such as X-wing fighters, etc.

9. It can be used to create a wallet.  Instructions on the internet. You can also make phone cases, bags, etc from this material

10. Create flowers out of duct tape.

There are lots of other uses and with just a search, you can find a multitude of uses.  Enjoy.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Celebrating Death

Little White Church, Chapel, Steeple Recently a young man passed away.  He was found in the snow after having gone missing for two days.  Out here when someone dies unexpectedly, their body is sent into Anchorage for the corner and then it goes to the funeral parlor before being shipped out here in the casket.  The only time, the body does not go in is if the person died of old age or cancer.

Traditionally, there is a three day period of mourning where the body is laid out in the living room.  People sit by the body 24 hours a day, visiting and at night they sing hymns all night long.  There are pictures and mementos of the person who passed. After three days, the funeral is held and the body buried.

This time it is being done differently.  She said that usually people set up a sanctuary of death and focus on the death, mourning the passing.  She didn't want that.  Instead, she decided to celebrate her son's life, not his death.  She put all his awards and certificates on the wall in his bedroom to show everything he accomplished in his 25 years.  She talked about him with joy and love. She said she wanted to be smile rather than be sad. At 10 PM, they send everyone home so they have more time with their son before he is given to the earth.

Tomorrow is the funeral.  It won't happen in either of the local churches because she belongs to a small group that meets at peoples houses.  She is going to have it at the tribal building which has room and when its over, they will have a potluck and a dance. I don't know if the potluck will be at the school or in the tribal building. 

It doesn't matter people will come together for the meal with all sorts of wonderful food and at the end, everyone will share in the dance to celebrate the young man's time on earth.  Then each year on the anniversary of his death for the first three years, his parents will have another dinner to remember him and celebrate his life.

Until I moved here, I'd not seen it done this way.  I grew up with the whole body goes to the funeral parlor, you pay your respects, attend a 20 min service and your done.  Or it might happen at the grave site with a short service.  Here the service is usually in the 1 to 3 hour range depending on whether its held at the Catholic church or the number of people who want to say a few words in remembrance.

In a sense, people out here still carry on funerals and mourning much like they did in the 19th century.  I don't think it will change because this is the way they work through their grief. 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

10 Little Known Facts and Uses of Listerine

Mouthwash, Antiseptic, Mouth, Clean  So many of us use mouthwash as part of our daily routine.  I do!  I live far enough out that I only get in to visit the dentist once a year so I use some to help keep down plaque build up. 

I wondered about it so went looking for the history of mouthwashes.  I discovered it has a very long history and is much older than I thought.

The history turns out to be quite fascinating.

1.  Back around 1 AD, Romans bought Portuguese urine to use a mouthwash.  In fact, so much urine was sold, the government started taxing it.

2. A few years later, they used turtle blood, goats milk, or wine a few times a year to keep their teeth clean.

3. By the mid 12th century, they were recommending plain cold water swished around the mouth to help.

4.  In the 16th century a mixture of mint and vinegar was proscribed to fight bad breath and germs.

5. Today's modern mouthwashes came about in the 19th century when they added alcohol to the mixtures to fight bad breath and vinegar.  It is during this time period that Listerine was developed.

6.  Currently Sodium hexametephosphate and hydrogen peroxide are the key ingredient in mouthwashes.

Now for the 10 little known facts and uses of  Listerine.

1.  Listerine was originally created as a a general germicide and surgical antiseptic. It was named after Joseph Lister who figured out how to kill germs.

2. In its distilled form, it was sold as a floor cleaner.

3. In the 1920's through the use of advertising, it became known for killing the germs that cause bad breath.

4. It supposedly gets rid of dandruff.

5. At one point Listerine produced its own brand of cigarettes and advertised that you "can smoke Listerine".

6. They claim to have inspired vaccines and that is true.  In 2008, scientists came up with a vaccine based on the breath strips.

7. Dab a bit on acne because it kills the bacteria that causes acne.

8. It can be used to eliminate fleas by adding it to pet shampoo or as a half water/half Listerine spray.

9. Use it as a deodorant.  Just put on a cotton ball and dab your arm pits.

10. Soak your toothbrush in Listerine for 20 minutes to sanitize it.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016


Sunset, Sun, Abendstimmung, Setting Sun  Its that time of the year again, when daylight stretches out to take over the darkness.  Although the length of the day is just over 12.5 hours, its the time between sunset and darkness  that is the hard part

The sun rises and its fairly light by 9AM but its really not dark till almost 10 PM.  As we get closer to May, that will occur later and later until there may not be total darkness.  That is one difference  when living in Alaska and it takes quite a while between actual sunset and total darkness.  In other places this in between time is much shorter. 

One time I was up on Moana Loa and it took only 15 min. between sunset and total dark but Hawaii is much closer to the equator than Alaska.  Up here its can be more like 1 to 2 hours.  So at this time of year, it is often difficult to get to sleep before midnight or one in the morning.  On the other hand, as it gets lighter, its hard to sleep the whole night.  My body often moves to doing more napping when I'm tired, rather than trying to sleep all night long.

On the other hand, when it doesn't get light till almost noon and its dark by 6 PM, its so easy to want to sleep from 8 PM to around 9 AM the next morning.  When I first moved to Alaska, I slept so many hours, you might have thought I was depressed but the reality is that it takes a while to adjust to the difference up here.  Now, I'm almost normal in the winter but I still prefer summer.

Image being out to have a coke with friends at 3 AM and its light enough outside to see everything.  Its cooler at that hour because sunset is around 1 AM and sunrise is 3:30 AM and prime time for mosquitoes to fly around.

I love summer.  I enjoy napping my way around the clock according to when I"m tired.  I love curling up in the sunlight like a kitten on a window. Although I do have black covering on my window, its still hard to sleep normally.   The best thing about summer in the part of the state I live in.  Don't be shocked to hear that it can get up in the 90's in Fairbanks while Barrow gets up to 60 on a really warm day!

Anyway, my body is confused about when it should be asleep and when it should be awake.  Its confused because the sun is shining while its still cold and icy outside.  Honestly, I'm not sure I'm ever clear on the time or season which is normal. 


Tuesday, March 22, 2016

15 uses for vinegar.

Vinegar Fermentation, Glass BottleI adore vinegar. I buy it by the caseload because it can be used in so many ways and is so cheap.  I use the white vinegar, not the cider because it seems to work better for what I do.

I'm not talking about  using it in salad or cooking, I'm talking about using it around the house.  It is one of the most versatile liquids out there.

I always add some to my laundry because it helps keep the clothing from bleeding color, it makes them smell fresher and the best thing of all!  It eliminates cat pee odor!  My daughter had a cat a few years ago who loved to mark everything with his pee.  I soon learned the vinegar did the best job of eliminating the stench.

I use it with hot water to remove scaling from my electric kettle.  It also removes the smell from any containers.  I pour some in the toilet to get rid of the rings that develop at the top of the water level.  I've poured some on paper towels on my counter to get rid of stains. In addition, I've used a vinegar/water mixture to clean my windows.  It cuts dirt beautifully.

Now for some other uses based on information from other people.
1. Removes ball point pen marks from the wall.  Use a full strength solution and dab it on until the marks are gone.

2. Use it to clean your scissors when they are gummy. Dip a cloth in full strength vinegar, rub the blades, then dry off. Do not use water as it can cause the scissors to rust. 

3. Clean window blinds by wearing white gloves whose tips are dipped in vinegar.  The vinegar helps cut the grease and dirt off the blinds. Dip the glove fingers in water occasionally to clean the dirt off.

4. If you mix equal parts of olive oil and vinegar, you can use it to remove the rings left by damp glasses off of wooden furniture.  Use a soft cloth dipped in the mixture, rub it with the grain, then polish with a second cloth.

5.  To remove stains from the carpet, prepare a mixture of 2 tablespoon salt dissolved in 1/2 cup vinegar.  Lightly rub the stains with the mixture, allow to dry, and vacuum.  If the stains are darker, add 2 tablespoons borax to the mixture, allow to dry, then vacuum.  For really tough stains, mix 1 tablespoon with 1 cornstarch to make a paste, apply it to the stains, let dry and vacuum 2 days later.

6. To clean brickwork mix 1 cup vinegar with 1 gallon of water.  Use a damp cloth to wipe the brickwork with the solution.  It cleans things up beautifully.

7. To make your wood paneling look great, mix 1 pint warm water, 4 tablespoons white or apple cider vinegar, and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a container.  Apply with a clean cloth, allow to soak in, then wipe off.  Finish by polishing with a dry cloth.

8.  Use vinegar to help unclog and deoderise Pour 1/2 cup baking soda down a drain, then pour 1 cup of vinegar to the baking soda in the drain. It is going to fizz and bubble.  When the foaming stops, turn on the hot water to flush the drain, wait 5 minutes before flushing with cold water.

9. Shine your silver by soaking them in a mix of 1/2 cup vinegar mixed with 2 tablespoons of baking soda for 2 to 3 hours.  Rinse and dry with a cloth.

10. To get rid of bugs from your pantry mix 1 1/2 cup vinegar with a couple drops of dish washing detergent.  Pour in a bowl and leave in the pantry for a week.  This mixture attracts bugs so after a week, throw out the mixture, clean the shelving and get rid of wheat products.

11. Clean your windshield wipers by wiping them down with full strength vinegar.

12. To keep your windows frost free in winter, spray the outside of the window with a mixture of 3 parts white vinegar to 1 part water.  This can last several weeks so reapply every couple of weeks.

13. Use white vinegar to remove mildew stains.  Use full strength if the stains are heavy, or mixed half and half with water if the stains are light.

14. Remove sweat rings from the collar or under arms by mixing 2 parts vinegar with 3 parts baking soda into a paste, apply to the affected area, let sit for 30 minutes before washing.

15. Get rid of ants from your yard by spraying a mixture of equal parts of water and vinegar on and around the hills.  Ants hate the smell and will move on.

I admit, I learned several new ways to use vinegar.  I can hardly wait to try.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Roasted Vegetables

Roasted Vegetables, Roasted, Vegetables  I just started roasting vegetables rather than boiling, or frying them.  I keep seeing articles on how great it is to roast them because it helps the sweetness of the vegetables come out and the flavor over all is more intense. 

I tried it the other night with broccoli stems, sweet potatoes, potatoes, and beets.  I cut the veggies up into quarters, placed them on my flat cast iron skillet, drizzled some avocado oil on top, threw on some Italian herbs and baked.

While the veggies were cooking, I caught up on some reading but the great smell teased me and my stomach started begging for dinner before they were ready.  As soon as they were soft, I pulled them out and served.

Ohhh my, talk about heaven.  The beets were the same deep red they'd been before they started instead of losing color due to being boiled.  They were sweet, juicy and just right. I've decided I much prefer them roasted over boiled.

The sweet potatoes just melted in my mouth.  I cooked those dark red skinned ones with the white flesh.  They came out soooo wonderfully that I didn't need anything extra added to them.  I didn't even need butter.

Of course the potatoes had that almost cooked outdoors flavor to them. They tasted like they'd been cooked in a pit but without the burned crusty outside.  I loved the taste.  Yum.  On the other hand, broccoli stems ended up too tough.  I might have cooked them too long or they just aren't good to roast.

Last night, I cooked more beets, sweet potatoes, potatoes and tried carrots this time. The carrots were so sweet and delicious with just a hint of the outdoors.  I've been wanting to try roasted eggplant but I haven't managed it.  Maybe tonight I'll throw some  eggplant in with other veggies in the oven to roast.  I think I have a recipe for something Indian that uses roasted eggplant and sounded so delicious.

Try it sometime.  Veggies that are cut up, sprinkled with oil and baked at around 400 to 425 degrees.  Have fun.

I know that greens, stems and such do not roast as well and end up dried out. 

Sunday, March 20, 2016

I Really Hate When:

Winter, Snow, White, Cold, Sky, Tree  This morning when the sun finally rose, one could see the world brilliantly bathed in sunlight. The snow glistened.  The houses across the lake were in sharp relief against the brilliant blue sky.  The world beckoned me to go out and be a part of its beauty.

I could see beyond the airport and the mountains to the right of it were clear against the sky.  Even the frozen lake in front of my place looked sharper than usual.  So after a nice quick breakfast, I decided to head out for a walk to enjoy the beauty of a spring day.

Wrong!  It was all an illusion created to lull me and jump on my bones.  There was a bitterly cold wind blowing outside that forced its way up the small open parts of my sleeves, cutting the bit of exposed skin between my gloves and the sleeves.  It found the small openings around my neck, pushing its way down my body so I felt the cold inside my coat.  Even my scarf offered little protection against the wind's forceful onslaught.

My decision to take a nice long walk outside to enjoy the day by taking the long way to work, shifted quickly to going straight there as fast as I could manage it.  By the time I got to work, I felt like a half frozen Popsicle in need of  thawing.  A nice hot cup of tea did wonders for warming my hands up and helping me thaw out.

A line from a song floated through my mind as I pushed my way through the chilly wind - "A cold wind she blows."  Its the time of year where winter refuses to release its hold to spring.  The two seasons are at war, fighting for supremacy.  Some days, the temperature is warm but we have a nasty snow storm.  Other times,  the blue sky and clear landscape beckon us out only to discover the winter is blowing its chilly fingers across the place reminding up it will be a while before it leaves.

We have another month before things will finally warm up enough to take long walks without turning into icesicles.  Another month, before the world starts melting and letting the first green to appear.  Another month, before we see the brown dead grass of the fall.

Yes I look forward to it.  My mother will be writing to tell me about the flowers beginning to bloom in her yard and I'll look out the window at the ice covered landscape wishing for the same thing.  This time of year can often be harder than the rest of the year due to our yearnings.  In the meantime, I'll pop a gardening DVD on the tele to enjoy my own early spring.

Saturday, March 19, 2016


Pick And Mix, Children'S Sweets, Candy I bet you've been involved in fund raising for your kids schools, for the public television or radio station, for the girl scouts, for your church or for your favorite charity. 

Most fund raising involves either selling something like candy, or giving gifts for contributions such as a cup with the character in your show that you love, or perhaps even a trip you outbid everyone on?

Where I live the fundraising opportunities are limited.  There are really only two choices out here.  First is selling food like cake, jello cups, soda, cookies, or other sweet.  The second is organizing a basketball tournament so people band together to form teams and the teams play beginning around 10 AM and go till one or two in the morning.  Long days but they usually clear several thousand dollars.

Our local radio station hosted a basketball tournament over at the school.  I popped over just in time to have a friend collar me to help run the score board for her game.  Her first and only instructions were "Give all the points to my team!" Geez. I've only ever done the scoreboard for wresting or elementary basketball where you don't have to worry about keeping track of the fouls, the time the ball is not in play, or anything else!

In elementary basketball, they use a running clock so I don't have to worry about stopping the time when the ball runs out of bounds.  I don't have to keep track of fouls as I had to for these games.  I was able to escape from the job at half time but I stuck around to watch the game. 

My friend's team got trounced, run over, whipped, or lost big time.  By the end of the first half her team was losing 41 to 8.  By the end of the game, it was something like 89 to 8.  In the last couple minutes of the game, the other team even passed the ball to them in the hopes her team would make a few extra points but no such luck. 

Most of the people on her team didn't practice or play regularly.  The other team came from the next village and did play regularly.  My friend used to play football in high school.  She said she had to remind herself not to block or tackle them during the game.

I'm off to do more work but I just got informed I need to be around at 1 PM for a possible elementary game.  There went my afternoon nap.  Darn!

Friday, March 18, 2016

10 Ways to Keep From Getting Sick.

Germ, Virus, Bug, Infection, Health  Ok. Its been one of those weeks at work where a good third of the folks are either off on business trips or are sick with a flu bug that struck hard.  Another third are at work fighting the bug with Asprin, Cold meds, and lots and lots of liquids.  I'm in the third of taking meds so I can stay at work.

Even finding temps for the day to help out is bad because the bug is hitting them as much as it is everyone at work.  I am glad tomorrow is Saturday so I can go home tonight and sleep late.

I had heard that if you ate right, exercised regularly, and took good care of yourself, you would be sick less often.  I wondered about that so I checked out ways to keep you from getting sick and you'd be surprised what is on the list.

1. Taking the Flu shot is recommended.  I"ll be honest, the only two times I've gotten the flu shot as an adult, I promptly got a nasty case of the flu so I do not take it.

2. Wash your hands regularly - Either wash regularly with soap and water to get the germs off your hands or use a hand sanitizer to kill germs.

3. Clean your desk or workstation with antibacterial wipes - I read that if someone comes in with the flu or a cold, the germs spread through the workplace within 4 hours.  So use the wipes to keep your area clean of germs.

4. Use a humidifier or saline nasal spray - In winter, your nasal cavities dry out and cannot do a good job of protecting you from germs.  So its recommended to add moisture through a humidifier or nasal spray to keep the lining of your nose moist. If you don't have a humidifier handy drink hot tea with lemon and honey - the steam helps the nose do its job, the lemon thins the mucus and the honey is anti-bacterial.

5. Exercise - Just plain old exercise can help your boost your immunity. The exercise causes the white blood cells to move around so their protection covers your whole body better and are able to attack infection.  I didn't realize this but have made the choice to try to exercise even when I'm sick. Instead of aerobics, I might switch to a very low impact choice.

6. Get lots of sleep. - It helps you overcome the bug faster even if you get it.

7. Avoid shaking hands or clean them immediately after wards. - shaking hands is the best way flu germs.

8. Do not touch your eyes or nose and do not put your fingers in your mouth. - Our hands are always picking up germs so we don't want to spread them to ourselves or others.

9.  Do not drink alcohol.

10.  Do not smoke.

It turns out I am already doing much of this including drinking hot tea with lemon.  It may be why I don't get the flu badly.  I hope everyone here is not fighting the flu.  Have a good day.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

St Patricks Day and Traditions

Leaf, Clover, Saint, Patrick, Irish Happy St. Patrick's Day to everyone.  Have you noticed that its a day celebrated by anyone who believes they have a drop of blood or want to be Irish. Have you every wondered about the tons of traditions we associate with the day come from?

 I know there is one you've participated in.  The one where you pinched someone who wasn't wearing green only to find out they had green socks. It turns out that no one is sure where that one came from.  I saw lots of suggestions including that it originated on playgrounds but I couldn't find anything more than that.

I did find out more on other traditions we have on Saint Patrick's Day.  So in no particular order, here goes.

1.  The Shamrock - is reputed to have been used by him to explain the holy trinity to the Irish.  There is no evidence Patrick ever said this.  It made its appearance in the 1700's as part of the traditions.  People wore shamrocks on their coats and finished the day by placing it in a glass of whiskey before drinking it.

2. Corned beef and cabbage turns out to be American, not Irish. It dates back to the  19th century,  when  poor Irish immigrants craved boiled bacon but they had to settle on corned beef because it was the most affordable meat.  In addition, cabbage was a cheap springtime vegetable so the two became THE meal traditionally associated with Ireland.

3. The color blue was the original color associated with the saint but that changed after Ireland adopted the color green due to being called the Emerald Isle.  The wearing of the green came about in the 19th century as a way of showing the solidarity of the Irish in America.

4.  Between 1903 and 1970, St. Patrick's day was considered a holy holiday so all pubs were closed in Ireland making it illegal to sell alcohol.  I know that Guinness is the beer of St. Patrick's day but I was unable to find out why.  So I assume it had to do with advertising.

5. The most interesting fact about St. Patrick's day as we know it, is that it started in American, not in Ireland.  The first celebration was organized in Boston by the Charitable Irish Society of Boston back in 1732.  It included a feast and a religious service.  The first parade in honor of St. Patrick was held in 1762 when a group of Irish soldiers marched down Broadway in New York City. By the mid 19th century, parades were common through out the US.  Celebrating St Patrick's day moved back to Ireland when it was discovered it could increase their spring tourism count.

6.  There are more people of Irish decent living in American than there are in Ireland, mostly due to the potato famine between 1840 and 1860.

7.  Chicago dyes its rivers green as a way of celebrating this well known holiday.  In addition, many bars serve green beer as their contribution to the day.

No matter how you celebrate it, enjoy yourselves and be safe.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Saint Patrick

Ireland, Irish, Seascape, Headland  Here we are, coming up on Saint Patrick's day, a day with filled with celebrations and traditions  but have you ever wondered who he was?

Did you know that he was not Irish? He was born in Britain to parents who may have been Roman.  His parents were of the upper class. At the age of 14, he was captured by Irish pirates who took him back to Ireland as a slave.  He spent the next six years watching sheep.

It was during this time, he turned to God and became a believer.  When he was twenty, he followed a dream and escaped back to England where he was reunited with his family.  After a few years, he had another dream that caused him to study to become a priest.

At this point, he went back to Ireland to share Christianity per the directive of a local Bishop, not the Pope. Over a 40 year period, he converted many of the Irish to Christianity.  There are some claims made about him that may or may not be true.

1.  He drove the snakes out of Ireland.  This is probably not true because Ireland is one of the few places where snakes were not found originally.  Ireland has always been an island surrounded by water so there was no way for snakes to make their way there.  It is thought that this refers to driving the Druids out and helping Christianity become the dominant religion.

2.  He brought Christianity to Ireland.  Missionaries had already gone over to convert people.
There is speculation that Saint Patrick was actually is an amalgamation of two people.

3. He used the shamrock to explain the trinity of God to the Irish because they could not understand it.  There is no real evidence to prove he actually did this.

There are many other acts attributed to him but does it really matter?  His story is awesome and he has been granted sainthood.  He is part of our current life and we celebrate him.  I hope everyone has a great day.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Are You Kidding?

City, Taxi, Public, Transport, Inside  There was a show on, years ago, about how stupid criminals could be.  I wondered if people really are that stupid and I've come to the conclusion they can be.

I recently read of two different people who tried to rob taxi cabs.  In the first case, a man in Pennsylvania pulled out a gun to rob the driver of the taxi he was in.

  The only problem was he'd chosen to do it at a stop light, so when the light turned green and the cab did not move, the deputy sheriff in the next vehicle back investigated.  When the robber realized the deputy was checking in on things, he tried to run but didn't get far and found himself arrested and in jail charged with robbery.

A woman in Denver Colorado decided to steal a taxi from the driver.  She flagged down a cab, told him she wanted to head to a specific convenience store, pulled a knife, pushed the driver out, then took off with the cab.  The driver called in the robbery and the police caught up with her at the previously mentioned store, after she'd ditched the cab.  She was arrested on charges of robbery and taken off to jail.

I got the next story from a friend who worked law enforcement.  One day a man walked into the station and wanted to know if he had any outstanding warrants in the system.  Turns out he had a couple but he just nodded at the information, turned and started out of the building.  They stopped him and arrested him.  He really couldn't understand why they would do that.  He was so sweet in helping them by showing up and identifying himself.

I love the one in which robber went into a convenience store to rob it.  He remembered to hide his face by wearing a paper sack but he forgot to put eye holes in it and almost hurt himself because he kept running into shelving.  He didn't see the clerk call the police....LOL.

The final one concerns the drunken woman in Chicago who was driving her car around with a 15 foot tree stuck to the front grill.  Apparently the vehicle hit the tree earlier on causing the airbags to be deployed but the driver was not hurt and continued to drive the car until the police officer stopped her.

If you are wondering about the tree, it managed to wedge itself in the front grill so it was almost completely upright and other than being ripped out by its roots, it was pretty much intact.  I think the car looked more worse for wear than the tree.

As long as their are stupid criminals out there, officers will have an easy time arresting the perpetrators. 

Monday, March 14, 2016

Happy Pi Day

Pi, Symbol, Icon, Form, Tile  Today is  Pi day and celebrated by mathematicians all over the world.  March 14 represents the first three digits of Pi.  Some people believe the best moment is March 14th at 3 PM because it the first five digits of Pi or 3.1415.

The fun thing about Pi day is that even Pizza Hut is participating in the celebration.  They opened up a website with three mathematical questions to answer earlier this morning at 8 AM ET and it closes at midnight.  The questions range in difficulty from high school to PhD.  If you win, you will get free pizza for just more than 3.14 years.

If you live in San Francisco, you can participate in a  Pi day celebration called the Mission Pie Crawl where you'll visit 6 different establishments to enjoy both sweet and savory pies before ending at the Pi Bar where it is Pi every day.

Finally, a recommended list of 10 pies to celebrate Pi day.

1. The multi-digit pie which houses the first several digits of Pi.  Make a flat square pie base with a berry covering and draw the digits in it.  Remember - Area is Pi r^2 ( Pie are squared).

2. Apple pie whose filling is made of digits cut out of the pieces of apples.

3. Mini apple pies - small tarts with the pi symbol place on the top made out of slices of apple.

4. The Pi pie - an enclosed pie filled with chocolate and peanut butter shaped like the pie symbol.

5. An open Pi pie - a crust shaped like the Pi symbol, filled with any fruit filling and topped with a lattice decorated with more numbers.

6. Fried Pi pie - again in the shape of Pi and filled with what ever flavor is desired, then fried.

7. Book apple pie - shaped like a math book with the first several digits carved into the crust so you see the apple filling inside.

8. Mini pies each with one digit put together in a rectangle to show the first 100 digits of Pi, with a hidden Pi symbol made of a different filling in the middle.

9. Cookie Pi  crust - a Pi symbol made out of left over pie crust and seasoned with something like Cinnamon sugar.

10.  Pizza Pie with a pepperoni Pi symbol.

No matter how you celebrate it, enjoy the day and remember its also Albert Einstein's birthday.

Sunday, March 13, 2016


Its that time of year again, where the days get longer, the sun shines brightly and my body thinks its spring.  Today after a nice long week that left me tired enough to want to sleep for a long time, I got home after keeping score and running the time clock for two elementary basketball games.

Sunbathing, Rest, Relaxation, RelaxIt was the type of day, I wanted to sit out on the front porch in my shorts and t-shirt with a nice tropical fruit drink in my hand, a hat with a huge brim to protect me while I read a book. I was ready to enjoy the sun.  BUT there is still a ton of snow on the ground and I don't think the temperature was much over 20 or possibly 30 degrees F.

On the walk home, I felt like I needed to make my desires a reality so desperation took over and I got creative.

As soon as I got home, I sorted through my tea stash for something tropical with pineapple, mango, orange, or cherry so I could make a cold drink.  10 minutes later, I had my drink ready to go.   I rearranged the living room enough so I could get my lazy boy stationed in front of the picture window and raised the blinds.  I changed into a pair of shorts and tank top, grabbed my hat, my e-reader and lay down to enjoy the sun on my body while staying warm.

In the background, I put on some softly playing Polynesian music.  The type of music you automatically associate with warm climates in the south Pacific.  It provided the last part of the illusion with the tropical drink, and the sun, so I could pretend I was somewhere tropical, away from the snow that will be around for another 6 weeks.

It worked. I enjoyed myself so much, I fell asleep with the sunlight streaming in through the window.  The sun isn't quite strong enough to burn yet but I took the precaution of having the hat on and a colorful sarong draped over my body so I wouldn't burn.  I loved it.

I needed the mental escape to help relieve my stress and get through the time of year where the sunlight beckons us with the promise of warmth but reality is showing us its still too cold to be outside without coats and boots.  When winter lasts from October to April, it gets tiring and can be a bit too long so we find ways of coping.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Generaltional Knitting

Needlework, Yarn, Knitting, ColorI come from a family of knitters.  I am the one who usually breaks down and uses language that is more colorful than the strands of yarn I use.  I've learned to keep the language in my head otherwise I am on the receiving end of glares reminding me I shouldn't swear.

My grandmother was a knitter who could knit any garment so it looked professional. She did it while sitting in the doctor's office,  while watching television, while sitting in line at the drive up of anything.  She was a prolific and fast knitter.

My mother on the other hand is a sporadic knitter. I remember this beautiful partially completed baby sweater she had in her knitting basket when I was young. I asked her about it because she never did anything with it but it sat in her basket for years.

One day I asked her about it.  She started it when she was expecting me but didn't get it finished in time, so it was going to be for my sister.  She didn't get it finished for her and planned to finish it for my other siblings.  Needless to say, she never finished it for any of us.  So it was going to be for the first grandchild.  Well 8 grand kids later, it wasn't finished.  I think she finally gave up on it because it disappeard.

There was a time, my mother knitted socks for dad.  We lived overseas in a place where women were supposed to knit socks for their men.  So my mother joined in until we moved.  I think her spurts of knitting often coincided with finding her supplies because we moved so often.

A few years ago, she took up knitting again but she chose fairly simple things such as scarves, mittens, and her all time favorite - dish clothes.  She makes everyone dish clothes so they have more than enough.  She's gotten to an age where she is naturally slowing down.

I knit but I'm what I call an occasional knitter.  I have to schedule knitting in over the weekends, evenings, or when I have time.  I'm not a public knitter because I'm afraid someone will look at me and tell me I'm doing it the wrong way.  I started learning but my mother told me I knitted back to front and I gave up for a while.  I finally hit a point in life, I wanted to knit so I could make some cool things.

I love this informational age.  I've got DVD's on basic knitting, fancy knitting, doing cables, and all sorts of other facets of knitting.  I even went so far as to download those books on weekend projects, one skein projects, 365 projects, etc.  Well the last weekend project I started, took me about 5 months to finish (cringe).  I finally finished two pair of socks that took me almost a year to knit.  Right now, I'm knitting a beautiful pair of pink socks and a set of golden yellow mittens which might be done for next winter (I'm hoping).

I finally broke down and started a book of what do I need to do each day.  Kind of like a journal and if I schedule in knitting, I can sneak in 10 or 15 min of knitting in front of the television where I have a movie playing.  One I don't care if I loose track of the plot line.  I wouldn't say I've reached a stage where knitting is relaxing but it is getting easier.

Don't forget to change your clocks one hour forward tonight if you live in the United States.

Friday, March 11, 2016

The Martian

Alien, Invasion, Fiction, FuturisticI saw the poster for a movie called "The Martian".  It surprised me with the title and the face of an astronaut.  I thought it might be one of those horror type science fiction where something came up out of the dust of mars.  

Do you remember watching shows about martians growing up? I think we all did.  There were a few shows on that I saw in reruns or on Saturday morning cartoons.  I don't even remember when I saw them the first time but they had a lasting impression.

One of the first series I remember seeing in reruns was a crazy one called "My Favorite Martian"  I have no idea who starred in it but I do remember the older guy's antenna would grow out of his head when he wanted to disappear or at the wrong moment.  I think a Martian crashed on the planet and was found by the human who tried to help him survive on Earth.  It was a comedy and I think it starred the guy who played the original Hulk.

The second Martian appeared on the Bugs Bunny Show.  Marvin the Martian who kept trying to invade earth, ran into Bugs Bunny, and fought a losing battle. In all the time I watched the Roman looking Martian, he always lost.

So when I saw the movie poster for "The Martian"  I had no idea what it was about until I got to watch it on a trip.  It was totally different than I could have predicted.  Imagine, actually having a character who thought things out, acted upon those thoughts, and set up a sustainable system to help him survive until he could be rescued.

Did you know the technology he used could be used if we decided to settle on on planets or other space bodies.   There is research going on in the Netherlands to see if some of the earth plants can be grown in a colony on Mars.  NASA created a soil similar to that found on Mars using materials from Hawaii and Arizona.  Then adding in human poop for nutrients and such, they planted several crops that might be taken with the first settlers.

These scientists planted tomato, rye, radish, pea, leek, spinach, garden rocket, cress, quinoa, and chives, The results were quite interesting.  The yield from the Mars ended up being slightly less than those grown on the Earth.   The problem is that the soil on Mars is filled with heavy metals which can end up in the plants which means if humans eat the plants, the heavy metals could end up in their bodies.

Its interesting to find out the science in this movie is possible. 

Enjoy watching it yourself and remember Marvin the Martian and My Favorite Martian as you see this movie......LOL

Thursday, March 10, 2016

The Top 10 Craziest Sandwiches

Sandwich, Bread, Food, Tomato, Fresh  When I was a child, I went through a phase where I only wanted a peanut butter, marshmallow creme, coconut, and peanut sandwich.  I didn't want just a plain PB&J, I wanted this ooey, gooey, sandwich whose flavors melted together to make me feel special.  I admit, it only lasted a short time but still, I had something no one else had.

We all know about PB & pickles or PB & sliced bananas but what are the unusual sandwiches found world wide?  I found some really interesting ones which might make you cringe as much as me?  On to the list that is in no particular order.

1. The Luther Burger which is technically a sandwich due to the bread and meats.  It has the usual meat, bacon, etc but what sets it apart is the doughnut used instead of bread so it has a mixture of sweet and savory flavors.

2. The Lasandwich - a lovely sandwich with lasagna fillings.  So instead of layering the meat, cheese, etc with pasta, they took the meat filling and cheese and put it between two pieces of bread.

3. The McDonald Sandwich - its not made by the fast food restaurant.  Its a creation of a chef and filled with wagyu beef, fois de gras, black truffle mayonnaise, brie cheese, and a few other things.  What makes this gourmet sandwich stand out is the $100 price tag associated with it.

4. The Double Down, a creation from Kentucky Fried Chicken that replaces the bread with two fried  chicken fillets but still has the cheese, sauce, and bacon.

5.The Big Sandwich with pepperoni, bacon, sausage, burgers, potato chips, chicken nuggets and so much more that its got way more calories and sodium than most people need in a day.

6. The Tastykake Sandwich a sweet and savory concoction with chocolate covered, peanut butter flavored sponge cakes surrounding a cheese burger. Not my idea of a sandwich.

7. The Melo - filled with pepperoni, salami, and bacon.  The meat lovers special and about 1.5 inches thick of nothing but meat.

8. The Canwich - the sandwich in a can.  You pop the lid, slide it out, and eat.  No refrigeration needed with a nice long shelf life.  Perfect for the person who is stocking food away for an emergency.

9. The Rubic's Cubewich - A sandwich made in the shape of Rubic's cube with cubes of cold meats and cheese between two thin layers of bread.  I don't think you can solve it but it looks interesting.

10. The Fried Brain Sandwich - contains a wonderful filling of fried brains.

I think I'll stick with my usual fare for my sandwiches and leave these to other people.  I hope you found this list as interesting as I did.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Sandwiches, Sandwiches, and More Sandwiches.

Sandwich, Bread, Food, Tomato, Fresh  Did you ever see or read the comic strip called Blondie?  Her husband loved his sandwiches.  He made one that was piled high with layers of cheese, meat, and vegetables, that it must have been a foot tall.  To this day I don't know how he got that thing in his mouth.

Point of fact, since 1951 various people have worked on establishing sandwich shops featuring the Dagwood sandwich named after the character in Blondie.  There appears to be a chain of shops in Kentucky, Georgia, Indiana and Missouri called the Dagwood Sandwich Shoppes which serve a 1.5 pound Dagwood.

Hands, Cards, Magic, Magician, AttentionBut all this begs the question "Where did the sandwich come from?"  It turns out that the sandwich has been around since 1762 when it was thrown together at the request of the 4th Earl of Sandwich who wanted roasted meat thrown between two slices of bread.

The most popular myth is that he'd been gambling for 24 hours and did not want to leave the game so he requested two slices of bread with a piece of meat in between.  It allowed him to continue playing while eating with one hand.   The other myth is that by having a sandwich brought in, the Earl could get more work done in his office.  I don't know which story is correct.

Unfortunately, there is no evidence of who actually made the first sandwich, nor when it made it to the colonies.  The first real American recipes on sandwiches did not appear until the late 1820's.  Apparently the British liked their sandwiches with roast beef while the Americans preferred ham.

Over time, sandwiches became the standard fare for late dinners, teas, picnics, taverns and inns where cold leftovers could easily be used.  In the early days of the railroad, sandwiches could be made ahead and sold to passengers who stepped off the trains to buy snacks.  One of the original fast foods. During the temperance movement, drinking establishments offered free sandwiches with drinks to attract customers.

Some of the early recipes for sandwiches sound strange to our modern ears.

Oyster Sandwich recipe from 1824 advises the cook to cut off the top of a round  loaf and scrape out the crumbs.  Add the crumbs, oysters, water and butter together, cook for 10 to 15 minutes, add a bit of cream and put back in the loaf, pop the top back on and bake till crisp.

A sandwich recipe from 1844 advises the cook to butter the slices of biscuits, and place a thin slice of tongue, ham or white meat between every two slices of biscuits.

Another recipe from 1866 suggests one use regular bread sliced and filled with a thin slice of cheese, or sliced eggs, or jam, or any cold sliced meat.  Each of this is a suggested sandwich but it is not suggested any are put together.

In 1869, they recommend making a dressing from butter, mustard, oil, egg yolk, salt and pepper to add to the sandwich filling.

The sandwich has continued evolving so you can buy it at a sandwich shop, the gas station, have it with fancy bread, fillings of meat, cheese, or vegetable creations.  I doubt the Earl of Sandwich would recognize today's creations but I'm sure he'd enjoy them.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Is it Exotic?

Blossom, Bloom, Passion Flower, BloomJust what is exotic?  Do you know?  I do or thought I did but after thinking about it for a while, I realized that what is exotic to one person may not be the same for another person.  I checked the dictionary and came up with three definitions.
a.  From a foreign country. 
b. Introduced from abroad but not fully acclimatized.  Not native.
c. Strikingly unusual or strange in effect or appearance.

Nikon Lens, 2014, April, Asia, ColorfulLet's look at some of these exotics.  To me when we talk about being exotic as in the first definition, I might be talking about someone from Japan who has chosen to wear the traditional garb for a parade.  On the other hand, it might refer to an animal found in the zoo such as a tiger or a lion or a baboon.  Most of us who live in the US never see these animals outside of the zoo.
Isolated, Animal, Leopard, Cat, Wild

I love visiting the zoo because its filled with all sorts of exotic animals, I'd never see otherwise.  So if you visit a zoo in a place where there are elephants that run loose, would you find any in the local zoo?  Or might you find something like a seal that might not be found locally?

Zoos are the epitome of exotic because they are filled with animals and sometimes plants you see nowhere else.

Ginger Flower, Blossom, Bloom, PlantThe second definition is that it is not native but introduced from abroad and is not fully acclimatized.  We see this when plants from one location are transported to another location and just exploded growth wise.  There is a story about the Volcano National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii.  Apparently the wife of the park superintendent was visiting Nepal years go and found this beautiful ginger plant and took it back to the park.  She planted it and it turned out to be an extremely invasive plant.  Today, the park is fighting to eradicate the enemy and are barely able to keep it in check.  

Another plant is the Kudzu vine also known as the "Vine that ate the south".  It was imported and used to help curb soil erosion but has taken over much of the south because its extremely invasive nature.  Apparently, in its original location, it dies back due to cold but in the south, its too warm to freeze back so it keeps growing.  

Floating Market, Bangkok, ThailandWoman, Indians, Face, Portrait, HeadFinally  is the third definition of exotic where something is strikingly unusual or strange in appearance or effort.  We often refer to people when using the third definition.  They often meet our definition of exotic.  What about the floating marketplace in Thailand where vendors have their wares in boats?

Fruits, Boats, Cooking, Food, TravelI think exotic is often used to describe people, places, or things that are out of our normal sphere.  For me many of the fruits I grew up eating are considered exotic by others.  I grew up on mangoes, papaya, lychee, rambutans, guavas, star fruit, passion fruit, and all sorts of other things that are exotic to many people.  

Bamboo, Forest, Nature, Green, Plant
I've seen bamboo forests in several different places but not like the one I saw in Blaine, WA.   Someone planted bamboo a long time ago but its pretty much taken over the property and started invading the neighbors.  The owners have cut enough of a pathway to get their cars in the yard and they are able to get into the house but the bamboo is so thick, I don't think they get sunshine into the house.

So this begs the question, "When is something no longer  exotic?"  All I know is that what is exotic to me, may not be exotic to someone who grew up on it.  What do you think about this topic?  Please feel free to leave your opinion.

Monday, March 7, 2016

11 Place You Can't Visit.

Wall Safe, Digital Safe, Secure
Did you know there are places on this planet that you cannot visit?  Period!  No Way!  They exist but they are not always a city or country, or state.  They are famous locations that are kept secret for various reasons.

1.  The Coca-Cola Vault - Yep the place that houses the secret recipe for the famous drink.  You can pay to look at the outside of the vault but you cannot venture inside it at all.

2.  Disney Club 33 which is a very private, very exclusive club at Disneyland that is not open to the public.

3.  The Chapel of the Ark of the Covenant - Ethiopia.  Many people believe this is the final resting place of the Ark of the Covenant that holds the original 10 commandments.

4. The Google Data Center which has trillions of bytes of data stored in a secure location.

5. Jiangsu National Security Education Museum in China which allows only Chinese citizens to visit because there are secret and classified documents on display there.

6. Lascaux Caves - France.  This is the place of all the famous drawings from the Paleolithic age.  These drawings are over 17,000 years old.

7. Bank of England Vaults in London, England. These vaults house gold and is the second oldest central space in the world.

8. RAF Minworth is a communications complex that provides data for the UK and US.  It is located in Harrogate, North Yorkshire.

9. Pine Gap, Australia is a monitoring facility run by both the Australian Government and the CIA.

10. Snake Island Brazil is uninhabited except for a healthy population of deadly snakes.

11.  Vatican Secret Archives which is filled with historical church documents that are technically owned by the Pope.

I did not include those places like Area 51, the Moscow underground, and the North Korea 39 because they are the things that legends are made of and I'm not sure they are real.  Just think, these exist but do not allow visitors because they each want to protect something.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

What If?

Star Trek, Starship, Enterprise, Space  Every so often, I think about how neat it would be to have something I see in the movies that might make life easier.  Today is one of those days.

I woke up to a blizzard blowing snow across the landscape so I could not see much.  I saw the building where I worked so I popped over for a short time but wished I had a way to pop there and back without getting wet and cold.

When I got home, I watched the latest Star Trek video and voila, the way appeared.  What if we had transporters in real life so we could live anywhere we wanted and just transported to our job every day.  If we needed to meet with a client, you could cross the world in a split second, meet, and head home to sleep in your own bed.

Transporter pads could be placed around like transit centers located in towns.  You pop over there, pay for the trip, get zapped to your destination,  complete your business and head home.  All for the cost of a round trip ticket.  Maybe these could operate like buses with a per trip ticket, monthly pass, or even a yearly pass.  You wouldn't have to worry about weather interrupting or delaying your trip.

It sounds like Utopia, doesn't it?  Going anywhere anytime, but what if there were side effects we hadn't thought about.  Since theoretically, your body is broken down to an atomic level, moved around and then reassembled on the other end, how many times could this happen before mutations start occurring?

Would the mutations be minor at first and increase later or?  How often would the machines be cleaned so people's patterns disappear?  What happens if your atomic stream is interfered with by atmospheric occurrences such as lightening?  Would you have a scan on file somewhere so if the transporter malfunctioned, you could be reassembled in totality?  How often would you need to update your scan?

Could you at some point when you are old and gray, take a trip and use a pattern of yourself from the age of 25?  Would you actually be young again or would your body be old with a new cover on it?  Could you take a trip if you were ill with cancer and use a scan from when you were healthy to reassemble a cured you?

Would you still be you after being taken apart and reassembled on a regular basis?  Such a way of travel opens so many questions and possibilities.  As long as we believe it could be, there is always a chance someone will figure out how to build one.  The future has yet to be written.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Enchiladas and Eggplant

Mexican, Enchilada, Food, Plate, Meal  The other day, I was trying to figure out what to cook for dinner.  I always look in the fridge to see what is open and needs using.  I found half an eggplant, half a can of enchilada sauce, and a partial bag of grated cheese.

I checked the cupboard for bread crumbs but didn't have any.  I did find some Bisquick. My mind raced through the internal recipe file and you could have seen a light bulb flash over my head.

I poured a bit of sauce into the Bisquick for flavoring, thinned it with water so it would cling to the eggplant slices when I dipped them into the mix.  I do not fry eggplant.  Instead, I put it on a cookie sheet with each piece close to the next and baked it  at 350 for about 25 to 30 minutes until the eggplant slices are getting soft.

At this point, I pulled the cookie sheet out, poured enchilada sauce onto the slices, topped them with a sprinkle of cheese and returned it to the oven to bake until the cheese on top was golden.  I allowed it to cool a bit and then served it to myself and my neighbor.  She loved it.  I really enjoyed it and it made a nice change from the traditional Eggplant Parmesan.

Last night, I made enchiladas but not the traditional ones. I had a bunch of kale, spinach, swiss chard, mushrooms and onions.  I chopped all of these up into small pieces, fried in some walnut oil and finished off with a bit of enchilada sauce.

I make stacked enchiladas so I don't have to roll them.  I put a layer of sauce in the bottom of the pan, laid down a softened corn tortilla, added a bit more sauce, the filling, and cheese.  Continue till you've got a stack as tall as you want and put a softened tortilla on top, add sauce and top with cheese.  Bake at 350 till the cheese is nice and brown.

I've gotten to the point, I seldom fill my enchiladas  with "standard" fillings.  I use whatever in the mixture I have handy.  I've made a mushroom, black bean, and corn filling that I adored.  I always enjoy spiced sweet potatoes or a chili - potato mixture with eggs and cheese.  Tonight I might throw together zucchini, red peppers (sweet), mushrooms with a few greens.

I just love trying out different combinations to see how it works out.  I'm wondering about feta cheese, beans, rice and olives?  In a sense cooking is like playing, you get to try a variety of different flavors and have fun.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Did You Hear The One About The...........!

Turtle, Sea, Underwater, Blue  Did you hear the one about the fellow who was caught with turtles down his pants?  It sounds like a joke doesn't it?  Well, it isn't.

Back in 2014 a man decided he wanted to bring a few turtles home with him from a trip.  He purchased  them in the United States and tried to take them home to Canada.  At the boarder he ran into a problem when they discovered he had 38 turtles hidden in his pants.

Yes, you read that right.  This man was caught illegally transporting 38 turtles in his pants as he crossed the border.  He placed them in bags and taped the bags to his legs under his pants.  Although there was never any indication of the turtles size, it was stated he carried 5 different varieties of turtles.  That sounds like an awkward method to move life stock. It would have been hard to walk.

At the Niagara Falls crossing,  he was arrested by the Canadian government and charged with illegally importing reptiles into Canada.

The man was convicted in February 2016.  As a sentence,  he received a two year probation, a fine of $3500 Canadian, has been banned from owning reptiles for the next two years and is required to perform 50 hours of community service.

Apparently, he's not the only one who has tried this and been arrested.  This past December another man was caught trying to import 50 turtles by taping them to his leg and ended up in front of a federal court in Michigan.

What is interesting is that a person can import turtles into Canada if they have the correct paperwork. From what I read, the man should have gotten:
1. Apply for a permit from Canada.
2. Own the turtle for 3 months prior to importing.
3.  $35 per species of turtle unless the turtle looks sick and then it costs $185 per species vet bill.
4. Only the person who applied for the permit can bring the turtle into the country.  The permit does not allow you to breed or sell the turtle.
5. The importer must also fill out the appropriate US documents and the turtle must pass an examination before leaving America.

There is a market for turtles in both the pet and food trades in Canada so I'm guessing he didn't want to go through the legal process so chose to try to import them illegally.  As a result of incidents such as this, both the Canadian and American governments are working together to eliminate this type of illegal activity.

I still can't get the image of turtles down his pants out of my mind.  Its just too funny.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Top 10 Most Popular Dances.

Freedom, Jump, Reach, Silhouettes, Young  I absolutely love to dance.  I am the world's best dancer in my own home.  I rival Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in my mind as I sweep around the living room.  I can follow Margo Fontaine as I sway  and twirl to the music.

The reality is, I will never be a professional dancer.  I enjoy social dancing where perfect form is does not take a priority over pure enjoyment. 

I began wondering about social dances and which ones are the most popular so after a bit of research I present the top 10 popular dances of recent life time?

Here goes beginning at 10th place and counting down, we have:

10. - The Time Warp - one of the most famous dances springing from the Rocky Horror Picture Show.  I know people who do it all the time at balls while in formal dress.  Image couples in tuxedos and long formal dresses bouncing and wiggling around the floor doing the Time Warp!

9. The Loco-Motion - the dance that was created to go with an existing song.  Did you know the song made it to the U.S top three, three different times by three different artists?

8. Gangham Style - originated by PSY, the Korean rock star.

7. The Macarena - A Latin flavored dance made popular in the 90's and seen all around including on television commercials.  Its even been done to Eskimo dance music at village dances.

6.  Y.M.C.A - from the Village People and done by everyone from 5 to 95.  Its danced at weddings, proms and all other types of fun get togethers.

5.  Disco - This is a class of dances that became popular with Saturday Night Live.  It covers the Electric Boogaloo, the Bump, and the Hustle.

4. Line Dancing - again covers a group of dances including "Cotton eyed Joe" or Achy Breaky Heart.  You don't need a partner to have fun doing it with others.  There is always someone in front of you or next to you to follow.

3. Swing Dancing - as its known now but it was the dance done by our parents and grandparents back in World War II.  Spanned a period from the 1920's to the 50's.

2.  The Moonwalk - made famous by Michael Jackson and emulated by so many others.

Finally, the top dance!
# 1. The Twist - a dance that anyone can do and made famous by Chubby Checkers.

Yes, I admit, I've done several of these at various functions.  They are all fun and you don't have to be fantastic, you just have to enjoy yourself and have fun.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Its Spring

Hepatica, Plant, Flower, Spring  This morning, I realized that it has changed to spring outside.  Spring in Alaska is not like most places as we still have lots and lots of snow.  Its not the greening of the grass, not the flowers emerging from ground that signals spring.

It is a change in the world outside.  The filter covering the world changed from dingy to bright and clear.  Its as if someone cleaned the sky and got rid of all the dust and grime.

 I haven't used my sun glasses since October because it never got too bright but now I need them. The world now shines so clearly that my eyes ache if I don't wear my sun glasses.  The temperature is rising so the snow is getting a bit softer.  Pretty soon, sublimation will occur and the piles of snow will slowly sink into nothingness.  Sometimes, the snow looses its underpinnings and your foot plunges through to the ground as you walk across it.

This morning, as I walked to work around 7:30, I noticed lighter streaks of blue near the horizon. That tells me that it won't be too long before the sun will be rising at a reasonable hour. The sky always starts changing from a deep cobalt blue through so many shades of blue until it is light and the sun is up.  I think we are gaining in the 4 to 6 minute per day so the sun rises before 10 AM and sets closer to 7:30 PM.  On the shortest day the sun is not up till around noon and sets by 6 PM so we are making progress.

I love this time of the year because its brightness makes me feel alive and my over all attitude improves.  My step becomes springy and I feel less stressed.  Its like the world has been born again, offering new adventures and each day promises to be beautiful.

It won't be long before the frozen lake thaws and I have to take the long way around to the post office in my rain boots.  The road changes from frozen to soft mud that sucks at your boots wanting you to stay put.  Each step is a fight to move forward but you tell yourself you are getting your exercise in as you struggle to walk.

People will try to ride their snow machines as long as they can before giving in to the lack of snow and going back to their 4 wheelers (ATV) or walking.  It means sleds are put away and you start having friends take your packages back to your house

Soon, the daylight will take over to the point, where it is no longer dark most of the day and the temperature makes it comfortable so you are outside till midnight without realizing it.  Welcome to my world.