Monday, December 31, 2018

Food Tour

 Last Friday, I took a walking food tour to check out food at places that may not be visited by tourists as often as the local population.

We met at around 11 AM by the bank at the local mall, actually the only mall in the area.  I'll write about it later in the week as I'm doing one big exploration a day.

It turned out this particular tour met at the same time and place as the cooking tour.  The food tour only had four people including myself while the cooking tour had so many more but I wanted to explore eating places.
 From the mall, we headed out across the main road to the quiet neighborhood just up the side road.  Our guide took time to tell us about the streets and gave the story behind the "Ninos Heros" street.

Apparently, back during the time of the Alamo, when the Mexican's lost the war, an American unit came down and killed the young men attending a military school.  According to the guide, every town has a street by this name.

Our first stop was a small stop called Tacos May.  This place offered a choice of 8 different fillings for the tacos.  I chose the peppers with cheese and cream that was soooo good.  The other non meat choice was Napolita which is a cactus type
From there we stopped in another restaurant which offered a tuna with onions and soy sauce.  Since I don't eat any meat at all, the guide ordered a taco filled with veggies and cheese.

According to everyone else, the tuna on the tortilla was excellent.  From there we wandered past an Italian restaurant whose exterior was covered with plants.  The guide highly recommended it but we didn't stop because we were heading to another taco place.
 The next place did their tacos a bit differently.  You placed your order and while you waited for  your order to arrive, you munched on onion rings or batter covered peppers.

Once the bare taco arrived at your table.  You went over to the little place in the back with various salsa's to choose what you wanted.  At the same time, you choose a salad for the side.

Since I don't eat fish or meat, I ended up with cheese melted between two tortillas.  I put salsa and some of the salad on top of it and it was wonderful.

From here, we passed by a park which on Sunday's became a place of instruction for those who wanted to learn to dance, play a sport, learn to paint, or just about anything more.

Just past the park, we stopped at a place they make flour tortilla but they weren't like the one's I'm used to eating. These were made from flour, milk, water, and a bit of sugar.  These tortillas ranged from small to quite big.  They were so good.

After checking out the flour tortillas, we stopped at a place with a pirate theme to check out virgin Mango drinks to go with the Sope.  The Sope is a thicker tortilla with beans, cheese, and cream.  I posted a picture this past Saturday.  The mango drink was soooo good and went well with the Sope.

By now, I was getting stuffed but I found room for a chocolate filled Churro that is a fried piece of dough with chocolate in the middle and covered in cinnamon and sugar.

From here, we walked back to the main road.  We were all stuffed and I was ready for a nap.  This was not just a food tour because our guide gave us some history of the area, information of the different peoples found in Mexico, a history of some of the foods we enjoyed and told us that due to the lack of rain, most of the drinking water comes from desalination of sea water.

Many people have water tanks up on the roof to collect water when it rains so they have some stockpiled but with only about 5 inches per year, they don't get much.  In addition, many buildings have more than one tank on roofs.  If you order water, you get a bottle of it, you do not get glasses of it as you do in the United States.

It was a great tour and I enjoyed it tremendously.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day. Wednesday, I'll share pictures from a boat trip I took to the bottom of the Baja Peninsula.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Flying To Mexico

Outside the terminal.
 I flew down to Mexico yesterday and the trip wasn't bad.  I ended up spending the night in San Diego and almost had a heart attack when the hotel said they didn't start running shuttles until 5 AM.

My flight was set to leave at 7:10 AM and I thought I needed to be there at least three hours in advance since it was an international flight but the folks at the front desk assured me that I would make it with no problem and security didn't open till 5 AM anyway.

The toll road to Cabo
They were so correct.  I had plenty of time to make it to my flight.  I had to show my passport when I got to the gate.  I think they checked everyone's identification.  After a two hour flight, I arrived in Mexico.

Passport control was wonderful as were the customs folks so it was a quick in and out.  I prepaid for a shuttle ride because I didn't want to mess with that so I found my way out to the appropriate waiting area for my shuttle.

On the way there I passed by three outdoor bars incase I wanted to relax while I waited for my shuttle.  Since I don't drink, I ignored them and went straight to the waiting place where I checked in and waited a few minutes.

On the way to Cabo
 It was a fairly long drive to the hotel because I was the last one dropped off.  On the way, they dropped people off at some very fancy resorts and such but I opted for a nice small hotel that was not all that expensive but included Wi-Fi and breakfast.

In addition, its near the marina, the shopping center, and lots of places to eat so I'm happy.  It appears the hotel is extremely quiet and off the beaten track, back off the road.

Once I checked in, I took a lovely nap because I'd been up since 4 AM and traveling can be so tiring. The room was nice and cool, with a great view of the pool and jacuzzi.
My Hotel.

After the nap, I wandered off to one of those small minimarts to pick up an avocado, local cheese, bananas, and bread but I couldn't find any artisan bread there.  I have a lead on a bakery I'll look for tomorrow that may offer the type of bread I want.

I saw those large bottles of Mexican Vanilla in a variety of stores from tourist places to pharmacies.  I do plan to buy a few bottles to take home and share with others.  Someone is going through Hatch NM to pick up chili so I'll trade a bottle of the vanilla for some chili.  It will be great.

View from my hotel window
They place me in the back so I'm nowhere near the street and I over look the pool and jacuzzi.  I'll probably swim in the pool another day.

Last night, I was still tired so I headed off to find dinner and ended up at Wicked Pizza where I picked up a vegetarian pizza.  I discovered they also offered a gluten free for those who cannot eat wheat.  I would say it was great because the people who ordered it, ordered a second one as soon as they finished the first on.
On the way back, I stumbled across this guy at one of the liquor/cigar stores you pass regularly.  I even saw a store advertising Cuban cigars but I didn't explore that.

I'm heading off on a food tour today.  I thought that might be fun to explore some of the local spots with a guide.  What attracted me to this tour is they stated that if you have dietary requirements to let them know and they'd make sure there was food available to eat.

I'll take pictures and tell you how that goes tomorrow.  In addition, tomorrow I'm headed out on a tour to check out the land's end where the Pacific meets the local water of body. I will be sure to share pictures with you.

I hope you have a great day.  I'll be posting about my holidays down here and so far, I'm enjoying it.  I've seen several different types of cactus and other desert type plants

Thursday, December 27, 2018

The 12 days of Christmas.

Wedding, Wedding Ring, Marriage, RingThe Twelve Days of Christmas is one of those songs most of us grew up on.  I grew up hearing the traditional version and the Hawaiian version with coconuts, papaya trees, and other delightful things.  The song has even been adjusted and used in commercials.

The 12 days of Christmas begins on December 25th and goes to January 5th. Most people celebrate Christmas and New Years instead of Christmas and various saints days till 12 days have finished.

The origin of the song is rather murky but the first printed copy appeared in 1730 in a children's book "Mirth without Mystery" but other than that, there is little available to hint at where it came from.  There are people out there who state the song was written to represent Christian things at a time they were prosecuted.

For instance the first day of Christmas has a partridge in a pear tree but it really stands for Jesus Christ.  The two turtle doves represents the old and new testaments while the three french horns  are used instead of the three virtues of hope, faith, and Charity. The four calling birds refers to the four gospels, the five golden rings is for the first five books of the old testament while the six geese playing represents the six days of creation.  The seven swans a swimming is the seven sacraments, the eight maids a milking represents the eight beatitudes and the nine ladies dancing is used instead of  the nine Fruits of the holy spirt.  The ten lords a-leaping are the ten commandments, the eleven pipers are the eleven apostles and the 12 drummers a-drumming represent the twelve points of the doctrine in the Apostles creed.

Unfortunately, there is little actual proof that this idea is based in truth.  As far as people can tell, Christians could practice their beliefs at the time the song was around so there was no need to hide things.  The evidence indicates this is more likely a forfeits and memory game requiring people to remember all the items.

To me, its always been one of those songs that seemed to take forever to sing and if you didn't have the lyrics in front of you, you never got through the song.  I think we did it one time for a school Christmas program because it used so many bodies.  It appears the version most people are familiar with only dates from 1909 when composer Frederic Austin.  He made changes to some of the words so they fit the tune better.

Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day and a wonderful weekend.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

December 26th.

Cleanliness, Maid, Maintains, Cleaning  Today is Boxing Day, traditionally celebrated the day after Christmas in the United Kingdom and other British colonies such as New Zealand, and Australia.  

If you ever watched the television show Mash, you might remember the episode in which the enlisted start running the camp and the officers take over the grunt work.

Right now, it is a national holiday dedicated to eating more turkey, watch more games, and spend more time with family but that is not how it started. 

Although there are three different theories on why the day became known as Boxing day, all three involve a box.  The box was used to carry food, a bonus, and gifts the day after Christmas since all the servants had to work or the box was displayed so people would donate money to the church, or the box contained tips for trades people who had done a great job during the year.

It does not matter which story is right, only that it has become a national holiday in modern times.  It is now a day where people try to swim the English Channel, participate in fun runs and charity events.

December 26th is not only boxing day but its also Saint Stephens day in other countries based on the Good King Wenceslaus.  This is the day when they help out the poor much as they did on Boxing Day.

There are two Saint Stephen's in history, one is said to have been an early follower of Jesus who did for his beliefs and was one of the first martyrs in history while the other was a missionary in Sweden who loved all animals but loved horses even more.  He also died a martyr.  The second one seems to be responsible for the tradition of driving horses around the church on the 26th of December.

Saint Stephens is celebrated in Ireland and other countries where it is also known as Wren Day, Constitution day or Boxing day.  I spent time in Australia but I was still in school and didn't pay attention to Boxing day because I was on holidays at Christmas and my father being a teacher was also off.

Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Monday, December 24, 2018

The trip got even more challenging.

On Friday, I wrote about the trip into Anchorage but that was before I got stuck at the airport waiting for my flight.  The flight started out being being about an hour and a half late but by the time it took off, it had been almost three hours late.

The trip was great but myself and many others missed connecting flights.  I missed mine by about 10 minutes but the airline was so great.  They rebooked me to the first flight the next morning, provided a room at a nice hotel, and gave me enough vouchers to pay for dinner and breakfast.

In addition, the agent set it up so I didn't have to collect my luggage and gave me the boarding pass so I didn't have to check in the next morning.  I was able to go straight through security but one of the family members I traveled with lost his ID because TSA didn't provide those little baskets to put stuff in so he put it in is pocket and sometime during its trip on the conveyor belt it fell out and disappeared.

He didn't discover this until he tried to rent the car.  He got a phone number for TSA but being a weekend, he has to wait till Monday to get a live person.  Hopefully, he'll find someone who knows where his ID is right now so he can pick it up the next time he goes through the airport.

The plane left on time and I arrived in Bellingham, Washington safely.  Friday night, I had to call the hotel and the car rental to change the dates on things and both places were very nice and understanding about it so when I got there, I was able to get the car and the room.  It was nice.

The only thing I hated about the trip so far, is all the stress I've had to put up with.  On the other hand, the Sea-Tac Airport arranged for people to entertain all travelers who are waiting for their flights.  I saw two dancing fairies, a fairy godmother in the traditional outfit looking like Glenda, the good witch from The Wizard of Oz", Santa Claus in the traditional dress like outfit with elf in tow, and as pictured in the photo, a one man band who played lots of Christmas Carols without stopping anywhere for long.

Furthermore, the airline I chose to travel, offered early boarding to anyone wearing an ugly sweater around the same time they invite all people on active duty to board.  I don't wear ugly sweaters because I hate them and won't have them in my house.

So I'm staying here for a few days but I have other things to share about the trip.  On the 26th, I'm heading down to Mexico for a week of nice warm weather.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Entertaining Travelers.

Its that time of year, Sea-Tac Airport provides entertainment for weary travelers.  This one man band made his way through Concourse C and didn't pause so I had to get him as he moved.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Made It Barely.

By Gate C-5 in the Anchorage, Alaska Airport.
 I made it out of the village yesterday, barely.  The plane was due to come around 1:30 or 2:00 but nothing was heard so I called the agent and got told flights were on hold due to mechanical issues while another person got told it was weather.

I finally called the main office and found out the temperature dropped much lower than expected causing some of the electronics to fry including some autopilot systems.

The gal checked and the Caravans they used on our run were both down and no one knew for sure when they'd be up.  Talk about panic!.  We were checking with the other airline because their plane was due soon if there was space but they weren't sure and I couldn't make a reservation online. 

So a bunch of us hung out in the school office, watching the planes on the program so we'd see if and when one of the airlines headed out to our village but nothing seemed to be heading our direction. We paced.  We hoped.  We prayed and the other airline wasn't sending anything our way so we were happy.  Then around 3:30, we got word, our plane was due in around 4:15 but the other folks hadn't heard anything yet.

I think it was about 15 minutes later, they other group received word of departure set for 4:45.  So one of the folks had decided to go work in her office rather than "wasting time" sitting around and when it was time to head up with both groups, she got left behind.  Fortunately, she was on the later flight so after we got dropped off, they went back to get her and her two dogs.  Due to her flight being later, she missed her connecting flight so she had to rebook with another airline but couldn't get out due to having two dogs with her. She was forced to wait for the next day.

One guy who was on our flight, managed to get on his connecting flight by having some of us take his luggage with us on the larger airlines so he didn't have to rebook on a different airline and pay more money.  We didn't mind helping him out because we all work together.  In the meantime, we had about two hours to wait for our flight so we ordered dinner which took one hour to get to the airport.

The airport is kind of weird in that it has security set up so only 35 people can go through before the waiting room on the other side is filled and then they pause security until the plane is ready to be boarded.  Its fun because the place is so small that its hard to tell where the lines are for security, check-in, and luggage pick-up are because they cross each other.

Eventually, we got loaded and made it to Anchorage around 10:15 last night.  I got my luggage, hopped a shuttle, checked in,  and after a hot cup of tea, I fell into bed until I had to get up for the airport.  It was only as I checked in, I discovered the fight is delayed by two hours.

As you can see, I am seated at my gate, waiting for the flight taking me to my final destination till after Christmas when I head for Cabo to enjoy a nice week in the sun and surf.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.

Have a great day.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Leaving on a Navajo Caravan.

Propeller, Aircraft, DetailToday, I'm heading out on holidays. As soon as school is over, I'm hopping the local airplane to Bethel so I can get to Anchorage tonight.

There are similarities with regular cities but there are major differences which I'll share so you get an idea of what I go through.

First, I have to phone the village agent sometime this morning.  The agent will check his list for my name, weight, and the weight of my belongings.  They need to know because they have to sort of balance weights. 

At this time of year, I take my weight and add 15 pounds for my winter gear of boots, heavy duty snow pants, thick heavy coat, plus my extra layers of clothing.  Then I round it up a bit, just in case.  As for my luggage weight, I just say 75 pounds total for everything.  I do not have a scale and everyone just guesses.

Once I've checked in, I sit near a VHF radio, listening for the pilot to call in to the agent letting him know when the plane is about 20 minutes out so everyone can get to the airport.  There is no terminal, only open space so if its a windy day, it can be quite cold and you end up hugging the building for warmth.  Occasionally, the announcement is made by the agent and you have to hope that it is not in the local language. 

So the plane lands which is a small 9 seater usually.  If there are few passengers, it will be filled with mail and cargo so you have to wait until everything and everybody is unloaded.  Once its all clear, you file on board the plane and head off either for another village or head straight to Bethel.  I love the straight to Bethel flights which take about an hour.

About one hour later you land in Bethel and taxi down the runway past Alaska Airlines before arriving at the small terminal for your regional airline.  Everyone disembarks and is walked to the building by the pilot because the planes are parked almost like a regular parking lot.  When you get inside the building, you stop at the desk and check in so they can either note you made it or you have to pay for your ticket.

The last step before leaving the building is to wait until your luggage is unloaded and dropped down a small chute where you grab it and catch either a taxi to your final destination in Bethel or you grab the shuttle to Alaska for the Anchorage flight.  If you are traveling via Ravn, you take everything next door.

That is how you travel via plane in the Bush of Alaska. Have a great day.  Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

The Christmas Program

Ice Sculptures, Gaylord Palms, Exhibit
Tonight is the Christmas program for everyone at the local school,  beginning around 6 PM.  The program always begins with the head start children who file in, look absolutely adorable, get lots of applause before wandering off.  From there, you have two Kindergarten classes, one first, two second grades, one third, one fourth one fifth, one mixed fifth/sixth, a seventh, eighth, nineth, tenth, eleventh and twelfth. 

I will try to remember to take pictures to share but I'll probably be helping keep kids busy while others are on stage.  Have a great day.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Elizebeth Smith Friedman

Code, Programming, Hacking, Html, Web
Elizebeth Smith Friedman is a woman whose name is not one that immediately pops to mind when discussing cryptography or mathematics.  In reality, her husband is much more well known.

Elizebeth was born in 1892, the youngest of 9 children.  After receiving her degree in English lit with minors in Latin, Greek, and German, she ended up applying for a job at a library which lead to a job for a private think tank.

Her love of Shakespeare got her the job because people were attempting to prove Sir Frances Bacon actually wrote Shakespeare's plays and sonnets using a cipher. At this point, this facility had the only cryptologic laboratory in the nation and it was here, she met and married her husband.  They worked here for a few years until they moved to Washington D.C. to work for the War Department in 1921.

Somewhere along the line, she taught herself to figure out the keys for secret messages without knowing the key.  She was one of the original code breaker who pioneered techniques in the field. 

In 1923, she transferred to the navy where she worked as a  cryptanalyst.  She began by helping to break codes created by those to illegally transported alcohol and other goods at a time when alcohol was deemed illegal.  She helped capture crime lords during prohibition. During this time, she cracked over 20,000 messages whether simple code, transposition, or something more complex. 

In 1937, she helped the Canadian government convict an opium dealer by cracking the code based on Mandarin Chinese without knowing the language. Just a few years later, she and her team of code breakers began intercepting messages that were quite similar to the prohibition type messages but were sent by Nazi spies.

Furthermore, she focused on cracking certain Enigma codes, specifically those based in South America, so messages could be intercepted.  She shared the codes with the FBI, giving them the ability to intercept and translate every message.  This eventually lead to the greatest spy master of the time being shut down when they shut down the spy networks in South America.

She also discovered the letters written by Velvalee Dickinson contained coded information about the moves of ships at Pearl Harbor.  Her work was responsible for Velvalee's conviction. Over her career, she'd testified at numerous trials, each time able to explain how she broke the code and figured out what was being done.

Although others took credit for much of what she did, she is responsible for so much of what is done by code breakers then and now even to the point of helping set up procedures.  If you are interested in her story, check out the book "The Woman Who Smashed Codes" by Jason Fagone.

Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Monday, December 17, 2018

5 Influential Women in the Early Film Industry.

Photo Camera, Photography, Old, Retro  When one talks about the early film industry we hear about Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., and several male producers but who were the pioneering women behind the lenses.

I stumbled across a book title that hinted there were women producers, women filmmakers and women writers back in the early days but I'd never heard of them, even in the film appreciation class I took in college.

I stumbled across a fact.  Only 11% of today's films are written by women while over half of the movies prior to 1925 were written by women.  Here are some of the women who contributed to that.

1.  Alice Guy who lived from 1873 to 1968 and made a name for herself as the first female film director in addition to being an actress, writer, and producer.  After learning the ropes in France, she moved to the United States to found her own studio at a time when men dominated the field.

 She directed hundreds of film between 1896 and 1916 and managed to influence the industry at the same time.  She is also known for insisting on using a specific style of acting that was well suited to the cinema in addition to integrating special effects, and using close-ups to convey emotional moments. 

2. Lois Weber born in 1879 and died in 1939.  She was also an director in addition to being a writer, actress, and producer.  She is known for using an allegorical style in her films as she created social commentary on subjects such as class tensions, the plight of women in poverty, and religious hypocrisy. 

She got her start when she and her husband aka the "Smalleys" moved from theater to motion pictures in 1907. They often acted opposite of each other in films written by her. Soon, they were cranking out films for Universal Film Manufacturing company that did well.  In fact, they made soon began making four reel films such as The Merchant of Venice before turning to making films on social injustices.  In 1916, she became the only women elected to the Motion Pictures Directors Association.  She ended up divorcing her husband in 1922 which coincided with her decreased output.

3. June Mathis lived from 1887 to 1927 and was known in Hollywood as a writer.  She began in Vaudeville before deciding to work for Metro as a screenwriter.  Her scripts were in such demand by the actors that Metro made her head of the scenario department.

She managed to write poignant, deeply intensive films with sex and humor that appealed to the masses.  Over her career she wrote or co-wrote over 114 produced screenplays which did well.  Some movies were vehicles for stars while others were adaptions for plays and books.  She is most known for casting Rudolf Valentino in the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" in 1921.  She died in 1927.

4. Frances Marion was another director, actress, writer and producer who was lived from 1888 to 1973.  She trained under Lois Weber and was noted for either writing the film or creating the scenario for over 300 films spanning from 1915 to 1946 working as mostly under studio contract for MGM.  Her work received two Academy Awards during her career. 

When she wrote screenplays, she managed to focus on an actors strength which helped define the careers of actors such as Greta Garbo, Mary Pickford and her husband Fred Thompson.  She could write across genres from hard gritty dramas to comedies to literary adaptions.  She directed two films in the early 1920's based on her experiences in World War I.

5. Anita Loos,  born in 1888 and died in 1991, began her writing career working with D.W. Griffith.  She is known for creating more interesting titles in his movie " Intolerance".  During her 30 year career (1911 to 1942), she is credited with writing over 150 scripts.  She also wrote the novel "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" which has been made into movie form at least two times since it was published in 1925.

She made a name for herself by writing scripts with strong female characters who worked on overcoming their shady pasts.  She often worked with director John Emerson whom she later married and moved from studio to studio with.

Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Spam, Spam, and More Spam.

Ham, Tin, Pork, Canned, Meat, Food If you've ever been to Hawaii, you know they eat lots of Spam.  You'll find spam in all sorts of food from sushi type rolls to being served with eggs.  There is at least one cafe that has all the different types of Spam on the wall.

One of the guys who worked on Diomede when I was there, loved his Spam.  He ate it plain and with chunks of cheese in it.  He'd fry it, use it in sandwiches, in spaghetti and so many other ways.  I think he could have written a cookbook on the topic.

Hormel began making Spam in 1937, just  before World War II as a way to keep workers employed all year round.  In the process, they created the only shelf ready product which homemakers found easy to use.  In 1940, Hormel published a 20 page recipe booklet containing 50 recipes on ways to use Spam.  Since it didn't spoil, over 150 million pounds were shipped to military personnel world wide.

In addition to eating it, soldiers used the grease to lubricate their guns and waterproof their boots.  Where ever Americans fought, they introduced spam to the local population, helping spread it world wide.

For the longest time, there was only one flavor but in 1971, Hormel introduced two new flavors, Spam Hickory Smoke and Spam Cheese, to the market. 

In the years following, they introduced more till they had a total of 15 different flavors. The original is referred to as Spam Classic. Some flavors were created for specific markets such as Tocino which is a Filipino breakfast meat popular in Guam and the Phillipines while the Portuguese Sausage is popular in Hawaii. 

For the health conscious there is the low sodium version which has 25% less sodium than the normal brand but its still quite salty or the "lite" version with about 50% less fat, 25% less sodium, and 33% fewer calories but its described as being tougher and drier.

For those who like a bit of spice, there is the Jalapeno Spam said to remind people of a spicy queso dip while the Hot and Spicy version has a sharp intense flavor provided by Tabasco sauce.  If you love bacon, check out the Bacon flavored Spam whose bacon flavor is not easily distinguished  from the spam flavor.

Of course if you are adventurous, there is the oven roasted Turkey Spam made out of  100% white turkey meat but the reviews say its mealy and dry.  On the other hand, the Black Pepper Spam is said to have a great black pepper flavor.  Don't forget the garlic flavor which a good strong flavor.

Then there is Teriyaki Spam, good for use in Musubi which is rice with a slice of spam on top and held together with a strip of seaweed.  Very good. eating.  If you visit Spain, Portugal, or South or Central American countries, you'll find the Chorizo flavored Spam where it is extremely popular.  In Puerto Rico, you'll find Mezclita which is a mixed Spam and cheese spread.

In the years since 1937, the company has sold over eight billion cans in over 44 countries. Towns have named streets after this meat.  There is even a 14,000 square foot museum devoted to Spam in Austin, Minnesota.  Hawaii is the state that eats the most Spam, almost 7 million cans a year, of all 50 states. 

Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Yes, I grew up on Spam because it was a cheap meat and it could be stretched to feed a family.  Have a great weekend.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

5 Interesting Facts About Advent Calendars.

Advent Calendar, Christmas  I did not grow up using an advent calendar.  Didn't even know what one was until I was in college when my roommate's mother sent one to be used in December.

Advent is a four week period beginning on the Sunday closest to November 30th.  Advent has been around since the 4th century.  Originally, it was a period of time used for people converting to Christianity to prepare for baptism but now its associated with the approaching Christmas time.

The Advent calendar originated in the mid 19th century when someone created a wooden one to hold devotional images.  Prior to this, protestant believers marked the days off on a door or lit candles each day. This continued to the early 1900's when a Gerhard Lang, a German,  produced the first printed Advent calendar based on one his mother made when he was young.  The idea was to take the 24 colored pictures and attach them to a board but later on, he made the doors so they opened much like the ones today. 

These Advent calendars became extremely popular in Germany but production was suspended during World War II due to a shortage of cardboard but once the war ended, Advent Calendars became available again.  Most current calendars run from December 1 for 24 days so people can count down to Christmas. 

Here are 5 interesting facts about Advent Calendars.

1.  President Eisenhower is credited with making the Advent calendar popular in the United States because he was frequently photographed using one with his grandchildren.

2. One of the most expensive calendars produced to be built cost $50,000 back in 2007 when the 4 foot Christmas Tree shaped wooden structures was marketed at Harrods.  Each compartment had a piece of organic chocolate from Green & Black and the proceeds from sales went to help Belize farmers who raised cocoa.

3. In 2007, the largest Advent calendar made an appearance at the St. Pancras train station in London.  It stood just under 233 feet tall with a width of just over 75 feet. 

4.  Even Lego has produced an Advent Calendar with figures or buildibles behind each of the doors. 

5.  In 2008, someone created an Advent Calendar which used space photos from the Hubble Telescope. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

When Did The National Park System Begin.

Yellowstone National Park, Sunset  When I was growing up, my father would throw us into the car with tents, food, and clothing to spend a couple weeks camping in various National Parks.   My father taught school, so he'd have the summer off with us and this was a fairly cheap way of taking a vacation.

The very first National Park in the United States happened on March 1, 1872, when Congress withdrew two million acres of land from the territories of Montana and Wyoming and declared Yellowstone National Park as a public park for the benefit of people.

 Yellowstone was placed under the care of the Secretary of the Interior.  The secretary was told to preserve everything in the park.  Yellowstone was the first but not the last.  Over the years, Congress designated other parks and monuments for the people but they all ended up under the care of different departments. 

In 1906, President Theodore signed the Antiquities Act which gave the government the right to create national monuments as a way to protect cliff dwellings, pueblo ruins, old missions in the southwest.  No one is allowed to dig for any antiquities on federal lands without specific permission from the department.  About a quarter of the places in the National Park Service were acquired under this act.

On August 25, 1916, Woodrow Wilson created the National Park Service, a bureau within the Department of the interior. The same act established the services mission, goals, and policies designed  to protect the 35 national parks and monuments.
In 1933, an executive order transferred 56 national monuments and military sites from both the Forestry and War Departments.  The unification of all these national places was the first real step creating a real national park service. In addition, it added historic preservation as part of the Park Services mission.  In 1935, the Historic Act was officially passed so the service could focus on historic preservation of everything within it's parks.

In the 1950's Congress approved enough money to upgrade facilities  and created visitor centers in various parks, living places, and training facilities.  Later in the late 1960's, the park services established trails, one was the Appalachian trail while the other was the Pacific Crest Trail.

 At this time, the National Park Service contains over 84 million acres in all 50 states, Guam, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Saipan, the Virgin Islands, and the District of Colombia.  Remember this, the next time you visit a national park. 

Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

9 Fun Facts About Woman's Suffrage Movement.

Women'S March, Marching, Women, Woman  Women were given the right to vote only after a long hard fight. We've heard about women going to jail after being arrested.  We've heard about them going on hunger strikes but what about the other side of the coin?

If you read the article on women who were entrepreneurs early in the 20th century, you'll know Elizabeth Arden provided lipstick to suffragettes  during marches.

Now for other facts from around the world on the woman's suffrage movement.  America was not the only one who had a movement.  Many other countries did.

1.  Women in Saudi Arabia finally got the vote in 2015 leaving the Vatican as the only country where women do not have the right to vote.

2. Although ancient Rome and Greece believed in a more democratic government, women did not have the right to vote.

3. The 19th amendment which gave women the right to vote, was originally introduced and voted down in  1878 but was submitted every year for the next 41 years until it passed.  The last state, Mississippi,  finally ratified it in 1984.

4. The abolition movement birthed the suffrage movement.

5. In 1979, the United Nations recognized women's suffrage as a basic human right.

6. in 1755, women in Corsica received the right to vote but it was curtailed once France colonized the country.  However, the women in New Zealand received the right to vote in 1893 and retained it, but not the right to hold office.

7.  Finland became the first European country to give women the right to vote and hold office in 1906. At one point women did have the ability to vote when the country was under Swedish and Russian rule, they got it when Finland became an independent country.

8. In the United States, Wyoming gave women the right to vote as early as 1869 but when Wyoming joined the Union, they insisted on keeping that right for women, even when faced with Congress threatening to refuse their admission.  Congress backed down and women in Wyoming enjoyed the ability to vote before the rest of the country.

9. New Jersey, when they wrote their state constitution said anyone with 50 or more pounds to their name could vote so only single women with that amount were allowed to vote because if the woman was married, their husbands controlled their money.

I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Umbrella Jim Miner

Scoundrels abounded across the United States as they looked for those who could be swindled.  They roamed around, setting up shop before moving on. 
Sea Shells, Sea Beach, Sand, Nature  One of these fellows who worked the Mississippi river used the moniker of Umbrella Jim Miner because he'd begin his games under an umbrella in good or bad weather, rain or shine. 

In addition, he attracted players by using this song:
"A little fun, just now and then,
Is relished by the best of men.
If you have nerve, you may have plenty;
Five draws you ten, and ten draws twenty.
Attention given, I’ll show to you,
How ‘Umbrella’ hides the peek-a-boo.
Select your shell, the one you choose;
If right, you win; if not, you lose;
The game itself is lots of fun,
Jim’s chances, though, are two to one;
And I tell you your chance is slim
To win a prize from Umbrella Jim."

For this he was granted the nickname of "Poet Gambler" and if you read the ditty carefully, you'll notice he is warming people they will not win.  He was master of the three shell game to test people's observing ability. Viewers saw him place a small pea under a walnut shell before moving the shell around and allowing people to bet on the location of the pea.  He was a swindler so they didn't see him remove the pea as quickly as he'd put it there.  Once in a very long time, he'd let someone one win but 99% of the time, the house won.

 He moves the shells around and gives people a chance to bet on which one contains the pea but usually, there is no pea there so the person loses.

He plied his trade in the 1800's to the point he was one of the best known con men running the three shell game.   He ran the games on landings or on luxurious riverboats where he'd capture his victim's attention and participation.

Although we know he was the father of this type of con game in the 19th century there is very little information known about his actual life.  He is described as a man in a derby hat wearing fashionable clothing but is most well known for the short con or a swindle that takes a few minutes to run and the shell game fits this description.  I can't find out where he was born, where he died or any other personal information.

Let me know what you think about a character who existed but is only known for his con.  Have a great day and I'd love to hear from you.

Friday, December 7, 2018

"A Day That Lives In Infamy"

Pearl Harbor, Ship, Warship, Destroyed On this day, seventy two years ago, American was attacked by the Japanese causing us to join a war going on in Europe and Asia.

I have relatives who fought in World War II, who built planes at Boeing, but only one is still alive but probably not for that much longer.

He was living in Honolulu on that fateful day, but was not at Pearl Harbor itself because he was only in high school at the time.

He talks about having heard the attack and seen the planes as they flew over head.  Everyone is aware the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor just before 8 o'clock on that Sunday Morning when most people were asleep, or eating breakfast.  He spoke of Iolani Place being bombed because the Japanese also dropped bombs over Honolulu in addition to attacking the Naval Base.

In addition, Pearl Harbor was not only attacked by air, the Japanese used mini subs whose mission was to slip into Pearl Harbor to sink ships that way.  Although the attack was a surprise, the Japanese were only able to send two waves of planes because the Americans successfully returned fire.

When the smoke cleared, just over 2400 military personnel were dead, almost 1200 were wounded, and 6 battleships were destroyed or sunk while many more were damaged. and 169 planes destroyed.  The  Japanese lost 29 airplanes, 5 midget submarines, and 129 attackers.

The Japanese wanted to disable the United States by destroying aircraft carriers but none were in port at the time of the attack so they were only able to sink battleships.  At the time of the attack, the Japanese sent 360 planes in the first wave when many military personnel were off base on leave to attend religious services.

Although the wave of planes had been noted by two radar techs, they were told to ignore it because the base was expecting a bunch of B-17's that day and it was assumed the group was the B-17's.  Imagine the surprise the military felt when the first bomb was dropped. The next day, the Japanese bombed Guam, the Philippines, and Wake Island.

Furthermore, since the Japanese dropped bombs in various locations in Honolulu, civilians were injured and killed.  68 civilians died and another 103 were injured during the two attack waves.  No one was immune to the bombs and bullets fired by the Japanese. Those who died ranged in age from a few months old to seniors.

Let us remember this day and those who lost their lives.  Let us also remember those who are still alive and remember it happening such as the man I mentioned.  He's reached an age where he does not remember it as clearly since surviving a stroke and dementia is spreading.  The number of people who have clear memories of this event is dwindling every day.

Please let me hear what you think.  Have a great day and always remember Pearl Harbor.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

HIppos, Sunscreen, and Blood.

Hippopotamus, Hippo, Animal, NamibiaI was listening to someone with Alzheimers talk about hippos and how their sweat is red.  Most people tend to wave that type of comment away because its sounds like a figment of someone's imagination.

Being me, I checked the internet to see if it was correct.  It is sort of correct but not quite.

Here's the low down on it.  Yes hippos do produce a red "sweat" but it serves a purpose just like our sweat does but it is not designed to cool them down, it is designed to keep them from burning.   Yes, its a sunscreen among other things!

In addition, this "sweat" provides a covering that helps maintain its body temperature when submerged in water and discourages bacterial growth that could occur in the water.  The sweat is made up of two acids, one red and one orange.  The orange one is good at blocking the sun while the red one blocks the sun and is the one that inhibits bacterial growth.

On the other hand, horse sweat provides something different.  When a horse sweats, the sweat appears to turn into a lather of some sort.  The sweat itself contains a special protein called latherin which acts as a wetting agent that allows horses to sweat through a waterproof pelt.  This protein is also found in zebras, onagers, and asses.

If you look at the animal world in detail, you'll discover that not all animals have red blood.  Creatures who have red blood, have hemoglobin which is iron based so it turns red when exposed to air.  Other creatures have a different color of blood.   Animals such as spiders or horseshoe crabs have blue blood due to the amount of copper in the hemocyanin which carries oxygen much like hemoglobin in humans.  In this case, two atoms of copper combine with one oxygen molecule.

On the other hand,  sea cucumbers have yellow blood due to vanabin which a yellow based vanadium as a pigment.  It appears the vanabin does not transport oxygen so no one is quite sure what this pigment does but the blood is oxygenated.  Worms, have a unique green blood due to it having chlorocruorin which is a respiratory pigment.  In addition, the skink also has green blood but for an entirely different reason.  Its green blood is caused by a high concentration of  biliverdin which is a green pigment formed from the breakdown of hemoglobin.

Other creatures may have orange, purple, or colorless blood, all due to a different pigmentation.  Just to let you know, only one fish, the ice fish, has colorless blood because it lives in a very cold region.

I hope you found that as interesting as I did when I first read it.  Have a great day and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

The Standardization of Cooking

Ingredients, Sugar, Flour, IngredientIf you've ever read an old recipe you'll see measurements that make no sense to us such as butter the "size of a walnut" or a pinch of salt or a teacup of yeast.  These informal measurements were understood by all.

Early recipes are a mystery to most women in today's world.  Look at this cake recipe with its unique way of listing things.

If you read the following recipe, you'll note it tells you to warm the creme but that ingredient is not listed anywhere in the ingredients list.
"Cake Bread.
Take one Gallon of flowre, two pound of Currans, and one pound of butter or better, a quarter of a pound of sugar, a quarter of a pint of Rose-water, halfe an ounce of nutmeg, & half an ounce of Cinnamon, two egs, then warm cream, break the butter into the flower, temper all these with the creame, and put a quantity of yest amongst it, above a pint to three gallons, wet it very lide, cover your Cake, with a sheet doubled, when it comes hot out of the Oven; let it stand one hour and a half in the Oven."

I couldn't tell you what temperature the oven is supposed to be set at.  This recipe is from the mid 1650's for cake.  This next recipe is from the 1800's for buns.  If you check it out, you'll see it doesn't give any information about cooking in the oven.

One cup of milk, one cup of sugar, one cup of yeast, flour to make a batter.  Let it rise over night, then add one-half cup of melted butter, a cup of sugar, flour to knead it and let it rise again, then roll and cut into cakes, and let it rise again."  I assume one bakes it in a hot over.
In 1896, Fannie Farmer changed all this when she published her first cook book.  This cookbook used the standardized measurements we are used to in today's recipes.  What makes this even more interesting is that Fannie Farmer suffered a stroke that paralyzed her left side. 

Over the years she improved to the point she was able to enroll in the Boston Cooking School and complete the program with such excellent marks she was offered the position of assistant director of the school.  Two years later, she became the director.  While director, she published the first edition her Boston Cooking School cookbook and there were 21 editions of this cook book published before her death.

She established her own school upon resigning from the Boston Cooking School which was designed to teach housewives how to cook rather than preparing them to be teachers.  In addition, she stressed cooking practice rather than theory and she used standardized measurements in both her cookbooks and her courses. 

In addition Fannie Farmer wrote a column on cooking for a publication for ten years.  In the later years of her life, she suffered another stroke but that didn't slow her down in that she continued lecturing from her wheel chair.  She gave her last lecture ten days before she died in January of 1915.

This is a copy of a recipe from the 1918 edition of her cook book and you will notice how detailed it is compared to recipes in the late 1880's.
 Water Bread

2 cups boiling water21/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon butter1/4 yeast cake dissolved in
1 tablespoon lard1/4 cup lukewarm water
2 tablespoon sugar6 cups sifted flour

Put butter, lard, sugar, and salt in bread raiser, or large bowl without a lip; pour on boiling water; when lukewarm, add dissolved yeast cake and five cups of flour; then stir until thoroughly mixed, using a knife or mixing-spoon. Add remaining flour, mix, and turn on a floured board, leaving a clean bowl; knead until mixture is smooth, elastic to touch, and bubbles may be seen under the surface. Some practice is required to knead quickly, but the motion once acquired will never be forgotten. Return to bowl, cover with a clean cloth kept for the purpose, and board or tin cover; let rise over night in temperature of 65° F. In morning cut down : this is accomplished by cutting through and turning over dough several times with a case knife, and checks fermentation for a short time; dough may be again raised, and recut down if it is not convenient to shape into loaves or biscuits after first cutting. When properly cared for, bread need never sour. Toss on board slightly floured, knead, shape into loaves or biscuits, place in greased pans, having pans nearly half full. Cover, let rise again to double its bulk, and bake in hot oven. (See Baking of Bread and Time-Table for Baking.) This recipe will make a double loaf of bread and pan of biscuit. Cottolene, crisco, or beef drippings may be used for shortening, one-third less being required. Bread shortened with butter has a good flavor, but is not as white as when lard is used.

We can thank Fannie Farmer for making cooking easier for most of us.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

3 More 20th Century Women Enterpeneurs.

Woman Girl Model Face Lips Makeup Beauty L  Women began paving their own success as society began loosing up a bit.  Many began developing their brand before it became common to brand oneself and did it well.  In today's entry, I'll be looking at a few women who left their mark on the world in the 20th century. 

1.  Elizabeth Arden - most of us have heard of her even if we've never afforded anything of hers.   

Elizabeth Arden, nee Florence Nightingale Graham, hails from Ontario Canada.  At the age of 30, she moved to New York City with the goal of building her own cosmetic company but first she spent two years working for someone else so she could learn everything possible about the cosmetic industry.

In 1910, she invested $1000 with a partner to start a beauty salon on 5th Avenue.  At about the same time, she contracted with a  chemist to create a beauty cream and a lotion as the first products of her own beauty line.  Shortly after a trip to Paris in 1912, she introduced the concept of eye make-up to American women.  At this point in time, only prostitutes wore make-up so she had to create a campaign to counter that reputation.

Fortunately, close-ups became the thing in the movie industry so it became more socially acceptable to wear makeup.  In 1914, the partnership dissolved and Florence kept the salon and the name associated with it.   She continued offering makeovers in her 5th Avenue salon.  In addition, the company began expanding internationally so even during the depression in the  1930's, her company did well. 

Elizabeth Arden managed a series of firsts such as creating travel sized items, she created makeup kits for military women and she provided the red lipstick worn by sufferagets during a protest in 1912.  Elizabeth Arden died in 1966 but her company continues to do well even today.

2. Coco Chanel created a fashion empire.  Coco Chanel began her life in France where she was raised in an orphanage after her mother died.  The nuns taught her to sew which helped her later in life.  She gained the name "Coco" during her brief time as a singer.  She opened her first store in 1910 which only sold women's hats.  In 1921, she released her iconic perfume "Chanel #5".  

Just a few years later, she introduced the even more iconic "little black dress" that launched her as a fashion house and made her an ongoing success.  Unfortunately, the depression did not help her business and when World War II broke out, she closed down her fashion house.  Eventually, she opened up again and her business grew tot be as successful as before.

3. Olive Ann Beech  is a woman who began a business in 1932 with her husband in Wichita Kansas.  The founded the Beech Aircraft Corporation with 10 employees but the company grew to employing over 10,000 people.  In 1940, her husband became sick and she took over running the company.  The United States Army bought 270 of their Staggerwings during World War II.

Her husband died in 1950 and she became the company president.  During her 20 years at the helm, the company continued supplying the military and NASA's Gemini, Apollo, and the space shuttle programs so that the company expanded, eventually becoming a multi-million dollar aerospace company.  Not bad for a woman who began as a secretary.

Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Nature's Kevlar

Police, Gas Mask, Riot, Protection, War I love watching certain television series because someone makes a weird claim that turns out to be based in reality.  Imagine being able to make light weight bullet proof vests made out of very natural fibers!  Imagine it being made out of sustainable fibers!

Scientists have discovered the silk produced by this spider is at least twice as strong as normal spider silk and ten times stronger than Kevlar.

This particular spider was discovered in the jungles of Madagascar on the 150th anniversary of the publication of Charles Darwin's "On the Origin of the Species".  Thus the name Darwin's Bark Spider.  The spider creates the largest circular shaped webs of up to 30 feet square over lakes, rivers, and other bodies of water in order to catch its food.  Yet the female's body is about one inch long while the male's body is about a quarter that size. 

The web is built by sending a single thread across the body of water to attach on a tree on the other side by using wind currents.  Once that strand is secure, the spider crawls to the center of the strand and begins spinning the traditional circular web until it spans the whole body of water.  

The silk used in the web appears to be twice as elastic as that made by other spiders, almost twice as strong and at least ten times stronger than Kevlar. It appears the strength of the silk is an evolutionary development when the spiders moved inland so they could place the webs over water, take advantage of the air currents to catch dinner. 

Scientists have yet to determine why such as small spider needs such large webs.  They are also not sure why the strands are so strong.  They theorize that the spiders may be using a different type of protein or it might be the way the silk is spun that gives it its strength but they already see technological possibilities once they decode the how and why of the spun silk.

Unfortunately, it would be very difficult to raise these spiders in captivity because they are cannibalistic and if in the same container would eat each other. It is possible to splice the gene into silkworms to produce the silk but that has had only limited success because its very difficult to reproduce the proteins form spider silk.  In addition, they still have to figure out how to spin the spider silk into thread.

There is at least one company out there claiming success but it is not commercially successful.  Yes the silk could be used to make lighter weight protective vests but could also be used in aeronautics,  civil engineering, wound healing and a variety of other uses.  So at this time, its still in the research stages but there is potential for commercial development once certain problems are overcome.

Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.