Thursday, June 24, 2010


I generally use Google Maps for route planning.  I’ve found they are usually more accurate than Mapquest.

Not this trip.  So far, Google has been wrong, or at least mapped the most inconvenient possible route, over 30% of the time. 

One campground host told me Garmin GPS was worse -  Garmin had their campground out in the middle of a pasture almost five miles north of their actual location.

Two points:

  • I have a whole new respect for explorers.  Of course Lewis & Clark had Sacajawea.
  • What do people with a poor sense of direction ( and no cell phone) do?  Just stay lost?


Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Honey says I shouldn’t post things that indicate we are not at home, and she’s probably right.  We do have neighbors keeping an eye on the place, maintaining the pool, etc.

And did I forget to mention our house sitter?  He is a six-foot-nine, 300 lb gun nut – slightly retarded,  but he is very nice to his dog – a 120 lb Rottweiler/timber wolf mix.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

If It’s Tuesday….

Leaving Topeka this morning headed for Onawa, Iowa. Thunderstorm warnings and flood watches ahead of us; that ought to be fun.

Our traveling companions are not fairing so well. Before they got to Dallas, they stopped for a vibration and ended up replacing two tires - Michelins for the motorhome = $800 plus . They got to Ardmore and their generator went out; no boondocking at Wal-Mart, so they ended up parked next to us in the RV park. The gennie is still under warranty, so they can have it replaced when they get home; everything is still a go.

Yesterday, they got about five miles before their drive-shaft fell out on the street. They are still in Ardmore and hope to have a replacement shaft delivered and installed tomorrow or the day after. They are still hoping to catch up with us in the Black Hills.

I hope they do, but if it were me, I think I would write off the trip and head for home.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Day One

Day One of our Summer trip.  Huffman, Texas, to Ardmore, Oklahoma. 

Pretty little RV park with a small lake, a fishing pier and a large flock of Canada geese.

Hotter than Hell – otherwise not much to report.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Do What With A Cucumber?

cucumber (1)

I've seen several articles recently about the many uses for the cucumber.  Here is an excerpt from one of them:

1. Cucumbers contain most of the vitamins you need every day, just one cucumber contains Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B5, Vitamin B6, Folic Acid, Vitamin C, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium and Zinc.
2. Feeling tired in the afternoon, put down the caffeinated soda and pick up a cucumber. Cucumbers are a good source of B Vitamins and Carbohydrates that can provide that quick pick-me-up that can last for hours.
3. Tired of your bathroom mirror fogging up after a shower? Try rubbing a slice of cucumber along the mirror the mirror will be clear and the residue provide a soothing, spa-like fragrance.
4. Are grubs and slugs ruining your planting beds? Place a few slices in a small pie tin and your garden will be free of pests all season long. The chemicals in the cucumber react with the aluminum to give off a scent undetectable to humans but drive garden pests crazy and make them flee the area.
5. Looking for a fast and easy way to remove cellulite before going out or to the pool? Try rubbing a slice or two of cucumbers along your problem area for a few minutes, the photochemical in the cucumber cause the collagen in your skin to tighten, firming up the outer layer and reducing the visibility of cellulite.  Works great on wrinkles too!!!
6. Want to avoid a hangover or terrible headache? Eat a few cucumber slices before going to bed and wake up refreshed and headache free. Cucumbers contain enough sugar, B vitamins and electrolytes to replenish essential nutrients the body lost, keeping everything in equilibrium, avoiding both a hangover and headache!!
7. Looking to fight off that afternoon or evening snacking binge? Cucumbers have been used for centuries and often used by European during hunting to stave off starvation.
8. Have an important meeting or job interview and you realize that you don’t have enough time to polish your shoes? Rub a freshly cut cucumber over the shoe, its chemicals will provide a quick and durable shine that not only looks great but also repels water.
9. Stressed out and don’t have time for massage, facial or visit to the spa? Cut up an entire cucumber and place it in a boiling pot of water, the chemicals and nutrients from the cucumber will react with the boiling water and be released in the steam, creating a soothing, relaxing aroma that has been shown to reduce stress in new mothers and college students during final exams.
10. Just finish a business lunch and realize you don’t have gum or mints? Take a slice of cucumber and press it to the roof of your mouth with your tongue for 30 seconds to eliminate bad breath, the photochemical will kill the bacteria in your mouth responsible for causing bad breath.
11. Looking for a ‘green’ way to clean your faucets, sinks or stainless steel? Take a slice of cucumber and rub it on the surface you want to clean, not only will it remove years of tarnish and bring back the shine, but it won’t leave streaks and won’t harm your fingers or fingernails while you clean.
12. Using a pen and made a mistake? Take the outside of the cucumber and slowly use it to erase the pen writing, also works great on crayons and markers that the kids have used to decorate the walls!!

I never realized cucumbers could be so handy; and those are just the top twelve uses with a G rating!  Some have even waxed poetic about this amazing gourd.

Cucumber song

Friday, June 18, 2010

Can’t Fix Stupid – Well Sometimes You Can


No posts on the blog for the past several days because I couldn't access the internet. 

Centurylink , my DSL provider, did some updating and upgrading and suddenly the system that was working fine wouldn’t work at all.

Finally got back on this morning.  The reason I couldn’t access the net yesterday is because of an ip conflict.

Centurylink, in their wisdom gave their new server the ip address, the same ip address as the default ip built in to all Belkin wireless routers.  Once I changed the ip address of my router, everything works.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Rushmore, etc.

A week from today, we will be travelling through Oklahoma on the way to the Black Hills of South Dakota.  We actually leave home this Sunday, and still have a million things to do.

That is just the first major stop on a trip that will take us to the Oregon coast and the North Rim of Grand Canyon, among other destinations before we get back home.We are being joined on our trip by old friends Travis and Cheryl Shelton. We have been to the Custer, SD area before, but they have not.  We want to give them a chance to see this:


before Global Warming turns it to this:


Travis wants to see the back of Mt. Rushmore.


It’s a sight that’s visible almost anywhere in the Black Hills, but only on postcards and T-shirts.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Latest On Oil Spill From Fox News

Grand Isle Louisiana_slideshow_604x500 

June 08, 2010

What's Open, What's Not Along the Gulf Coast After Oil Spill

The oil spill is causing a number of beaches along the Gulf Coast to close because of the massive BP oil spill, but there are also plenty that are open for business.

fox news


Affected coastal areas, as well as areas of uncertainty, have been closed to fishing by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries in portions of Jefferson, Lafourche, Plaquemines, St. Bernard and Terrebonne parishes, according to the Louisiana Office of Tourism.

The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Beach Monitoring Program put out advisories on beaches in Louisiana. The advisories warn that beach water quality does not meet the water quality criteria established for Louisiana's Beach Program. Swimming or other activities that may result in water ingestion may pose an increased risk of illness, particularly for susceptible individuals. As a result, Grand Isle closed its public beach.

But, all nine costal parishes are still offering travelers historic and cultural attractions, world-acclaimed indigenous food and music, and notable restaurants and overnight accommodations, according to the state’s Office of Tourism.

SLIDESHOW: Gulf Coast Beaches Closed as Spill Continues


Most beaches are open, but swimming along the Gulf Coast is discouraged, after the Alabama Department of Public Health issued a swimming advisory for waters off Gulf Shores, Orange Beach and Fort Morgan, tourismwebsites report.

The swimming advisory means swimming is discouraged in gulf waters or in bay waters immediately adjacent to Fort Morgan, but the beaches are open and visitors are welcome to sunbathe and walk the beach.

According to NOAA, tarballs DO NOT pose a health risk to the average person. However, beachgoers are advised not to pick them up or bury them and asked to report any sightings
NOAA's current closed fishing area includes federal waters eastward to Panama City, Florida

The Alabama Department of Conservation & Natural Resources has closed state gulf waters and some inshore waters

The pier at Gulf State Park is closed for fishing. However, the pier is still open to sightseers.

Oil has been discovered reaching into Perdido Pass, but skimming vessels are at work to contain and remove it, the Gulf Coast Visitors and Convention Bureau reported.


All Florida beaches are open, but tar balls have been washing up around Pensacola and other areas on the western side of the state, the Miami Herald reports.

Beachgoers in Florida's western Panhandle saw the first warning signs late Tuesday telling them not to swim or fish off of a six-mile stretch of the oil-fouled Gulf of Mexico near the Alabama and Florida state line.

The Escambia County Health Department posted the signs after heavier tar balls and a mousse-like tar substance were reported off Perdido Key, Fla. The warnings stretch from Perdido Key to the Gulf Islands Seashore national park.

It is the first time swimming and fishing has been restricted on any Florida beaches because of the massive spill that began with the April 20 rig blowout 50 miles off the Louisiana coast. Tar balls began rolling up on Escambia County beaches from Perdido Key through Pensacola Beach early Friday.

The county warned people not to wade or swim in the water and to avoid any skin contact with oily water or dead sea animals. The health advisory also states that people should not fish in the water or eat fish that have a petroleum odor


Beaches in Mississippi are still open.

The oil spill spared the state’s coast, but the state's economy is still feeling an impact.

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour has said on “Fox News Sunday” that his state is not as bad off as their neighbors, adding, “we have had virtually no oil” wash up on the state’s coast.

Governor Haley Barbour emphasized that oil has only hit Mississippi's barrier islands.

"In the 50 or so days, except for some random tar balls, some of which came from this well, some of which didn't, we've had one significant intrusion from the well," said Governor Haley Barbour, according to

Saturday, June 12, 2010

A Bigger Slice of Pi

I read an article recently that said that, by law, the value of p in the State of Indiana was 4.  Just a little bit of checking proved that the author was mistaken, lacking in math skills, full of crap and/or (like many of today’s “journalists”) unwilling to let facts get in the way of a good story.

There actually was an attempt – House Bill 246 in 1897 -to define the ratio of diameter to circumference as five-fourths to four.  That would make p = 4/1.25, or 3.2; a number more commonly associated with weak (bad) beer.  The bill unanimously passed the House, but died in the Indiana Senate; it never was an Indiana law.

Here’s a look at the Bill:


A Bill for an act introducing a new mathematical truth and offered as a contribution to education to be used only by the State of Indiana free of cost by paying any royalties whatever on the same, provided it is accepted and adopted by the official action of the Legislature of 1897. 
Section 1
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Indiana: It has been found that a circular area is to the square on a line equal to the quadrant of the circumference, as the area of an equilateral rectangle is to the square on one side. The diameter employed as the linear unit according to the present rule in computing the circle's area is entirely wrong, as it represents the circle's area one and one-fifth times the area of a square whose perimeter is equal to the circumference of the circle. This is because one fifth of the diameter fails to be represented four times in the circle's circumference. For example: if we multiply the perimeter of a square by one-fourth of any line one-fifth greater than one side, we can in like manner make the square's area to appear one-fifth greater than the fact, as is done by taking the diameter for the linear unit instead of the quadrant of the circle's circumference. 
Section 2
It is impossible to compute the area of a circle on the diameter as the linear unit without trespassing upon the area outside of the circle to the extent of including one-fifth more area than is contained within the circle's circumference, because the square on the diameter produces the side of a square which equals nine when the arc of ninety degrees equals eight. By taking the quadrant of the circle's circumference for the linear unit, we fulfill the requirements of both quadrature and rectification of the circle's circumference. Furthermore, it has revealed the ratio of the chord and arc of ninety degrees, which is as seven to eight, and also the ratio of the diagonal and one side of a square which is as ten to seven, disclosing the fourth important fact, that the ratio of the diameter and circumference is as five-fourths to four; and because of these facts and the further fact that the rule in present use fails to work both ways mathematically, it should be discarded as wholly wanting and misleading in its practical applications. 
Section 3
In further proof of the value of the author's proposed contribution to education and offered as a gift to the State of Indiana, is the fact of his solutions of the trisection of the angle, duplication of the cube and quadrature of the circle having been already accepted as contributions to science by the American Mathematical Monthly, the leading exponent of mathematical thought in this country. And be it remembered that these noted problems had been long since given up by scientific bodies as insolvable mysteries and above man's ability to comprehend.


Read first time January 18th, 1897 
Referred to Committee on Canals
Reported and referred to Committee on Education January 19th, 1897
Reported back February 2nd, 1897
Read second time February 5th, 1897
Ordered engrossed February 5th, 1897
Read third time February 5th, 1897
Passed February 5th, 1897
Ayes - 67 - Noes -0- 
Introduced by Record 
Read first time and referred to
committee on Temperance, February 11th, 1897
Reported favorable February 12th, 1897
Read second time and indefinitely postponed February 12, 1897


Friday, June 11, 2010

Abby Sunderland


Less than a month ago, I posted a piece about Jessica Watson, the 16-year-old Australian who had just completed a solo sail around the world.  Today’s news is about another 16-year-old, but her attempt has ended in failure and for about 24 hours she was feared to be lost at sea.

American Abby Sutherland, pictured above in calmer seas, was attempting to cross the Indian Ocean.  Winter is just beginning there – the worst time of year for  storms and rough seas. She lost radio contact and manually engaged her emergency locator beacons yesterday.  This morning a search plane located her boat Wild Eyes upright but with sails down somewhere about midway between Africa and Australia.  She appears to be OK, and there are ships headed to pick her up within the next 24 hours.

Abby had already lost any chance for a world record when she had to stop over in South Africa for repairs to her boat, but had decided to continue the circumnavigation anyway. 


Her dad says this morning that, once she is rescued, this trip is over.  As a father, I always told my girls that they could do anything they thought they were big enough to do – scared the Hell out of their mother more than once.  Even so, I don’t think I could have let one of mine attempt sailing around the world by herself; even if Honey didn’t kill me,  I really don’t think I could handle it.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Dumb As A Sack Of Hair


A few days ago, in a comment on Facebook, I referred to something as “dumb as a sack of hair.”  My sister replied that sacks of hair weren’t so dumb if they could save our coastline from the BP Oil Spill.

I’ll admit, I was just using a figure of speech; the so-called “Hair Booms” hadn’t even entered my mind, but now I feel totally justified in making my original assessment.  According to the San Francisco Chronicle, and other sources:

In the early days of the Gulf oil spill, there was a lot of buzz about how human hair was going to be used to sop up the mess. But in recent weeks, engineers involved in the cleanup have determined that homemade "hair booms" aren't a feasible option in the Gulf(since they don't work as well as the commercial kind), and donated locks are now piling up in area warehouses. As of May 23, Matter of Trust, the organization that's been spearheading the collection, said that it won't accept hair from new donors until it's worked through the tons that it already has.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Name your Poison


All the furor over contamination of Gulf waters by that British Petroleum  oil well reminded me of an article that appeared a few weeks ago in the Houston Chronicle .  It had to do with contamination on a much smaller scale, but potentially more deadly, and much closer to home:

The waters of the San Jacinto River near the Interstate 10 bridge may not look inviting from a passing car, but folks have always fished this spot. Signs warn anglers not to eat the fish and crabs, which are contaminated with high levels of cancer-causing chemicals from decades-old paper mill sludge. Yet people still come with fishing rods and buckets of bait in hand.

To try to keep them away, the companies responsible for the cleanup of this stretch of river are installing a fence with barbed wire along more than 3,000 feet of shoreline.

The installation comes as crews continue to evaluate the extent of the San Jacinto's dioxin contamination.

The cleanup could take years.

“In the short term, the important thing is to limit access,” said David Bary, a spokesman for the federal Environmental Protection Agency, which placed the site on its roster of the nation's most polluted places in 2008.

The dioxins come from submerged waste pits north of the Interstate 10 bridge. McGinnes Industrial Maintenance Corp., which is no longer in business, owned and operated the pits in the 1960s, filling a 20- acre site on dry land with waste from a now-closed paper mill near the Washburn Tunnel.

In the bleaching process, paper mills generated large amounts of dioxins, a family of compounds so toxic that scientists measure them in trillionths of a gram. The EPA says there is no safe level of exposure to the chemicals, which are known to cause cancer and disrupt immune and reproductive systems.

The San Jacinto River began to run through the waste pits by the early 1970s because of subsidence — the sinking of soft soils as water is pumped from underground.

With the McGinnes pits under water, the dioxins spread into the river and worked their way through the ecosystem, becoming more concentrated at each step in the food chain.

For more than a decade, the Texas Department of Health has warned that fish and crab caught along this stretch of water, north of the Lynchburg Ferry, are tainted with cancer-causing dioxin, pesticides and PCBs. No one should eat more than one 8-ounce meal a month.

But the state's warnings haven't stopped folks from fishing for a cheap meal in the murky waters.  Even with the signs and advisories, fishermen seem oblivious to the potential danger.

“This fish is good,” said Victor Fagian, who spent an overcast Friday on the banks of the San Jacinto in pursuit of catfish and redfish.

Fagian and his buddy Jose Castillo said they have fished the spot regularly for more than a year. Even when told of the warnings, they seemed unconcerned.

“We don't have a problem here,” Castillo said.

In July, the EPA identified the International Paper Co. and McGinnes, which became part of Waste Management through a series of mergers and acquisitions, as the firms responsible for the dioxins problem.

Under the Superfund law, the two companies will be required to evaluate and clean up the contamination.  So far, they have paid about $65,000 for the fencing and roughly 50 warning signs in English, Spanish and Vietnamese.

Sunday, June 6, 2010



When I was five years old, our next-door neighbors, the Chappells, moved away taking their son David to Oklahoma.  David was also five, my constant companion and ally.  I wasn’t devastated; I still had my other best friend, Randall Brooks, living right across the street, but I was very unhappy about the whole thing.

To make matters worse, the buyers of the Chappell house didn’t even have kids.  They were a newly-wed couple from Alabama, Jetty and Joe McClymond.  Joe was a brand-new lawyer, nice enough and liked kids, but he was seldom home.  I don’t think I even questioned that at the time, but looking back I can see that he was putting in the ungodly hours law firms often require of young associates.

Jetty was her real name. She told my mom that  her mom told her Jetty was an old, traditional Southern name, but she had never met or even heard of anyone else named Jetty.  In the 60-plus years since, I haven’t  either.

Jetty was sweet, pretty, kind and outgoing - as special as her name - and every Friday, Jetty made a marvelous supper she called GOULASH

In truth, her concoction had only an accidental resemblance to the real thing- if there was any resemblance at all.  I can’t remember for sure, but I don’t think it even contained paprika. I know I never saw her add any .

After lunch on Friday, Jetty would gather up all the leftovers from the previous week and throw them in a pot.  She would add a can of tomato sauce, a shot or two of Tabasco, and depending on the previous week’s menu, she  might or might not add a can of kidney beans.  She let the concoction simmer all afternoon and served it with Corn bread and sweet iced tea. 

Jetty’s goulash was never the same from one week to the next, but somehow it was always wonderful.  I did everything I could to wangle an invitation to Friday dinner; after a while, it was just assumed  that I was eating each Friday at Jetty and Joe’s.

It isn’t even Friday,  I’ve taken my tea un-sweetened for the last thirty years and can’t stand the taste of sweet tea anymore; but I woke up this morning craving a bowl of Jetty’s goulash.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Mor Speln Stuf


It’s now official, Anamika Veeramani, a 14-year-old from North Royalton, Ohio has won this year’s National Spelling Bee. The winning word was Stromuhr, a medical instrument designed to measure the amount and speed of blood flow through an artery.

Anamika became the third Indian-American winner in a row. Indian-Americans comprise less than 1 percent of the U.S. population according to 2000 census data, but they have an impressive bee winning streak — taking the trophy in eight of the past 12 years.

The Indian-American winning streak began with Nupur Lala, a 2007 graduate of the University of Michigan, who became famous for her 1999 win after the 2002 release of the Academy Award-nominated documentary "Spellbound."

By then, George Abraham Thampy had won in 2000. Pratyush Buddiga took the title two years later. The streak continued through the decade: Sai Gunturi won in 2003, Anurag Kashyap in 2005, Sameer Mishra in 2008 and Kavya Shivashankar in 2009. Kavya, now 14, returned this year to watch her sister Vanya, 8, compete in her first national bee.

After Kavya congratulated Anamika onstage, she said winning the bee has less to do with nationality and more to do with a passion for words.

"I can't really speak for other people, but, for me, it was just enjoying spelling."

I find the whole hyphenated-American thing disturbing, but I personally think these kids come to spelling with an advantage: They had to start out learning to spell their own names, and Anamika or Pratyush is a lot more challenging than Mary or Tom.

Advantage or not, spelling is a challenge. To illustrate the point, Bernard Shaw once proposed the correct spelling of fish” was “GHOTI” with the [gh] from "laugh", the [o] from "women" and the [ti] from "nation".

Friday, June 4, 2010

Spell Check



Nobody seems to be able to spell anymore, and no one seems to care.  The addition of spell-check applications on word processing software has made even those of us who were adequate at spelling totally dependent on a third-party opinion that isn’t always correct.

Now, even that tiny percentage of kids who try to learn to spell are getting grief: 

By LAUREN SAUSSER (AP) – June 3, 2010

WASHINGTON — The nation's capital always draws its share of protesters, picketing for causes ranging from health care reform to immigration policy.

But spelling bee protesters? They're out here, too.

Four peaceful protesters, some dressed in full-length black and yellow bee costumes, represented the American Literacy Council and the London-based Spelling Society and stood outside the Grand Hyatt on Thursday, where the Scripps National Spelling Bee is being held. Their message was short: Simplify the way we spell words.

Roberta Mahoney, 81, a former Fairfax County, Va. elementary school principal, said the current language obstructs 40 percent of the population from learning how to read, write and spell.

"Our alphabet has 425-plus ways of putting words together in illogical ways," Mahoney said.

The protesting cohort distributed pins to willing passers-by with their logo, "Enuf is enuf. Enough is too much."

According to literature distributed by the group, it makes more sense for "fruit" to be spelled as "froot," "slow" should be "slo," and "heifer" — a word spelled correctly during the first oral round of the bee Thursday by Texas competitor Ramesh Ghanta — should be "hefer."

Meanwhile, inside the hotel's Independence Ballroom, 273 spellers celebrated the complexity of the language in all its glory, correctly spelling words like zaibatsu, vibrissae and biauriculate.

While the protesters could make headway with cell phone texters who routinely swap "u" for "you" and "gr8" for "great," their message may be a harder sell for the Scripps crowd.

Mahoney had trouble gaining traction with at least one bee attendee. New Mexico resident Matthew Evans, 15, a former speller whose sister is participating in the bee this year, reasoned with her that if English spellings were changed, spelling bees would cease to exist.

"If a dictionary lists 'enough' as 'enuf,' the spelling bee goes by the dictionary, therefore all the spelling words are easier to spell, so the spelling bee is gone," Evans said.

"Well," Mahoney replied, "they could pick their own dictionary."


Thursday, June 3, 2010


Nature - Lightning 

It’s 2:00 a.m. this morning, and the light through the Venetian blinds is brighter than noon on a cloudless day.  Nature is putting on a light show of amazing proportions.  I watched and listened for a while; probably got back to sleep around 3:00.

Writing in  Dream Pool Essays, back in 1088 AD, the Song Dynasty  Chinese scientist Shen Kuo wrote in a discussion of the phenomenon of lightning: “Most people can only judge of things by the experiences of ordinary life, but phenomena outside the scope of this are really quite numerous. How insecure it is to investigate natural principles using only the light of common knowledge, and subjective ideas.”

A bolt of lightning can travel at a speed of 45 km/second (100,000 mph) and  can reach temperatures approaching 28,000 °C (50,000 °F), hot enough to fuse soil or sand into glass.
An average bolt of lightning carries a negative electric current of 40 kA, although some bolts can be up to 120 kA, and it transfers enough energy to power a 100 watt lightbulb for just under two months. 

A local TV station has added lightning strikes per hour to their weather reports, and the graphic includes percentages for negative and positive strikes.  In our area, it appears that the ratio of negative to positive is about 95 to 5 or 19:1.

The voltage depends on the length of the bolt: with the dielectric breakdown of air being three million volts per meter, this works out at about one billion volts for a 1,000 foot long  lightning bolt. With an electric current of 100 kA, this gives a power of 100 trillion watts.

As Kuo noted almost a thousand years ago, we still do not fully understand the phenomenon and several theories try to explain lightning generation.  The most common goes something like this:

As a thundercloud moves over the Earth's surface, an equal but opposite charge is induced in the Earth below, and the induced ground charge follows the movement of the cloud.
An initial bipolar discharge, or path of ionized air, starts from a negatively charged mixed water and ice region in the thundercloud. The discharge ionized channels are called leaders. The negative charged leaders, called  "stepped leaders", proceed generally downward in a number of quick jumps, each up to 50 meters long.

Along the way, the stepped leader may branch into a number of paths as it continues to descend. The progression of stepped leaders takes a comparatively long time (hundreds of milliseconds) to approach the ground. This initial phase involves a relatively small electric current (tens or hundreds of amperes), and the leader is almost invisible compared to the subsequent lightning channel.
When a stepped leader approaches the ground, the presence of opposite charges on the ground enhances the electric field. The electric field is highest on trees and tall buildings. If the electric field is strong enough, a conductive discharge (called a positive streamer) can develop from these points.

As the field increases, the positive streamer may evolve into a hotter, higher current leader which eventually connects to the descending stepped leader from the cloud. It is also possible for many streamers to develop from many different objects simultaneously, with only one connecting with the leader and forming the main discharge path. Photographs have been taken on which non-connected streamers are clearly visible.

When the two leaders meet, the electric current greatly increases. The region of high current propagates back up the positive stepped leader into the cloud with a "return stroke" that is the most luminous part of the lightning discharge. This electrical discharge rapidly superheats the discharge channel, causing the air to expand rapidly and produce a shock wave heard as thunder.

Of course there are other theories;  native Americans have the tradition of the Thunderbird, and the little girl at Sunday School explained that it was caused by



Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Bobby, Jack and Norma Jean


Tuesday would have been Marilyn Monroe's 84th birthday, and it marked the public debut of a rare image of Monroe with President John F. Kennedy and his brother, Attorney General  Robert F. Kennedy.  They were photographed  together after the President’s May 19, 1962, birthday party. 

The black-and-white photo, taken by White House photographer Cecil Stoughton, showed Monroe still wearing the infamously tight-fighting, sheer rhinestone-studded dress she wore when singing earlier at Madison Square Garden.

"There is no other known photo of Bobby [Kennedy] with Marilyn or JFK with Marilyn, and it's not because they were never photographed together," said filmmaker Keya Morgan, who now owns the only original prints of it. "In fact, they were photographed together many times, but the Secret Service and the FBI confiscated every single photograph."

Stoughton, who sold the prints to Morgan a year before his death in 2008, told him agents missed one negative in their search.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Pooped Pup

puppies 2

Tinker, our black & tan miniature dachshund (pictured above with her lifelong companion, Dusty) got snake-bit again yesterday.  I was cooking supper on the grill, and Tink was about 20 feet away in the flower bed when she made a noise – something between a squawk and a yelp – and ran under my feet.

I wasn’t sure what had happened at first; usually Tinker and Dusty hunt snakes, and will gang up on them.  Even when they have been bitten, and that's happened several times in the past, they will continue to bark and fight the offender.  By the time I could check her, saw the knot rising on her upper lip and get to the flower bed, the snake was long gone.

Honey gave her Benadryl – we keep a bottle of baby Benadryl liquid on hand for just such occasions – and we watched her carefully last night.  She’s acting O-K this morning. She still has some residual swelling – so she got another dose of Benadryl. 

I would post a picture, but don’t want to embarrass her.  The poor baby looks like she has the mumps.