Tuesday, January 31, 2012

No Change – Smart Move


Sometimes no news really is good news.  Jim Crane  announced last night that he has decided not to change the name of his ball team after all.

Here’s the story from AP-

New Houston Astros owner Jim Crane says he won't change the team's name.

Crane had said last week that he was considering a switch.  But he   e-mailed a video message to season ticketholders on Monday saying, "One thing that we are not going to change is the name."

He says he made the decision after receiving "strong feedback and consensus among season ticketholders and many fans." He then added that "the Houston Astros are here to stay."

The team was established in 1962 as the Colt .45s and has been called the Astros since 1965 when the name was changed to coincide with the move to the Astrodome.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Camper Cats


We once had 29 cats living here at the Boggy Thicket

We didn’t want 29 cats – I would have been (and currently am) perfectly happy with none. 

It all started when our daughter Cheryl brought in a stray kitten that “followed her home” when she drove home from the convenience store about five miles south of here.  The cat proved to be very prolific – popping out kittens much faster than we could give them away.  We soon found ourselves overwhelmed with her kittens and their kittens, and so on.  With the exception of the mother cat,  they were all too fast and too wild to catch.

Our Those 29 cats lived outside on six acres.  I can’t imagine living with 74 in a small truck camper, but a guy named Jerry Reynolds has been doing just that!

Here’s the story from Seattle’s KING 5 News:

AUBURN, Wash. -- The man who had 74 cats and one dog crammed in his camper will likely be charged with second degree animal cruelty.

Jerry Reynolds, who is originally from Oregon, has been living in his truck for the last five weeks while he visits his girlfriend at Auburn Regional Medical Center.

Thursday evening, someone reported seeing multiple cats in the windows of the camper outside the medical center.

King County Animal Control responded and found the camper to be unsafe for the animals.

Reynolds helped animal control officers remove the cats from the camper as veterinarians examined them. He said the  name of almost every cat as he handed them to authorities.

Reynolds said he had no other choice but to take the cats with him in the camper, instead of leaving them to fend for themselves.

"It was better than letting them go," he said.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

My First Time

camp hood

I’ve mentioned in the past that when I was drafted in 1966, I did basic training at Ft. Polk, Louisiana and then spent the rest of my Army career at Ft. Hood, Texas.  What I don’t think I've mentioned  was that it was my second tour at Ft. Hood.

The picture above is one variation of a patch worn by the men of the Tank Destroyer School at Camp (later Fort) Hood.  The patch featuring the black panther crushing a tank in his mouth was the symbol of the 808th Tank Destroyer Battalion that saw action in Europe in WWII.

My father trained with them at Ft. Hood before being deployed to the Pacific Theater where he fought in Manchuria and Korea.  While he was training there, we lived just outside the north gate of the fort at Gatesville, Texas.


I was only about two years old at the time, and have only a few memories of our time there. 

It was where I saw and caught my first horny toad.

There was another Army wife who lived next door who had a son  about my age.  I don’t remember her name, or his, but I remember well that there was a barbed wire fence separating our yards and I remember ducking under the wire to go play.

That same lady once fed me cabbage that she had fixed in a cast iron skillet with bacon grease.  I always wanted my mother to fix it that way because I thought it was the most wonderful thing I had ever tasted.  Mom did not make cabbage often, but when she did, she always  boiled her cabbage in a pot with a little bacon or salt pork, and it just wasn’t the same.

My other vivid memory is of the sound and the feel of the guns.  At the beginning of the war, Tank destroyers were half-tracks like this

half track td 1

{Picture from the 827th Tank Destroyer Battalion, an all black unit that fought in Europe attached to the 12th Armored Div.}

But by the time we got to Camp Hood, the Army was transitioning to track mounted guns like this

hellcat td

Which was basically a modified M1 tank mounted with a 155MM Howitzer on a turret that would rotate a full 360 degrees.

When those big guns went off, and they did a lot during training exercises, it would literally shake the ground in our front yard.

Saturday, January 28, 2012


corner stuff

Made a very disturbing discovery yesterday morning. 

In the corner of the utility room, between the crate where our Dachshunds sleep and the wall, back behind the dog food bowl, were a bunch of rat droppings!

Oh, damn! 

We have a rat! 

Now, what to do – we can’t set out traps, the dogs will set them off……

Wait a darn minute – our dogs are hunters!  They chase squirrels all day long and will bark for hours at a squirrel that they know is safe just outside the fence.  There is no way that a rat could venture into that corner, even if the pups were locked up for the night.  They would raise such Hell they could be heard in Galveston.

A closer inspection revealed that the rat turds were actually doodle bugs.  A whole bunch of them apparently came in the other day when we had that three inches of rain, then congregated in that corner and died.

I have no idea what killed them, but I don’t really care.  I’m just thankful that they were what they were.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Happened This Morning


At daybreak in the rising sun’s gleam

I stand and watch my swimming pool steam

It looks so inviting, cozy and warm

But it’s cold enough that it might do you harm

Things are not always what they might seem

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Orchids and Fungi

Years ago, our daughter Cheryl gave Honey an orchid for mother’s day.  I mentioned in a post back in 2010 - Energizer Orchid – that it is the gift that just keeps on giving.  It has sent up a new bloom shaft this year and the first buds are already getting fat so it looks like it is still on the job – maybe a week or two ahead of schedule.

I always assumed orchids were prized for their rarity almost as much as they were for their beauty.  Apparently, I was wrong. 

As pointed out in the article below, orchids are common, accounting for a tenth of the plant species inhabiting the earth.


Older forests with just the right fungi may be secret to saving vulnerable plants

When it comes to conserving the world’s orchids, not all forests are equal. In a paper to be published Jan. 25 in the journal Molecular Ecology, Smithsonian ecologists revealed that an orchid’s fate hinges on two factors: a forest’s age and its fungi.

Roughly 10 percent of all plant species are orchids, making them the largest plant family on Earth. But habitat loss has rendered many threatened or endangered. This is partly due to their intimate relationship with the soil.

Orchids depend entirely on microscopic fungi in the early stages of their lives. Without the nutrients orchids obtain by digesting these host fungi, their seeds often will not germinate and baby orchids will not grow. While researchers have known about the orchid–fungus relationship for years, very little is known about what the fungi need to survive.

Biologists based at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center launched the first study to find out what helps the fungi flourish and what that means for orchids. Led by Melissa McCormick, the researchers looked at three orchid species, all endangered in one or more U.S. states.

After planting orchid seeds in dozens of experimental plots, they also added particular host fungi needed by each orchid to half the plots. Then they followed the fate of the orchids and fungi in six study sites: three in younger forests (50 to 70 years old) and three in older forests (120 to 150 years old).

After four years they discovered orchid seeds germinated only where the fungi they needed were abundant—not merely present.

In the case of one species, Liparis liliifolia (lily-leaved twayblade), seeds germinated only in plots where the team had added fungi. This suggests that this particular orchid could survive in many places, but the fungi they need do not exist in most areas of the forest.

Meanwhile, the fungi displayed a strong preference for older forests.

Soil samples taken from older forest plots had host fungi that were five to 12 times more abundant compared to younger forests, even where the research team had not added them. They were more diverse as well. More mature plots averaged 3.6 different Tulasnella fungi species per soil sample (a group of fungi beneficial to these orchids), while the younger ones averaged only 1.3.

Host fungi were also more abundant in plots where rotting wood was added. These host fungi, which are primarily decomposers, may grow better in places where decomposing wood or leaves are plentiful.

All this implies that to save endangered orchids, planting new forests may not be enough. If the forests are not old enough or do not have enough of the right fungi, lost orchids may take decades to return, if they return at all.

“This study, for the first time, ties orchid performance firmly to the abundance of their fungi,” McCormick said. “It reveals the way to determine what conditions host fungi need, so we can support recovery of the fungi needed by threatened and endangered orchids.”

The University of Alaska Fairbanks and Purdue University also contributed to this study.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Extremely Loud – Incredibly Moving


Went to see this movie yesterday and unequivocally recommend it to everyone.

Anything I could tell you about the experience would probably send you screaming in the opposite direction, but – believe me – you need to see this film.  It is particularly important in view of the fact that we will have people voting this year who are too young to have known what was happening on 9/11/2001.

I am amazed that young Thomas Horn, who plays Oskar Schell, the story’s protagonist, did not get an Oscar nomination.  He is fantastic.  He appears in practically every frame, and his portrayal is perfection, absolutely spot-on.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Texas Parks Need Help

I have mentioned in previous posts about the effects of the drought on Texas parks.   I got this email today, and thought I should pass it along:


Texas Parks & Wildlife


Dear Robert Couch,
I am reaching out to you because you have been a supporter of Texas State Parks. As you may know, record drought and heat, devastating wildfires, and a drop in visitation have led to a critical situation for state parks.
As a result, we need $4.6 million to offset this shortfall and help keep these state parks open. Thankfully there are three simple ways to help:
First, make a tax-deductible donation online or by mail.
, write in a donation of $5 or more to state parks on your vehicle registration form when you register your motor vehicle by mail, at your local county tax office, or online in counties which offer online payment.
Third, and most importantly, visit a state park with your family or friends because visitor fees pay for about half of all state park operating costs.
Thank you for this opportunity to communicate with you. Please be assured that we will not abuse the privilege. I hope you will act now to help keep your state parks open for all Texans to enjoy. Because Texas State Parks won’t be the same without you.

Carter Smith

Carter Smith
Executive Director

If you would like to keep up with what is happening in our state parks, I invite you to subscribe to free email updates of your choice, including the State Parks Getaways e-newsletter and much more.


4200 Smith School Road  |  Austin, TX 78744  | (512) 389-4800

Monday, January 23, 2012

A Close Look At Drink

Here is a link to a group of fascinating and beautiful photos.  They were taken through a microscope, and the subject matter is booze – HERE

Although the headline says they are alcoholic, my personal favorite was Coca Cola.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Newborn Fawn

Ebaum’s World is a website that is almost bad enough to be good.  It offers lots of bad jokes along with pictures and videos – most of which are in questionable taste.

Sometimes though, they offer a nugget of pure gold.  Take a look at this video of a newborn fawn, and you’ll see what I mean.


Saturday, January 21, 2012


This BBC nature video shows a flock of gulls feeding on a school of bait fish.  It looks like they are doing a very efficient job – so much so that I was beginning to wonder why I was watching….


Friday, January 20, 2012

Aurora’s New Mom

aurora and mom

The newborn orangutan rejected by her mother has found a nurturing surrogate at the Houston Zoo, ending nine months of round-the-clock care by human substitutes, the zoo announced Thursday.

"We couldn't be more pleased and excited that Cheyenne has accepted the role of surrogate mom for Aurora. It is a great joy to see them together," assistant curator of primates Lynn Killam said in a statement.

After Aurora was abandoned by her mother Kelly only 12 hours after birth in March, the zoo's Wortham World of Primates keepers and an army of 50 volunteers stepped in. Their mission was to get the clinging, helpless baby ready to live with her orangutan family.

Throughout the process, the zoo's other orangutans would watch the baby and her human caregivers through a mesh wall. In the beginning, she clung to the furry vests volunteers wore; the volunteers had to resist holding her as they would a human baby. As Aurora began moving about on her own, "the primate care team taught her to go through what's called a 'creep door,' " a small opening in doors between rooms where the orangutans stay at night, Killam said.

The door between Cheyenne and Aurora was opened for the first time on Dec. 28. "Aurora chose not to go completely through it, instead touching and playing with Cheyenne through the small gap as Cheyenne reached her arm through," Killam said.

The next day, Aurora went through the door. "Cheyenne picked her up and carried her across the room," she said.

The older orangutan carried the baby for seven hours, even allowing Aurora to ride on her head, and shared food with her, the zoo said.

"What we saw was an orangutan mom who is experienced and nuanced in her care," Killam said. "It was a wonderful day."

Primate staffers do not know why Kelly, who raised 8-year-old Solaris, abandoned Aurora. Cheyenne previously served as a surrogate mother to Indah, an orangutan born at the Memphis Zoo in 2004 and brought to Houston in 2005 after her mother could not care for her.

The sixth orangutan at the zoo is Rudi. Aurora's father, Doc, died in August. He was 27.

Aurora and her surrogate mother Cheyenne may be seen daily at the Houston Zoo's orangutan habitat when it is not raining and the temperature is above 60 degrees.


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Big Catch In Luce’s Bayou

Just a couple miles from the Boggy Thicket, Luce’s Bayou makes it way to Lake Houston.  The bayou is a good place to fish for bass, crappie, catfish and – apparently – used cars.

Here’s the story reported last night by the local news:

Authorities attempted to pull three vehicles from the murky waters of Luce Bayou in Huffman Jan. 18 after receiving an alert from a fisherman.

“We [had] two cars and a pickup truck down there. They were found a few weeks ago by a bass fisherman who had a side sonar scanner in his boat,” said Houston Police Department Sgt. Billy Ray Wilburn.

Wilburn said the sophisticated equipment generated quality photographs of the submerged vehicles, which the fisherman then submitted to police.

Authorities suspect all three vehicles have been stolen. The suspicion was confirmed in at least two cases so far. Officials ran the license plate information of the first vehicle recovered by divers of the HPD Marine Enforcement Division and HPD Lake Patrol personnel, a silver 2003 GMC Sierra, and learned that the truck had been reported stolen in 2005.

“The insurance already paid off on that truck, which has probably been in the water for almost seven years,” Wilburn said. “Usually stolen cars are dumped in a wooded area and they’re fairly easy to recover. But if someone goes through so much trouble to dump them, there’s a chance they may have been used in more serious crimes.”

A second vehicle, a 1999 Pontiac Grand Am, was brand new when it was reported stolen in 1999. Police also managed to pull it from the bayou.

A third vehicle, a sedan of still unknown make and model, was buried too deeply in the mud to be recovered.

"It was stuck in mud almost to the roof of the car," Wilburn said. "It would be very expensive to dig it out, so it probably will remain there. Divers removed the license plate to find out more about the vehicle."

The three vehicles were found about 40 feet off the bayou’s north bank, in 18-21 feet of water, less than half a mile east of FM 2100. As of Wednesday afternoon, police had found no evidence that any other kind of foul play associated with the theft of the vehicles

A photographer caught video of authorities hauling the truck out of the bayou.  It seems amazing to me, but it appears the tires were still inflated after nearly eight years under water.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Cheryl to the Rescue

I had nothing at all to say this morning. 

A check of local news had a story about a high school girl from Pasadena, Texas, who is playing on the Mexican national soccer team, another about a guy in McAllen who was charged with animal cruelty after being caught having sex with a horse. 

I couldn’t generate enough interest in either story to come up with an appropriate comment.

Then my daughter sent me this link:  Video

Hope you enjoy it – that’s as good as it gets today.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Basketball Is Dangerous – Off the Court

Basketball really never was a non-contact sport, but Friday the 13th was a bad day for area basketball.

Manvel HS coach Greg Devers is nursing a huge shiner.  He was punched out by a fan after his team beat La Marque on their home court. 

Meanwhile, our own Huffman Falcons JV team had defeated Cleveland in Cleveland, and were in the locker room when they were attacked by the host team. 

The word I hear is that our boys won the game and the fight, too.  Good for them! 

They are back to school today for the first time since the incident, and a little worried about possible repercussions – remember, today’s Zero Tolerance policies also punish the victims.  We hope common sense prevails.

If there is a moral to be drawn from this it is

  • Don’t play on the road on Friday the 13th, or
  • If you must play, it is safer to lose. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

3M – Snow – and Miss America

In the early 70’s when I first went to 3M headquarters in St. Paul, Minnesota, I discovered that – compared to women from the South or Southwest - girls from the upper Midwest all have large ankles. 

Of course, that is a generalization, and all generalizations have their exceptions, but it seemed to me that Minnesota girls, even the slender ones, had much thicker ankles than their counterparts in Texas.  Sort of like comparing the legs of a Percheron and a quarter horse.

I was reminded of this yesterday when I saw the photos of Wisconsin’s Laura Kaeppeler,  the new Miss America.


Laura Kaeppeler miss-america-011412- (3)

Laura Kaepler














I’m not saying that she is not attractive, and I guess a preference for a more tapered ankle may be based (at least in part) on what we are used to seeing, but those are some hefty ankles.

My personal theory is that they get that way from slogging through all that snow up there.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Dolly, Dolly


Dolly Parton has been in the news quite a bit lately.  She recently turned 65, and is currently starring in Joyful Noise, a movie with Queen Latifa.

The on-line version of a fan magazine published the two pictures above, and is inviting readers to vote on whether Dolly’s looks are the product of good genes or good surgery.

I don’t know, and don’t really care, but I do remember her saying on a TV interview years ago:

It takes a lot of work to look this tacky.”

Saturday, January 14, 2012


I saw the most amazing thing yesterday.

I was driving home, headed east, just about sunset, and the sky behind me was a remarkable orange glow in my rear view mirror.That would have been beautiful enough but the light show actually covered the entire horizon for a full 360 degrees! 

The sky above was still a soft blue, but there was a ring of color all around me that ranged from orange and gold through red and various shades of pink to mauve and lavender on the sky ahead of me.

I’d never seen anything like it.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Che the Car Salesman

Daimler AG apologized Thursday for using an image of Marxist revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara during a promotional presentation for Mercedes-Benz cars.

The image briefly appeared Tuesday during a presentation by Dieter Zetsche, head of Daimler's Mercedes unit, at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. It reproduced a famous Alberto Korda photo of Guevara, the Argentine communist who spearheaded the revolution that brought Fidel Castro to power in Cuba. The photo became a symbol of communist revolutionary movements during the 1960s and '70s.

On the screen, the star on Che’s beret is replaced by the Mercedes-Benz three-pointed star logo.


Here is the official statement:
In his keynote speech at CES, Dr. Zetsche addressed the revolution in automobility enabled by new technologies, in particular those associated with connectivity. To illustrate this point, the company briefly used a photo of revolutionary Che Guevara (it was one of many images and videos in the presentation). Daimler was not condoning the life or actions of this historical figure or the political philosophy he espoused. We sincerely apologize to those who took offense.

I, for one, am not offended, but this is obviously more than a simple slip of the tongue.  Someone spent hours on this presentation, and I’m sure it was reviewed before being presented.  Daimler should have realized that some would be offended.  At that point, they should have decided to pull the picture, or decided to just say “Screw ‘em if they can’t take a joke.”  The apology should never have been offered.

Thursday, January 12, 2012



Although the weather had been great for several days, the ground at Boggy Thicket was still too wet for outside activity, and Honey and I were getting a severe case of cabin fever, so yesterday we went on a date.

The plan was to have an early lunch at Olive Garden – and pick up a couple of bottles of their salad dressing to go – then catch a matinee showing of War Horse at the Deerbrook AMC. 

Best of all, it was going to be free!  Rummaging through her purse, Honey found gift cards for both the restaurant and the theater.

Didn’t work out that way, though.  When we got to the restaurant, we found  they were closed for renovations.

We weren’t really hungry, so we decided to head for the mall and do some window shopping, then pick up something to eat at the food court.  Honey found a cute blouse she bought, and, when we did eat, we were amazed at the excellent quality of the food at the Chinese place.

Some of the critic’s complaints about War Horse are true – it is a long movie and takes a while to develop, but it is impossible not to become invested in the adventures of the amazing horse.  All in all, it was a great day.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012



america criedTitled America Cried, the eagle is the work of local sculptor R. David Mattiza, whose bronze sculptures are in the White House, Pentagon and the George H.W. Bush Library.

Mattiza died Friday at age 61. The cause was a brain hemorrhage.

"Born in California, Mattiza spent most of his life in the Houston area. For more than a decade, he owned and operated a studio at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center in Katy, where he showcased his work. From 1993 to 1996, he lived in Sedona, Ariz., and studied with sculptor John Soderberg.

Mattiza was known for working themes of nature and the Southwest into his sculptures. One-quarter Crow Indian, he created life-size bronze castings of American Indian figures.

"I really can't call what I do 'work,' " Mattiza once said of his calling. "It's like getting to play on a daily basis."

You can see more examples of his work here - Gallery

Monday, January 9, 2012

Houston Loses a Landmark

The old Prudential building bit the dust yesterday.

Now known as The Houston Main Building (HMB)  it was opened by Prudential Insurance Co. in 1952 as its southwest regional office. At the time, the 20-story office building was Houston's tallest building outside of downtown. In 1974, MD Anderson Hospital purchased the 500,000-square-foot facility, which included 22.4 acres of land and a surface lot containing hundreds of parking spaces. The University of Texas officially named the building the Houston Main Building in 1980.
The acquisition of the building allowed executive and other administrative offices to move across Holcombe Blvd. from the hospital to HMB to accommodate the expansion of clinical space. Over the years, MD Anderson updated and renovated some floors to support specific functions, and the expansive parking area was used for new construction.
The building was differentially sinking one side at a time, cracking the foundation and the exterior limestone and granite.
After much discussion and many feasibility studies conducted by outside consultants, it was determined that renovation and repair of HMB would be more costly than demolition and construction of a newer, updated facility designed around MD Anderson's mission and goals.
The last employees moved out of HMB March 2010; the building was officially closed April 1, 2010.
It was imploded on Sunday, Jan. 8, 2012.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

NFL meets DVR


The Houston Texans are in the NFL playoffs for the first time in franchise history, and they beat the Bengals yesterday to win their first playoff game.

We gave the DVR a workout.  Pausing after the first couple of possessions – Houston and Cincinnati both went three and out – to fix us a drink.  As the game progressed, we were able to fast-forward through most of the commercials and replay all our favorite plays.  Sweet!

The Texans won 31-10.  Next stop Baltimore – the Ravens beat our guys 29-14 back in October.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Auto-fetch Machine

He’s a male, but in build and coloration, the dachshund in the video below looks just like Dusty, the smaller of our two miniature doxies.

Dusty, however is way too cool to fetch the ball.  Even if we threw one for her, she would just tell us to go get it.

Canine-intelligence expert Stanley Coren has found that dogs have the developmental abilities of a human 2-year-old, with the average dog capable of learning the meanings of 165 words.  Dusty’s vocabulary is a lot bigger than that, and we learned very early that it did no good to spell words like T-R-E-A-T; she knew what we were saying before we could spell it out.

Just because she understands what we’re saying, it doesn’t mean that she will mind.  She is convinced (with some justification) that she is the alpha of our pack and we are here to do her bidding.  Tinker, our other dachshund, does anything Dusty tells her to do, and usually, so do we.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Biometric Security My Ass

From  a story published in PSFK this week-

Researchers from the Advanced Institute of Industrial Technology in Tokyo, Japan have developed a car seat that can recognize a person when they sit in it. Using a series of 360 sensors to measure how much pressure people place on the seat, a personalized profile can be generated for the driver of a vehicle. This can then be used as an anti-theft device, identifying the car’s owner when they sit down but not allowing others to drive away with the vehicle.

Anti-Theft Car Seat Recognizes Drivers When They Sit Down

During experiments, the smart technology was able to identify people with 98% accuracy and the makers hope it will become available commercially within two to three years. There are also other possibilities for such technology, including security identification for offices that enables users to log into their computers as they sit down.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Do I Hear Fifty?


The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is coming soon – the Houston Metro Go Texan bunch has a Chili Cook-off this weekend, and the first actual rodeo events take place on February 28th.

Record-breaking prices and charitable bidders make every auction and livestock sale at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo™ memorable. Last year, breed association Show-sponsored sales totaled more than $2.5 million. More than $10.6 million dollars were paid at the junior auctions and Champion Wine Auction, with the proceeds benefiting the youth of Texas. The spirit of giving is never in short supply at the sales and auctions.

But for totally outrageous bidding at an auction, our local millionaires could take some lessons from the Japanese.

japan pricey tuna-770342702_v2.grid-7x2


A bluefin tuna caught off northeastern Japan fetched a record 56.49 million yen, or about $736,000, yesterday in the first auction of the year at Tokyo's Tsukiji fish market. The price translates to $1,238 per pound. 

The price for the 593-pound tuna beat last year's record of 32.49 million yen or about $416,000. The winning bidder, Kiyoshi Kimura, president of Kiyomura Co., which operates the Sushi-Zanmai restaurant chain, said he wanted to give Japan a boost after last year's devastating tsunami.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

What Did I Tell You?

Back in September, I posted a similar picture from Australia.  Here’s another one from Florida:


Just one more reminder that it really is

A Frog-Eat-Frog World.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Best Headline

My favorite headline from 2011 was first published a year ago tomorrow.  It is -

Never Give A Sword To A Man Who Can’t Dance!

The headline was much better than the article, but, if you want to read it, its from the Jan. 3, 2011 edition of Slate Magazine.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

California Is Exporting Quakes

There was another 7.0 earthquake in Japan this morning, but so far,  no serious damage reported and no Tsunami warning issued.  Just yesterday, there was a 4.0 quake centered in Youngstown, Ohio.

Californians seem to enjoy these reports of trembling in the center of the country.  Here’s how it was reported by the L A Times:

In the waning hours of 2011, Mother Nature offered up yet another seismic surprise to round out a year of earthquakes in unexpected places — this time a 4.0 quake in Ohio.

The quake struck around 3:05 p.m. Saturday near Youngstown, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. It was the strongest of 10 quakes recorded in the region in 2011, the agency said.

No major damage was reported, though readers of The Vindicator newspaper in Youngstown certainly had things to say about it on the paper’s website.

“The dogs went crazy!” wrote someone only identified as “HonestAbe.” “I thought a plane went down as we live about 5 miles from the airport. Hadn't felt previous ten earthquakes ... but this one was big!"

The USGS says that the region is no stranger to quakes, though they are indeed rare. Its websitenotes:

“The Northeast Ohio seismic zone has had moderately frequent earthquakes at least since the first one was reported in 1823. The largest earthquake (magnitude 4.8) caused damage in 1986 in northeasternmost Ohio, and the most recent damaging shock (magnitude 4.5) occurred in 1998 at the seismic zone's eastern edge in northwestern Pennsylvania. Earthquakes too small to cause damage are felt two or three times per decade.”

Still, the Youngstown quake isn’t that surprising when one considers all the other shaking recorded outside of California in 2011.

Earthquakes jangled nerves in Arkansas this year, and another bunch of quakes in Oklahoma — including a 5.6 in November — prompted scientists from all over to descend on the Sooner State in search of answers for all the ground-moving activity.

“Everyone's saying we'll take the tornadoes,” Ashley Gilbreth of Meeker told The Times after feeling another 3.6 temblor in November. “At least you know they're coming.”

And, of course, on Aug. 23 there was the 5.8 earthquake in Virginia that was felt up and down the Atlantic seaboard.

Just this week the National Park Service reported on the extent of the damage suffered by the 555-foot-tall Washington Monument. Cracks and chipped stones were discovered up and down the monument, and extensive cracking near the peak leaves it vulnerable to rain.

But months before the Virginia earthquake, a smaller, though highly noticeable, quake struck the Chicago area. Yes, Chicago.

It hit Feb.10, packed a magnitude of 3.8 and was centered in Elgin, a community about 40 miles northwest of Chicago. Illinois residents, clearly not accustomed to such things, offered up 601 comments, exclamations and questions on the Chicago Tribune website.

Californians, who barely look up when a 3.8 hits, might find them of particular interest -- free of smugness, of course. A sampling of the remarks:

“I thought my apartment building was collapsing.”

“This thing scared the heck out of me.”

“I thought so! At least now I know it wasn’t a ghost shaking the bed!”

“I literally got thrown out of bed. I thought at first my dog was laying next to my bed scratching the heck out of herself. Then I got up and ran downstairs – I’m not sure what for though.”

“I thought the snow plow had hit the house!!!”