Thursday, September 29, 2005

Stuff On My Cat

For all of you who enjoy cat blogging, you'll love this site I found called Stuff On My Cat. It has lots of cute pictures of cats with, you guessed it, stuff on them. And not to miss out on the fun, here's a picture of one of my cats with stuff on him.
He LOVES playing in my fabric scraps!

Monday, September 26, 2005

Love Bugs

Ever wondered what that annoying insects that stick to your windshield really are? They are popularly known as "love bugs," but they are really Plecia nearctica a specie of small flies.

Did you ever hear a story about them being genetically engineered or the product of science experiment gone wrong? Neither had I until today. Here's the story if you're interested.

Natural Cycles or Global Warming

There seems to be much debate over whether or not the recent increase in the number and severity of hurricanes is due to do global warming. This article from the BBC suggests that it is really to early to tell. But it seems to lean more toward the Natural Cycle theory of current hurricane behavior:

The changing phases of Atlantic hurricane activity are not completely understood; but there appears to be a link to fluctuations in the thermohaline circulation, the global pattern of ocean currents which in western Europe appears as the Gulf Stream.

By causing the sea-surface temperature in the tropical Atlantic to change by even a degree Celsius, these fluctuations can bring major differences to the number of hurricanes generated in a particular year.
They do go on to point out however:
it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that we would all benefit from people on both wings of the issue looking rather more to research. . .
I certainly can't argue with that statement.

This article at RealClimate presents the argument in more the way that I view the situation:

Yet this is not the right way to frame the question. As we have also pointed out in previous posts, we can indeed draw some important conclusions about the links between hurricane activity and global warming in a statistical sense. The situation is analogous to rolling loaded dice: one could, if one was so inclined, construct a set of dice where sixes occur twice as often as normal. But if you were to roll a six using these dice, you could not blame it specifically on the fact that the dice had been loaded. Half of the sixes would have occurred anyway, even with normal dice. Loading the dice simply doubled the odds. In the same manner, while we cannot draw firm conclusions about one single hurricane, we can draw some conclusions about hurricanes more generally. In particular, the available scientific evidence indicates that it is likely that global warming will make - and possibly already is making - those hurricanes that form more destructive than they otherwise would have been.
It would seem that even if the "natural cycle" people are right and this increase in frequency and severity is due to normal cycle of warmer Atlantic Ocean tempertures, it would seem that global warming could only serve to magnify that effect. Even if it is not affecting us yet, do we really want to contribute to the possiblity of future hurricanes like Katrina for our children or grandchildren to deal with?

Saturday, September 24, 2005

On Rebuilding New Orleans

New Orleans will most likely be rebuilt. President Bush has promised enormous amounts of federal dollars to aid in the rebuilding process. However, with new rains from Hurricane Rita, New Orleans has once again begun to flood. I am aware of the fact that the levees have not been fully repaired from the damage they sustained from Hurricane Katrina, and therefore new flooding would be expected under the circumstances. But, it does bring to mind the question of how secure the area would be from future storms.

Hurricane specialist indicate that we are currently in a cycle that will cause more active hurricane seasons, possibly for decades to come.
In the past decade, the southeastern United States and the Caribbean basin have been pummeled by the most active hurricane cycle on record. Forecasters expect the stormy trend to continue for another 20 years or more.

Is it really wise to spend billions of dollars to rebuild below sea level? I'm not necessarily saying that New Orleans should be abandoned altogether, only the areas that lie below sea level. These area are always going to vulnerable to major flooding.

Hurricane specialist also suggest:
Since the 1970s, hurricanes have caused more property damage and casualties. Researchers disagree over whether this destructiveness is a consequence of the storms’ growing intensity or the population boom along vulnerable coastlines.

“The damage and casualties produced by more intense storms could increase considerably in the future,” Emanuel said.
If were rebuild the areas that are below sea level, we are just asking for trouble.

Friday, September 23, 2005


If you receive a phone call telling you that someone you love has been injured in some kind of accident and they give you a number to call to get more information, it may be a hoax! It was brought to my attention (via family members) that several people have received such calls and been directed to call a number beginning with the area codes 809 (Dominican Republic), 284 (British Virgin Islands), or 876 (Jamaica). When they called the number, they found that it was just a hoax and they were charged a large sum of money for the call. If you receive such a call, you are advised to check on your loved ones through other means, but do not call the number.

I do not know if this has only been aimed at senior citizens, but it was the senior citizen center that was spreading the warning. Many people have loved ones on the road and displaced at the moment due to storm evacuations and it appears that someone has decided to try to cash in on the misfortunes of others. It is a horrible hoax, please spread the word so that others will not fall prey to it.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Are they crazy?!

Hurricane Rita spins toward Texas, Gulf Coast - Hurricanes' Wrath -

I would think that after what happened with Hurricane Katrina and the Galveston storm of 1900, everyone would want to evacuate that lived in Galveston. That is apparently not the case.
Jennifer McDonald in Galveston planned to ride Rita out. She and her husband have enough food and water to last 10 days in their wooden house. If it gets really bad, the couple will take to the roof.

“If it goes, it goes,” the 42-year-old nurse said of the house. “We’re completely prepared.”

Anyone who believes that they can be complete prepared for something like this must be either crazy or also prepared to die. I would think that being prepared to die would have to be part of being "completely prepared" to ride out a Cat 5 storm on an island that is only 8 feet above sea level.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Dangerous Jobs and Retirement Age

I was reading an article at MSN this morning about the Top 10 Most Dangerous Jobs and I was reminded of a post I read a while back at Poliblog. I had intended to make this comment on the post at the time, but never managed to get around to it.

The subject of the post was that GOP Senators wanted to raise the retirement age to 69 and Dr. Taylor seemed to imply that he was okay with the idea. In a comment to the post, Mark Griffith, of PoliticalMan, suggested that people who do blue collar/hard labor jobs are less able to continue to work as they reach their late 60's. Dr. Taylor replies:

This is true, and the normal objection. However, is there really that radical a
difference, on average, between 67 and 69 in terms of physical ability? (or even
between 65 and 69?)
And while there is no doubt that being a blue collar
worker is harder on the body than being a white collar worker, I am guessing
that most people in the 60s, even in blue collar jobs, have advanced beyond
working as a basic-level dock loader.

It is this statement that gives me pause.

First of all, what statistics back up this argument? There could be quite a bit of difference between one's physical capabilities at 65 and 69. Do Dr. Taylor or the GOP Senators have statistics to back up their point of view that their is little appreciable difference?

Furthermore, Dr. Taylor goes on to suggest (he guesses) that even those who work in blue collar jobs progress beyond the more strenuous tasks as they advance in age. This suggestion brings me to the article I was reading at MSN about the dangerous jobs. I do not claim to have statistics to refute the argument in general; however, I do have first hand knowledge that refutes his blanket "guess" about blue collar workers.

If you look at the list of dangerous jobs provided at MSN, you will see that the 8th most dangerous job is working with powerlines. For almost my whole life, my father has been employed in this field of work (He got the job when I was 2 years old and he retired last year). He was an actual lineman who climbed poles and repaired electrical lines. He did get promoted over time and was the foreman of his crew when he retired. However, his job was still quite physically demanding. At least one week out of every month, right up until he retired, he was "on call" to "catch trouble" any hour of the day or night. If there was a storm that knocked out power, he was expected to go out in the storm and repair the lines. He would sometimes work through the night with no sleep at all, doing a very dangerous job under less than optimal conditions. Therefore, age and advanced position does not always mean less physically demanding labor.

Just something to consider.

Monday, September 19, 2005

The Accidental Gardener

It seems to me, that I somehow manage to do all my best gardening by accident. Every year I plant vegetables and flowers in small gardens around my yard and experience some amount of success with these gardens. However, also every year, I always seem to manage to have plants I didn't intend to grow, or at least not in there present location, and I'm not referring to weeds, per se.

My first experience with "volunteer" plants was in my front flower garden. I had planted Vinca and Petunias and they grew relatively well. Then the following year, before I planted anything, small Vinca seedlings started to emerge from seeds that the plants had dropped the year before. This was nice, because I didn't have to buy seeds or plants and the volunteer flowers filled in nicely.

However, mixed in with the Vinca seedlings were small tomato seedlings. I had planted tomatoes in a vegetable garden in the back yard the year before and apparently some seeds were transferred from the compost pile to the flower garden. I transplanted some to the tomato plants, but more began to emerge, so I just left them. The tomato plants that grew in my flower garden that year were healthier and produced more than either the ones I transplanted or the ones I purchased at Wal-Mart and planted. So thus, I had tomato plant "weeds" in my volunteer flower garden that year (and every year since).

The next year, I had volunteer potato plants in my vegetable garden. Again I am crediting the compost pile (obviously I don't know how to properly compost). I had never planted potatoes, but had thrown potato peels in the compost. The potatoes, too, produced well as "weeds" in my vegetable garden. The carrots and radishes I planted, however, never even came up.

Now this year, I've had a new volunteer (weed) vegetable to come up in yet a different location. This however, is NOT due to my faulty composting skills. For 3 years I had planted watermelons in the vegetable garden and never produced a single edible watermelon. Even this year, my youngest son carefully planted a watermelon seed in the vegetable garden next to the cucumber plants (which didn't amount to anything, btw). That watermelon seed never even sprouted. However, over in the flower garden next to the swimming pool, a watermelon seed, which was apparently dropped between the cement sidewalk and the concrete edging of the flower garden when someone was eating watermelon, sprouted. While we were out of town for about a week, the seedling grew. When we returned home, we found that we had a thriving watermelon plant growing on our pool deck, partially in the flower bed, partially on the sidewalk. At that point we figured we would let it grow and see what happened. Eventually it filled the flower garden (approx. 4' x 24'), covered half the sidewalk between the garden and the pool and began to grow through the fence. It also produced ten good-sized watermelons.

So, for some reason it seems, the flowers the children give me for Mother's Day die, the plants that I purposefully plant may or may not produce, but the plants that plant themselves thrive beyond belief. I guess I'm not really a gardener, just a caretaker for what ever God gives me. That seems to be the story of my life.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

OMG! Another Hurricane in the Gulf?

The National Weather Service is now perdicting that tropical storm Rita will build strength and move into the gulf later this week. This is certainly not good news for the already battered Gulf Coast.

On Students Selling Junk

Dr. Steven Taylor over at Poliblog has posted a copy of one of his op-ed columns on school fundraising and I couldn't agree with him more. I have always felt that it was a waste of money to buy the overpriced trinkets in order for the school to receive a small fraction of the selling price.

There are other fundraising efforts that bother me just as much or more even. Have you ever had your child bring home a booklet to fill out for magazine sales? You are expected to supply the names, addresses and (maybe) phone numbers of TEN close relatives so that they can be solicited to buy magazines. Just what your family wants, right? Selling them out to telemarketers. I told my son that maybe we should call up those relatives and tell them to give us a donation for the school or else we'll give there information to the telemarketers. (We ultimately did not participate in the fundraiser.)

If your child is in band at school it is even worse. They are bombarded with all the school fundraisers and the band fundraisers. The one for band that irritates me the most in the Boston Butt sale. All band students are required to sell three Boston Butts. The first year my son was in band we bought one and sold two more to neighbors. There are supposed to be fully cooked, ready to eat Boston Butts. When we received ours and brought it home, we found that it was FAR from fully cooked and was, at best, half cooked. If I was going to have to cook the stupid thing my self, I could have bought one much cheaper at Wal-Mart. The next year I refused to buy one and told my son that he could tell the teacher he would not be selling them in the future. I sent a note to school telling the teacher that neither I nor my son would be involved in selling half cooked pork.

I remember when I was child trying to sell junk to my grandmother, she would always ask if she could just give a direct donation to the school instead. I think that the schools should make this an option for the children so that they could still feel like they were participating in the actual fundraiser but not have to sell junk door to door.

Siegelman Running for Governor

Former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman announced that he will once again seek the state's highest office. The article states:
Siegelman says he has "listened to the people of Alabama. I have learned that a good many of them want me in this race."

Hopefully if Siegelman really is "listening to the people of Alabama", this time he will not put all his eggs in one basket - an Alabama education lottery.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's son arrested

The AP reports :

John Ellis Bush, 21, was arrested by agents of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage
Commission at 2:30 a.m. on a corner of Austin’s Sixth Street bar district

The article also reminds us:

Noelle Bush, the governor’s daughter, was arrested in January 2002 and accused
of trying to pass a fraudulent prescription at a pharmacy to obtain the
anti-anxiety drug Xanax. She completed a drug rehabilitation program in August
2003 and a judge dismissed the drug charges against her.

Taking into consideration these problems, combined with the similar problems experienced by President Geo. W. Bush and his daughter, Jenna, it would seem that drug related problem run in the Bush family.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Undies Man lives

Over at Fruits and Votes we find the story of Undies Man. Is he anything like Captain Underpants? Find out for yourself.

Living in the same house with 3 young boys, I find that references to "undies" and the giggles that follow are waaaay more common than they should be.

Hogeboom on Survivor

Former Dallas Cowboy quarterback Gary Hogeboom is a contestant on the newest installment of Survivor, Survivor Guatemala. He's hiding his true identity from his fellow survivors for fear that they will vote him out if they knew he was a former NFL player. He assured viewers, however, that he played before the day of high dollar contracts.

UPDATE: Although I have been unable to find Hogeboom's actual salary information, I did find some general salary info for the period in which he played (1981-1989).
• The 1982 strike resulted in the average salary for average player salaries rise from $120,000 in 1982 to $244,000 in 1987.

Also of note to Troy views, hometown boy Bobby Jon Drinkard has come back to try again at the title of sole survivor. Maybe he'll have better luck this time.

Official Sports Team?

Dr. Taylor over at Poliblog has started today's Friday Fun Meme early this morning by asking what is the official sport team of your blog. I'll join in the fun even though I'm not really what you would call an avid sports fan. Here goes. . .

Pro Football: Never watch it, don't care.

Pro Basketball: Haven't watched a game since Michael Jordon retired (the second time)

Pro Baseball: I do actively root for the Atlanta Braves.

College Basketball: Oh course, the UNC Tarheels!

Hockey: Never watched it, can't imagine I ever will.

Soccer: That would have to be limited to my sons' youth soccer games. Although the pro games are interesting to watch at times, I don't even know any of the teams.

And, btw Dr. T, of course you noticed the NHL strike, see here's proof.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Human Arrogance

After the recent events in the Gulf Coast and after watching this PBS special, I am especially reminded of the arrogance of human beigns.

The PBS Special about the flood of 1927, relates the story of the flooding of Greenville, and how African American men were forced into service to fortify the levee on the Mississippi River. The white elite were convinced that if enough men worked to sandbag the levee, they could hold back the raging flood waters of the Mighty Mississippi.

In New Orleans, many believed that human engineering could save the city from the disaster than has now wrecked the city. Meteorologists knew it was only a matter of time, but many believed that time would never come, or that, with time, the levees could be made to withstand a storm like Katrina.

Why do we believe that we can control nature or at least out smart it? If humans are so intelligent, why won't we realize that we are a part of nature and that we must learn to live within its cycles and not always try to do battle against it? Humans are arrogant and arrogance is a dangerous thing. People die from it, but we do not seem to learn from it. . . not the ultimate lesson anyway.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Irrational woman

No, I'm not making a derogatory comment about women. I'm just expressing my belief that neither man nor woman is rational by nature and trying to set Descartes on his head.