Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Evolution of a pond!

In the winter, you may think that our backyard pond is not interesting. Although the koi and other fish are in a deep sleep, many things change. The opening produced by the bubbler during cold weather is a good indication of a prolonged cold period. Last week was a period of cold weather when the lows were in the single digits and highs did not make it out of the 20s. The lowest the old thermometer recorded was 7 degrees. The above photo is the starting of the winter temperatures. Ice beginning to form. Below we see the snow showers have arrived and the opening became more established.

The next two photos show the results of several days of the single digit temperatures. Notice that the opening never has closed, but certaily gets smalled in diameter. (Last winter the opening did close and I had to crack the ice so the fish would have sufficient aeration). My thought during these times are of how this would play out in the tundra. Yes, the hole would be made by a seal and a polar bear would be awaiting at the hole for a meal!

I am certain the ice would not support the weight of a polar bear, but evidence indicates that the racoons do travel across the surface for a drink.

It has warmed the past couple of days and the pond is leaving its icy glory.

This morning it is raining and the ice is barely present. On Friday we enter the month of February. The spring critters and flowers can not be far behind.

Yep, here is a sign of spring, the Japanese pussy willows are now in bloom. Hurray!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Flowering Tea- Oh, It Can't Be!

Yes, we discovered the wonders of flowering tea this week. Sarah gave Diana and her Mom each a glass teapot and amazing flowering tea balls. This tea is handpicked, sewen together with specific flowers, and dried so it look like a tea ball. Once the ball is placed in boiling water, the flower quickly blooms and a yummy tea is produced. Please take some time and click on the link below that explains the flowering tea and its production.


The flowering tea balls are shipped in plastic pouches. This shipment had some real interesting names for their flowering tea balls. Lily Basket, Rising Sun, and Golden Prosperity are the teas we can in our kit. There are many other selections from other companies.

Once out of the packaging, the beauty of the tea ball is revealed. How could this be produced with such beautiful symmetry? As you saw in the video link, the folks making these tea jewels are real artisians.

Once we drop the flowering tea ball, it quickly unfolds and develops interesting foliage and flowers.

Once the tea is poured, you can take the tea flower out. It can be used three times to make other cups of this interesting tea.

Diana and Judy toast all their friends with a cup of this interesting tea!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Exciting Play and Freeze Ice Cream Maker!

Pix and Dan gave us this unique ice cream maker for Christmas. It is a plastic orb with openings (and caps) on both ends. Our good friend, Diana Frank, stayed last evening and we decided to try out this new invention. The ad for this device says - "Have a ball! Shake, roll, and pass it around as you mix and freeze the ingredients. You do not need electricity, just have a ball."

We decided it give ice cream making a try. Diana reads carefully the instructions.

The recipe was easy. For vanilla ice cream, the first ingredient was 1 pint of half and half. Judy had no problem with this.

Adding 1/3 cup plus 2 Tablespoons of sugar and 1 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla,

it was time to pour the mixture into the end of the ball that has the ice cream compartment and seal with the lid.

At the other end, the girls opened the ice compartment and filled the space with frozen aqua. (ICE!)

Time now to complete the process by adding 3/4 of a cup of kosher salt.

The serious and innovative fun process was now to begin. How do we keep this critter in motion for twenty minutes? (Actually after 10 minutes we rest. At that time you need to open the icream end and scrap the newly formed ice cream from the sides. One also checks the ice end and adds more ice and up to 1/4 cup of salt to enhance freezing.)

So we started out with the Latin shake. Here I am wishing I could dance to Carlos Santana's "Smooth".

OK, do you think Diana is smart? Who would think to get their gloves for this part of the ice cream making process?

We were getting tired of shaking so sports came into mind. We played a wonderful game of ice cream soccer in the kitchen and living room.

Belle was not impressed with this sport event!

Judy came up with the best method. We do not have a video camera, but I needed to document this method, so I used our cell phone's video option. Quality is not real good, but you can get the idea. Enjoy!

Ice cream was finished in twenty five minutes. (We gave it an extra 5 minutes- the fun was so intense that we did not want to stop)

YUMMY! SUCCESS!! Dan and Pix- we certainly enjoy your gift. Grandma says, "Boy, Flora will love to make ice cream with this critter." What fun!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Strange Biology Stories of 2007
(extracts from MSNBC.com)

I was looking over the bizarre science stories of last year. One on the strangest was the news the South Korean scientists who transferred genes into cloned cat embryos so that they glowed red under ultraviolet light? There's a serious point behind the glowing kitties. Such alterations may be used in the future to correct genetic flaws. Pix, are you interested in breeding these felines?

Now how about the see through frogs that were developed? I am certain many ask why on earth would you want to breed a see-through frog? Japanese scientists say they're doing it for the frogs. The creatures' transparent skin could let researchers study internal organs and blood vessels without having to dissect the weird-looking amphibians. Having dissected many frogs in my 35 of teaching and research in herpitology, this is a fine alternative to sacrificing animals for study.

Many folks seemed amazed when the Komodo Dragon at an England zoo gave birth without the benefit of a male Komoda. The news headlines read "Virgin Dragon Gives Birth." The media was trying to make a bland story unique. In biology, we know that a multitude of reptilian species can develop young without being fertilized by sperm. The word for today is parthenogenesis. Use it to impress your friends and neighbors. They will probably not know the term refes to reproducing asexually without fusion of the egg with a sperm cell.

Due to my teaching experience, this next story was no surprise. There was the experiment in which young chimps could perform memory tests faster than human volunteers, with roughly the same level of accuracy. Then, there was the research showing that monkeys could do mental math almost as well as students. Did we teachers already know this fact? Yes!

The stories got even stranger in 2007. German scientists studied why monkeys yell during sex. Well, if that is not obvious, I have some swampland in Sand Fork to sell you for your next house. The story on Panda porn was also crazy. Zoo researchers in Thailand researched the question "Do racy videos help get pandas in the mood for procreation?" Seemed the Chinese thought so and used panda erotic videos in their Panda breeding program.

Unfortunately, all the research indicated that the videos didn't get the male panda in the mood, and researchers eventually had to resort to a less, um, exotic method: artificial insemination

Gosh, I can hardly wait for all the new biology discoveries in the year 2008!

Friday, January 11, 2008


What a crazy week this has been in the Meads household. I have been a bachelor since Monday. Judy went to Shepherdstown to heal the sick and afflicted. Seems that flu and cold virus raised its ugly head in the Meeker household. No fear - my Clara Barton made everything well. Hurray, the good wife is returning to Glenville this evening.

I always love to read about the history of Glenville State College, Gilmer County, and West Virginia. I am sharing this article that was written by Annette Barnette and posted on Bob Weaver's Hur Herald. Enjoy!

Submitted by Annette Barnette
Marketing & Public Relations Director
Glenville State College

Hats Taboo With Amelia Earhart, Here Saturday

Premier Aviatrix to Appear Here

Amelia Earhart Captivates Audience With Vivid Story Of Her Famous Solo Flight

Glenville, WV – Headlines flashed across local newspapers including The Glenville Democrat and the college’s own newspaper, The Glenville Mercury, which boasted that it was the ‘official publication of Glenville State Teachers College.’

Amelia Earhart was one of the most famous women of her time. She visited what is today Glenville State College on January 11, 1936. Earhart gave a lecture in what is now the Presidents Auditorium in the Heflin Administration Building at 8:15 p.m. She was welcomed by more than seven hundred people, including Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt, Jr. of Clarksburg, West Virginia.

Earhart gave a lecture on the subject of ‘Aviation Adventures,’ which just happened to be on the night of the one-year anniversary of her famous Honolulu-to-California air voyage. According to the school’s newspaper, Earhart spent much of her lecture describing the 3,000 mile solo ‘hop.’

Lloyd Metheny, president of the student council, introduced the aviatrix to the eager, overflowing auditorium. The auditorium, including the balcony, could seat a maximum of 750 people. According to Evelyn Elliott (formerly Evelyn Elder) of Washington, D.C., “People were standing because there was nowhere to sit.” Elliott, who graduated that year with a two-year normal certificate, said Earhart’s visit was “an event never to be forgotten.”

Many people who attended commented on Earhart’s clothing. Local papers vividly described her attire. “Miss Earhart wore an informal gown with a brown net skirt, bolero satin jacket with an egg-shell satin collar and bow to match.” She captivated the audience with her individual smile, and held attention with her interest in the subject matter. She would often interject with ‘unrestrained humor.’ She was noted as a ‘delightful speaker.’ Glenville Alum Jeniver Jones of Gassaway, West Virginia said, “She was a good speaker, very affluent. She was a very nice looking lady as well.”

Earhart said the question most asked was: ‘Why do you do such things?’ “My reply is simply this – my own desire to fly; I believe that each successful flight I make builds faith in aviation.” Earhart added, “I am interested in seeing air travel a modern means of transportation.” Earhart directed her remarks to the women in the audience and urged them to “get out of your own sphere and do for yourselves what men have done for themselves.” She also expressed her belief that women are rapidly changing their views regarding airplanes.

“Thirty percent of all passengers on commercial airlines today are women,” said Earhart. “Don’t worry about flying and don’t try flying until you have reasoned with yourself, until you have reckoned with the risks to be taken and have succeeded in overcoming those risks. To worry retards action and makes clear-cut decisions impossible,” Earhart advised the audience. She also declared, “Speed is the most important factor in overseas flights or long over-land voyages.” She did, however, caution against speeding in automobiles, asserting that, “one should get into the air when one wishes to travel safely at more than forty-five miles an hour.”

Janice Hall (formerly Janice Morgan) of Frametown, West Virginia was an eager student attending the historical event. Janice reminisces saying, “I remember there were quite a few people there. She (Earhart) was a petite, nice looking lady.” Hall added, “I was really impressed. What she was saying was very big at that time, especially for a woman.”

Earhart talked freely to those who met her in the auditorium after the lecture. She graciously consented to an interview with two Mercury staff members, Isadore Nachman and Woodrow Wolfe. The staff members met with Earhart in the president’s house, where she was the guest of Glenville State Teachers College President, Mr. E. G. Rohrbough. They asked her many question and they talked and joked with each other for some time. They concluded their interview with an autograph and a photograph with her. Earhart left Glenville at 6:30 a.m. on Sunday, driving herself in her Franklin sedan.

Many still wonder what happened to Amelia Earhart. The GSC faculty and students at that time had mixed feelings about her disappearance. They felt close to her after her visit to the college, almost as if they had known her personally. Her visit to Glenville State College was one of her last public appearances before she disappeared approximately a year and a half later while flying across the Pacific Ocean.

Sunday, January 06, 2008


Just a fast thought before church this morning. "Every sixty seconds you spend angry, upset , or mad, is a full minute of happiness you'll never get back."

"Life is short, Break the rules, Forgive quickly, Kiss slowly, Love truly, Laugh uncontrollably, And never regret anything that made you smile."

Thursday, January 03, 2008

New Year 2008

We had a wonderful start to 2008. There were no fireworks but the evening was full of joy and amazing events. On New Years Eve we celebrated with our Charleston family. Pix and Dan treated us to a glorious meal at Laury’s and then we were off to the Goodnight performances. Charleston area churches open their doors for free concerts. What wonderful choices! The schedule is on the link below.

We started the musical evening at Sacred Heart Catholic Church and enjoyed the Christmas music of English handbells performed by the Kanawha Valley Ringers. Dale Miller, one of our former GSC students, is the director.

Next was the highlight of the evening for me. The Martin Luther, Jr. Men’s Choir sang at Christ Church United Methodist and it was amazing! What spirituality, talent, and dedication these men possess. At 9:00 we concluded the evening at St. John’s Episcopal Church with the four part harmony of the Almost Heaven Choir of the Sweet Adeline Singers.

We left our friends on the first day of 2008 with super memories. On our way back to Glenville, it started snowing and snowed all evening. No school in Gilmer on the 2nd or today. We had about 4 inches of snow yesterday and the temperature this morning is 17 degrees.

Gosh, I have to mention last night’s game between WVU and Oklahoma! I am not a big football fan. This game was an exception.

With Rodriguez, the Head Coach, leaving for Michigan in December, the performance of our team was in question. What a game! WVU won a surprising 48 to 28 romp over No. 3 Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl. Jeff and Sarah were at the game. They fly into Clarksburg today. It will be super to hear their stories. We will be at the airport welcoming them home from Arizona.

It was a great start for this family in 2008!