Monday, January 30, 2012

Sam and Dad at Timberline

Thanks to Jeff, I am sharing these pics that were taken when the two guys went skiing yesterday.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

PET Scan Update

We thought you all needed an update on my progress. As you may know, Hodgkin's Lymphoma invaded this ole body and we started fighting the critter with an assortment of chemicals (ABVD therapy). That was in 2009. We were blessed. After a few short months of that toxic cocktail, all tumors were absent from the scans.

On Friday, I asked the good Dr. Craig about my prospects if I had not chosen that path. What do statistics indicate about the survival period for a person in my situation if the cancer had gone untreated? (Stage 4 - Hodgkin's) He said that survival charts would indicate that I may have had only 4-5 months to live. Dr. Craig is our super hero - along with all the caring folks who work at the WVU Cancer Center. I thank God for leading us there and for His healing power and for the support of wonderful family and friends.

Latest PET scan was on Friday (01/27/2012) and it showed I was still clear of all cancer. HURRAY!

I am still taking infusions of Rituxan every 6 months for the Rheumatoid Arthritis. It was been working great at this time.

Thanks to you all for caring about us. We always appreciate the calls and cards. We also realize that we are in so many folks thoughts. This has been a great life!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Oh, Those Rollers!

This morning MSNBC had on their website a photo of a Lilac-breasted Roller. I do believe this critter will brighten up your morning.

The Lilac-breasted Roller (Coracias caudatus) is a member of the roller family of birds. It is widely distributed in sub-Saharan Africa and the southern Arabian Peninsula, preferring open woodland and savanna; it is largely absent from treeless places. Usually found alone or in pairs, it perches conspicuously at the tops of trees, poles or other high vantage points from where it can spot insects, lizards, scorpions, snails, small birds and rodents moving about at ground level. Nesting takes place in a natural hole in a tree where a clutch of 2–4 eggs is laid, and incubated by both parents, who are extremely aggressive in defense of their nest, taking on raptors and other birds. During the breeding season the male will rise to great heights, descending in swoops and dives, while uttering harsh, discordant cries. The sexes are alike in coloration. Juveniles do not have the long tail feathers that adults do. It is also the national bird of Botswana.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Ah, Aurora!

I would love to see the Northern Lights.

A storm from the broiling sun turned the chilly northernmost skies of Earth into an ever-changing and awe-provoking art show of northern lights on Tuesday night.

Even experienced stargazers were stunned by the intensity of the aurora borealis that swept across the night sky in northern Scandinavia after the biggest solar flare in six years.

"It has been absolutely incredible," British astronomer John Mason cried from the deck of the MS Midnatsol, a cruise ship plying the fjord-fringed coast of northern Norway.

"I saw my first aurora 40 years ago, and this is one of the best," Mason told The Associated Press, his voice nearly drowning in the cheers of awe-struck fellow passengers.

U.S. space weather experts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Tuesday evening that so far they had heard of no problems from the storm that triggered the auroras, which made it as far south as Wales, where the weather often doesn't cooperate with good viewing.

The picture below was an earlier display of the Southern Lights as captured by the International Space Station.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Photo Voice Managua

Carl Agsten and Lesley Clay are Presbyterian missionaries working in Nicaragua. These folks visited our Glenville church in the fall and explained the PhotoVoice Managua Project. With donated digital cameras and basic instruction in composition, exposure, and storytelling, Nigaraguan young people use photography to claim their voices.

Their PhotoVoice exhibit is currently showing at Taylor Books on Capitol Street. Judy, friend Judy, and I attended the exhibit while we waited for Dan to arrive for dinner.

This exhibit provides an opportunity for us to have a glimpse of the Nicaraguan youth's world.

It is so easy to forget about the poverty that exists in the world. These photographs show what the kids contend with on a daily basis.

Here is a teacher who is a hero by giving her students hope and pride. The classroom wall celebrates the national heroes.

This picture was taken near the dump outside of La Chureca. By the time trash arrives at La Chureca, many of the items of value have been salvaged.

This is just part of the 4 square miles of trash in this other-worldly image. The photo is thought provoking, with vultures on the horizon, and green hills and blue sky in the distance.

After the exhibit , we met Dan next door for dinner at Pies and Pints, a gourmet pizza restaurant .

What a contrast! Trash Dump and Pies and Pints! We are so blessed in our lives. We have a responsibility to others and hope that we can make a difference as we travel through this world.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

James Bartley

On Sunday, Claire Butler, who is a member of the state Presbytery, preached the sermon at our church. The message related to the story of Jonah. In the Bible, Jonah was swallowed by a big fish - nothing was said about a whale being involved. During Claire's sermon, she told the story of James Barkley. This was the first time I have heard of this lad. Let me relate the story to you.

James Bartley is the central figure in a major event of the late-19th century and early-20th century according to which he was swallowed whole by a sperm whale.

The story as reported is that during a whaling expedition off the Falkland Islands, Bartley's boat was attacked by the whale and he landed inside the whale's mouth. He survived the ordeal and was carved out of the stomach by his peers when they, not knowing he was inside, caught and began skinning the whale because of the hot weather which would have rotted the whale meat. It was said that he was in the whale for 15 hours and it was also said that his skin had been bleached by the gastric juices, and that he was blind the rest of his life. He was however supposed to have returned to work within three weeks. He died around 11 years later and his tombstone in Ireland says "James Bartley- a modern day Jonah"

The ship usually mentioned is The Star of the East; Also, The Star of the East was a whaling ship sailing around that time.

The French scientist, de Parville, published a report of the alleged incident in the Paris Journal des Débats in 1914. More recently the facts have been carefully investigated by historian Edward Davis.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Love My iPhone!

I bought the newest iPhone (white) at the first of the year. As usual, it is wonderful. My wife is now blessed to be in the iPhone Club also. (Yes, she took over the controls of our old iPhone - I be so kind to that lady!) Chuckle.

A plethora of apps are available for smartphones. I love the app, Find My iPhone. Judy is amused when I misplace one of our phones or iPad and I select this app in order to find my lost "friends."

This was reported yesterday in The Seattle Times.

A 14-year-old Seattle boy used an iPhone app to help police track down a burglary suspect and recovery thousands of dollars in stolen electronic equipment, including his mother's missing cellphone.

The newspaper says an officer "quarterbacked" the operation from Max Malkin's kitchen. As the teen tracked the suspect on the GPS-driven "Find My iPhone" app on his laptop, the officer communicated with police on the street until they spotted a potential suspect at a McDonald's.

Police followed the suspect, who was carrying a hefty duffel bag, to a bus tunnel, while Malkin followed his journey on his laptop.

At that point, a police report says, the officer asked Max to call his mother's stolen iPhone. When it rang, the suspect pulled the phone from his pocket and police closed in.

"When the phone rang," Malkin's father, Heraold, told The Times, "the guy kind of knew the jig was up."

The whole operation lasted only about 15 minutes, The Times says.

Officers arrested the 20-year-old suspect early Saturday and recovered $4,000 worth of stolen electronics, the newspaper reports.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A mother and child point at a small painting by art student Andrzej Sobiepan at the café of the National Museum in Wroclaw, Poland.

Would You Want This In Your Family Room?

Art student Andrzej Sobiepan didn't want to wait decades for his work to appear in museums. So he took matters in his own hands, covertly hanging one of his paintings in a major Polish gallery.

By Wednesday, the young artist was getting plenty of attention after a nationwide TV channel reported on his stunt at the National Museum in the southwestern city of Wroclaw. He told reporters he hoped galleries would give more exhibition space to young artists as a result.

"I decided that I will not wait 30 or 40 years for my works to appear at a place like this," Sobiepan told TVN24. "I want to benefit from them in the here and now."

Sobiepan, a Wroclaw Fine Arts Academy student whose last name means "his own master," said he was inspired by the elusive British graffiti artist known only as Banksy. His own painting is small, white and green, and partly uses swine leather to show a drooping acacia leaf.

On Dec. 10, Sobiepan put it up in a room with contemporary Polish art when a guard at the museum was looking the other way. Museum officials didn't notice the new painting for three days.

Museum director Mariusz Hermansdorfer told TVN24 on Wednesday that the action revealed some security breaches, but that he also considered it a "witty artistic happening."

"It has shown that the young generation of artists, unlike their predecessors, wants to see their works in museums," Hermansdorfer said.

The museum has kept the painting on display — in its cafe. It will be offered for sale at Poland's biggest charity auction on Sunday.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Albino Hummingbird

Thanks to friend Diana who shipped these photos taken by Mark Shank. Fifteen year old photographer Mark Shank was fortunate enough to capture several images of a rare albino ruby-throated hummingbird while in a park in Staunton, Virginia

Monday, January 16, 2012

Man, thy be small!

This past week came the news of the world's smallest vertebrate.

The world's smallest known vertebrate is a frog the size of a housefly, a new study says.

At an average of 7.7 millimeters long, the newfound Paedophryne amauensis is a hair smaller than the previous record holder, the Southeast Asian fish species Paedocypris progenetica, whose females measure about 7.9 millimeters.

During recent field surveys in southern Papua New Guinea, scientists found P. amauensis and another new species of tiny frog, Paedophryne swiftorum, which measures about 8.6 millimeters.

"I think it's amazing that they're continuing to find smaller and smaller frogs," said Robin Moore, an amphibian expert with Conservation International, who was not involved in the study.

It's obvious "they're adapting to fill a niche that nothing else is filling," he said.

Indeed, the frogs likely evolved their tiny sizes to eat tiny invertebrates, such as mites, that are ignored by bigger predators, said study co-author Christopher Austin, a biologist at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.

Tiny Frogs Hard to Catch

Discovered in 2010 but announced on Wednesday, all the species of the Paedophyrne genus are tiny and seem to live solely amid leaf litter on New Guinea's rain forest floor.

Scientists locate the teensy animals by listening for their calls and trying to zero in on the sources of the sounds—no mean feat, since the high pitch of the calls make their sources especially hard for human hearing to locate.

Austin and graduate student Eric Rittmeyer tried four times to find the frogs before exasperatedly grabbing a big handful of leaf litter and putting it in a plastic bag.

The scientists then combed through the contents until "eventually we saw this tiny thing hop off one of the leaves," Austin said.

The frogs are so small it's hard to see their earth-colored skin patterns with the naked eye, so Austin took pictures and then zoomed in, using a digital camera like a microscope.

But photographing the amphibians was just as challenging as finding them. When Austin brought the camera to his eye, the subject would often already be gone.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

I Love This Critter!

Take a minute and glaze into this feline's eyes. You will be captured by the experience.

This kitten has one brown eye and one blue eye and is a mixture of Persian and Siamese. This beast lives in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

First Snow

Yesterday was Friday the 13th when we experienced the first snow of 2012. We retired folks still keep up on whether the county schools are in session. (I know- it is an old habit.) It is a beautiful thing at this time in our lives that we have the option of staying in bed, pulling the warm covers up, and experiencing the snow.

The birds and squirrels were certainly enjoying the black sunflower seeds and suet.

We had a minimal snow fall - the real problem was wind and extremely cold temperatures. The counties bordering Gilmer were closed yesterday. Temperatures barely rose above the low 20's. Wind chills were in the single digits. The roads were extremely icy.

Judy made chili yesterday. It was a great complement to this cold weather.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Amazing trees

I was contemplating the trees in our yard and how eager I am to see the photosynthetic process return.

I was visiting the website and they presented some interesting trees of the world.

It was Buddha who said:
"A tree is a wonderful living organism which gives shelter, food, warmth and protection to all living things. It even gives shade to those who wield an axe to cut it down."

And Joyce Kilmer immortalized the grace and beauty of trees in poetry:

"I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree."

Here we present some of the most amazing and unusual trees from around the world. They include the Basket Tree, Giant Sequoias of California, Circus Tree, Chapel-Oak, Banyan Tree, and Baobab Trees - including a tree with a toilet built inside it.

Chapel Oak

The Chapel Oak of
Allouville-Bellefosse is the most famous tree in France – actually, it’s more than just a tree: it’s a building and a religious monument all in one.

In 1669, l’Abbe du Detroit and du Cerceau decided to build a chapel in (at that time) a 500 years old or so oak (Quercus robur) tree made hollow by a lightning bolt. The priests built a small altar to the Virgin Mary. Later on, a second chapel and a staircase were added.

Now, parts of the tree are dead, the crown keeps becoming smaller and smaller every year, and parts of the tree’s bark, which fell off due to old age, are covered by protective oak shingles. Poles and cables support the aging tree, which in fact, may not live much longer. As a symbol, however, it seems that the Chapel-Oak of Allouville-Bellefosse may live on forever.

Banyan Tree

A banyan (also banian) is a fig that starts its life as an epiphyte when its seeds germinate in the cracks and crevices on a host tree (or on structures like buildings and bridges). The seeds of banyans are dispersed by fruit eating birds birds. The seeds germinate and send down roots towards the ground, and may envelop part of the host tree or building structure with their roots, giving them the casual name of "strangler fig."

Baobab Tree

Baobabs store water inside the swollen trunk (up to 120,000 litres / 32,000 US gallons) to endure the harsh drought conditions particular to each region.[All occur in seasonally arid areas, and are deciduous, shedding their leaves during the dry season.

Circus Tree

As a hobby, bean farmer Axel Erlandson shaped trees – he pruned, bent, and grafted trees into fantastic shapes and called them "Circus Trees". For example, to make this "Basket Tree" arborsculpture, Erlandson planted six sycamore trees in a circle and then grafted them together to form the diamond patterns.

Basket Tree

Erlandson was very secretive and refused to reveal his methods on how to grow the Circus Trees (he even carried out his graftings behind screens to protect against spies!) and carried the secrets to his grave.

The trees were later bought by millionaire Michael Bonfante, who transplanted them to his amusement park Bonfante Gardens in Gilroy in 1985.

Giant Sequoias

Giant sequoias are the world's largest trees in terms of total volume. They grow to an average height of 50–85 meters (160–279 ft) and 6–8 meters (20–26 ft) in diameter. Record trees have been measured to be 94.8 meters (311 ft) in height and over 17 meters (56 ft) in diameter. The oldest known giant sequoia based on ring count is 3,500 years old.

OK- Even a POTTY Tree!