Monday, February 25, 2013


Danny Vanzandt May Have Died From Spontaneous Human Combustion

I think this is possible, but not by a flash of fire and you are incinerated.  My guess is a slow smoldering fire that finally transforms the body into cinders.

Authorities investigating the death of a 65-year-old man in Muldrow, Okla., haven't thrown water on a bizarre theory for the tragedy: Spontaneous human combustion (SHC).
On Monday, members of Danny Vanzandt's family found his dead body inside his home burned and incinerated in such a manner that suggests he may have spontaneously combusted,  according to Sequoyah County Sheriff Ron Lockhart.
"I think there's only about 200 cases worldwide and I'm not saying that this has happened. I'm just saying that we haven't ruled it out," Lockhart told KSDK-TV, emphasizing there was no damage to the house and no signs of struggle.
"There was no damage to the furniture or anything around the fire, so it was a low heat fire," he told the station.
Lockhart said the victim was an alcoholic and an avid smoker, factors that may have contributed to the body blaze.  
“We wasn’t saying the guy just busted into flames, you know there’s gotta have an ignition source and that’s what we’re looking at is an ignition source such as lighting a cigarette and catches himself on fire, sucks the flames down his throat, and falls down,” Lockhart told KFSM-TV.
Lockhart, who attended the autopsy Tuesday at the state Medical Examiner's Office in Tulsa, told that there is no evidence of foul play.   
   The Huffington Post  |  By 
Posted:   |  Updated: 02/21/2013 4:19 pm EST

Saturday, February 23, 2013

ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- Dead mice laced with painkillers are about to rain down on Guam's jungle canopy. They are scientists' prescription for a headache that has caused the tiny U.S. territory misery for more than 60 years: the brown tree snake.

Most of Guam's native bird species are extinct because of the snake, which reached the island's thick jungles by hitching rides from the South Pacific on U.S. military ships shortly after World War II.

There may be 2 million of the reptiles on Guam now, decimating wildlife, biting residents and even knocking out electricity by slithering onto power lines.

More than 3,000 miles away, environmental officials in Hawaii have long feared a similar invasion — which in their case likely would be a "snakes on a plane" scenario.

That would cost the state many vulnerable species and billions of dollars, but the risk will fall if Guam's airdrop strategy succeeds.

"We are taking this to a new phase," said Daniel Vice, assistant state director of U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services in Hawaii, Guam, and the Pacific Islands. "There really is no other place in the world with a snake problem like Guam."

Brown tree snakes are generally a few feet long but can grow to be more than 10 feet in length.

Most of Guam's native birds were defenseless against the nocturnal, tree-based predators, and within a few decades of the reptile's arrival, nearly all of them were wiped out.

The snakes can also climb power poles and wires, causing blackouts, or slither into homes and bite people, including babies.

They use venom on their prey, but it is not lethal to humans.
The infestation and the toll it has taken on native wildlife have tarnished Guam's image as a tourism haven, though the snakes are rarely seen outside their jungle habitat.

The solution to this headache, fittingly enough, is acetaminophen, the active ingredient in painkillers including Tylenol.

The strategy takes advantage of the snake's two big weaknesses. Unlike most snakes, brown tree snakes are happy to eat prey they didn't kill themselves, and they are highly vulnerable to acetaminophen, which is harmless to humans.

The upcoming mice drop is targeted to hit snakes near Guam's sprawling Andersen Air Force Base, which is surrounded by heavy foliage and if compromised would offer the snakes a potential ticket off the island. Using helicopters, the dead neonatal mice will be dropped by hand, one by one.

U.S. government scientists have been perfecting the mice-drop strategy for more than a decade with support from the Department of Defense and the Department of the Interior.

To keep the mice bait from dropping all the way to the ground, where it could be eaten by other animals or attract insects as they rot, researchers have developed a device with streamers designed to catch in the branches of the forest foliage, where the snakes live and feed.

Experts say the impact on other species will be minimal, particularly since the snakes have themselves wiped out the birds that might have been most at risk.

"One concern was that crows may eat mice with the toxicant," said William Pitt, of the U.S. National Wildlife Research Center's Hawaii Field Station. "However, there are no longer wild crows on Guam."
The mouse drop is set to start in April or May.

A 2010 study conducted by the National Wildlife Research Center found brown tree snakes would cause between $593 million and $2.14 billion in economic damage each year if they became established in Hawaii like they are on Guam.

Power outages would cause the most damage, followed by a projected decline in tourism. The cost of treating snake bites would account for a small share.

Native Hawaiian birds "literally don't know what to do when they see a snake coming," said Christy Martin, a spokeswoman for the Coordinating Group on Alien Pest Species, a partnership of Hawaii government agencies and private organizations.
"Once we get snakes here, we're never going to be able to fix the situation," Martin said.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Frog makes the cutest noise!

See the video on the link below.  Could this be the world's cutest frog making the world's most adorable noise?

Dean Boshoff shot this video of a Namaqua Rain Frog. He found the cute little critter in sand dunes along Port Nolloth in South Africa.

Namaqua Rain Frogs are burrowing creatures that spend most of their time underground. They're also less than 5cm long.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Library Of Animal Sounds
The murmurs, whispers, shrieks and growls of 9,000 species are now digitized in a huge library of animal sounds, including some songs that will never be sung again.
Housed at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the Macaulay Library's  audio archive contains roughly 150,000 high-resolution recordings, all available online. It’s the largest collection of wildlife sounds in the world, and routinely called upon by students, scholars, scientists, and filmmakers.
“Sound has a remarkable ability to transport someone,” said audio curator Greg Burney. “You play a sound, and it’s as though the person or the animal is alive, right there in the room with you.”
Digitizing the collection took 12 years. Now, the 10 terabytes of tracks have a total playback time of more than 7,500 hours. Supplementing that auditory cacophony are thousands of video clips, and a photo archive is on the way.
The collection's inaugural recordings date back to 1929, when a song sparrow, rose-breasted grosbeak, and house wren were recorded singing near the shores of Cayuga Lake. The youngest bird in the collection is an ostrich – recorded while still in the its egg. 
Also tucked into the collection are recordings of the now-extinct Kauai Oo and the (most-likely) extinct ivory-billed woodpecker.  Preserving these natural sounds for future generations is certainly one of the collection’s functions.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


I have always said that Judy has the gift of saving birds that fly into our windows.  This white throated sparrow was an exception.  Friday morning, this beautiful bird flew into our atrium door so hard that I am certain its neck was broken.  Sad!  Throughout the years, we are lucky to have very few birds meet their end by flying into the windows.  Most seems to bounce and head back to the feeder to eat!

There are two color variations of this bird- white striped and tan striped.  Studies indicate that the white striped adults (seen here) tend to mate with the tan striped birds.  No indications why.  
White and tan-striped males and white striped females sing, but the tan striped females do not.  Strange indeed!

Monday, February 18, 2013



Last Thursday, Shawn Steele called to say that he had a snowy owl resting in the pine trees in the backyard.  Shawn lives about a mile or so from where our house is located.  Yes, all his descriptions proved that indeed the critter was a snowy owl. 

Snowy Owls are residents of the Arctic Tundra, and really only come down to West Virginia during "irruptive "years (times when food is scarce and they migrate south for the winter). When they do visit WV, they can be found more commonly  in high elevations with big open areas, such as Canaan Valley.

We tend to think of owls as night hunters, but snowy owls-occasional winter visitors to West Virginia-hunt during the day, in accordance with their daylight hunting habits in the far north, where darkness is almost non-existent during the arctic summer.  As winter visitors, snowy owls are often found around open fields, again in accordance with tundra conditions where trees don't grow. 

Shawn had encountered a bird that I have not seen in the wild.  I HAVE MY EYES OPEN!

Sunday, February 17, 2013


Friends, the joys of life are often seen in the blooming of the plants.  This day the aconites are in full bloom.  Friend Pix shipped a photo of her daffodils in bloom.  Our daffodils are up about four inches, but are not blooming as yet.

The snowdrops are beginning their awakening from winter rest.  As are the.....

Lenten Roses.

This is, indeed, the starting of a glorious time in nature's cycle.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Grand kids In DC

It is a joy to see our grand kids enjoying the DC area.  The family returned from a weekend in DC.

The folks said that their visit to the National Museum of the American Indian was wonderful.  NMAI is part of the Smithsonian Institution  and is dedicated to the life, languages, literature, history, and arts of the Native Americans of the Western Hemisphere.

U.S. National Arboretum is such a great place to enjoy  the amazing plant collections.  flora was intrigued with their display of Fairy Gardens.

The gals were able to attend the Chinese New Years celebration.  The Chinese New Year is celebrated with a Chinese New Years parade, live musical performances, and other cultural events.  The Chinese New Year is a 15 day event that starts with the New Moon on the first day of the new year and ends on the full moon 15 days later,

Friday, February 15, 2013

'Ugliest woman in the world' buried 150 years after end of tragic life

Universalimagesgroup / Getty Images
Julia Pastrana, the "ugliest woman in the world," suffered from congenital hirsutism combined with gingival hyperplasia. Her manager displayed her in the U.S. as a circus attraction and the result of union between a woman and a bear.
MEXICO CITY -- The "ugliest woman in the world" was buried in her native northern Mexico on Tuesday, more than 150 years after her death and a tragic life spent exhibited as a freak of nature at circuses around the world.
Born in Mexico in 1834, Julia Pastrana suffered from hypertrichosis and gingival hyperplasia, diseases that gave her copious facial hair and a thick-set jaw. These features led to her being called a "bear woman" or "ape woman."
During the mid-1850s, Pastrana met Theodore Lent, a U.S. impresario who toured the singing and dancing Pastrana at freak shows across the United States and Europe before marrying her.
In 1860, Pastrana died in Moscow after giving birth to Lent's son, who inherited his mother's condition. The son died a few days later, and Lent then toured with the mother and son's embalmed remains. After changing hands over the ensuing decades, both bodies ended up at the University of Oslo in Norway.
Crowds flocked to the small town of Sinaloa de Leyva on Tuesday to pay their respects to Pastrana, who was buried in a white coffin adorned with white roses."When I heard about this Sinaloan woman, I said there's no way she can be left locked away in a warehouse somewhere," he said.
"The mass was beautiful," said New York-based Mexican artist Laura Anderson Barbata, who has led a nearly decade-long campaign to have Pastrana returned to Mexico for a proper Catholic burial. "I was very moved. In all these years I've never felt so full of different emotions."

Thursday, February 14, 2013


Tuesday, February 12, 2013


I do not like the taste of regular beer.  This brew is definitely out for me.

Bull testicle beer to be sold nationwide later this month

  • Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout with a key ingredient. (

A Colorado brewery that created a limited-run beer flavored with bull testicles for a beer festival is making the ballsy move to offer it all year round.

Wynkoop Brewing Company's Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout will now be sold nationwide in cans--available in (what else?) two-packs starting this month. 

The Denver-based brewery first served the beer --originally meant as an April Fools' joke--at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver back in October. Made with 25 lbs of roasted bull gonads, the beer masters said they wanted to showcase a local delicacy --deep-fried bull testicles, also known as Rocky Mountain oysters.

People, well, went nuts for it.  And soon you'll be able to try it for yourself. 

Wynkoop spokesman Marty Jones told the beer --which is currently available on tap at Wynkoop--will soon be available in cans in the Denver area. It will also be available through Beer in about two weeks. The brewery hasn’t nailed down a price, but Jones said that each two-pack will probably cost about $7-$8.

The idea to actually brew the bull testicle beer wasn't too much of a stretch for Wynkoop after a spoof video promoting the fictional beer made for April Fools' Day last year became a hit among brewers and bloggers.  But getting it approved by the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau wasn't so easy. After hitting some snags, the agency recently approved the brewery’s label for the beer, which describes the brew as “a luscious, uniquely ballsy stout with notes of roasted barley, coffee and nuts.”

"Initially, they wanted us to provide some information on bull testicles as a food additive," Jones told Westword. "I am not sure they were aware that bull testicles are an actual food and that they are a regional delicacy out West."
Jones said in an interview with that Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout is both a delicious beverage and a way to make sure the brewery doesn’t get bogged down by taking beer too seriously.

"We like to make sure to have a lot of fun on the job,” Jones told, “and this beer has brought a lot laughs."
Check out the spoof video that stared it all.

Read more:

Monday, February 11, 2013

Hark!  Another Space Bullet!

It may sound unsettling to hear that a potential killer known as asteroid 2012 DA14 will be coming closer to Earth than telecommunication satellites on Feb. 15, but don't panic: Earth's gravitational field will give it such a kick that we'll never have to worry about it again.
"It has been getting closer to Earth for quite a while," Donald Yeomans, the head of NASA's Near Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, told reporters on Thursday during a preview for the close encounter. "This is the closest predicted [flyby] for this object both in the past and in the future."
NASA's calculations show that Earth's gravity will perturb the 150-foot-wide (45-meter-wide) asteroid's orbital period, which had been getting close to Earth's own one-year orbit. "Earth is going to put this one in an orbit that is considerably safer than the orbit it has been in," Yeomans said.
This makes 2012 DA14 nothing more than one of the universe's most vivid reminders that we live in a cosmic shooting gallery. The rocky asteroid's orbit is so well-known that Yeomans can say it will pass by Earth at a minimum distance of 17,200 miles (27,700 kilometers), plus or minus 100 miles. That's in the "sweet spot" between GPS satellite orbits (6,000 to 12,000 miles) and geosynchronous telecom satellites (22,000 miles), Yeomans said.
He said that there's an "extremely remote" chance that 2012 DA14 could hit a satellite on its way in or out of Earth's neighborhood, and that satellite operators were being given orbital tracking data as a precaution. But William Ailor, an expert on orbital debris at The Aerospace Corp., told NBC News that the chance is hardly worth worrying about.
"The fact is, we don't have collisions very often, even among the satellites that are there all the time," Ailor said. "Space is very active, but there's a lot of it above us."

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Ah, the Wolverine!
BILLINGS, Mont. -- The tenacious wolverine, a snow-loving carnivore sometimes called the "mountain devil," could soon join the list of species threatened by climate change — a dubious distinction putting it in the ranks of the polar bear and several other animals the government says will lose crucial habitat as temperatures rise.

It likely means an end to trapping the animals for their fur outside Alaska.Federal wildlife officials Friday proposed Endangered Species Act protections for the wolverine in the Lower 48 states. That's a step twice denied under the Bush administration, then delayed in 2010 when the Obama administration said other imperiled species had priority.

There are an estimated 250 to 300 wolverines in the contiguous U.S., clustered in small, isolated groups primarily in the Northern Rockies of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and Washington. Larger populations persist in Alaska and Canada.But federal officials said they won't use the animal's status as a means to regulate greenhouse gases blamed in climate change. And other human activities — from snowmobiling and ski resorts to timber harvest and — would not be curtailed because they do not appear to be significant threats to wolverines, officials said.
Maxing out at 40 pounds and tough enough to stand up to grizzly bears, the animals will be no match for anticipated declines in deep mountain snows female wolverines need to establish dens and raise their young, scientists said.
In some areas, such as central Idaho, suitable habitat could disappear entirely, officials said.
Yet because those losses could take decades to unfold, federal wildlife officials said there's still time to bolster the population, including by reintroducing them to the high mountains of Colorado.
By Matthew Brown, The Associated Press

Saturday, February 09, 2013


The good wife is at it again!  She decorates the piano each season and the family refers to her efforts as establishing altars.  This week she decorated for Valentines Day.  The dress above is her wedding dress that was worn on July 2, 1967.  On that date she married a most charming man (ME!).  Well, maybe I should change charming to a unique man.  Yep, this dress will be 46 years old this year.

We certainly have been blessed to have a wonderful life together.

Friday, February 08, 2013

Water Buffalo in Jackson County, WV

JACKSON COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Some residents in Jackson County want some unwelcome company out of their neighborhood. Those who live along Donohue Road say a water buffalo and feral hogs have been roaming in Evans since October.
Neighbors say they've been asking for help from the Division of Natural Resources and the Department of Agriculture, but the wild animals are still roaming.
"We are in the preliminary stages of investigating the situation," WVDA Communications Officer Buddy Davidson said. "We are looking into questions regarding legal jurisdiction and ownership of the animals in this particular case and what response options might be feasible."
Evans resident Mildred McIntyre's, 93, said she normally has to chase the water buffalo out of her yard.
"I have a lot of acres for them to roam on," McIntyre said. "I just don't want him in my yard. I'd like for him to find a good home."
The animals are believed to be from a safari club that has since closed. The club was used for hunting and had a petting zoo.
One of the roaming water buffalo appears to be between 1,500 to 1,800 pounds.
Neighbors tell they do not want the animals killed but would like them moved to a safer confined area.
Davidson said the WVDA will likely have more information on who's responsible for the wild animals on Tuesday.
The water buffalo and her calf was picked up the first of the week by the DNR.  They are in quarantine to check on diseases.  Friend Curtis said this property is located about three miles as the crow flies from their house . 
We used to keep orphan animals in the basement until we could find a suitable home.  Not possible with a critter weighing almost a ton! 

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

A Quick Snap of Color

Thought I would share these pics with you.  Have a great day!

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Not-so-Fearsome Vampire Squid

Not-so-Fearsome Vampire Squid

Image courtesy MBARI
Despite its ghoulish name and looks, the vampire squid (pictured, an individual in 2004) isn't a bloodthirsty terror of the deep after all, a new study says.
Instead, the nightmarishly named species browses on "marine snow"—dead plankton, algae, fecal matter, goo, shells shed by tiny crustaceans, and other detritus.
The squid gather the food particles using two long, hair-lined filaments before wrapping the bits into meal-size mucus balls, according to undersea video footage, live lab observations of captive vampire squid, autopsies, and examination via electron microscope.
"Because of its fearsome appearance, and because all other cephalopods living today are predators, it was thought that [vampire squid], too, were hunting for living prey," said study co-author Henk-Jan Hoving of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) in California.
"We have now found the opposite."

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Diana's Pottery

Our friend, Diana, stopped by this week for a visit.  She shared several of her ideas for new pottery pieces.  She is such a talented artist.  I thought I would share with you a few of her new creations.

Saturday, February 02, 2013


Twas 6 degrees this morning in Glenville.  There
is a winter storm approaching with a predicted 3-5 inches of snow predicted.  Thought this science news was appropriate!

Unique photography rig captures snowflakes in mid-flight

Fallgatter Technologies
The MASC in action.

They They say no two snowflakes look the same — well, scientists at the University of Utah aren't going to take that for granted. They've devised a photography rig that can take detailed photos and measurements of thousands of snowflakes in a single night.
It's called the Multi-Angle Snowflake Camera, and it's just what it sounds like. Three cameras are arrayed around an infrared sensor that detects the presence of a snowflake and tells the cameras to fire. By lighting the snowflake carefully and using a super-short exposure (1/25,000th of a second), they can get tack-sharp images of snowflakes on the fly.
The system is so efficient that it can take tens ofthousands of shots in a single night. While that may be too many to browse through for fun, it's a huge benefit to researchers. Meteorologists only have a partial understanding of snowflakes — their size, density, shape, fall speed, things like that — because, naturally enough, they tend to melt before anyone can get a good look at them.
Examples of snow
Examples of snowflakes captured by a MASC device.s

MASC is the project of University of Utah atmospheric scientist Tim Garrett, and the setup has been spun off as a separate company, Fallgatter Technologies. Right now, the company's device is documenting snowflakes at Utah's famous Alta ski area.
Scientists in the 1970s also measured snowflakes, but it was by hand, which must have been extremely delicate (and cold) work — "I knew the guy who did it and he felt he needed to get glasses because of this project," Garrett told LiveScience.
And if the snowflakes in the pictures don't look much like the symmetrical geometric shapes one usually think of (and which wererecently captured in stunning fashion by macro photographer Andrew Osokin), that's because most "snowflakes" are actually clumps made up of smaller flakes that have collided or broken apart.
Achieving a better understanding of snowflakes means a better understanding of snowy weather systems. Alta, for example, can use it to gauge the quality of the snow falling, and the Army is planning to use the device to improve its avalanche prediction techniques.
You can watch a live-updating feed of recent snowflakes from Alta, or check the project's highlight page, showing a few outstanding examples of what the system can capture.