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I will be house sitting my cousin’s six cats again this week.  Me and the cats get along fine as long as I remember to keep the door to the bedroom I use closed.  If am going to share a bed with a warm body it sure isn’t going to be a cat.  🙂

The 4:00 am feeding is probably the hardest part of the job.  Cleaning out the litter boxes is not my idea of a fun job either.  My cousine gets up early, 4:00 am, to beat the traffic to work.  She also get out of work early.  She feeds the cats before she leaves so they are use to being feed at 4:00 am.  Cats do not like their routine disrupted so if I am not up at 4:00 am I will hear them meowing and scratching on the bedroom door.

The Cats:

Mishka – a 10+ year old female.  Very inactive and over weight.  Doesn’t like the other cats and has her own room.  When she sees another cat she is too lazy to do anything except hiss.

Midnight – The alpha male.  He is very affectionate with people, not so much with the other cats.  He gets into occasional sparring matchs with the other male, Ketsu, but mostly they just stare at each other.

Ketsu – A large male, is very friendly but prefers to be by himself.  He mostly just eats and sleeps.  I would guess he is the least intelligant of the cats.

Rusty – The oldest cat, a small female at least 13 years old.  She is the crankiest of the cats.  Once she realizes that I am the food sources she is always under foot.  She is fairly active and likes to play with a golf ball.

Marta – A very playful female.  She is active, for a cat.  Her and Rusty fight over who owns the kitchen.  She likes to play with rubber bands.

There is another small female cat, the youngest, but I don’t remember her name.  She is probably related to Marta as they play together.  She is the most nervous of all the cats and usually hides when I am around.

At night they all sleep on my cousin’s bed.  Midnight sleeps on a pillow on one side of the bed, Rusty on a pillow on the other side.  The other cats sleep together at the foot of the bed, except for Mishka, who never leaves her room.

See you all next week.  I hope warmer weather starts getting here by then.

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http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/feb/22/television 

I just read this story in the online site of the British Guardian newspaper.   It is too funny, sad, to pass up:

“For the viewers of Turkmenistan’s popular nightly news programme, Vatan, it was another routine bulletin. But as the newsreader began the 9pm broadcast, viewers across the central Asian country spotted something unusual crawling across the studio table: a large brown cockroach.

The cockroach managed to complete a whole lap of the desk, apparently undetected, before disappearing. The programme, complete with cockroach, was repeated at 11pm that night.

It was only at 9am the following day that horrified officials from Turkmenistan’s ministry of culture discovered the cockroach’s guest appearance. And that, perhaps, should have been the end of the matter, the mildly entertaining footage being consigned to the occasional airing by the Turkmenistan equivalent of Denis Norden on a telly bloopers show.

But the consequences of this particular cockroach’s impromptu five minutes of fame were immediate and severe.

The country’s president, Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, took news of the insect so badly that he responded by firing no fewer than 30 workers from the main state TV channel, the news website Kronika Turkmenistan reported yesterday.

Before the cockroach debacle, Berdymukhamedov had instructed Turkmenistan’s minister of culture, Gulmurat Muradov, to revamp the country’s Soviet-era TV channel. However, a new ministerial supervisory committee founded to carry out this task only worked 9am to 6pm – allowing the cockroach to make its audacious run undetected.

Berdymukhamedov became leader of the oil-rich former Soviet republic in December 2006, following the sudden death of Turkmenistan’s longstanding and flamboyantly authoritarian ruler Saparmurat Niyazov, who also had run-ins with state TV executives. Several executives were sacked after drunken technicians failed to screen the new year’s address to the nation by Niyazov.

They eventually managed to get the bulletin on air at 3am.

Those sacked in the cockroach debacle included journalists, directors, camera operators, and technical staff, the website reported. Yesterday nobody from the Turkmen embassy in Moscow was available for comment.

I snipped the rest of the story that was not “cockroach” related.

Most read Roach notes

· 4,500 cockroach species have been classified, but there are thought to be at least twice as many species yet to be discovered around the world

· Despite the belief cockroaches would be the only survivors of nuclear war, being 15 times more resistant to radiation than humans, other insects such as fruit flies can survive even higher doses

· A cockroach will live after decapitation for several weeks before starving to death; the severed head survives several hours

· The world’s largest species is the wingless Australian rhinoceros (Macropanesthia rhinoceros), weighing up to 33.5 gms and up to 90 mm in length”

I use to live in an apartment building where cockroachs are just about unavoidable.  I did wake up more the once after feeling something crawling up my leg.

Anyone else care to share their cockroach encounters?

I just read a story of a young college graduate who challenged himself to live on the streets for a year starting with $25 and a gym bag.  His story is below.

I also watched a short documentary of a project by Natalie Merchant, and some other artist, to create an album of songs, written and performed by homeless people. That clip is also below.

I have never been homeless and don’t know anybody who has.  I have seen the homeless in every city I have been in.

Some of these people are clearly unbalanced.  Our country needs to find the resources to ensure these people get the care they need.

For some it’s a case of having lost everything.  They need short term help but I have read enough success stories to think that if they are willing to work hard, even if it means starting with a minimum wage job, they will have the opportunity to reverse their misfortune.

For the long term, hard core, homeless I have no answer.  They appear to have lost the hope, or the desire, that they can improve their life.  All the country can do is make sure the opportunity is there when they do decide to change their way of life.  Better people than me spend much of their life trying to do just that.

1) From a Christian Science Monitor story by Peter Smith

Alone on a dark gritty street, Adam Shepard searched for a homeless shelter.  He had $25 and a gym bag.  Mr. Shepard had left a comfortable life with a supportive parents in Raleigh, NC.  Now he was an outsider on the wrong side of the tracks in Charleston, SC.

But Shepard’s descent into poverty was no accident.  Shortly after graduating from Merrimack College in North Andover, Mass., he intentionally left his parents home to test the vivacity of the American Dream.  His goal: to have a furnished apartment, a car, and $2,500 in savings within a year.

To make his quest more challenging, he decided not to use any of his previous contacts or mention his education.

During his 70 days in Charleston, Shepard lived in a shelter and received food stamps.  He also made new friends, finding work as a day laborer, which led to a steady job with a moving company.

Ten months into the experiment, he decided to quiet after learning of an illness in the family.  By then he had moved into an apartment, bought a pickup truck and had saved close to $5,000.

Shepard: “one guy, who arrived at the shelter on Tuesday had been hit by a car on the previous Friday driven by a drunk driver.  He was in a wheelchair.  He was totally out of it.  And I said, ‘Dude, your life is completely changed.’ And he said, ‘Yeah, your right, but I’m getting the heck out of here.”  Then there was another guy who could walk and talk and everything was good in his life, but he was just bumming around, begging on the street corner.”

2) Natalie Merchant – Give Us Your Poor

You can purchase the Album on Amazon.com for $18.00.

give.jpg

Yesterday I talked about the reasoning side of the brain.  Today I’ll talk about something that works best using the emotional side of our brain – dancing.

As a teenager I did my dancing behind my closed bedroom door.  Listening to Buddy Holly sing about “Peggy Sue”.

In New York I discovered the joy of getting lost on the dance floor in the rhythm and beat of Disco music.  I also discovered the romance of sloooow dancing to “cool” music with a “hot chick”.  🙂

I have never been very good at dances that required learning specific steps, such as ballroom dancing.  I greatly admire anyone who can do that well.

I also have never been that comfortable at dancing at public functions, like weddings.  My dancing these days is done mostly in my living room.

Ballet dancing is perhaps the best example of a style of dancing that requires great skill and hard work.  I am amazed at how an artist like Rudolf Nuryev could perform such difficult maneuvers with such ease and grace.

The other style of dancing I enjoying watching is an unchoreograph, uninhibited, performance by someone who is having fun and is sharing their joy with the audience, like at some rock concerts.

I found two clips that are great examples of these two styles of dancing:

Rudolf Nureyev – Le Corsaire

Natalie Merchant – A funky concert version of “These Are Days”

1) Compared to other animals we humans don’t matched up too well.  We aren’t very strong, we don’t see that well, our hearing isn’t that good.  We have survived, and thrived, because of our reasoning mind.

The necortex of the human brain accounts for about 76% of the mass of the brain; with a neocortex that much larger than other animals, we enjoy unique mental capacities, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_brain .

It’s this reasoning power in analyzing the world around us that gives man a competitive advantage over other animals.  It’s reason and logic that helps us gain a better understanding of the world we live in and to build a better future for our children.

We also have an emotional side.  Love is an emotion.  We are attracted to someone who seems to be too tall, too short, too thin, too heavy, or has no taste in clothes.  We enjoy singing and dancing, going to concerts or churchs, because of our emotions.  These things just make us happy.  There is no need to analyize the experience, just go with it.

Whatever inspires people to be good citizens and help others, be it religion or anything else, is a good thing.

However, when we decide on the laws of the societies we will live in and how to deal with our neighbors in other countries, it’s the reasoning side of our brain we need to listen too.  Using reason we can break down the barriers of racism, religion and nationalism our emotional side has put between us.

The reasoning mind created democracy, where citizens choose their leaders; capitalism where it’s the efficiency of the worker that counts not their skin color; technology like the Internet that brings the people of the world together.  The reasoning mind uses science to develop new ideas and create solutions to the problems that challenge us.

The emotional mind on the other hand can result in caring, hard working people  following a crazed, charismatic leader like Hitler, who tells them the Jews are to blame for all their problems and that they are the master race.  The emotional mind gets young people to listen to a religious fanatic like Osama ben Laden, because they are sure that if they die in a holy war they will join God in heaven for eternity.

I won’t see it in my lifetime, it may take a 1,000 years or more, but socities, using reason and logic, will evolve that rely more on cooperation, and not conflict, to resolve the differences between the races and nations of the world.

The pace of scientific discoveries is increasing exponentially.  In ten years we will likely know ten times more about the world than we do today.  These discoveries will demonstrate the value of relying on reason to create the world we need.  As science finds more answers I believe people will gain confidence that humanity can build a better future.  People will turn away from the magical world of myth and unquestioning faith. 

The more we use our reasoning mind the better able we will be to overcome the barriers of racism, religion and nationalism that fuel the conflicts and wars that exist today.  Using reason and logic will give us that better future we dream about.

2) Questions: 

Wouldn’t it be better if we took all the resources, energy and love that is now focused on God and redirect them to our fellow man? 

Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we worship humanity and not God?

Brandy, Darla, Tam and Gods Gal, sorry to disappoint you ladies but my traveling companion was my friend and neighbor Mike.  He is a retired ex-marine, who lost his wife two years ago when she had a stroke.

I enjoyed the break and we took our time, stopping every few hours.  Usually when I take a trip I plan my itinerary down to the each hour.  🙂   It is good once and awhile to be more spontaneous and just take off.  Neither one of us are into taking pictures, so we have none to share.  I don’t even know where my camera is.

Our first stop was Baltimore, Maryland.  The town has a very nice harbor area and some great seafood restaurants.  They make the best crab cakes.  All crab with none of the bread crumbs and other fillers you get elsewhere.

Our next stop was Virginia Beach, Virginia.  The temperatures were mild, in the 50’s, but with the wind coming off the ocean it was still pretty chilly.  It was also very scenic, watching the wind driven surf.  Virginia Beach is another great seafood town.

We made it as far south as Jacksonville, Florida.  The Trout River runs through the town.  We had both been there before so we know some good restaurants.

It you sense a theme to the trip is was seafood.  We basically eat our way down the eastern seaboard.  I will have to be on a strict diet for the next week.  🙂

Me and a friend have decided to kick the winter doldrums by taking a trip.  Were driving south.  No plans.  No destination.  Just hitting the open road.

Every one have a great weekend.  See you all Monday, or maybe Tuesday.

The Beach Boys – I Get Around

1) In History

The first recorded association of Valentines Day with romantic love is in “Parlement of Foules” (1382) by Geoffrey Chaucer:

“For this was on seynt Volantynys day

  Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese [choose] his make [mate].”

This poem was written to honor the first anniversary of the engagement of King Richard ll of England to Anne of Bohemia.  There were married eight months later.  He was 13 and she was 14.

2) Frank Sinatra – Funny Valentine

3) Redneck Valentine:

“Yore hair is like cornsilk,

A-flapping in the breeze,

Softer than Blue’s,

And without all them fleas.”

4) In Japan the Valentines Day tradition is for women to give men gifts.  One man is trying to change that.  From the New York Times:

“Dozens of men stood side by side in a cabbage patch in Tsumagoi, 90 miles northwest of the capital.”  “Participants on that balmy day last fall went down the row yelling, ‘I love you.’  Trying earnestly to say the words to their wives – some for the first time.  Their spouses stood in the field, watching.  Some were in tears.”

These couples were participating in an event by Kiyota Yamana, founder of the Japan Aisaika (Devoted Husband) Organization.  His goal is to help Japan’s troubled approach to marriage – often regarded more as a status than a relationship – by teaching men to appreciate their wives and express their feelings.

In Japan, expressing love and appreciation is uncommon, especially among men.  Even Valentine’s Day is a time for women to give men gifts.  In the majority of marriages, husbands are the breadwinners; wives the homemakers.  But that doesn’t sit well in a rapidly changing Japan:  The number of divorces rose 73% from 1985 to 2002.  Though the number has slowly decreased since then, in-home seperations remain common in a country that has few marriage counselors.

“If I said to my wife, ‘I love you,’ she would think me crazy, ‘ says Hiroto, who has been married for 20 years.”

5)  Most of the time I will admit I haven’t been too creative with my Valentines gifts.  I have usually given my girlfriends the old standby, roses, and one time a pearl earings, just before she dumped me.  😦  I would enjoy hearing about anyone’s Valentine Day moments, past or present. 

This post was inspired by a discussion over at Gods Gal’s site,

http://1godsgal.wordpress.com 

She is a very caring and devout Christian who welcomes non-believers like me.

Most of my friends find comfort in the word tradition.  It conjuries images of Christmas and happy moments of the past.  The traditions of the past, the words in the bible and our Constitution, provide moral codes we must live by.

I see tradition being used all too often as a straight jacket.  We are instructed to follow a course of action because that’s how it was done in the past.  Any law, rule or code of conduct created in the past needs to be examined in the context of what is right for today.  The socities created by these documents of the past, such as the bible, were far from perfect, as our’s is now. There are many words of wisdom contained therein but we can, and must, improve on them.

I see the past as a blueprint for the future.  Those parts that are working should be kept.  Past mistakes need to be corrected.

What I think of as “modern” history began 5,000 to 6,000 years ago when man discovered agriculture and began living in cities.  That’s a very short period on the grand scale of time, a nanosecond, a blip on the radar screen.   We homo sapiens are still in our infancy of development.

My guess is that we know probably less than 1% of the knowledge needed to fully understand the world we live in.  We are however learning about our world at an ever increasing rate.  My guess is that in 10 years our body of knowledge will increase tenfold.  Every day I read about the advances being made by science, on sites like Science Daily, http://www.sciencedaily.com .

Some stories from the past do fill us with inspiriation.  Others about slavery and war give a very depressing view of the weakness of the societies we have created.  I can understand why some have no hope for mankind and turn to religion.

We do have a long way to go, but we have just begun the journey.  We must learn from the mistakes of our past to make this world a better place to live in.

That’s my focus.  Live for today and work to make tomorrow a better places for ourselves and our families.  The past is just a history lesson.  We have much to learn.

1) Insect Ice Cream

Insect meals

THe New York Times has an article about the fascinating , or gross, subject of insect food.

“In the kitchen at Toscanin’s Ice Cream, David Gracer plunged a spoon into various insect-and-ice-cream concoctions.  Wielding a grasshopper covered in caramel, he said:  “Insects can feed the world.”

Anyone for some delicious grasshopper caramel ice cream?

I have eaten fried grasshopper, fried Grub and the old classic chocolate covered ants.  I did like the grasshopper and the ants, the grubs not so much.

What is the strangest meal you have had?

2) Muslim Girl Scouts

Muslim Girl Scouts

What could be more American than a troop of girls.  LIke the one above from Wichita, Kansas.  From reading newspapers headlines we might easy think that Muslims in America were divorced from American culture.

Like any other group of immigrants young Muslims are intergrating themselves into the US.

I remember another article, in the Christian Science Monitor, where a young Muslim spoke of how difficult it was to relate to the Imam at the local Mosque, most of whom are from the middle east.

The boy told of how he saw a group of his friends who appeared to be listening intently to the Imam speak.  Looking closer he realized they were text messege each other and paying no attention to the Imam.  Just like so many other young boys at any church in America.

From the Wichita Eagle,

http://www.kansas.com/news/local/story/301275.html

“After serving apple-chicken salad in pastry shells, cucumber tea sandwichs, smoked salmon and asparagus crustini, summer berry tarts, pink lemonade with kiwi, and tea, the members of Danah Salem’s Girl Scout troop did a lively rendition of the Macarena dance,”

“The values of Girl Scouts are very similar to Islamic values.”  said Salem, who leads the group of fifth and sixth graders along with Layala Anbarji.  “It’s nice to re-emphasize those values in a different kind of way instead of always saying, “This is what our religion tells you.”

Where any of you girl, or boy scouts?  An experence I missed out on.

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