Tomes and Tomatoes

My day can end with a healthy sense of satisfaction. Better Half and I were able to clean the bedroom yesterday and the office today. He’s asleep now, resting up for the VA tomorrow. They plan to run a sleep deprived EEG in the hopes of diagnosing his “non-episodic seizures.” I will wake him at midnight and then I will try to get some sleep myself: we leave at 5:30 AM.

One of my major achievements today was cleaning my office. I thought it would be a good idea to sort through all my books and piles of paper. My cheaply made bookcases did not weather the move well. I have two large six foot ones in addition to a small three-shelf bookcase. Half of my texts are located in my office, and perhaps a third of Better Half’s books are here. It is a weak cross-section of subjects, mostly sciences with some military history thrown in. The rest of our collection is housed quite unceremoniously in boxes in the Dungeon (AKA stinky basement.)

Our tomatoes are thriving. I snipped a half dozen from the plants. They will redden up a touch more in the refrigerator before becoming perfect for sandwiches or added to a scrambled egg. Our squash threatens to overwhelm again. I plan to hand some of the yellow squash to the neighbors. I am sorry to report that zucchini bushes are not doing well. Patty pans are holding their own. We are doing our best to keep things picked when they are young and tender. I honestly do not understand how some of my crop-growing friends manage to care for huge personal gardens. It is worth the effort, however. I have tasted the first tomato from the garden and proclaimed it good.

Blog Awards

I am listing my blog awards here in order to save space along the sidebar.

Blogging with Heart Award 2008

Blog Of The Day Awards Winner

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket


How Many Zero's in a Billion?

The next time you hear a politician use the
word 'billion' in a casual manner,
think about whether you want the
'politicians' spending YOUR tax money.

A billion is a difficult number to comprehend,
but one advertising agency did a good job of
putting that figure into some perspective in
one of it's releases.

A billion seconds ago it was 1959.

A billion minutes ago Jesus was alive.

A billion hours ago our ancestors were
living in the Stone Age.

A billion days ago no-one walked on the earth on two feet.

A billion dollars ago was only
8 hours and 20 minutes,
at the rate our government
is spending it.

While this thought is still fresh in our brain...
let's take a look at New Orleans ..
It's amazing what you can learn with some simple division.

Louisiana Senator,
Mary Landrieu (D)
is presently asking Congress for
to rebuild New Orleans .. Interesting number...
what does it mean?

Well... if you are one of the 484,674 residents of New Orleans
(every man, woman, and child)
you each get $516,528.

Or... if you have one of the 188,251 homes in
New Orleans , your home gets $1,329,787.

Or... if you are a family of four...
your family gets $2,066,012!

Washington, D. C
Are all your calculators broken??

Accounts Receivable Tax
Building Permit Tax
CDL License Tax
Cigarette Tax
Corporate Income Tax
Dog License Tax
Federal Income Tax
Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA)
Fishing License Tax
Food License Tax
Fuel Permit Tax
Gasoline Tax
Hunting License Tax
Inheritance Tax
Inventory Tax
IRS Interest Charges (tax on top of tax)
IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax)
Liquor Tax
Luxury Tax
Marriage License Tax
Medicare Tax
Property Tax
Real Estate Tax
Service charge taxes
Social Security Tax
Road Usage Tax (Truckers)
Sales Taxes
Recreational Vehicle Tax
School Tax
State Income Tax
State Unemployment Tax (SUTA)
Telephone Federal Excise Tax
Telephone Federal Universal Service Fee Tax
Telephone Federal, State and Local Surcharge Tax
Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Tax
Telephone Recurring and Non-recurring Charges Tax
Telephone State and Local Tax
Telephone Usage Charge Tax
Utility Tax
Vehicle License Registration Tax
Vehicle Sales Tax
Watercraft Registration Tax
Well Permit Tax
Workers Compensation Tax


Not one of these taxes existed 100 years ago...
and our nation was the most prosperous in the world.

We had absolutely no national debt...
We had the largest middle class in the world.

What happened?
Can you spell 'politicians!'

And I still have to
press "1"
for English.

I hope this goes around the
at least 100 times
Thanks OX for the weird email

My New Blog

That got your attnetion, didn't it?

I toyed with the idea of having a blog dedicated to my writing (none of the every day posting, which I do not do every day as it is, so really why would I need a blog for the extraordinary things when I fail to record the ordinary things? Hush.) I will keep this one going as well (and spend a lot of time telling myself, "Oh, I should blog that!" without actually blogging it.)

You can visit Autrice DelDrago to find out more.

Countdown to the Olympics

Beijing 2008

The link on this widget will take you to a Chinese homepage which will not load properly if your computer does not have the language set. I recommend that you skip that link and use the link below for Olympic information.
The Official Website of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games


The Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium, revisited

I opened my email after a three-day hiatus from it, and was pleased to find a comment awaiting my approval today. The comment was in regard to an August 2006 post about the local zoo, comprised of a polite “thank you” and a request for link consideration.

I must admit that my critique of the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium was straightforward and not entirely glowing with praise. I saw room for improvement while also seeing some truly well planned exhibits. Keep in mind that my opinion comes from having worked in a zoo and aquarium combination (Denver’s Ocean Journey, since then renamed Denver’s Downtown Aquarium.)

I applaud the Pittsburgh Zoo for its excellent promotion of two essential realities of a modern zoo: be a leader and a significant contributor to the conservation of endangered and threatened species; conduct research which supports and enhances the quality of animal and plant life, visitor experiences, education, and conservation.

The zoo was established in Pittsburgh in 1898, with an aquarium center addition in 1967; it was the first public aquarium in the state. Today the zoo sits on 77 acres, contains 475 species of animals and boasts over 4000 animals total. They have a successful breeding program with their Amur tigers as well as their African elephants.

The exhibits vary. 16 acres have been dedicated to the African Savanna, 5 acres to an indoor tropical rainforest. Water’s Edge, World of Discovery, and Kid’s Kingdom are equally as entertaining. The zoo offers Video Feeds online.

My husband, a marine biologist, will spend the entire day inside the PPG Aquarium, clinging to the glass in unintentional imitation of the starfish from “Nemo”, talking over his shoulder at the kiddies as he points out the interesting aspects of each fish. I was delighted with the PPG Aquarium; each display was perfect. As promised by their web site:

In June 2000, the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium celebrated the grand opening of its newest jewel, a 45,000-square-foot state-of-the-art aquarium. The $17.4 million facility flows with 380,000 gallons of salt and fresh water and houses more than 40 aquatic exhibits. It is Pennsylvania's only public aquarium and makes Pittsburgh one of only six zoos in the country to house a major aquarium. With the theme "Diversity of Water," the PPG Aquarium is home to more than 4,000
aquatic animals from around the world, including penguins, stingrays, jellyfish, an electric eel and thousands of exotic fish. The building includes a classroom for educational programs to help visitors further explore the "mysteries of the deep."

I do have one recollection that did not make it into my previous Zoo post: the gift shop. My memory of the action items is fuzzy, but I do remember how friendly the young women were as they rang up our purchase (a refrigerator magnet – my “tourist” obsession!)

I do encourage you to stop by the zoo if you are in the Pittsburgh area.

Current Zoo Admission Rates & Hours as of July 2008

Adult $12
Seniors (60 years of age or older) $11
Children (ages 2-13) $10
Children under 24 months Free
Parking Free
Hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission Gates close at 4:30 p.m.

December 1 through March 31

Adult $9
Seniors (60 years of age or older) $8
Children (ages 2-13 years) $8
Children under 24 months Free
Parking Free

The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium homepage’s image is a screen shot displayed here for information purposes only. All rights to the homepage belong to the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium.

Sunday Scribblings #119: My Oldest Friend

Your oldest friend ~

~ should be you!

Visit more old friends at Sunday Scribblings

Summer 2008 Vegetation

Summer 2008 Vegetation
The front yard in bloom
A symphony of dusty miller, impatients,
mums, elephant's ear, dianthus and lamb's ear.
The front porch planting beds
"Monster Hosta" in bloom
The Mimosa tree
View from below


Hitch hiker

The Eats

3 varieties of squash

Romano tomatoes

Strawberry pots on the deck


July 1st, Canada (birth!) Day

July 1st – a relaxing day. Not only is it my birthday, but also the day that Canadians celebrate the birth of the man (Oscar Canada) who discovered their great land. I’m told that they hold dog sled races in the deep July snow to commemorate the occasion, replete with lumberjack competitions and RCMP formation drills. The PM, Stephen Harper, was on hand to help judge the moose beauty pageant. The moose (or “mooses” if you are from the any state in the deep South, USA) must sing the national anthem (dedicated to Mr. O. Canada) with perfect pitch least they be disqualified.

My wonderful Canadian friends are going to kick my ass all over the Internet, to be sure.

I had a friend “back in the day” that honestly thought that Cinco de Mayo was held in celebration of the “man who discovered Mexico”. His name, of course, was Cinco de Mayo (no relation to Oscar Canada or even Oscar de la Renta.) The mistranslation of “Fifth of May” to “this guy’s name” undeniably stymied her attempts to date a Hispanic male. It didn’t surprise me one iota when some foolish person refused to believe Canada Day was about the enactment of the British North American Act. I am not going into detail about the “how and why” of it. Google and learn.

How sad is it that Americans seem clueless with regard to their neighbors to the north and south? Are we nothing more than a nation that saturates itself with prime time talent contests, baby daddy talk shows, and hyperbole as it pertains to our self-estimation? (Be forewarned, the next generation was weaned on Fruit Roll-Ups, Starbuck’s burnt coffee and Go-Gurt. I don’t expect much in the way of vigorous brain cell activity. God forbid they reach their 40’s and suddenly discover that Canada is not the 51st state.)

I can overlook some things. If you have never called a living and breathing human being in Canada, you might not know that you can dial the number just as you would any long distance phone number, using only 1+area code. Please do not try to place a call to Canadians who are not living and breathing; the dead tend to ignore the phone’s ring.

Another misconception: Canada does not have “states”. Should you ask a Canadian what state he lives in, he will probably think, “a state of hell, having to deal with yet another inept American.” Canada is a federation of ten provinces and three territories. They have a PM (Prime Minister, which is not the same thing as prime rib) rather than a president.

Canadians enjoy indoor plumbing, paved roads and buildings comprised of materials other than ice. They drive in the same sort of vehicles that you would see in the United States. Most do not finish every sentence with “ay”, although there are some that do. Contrary to popular belief, Canada has a military and space programs. Mounties do not ride yaks (the Royal Canadian Kilted Yaksmen are Ren and Stimpy fantasy.)

We will not even touch the clueless American who became rather perturbed upon hearing that Niagara (pronounced nye AH grah by the bungling) Falls has a “Canadian side”, how dare they! Les Chutes du Niagara cascading down from the Niagara River surely must belong to the Americans. It never occurred to her that there was more to Niagara than a single cataract of water.

My birthday (I did not discover Canada) was splendid. Better Half treated me to the new Disney-Pixar film, Wall-E. We had a lovely dinner out and enjoyed a wonderful cherry cake.