Wednesday, April 30, 2008


My adorable 1996 Honda Accord station wagon is gone. State Farm decided to total it. I went by yesterday to get my stuff out of it and was really sad. It was in perfect condition, according to Demo's and State Farm so they are giving me 7,500 for it. Now I have to decide what to buy. If I had money I would get a Toyota 4 runner or a Highlander but since I'm on a budget will probably get a used car or a Toyota Yaris hatchback. Any opinions?

Saturday, April 26, 2008

My stupid accident

Yesterday, as I was pulling into my parking space at work something happened and I accelerated when I should have been braking and crashed my car into the building where I work. I still don't know what happened but I think that probably my foot slipped off the brake. I have always heard about people who do this kind of thing and plow into a storefront but never understood how it could happen. Now I do. I'm really hoping the car people will tell me my brakes went out or something but it was probably my fault. Having this happen where you work is pretty embarrassing but everyone was very nice, even the police who didn't give me a ticket. I have been really upset by this and didn't sleep at all last night. All I could do was replay the accident in my head. My car is currently at the shop waiting for an estimate. Since it is 12 years old there's a good chance they will just total it. Until then I have a rental. I couldn't stop crying this morning but after talking to my friend MC I feel a lot better. The good thing is that I didn't hurt anyone and I didn't crash into an office or anything and the damage to the building appears to be minimal. If I had been one parking spot over I would have gone into the director's office or if it had been a few seconds later I might have hit someone who was walking on the sidewalk.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Billboard's Top Songs

This web site
lets you look up the #1 song on any given day. So if you want to know the #1 song on the day you were born, married, graduated, etc. you can find it here. The #1 song on the day my daughter was born was Kung Fu Fighting by Carl Lewis. After you find the song you can click on it and be taken to iTunes where you can preview and download it.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Bush Retirement Plans

Earth Day 1971

More about Earth Day later but here are a few pictures from Earth Day, 1971. These are from my Westchester High School yearbook. I was a senior and a member of the Ecology Club. Westchester was a great high school. It was only a few years old when I attended and the teachers were for the most part young and liberal. In my senior year I took a sociology course which was really more of a social issues class. That class, and the teacher, Barbara Gregory, changed the way I thought about the world. I am still influenced by what I learned in that class.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Maps #34: Geocoding and Geocaching


I choose Whole Foods Market at 2955 Kirby Dr. 77098. I went to and typed in the address. The coodinates are

29.739128, -95.418716 or N29°44.34768, W095°25.12296. Then I looked at it in several ways (hybrid, satellite, terrain, blue marble...). I tried to look at it in Daily Terra, Daily Aqua, and SRTM elevation but was unable to see anything.

I asked the question in a previous blog about where you could find the name of a place if you only had the coordinates and here it is!


For this assignment I went to and searched by my zip code, 77098. There were a lot in my are but I choose RIP#2 Cactus Record Store. Here is the URL: and here are the coordinates: N 29° 44.332 W 095° 24.711
The RIP series of geocaches is dedicated to helping people remember places that are no longer here. The author worked for Cactus in 1979 and talks about some of the experiences he had there. "The cache: The usual parking lot micro cache. No room for anything but the log scroll. BYO pen." Maybe I'll go and look today. I guess the author knows about the new Cactus a few blocks away.
I remember a few years ago when I saw a book on the shelves here about Geocaching. I had never heard of it before and looked through it to see what it was. Now there are several books in our catalog including a novel for children called The Box That Watch Found.
Geocaching sounds like a lot of fun for all ages. It could be a great math teaching tool or a modern day version of the Scavenger Hunt for teens. It also reminds me of some of the things the contestants do on The Amazing Race.

Iraq War Humor

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Cough, Cough

As you can see from the chart Harris County produced the greatest amount of carbon dioxide in the country. According to the study we are number one because of industrial emissions while Los Angeles is number 2 because of auto emissions. This information is from the carbon dioxide inventory project called Vulcan which was funded by NASA and the U.S. Department of Energy and involved researchers from Purdue, Colorado State University and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. It is based on data from 2002.

In case you can't read the chart here is the list:
Harris, Texas (Houston) — 18.625 million tons of carbon per year
Los Angeles, Calif. (Los Angeles) — 18.595
Cook, Ill. (Chicago) — 13.209
Cuyahoga, Ohio (Cleveland) — 11.144
Wayne, Mich. (Detroit) — 8.270
San Juan, N.M. (Farmington) — 8.245
Santa Clara, Calif. (San Jose) — 7.995*
Jefferson, Ala. (Birmingham) — 7.951
Wilcox, Ala. (Camden) — 7.615
East Baton Rouge, La. (Baton Rouge) — 7.322
Titus, Texas (Mt. Pleasant) — 7.244
Carbon, Pa. (Jim Thorpe) — 6.534
Porter, Ind. (Valparaiso) — 6.331
Jefferson, Ohio (Steubenville) — 6.278
Indiana, Pa. (Indiana) — 6.224
Middlesex, Mass. (Boston metro area) — 6.198
Bexar, Texas (San Antonio) — 6.141
Hillsborough, Fla. (Tampa) — 6.037
Suffolk, N.Y. (New York metro area) — 6.030
Clark, Nev. (Las Vegas) — 5.955

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Maps #32: Current Events

This couple is going to an animal rights event in San Francisco, protesting the use of animals in labs. They found out about this protest by searching the Global Incident Map website discussed in activity #2 below.

I looked at "100 Things To Do With Google Maps" and discovered a lot of things that could be fun to do if I had more time. For my hypothetical activity I choose #57 "Check what on the other side of the world" or "If the earth were a sandwich" and found that if I dug a hole from Houston all the way through the earth I would end up in the middle of the Indian Ocean, halfway between Madagascar and Australia. If I were living in Hawaii and did the same thing I would end up in Northern Botswana, a place I want to visit.

For this activity I choose the Global Incident Map,
a world map with flashing icons. It you click on the icon it tells you about suspicious packages, terrorist activities, assassinations, bombs and any other dangerous activities going on in the world. It updates every 310 seconds. In Florida, for instance, radiation equipment was lost and a suspicious package was found at a courthouse. The Hasting Area of New Zealand was evacuated because of a bomb scare. There are multiple flashing icons in the Middle East, not a big surprise. You can also search by type of incident, time, and location. From this I found that there are no ecoterrorism activities planned but 50 animal right terrorist activities planned for next week to protest the use of animals in labs, an issue I care about.
This is something I will bookmark and look at regularly.

Optional activity:
I looked at EarthNow Landsat Image Viewer
It's a little like looking out of the window when you are flying. I followed it all the way from Canada to Florida (very blue and white to green)
From the FAQ: What is Landsat? Landsat is the name of a series of satellites that have been used by governments, scientists and educators to monitor changes of the Earth's land surface. Landsat satellites provide a means for measuring the change in the amount of healthy vegetation, extent of damage and rate of regeneration following a forest fire, and various other applications of interest to professionals in the defense and agriculture industries. Since the launch of Landsat 1 in 1972, these satellites have continuously monitored the Earth. The USGS currently operates Landsat 5 and Landsat 7. These satellites contribute over 400 images per day to the EROS data archive.

Maps #31: Have Map, Will Travel

I created this map using Google maps. It represents a trip I took to Antarctica a few years ago. It was pretty difficult doing this map because many of the places we went to are not on maps because they are coves, channels or bays. Once I figured out how to uses Google maps it was pretty easy and Miss Grimm helped me put it on my blog. You can click on the bubbles to find the exact locations or switch to satellite or terrain view.
View Larger Map

Optional exercise: I typed in my address and then did a search for vegetarian restaurants, then narrowed it down by one mile and found 10 withing walking distance. I already knew about these but found several I had never heard of when I limited it by five miles, including The Raw Truth Vegetarian Restaurant. I then got directions from my house to this restaurant which is 4.7 miles. Then I checked the box "avoid highways" and received a new set of directions which goes straight down West Alabama and is only 3.1 miles. I also found this review by Victoria Wright : "The Raw Truth CafĂ© is a wonderful all-vegetarian establishment in Houston’s fourth ward. It was an instant hit upon opening and is a favorite of many area vegans. If you’re looking for an affordable dinner in a comfortable, casual setting, this is your place. The portions are large and the food is great. Both raw and cooked are dishes are available. Be sure to try their delicious deserts too!"
A PS for the map queen (you know who you are) in Denver or anyone else who might know. Is there a map site where I can make a map similar to the one above if all I have is the latitude and longitude coordinates?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Maps #33: Relocating with Online Maps

This is an easy assignment for me because I look for places to move just about everyday, especially in the summer. I like to use but have also looked at har,, apartment finder, and craigs list. If you are planning to move and have pets, a really useful place to look is the local animal shelter in the area where you want to move. I actually found an apartment in Boulder that would accept my 4 dogs. That's the only complex I have ever found that will accept more than 3 dogs. Most accept no more than two. I found this through the Denver animal shelter

For this assignment I decided to do a search working on the assumption that I would win a million dollars in the Texas lottery next week. I decided to look in one of my favorite places, Sedona, Arizona. I went to and typed in Sedona, AZ. 3+ bedrooms and 2+ bathrooms with a maximum price of 600,000. I found several really nice properties including the one pictured which is in Oak Creek Canyon and has magnificent views of the red rocks Sedona is so famous for. I also took the virtual tour provided on the website. Here is a description of the property: "Beautiful home in World Famous Oak Creek Canyon. Stunning Canyon views in all directions, backs to NFS, landscaped to perfection, cobblestone walkways, back deck with spa and covered front porch. Gorgeous Juniper mantle and countertops all custom made by a local craftsman, marble in bathrooms, new carpet and tile throughout. Almost everything is new, top of the line and under warranty. Incredible new lighting features and fixtures. The electrical has been totally redone and has the capacity for everything from a kiln to a welder for the artist, craft-person or handy man. Includes most decorator furnishings and electronics."
After I did that, I clicked on the map provided and found that the property is just outside of Sedona on a small road going to Flagstaff. It is near the Coconino National Forest and the Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Area. I have been in this area and can attest to its beauty. I was also able to look at a satellite map of the area. Sedona is famous for it's vortex sites and attracts spiritual healers, spiritual guides and just about anything "new age" so there are a lot of interesting stores and plenty of restaurants that cater to vegans, raw foodists, and organics only people. There is also a really beautiful library
that is staffed by volunteers for when I get bored. The health food store New Frontiers Natural Marketplace is 7.4 miles from this house and there are hundreds of restaurants that sound interesting including Cafe Raw Bliss & Chocolates.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

My mom

Today is my mother's birthday. She was born on April 17, 1918 and if she was alive would be 90 year's old today. Her Name was Lena Mae Wells LeGrand. She was born in Beaumont but spent most of her childhood in the Rio Grande Valley. I have included a picture of her as a child holding a cat. I remember that she always loved cats which is something I must have gotten from her. She was also a wonderful seamstress and made all of the dresses in the family picture. She loved to sew and would usually be doing that when I got home from school each day. I also remember her singing. One song I always associate with her is Que Sera Sera. She sang that song to me when I was really young. I have always loved the movie The Man Who Knew Too Much because Doris Day sings that song to her son in the movie. She died of ovarian cancer on March 1, 1965 and there isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of her.
Flaky Veggie Wraps
By Barbara Moses

Fresh phyllo dough filled with slightly pre-steamed fresh vegetables and cheese. This recipe is very simple to prepare and cook!

fresh phyllo dough
fresh mushrooms,
fresh green and red peppers
white onions
fresh spinach
sunflower seeds
Cheese optional (feta or mozzarella)

Slightly pre-steam fresh vegetables that are cut into bite size (crunchy to taste) pieces. You may use any veggies but I prefer mushrooms, spinach, cauliflower, peppers, onions. Once the chopped chunks of vegetables are slightly crunchy to taste, drain well, add fresh tomatoes, basil and sun flower seeds. Add seasoning salt, pepper, cumin. Place vegetables on top of a flat layer of filo dough. Roll into a fat log. Cut into 5-6 inch logs. tuck edges inside. Place on a greased baking sheet, brush slightly with melted butter or egg whites and bake until light brown at 325 degree. Low calories, nutritious and easy to prepare.

Prep Time: 10 Min
Cook Time: 15 Min
Total Time: 25 Min

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Partners in Sustainable Building

The Home Depot Foundation is giving Habitat for Humanity International $30 million for a program called Partners in Sustainable Building. The program will try to make at least 5,000 Habitat homes more energy efficient and will also fund green building for homes that will be built by Habitat in the next 5 years.

Habitat for Humanity International has built more than 250,000 houses worldwide since it was founded in 1976.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Pennsylvania [hearts] Barack

From the Booman Tribune.

Dear Fellow Pennsylvanian,
We live in small towns and rural areas throughout Pennsylvania and we support Barack Obama for President.
A few days ago, Sen. Obama made some comments that his opponents are now using to make him appear as if he is something he is not. Instead of speaking to us honestly about how they intend to solve the problems we are facing, they are playing the same old Washington games that accomplish nothing.
What Sen. Obama said is that over the last 25-30 years, working class people in places like Pennsylvania have been falling behind, and that politicians in Washington haven't been looking out for them. He also said that, as a result, many people have become frustrated, angry and even bitter about all the broken promises.
He was right.
The politicians who are now saying that we shouldn't be frustrated are the ones who are out of touch.
People in the towns and communities we live in have seen their jobs shipped overseas. We've seen our pensions disappear. We've seen our health care costs skyrocket. We've seen everything from the cost of gasoline to a gallon of milk go through the roof.
As our families have struggled to make ends meet and our communities fought to stay intact, how has Washington responded? By giving tax breaks to the wealthy, rewarding corporations who ship jobs overseas, and turning the levers of power over to the lobbyists and special interests.
It's easy to feel a little frustrated when you see these Washington politicians continue to ignore you. But it's not the only emotion we feel. When someone comes along who is untainted by the system in Washington, who doesn't take money from federal lobbyists or special interests and who promises that things can be different, we feel something else--hope.
That's why we're supporting Barack Obama. Others have come along and promised change, but failed to deliver. Sen. Obama is different than the rest. He doesn't take money from the special interests, and he speaks honestly about the issues we are facing.
In addition to supporting his plans for jobs, health care and education, we believe that he can deliver on his promises to ensure economic opportunity for family farmers, to provide support for rural economic development, to promote renewable energy in rural America, to protect the rights of hunters and other law-abiding Americans to purchase, own, transport, and use guns for the purposes of hunting and target shooting, and to preserve open land for hunting and fishing.
Unlike his opponents who have been part of the Washington establishment for decades, Barack Obama understands the struggles we are going through. We welcomed him with open arms as he made his way through small towns and rural areas on his recent bus tour across the state. And we will work day and night from now until the primary on his behalf not only because he has heard our frustrations, but because he speaks to our hope that Washington can actually work for people like us.
Ted Alter, State College
Westmoreland County Commissioner Tom Bayla, Greensburg
Mayor John Brenner, York
Lloyd Casey, West Chester - President, Pennsylvania Forestry Association
Mayor John Fetterman, Braddock
Mayor Rick Gray, Lancaster
Scott Harrison, Warriors Mark
State Representative Bryan Lentz, Swarthmore
State Senator Sean Logan, Monroeville
Carl Majji, Claysville - Corporal, U.S. Army
Mayor Thomas McMahon, Reading
State Senator Bob Mellow - Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Leader
U.S. Representative Patrick Murphy, Doylestown - U.S. Congressman (PA-08)
Perry County Commissioner Steve Naylor, New Bloomfield
Lackawanna County Commissioner Corey O'Brien, Dunmore
Fran Rodriquez, Lancaster
State Representative Josh Shapiro, Abington - Deputy Speaker, Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Major General Walter Stewart, Berks County - Former Commander, 28th 28th Infantry Division, Pennsylvania Army National Guard
State Representative Dan Surra, St. Marys
State Representative Thomas Tangretti, Greensburg
Lackawanna County Commissioner Michael Washo, Scranton

Nutrition and health

Here are the results from 3 studies that I just read today.

1. The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) Diet: Researchers followed 88,000 healthy women for 25 years and found that those who followed the DASH Diet which favors fruit, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat milk, and plant-based protein were 24% less likely to have a heart attack and 18% less likely to have a stroke than women on a more typical American diet.

2. Swedish researchers have found that a gluten-free vegan diet of nuts, sunflower seeds, fruits and vegetables reduces the risk of heart attacks and strokes for people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.

3. An apple a day really does keep the Dr. away according to data collected by the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey. The study which collected data from 1999-2004, found that adults who eat apples and applesauce and drink apple juice are 27% less likely to have metabolic syndrome which is a cluster of health problems linked to diseases such diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Apple eaters also tend to eat more foods with vitamins A and C, calcium, dietary fiber, and potassium than non apple eaters and also less fat.

Monday, April 14, 2008

The First In Vitro Meat Symposium

The first In Vitro Meat Consortium Symposium was held in Norway, April 9-11, 2008. The group is made up of environmentally concerned scientists studying ways to produce muscle tissue for human consumption. The process would produce meat like pork, chicken, or beef in containers instead of raising and slaughtering animals, thus solving the environmental and ethical problems with meat consumption. Peter Singer, who has been writing about animal rights for as long as I can remember had this to say about it: "My interest is in ethics, but whatever works best. If it is harder to move people on ethical grounds than it is to provide a sustainable humane substitute, I’m all for the substitute." That's how I feel about it too. I would like to see everyone stop eating animals right now but I know that isn't going to happen. This would at least provide an alternative to the inhumane slaughter of animals. I haven't eaten anything with a face since 1989. The thought of eating any type of animal now repulses me in the same way others might be repulsed at the thought of eating their pet cat or dog, so lab grown meat wouldn't be an issue for me, but my dogs eat meat and I would love to have this option for them and for everyone else.

There is a lot more information about this at their web site

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Hospital bill

The bill arrived yesterday in the mail. Actually is wasn't a bill for me but a list of the expenses that are being submitted to my insurance, Aetna. The total was around $15,000 and I didn't even spend the night. I was in the hospital about 10 hours. I have no idea how my insurance works but I'm pretty sure I was in network so will pay less than if I was out of network. Anyway, I decided to hold off on a computer for now.

I'm taking Monday off and will try to get some work done around the house. I was home for an entire week following the surgery but couldn't do too much. Also, I'm very tired.

If I ever have to go to the hospital again I would defenitely go to St. Lukes. The people there were so nice and caring. It was a very positive experience.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


I was looking at the web site and found this entry about mountain being misspelled on a sign in Colorado. This may have been an April Fools' Day joke. I'm not sure.

Just out of curiosity I did a keyword search for mountian in our online catalog and found only one entry. It is in a contents note AND it was not in a record with HCPL holdings but a record from another library in our consortium.

Local politics

Yesterday Harris County had the Republican runoff election for DA. Pat Lykos, a former police officer and judge, defeated Kelly Siegler and will now face democrat and former police chief Clarence (C.O.) Bradford in the general election. I don't know much about Lykos and will support Bradford but am so happy that Siegler was defeated. I really couldn't stand her and her theatrics in court. There is an earlier entry about her in this blog. Also, Siegler's husband was one of the people who had sent Rosenthal some of the offensive emails that led to his resignation. I hope we never have to see her again.
Another truly obnoxious Republican woman was defeated in the runoff for Tom Delay's old seat. Shelly Sekula Gibbs was defeated by Pete Olson who will now face Nick Lampson in the general election. I don't live in this district but have contributed to the Lampson campaign and will contribute more later. The Democrats need to retain control of Congressional District 22 after so many years under Delay.
For more about Lampson or to contribute see

Monday, April 7, 2008

I was home for an entire week without access to a computer and it was horrible. I'm considering buying a laptop now. Any suggestions? I would love a Mac but probably need to get something cheaper. I did finally breakdown and buy a digital camera but I haven't really tried using it too much since I got sick shortly after buying it. I also now see the need now for a cell phone so may try and get one where I am just charged for minutes used.

Pundit Kitchen

The people who created one of my favorite sites have a new site
Here are 2 pictures from the site, which also makes fun of the democrats and the media, particularly Ann Coulter.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

I'm back!

Last Friday I had emergency surgery to remove my gall bladder. I have been having problems for a year or more but thought I could control it with diet. I ended up going to the emergency room on Friday morning and was home that same day feeling a lot better minus 1 gall bladder and with a prescription for Vicodin, a truly amazing drug.
The worse thing was having to miss being a delegate for Obama at the district convention on Saturday. I was able to contact some of the people from my precinct and so an alternate filled in for me and our precinct elected 1 delegate for HRC and one for Obama plus Obama received the 2 alternate seats. The Obama delegate from our precinct is Sissy Farenthold. I blogged about her in an earlier post but if you don't know who she is just google her.