Saturday, February 28, 2009

Fighting the Surge

Political soapbox post've been warned.....

Long ago my parents taught me about integrity and being honest. I know I've stumbled throughout life and I've paid the consequences. However, I'm just a middle manager in a nation-wide corporation. I'm not President of the United States. Last year, I sat and watched presidential hopefuls claim up and down that the surge in Iraq was the absolute wrong action to take. They fought it as hard as they could. Well, I came across this YouTube clip that is a compilation of speeches given by our former President, our current President (and then, Presidential candidate) and our current Vice President (and then, Presidential candidate).

For your viewing pleasure:

Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday's Fact: Bear Hibernation

During late fall, bears spend less time feeding and more time preparing to den. One of the primary factors that influence the time a bear will den is its fat reserves. When inadequate, the bear will be compelled to remain active in search of food. The timing of den entrance is also influenced by the age and sex of the bear. As a rule, a pregnant female or a mother with cubs will enter the den first, followed by subadults, while adult males are generally the last to enter their dens. Den entry further depends on geographical latitude - some southern bears do not den at all.

As bears travel their home range during the summer, they may make note of potential denning sites and return in fall. During the last days before entering the den, bears often appear lethargic. Bears will rest in day beds before they actually bed down for the winter in a den. Day beds are constructed by raking together leaves, conifer needles, and small branches into a pile. Bears may have several day beds spread throughout their territory.

Hibernation is a method to conserve energy when weather conditions are unfavourable and food is scarce. Most B.C. black and brown bears den for four to six months every year, entering the den in November or December and emerging in March or April. Of course there are always stragglers going in and coming out.

Dens are usually located in sites that are dry and well drained and where snow cover is deep. Bears like to use cavities in the base of old growth trees, small caves or rock cavities; often with remarkably small entrances. Bears will excavate suitable cavities in the ground, digging a small hole big enough for the bear to twist around in and that's all. Many dens have a tunnel leading to a larger chamber, while some dens have been found with multiple chambers accommodating several bears of the same family. Dens may be used again and again or a bear may choose a different site each winter. Some dens are dug below the roots of trees using the root mass as a ceiling. Bears usually line their dens with leaves, conifer needles and bits of branches or wood shavings. Some bears have even used surface dens, open to the elements. Bears generally prefer secluded sites for denning, although they've been known to den in culverts under busy streets.

Denning generally consumes more time in a bear's life than any other activity. Hibernation is a method to conserve energy when weather conditions are unfavourable and food is scarce.

Bears are not true hibernators. If you look inside a bear den in mid-winter, the animal may lift its head and look back at you, and if the bear feels threatened it may get up and run away, although its movements would initially be slow and stiff.

Bears actually enter a state of dormancy where their heart rate drops from 40-70 beats/min. to 8-12 beats/min.; their metabolism slows down by half; and their body temperature drops by 3° to 7°C. Bears do not eat or drink during this time, nor do they eliminate waste. In fact they actually recycle the build up of urea, using its constituents to manufacture new proteins. While hibernating, the bear lives off its fat reserves, and may lose a quarter to a third of its body weight.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Wednesday's Worst - #15

Worst Kid's Meal

Macaroni Grill Double Macaroni 'n' Cheese

1,210 calories
62 g fat
3,450 mg sodium

I'm not even going to denigrate Kraft's version by comparing the two. Look, your kid is only going to be as healthy as you are. Think about that when they're bypassing the salad bar and burning a path to the dessert station for extra sprinkles.

Next week: Mmmmm.....good.....NOT

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Ultimate A-Team Snag

Look who I have!!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Fortified Fire, 1/23/99 - 2/18/09

Please set your tails at half-mast....

My sister's first Greyhound lost her battle with osteo this week. Fire was a great hound and fit like a glove in their household. I've never seen a Greyhound at a coursing trial outrun a lure quicker than her.

I've attached her memorial below. My Sis' reads my blog so feel free to reply here and share your thoughts and condolences...


Fire came to us on an August day in 2003. Wayne and I went to the racetrack to meet the greyhounds, and little did we know that a greyhound named, Fire, would literally dance into our lives. As soon as we told her that she would be going home with us that day, she literally asked Kevin where she could put her paw print on the piece of paper, by jumping up on his desk, so she could go home. She knew that she was leaving that day. Fire has never won any titles or any trophies, but she has played with her cousins, Julie and Stacker who have won some titles and trophies. Her Uncle Stephen has noticed her “lightning” speed and yes he did admit that Fire can and did beat his Field Champion Stacker (when they raced for the fun of it).

Fire went to some field trials and even tried to become certified, but to everyone’s dismay, she outran the lure! Her speed was just unbelievable. She will always be remembered as one very fast dog. Her remaining days were lived in the backyard playing with her adopted greyhound brother, Tornado, and a mutt named, Lucy (part whippet). Lucy would chase her ball and Tornado and Fire would chase Lucy. Lucy would be in the middle and Fire would be on the right and Tornado would be on the left. Would it be a squeeze play?

Unfortunately, Fire had a case of “Happy Tail” and she lost a good six inches of her tail in November 2008. However, that wasn’t the worse thing that would happen to her. Fire started limping on January 8, 2009. She went to the vet on January 12 and our worst fears were confirmed. Fire was diagnosed with osteosarcoma (bone cancer) and due to her age, we chose the best route of medication for her. She will be on pain medication until it is no longer enough. Why her? She is such a sweet and gentle girl with a great personality. She takes food out of your hand so gently and you can actually take food from her, but why would you want to? She gives you that sweet innocent look that makes you just melt inside. Why did cancer have to come to her? She turned 10 on January 23rd! She made it to her 10th birthday and she got a new stuffed bear. Another stuffie to tease her dad with! Sorry, Wayne. She got all the treats she could eat that day plus an extra chicken back. Hey, you only turn 10 once, right?

We have noticed that Fire is getting worse. Cancer is really beginning to take a hold of her. She can’t play in the backyard with Tornado and Lucy anymore and her long neighborhood walks are over with now as well. She still loves to play with her toys and she still loves to eat.

On February 17, 2009, her left leg looks so bad right now. Friday and Saturday were the last two days that she really used it. Sunday night when we got home from church, I noticed the protruding shoulder and the knot in the joint. The cancer had taken over her leg. We were told it could take 1 - 4 months and it took a little over a month for Fire. Maybe if she had rested more? Not my Fire. She didn't know the word rest. She wanted to stay active and that is what she loved, an active life style. So, not to copy you Jen, but Travis and Fire loved the active life....she played hard, she lived hard, and she fought this disease hard, now her fight is over.

Fire passed away on February 18, 2009. She loved life and she loved everyone that she met. She will be sadly missed. Our house just won't be the same without her around. Thank you for noticing her when you would come for a visit. Thank you for taking care of her when her parents went off on vacation somewhere. Seems like everyone who met her fell in love with her and she also fell in love with them. She will be missed by all who knew and loved her.

Rest in peace sweet girl, run in joy.

Forever Fire's Mom,

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Wednesday's Worst - #16

Worst Mexican Entree

Chipotle Mexican Grilled Chicken Burrito

Bring burritos to America and, like most waistlines, they expand to a ginormous size. These seemingly innocent harbingers of myocardial infarctions pack a major wallop. Let's see the havoc they release:

1,179 calories
47 g fat
125 g carbs
2,656 mg sodium

Sodium? Here's a reality check for you. A regular (not family) size box of Kraft Mac 'N Cheese will, according to the nutrition label, serve 3 people. PER PERSON, the sodium serving from our childhood favorite is 580mg. How does that rock you? You could eat one and a half boxes of macaroni and cheese and still not hit the amount of sodium in this one burrito.

My average daily caloric intake is around 1200-1300 calories. Again, I'll use Kraft for a comparison. Calories, per person, in one box is 260. You do the math on this one.

Let's not forget that we just consumed more than twice the amount of carbs we're supposed to have per meal.

Saving the best - worst - for last: FAT

A single serving of Mac 'N Cheese will waylay 3.5g of fat on your body.

Are you ready for this?

You would have to eat almost FOUR AND A HALF BOXES of Mac 'N Cheese to reach the equivalent of this border crossing obesity inducer.

You'll notice I'm counting this list down from twenty. Stick with me and, at the end, I'll tell you why every single one of these on the list is ok to eat.

Ha, I've got you hooked now, yeah?

Next week: Is that a child by your side or did a hippo escape from the zoo?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tales From the Tail

Stack: Is my nose really that big?

Julie: They say if your paw is the same size as your nose it means you're exceptionally smart and highly intellectual. Hold it up and I'll show you...

Stack: Oh boy, Ok.


Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday's Fact: Biggest Living Organism

Armillaria ostoyae
People have known about the "honey mushroom" for some time, but were not aware of how large and invasive this species of fungus could be. The fungus was investigated more closely by researchers when they realized that it was responsible for killing large groves of evergreen trees. When foresters cut into an infected tree they would find spreading white filaments, mycelia, which draw water and carbohydrates from the tree to feed the fungus. Researchers collected samples of the fungus from a widespread area and analyzed the DNA. A large sample of the specimens they collected turned out to be from a single organism.

Until August of 2000 it was thought that the largest living organism was a fungus of the same species (Armillaria ostoyae) that covered 1,500 acres (600 hectares) found living in the state of Washington. But then mycology experts surmised that if an Armillaria that large could be found in Washington, then perhaps one just as large could be responsible for the trees dying in the Malheur National Forest in the Blue Mountains of eastern Oregon. Researchers were astonished at the sheer magnitude of the find. This most recent find was estimated to cover over 2,200 acres (890 hectares) and be at least 2,400 years old, possibly older.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Wednesday's Worst - #17

Worst "Healthy" Burger

Ruby Tuesday Bella Turkey Burger

"Healthy" and "Burger" have never gone hand in hand. Oh, but they want you to believe that this Turkey burger is sooooo healthly. It's good for you! Look, there's something that resembles a tomato. They care so much about your livelihood and ability to see your feet while standing, don't they?
I doubt it.....check out how this behometh weighs in:

1,145 calories
71 g fat
56 g carbs

Do you remember what I told you about carb intake? That's the least of your concerns. How many restaurants like this will serve just a burger? Gotta have those fries, yeah? How 'bout a Coke and smile? And a few more chins while your're at it.

Next week: Burrito de la Muerte!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


The blog has been on cruise control while I rally the troops in my head. There's been a lot of things going on lately that pulled me away for one reason or another.

Although, it may just be the Sloth in me.

Curse you fourth deadly sin. Curse you...

The good weather last weekend allowed me to get back on the van pimping project I started last month. I finally cut the last panel for the remaining section of the wall. I also have the "rough draft" of a platform to store our extra crates and x-pens. Couple of tweaks here and there and it's ready for finishing. I have one gripe, though. I wish I owned a planer/jointer. It is so hard to find the right material to build everything straight and true. It would be nice to have something with straight edges and corners once in a while. Lowe's sure isn't helping me, though. They just kicked a nugget to me in the form of a gift card, although they left a couple zero's off of it. Just enough to draw me into the store (like that's hard) but not enough to realize the dream. I hope to get back to it this weekend, but we may be rather busy.

On a more painful note, my Volvo, Ingrid, as been admitted once again to the Grim Reaper's La Casa automotora de SeparaciĆ³n Financiera. She's been hemorrhaging black gold for the past week and the diagnosis isn't good. As soon as I heard, "The leak seems to be coming from a sealed component", my heart sank. Why can't it be, "Hey it looks like the drain plug was loose", or something like that? I may have to take her for a long drive out to the middle of nowhere one of these days...

Finally, to end on a finishing note similar to nails on chalkboard.....yeah, you just imagined that, didn't you? My portable hard drive is now a bona-fide Illinois Governor. Yep, it's corrupt. I'm hoping to find an unconventional (cheap) way to recover some important pictures and files off of it, so I'm open to any suggestions you might have. I've already done an inquiry at the local nerd brigade and the recovery fee is mighty steep.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Friday's Fact: Greenland

Because the coastline is made up almost entirely of numerous fjords, the Greenland coastline is approximately 24,430 mi (39,330 km) long, which is about the same length as the Earth's circumference at the Equator.

The weight of the massive Greenlandic ice cap, which covers over 80% of the surface, has depressed the central land area to form a basin lying more than 300 m (1,000 ft) below sea level. If this ice sheet were to completely melt, sea levels would rise more than 7 m (23 ft) and Greenland would most likely become an archipelago of islands with the central area completely under water.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Look Of Eagles...

With a freak flag ear kicker...

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Wednesday's Worst - #18



Pepperidge Farm Roasted Chicken Pot Pie

1,020 calories

64 g fat

86 g carbs

I've seen my fair share of destructive food items in the freezer section. The Hungry Man series immediately comes to mind.

This box says it'll handle two, but let's be real. Who here has ever divided a small pot pie in half?? As soon as that crust is compromised, there's no holding back, right? Just a friendly health note. You shouldn't exceed 60 grams of carbohydrates in any one meal. 86? Ever been called, "Hey Big'un?"

Pot Pie = BAD

Next week: Isn't "Healthy Burger" a contradiction?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Rush Hour Calm