Tag Archives: Christmas

Has anyone seen my cookie?


Well, the holidays have come and gone and it’s time to get back into the swing of things. I hope your holidays were as wonderful as mine…and if they weren’t, I’m truly sorry. I know that holidays can be very difficult times for some.

A week before Christmas, we had our son who leaves in this area and his family over for a pre-Christmas get together. Our two youngest granddaughters belong to this son, and grandma decided to have them decorate Christmas cookies. It was hilarious!  Some of the cookies were beautifully decorated and took quite some time….but the 5 year old was more into how much frosting you could get on one cookie…and sprinkles, of course!  In fact, today’s photo is of one of her cookies…but can you see it?  Can you tell what it is?  It’s a candy cane!!!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1999, after three days of high winds and heavy snow, people in the Great Lakes region began digging out from one of the worst blizzards on record. More than 100 people died in storm-related accidents.

The storm began on January 1, when snow began falling across Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio. Most areas saw at least 15 inches of snow before the storm moved on. The hardest hit area was Chicago, where wind gusts of up to 60 miles per hour combined with heavy snow to reduce visibility to near zero at times and create huge impassable drifts. O’Hare Airport, one the nation’s busiest, had to shut down, stranding 200,000 people for as much as four days. The weather also made train travel through the area impossible, and mail across the country was delayed because of the blizzard.

The storm caused treacherous road conditions throughout the region. A 60-car pile-up on January 2 in Wisconsin resulted in scores of injuries and one death. In Indiana, a 100-mile stretch of Interstate 65 was closed for a full two days. When the snow finally stopped on January 3, record cold temperatures arrived. In Congerville, Illinois, a state record low of -36 degrees was reached. In the aftermath, President Bill Clinton declared Illinois and Indiana disaster areas and sent federal relief.

As the storm moved east, serious accidents followed in its wake. A 15-car pile-up on I-81 in Virginia killed four people and a 50-car accident in New Jersey injured dozens. There were 200 separate accidents on the New York Thruway alone during the blizzard. When the storm reached Buffalo, it began a two-week period during which the city received a remarkable 60 inches of snow. Still, Buffalo was prepared and able to plow the snow to make streets passable. In Detroit, a shortage of snow plows combined with the subsequent cold weather left some streets blocked for more than a week.

In all, more than 100 deaths–as many as 36 from heart attacks–were attributed to the terrible blizzard of January 1999.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Penguins find all their food in the sea and are carnivores. They eat mostly fish and squid. They also eat crustaceans, such as crabs, shrimp, and krill. A large penguin can collect up to 30 fish in one dive. Penguins (and any animal) that eat only fish are called piscivorous.



The Child Lingers…


Christmas has come and gone. Family members may have already left and returned home. The decorations will soon come down, the tree will be removed and we’ll start the long march until next Christmas.

All over the world certain phenomena occurred on Christmas morning. Mom’s and dad’s got down on the floor and played with the kid’s toys. It may have been the railroad set, the electric cars, a drone outside in the yard, Lego’s or other “you build it” kinds of toys.

We were at our youngest son’s home for Christmas day. One of the family gifts that gave to their entire family was Keva Maple Planks. How can I explain them? They are somewhat like the old Lincoln logs, except they are all the same size and shape and you build things with them simply by stacking them in creative ways. Our two youngest grand daughters had been playing with them before we go there and they eagerly showed them to us.

After Christmas dinner, our son disappeared into the other room and we quickly found him playing with the Keva Maple Planks. It took me back to the days when he and his older brother and sister would get Lego’s by the bucketful for Christmas and they’d play with them for hours. Even today, when we get together, if there are Lego’s, they’ll play with them.

There is something about us that I think is fascinating – a part of childhood remains with us even into our old age. Maybe it’s because of memory, or perhaps it is a self-defense and mechanism of denial about our aging. But I think it is more likely that when we play like children, the burdens of adulthood disappear for a while. And we feel young and carefree once more.

Maybe Christmas should come more often!

ON HIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1975, a coal mine explosion followed by a flood killed at least 372 workers in Dhanbad, India, on this day in 1975.

Hundreds of miners were working at the Chasnala Colliery on the evening of December 27 when an explosion suddenly shook the large mine. In virtually all coal mine disasters, the precise cause of the explosion is never determined, but the nature of mines leaves only a few probable causes. Often pockets of highly flammable gas develop, including methane, which can be released suddenly during mining. When a surge of gas from an unknown pocket fills the mine, even a small spark from the mining equipment can trigger an explosion. Today, owners attempt to ventilate the mines to prevent this occurrence. Also, extremely fine dust from the coal can circulate and suddenly combust within a mine or explosives used in the mining process can be mishandled, leading to disaster.

Whatever the exact cause of the Dhanbad mine explosion, the disaster was compounded when the ground shook so violently that millions of gallons of water from a nearby reservoir flooded into the pits. Miners who survived the initial blast were trapped under a mountain of debris and drowned when the water surged into the mine. Rescue workers attempted to dig out survivors until January 19, but no one was saved. In fact, only a small portion of the bodies were ever recovered.

The local workers union claimed that there were nearly 700 workers killed in the mine, but the company maintained that there were only 372. Because so many bodies were not recovered and the state of record-keeping at the mine was so shoddy, the truth will never be known.



…to Egypt

Double click to see a larger version of the image
Double click to see a larger version of the image

Picture two today from the Basilica of the Annunciation: in the story of the birth narrative of Jesus, we are told that king Herod (who was truly an evil, evil man) was insanely jealous when he learned that the wise men had come to find the “newborn king”.  As a result, he ordered the killing of all baby boys.

Two things which you may or may not know: if the killing of the boys was done in Bethlehem (or even Nazareth), it probably didn’t amount to more than a few dozen at most, as both were very small villages.  Of course, any killing would have been too much.

The other thing is that most scholars believe that this “slaughter of the innocents” may have taken as much as two years after the birth of the Christ Child.

The Biblical narrative is that Joseph was warned in a dream by an angel and he took Mary and Jesus and they fled into Egypt until Herod died and it was safe to return to Nazareth.  That flight to Egypt is the subject of today’s photo, a bronze image from the main entry doorway into the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY:  in 2002, Richard Heene, who carried out a hoax in which he told authorities his 6-year-old son Falcon had floated off in a runaway, saucer-shaped helium balloon, was sentenced to 90 days in jail in Fort Collins, Colorado. Heene’s wife Mayumi received 20 days of jail time for her role in the incident.

The so-called “Balloon Boy” saga riveted viewers around the globe two months earlier, on October 15, when it played out on live television. At around 11 a.m. that day, Richard Heene, a handyman, amateur scientist and father of three boys, called the Federal Aviation Administration to report that a large balloon in his family’s Fort Collins backyard had become untethered, and it was believed his son Falcon had crawled aboard the craft before it took flight. Minutes later, Heene phoned a local TV station, requesting a helicopter to track the balloon. A short time afterward, Mayumi Heene called 911.

The homemade silver craft was soon being tracked by search-and-rescue personnel, as well as reporters, on the ground and in the air. The Colorado National Guard launched two helicopters to follow the balloon, and a runway at Denver International Airport was briefly shut down as the balloon traveled into its flight path. At around 1:35 p.m., the craft touched down in a Colorado field after drifting a distance of some 50 miles from its starting location. Rescue officials soon discovered the balloon was empty, prompting fears that Falcon Heene had fallen from the craft during its flight. A massive ground search ensued, and later that afternoon it was announced the boy had been found safe at home, where he reportedly had been hiding.

Suspicions that the entire incident had been a hoax intensified that night, after Falcon Heene told his parents during a live interview on CNN: “You guys said we did this for the show.” Mayumi Heene later confessed to police the incident had been staged to help the family get a reality TV show. (The Heenes had previously appeared on the program “Wife Swap.”)

In November 2009, Richard Heene pleaded guilty to a felony charge of attempting to influence a public official (“to initiate a search-and-rescue mission which in turn would attract media attention,” according to an affidavit filed by prosecutors), while Mayumi Heene pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of making a false report. Richard Heene later claimed he pleaded guilty only to placate authorities and prevent his wife from being deported to her native Japan. In addition to jail time, the Heenes were required to perform community service and Richard Heene was later ordered to pay $36,000 in restitution for the search effort.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  The largest baby ever born weighed in at over 23 pounds but died just 11 hours after his birth in 1879. The largest surviving baby was born in October 2009 in Sumatra, Indonesia and weighed an astounding 19.2 pounds at birth.


Advent candles at Perimeter Church
Advent candles at Perimeter Church

It is Christmas eve.  You have far better things to do today than read some weird guy’s blog, so I hope you’ll go do it.

You still here?  Go on!  Get out of here!  Go spend time with those you love!  Regular posts will resume either Christmas evening, or the day after.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!  It’s been a delight to spend the last year with you all!



It’s Almost Here!

OK…it’s almost here.  Did you hear me???? It’s just about HERE!  What is that?  Why, Christmas eve, of course!!!  Tomorrow is the day that all good little boys and girls (and ones that weren’t quite so good this past year, too) have been waiting for!!!!  Tomorrow evening they will be packed up and shuffled off to bed in the pajamas, dreaming of sugar plums (frankly, I think if I dreamed of sugar plums it would be more of a nightmare than a sweet dream as they wake up screaming, “Dad!  Mom!  Help me!!  There’s a giant sugar plum rolling downhill and it’s going to crush me!!!!  Wah!!!!”) dance in their heads.

They know that sometime during the night, a sleigh full of toys and eight tiny reindeer will be landing on the rooftop and a fat man in a red suit and white beard will be hopping out with a bag full of presents.  Down the chimney the fat man will shimmy and he’ll put the presents under the tree…then he’ll eat the cookies and drink the milk…before heading back up the chimney to the next house to deliver more goodies.

Did you ever wonder where Santa got his pilot’s license?  Or how he delivers presents to those places without chimneys?  Especially if it’s a place with a wood-burning stove that is lit all night?  I wonder if he gets hazardous duty pay?

Anyway, tomorrow is a special day.  And of course, Christmas is just around the corner.  For those of us who are believers, we know that Santa is not the point of Christmas – Christ is.  Whether you believe in Him or not, my prayer for you is that you will have a blessed Christmas day.  He is good to all of us!

This picture was taken last Saturday at the home of our son and his family who live in Georgia.  It is of one of those ornaments that will forever have a special place in a parent’s heart…an ornament of a child, hanging on the Christmas tree—a forever keepsake and memory, captured in time for decades.

_MG_8150ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: on this day in 1888, Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh, suffering from depression, cut off the lower part of his left ear with a razor while staying in Arles, France. He later documented the event in a painting titled Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear. Today, he is regarded as an artistic genius and his masterpieces sell for record-breaking prices; however, during his lifetime, he sold only one painting.

Van Gogh was born on March 30, 1853, in the Netherlands. He had a difficult, nervous personality and worked unsuccessfully at an art gallery and then as a preacher among poor miners in Belgium. In 1880, he decided to become an artist.

In 1886, Van Gogh moved to Paris where his younger brother Theo, with whom he was close, lived. Theo, an art dealer, supported his brother financially and introduced him to a number of artists, including Paul Gauguin. Influenced by these other painters, Van Gogh’s own artistic style lightened up and he began using more color.

In 1888, Van Gogh rented a house in Arles in the south of France, where he hoped to found an artists’ colony and be less of a burden to his brother. In Arles, Van Gogh painted vivid scenes from the countryside as well as still-lifes, including his famous sunflower series. Gauguin came to stay with him in Arles and the two men worked together for almost two months. However, tensions developed and on December 23, in a fit of dementia, Van Gogh threatened his friend with a knife before turning it on himself and mutilating his ear lobe. Afterward, he allegedly wrapped up the ear and gave it to a prostitute at a nearby brothel. Following that incident, Van Gogh was hospitalized in Arles and then checked himself into a mental institution in Saint-Remy for a year. During his stay in Saint-Remy, he fluctuated between periods of madness and intense creativity, in which he produced some of his best and most well-known works, including Starry Night and Irises.

In May 1890, Van Gogh moved to Auvers-sur-Oise, near Paris, where he continued to be plagued by despair and loneliness. On July 27, 1890, he shot himself and died two days later at age 37.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  An organization called SCROOGE was formed in 1979 in Charlottesville, Virginia. the acronym stands for the Society to Curtail Ridiculous, Outrageous and Ostentatious Gift Exchanges.  All I’ve got to say about that is: Bah Humbug!!!!!


Mo’ Better!

Yes, for some reason it seems to be true, especially when you are a little one: the more of something you have, the better.  Of course, as we get older, we know that’s not really the case, but when you’re young you don’t have the experience or wisdom to know that.  For example: can a little kid ever have too much ice cream?  Not if you ask them, they can’t!!!

How about money?  They don’t really understand that much the differences between pennies, nickles and dimes, but they think that if they have more pennies than dimes that it’s a good thing because there are more of them!  I like the way that math works, because I certainly have more pennies than silver dollars…and if the kids are right, I should be very happy about it!!!

In today’s picture, there’s another example.  Just yesterday we bought two big Christmas tree cookies at the store and they came in their own plastic containers with three tubes of colored icing and a bag of edible, round colored balls.  The purpose of said packets was for kids to be able to decorate a Christmas Tree cookie.  We took these to our son’s house while we were watching the little ones and we let them go to town on decorating the cookies.  Now, bear in mind that they are 5 and 2, respectively, so they are possessed by the notion that more is better.  So when they began decorating, they squeeze on about all the icing you could put on the surface of the cookie, and then they began sticking the colored, edible balls all over the icing until there was barely an empty millimeter that wasn’t covered!  Oh, my, the concentration was tremendous as they labored over their works of art!  Were they works of art to challenge the likes of DaVinci?  Nah, they were far better than anything he’d ever done.  Just ask our littlest grand-daughters and they’ll tell you that they created masterpieces!

_MG_8194ON THIS DAY IN  HISTORY: On this day in 1864, Union General William T. Sherman presented the city of Savannah, Georgia, to President Abraham Lincoln as an early Christmas present.  Sherman captured the city after his famous March to the Sea from Atlanta. Savannah had been one of the last major ports that remained open to the Confederates.

After Sherman captured Atlanta in September 1864, he did not plan to stay for long. There was still the Confederate army of General John Bell Hood in the area, and cavalry leaders like Nathan Bedford Forrest and Joe Wheeler, who could threaten Sherman’s supply lines. In November, Sherman dispatched part of his force back to Nashville, Tennessee, to deal with Hood while Sherman cut free from his supply lines and headed south and east across Georgia. Along the way, his troops destroyed nearly everything in their path. Sherman’s intent was to wreck the morale of the South and bring the war to a swift end.

For nearly six weeks, nothing was heard from Sherman’s army. Finally, just before Christmas, word arrived that Sherman’s army was outside Savannah. A Union officer reached the coast and found a Union warship that carried him to Washington, D.C., to personally deliver news of the success. Sherman wired Lincoln with the message, “I beg to present you, as a Christmas gift, the city of Savannah, with 150 heavy guns and plenty of ammunition, and also about 25,000 bales of cotton.”

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Since ancient times, the mistletoe has been one of the most magical, mysterious and sacred plants of European folklore.

The ancient Druids considered mistletoe to be a sacred plant and believed it had miraculous powers, could cure illnesses, serve as an antidote against poisons, ensure fertility and protect against the ill effects of witchcraft. It was also believed that the mistletoe was an aphrodisiac .

From these strange beliefs has come the modern-day custom of hanging a ball of mistletoe from the ceiling and exchanging kisses under it as a sign of friendship and goodwill.

The tradition descends from the customs of several different cultures. Exchanging kisses under the mistletoe was a tradition of Greek festivals and marital ceremonies. If a couple in love exchanges a kiss under the mistletoe, it is interpreted as a promise to marry, as well as a prediction of happiness and long life.

The Anglo-Saxons associated the powers of the mistletoe to the legend of Freya, the goddess of love, beauty and fertility. According to the legend, a man had to kiss any young girl who, without realizing it, found herself accidentally under a sprig of mistletoe hanging from the ceiling. Guys would pluck a berry when they smooched the girls and when the last berry was gone, there would be no more kissing!

In France, the custom linked to the mistletoe was reserved for New Year’s Day: “Au gui l’An neuf”–Mistletoe for the New Year.


O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree

…thy whipped cream is so lovely!!!!

Still on the road (for about 2-1/2 more days), so another short post tonight.  At the recent office open house, I noticed the white Christmas tree decorations that were sitting on the counter and found it interesting that standing right next to the glass tree was this bottle of Redi-Whip.  It was pretending to be a Christmas tree, too, I think.  After all, who knows what dreams lurk in the hearts of cans of Redi-Whip?  I suspect that they never started out their existence planning on being a container for white, frothy stuff.  Certainly no self-respecting can of Redi-Whip would begin life that way.  As for me, I think they dream of being Christmas trees.  What do you think they dream of?

_MG_8029ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: on this day in 1864,Union General William T. Sherman completed his March to the Sea when he arrived in front of Savannah, Georgia.

Since mid-November of that year, Sherman’s army had been sweeping from Atlanta across the state to the south and east towards Savannah, one of the last Confederate seaports still unoccupied by Union forces. Along the way, Sherman destroyed farms and railroads, burned storehouses, and fed his army off the land. In his own words, Sherman intended to “make Georgia howl,” a plan that was approved by President Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant, general-in-chief of the Union armies.

The city of Savannah was fortified and defended by some 10,000 Confederates under the command of General William Hardee. The Rebels flooded the rice fields around Savannah, so only a few narrow causeways provided access to the city. Sherman’s army was running low on supplies and he had not made contact with supply ships off the coast. His army had been completely cut off from the North, and only the reports of destruction provided any evidence of its whereabouts. Sherman directed General Oliver O. Howard to the coast to locate friendly ships. Howard dispatched Captain William Duncan and two comrades to contact the Union fleet, but nothing was heard of the trio for several days. Duncan located a Union gunboat that carried him to Hilton Head, South Carolina. Supply ships were sent to Savannah, and Duncan continued on to Washington, D.C., to deliver news of the successful March to the Sea to Secretary of War Edwin Stanton.

For ten days, Hardee held out as Sherman prepared for an attack. Realizing the futility of the situation, Hardee fled the city on December 20 and slipped northward to fight another day.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  The name of the first airplane flown at Kitty Hawk by the Wright Brothers, on December 17, 1903, was “Flyer.” The maiden flight of Flyer, however, was less than a flight — the plane stayed in the air only 12 seconds. The brothers flew three more times that day, with their final flight covering 852 feet in 59 seconds.


It’s Beginning to Feel A Lot Like Christmas

OK…so it’s only December 8, but it sure does feel like Christmas (and old man winter!) is just around the corner!!!!

Most of you know that we are on our way driving across country with our fifth wheel (in which we live full time) to spend a few months working on the east coast and visiting with family on days off.  We left the Modesto area on Saturday morning long about 8:15 with the goal of reaching Barstow, CA, a distance of only about 360 miles.  We figured that should be a fairly easy reach, but since this is the farthest we’ve towed our fifth wheel since we got it, we wanted to be conservative in our target destination for each day.

Well, we got a ways down Highway 99 and saw a sign that said Tehachapi pass from Bakersfield to Barstow was closed due to snow.  We kept going, thinking that the storm had passed the night before and that the roads would be open soon.  Well, not only was Tehachapi still closed when we got to Bakersfield, but the Grapevine pass going south into LA was closed, too.  So, we checked into an RV park for the night.

No sooner did we do that than they announced that Tehachapi pass was opened!  And the Grapevine, too….but that high wind warnings were in place in both places and that campers, trailers, etc., were not recommended.  So, we stayed put in Bakersfield overnight, thinking surely Tehachapi pass would be open by morning.

It wasn’t.  Closed, with high wind warnings, too.  But the Grapevine was still open, but they also were claiming high wind warnings for 25 miles south of Bakersfield up over the summit.  So, I pulled out my PC and checked the weather for numerous small towns along the Grapevine and saw that the highest forecast wind was only 10 miles per hour!!!  It was a long way out of the way to take 5 south into the LA area, then turn east on 210 to I15 north to Barstow and I40, but we felt it might be worth it.  About the time we got to the LA area, they announced Tehachapi pass was opened, but CHP were escorting folks through the pass.  We think we made the right choice, but the detour added about 130 miles to our drive today.

So, tonight we are in Kingman, AZ, where it is, well, not freezing, but below freezing.  Temps are supposed to be down into the teens tonight.  We were told not to hook up our water tonight as the hose would just freeze.  Fortunately, we had already had some water pumped into the tank so we can operate without hooking up to the water supply.  But, the cold outside is pretty doggone numbing for us Californians!

My work, Medical Ambassadors International, had an open house on 12/5 to celebrate the enlarged space we’ve been blessed with this past year.  It was all decorated for Christmas, of course, Christmas music was playing and everyone had a great time.  It’s where I got today’s photo of a decoration that was trying to play “hide and seek” with me, but I caught it peeking out at me.

It just all went together to make it feel a lot like Christmas!  Are you ready?

_MG_8016ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: On this day in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln offered his conciliatory plan for reunification of the United States with his Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction (even though the war would rage on for another year plus).

By this point in the Civil War, it was clear that Lincoln needed to make some preliminary plans for postwar reconstruction. The Union armies had captured large sections of the South, and some states were ready to have their governments rebuilt. The proclamation addressed three main areas of concern. First, it allowed for a full pardon for and restoration of property to all engaged in the rebellion with the exception of the highest Confederate officials and military leaders. Second, it allowed for a new state government to be formed when 10 percent of the eligible voters had taken an oath of allegiance to the United States. Third, the Southern states admitted in this fashion were encouraged to enact plans to deal with the freed slaves so long as their freedom was not compromised.

In short, the terms of the plan were easy for most Southerners to accept. Though the emancipation of slaves was an impossible pill for some Confederates to swallow, Lincoln’s plan was charitable, considering the costliness of the war. With the Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction, Lincoln was seizing the initiative for reconstruction from Congress. Some Radical Republicans thought the plan was far too easy on the South, but others accepted it because of the president’s prestige and leadership. Following Lincoln’s assassination in April 1865, the disagreements over the postwar reconstruction policy led to a heated battle between the next president, Andrew Johnson, and Congress.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  It takes an average of 345 squirts to yield a gallon of milk from a cow’s udder.


Soon…very soon…

Well, at long last, it feels like winter is coming to the central valley of California.  The cold swept in towards the afternoon yesterday, and while it isn’t all that cold, it is a definite change, and it is somewhat welcome.  We can’t complain, though….we’ve had such a glorious fall this year and the temps have been in the upper 60’s to low 70’s.  Tonight it is supposed to dip to 26, and on Saturday, the high will only be 44 and a low of 24.  That’s cold for around here.

One of the reasons I like it when it gets cold is that it is a sure-fire sign that the holiday season is upon us.  We’ll be in Atlanta this year with our youngest son and his family and our two youngest grand kids.  I can’t wait to see them on Christmas morning!!!!

One more thing that I seem to appreciate more as I age than when I was young is the decorations.  I love the lights and color.  It is delightful.

Today’s photo was shot in the meeting room at work with the overhead lights shut off.  It has a warm, fireside-like glow to it that goes perfectly with hot apple cider on a cold winter day!

What are you doing for Christmas this year?

_MG_7916ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1991, Islamic militants in Lebanon release kidnapped American journalist Terry Anderson after 2,454 days in captivity.

As chief Middle East correspondent for the Associated Press, Anderson covered the long-running civil war in Lebanon (1975-1990). On March 16, 1985, he was kidnapped on a west Beirut street while leaving a tennis court. His captors took him to the southern suburbs of the city, where he was held prisoner in an underground dungeon for the next six-and-a-half years.

Anderson was one of 92 foreigners (including 17 Americans) abducted during Lebanon’s bitter civil war. The kidnappings were linked to Hezbollah, or the Party of God, a militant Shiite Muslim organization formed in 1982 in reaction to Israel’s military presence in Lebanon. They seized several Americans, including Anderson, soon after Kuwaiti courts jailed 17 Shiites found guilty of bombing the American and French embassies there in 1983. Hezbollah in Lebanon received financial and spiritual support from Iran, where prominent leaders praised the bombers and kidnappers for performing their duty to Islam.

U.S. relations with Iran–and with Syria, the other major foreign influence in Lebanon–showed signs of improving by 1990, when the civil war drew to a close, aided by Syria’s intervention on behalf of the Lebanese army. Eager to win favor from the U.S. in order to promote its own economic goals, Iran used its influence in Lebanon to engineer the release of nearly all the hostages over the course of 1991.

Anderson returned to the U.S. and was reunited with his family, including his daughter Suleme, born three months after his capture. In 1999, he sued the Iranian government for $100 million, accusing it of sponsoring his kidnappers; he received a multi-million dollar settlement.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  A wolf’s odor detecting ability is 100 times greater than mans. Wow…if I had a nose that sensitive, it would give an entirely new meaning to “You stink!”


When Holidays Get Confused

Holidays have their own special symbols and celebrations.  Mother’s Day is all about nice, pretty things for the moms who deserve so much credit for all they do for us.  Father’s day is about power tools and sporting goods..and for good reason!  The Fourth of July is fireworks and BBQ’s and patriotic parades.

Then, of course, there’s Christmas with trees, reindeer, snowmen, Nativity scenes, candy canes and the brightly colored lights on lawn and eaves.

Easter has bunnies, colored eggs, ducklings, chicks and chocolates, and for Christians, celebrations of Resurrection.

But, what happens when holidays get confused?  You wind up with Easter trees, kids looking for reindeer droppings instead of colored eggs, yellow-colored reindeer who fly the way the ducklings and chicks should fly, and who-knows-what-else!

We were in the Sierra foothill town of Jackson recently when we went into one of the ten bazillion antique/crafty-type stores that suck all the money out of tourists, and what to my wondering eyes should appear?  No, not a sleigh full of toys and eight tiny reindeer!  I saw an Easter tree!  Full of ducks, chicks, etc…just like a Christmas tree.  ‘Nuff said.

Next thing you know, we’ll have fat bunnies in red and white suits coming down the chimney and eating all my chocolate chip/walnut cookies!  Bah-humbug!

EasterTreeON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1986, a day that will live in infamy, Popsicle announced that they would no longer make the traditional twin-stick frozen treat, but would replace it with a one-stick model.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: the two main “gods” of the Hindu religion are Shiva (the dancing god of violence, and Vishnu, the kindly preserver.