Unbroken Codes

Throughout history, especially in the last century, codes have fascinated encryption specialists and the average person. Queen Elizabeth I used a spy network who worked with secret codes. Wired Magazine often has some fascinating articles on topics of interest, including the article here about 7 unbroken codes in history. One of those that has fascinated people and criminologists since the 1970s is the code the Zodiac serial killer used. An example of the code is following.

Night Sky

Look to the night sky………..watching the moon, stars, and planets is always fascinating. 2013 is to be the year of the Ison Comet. Read about it further here. Another article about how this comet might rival the moon in amount of light intensity is here.
By late November it will be visible to the unaided eye just after dark in the same direction as the setting Sun. Its tail could stretch like a searchlight into the sky above the horizon. Then it will swing rapidly around the Sun, passing within two million miles of it, far closer than any planet ever does, to emerge visible in the evening sky heading northward towards the pole star. It could be an "unaided eye" object for months. When it is close in its approach to the Sun it could become intensely brilliant but at that stage it would be difficult and dangerous to see without special instrumentation as it would be only a degree from the sun.


Knox County Nebraska

In more exploration of my grandmother’s birthplace and home of her youth, it sounds like the homestead was off Hwy. 12 on the north side in the county of Knox, close to Verdel (population: 30 people). The homestead was sold after her brother, Artie, was killed in a car wreck in 1959. Some of her older sisters and brothers were born in the area of Council Bluffs, IA and Tilden, NE. Tilden is located south of the homestead closer to central Nebraska at the eastern edge of Madison county. A lot of this area is sparsely populated. I always think of Nebraska is having more people than Oregon in a large part of the state yet that does not seem likely. I will have to look into more of this history and the area as the blog continues. The Ponca Indians lived near by and Ponca Creek is named for the tribe. There is a monument to them on private land in the area. The following is Ponca Creek which drains into the Niobrara River between Monowi and Verdel.

ponca-creek-ne -12-29-12


Another day rising to see a brilliant winter sunrise. I may have the largest collection of photos of sunrises there are in the world. We just seem to get a chance to see a number of them over the Peter Mountains out our bedroom door.



Boyd County Nebraska

Putting away the Christmas ornaments and removing the tree. Sorting through the photo albums of my mother’s to label them. I came across information and clippings about my grandmother’s early years and family in Nebraska. She grew up in Monowi which now has a population of 1. Her 1922 Commencement book had a graduation class of 5. The incorporated town (which is the smallest in the United States) is owned by the 1 inhabitant, a woman in her 70s. People moved away from the area in the 1930s as my family did. My grandfather, Ed, moved there from central Nebraska, the town of Fullerton, to teach school. He fell in love with my grandmother, Vada, the youngest of 11. They were married 51 years, until he died on April 13, 1976, their 51st anniversary. They were a love story the whole time together.


Who is There?

Christmas Eve we caught the last showing of Lincoln in Albany. The movie had been on our radar to see though a 50 mile round trip to watch a movie takes up time. This was a well worth trip. Daniel Day-Lewis is close to the best actor out there. I consider someone is a good actor when they make me forget it is “Daniel Day-Lewis” on the screen and that I might be seeing Lincoln re-incarnated. He did that in spades. Lincoln was a humble man with a internal reed strength that holds against mighty forces that would break the average person. He did what was right despite the personal cost to him while using the political forces to work with him and less against him. As Lincoln in this movie shuffles down the White House hallway to met Mary for his last theatre show, I wanted to cry……..”Please don’t go, we need you!”. Who can we say about that in these times? Who can rise to the occasion that cares to heal our country and its divisions versus exploit them. I have not seen that leader yet in Washington DC.


Mornings on Christmas Day

Last year, there was the most spectacular sunrise on Christmas morning here. It was so bright that the picture windows of one house about one mile down the road looked on fire at one point. I was able to get some photos of the beautiful morning show. We were on the way to Deb and Mike’s house in Sodaville area. Each Christmas morning, they open their home to friends who wish to stop by to eat and talk with others. Deb makes the best cinnamon rolls. Savoring one of those with a good cup of coffee leads to a relaxing Christmas Day for us. Today, the weather was way too rainy and gray. A day that is hard to get motivated to accomplish much. We should get some days of sun next week. We do need to see blue sky for longer than a few hours.

Sunrise on Christmas Day, 2011


Deb Fell-Carlson frosting her Christmas cinnamon rolls.

Christmas Memories

As we started eating Christmas dinner yesterday, I brought up the subject of what was a favorite memory from Christmas. I know my most memorable Christmas was as a child going out to dinner in town on Christmas Eve. When my parents and I got home, they showed me into our spare room (next to my bedroom) and there laid out on the floor was a train set on a plywood base. I remember that engine and rail cars with a figure 8 track. I am sure my Dad had fun getting it all put together without me knowing about it. It was a surprise and it was special. There are lots of Christmas gifts we treasure though that particular Christmas has stood out over the years. It does emphasize the need for doing something memorable yet having those family traditions that mean so much.


Early Christmas

We had Christmas celebration 2 days early so other families could get together too in the next few days and Renee has to work on Christmas Day. Both David and Scott’s families could come and eat with us, plus share presents. It was fun getting ready while listening to traditional Christmas music from one of the TV channels. Listening to Karen Carpenter who had one of the clearest singing voices ever do her holiday song. Sooooooo good!
Renee’s parents, Bob and Sandee, came to join us for dinner and that was a very nice addition.
Here is the table set for guests and a 2012 Christmas.

Renee, Nicolas, and David


Shasta, Melissa, Denver, Scott, and Jasmine



Little Hobbits

Bob and I went to see “The Hobbit” last night. We enjoyed the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy so we were interested in this movie. It was not up to the viewing pleasure of the LOTR trilogy though it could have been handled worse. It is a complex story that would be difficult to bring to the screen. I think if it had been handled with the care and less child oriented look to it, the result would have been better.

Just want to share the look of two of our little hobbits in the extended family. Nicolas and Nathan displaying their musical talents while waiting for William and Elizabeth’s wedding. What little gentlemen in their suits.

End of an Era

Surprises come, even at the holiday time. My former business partner at Civic Feline Clinic in Walnut Creek CA, Dr. Josie Thompson, has announced in the hospital’s newsletter that she is retiring. She is planning on focusing on photography, travel, and her new granddaughter, Savannah. All of those are good places to start. As one of our clients we had together titled a forwarded email announcing the retirement, “An End of an Era”. Certainly, it is for both of us. I started the practice in 1983 on August 23. David was 3 years of age and Scott was 4 months old. Josie joined me as an associate in 1987 and partner in 1988. We were partners for 15 years at Civic Feline Clinic. We built a good business. Our sons were of the same age and grew up together though went to different schools. Lots of memories from over the years……………..lots of cats and clients to cherish.


Memories of 25 years of Civic Feline Clinic in 2008……….



Getting Close

Relaxing and fun last night sharing Tri tip steak and potluck items at the Winterboers with other neighbors. We tried a new dish that was Creamed Corn with Bacon. It was good and a nice mix with the other food there. There was a lot of talk of family, books, trips, neighborhood oddities……….. it is a good group of people to share with. I didn’t take a camera to capture the holiday look of Mike and Diane’s house. Here is a wintery look toward their house from ours from last March.



No snow today though we are still looking at blustery wind this afternoon. Some sunshine would help lighten the mood. Here is a look at the snow from yesterday morning again.

With all the TV shows, movies, and comic book focus on zombies, there was an interesting article discussing how parasites take over parts of the brain and activity of their host. There are a number of parasite types that can do so.
The article can be found here. Wow, I wonder what we can learn about zombifying techniques. Cool word, zombifying.

Visions of Snow

With visions of next week’s sugar plums dancing in our heads, we woke up to a few inches of wet snow on the ground. In fact, there is a flurry of small flakes present while I type this post. I like to look for the interesting picture and one that can be used for email Christmas cards or future cards to order. Here is one I got of across the road in the early morning of my cousin’s home. The garage light in the snow looked very “winter wonderland”.


It's A Boy

The ultrasound results are in. We are told the baby will be a boy, Ryan Dale Thayer, when he makes his entry.We saw some ultrasound results though they were not as clear as expected. David and Renee are very excited and Nicolas was the one to pronounce the results.


Stormy Weather

The real blustery, stormy weather is starting this weekend. Tonight we have a high wind warning with sustained winds up to 40 mph and gusts almost to 60 mph with rain. This could mean some power loss or trees down around the area. Snow levels have been getting close and will again tomorrow night. Here is a photo from the other day with the first major snow on the mountains across from us. We did get a little sun peaking out. It is just a little of what we have seen of sunshine this month.

mountains-12 16-12

Wedding Daze

Today was spent lending support for William and Elizabeth’s wedding. William is David’s brother-in-law and Elizabeth is his bride who came from Indonesia to marry him. I was asked to take video of the pre-wedding and wedding procedures. I set up the Canon HD10 camcorder I have and got well over an hours worth of different video shots. Elizabeth was dressed in beautiful Indonesian fabric colors and the wedding was a mix of American and Indonesian wedding culture. I did get a picture yesterday of Bob helping set up the backdrop to the ceremony. A picture of William and Elizabeth is projected on the back wall.

Wendy,William and Elizabeth working on the the music presentation during the ceremony with slides.


Babies All

How can one describe the comparison between attending a joyful school Christmas pageant with the unconscionable killing and loss of 20 children and 6 adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. Last night, we attended Nicolas’ Christmas program at the River Center in town. It was packed with excited, loving parents waiting to see their child sing Christmas carols with their classmates. Innocence on display. Today we are witnessing the loss of that innocence in the shooting of our babies. Our hearts weep and not nearly to the level of the parents’ who lost a child or a family’s loved one. They won’t be home for Christmas ever again.(A Moment of Silence)

Christmas Program

Parents and other family members got to sing Winter Wonderland and Silent Night along with the Kindergarten through 5th grade students of Cascade Elementary School. The main auditorium of the River Center was packed to SRO. I have never seen the parking area so full of cars and people except when the site used to be a Walmart (before it moved). Girls in bright dresses and many boys spiffed up in good clothes. There was a little bit of naughtiness in watching some children yawn and fold their arms………..we are not enjoying this. Then, there was the little boy who poked a girl on the face as he was leaving and she said “Ow”! A boy tormenting a girl? Heavens, how does that happen? ☺

Trimming Christmas Trees

After three or four years of neglecting to put up a Christmas tree and place decorations around, we have made the effort this year to do our part for holiday cheer. With more kids around the family, we had our own version of Santa’s elves to help trim the lower half of our tree. It all looks lovely this year and you can see who helped make it so.


Anne Shirley's Play

Last night Bob and I did something a bit out of the ordinary. We went over to South Albany High School and watched a play put on by the students of “Anne of Green Gables”. The student playing “Anne with an E” was a great fit. She seemed to match the personality of Anne quite well. Bubbly and talkative. She had the red hair and pigtails necessary. She also looked and acted very much like Jasmine, Melissa’s daughter. She certainly seemed like she could be a big sister to Jasmine. One can get caught up in the illusion of bosom buddies, kindred spirits, Lake of Shining Waters, Diana Barry, Gilbert Blythe, Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert all over again. It was a pleasant evening…….one filled with memories of books holding girlish memories and adult joy of visiting Green Gables. Another view of Green Gables house with Bob near by.


A view of “Anne with an E” ’s room……….


Bomber Jackets

What we collect or what interests us, defines us. One type of collectible that has a following is in the paintings found on World War II leather bomber jackets. I came across a fascinating article about this form of collectible. To my amazement, the first picture in the story was of a jacket painted “Winn’s Warriors”. Oh, to have that jacket what with my role in the Winn Feline Foundation. We should all have the motto of Winn’s Warriors as we volunteer for this wonderful Foundation. As the artwork emboldened our air boys, something similar might make us emboldened to work hard for cat health studies to make the lives of cats even better. To read about the bomber jacket art of World War II, go here.


Grant's Regret

During the Civil War, General Grant issued an order expelling Jews from the army’s Dept. of Tennessee and also from the suppliers for that army. This was a very anti-semitic order which haunted Grant. He came to personally regret his action and believe that he had done a huge injustice to this group of people. Grant went on to compensate for that error and become a huge supporter of the Jewish population. There is a current book discussing this issue. It is one history I have not purchased though I plan to do so at some point. We have a leather bound copy of Grant’s memoirs, considered the best written of any President’s memoirs. A story about Grant’s General Order No. 11 and its impact is here.


More London Blitz

My mother’s best friend and co-worker, Irene, later became her sister-in-law and therefore my aunt. Irene was a war bride from London. She would share with Mom some stories of life in London during the bombing. I believe Irene lived in a neighborhood not far from Victoria Station. It was a lower middle class neighborhood. To see how far one could conceive the effect the bombing could have on London, its buildings, and its populace, take a look at this interactive map developed to show where a group has found each bomb landed during the Blitz. Looking at a close view here, there were 2 bombs that landed near the apartment of Tom’s we have stayed at while visiting London. St. Paul’s Cathedral survived the bombing intact as the picture below indicates.



Last night was our first time at attending the volunteer fire fighters’ holiday dinner. It was held at Station 34 near Cheadle Lake and was a barbecue/potluck. There was probably about 100 people present as a mix of families with children. The children were enjoying the games and toys available for them. We sat with our next door neighbors the Hartmans and also another couple from Fire Corps, Ron and Jackie. Ron and I spent a bit of time talking about books, reading, and history. He was quite impressed with “Team of Rivals” by Doris Kearns Goodwin. It is the basis for the movie out now, Lincoln, which is getting good reviews.
There was a white elephant gift exchange. Our gift of a P-Touch labeler was traded a few times, so it was popular.We ended up with a book, “How Mrs. Santa Saved Christmas”. We will probably give that to Jasmine or one of the families to enjoy. All in all, it was a nice evening had by all.

Today is also December 7, the day that will live in Infamy--Pearl Harbor attack in 1941. In memory of all who we lost that day.



One location I would love to see on vacation is the Little Bighorn Battlefield area and also the Black Hills/Mt. Rushmore of South Dakota. Being a history buff, the story of Custer’s last battle is intriguing to follow. I think the best book I have read is Nathan Philbrick’s book, The Last Stand. Larry McMurtry, another very good author, has a new book out titled Custer. An article reviewing his take on Custer’s personality and record was written for the Wall Street Journal Book Review here. Love him or hate him, Custer was not a boring individual. It is a shame that his hubris lost the lives of so many of his relatives and men.


Naval Notes

A couple of interesting notes in history, past and recent. November 30 was the 60th anniversary of the Battle of Tassafaronga. This was a naval battle the United States fought with the Japanese as they tried to intercept Japanese warships trying to deliver supplies to Guadalcanal. The battle was a strategic victory for the U.S. yet a tactical defeat with the loss of the USS New Orleans. Read about the battle here.


USS New Orleans

The following day lead to a story about the de-commissioning of the USS Enterprise aircraft carrier. The big E has a long and distinguished history. A short reference to the USS Enterprise is here. Another more detailed article also is found in the Weekly Standard. This article covers information about different missions and also about the various men who captained the ship. Because this is a nuclear powered ship, it will take years to de-commission the carrier to remove the nuclear reactors safely. It sounds like the ship will be ported in Norfolk, VA though the article did not seem to be clear on that topic. If all the walls could talk or whisper tails of the men and exploits the Enterprise has seen over its 61 years in action. That may come to pass if this magnificent ship becomes a floating museum as other famous ships have in the past. Enjoy a story of the big E here.

uss-enterprise bottom 12-4-12

USS Enterprise

Grumpy Cat

This is a day of trying to finish up some items and learn some new tricks on the internet, etc.

I must say though the day started off quite cute with this story about a Grumpy Cat, called Tardar Sauce. It is a cute story and I love Tardar Sauce. With social media, people are taking the average funny looking pet and making a marketing project out of it. I say, Go For It. If you can develop a brand, good for you. I would buy a Tardar Sauce T-shirt and I don’t like T-shirts. To read about adorable Tardar Sauce, go here.


Christmas Tree Ceremony

Bob and I hoped to catch up to family members last night at the Christmas Tree lighting ceremony at Ralston Square in Lebanon. It got too rainy and windy for the kids to stay longer and we ended up staying home and eating homemade ham and bean soup. Nice on a cold, damp evening.
David sent on this photo of Renee and Nicolas while they were waiting for ceremonial functions to start.


Berlin Christmas Cheer

Yummmmmm………………….made two batches of brownies. One double chocolate and the other was turtle variety (caramel swirled through it). The brownies made a trip down to the Berlin Fire Station for our annual Berlin Christmas party and donation drive. We collect supplies for the troops in Afghanistan and also supplies to take to Linn County’s only private shelter, Safe Haven. The gathering was for 2 pm to 5 pm. We had a nice group of neighbors stop by to chat, listen to Christmas music, and eat goodies while drinking coffee or cocoa. It just reminds us that we can share and do go things in the world, even in small amounts. Plus we have a good group of neighbors.

On another note, we had a lot of rain last night and a couple of really strong gusts of wind last night. One gust slammed the house and seemed to just rake the house like it was knocking many things over outside. It definitely was a surprise. Some of the neighbors heard it and others did not. We sure did since both gusts woke us up.

Christmas party-tree-top-12-1-12

Our Berlin Christmas party tree, courtesy of the Hartmans.

Buck Windom, Era Lewis, and our friendly holiday Moose.
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