BenTha'er-Horizons

More Ukraine

I wrote 2 days ago here about the revolution in the streets of the Ukrainian people. This area has had a long history of turmoil. It is the land of the Cossacks too. One can read a synopsis of the history of this area and how it relates to today’s troubles by going here.
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Jazzy Jasmine

Bob caught a photo of Jasmine dressed up with Nicolas’ hat and my goofy cat-type glasses. With her colorful socks, she struck a “jazzy” look. She looks like she will be off to the clubs, leaving the family hicks behind. Too bad we can’t be so cool. Winking
JazzyJasmine
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Ukraine Today

For the past few months, the country of Ukraine has been in turmoil. A large number of the population are objecting to their leader’s cave-in to Putin of Russia to scrap a treat tying them closer to the European Union. Russia wants to rebuild their sphere of influence, much like what the geographical set up was for the Soviet Union. The Ukraine, being a large country and often the breadbasket for much of the surrounding countries, is key. What happens here has a lot of impact for Europe, Russia, and also the United States. The Ukraine has been important in much of the European and world’s political power plays for the past two centuries. And how they have suffered for it. It was a battleground between Germany and Russia in the 1930s and 40s. The people are standing up to their government and are “in revolution”. It is interesting though to note that the western part of Ukraine is more Europe disposed while the eastern portion has maintained its Russian ties. This article shows a large number of photos of what has been happening in Kiev recently.
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Top 10 Bad Decisions of 20th Century

Here we go again, another Top 10 list. This one is the Top 10 bad decisions of the 20th Century. They all seem to be related to wartime decisions. It is interesting to consider a counterfactual scenario of what would have happened if that decision or that action did not happen. I think the list is all justifiable as determined. Some may shift one item out and another in as they consider what is important to them. The list can be found here.
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Cuban Road Trip, Part Two

The second part of Michael Totten’s Journal covering his road trip around Cuba is found here. In this piece, he traveled to Trinidad which is a World Heritage Site. From his description, it is a beautiful city in many ways, unfazed by the Communist changes to architecture and buildings. Much of what has been there has been in place for centuries, even longer than parts of Paris as he mentioned. It is illuminating when he describes again how little people live on in Cuba, twenty dollars a month. Though even if one has cash money there is little or nothing there that one can use the money to buy. It is much like a post-apocalyptic world where money has no value or meaning to everyday life.

“So it turns out even Trinidad’s bubble of private enterprise can barely hobble along when it’s encircled by communism and cut off from the rest of the world. In hindsight, that’s obvious. I showed up in Cuba on a middle class salary, and I even brought emergency money, but I still couldn’t buy anything. Nothing’s for sale. Everything is in short supply everywhere. It doesn’t matter how much money you have in your pocket or your account. Cash isn’t as worthless as it would be after the end of the world, but it’s close.”

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Velveeta

A surprising bit of news hit the media recently..............Velveeta is likely to be in short supply due to the demand for snacks and appetizers made for eating while watching the Super Bowl. Velveeta is a staple. How could it be in short supply? Shades of Velveetapocolypse. The world is in serious trouble since this follows shortly after mention of a Siracha shortage and Sirachapocolypse. Our taste buds will never be the same. I have proof that I will post on this page that we will not experience a shortage during this crucial time. Around about notice of this crisis, I caught an article about the history of Velveeta. Velveeta has a history? Actually quite a long one and was once a cheese rising in popularity. Check it out here.

“Velveeta's popularity increased throughout the '30s, '40s and into the '50s--studies of consumer preference done in the 1930s found that two-thirds of Americans preferred processed cheese to natural cheese. But it wasn't just the product's advertised nutritional advantage that kept consumers interested.”
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10 Myths about World War I

I have a fascination with military history, especially the World Wars. The first or the Great War has become more of an interest after early reading in my life focusing on the Second. So I often click and focus on writings about World War I. I came across this on about the Top 10 Myths regarding World War I found in BBC Magazine. I am not sure I quite accept all of them as they do. It is always good to debate and not take statements as absolutes. We should challenge or keep reading and studying. Maybe I can someday make a more informed or determined decision about whether I agree with their list.
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Cuban Road Trip

As much as I wish I was the one traveling and on a road trip, I am not. Reading Michael Totten’s World Affairs Journal does make me feel as if I was though. He is a very engaging writer and brings a person right into the heart of where he is. You can see the countryside and experience what he experiences. I have written a piece earlier about his series on Cuba and here is another part of that visit. In this Journal piece, he is writing about taking a road trip to visit the Bay of Pigs. It is a name that should resonate in U.S. history and during JFK’s presidency. One gets a feel for the life of the average Cuban. People live on the same amount of money given to each person monthly. Seafood and meat items can be luxury goods and get them into very serious trouble. Michael Totten’s work is definitely worth reading.

“Police officers pull over cars and search the trunk for meat, lobsters, and shrimp. They also search passenger bags on city busses in Havana. Dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez wrote about it sarcastically in her book, Havana Real. “Buses are stopped in the middle of the street and bags inspected to see if we are carrying some cheese, a lobster, or some dangerous shrimp hidden among our personal belongings.”

If they find a side of beef in the trunk, so I’m told, you’ll go to prison for five years if you tell the police where you got it and ten years if you don’t.

No one is allowed to have lobsters in Cuba. You can’t buy them in stores, and they sure as hell aren’t available on anyone’s ration card. They’re strictly reserved for tourist restaurants owned by the state. Kids will sometimes pull them out of the ocean and sell them on the black market, but I was warned in no uncertain terms not to buy one.”
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Origins to English

There are many early languages that serve as the basis for many of our English words. The languages are Latin, Germanic, old English based, and also Viking. Viking because they conquered a large part of the British Isles and their culture intertwined with the Anglo-Saxons. One has to visit York, England and visit the Viking Museum there to get a better flavor of this. The whole city has areas that show the influence of Vikings from centuries ago. I came across this webpage that covers a number of English words that derive from the Vikings. It is a bit of fun to sort through their examples.
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Another Day, Another Smile

A day of baby sitting Ryan and bringing Nicolas home after school. Ryan is getting much more adventuresome and checking out the neighborhood. In the picture, below a person can see one of our video storage drawers pulled out from Ryan testing the drawer rollers. He is a boy with a happy smile (when he is not tired or hungry Happy ). I think I can see a little bit of Grandma Connie in that smiley look. She would be very happy if that were so.
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EReaders and Libraries

Well, I have to call myself a reader. One of my mottos in life is “reading is breathing”. That means it is essential to life, my life. In the last 5 years, ereaders have become part of the reading landscape. I have one friend who buys all his books, especially textbooks related to his field of work in electronic format. Easier to read and to store. I have a number of books in electronic format and have taken to reading them more on my IPad since I can buy Kindle, Nook, and IBooks as such. It is handy and easier than holding or carrying large books especially while traveling. I still take a print book on a plane since they have not allowed electronics powered on the first and last 10 minutes of a flight. I still take pleasure in sitting in a chair reading a good book and the joy of seeing my library shelves at home stuffed with lots of good books. We should be the Berlin library. I did find an interesting discussion about how some view ereaders versus having space taken for a physical library. You can enjoy the article here and see a bit of our library with the library cat, Oscar, standing in the doorway. What a life.......a recliner chair, a window seat, a cat, and books.
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Alfred the Great Remains Found Now?

Just as I have written in prior blogs, Richard III’s, King of England, remains were located in the past few years under a parking lot in England. Now they have found remains that they feel could be of King Alfred the Great of England. A description of Alfred follows..........

Alfred is the only English king to carry the moniker, “Great,” and is known for his passion for education, which was instrumental in the development of the English language. He ruled the kingdom of Wessex in southern England from 871 until his death in 899.

More information about where the bones were located and why they assume they are Alfred’s can be found here.
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Five Worst Fighter Aircraft

Following what was a discussion of flight and why birds and planes fly in a V formation, here is an article about the five worst fighter aircraft of all time. One of the first ones mentioned was the Buffalo which had a nickname of The Flying Coffin. That does not engender any sense of confidence. See what others are on this list and why by reading here.
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Why Do Birds Fly in V Formation

Scientists have been looking into further the reason why birds often fly in a V formation. There has been a lot of speculation and theory though not a lot to substantiate the reason. Certainly, airplanes flying in the military will mimic that V. It is felt that it adds in air flow to those flying behind and to the side and is more fuel efficient. Here is an article that explains it in more depth.

“Just as aerodynamic estimates would predict, the birds positioned themselves to fly just behind and to the side of the bird in front, timing their wing beats to catch the uplifting eddies. When a bird flew directly behind another, the timing of the flapping reversed so that it could minimize the effects of the downdraft coming off the back of the bird’s body. “We didn’t think this was possible,” Usherwood says, considering that the feat requires careful flight and incredible awareness of one’s neighbors. “Perhaps these big V formation birds can be thought of quite like an airplane with wings that go up and down.” “
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Cats Can Play

Some person must really love a bit of architecture and also love their cats. Through another cat veterinarian I know, I saw a link to a page in My Modern Metropolis. The page was filled with wonderful pictures of a home, an apartment, that was filled with indoor cat structures. The cats here should not feel much indoor environmental stress since their space if full of enrichment. See here what we humans are missing for our own playhouse.
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Men Time

You know the air inversion is happening and the fog has set in all day. The “guys” are all interested in the antics of SpongeBob Squarepants and Ryan is all happy just from being able to stand at chest side and slap his hands in merriment. It is a guy thing, what can I say?
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HappyRyan


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Countdown

In less than 30 minutes, ABVP (American Board of Veterinary Practitioners) will close the application process on their member website. I have submitted all my materials for re-certification in feline practice for another 10 years. The materials must be accepted for at least 500 points in various entries to achieve re-certification. I have almost 380 points above that though all might not be accepted. I feel I have worked hard and tried my best to accomplish this. My prayer is that it is acceptable and good enough. I need to now relax and leave it in the hands of God. He will take care of me.
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World War I and After

As I mentioned on a previous post of January 1, there is a lot of commentary about current world status opposed to factors surrounding pre-World War I days, during and then post-war changes. This is all stemming from the centennial time for the beginning of World War I. Part of this article supposes that the after effects of World War I changed the political environment enough to grow Progressivism and the advance of the administrative state. How are does that relate to today? How are Progressives from that time alike or different from today’s. Could the world commit suicide again 100 years later?
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Hitchcock and the Holocaust

It was not a well known fact that Alfred Hitchcock, a master film maker, produced a documentary in 1945 of the liberation of the Bergen Belsen concentration camp. Hitchcock was so disturbed by the images he saw on the film and also due to other factors that the film has not been shown. It was archived away for many years. It is now to be released. Five of six reels of film were stored at the Imperial War Museum, a museum Bob and I visited while on a London visit. It is an excellent spot to spend time in and understand history. The repeat playing of Neville Chamberlain’s words when he told the British people about the Munich Pact which sold out Czechoslovakia are haunting and chilling in hindsight. The article can be read here and an excerpt from it follows. I would really like to be able to see what the Imperial War Museum has done here to digitally master this documentary and add other film with it.

“Now, finally, the film is set to be seen in a version that Hitchcock, Bernstein and the other collaborators intended. The Imperial War Museum has painstakingly restored it using digital technology and has pieced together the extra material from the missing sixth reel. A new documentary, Night Will Fall, is also being made with André Singer, executive producer of The Act of Killing, as director and Stephen Frears as directorial advisor. Both the original film about the camps and the new documentary will be shown on British TV in early 2015 to mark the 70th anniversary of the "liberation" of Europe. Before that, next year, they are due to be shown together at festivals and in cinemas.”
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Nuclear Test Site Photos

I came across an interesting article that showed some of the “light glare” to the sky from the nuclear tests done in Nevada northwest of Las Vegas. A lot of this glare could be seen in the skies around Los Angeles. The photos bring back memories of “hiding under your desk”, fallout shelters, and emergency test ban radio. The article talks about the radiation cloud drifting in the direction of Utah. Certainly there was concern that St. George UT was affected and that some movie actors could have developed cancer later in life due to this exposure. The actors would include John Wayne and Susan Hayward as two of those mentioned. Take a gander here.
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Winter Storm Warning

Today the weather forecast and reality has been for the worst winter storm for this winter. It was quite blustery and was planned to be even more so over at the coast. I wish we could have been there. Gusts were up to 35-50 mph here in the valley. We did get one spell with really blustery winds and some thunder in the distance along with a big downpour. Lots of limbs and leaves everywhere. The power bounced on and off for the morning. I probably should have gotten a photo to demonstrate the gloom yet I guess all it would be is gloom. It is much more fun at the coast looking at the waves burst over the rocks and listen to the wind howl. Storm chasers!
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White Ghetto

Being a big Justified TV show fan, one has to wonder what southeast Kentucky and Harlan County are really like. Bob and I have certainly been in the more central part of Kentucky, south of Louisville, toward Danville and then slightly eastward to Frankfort. One writer, Kevin Williamson, has written a long article about Owsley County, Kentucky which is north of Harlan County and considered the poorest county in the United States. He has titled the article, The White Ghetto, and it does give a sad and discouraging look at parts of the rural countryside in areas of the U.S. where people have little work and local industry. They live for their “draw” from the federal government. Bob and I laugh at one of our favorite scenes in an episode of Justified is a Raylon Jennings looking for a suspect up in the hills of Appalachia where the family members are agitated and frequently spouting “don’t touch my draw” as this is the worst thing in the world to them (which it probably is). There are towns here in Oregon that may approach this type of scenario. Cascadia, east of here, on Highway 20 might come close. Our son, Scott, swears Falls City which is west of Independence, OR would also fit. I am sure there are more. For a read of Williamson’s article, go here.
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Long Day

The majority of today was spent at Corvallis Samaritan Hospital lending support to Scott as he went through back surgery. Or as he put it in other succinct terms, “A way to spend $22,000 for a surgery to be able to get $1 warming socks with grippers”. After waiting 4 hours from check-in to when he went into surgery, it all went quickly to clean out the ruptured intervertebral disks near his spinal cord and nerves. As I commented to one nurse, I was not sure which is worse, riding on a long airplane flight or sitting in a hospital room. She did have a reasonable point to consider in that one probably sees a lot more interesting people while flying. Scott is home now and happy to be there.
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The World View from Mead

Walter Russell Mead writes for The American Interest. His columns are very well-written and a thoughtful, balanced look at domestic and foreign policies and affairs. He did recent columns listing first his picks for The World’s Biggest Losers for 2013 and then The 10 Biggest Winners of 2013. This may not match other’s picks yet WR Mead still presents a reasoned look at his. Certainly one can learn a bit about current affairs by reading these articles.
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Londonistan

One of the most interesting books Bob and I have read is Melanie Phillips book, Londonistan. She covers the increasing Islamization of Great Britain where she lives. She has a very interesting blog that I will catch from time to time. This article does not come from her yet covers much of the same topics that she covers. It is disturbing being the Anglophile that I am. I am not surprised though considering the large population of Muslims Bob and I would see in our last visit to London. So many come from the Middle East with money to live part of the year. The heart of London is coated with the hajib. This is a long article yet one worth reading to get a sense of where Great Britain is headed.
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More Books Game

I have finally encouraged Bob to add an item to his Bob’s Blog. He was interested in the top 10 books game that I posted on December 14, 2013. He had a struggle because like me there are far too many books that we like and have made a big impression. Bob let himself get bogged down in the worry of getting them all listed right. I advised just start writing and get it rolling. The inspiration will come and crowd out the angst. So far he has 15 books listed which I am breaking up into sections and placing on separate days.
It is difficult to remember them all. More come to light every day that are good reads to recommend or make an impact. I realize that I did not add in “A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens. The description of Madame Dufarge sitting and knitting the names of all the aristocrats who should be guillotined into her work is timeless and frightening. The French Revolution was not romantic, it was very mob-like and dangerously evil.
I was also watching a Masterpiece Mystery movie of Agatha Christie’s “A Pale Horse”. No question that she is the grande dame of murder mysteries and a fascinating read. So many British authors have followed in her footsteps to offer up wonderful books.
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Income Inequality

It is becoming apparent that the mantra for this next year as we go toward the 2014 elections is going to be “income inequality”. I was raised in a family where my family was not rich, nor poor yet comfortable to live and work with what we had. We did not envy or begrudge anyone what they had. I am a big believer that people make choices in this world that help them or hold them back. I cannot expect others to make my choices or compensate me for poor ones. It is my responsibility. I cannot in the long run change the choices others make for themselves. In the long run, we all have to live with the consequences of those choices. Circumstances are unequal. Life would be pretty dull if we all were forced into “sameness”. Many strive for achieving something worthwhile or a greatness beyond. It will be interesting, also frustrating, to watch this message play out over the next few years. It has never been able to sustain itself to create the Utopia such believers wish to accomplish. I have to agree with the following statement of Matthew Continetti of the Washington Free Beacon............

“What the income inequality debate is about is not social justice but social rule. It is about power, about who wields it and to what purposes, and the slogans and statistics that appear in the papers are the weapons by which a caste of liberals organizes its political coalition and vanquishes its opposites.”

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Getting Stronger

Someone is getting stronger in their activities and I think his name is Ryan. Renee has been posting video of Ryan standing in his crib and crawling after interesting objects on her Facebook page. Since we had an afternoon and evening visit from the family, we could see Ryan crawling toward fascinating items that would not be the best for him to play with (power cords and dog balls). He also was standing for quite a period of time next to a chest table while eating on rice cereal. Would you say that face below is ready for baby mischief? Happy That is a pretty good Dr. Evil imitation!
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Follow

A Russian photographer has made a bit of a name for himself through the internet by posting photos of a unique style of his girlfriend facing a unique travel spot with his hand extended to her as if following. The photos are posed beautifully and in a style to set off his girlfriend in a wonderful light surrounded by the loveliness of the physical surroundings. He started this as a personal blog and it has grown due to the viral nature of the photos being shared by many. One can see more about this “Follow Me’’ series here.
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Birthday Coastal Trip

We made an early drive over to the Oregon Coast today. We went by way of Highway 20 to Newport and then up the coast to Lincoln City. It was a day to see some sun, beaches, shop, and have lunch at Kyllo’s. Kyllo’s is the better seafood place in Lincoln City as far as I am concerned. We split a salad, a yummy shrimp cocktail, halibut and chips w/prawns, and a scrumptious coconut almond ganache pie. It was just great to get over to see some sunshine. It was warmer there and the wind was not blowing. It really seemed like a calm day at the coast. Good to have a relaxing day for a birthday. Here is a photo I got of a lovely home at the edge of Depoe Bay.
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2014, Another Great War?

I have touched on this subject in recent posts, even the one yesterday. What is we were to have a Great War this year, 100 years after the last? Could we? Are the circumstances leaning that way? Here is an article discussing if it could happen and that it would have to entail the United States and China to come close to the impact of the Great War, being they are two super powers who could make the difference. Take a read. See what you think.
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