Lonesome Tree in Sandhills

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Some Seriously Silly Stuff

Like a toddler having a melt down, our nation really needs a "time out" for Some Serious Silly Stuff.

Marcel the Shell with Shoes On was created by comedian, Jenny Slate, after she was dropped by Saturday Night Live for dropping the F-bomb on a SNL show. With help from her fiance, film-maker Dean Fleischer-Camp, Jenny created Marcel the Shell using things around the house and her comedic little-boy voice. Marcel the Shell went viral on the Internet and a STAR was born!

Marcel the Shell is now a celebrity with his very own picture book and iPhone/iPad app, too:
Marcel the Shell with Shoes On: Things About Me

Watch Marcel do his 'thing' in the videos at right & relax with Some Seriously Silly Stuff.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Nebraska: Water, Cattle, Manufacturing and Tourism

Nebraska's Sandhills have a unique beauty all their own.  Expansive grasslands as far as the eye can see growing under beautiful enormous skyscapes.  Most travelers totally miss it when crossing our country, thinking the entire state of Nebraska is but a wasteland!  
Loup River
in Sandhills
of Nebraska
Almost all of Nebraska covers the Ogallala Aquifer, which provides filtered pure water to man and beast alike, inviting migratory birds and other wildlife to feast there as well.  The Ogallala Aquifer is replenished by snow and rainfall, and due to depth and acres covered, Nebraska accounts for about 67% of the volume of the Aquifer's groundwater (Texas and Kansas account for 10% each).  The total water storage is about equal to that of Lake Huron, providing irrigation from the High Plains to almost 14 million acres in Nebraska (46%), Texas (30%) and Kansas (10%).  For more information: Water Encyclopedia
Irrigation from the Ogallala Aquifer certainly helps Nebraska produce great grain crops and the Sandhills grasslands produce some of the world's best beef.  According to the Nebraska Beef CouncilNebraska's economic engine is fueled by beef cattle raised throughout the state - $6.5 billion cattle sales impacted its economy by $12.1 billion in 2009.  
Traffic Jam
The top 3 beef producing counties in the entire U.S. are in Nebraska - Cherry, Custer & Holt Counties.  Nearly 5 million head of cattle are marketed in a state with only 1.8 million residents (2010 Census).  The Nebraska Beef Council claims Nebraska produces more cattle per resident than all other states, including Texas and California. 
Choice cuts of beef can be ordered directly from Nebraska ranchers, which they deliver to any place so long as it is located in the United States.
Nebraska's work ethic has driven growth of manufacturing as well.  The list of Nebraska manufacturers is quite surprising; for example, Loup Valley Machinery & Mfg's molded waterproof electrical connectors made in Burwell - gateway to the Sandhills.  As of October, 2011, Nebraska's jobless rate is only 4.2%;(2nd only to North Dakota's 3.5% jobless rate, thanks to an oil boom). Why go to China when it can be made in Nebraska.

See some of the wild, wild West at Nebraska's Big Rodeo smack in the middle of ranch country.  Take your family to see the "real deal" - buckin' broncos, calf roping, barrel racing, and bull riding complete with clowns narrowly escaping those horns!  Chow down on Nebraska's choice steaks at the local Legion Club or enjoy some fine cuisine at the Sandhills Grill. Drive around the area and enjoy!

Nebraska's Big Rodeo is in Burwell, which is only a 3-hour scenic drive out of Lincoln, Nebraska's capital, along the Loup Rivers Scenic Byway.  But don't take my word for it - go see all of Nebraska's Scenic Byways - or take a virtual tour with the video at right (best view is full screen).
The NEBRASKAland Magazine is a treasure trove of interesting history and events held in Nebraska, including wildlife photos.  You will also find wonderful photos and descriptions of the Sandhills' landscape and its plant and animal life on Kody Unstad's website: The Nebraska Sandhills 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Diversions of the Soul: The Road Less Traveled

Dr. Susan Bodnar, a clinical psychologist teaching at Columbia University Teachers College, posted an article titled "Don't forget where you came from" at CNN's online: In America: You define America. What defines you? 

Dr. Bodnar's article kicked off very interesting comments discussing why our country is experiencing significant social division among the have-wannabes, the semi-haves and the never-will-haves.

Many stories posted in comments reflect the division between those who earned college degrees and those who have not, but it seems much of this division is driven by talk shows calling educated people "elite" as if it's a dirty word. Comments suggested those who left poverty behind by getting a college education have experienced considerable angst reconciling their educated upwardly-mobile lives with family and friends left behind.

Pursuit of a higher education used to be seen as good for the country. Higher education was the Holy Grail that immigrants worked so hard for their children to have, so when did it become something bad for the country & why???

The discussion has inspired Dr. Bodnar to delve further into the sensitive issue of who we really are as Americans - what divides us and what unites us.  Stay tuned for more later!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Flawed Politicians

In "Lessons Learned from John Edwards' Iowa Campaign" (Blog for Iowa), Paul Deaton writes of his deep disappointment in... and what can be learned from... John Edwards' fall from grace.

I felt the same way after Nixon, Reagan & Bush Sr showed their true colors... but learned only after they were in office. After being a Republican most of my life, I switched to vote for Jimmy Carter, but he was flawed in a different way. Despite being a peanut farmer, he imposed an embargo against shipping grain to Russia that devastated Iowa farmers. Canada & Australia picked up that third of US grain exports. President Carter proved to be morally right but economically stupid.

The media exposed Bill Clinton's sexual escapades while campaigning, but he was elected regardless of being morally challenged... and re-elected because he was economically smart.  GOP leadership seemed hell bent to waste the country's resources - time & money - to investigate and impeach Clinton on moral grounds, and ultimately failed to get a majority in the Senate to agree.  Meanwhile Clinton's Administration was able to scale back federal spending and balance the budget, leaving a surplus for the next Administration to squander by invading Iraq on a flawed premise.

Newt Gingrich's 'family values' GOP campaign to retake Congress used Iowa poster boy, Jim Nussle, a young lawyer who's wife and 3 kids (one disabled) were left back in Iowa.  Much like Newt, once in Congress young Jim had an affair with a lobbyist whom he ultimately married; however, unlike Newt, Jim limited his wives to only 2. Iowa voters continued to send him back to Congress anyway!

So, in 1996, I dumped the GOP and never looked back. As a registered Independent... a very cynical one... I listened to the debates and reluctantly voted for Al Gore, only to have the U.S. Supreme Court decide his fate over the people's wishes. Al Gore was flawed in much the same manner that Carter was, and might well have been economically stupid, too - although the financial success of 'An Inconvenient Truth' says otherwise.

In 2004, six editors of the Des Moines Register sorted out the Democrats & picked Edwards as "head and shoulders above" the rest. So I got Edwards' booklet outlining his positions, which likely was written by Elizabeth Edwards. For the first time since John Anderson ran on the GOP ticket in 1976, I actually went to a precinct caucus and discovered there were many supporting John Edwards.

They most likely feel like I do now... even more cynical & hugely disappointed in SERIOUSLY FLAWED people who have the ego & financial support to run for political office. People who thinks candidates aren't beholden to the big money interests need to have their heads examined.  The relevant questions are:  to whom and for what are they indebted.

Knowing they are ALL flawed to some degree, I can only hope that President Obama, whom I actively supported after digging into his background and record (but not his books!), is flawed only to the degree that he may still be addicted to smoking and teleprompters. Please, Lord, don't let it be otherwise.

The statue of David cartoon below reminds me of how voters view political candidates.  Keep in mind no matter the political party, most politicians are flawed & will eventually melt into nothing.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

World News: Diversion

"As The World Turns" was a daytime soap opera watched religiously at one time.  Today Tunisia then Egypt give new meaning to "as the world turns" on 24/7 TV news channels and especially the Internet's gazillion social network sites.  Had enough?

Click on the new video on the right for British humorous insight into how the rest of the world views the news.

Of course there's always the Super Bowl for diversionary tactics today.  Can't wait to see who wins... the ad competition.  Pepsi and Doritos have customer-generated ads in the Five Finalists.  Will Pepsi beat Coca Cola?  Will Budweiser beat the California Happy Cows?  Which commercial will win the coveted $1 million prize?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Winter Diversions

My friend writes of their life in Nebraska's Sandhills, which I hope you enjoy reading as much as I do.  She's funny and down to earth... no pun intended.  Their life could be called simple, only it isn't really.  It is a reminder of the hardships others endure without complaint and with humor.  Another friend writes of Australia's devastation and her efforts to keep a grip on that famous Aussie humor.

Winter Wonderland in Middle America
"Hi from a Winter Wonderland.  It's over 8 inches of new snow now, it covers some icy spots from last snow.  At least we have plenty of wood to burn, and a good supply on the porch.  Got out a few times last week to meet friends, and Hubby played his tuba at the Nursing Home too.  All we do now is chores, and haying, and grinding corn when feedlot needs it.  Glad we are gaining daylight in the evenings, and need sun to come up earlier in mornings."

Winter Wonderland in Southern America
Around 8" of snow fell yesterday in the Deep South, but unfortunately sleet and icy rain arrived soon after.  I put on boots and trekked through the snow to refill the feeders before breakfast - sleet was just beginning then.  Cherry-red cardinals made a bright splash against the white snow, and there were the usual winter holdovers like tiny finches, chickadees, etc.  An entire fleet flew in for the feast and entertained me all day.  There were even a few goldfinches that apparently had decided not to enjoy winter in south Florida.  Mourning doves dropped by later to pick up seed trash dropped on the ground. By early afternoon the snow was covered with ice and the little ones were either skating or skiing wherever there was a little slope and their tiny talons couldn't get a grip.  Too funny!

The old forest woods surrounding us provide homes and cover for birds and other wildlife.  My feeders are full anyway, but that dang renegade squirrel likes to horn in on their banquet.  WE are still at war!

Winter Not-so-Wonderland - Down Under
In may be summer now in Australia, but another friend in Brisbane writes of their winter horror - flooding beyond anything Australia has ever seen before.  Rivers that know nothing of banks, dams give way causing 26 ft of an inland tsunami, and coal mining shut down (depriving Asian steelmakers 75% of their coal needs).  However, my friend writes that the beloved Kookaburra birds are returning after several weeks of absence.  Their laughing sounds are helping my friend get past the pain of devastation.  Keep that Aussie sense of humor going, my friend!