Monday, July 30, 2007

It's Almost Over

July is National Ice Cream Month and there's only one day left. In 1984, when President Reagan first proclaimed July as National Ice Cream Month, he called for the nation to observe this special month with "appropriate ceremonies and activities."

One appropriate activity is to eat some ice cream. Or maybe we should visit an ice cream factory, and it may as well be the Little Creamery that cranks out Blue Bell creations. Blue Bell Creameries, located in Brenham in my home state of Texas, is celebrating its 100th Anniversary.

Blue Bell was started by local farmers and named after the Texas state flower, bluebonnets. Despite such humble beginnings, it now ranks in the top three among ice cream in the country. The brand is available in only 20% of the nation's markets, mostly in the South.

The creamery regularly offers tours and more, but this year, they are taking their exhibits on the road. There are contests to create new flavors, and you can even join their club. Sounds like fun.

If you are not in Blue Bell country, visit an ice cream establishment near you. It is, after all, National Ice Cream Month.

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Sunday, July 29, 2007

Happy Birthday, Beatrix

Beatrix Potter was born July 28, 1866.

Beatrix did not have contact with many children as she grew up, but she did have pets. She spent her early years drawing the many animals around her home, especially rabbits and squirrels.

Her knowledge of the cuddly little animals led her to the stories of Peter Rabbit. Have some fun with these activities like learning about the characters, sending a Puddle-duck ecard, or purchasing videos or DVDs. Click here to hear some of her books read aloud along with the brilliant illustrations.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Amelia, Role Model

Please know that I am aware of the hazards. I want to do it because I want to do it. Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be a challenge to others.
Amelia Earhart was born July 24, 1897, and thus began the life of a woman adventurer.

Like many young girls, she was uncertain of her future after high school. She volunteered as a nurse, attended a semester of pre-med classes, took flying lessons, then worked as a social worker with children.

But wait. In 1922. she set the women's flying altitude record -- 14,000 feet. She had found her passion.

Flying was her passion. She did it because she wanted to do it. Since her first solo in 1921, she made a habit of being the first and being the best. She flew the fastest; she flew the highest; she flew the furthest. See her list of accomplishments and awards.

Adventure is worthwhile in itself.

In 1937, Amelia Earhart began a flight around the world, a flight that would be her last adventure. Her Lockheed twin-engine, her navigator Fred Noonan, and Amelia disappeared July 2, but this is not the end of her story.

The Navy and Coast Guard searched, but were unable to recover any evidence of the flight. The Naval Historcial Center published this story. and provides links to FBI declassified documents. Hers is certainly one of the most notorious mysteries in aviation history, spawning numerous theories, from spying to alien abduction.

We may never know what really happened, but we do know she was a role model for generations beyond her life. She speaks to us still.
The most effective way to do it, is to do it.
Happy Birthday, Amelia.

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Sunday, July 22, 2007

A Day of Pipers and Promises

Today is Pied Piper of Hamelin Day.

To read the story in poetry, look here. Be aware it is not a mere ditty -- over 300 lines. The poem gives us a hint why this is the day to remember the piper by telling us the day the children of Hamelin were last seen was "Twenty-second of July, Thirteen hundred and seventy-six"

If poetry is not your favorite way to read a story, try this prose version. At the end of the story, this version has a discussion of the Brothers Grimm relating this fable based on a true event in 1284. The piper's tale is illustrated in a stained glass window dated around 1300.

In both accounts, the township promised to pay the piper to rid the town of rats. Then when the town renigs on the deal, the piper rids the town of all of the children except one disabled boy who could not keep up. He was able to tell the townspeople what happened to his playmates.

Besides the Pied Piper Day, July 22 is also known as Ratcatcher's Day.
We might not know the year exactly, but this is the day to remember the moral --
If we've promised them aught, let us keep our promise!
On this day, we should remember to keep promises.

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Sentimental Journey

It has been a long journey since the women's movement first started in America, and we're not there yet -- on an even keel with men.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton with Susan B. Anthony
Elizabeth Cady Stanton was one of four women instrumental in the 1848 Women's Rights Convention and was the principal writer of the resulting document. The meeting focused on political, religious and social rights of women. It seems the founding fathers forgot that women are people, too, and laws of the day enabled the subordination of women. Taxes without representation. Hmmm. Where have we heard that before?

The Declaration of Sentiments, using the Declaration of Independence as a model, included a list of sixteen sentiments. Each began with 'he' meaning men and 'her' or 'she' meaning women. Their intention was to fold women into the 'created equal' sentiment outlined when the country was born, this country of freedom, opport
unity, and equality.
He has monopolized nearly all the profitable employments, and from those she is permitted to follow, she receives but a scanty remuneration.
Have we made progress on this sentiment in the past 159 years? Well, I think she has equal opportunity to be hired, legally, though not necessarily in practice. Equal pay for equal work? Again, legally, that was addressed in the Equal Pay Act of 1963, but in 2005, 42 years after passage, women made an average of 77 cents for every dollar men are paid. Seems a bit scanty to me.

Read through the list and judge our progress to date. There are some eye openers.

The meeting was for women, but some men attended anyway. More than 60 women signed the declaration, but 32 men were courageous enough to support and sign it, too. Read the list of signers.

The convention was held in Stanton's home town, Seneca Falls, New York. Seneca Falls is now home to the Women's Rights National Historical Park. It was the site chosen to introduce the Equal Rights Amendment in 1923.

The convention and the declaration challenged mores of the day, but did not immediately convince the traditional society to change its ways. It did, however, bring attention to the disparity between men and women in legal, educational, and social rights. The Feminist Movement was born.

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Sunday, July 15, 2007

What's So Funny About Blogging?

Well here's someone who finds plenty to laugh about, and he's willing to share.
Skyping Baby Names
Blaugh defines itself as "The (Un)Official Comic of the Blogosphere." He gives the source of his comedy and offers it for bloggers or wallpaper.

I found this site through He has a pretty neat blog-relevant tribute to Boeing on this, the anniversary of the first Boeing 707, the first production jet airliner. The Boeing 707's maiden flight was July 15, 1954, bringing the US into the jet transport age.

Visit these two sites, and enjoy.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Goodbye, Lady Bird, and Thank you

She was a journalist, interested and active in civil rights, education, and beauty. I share her interests.

We remember when Lady Bird was the First Lady, and that time of the horrible war. During that time, she still focused domestically. Her husband credited her with the Department of the Interior Appropriations bill he signed in 1968, which helped preserve and beautify our country. Lady Bird strongly supported historic civil rights legislation, and was instrumental in beginning the Head Start Program. She is credited with changing the First Lady role toward action, making the Johnson administration the most active in conservation since Teddy Roosevelt. She was our Environmental First Lady.

Back in Texas, she focused her efforts on beauty. She and friend Helen Hayes , who was a First Lady in her own industry -- the American Theater -- created a wildflower research center. The center was named in her honor in 1997, The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

A popular and populous Texas wildflower,
the Indian Blanket, photographed by Garry Jenkin.

I have always admired Lady Bird Johnson. She was a strong Texas woman, and always a true lady. She will be missed.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Empowering Peacemakers

Today begins the Third International Women's Peace Conference in Dallas.

This is truly an international event. Speakers are scheduled from the United States, South Africa, the Philippines, Switzerland, and Turkey, in addition to Nobel Peace Prize winners!

Scheduled Nobel Peace Prize winners include:
Betty Williams, Northern Ireland
Jody Williams, United States
Rigoberta Menchu Tum, Guatemala

I was inspired just reading the schedule which includes speakers and topics. There are many varied topics such as human rights, spirituality, education, conflict environments, and perspectives on war. Each topic focuses on women and peace.

For a list of peacemakers, both women and men, check here. This is a conference from the women's perspective, but men are welcome, too.

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Monday, July 09, 2007

Yakkity Yak

A long-standing stereotype accuses women of talking more than men. "Ha!" I say.

Researchers corroborated that. "Ha!" I say again. "Ha!"

Now, researchers from the University of Texas -- my alma mater -- have released results of an 8-year study that says otherwise. Apparently, both men and women use the same number of words in conversations. Oh, well, enough said.

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Sunday, July 08, 2007

The Birth of a Nation, and a Little More

Independence Day was July 4, the day the Declaration of Independence was printed. We know that. We had a holiday and picnics and fireworks. But they weren't finished with it yet. The document was distributed to all thirteen states to be. It was first printed for the new nation on July 6 in the Philadelphia Evening Post. But they still weren't finished with it yet.

Today is the anniversary of the first public readings. Col. John Nixon 'proclaimed' independence at the State House in Philadelphia. It was read again on the Commons, then all over the city, then other cities. Bells were ringing all day.

Independence had been documented and proclaimed. The nation was born.

Today is the anniversary of more significant US history.

John Marshall was buried. Marshall was an American statesman who served in Congress, worked for Presidents, and instrumental in constitutional law. He was the 4th Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, serving longer than any Chief Justice before or after. He died July 6, 1835, and was buried July 8.

Remember when the bells rang and the Declaration was proclaimed in 1776? One of those bells was rung for John Marshall on the day he was buried -- and it CRACKED! Hmmm. That precious bell was to be known as the Liberty Bell*.


July 8. The day the Declaration of Independence had its first public readings. The day the Liberty Bell cracked.

*The bell was actually named by the abolitionist movement in the 1830s.

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Saturday, July 07, 2007

Chocolate, Dark Chocolate, and Good Health

Today is Chocolate Day. Well, it's about time.

America's favorite flavor is chocolate.
Variety is the spice of life and chocolate is my favorite spice with all the different flavors.

But here's the great news: Chocolate is a health food!

Because it is made from the cacao tree, it can be considered a vegetable. I'm still not sure I'll consider it as a vegetable serving.

In addition, German researchers report that dark chocolate can
reduce high blood pressure. Both Systolic and Diastolic numbers are moderately reduced, attributed to flavanols found in cocoa.

Here's the rub.
Apparently, only dark chocolate benefits your blood pressure. So much for variety. And if you eat too much, not only do you gain weight, but you risk raising your blood pressure again. The trick is to eat only small amounts, similar to a Hershey's Kiss a day.

And, of course more research is needed. Okay, okay. I volunteer.

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Celebrate Independence Day

Freedom is nothing else but a chance to be better. ~Albert Camus

Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it. ~Thomas Paine

We have enjoyed so much freedom for so long that we are perhaps in danger of forgetting how much blood it cost to establish the Bill of Rights. ~Felix Frankfurter

A statistician made a few calculations and discovered that since the birth of our nation more lives have been lost in celebrating independence than in winning it. ~Curtis Billings

True independence and freedom can only exist in doing what's right. ~Brigham Young

Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it. ~George Bernard Shaw in Man and Superman

You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism. ~Erma Bombeck

Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both. ~Benjamin Franklin
He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from opposition; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach himself. ~Thomas Paine

Here is my advice as we begin the century that will lead to 2081. First, guard the freedom of ideas at all costs. Be alert that dictators have always played on the natural human tendency to blame others and to oversimplify. And don't regard yourself as a guardian of freedom unless you respect and preserve the rights of people you disagree with to free, public, unhampered expression. ~Gerard K. O'Neill in 2081

Freedom is the oxygen of the soul. ~Moshe Dayan

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Tuesday, July 03, 2007


Today is Idaho Admission Day. On July 3, 1890, Idaho became the 43rd state.

Part of my childhood was spent in Idaho. Mountain Home AF Base.

I remember one July 4th we went camping at Priest Lake and shot our own fireworks over the lake. Very pretty. We kids participated with sparklers.

I learned to ski at Sun Valley. I wasn't very good, but I had a good time.

My horse Domino and I traveled through the sagebrush to run through Maggie's Gulch and swim in the Snake River. In fact, the state animal is a horse -- appaloosa.

The state gem is the garnet, my birthstone. We went to a garnet dig once where there were supposed to be garnets on or under the ground. We could keep what we found. I did not find anything.

And, of course, Idaho is famous for growing potatoes. Potatoes are a favorite part of my diet, so I must thank Idaho for becoming a state and having a base where I could live for awhile and for the places where I could camp and ski and ride - and also for providing me with nourishment.

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