Showing posts from February, 2019

Meditation 2.28.19 - A Pen and Ink Doodle

Dear Henry,

There is a new space race going on with the moon and Mars being the primary galactic points of interest, but I think the Japanese Hayabusa missions are also incredibly interesting, and, I wonder if they will not prove to be the more practical space missions.

First launched in 2003, these robotic crafts have been designed to travel to nearby asteroids (so far Ryugu and Itokawa) for extensive study, including gathering samples.

The Hayabusa craft are also the first spacecraft to use "ion" drives.

It was the craft's ability to gather samples that caught my attention.  If we can robotically garner natural resources, specifically rare metals and minerals for asteroids (which are in wide abundance), we can cease to exploit the resources on earth, and that, to me, is a positive development.

I wonder if that is what the Japanese planned all along.

xoxo a.d.

Legacy of Ashes:The History of the CIA - Tim Weiner - Summary and Review of a Good Book

A short summary of Legacy of Ashes: The secrets of the secret organization.

Questions to ponder while reading Legacy of Ashes: Do you believe that covert action is necessary?
Who should the CIA report to?
My thoughts about Legacy of Ashes: This book made me angry because:
I now question the cost of this agency.
I now question the effectiveness of this agency.
I now question the purpose of this agency.

Meditation 2.27.19 - A Pen and Ink Tangle

Dear Henry,

I don't remember what I was doing when I was seven but I am quite sure I wasn't creating a newspaper. But that is exactly what Hilde Lysiak did.

Is it ok to be proud of a stranger?

Hilde Lysiak founded the Orange Street News in 2014 and dedicated the newspaper to the news of Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania.

While the paper started small, with a limited readership and column variety, after Ms. Lysiak and The Orange Street News, nabbed the breaking story of a violent murder within the quiet borough of almost 5,400 in 2016, the newspapers reach and subscriptions increased substantially.

Ms. Lysiak hasn't let her success slow her down and is still chasing down her own leads, including visiting the Southern border to report to her readers the true nature of the border wall, despite a scuffle with the local town marshall.

I wonder what her future career has in store and how many Pulitizer's we can expect this talent to earn.

xoxo a.d.

If Oceans Were Ink: An Unlikely Friendship and a Journey to the Heart of the Quran - Carla Power - Summary and Review of a Good Book

A short summary of If Oceans Were Ink: A year of study with Sheikh Mohammad Akram Nadwi.

Questions to ponder while reading If Oceans Were Ink: Have you ever examined a faith other than your own?
Do you think there are benefits for following a religious creed?

My thoughts about If Oceans Were Ink: An in-depth look at Islam.
Perception changing.
Engaging and thought-provoking.

Meditation 2.26.19 - A Pen and Ink Tangle

Dear Henry,
What does authenticity mean to you?
I have been struggling with the word "authenticity" (as well as the whole movement that word has spawned) because:
1. I don't want to be stagnant and cease to grow and 
2. I know some authenticly awful people that I believe run counter to the whole movement.
We all want to grow and improve and not be beat up by the same yardstick that was used during our teenage/early adulthood years (such idealism, such ridiculousness) but to change who we are or were, is, by the strictest definition, inauthentic.
I am beginning to wonder if we aren't using the wrong term.  Perhaps we aren't striving and looking for authenticity but rather irreproachability.  Perhaps we should embrace our continued evolution of self and guide it along a path that is less self-deceptive and less hostile, a path with a purpose, one that will create an ethical and forward moving self.  
In any case, to me, the authenticity movement should be about de…

Meditation 2.25.19 - A Pen and Ink Tangle

Dear Henry,

After the news broke that squirrels glowed pink I was excited for about two seconds, then further research revealed that there are only three species of squirrel which glow pink under UV light (the Southern, Northern, and Humbolt) and all of them fly.

In other words, it isn't the common grey squirrels that run amok in my forest.

In theory, the Southern Flying Squirrel is native to the area and has been even spotted recently.  But I haven't seen one of those yet and I am not sure I will ever devote the time or energy to attempting to photograph an elusive squirrel at night, under UV spotlighting. 

If only this happened to the 100 or so grey squirrels that live around my house.

Undaunted with the prospect of capturing a live pink squirrel, I decided to look for a suitable substitute and found the Pink Squirrel Cocktail.

Popularized back in the 1940s, it is one of the thick, milky types of cocktails and while the original recipe called for cream, it has been my exper…

Meditation 2.23.19 - A Pen and Ink Tangle

Dear Henry,

Today, I heard about a wordplay game that sounds like a fun alternative to Scrabble.

Kangaroo words are words that contain their synonym inside them.  Finding these words and their respective inner synonym has been a game for many years and was popularized back in "American Magazine" back in the 1950s by Ben Odell.

I feel very misinformed, until today, I had never heard of such a game and have now started scouring the internet, looking for these words.

So far, the kangaroo words I have come across are:

Catacomb -----> Tomb
Chicken   ------> Hen
Observe   ------> See
Blossom  ------> Bloom
Hear        ------> Ear
Masculine -----> Male

I have just started my search and plan on adding many more words to this list, stay tuned for additions.

xoxo a.d.

Meditation 2.22.19 - A Pen and Ink Tangle

Dear Henry,

Today, the word the world threw at me was stymie. 

Stymie is one of those odd words, ones that are fun to insert in a conversation, and it immediately conveys how you feel.

The word is actually a golf term. 

To stymie another player means that your ball is between theirs and the hole on a putting green, effectively blocking any shot on the green and potentially ruining any friendship you may have had with your playing partner.

There is another word, sudd (a clump of grass/plants/tree branches which impedes things on the Nile), which would be equally fun to insert into a conversation, but, because it isn't as well known, "to be sudded" couldn't be used to convey the same level of frustration as "to be stymied" does.

xoxo a.d.

Meditation 2.21.19 - A Pen and Ink Tangle

Dear Henry,

Whatever auger the National Weather Service uses to predict the weather broke today and the sunny weather they forecasted did not materialize.

Instead of basking in the sun today, Ziggy and I are stuck in the house with the doldrums and it turns out that the term is more than a just state of sluggishness and sloth.

The doldrums are also the name of a weather pattern, and it is rather ironic that I used the term to be stuck inside, hiding from the storms of Winter, because, in the maritime patois, the doldrums denote a period of calm seas.

The Doldrums occur near the equator and are caused by a low-pressure system that causes the seas to become eerily calm and the winds to all but cease. When ships relied solely upon wind power, the Doldrums were devastating and could trap ships for weeks at a time, miles from land, and with no way to replenish their supplies. 

Given that the term has now become a synonym for monotony and inaction, I am guessing that these weather patterns…

Meditation 2.20.19 - A Pen and Ink Tangle

Dear Henry,

Now that the Westminster dog show has ended, all of the "about" articles are also starting to wind down.   I feel their lack, it was as always fun reading some new fact about dogs.

One of the articles I had read told of the current trend that is catching on amongst breeders.  These breeders are no longer docking the tails or cropping the ears of their puppies and are leaving their dogs "Au Naturale".

I was really excited to read that, because dogs, like people, shouldn't have to have plastic surgery to be considered pretty.  I wish the dog shows wouldn't hold it against them, I suspect though, as it becomes more mainstream, and as more breeders begin to refuse to do it, the judging standards will change as well.

Looking forward to seeing some long-tailed rottweilers hitting the circuit soon.

xoxo a.d.

Meditation 2.19.19 - A Pen and Ink Tangle

Dear Henry,

I just started reading "The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" by Edward Gibbons, and practically everyone is asking "how" I read such books.

Tackling big books is a challenge, but one worth undertaking, because I think it is these books that truly dig into human nature. Most are beautiful stories.

The first requirement one needs to tackle Western literature's tomes is one needs to love to read, if you don't really love to read, then big books aren't for you.  If you have to read one, or would like to get in on the humor, I recommend reading the Cliff notes version as well as the Goodreads quotes.  While not the same as reading the book, it will at least get you through the story.

The second thing you need to do when tackling one of the larger books is to give yourself enough time.  Don't rush the reading, the books are generally just as heavy in topic as they are in weight and trying to plow through multiple chapters …

Meditation 2.18.19 - A Pen and Ink Tangle

Dear Henry,

I prefer the natural look and I do not need to have a solid barrier surrounding our land, so rather than preparing to build a traditional fence, I have been researching hedges to build a hedgerow across the back part of our property.

I love the idea of a living fence, one that provides homes and food for all sorts animals (I am still working on turning my home into Snow White's cottage) and one that melds into the landscape.

I am fortunate that I don't need to try and corral livestock, so I think I can pull off a hedgerow.

During my research, I learned that the British built a hedgerow, a big one.  In order to secure their salt trade, the British East India Company planted a series of hedges for over 1,000 miles across India and into what is now Pakistan.  The hedgerow was impossible to maintain, had to be continually replanted, and was a general eyesore for about 50 years in the 19thc.  Very little trace of the hedgerow or even its true path remains.

Of course, I…

Meditation 2.16.19 - A Pen and Ink Tangle

Dear Henry,
I have finally nailed down the recipe for Almond Butter Cups. They were a success and everyone is clamoring for the recipe.
They aren't hard to make and in fact, come together pretty quick, plus they are peanut butter free!
xoxo a.d.

Fish's Awesome Almond Butter Cups


8 Muffin Cup Liners
1 1/2 Cups Milk Chocolate Chips
1/2 Cup Almond Butter
4 TBS + 2 TEA Powdered Sugar
1 TEA Vanilla

*Note* I found it easiest to keep the muffin cups on a small parchment-lined cookie sheet while working. 
Melt a 3/4 cup of the milk chocolate, add 1/2 tea of vanilla, then paint (I used a spoon) the inner bottom and 1/2 way up the inside of the muffin cups.  Put the coated muffin cups the refrigerator to chill.

Mix the almond butter and powdered sugar until doughy, distribute equally amongst the coated muffin cups, keeping the filling below the top edge of the chocolate coating. Return to the refrigerator to chill.

Melt the remaining chocolate and add remaining vanilla, th…

Meditation 2.15.19 - A Pen and Ink Tangle

Dear Henry,
After a couple of days of temperatures in the high 50's/low 60's, we woke up today with freezing rain and a Winter storm advisory.
I am tired of Winter and not at all ashamed to admit it.  I am ready for Spring, or at least some Spring weather, which according to the forecast will not be happening next week at all.
xoxo a.d. 

Meditation 2.14.19 - A Pen and Ink Tangle

Dear Henry,

The word of the day is almost.  As in not quite.

Fish loves peanut butter cups and because today is Valentine's Day and because I like making candy, I thought I would give peanut butter cups a go.

A problem with this whole plan is that Fish can't eat peanut butter, it triggers migraines.  He was devastated when he realized what his migraine trigger was.  The man truly loves peanut butter cups.

I figured I should be able to pull this off, no problem, with almond butter. But, the consistency isn't quite the same.  I also used a mixture of milk and semi-sweet melting chocolate, which didn't quite have the right flavor. The cups did come together and they are ok. I was hoping for a little more.

Anyway, I still have a few hours and I think I know what I did wrong.  They come together pretty quick, so I should have plenty of time for another batch.  This time they are going to be awesome.

xoxo a.d.

Meditation 2.12.19 - A Pen and Ink Tangle

Dear Henry,

Today I learned that parenting will turn your feathers white, particularly if you are a flamingo.

Today there was an article in the New York Times about milk.  All kinds of milk, including the milk of the tsetse fly.

There are some articles which immediately grab your attention, and an essay about the various different kinds of animal, bird, and insect milk is one of those articles.

Within the article, it discussed the various (odd) sources of milk, many of which, like a tsetse fly, where surprising to me (the tsetse fly also gives birth to an offspring that is almost exactly the same size as the parent almost feel bad for this poor fly, but then you remember it causes sleeping sickness and your pity fades).

Back to flamingos

I have been enamored with flamingos since I heard the story of Flamingo No. 492, who, after having escaped from the Witchita's Sedgewick Zoo in 2005, has been on the lam for the last fourteen years, and was last seen in Texas. Occasiona…

Meditation 2.11.19 - a Pen and Ink Tangle

Dear Henry,

Do you remember, in all of the Victorian and Edwardian literature everyone always sketched or watercolored?

Well, it really was a common past time and now a UK company, The Water Colour World is collecting the digital images of 18th and 19th-century watercolor images from around the world.

These images, which can be searched by location offer a glimpse of what the landscape looked like a couple hundred years ago.  Climate scientists have been using the images to show the effects that climate change has had on common and often painted locations.   Hopefully, with the imagery gathered from sites like The Water Colour World, and with the weather-related information being gathered from the old whaling ship captain's logs, scientists can come up with a plan.

xoxo a.d.

Meditation 2.9.19 - A Pen and Ink Tangle

Dear Henry,

I would not have considered hummingbirds fierce animals until I saw a picture of their beaks in a New York Times article.

The article turned into an in-depth search about "all things hummingbirds" and I learned several things.

The Aztec deity war, sun, and human sacrifice, Huitzilopochtli, is depicted as a hummingbird. The image fits, once you realize the assertiveness of these little birds. These minikin creatures are quite chippy.

First of all, their previously mentioned beaks are barracuda-like. They are also territorial, with males fighting to control and maintain a territory. The girls just flit about, traveling from place to place, wherever they find an attractive fellow for the evening, apparently. Hummingbirds aren't very relationship-oriented. They are also carnivores. That surprised me actually, I thought they relied purely on sugar, via nectar, sap, or hummingbird feeder. (On a side note, I have personally had tremendous success attracting and fee…

Meditation 2.8.19 - A Pen and Ink Tangle

Dear Henry,

I miss the art nouveau movement, at least as much as anyone can miss a period of time they were never a part of. Specifically, it is curved lines in the architecture and the lines of architectural ornaments that I am drawn too.

While most of the cool architecture is in Europe like the entrance to the metro station at Abbesses or the doorway and windows of the Lavirotte Building, most of the famous glass work of the period (lamps, vases, stained glass) was from Louis Comfort Tiffany

While I am not going to be able to convince Fish that we need to remodel the house, I am looking at the period hair ornaments and costume jewelry as a good way to indulge in the vibe, or at least would be if I were a collector.  I do plan on taking a trip to the many area antique stores, as "antiquing" seems to be a regular pass time in this area.

Maybe, I will find a hidden Tiffany.

xoxo a.d.

Meditation 2.7.19 - A Pen and Ink Tangle

Dear Henry,

On social media, a friend of mine issued the following challenge:  For every negative thought you catch yourself having, immediately think three positive thoughts to counteract the negativity.

I think I am going to accept this challenge.

It is so easy to look at (and make a bunch of noise about) the unpleasant.  I am reminded of one of the philosophies from the book Shogun, in which it is remarked about how easy it is to think about unpleasant things and how it is a sign of self-discipline to think about the good things in life.

I could always use a bit more self-discipline :)

xoxo a.d.

Meditation 2.6.19 - A Pen and Ink Tangle

Dear Henry,

Amid all of the political brouhaha, you may have missed the unidentified, intergalactic object floating about our solar system.

Called Oumuamua, it is thought to be an oddly behaving comet or some kind of weird space anomaly thing that is outside the scope of my scientific ability, but, after everything I have read, can be classified as "nothing to be concerned about".

There was, due to its speed, some thoughts (out of Harvard no less) that it may be "extra-terrestrial" but as of yet, there have been no radio transmissions received by the said object.  Of course, this is going off the assumption that they would communicate with radio waves and not use some other form of communication, of which we don't know (and may not know we don't know).  Again though, everything I have read leads me to believe that this is "nothing to be concerned about".

I wonder, with all of the polarization going on, what would happen if we did find out, for ce…

Meditation 2.5.19 - A Pen and Ink Tangle

Dear Henry,
Occasionally, the internet is stupid.  A specific example of this a google of dog nightmares.
Of course, dogs can dream and they can have nightmares, and no, you don't need to get a dog psychologist to get through this.
Ziggy has been having nightmares the last couple of days.  One of these nightmares was bad enough that Ziggy yelped.  Slinky, assuming the world must be ending if the dog has yelped emerged from under the bed, claws, and teeth.
In any case, I treat Ziggy like I would treat a toddler who has had a bad dream.  It seems to work.
I don't think I need a psychologist.
xoxo a.d.

Meditation 2.4.19 - A Pen and Ink Tangle

Dear Henry,

I am rather sick today.  I think I need to cut it short.

xoxo a.d.

Contact - Carl Sagan - Summary and Review of a Good Book

A short summary of Contact: Radio waves received from space.

Questions to ponder while reading Contact: Which of humanities accomplishments are you most proud of?
Which of humanities accomplishments are you most ashamed of?
My thoughts about Contact: A good glimpse of how humanity will act at first contact.
I am sort of ashamed at what we would say for ourselves.
Maybe we should think about that.

Meditation 2.3.19 - A Pen and Ink Tangle

Dear Henry,

Pictures within pictures is the new internet trend.  Specifically, a picture of someone holding a picture of Cindi Decker holding her egret painting.

I think it is hilarious (and it is quite a lovely picture of an egret). It is one of "those" things that just, for whatever reason, take off with a life all their own.  I also love the collaboration that is the internet.

xoxo a.d.

Meditation 2.2.19 - A Pen and Ink Tangle

Dear Henry,

Today we celebrate Fish.

He is old now. 

The chefs are making a cake and we are grilling a slab of beef. 

He is pretty easy to please.

xoxo a.d.

Meditation 2.1.19 - A Pen and Ink Tangle

Dear Henry,

Normally, I try not to do this, but, I have really been waiting for this week to be over.

So, yay!  Happy Friday!  The weekend can commence now.

xoxo a.d.

Passage to India - E.M. Forster - Summary and Review of a Good Book

A short summary of Passage to India: Examples of Imperialism in India

Questions to ponder while reading Passage to India: Can friendship exist between two different cultures?
How does one stop oneself from jumping to conclusions?
My thoughts about Passage to India: A great reminder to think before you speak and to avoid making assumptions.
Please give it a read.