28 May 2014


These pictures are from the book "THE FABULOUS INTERIORS OF THE GREAT OCEAN LINERS IN HISTORIC PHOTOGRAPHS" which is published by Dover Publishing.
This French Line ship is just one of many covered.  If you have immigrants coming by ship into the United States you may want to see this book to see if their ship is listed.  It has information on the on-board life style,  details like the menus, the service, and much more.  It is one thing to see a post card of the exterior of the ship and another to see the accommodations.  You quickly realize that the Titanic wasn't the only luxury ship!

24 May 2014


DNA is the most fascinating subject to me and I read articles that mention it in every category from True Crime, Animal Husbandry, and of course, Genealogy and Family History.

One night I decided to research DNA and incest.  Some very interesting websites and news came up and basically, there are many companies offering the test.  More often than an individual wishing to discover if they are a product of incest, a child is hospitalized and doctors order a DNA test to help diagnose the child who has a rare or strange disease, and up it comes that the child has double or missing DNA proving it is the product of incest!  incest can increase the chances of certain diseases.  (At the same time if a community that is free of certain illness, say a mental illness, intermarries, such as in the Amish, that community will stay free of that illness.  In some communities in which there were cousin marriages and close village marriages over time, such as is the case with many Eastern European Jewish people, certain diseases are amplified.  In order to no longer have those diseases some Jewish communities are actively testing for genetic diseases and avoiding marriages with others who carry it!)

In a college anthropology class I once learned that the subject of incest came under a theory of TABOO.  At the time scientists didn't think that there was much else wrong with incest but that so many cultures around the world made it taboo for their own reasons.  After all "primitive" societies were not savvy about DNA or genetics and attributed a lot of things to forces in nature such as Spirits or Gods.  Whole social structures were developed to avoid intermarriage with brothers and sisters, first cousins, parents, aunts and uncles, though we know that brother-sister marriage was practiced to keep blood lines (and inheritances) "true" in other cultures. Such was the case with Cleopatra of ancient Egypt, for instance.  I personally have met people living today whose parents were first cousins in Italy.  Missing or duplicate Genes did result in one of the sisters in such a family being developmentally retarded.

There are many articles on the Internet that ask the question of what a doctor should do if while treating a patient he or she discovers they are the product of incest.  What is the ethical and moral thing to do in 2014, this culture?  What about the people who DO NOT KNOW THEY ARE CLOSELY RELATED when they met and have children, such is the case with children born of sperm donations or who were adopted.  Makes you think...

Well, the scientists are also saying that SMELL has a lot to do with who we pick as a sexual partner, and well, we don't  feel attracted to people who smell too much like us!  There are also those who say that taking the contraception, "The Pill." cannot smell so well.

20 May 2014


This summer many people will spend vacation time touring NATIONAL LANDMARKS.  Will they be underwater in the next 20-30 years due to climate change, rising oceans, and so on?  As I read about the flooding in Serbia-Croatia-Belgrade and the wild fires in too dry California, I worry.


EXCERPT: "Along the Atlantic coast north of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, sea levels have risen four times the national average, and historic downtowns face inundation. Boston's Faneuil Hall, where the Sons of Liberty plotted the Boston Tea Party, lies within the city's hundred-year tidal flood zone, which has experienced as many extreme high tides in the past decade as it had in the previous 80 years."

12 May 2014



Engineers have spent nearly 1,000 days on an extensive analysis and restoration of what was once the tallest structure in the world. A 5.8-magnitude quake in August 2011 caused widespread damage. It shook some stones loose and caused more than 150 cracks. From massive scaffolding built around the monument after the quake, engineers and stone masons made repairs stone by stone.

06 May 2014


I'm back from vacation!

But like in the old Norman Rockwell painting of the family that leaves for vacation excited and comes back spent, I'm not so rested! 

Oh it was so good to come home to my dog!

I had a neighbor walking my dog for ten days and was sort of torn up when I heard she'd cried for me for a long time!  My poor dog!  She doesn't want to loose me!  I love her so much!   When next we saw this neighbor my dog was so excited, I never saw such an exaggerated tail wag!  I thought she was ready to go live with my neighbor and forget all about me!

Which reminds me of when I adopted her.

You see, I was out at the local city shelter looking for a cat for a friend when I first spotted her.  But while I knew I wanted to get a dog, I was thinking in a couple months.  I'd been reading dog training books and videos, trying to relate to the latest theories, and I believed that I would need to buy a fence and a kennel first.  Well, instead of the cat for a friend I got a dog for myself.  I brought her home and learned right away that she was totally housebroken and wanted to sleep with me.    My dog has become my personal trainer, insisting that I walk her for at least an hour a day, which I usually do in two or three walks.  I gave up the gym for her!

Ever since I brought her home I've known that I'm dealing with a soul that has incarnated into a dog this time around.  Of course I know she's not a human - a person - but she does have personality! 

Imagine my surprise when I went to pay her license fees in person after one year of ownership and the receipt print out was actually a RAP SHEET, or a kind of PAST HISTORY VIA DOCUMENTATION.  In our city you must show that you've had the dog vaccinated for rabies, and I get her other vaccinations that are not required as well.  To me these are a very good bargain if they prevent a dog who encounters all sorts of other dogs on walks and at the local dog park who have not been vaccinated from becoming ill.

I got home and looked at the three page receipt.  It started out with a description of her that said she was a year and a half old and white.  I called the City because this wasn't right.  Oh yes it is, said the clerk, that's about her WHEN SHE WAS FIRST ADOPTED FROM US!  I continued to read.  At age 2 she'd been picked up by the DOG CATCHER! (Animal Control) and she was roaming, in her third trimester of pregnancy. It meant her first owner had dumped her at the City Shelter, paying a $20 fee.  Her second owner paid higher fees so that she could take her out of there to be bred!  My dog had then become a mother, at least once, before she was SPAYED AND MICROCHIPPED!  That owner came and got her.
But when she was five, someone, a "possible owner" paid another $20 to dump her back at the city shelter for possible adoption.  She'd been in DOG JAIL three times!

That wasn't the end of her story, because the day I got her, I really was determined to get that cat.  I walked in fifteen minutes after the shelter opened to the public.  When I walked past the kennel she had been in for 10 days (when they usually only keep a dog for 5 days) and her picture was down and she was gone, MY HEART SUNK INTO MY STOMACH.

"I want her!"  I heard the words coming out of my mouth with a little squeak at the end.

"I'll go see if she's still available," the clerk said.  I heard "If she's still alive!"

So the clerk went into the door of the room where the dogs are in cages waiting to be put to death.  Came out fifteen minutes latter and said "You can have her!"

Luckily I actually had more than $20 on me that day.  Her fees were discounted.  I later learned that because she had such a sweet temperament and was so cute, they had actually done a lot for this dog.  Her before pictures testifies to neglect.  She was covered in dreadlocks.  They had bathed and puppy shaved her.  She probably had been roaming again, and had been eating garbage, because they had to deworm her.  She came in at 15 pounds.  When I got her to the vet a couple days later she was only 12 pounds.  She wasn't eating.  She was scared and crying.  When we put her on the table she started to shake.  They had given her a year's worth of vaccinations. She's still afraid of any metal table, any high table. 

He said "A cat would rather die than eat something it doesn't like.  But a dog, after four days, will eat anything - unless it's sick.  Give her one more day."

So I did.  I went to the grocer and brought back the hearts and livers of a chicken.  When I started cooking these, my dog came running.  She also came running the next day when I was steaming a cauliflower. 

Once she started sleeping with me, I realized she had not been crying to be taken to the curb at 3 am.  Once I started taking her to the curb I realized she need to walk a bit before she goes.

Sometimes I wonder about her other owners, what her life was life, if she ran away out of unhappiness or just got caught out chasing a squirrel, if they loved her, if they died, and I can never know, though I want to tell someone "it's OK I have her and love her now.  She wasn't put to death!"

Sometimes I just tell her "I know you are a little person in a dog body this life.  I know you've had it hard.  I know you have children out there somewhere, and maybe grandchildren."

I can tell you that my dog listens. She moves her ears.  She makes eye contact.  She was never trained to obey commands in any language but since she's been living with me, she knows GO, WALK, TREAT, SIT, and GO IN YOUR ROOM.

I asked the vet if he agreed with her paperwork when it came to her mixed breed.  He said "probably."  I asked him if people who were more concerned with breed than me had DNA tests run on their dogs.

He said, "Yes, and you would be surprised.  A dog the size of yours, just two generations back, could be from a dog like this..."  He spread his arms.