Expert Observations About Our Moon

Always fascinated by the Moon—perhaps because being a Baby Boomer, tales from my Chickasaw-Choctaw great grandmother Margaret Ralph-Morgan and being around during the early days of manned American space exploration–were influences.

We never took the Moon for granted. Not much in my experiences matched the 1969 landing on the lunar surface by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. Meeting and interviewing Aldrin was definitely a highlight years later.

Jack Dennis with Buzz Aldrin

Here is a collection of interesting quotes from scientists, authors, researchers, NASA insiders and star-gazers relating to the enigmatic and often inexplicable nature of the moon:

Isaac Asimov,
American author and professor of biochemistry at Boston University and Science Fiction writer. Asimov was one of the most prolific writers of all time.

“We cannot help but come to the conclusion that the Moon by rights ought not to be there. The fact that it is, is one of the strokes of luck almost too good to accept… Small planets, such as Earth, with weak gravitational fields, might well lack satellites… … In general then, when a planet does have satellites, those satellites are much smaller than the planet itself. Therefore, even if the Earth has a satellite, there would be every reason to suspect… that at best it would be a tiny world, perhaps 30 miles in diameter. But that is not so. Earth not only has a satellite, but it is a giant satellite, 2160 miles in diameter. How is it then, that tiny Earth has one? Amazing.”

“The Moon, which has no atmosphere and no magnetic field, is basically a freak of nature”

Irwin Shapiro,
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

“The best possible explanation for the Moon is observational error – the Moon doesn’t exist.’

“The Moon is bigger than it should be, apparently older than it should be and much lighter in mass than it should be. It occupies an unlikely orbit and is so extraordinary that all existing explanations for its presence are fraught with difficulties are none of them could be considered remotely watertight.”

Christopher Knight and Alan Bulter
Book: Who Built the Moon?

The Moon has astonishing synchronicity with the Sun. When the Sun is at its lowest and weakest in mid-winter, the Moon is at its highest and brightest, and the reverse occurs in mid-summer. Both set at the same point on the horizon at the equinoxes and at the opposite point at the solstices. What are the chances that the Moon would naturally find an orbit so perfect that it would cover the Sun at an eclipse and appear from Earth to be the same size? What are chances that the alignments would be so perfect at the equinoxes and solstices?

Farouk El Baz,
NASA

“If water vapour is coming from the Moon’s interior is this serious. It means that there is a drastic distinction between the different phases of the lunar interior – that the interior is quite different from what we have seen on the surface.”

Mikhail Vasin, Alexander Shcherbakov,
Societ Academy of Sciences, 1970.

“Is the moon a creation of an alien intelligence?”

Dr Harold Urey,
Nobel Prize for Chemistry

“I’m terribly puzzled by the rocks from the Moon and in particular of their titanium content.”

Dr S Ross Taylor,
Geochemist of lunar chemical analysis,

Said the problem was that maria plains the size of Texas had to be covered with melted rock containing fluid titanium. He said you would not expect titanium ever to be hot enough to do that, even on Earth, and no one has ever suggested that the Moon was hotter than the Earth.

“What could distribute titanium in this way? Highly advanced technology developed and operated by entities that are immensely more technologically advance than humans.”

Dr. Gordon MacDonald,
NASA

“it would seem that the Moon is more like a hollow than a homogenous sphere’. He surmised that the data must have been wrong – but it wasn’t.”

Carl Sagan,
Cosmologist,

“A natural satellite cannot be a hollow object.”

Dr. Sean C Solomon,
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

“The Lunar Orbiter experiments had vastly improved knowledge of the Moon’s gravitational field and indicated the frightening possibility that the Moon might be hollow.”

University of Arizona Lon Hood
“We knew that the Moon’s core was small, but we didn’t know it was this small… This really does add weight to the idea that the Moon’s origin is unique, unlike any other terrestrial body.”

NASA scientists
The Apollo 12 mission to the Moon in November 1969 set up seismometers and then intentionally crashed the Lunar Module causing an impact equivalent to one ton of TNT. The shockwaves built up for eight minutes, and NASA scientists said the Moon ‘rang like a bell.

Maurice Ewing,
American geophysicist and oceanographer

“As for the meaning of it, I’d rather not make an interpretation right now, but it is as though someone had struck a bell, say, in the belfry of a church, a single blow and found that the reverberation from it continued for 30 minutes.”

Ken Johnson,
Supervisor of the Data and Photo Control department during the Apollo missions

“The Moon not only rang like a bell, but the whole Moon wobbled in such a precise way that it was almost as though it had gigantic hydraulic damper struts inside it.”

Moon rocks have been found to contain processed metals, including brass and mica, and the elements Uranium 236 and Neptunium 237 that have never been found to occur naturally.

Dr. D L Anderson,
Professor of geophysics and director of the seismological laboratory,
California Institute of Technology


“The Moon is made inside out and that its inner and outer compositions should be the other way around.”

Dr. Robin Brett,
NASA Scientist

“It seems much easier to explain the nonexistence of the moon than its existence.”

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Can You Combat the Bone Debilitating Comeback of Rickets?

Because a generation of inactive children are not getting enough sunlight and not consuming enough milk and dairy products, we are experiencing a resurgence of rickets.

Researchers in countries like the United States, Canada, and Britain are worried. Rickets also persists as a major health problem in many less affluent countries.

Experts say hundreds of children are developing the disease every year and they fear many more go undiagnosed because doctors no longer recognize the symptoms.

Rickets is a condition that causes children to have soft, weak bones,” states the National Center for Advancing Transnational Sciences. “It usually occurs when children do not get enough vitamin D, which helps growing bones absorb important nutrients. Vitamin D comes from sunlight and food. Skin produces vitamin D in response to the sun’s rays. Some foods also contain vitamin D, including fortified dairy products and cereals, and some kinds of fish.”

🔹Rickets causes bone deformities—think bowlegs and knock-knees—as well as stunting growth, causing pain and muscle spasms, facilitating the easy fracture of bones, and delaying motor development. 

🔹Scoliosis, a spinal deformity affecting an estimated four million Americans, can also be a feature of rickets, along with malformations of the cranium or pelvis.

Synthetic vs. Natural

In an age when most vitamins on the market are synthetic, they are made by a chemical laboratory from coal tar and other chemical sources instead of from foods.

🔹They are imitations, man-made instead of being the product of plant or animal cells.

The question arises: Are synthetic imitations equal to the genuine, which cost far more?

Many so-called “experts” say that there is no difference. Notoriously, as we have especially seen lately, experts can usually be found to express any opinion commercial or government interests need to promote their products or keep people out of jail. This is a case for everyone to carefully examine the facts for themselves.

🔹National studies conservatively estimate that about 20 percent of Americans over one year of age are at risk of vitamin D “inadequacy” and another 5% are at risk of deficiency.

🔹Others have indicated vitamin D deficiency an “epidemic for all age groups.”

🔹In Europe, studies propose that anywhere from 20% to 60% of Europeans are deficient.

🔹Similar studies elsewhere have prompted researchers to describe vitamin D deficiency as a worldwide health problem.

These studies, along with the rising incidence of rickets and other conditions associated with vitamin D deficiency, have persuaded many clinicians to recommend across-the-board vitamin D3 supplementation, despite growing awareness that this approach may not be evidence-based.

A number of reasons have been put forth to explain rampant vitamin D deficiency and to justify the reliance on supplements,” says Claire Viadro PhD:  

🔹”The first has to do with the relatively limited number of naturally vitamin-D-rich foods, which, besides cod liver oil, include pastured egg yolks, fatty fish, and (to a lesser extent) organ meats and pastured lard.”

🔹”A second explanation concerns modern populations’ inadequate sun exposure, whether due to indoor lifestyles and fear of the sun, overuse of sunscreen, or phenomena such as reduced sunshine duration and increased cloud cover,” she continued.

🔹”Additional risk factors for vitamin D deficiency (and, therefore, rickets) include dark-skinned ethnicity, residence in northern latitudes, certain medications, and chronic kidney disease.”

🔹Some research suggests that exclusive breastfeeding can be a risk factor for the infant when the mother is vitamin-D-deficient. Vitamin D adequacy in the mother is also vitally important during pregnancy, determining “fetal skeletal development, tooth enamel formation, and perhaps general fetal growth and development.”

Key Benefits of Cod Liver Oil

The Resurgence of Cod Liver Oil

Today, we know vitamin D with cod liver oil produced using traditional, time-honored methods preserve powerhouse foods full array of nutrients.

Dr. Weston A. Price and other researchers of his generation understood the difference, conducting experiments showing that administering vitamin D in isolation produced harmful effects not seen with the administration of cod liver oil.

Then and now, those familiar with high-quality cod liver oil know through direct experience that vitamin D is most effective when it is allowed to work synergistically with vitamin A and all of cod liver oil’s other valuable constituents.

Additional Benefits of Cod Liver Oil

The content of this article is for educational and informational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice. Please consult with a qualified health care professional before acting on any information presented herein. Any statements about the possible health benefits of any subject discussed may not have been evaluated by medical professionals or the Food & Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or illness..

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H-E-B Partners With Texas Parks and Wildlife to Conserve and Protect

As far as I can remember, H-E-B Food-Drugs, a San Antonio based company in Texas has consistently been a strong proponent and practitioner for the environment. I retired from this outstanding retailer in 2009 as head of their Facilities Management Division and saw first hand how they are regularly recognized for its commitment to environmental sustainability.

🔹In 2021, H-E-B recycled more than 636 million pounds of cardboard, plastics, office paper, food waste, metal, and truck tires.

🔹Among its endeavor to minimize waste in 2021, H-E-B recycled 54 million pounds of food into animal feed and compost and recycled 17.5 million pounds of plastic.

🔹That same year, H-E-B’s recycling efforts saved the equivalent of 11 million trees, 1.6 million barrels of oil, and enough energy to power more than 83,000 homes for an entire year.

As part of H-E-B’s Our Texas, Our Future mission, and with support from Field & Future by H-E-B brand products, the retailer is partnering with Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation and their efforts to conserve wildlife, habitats, and natural resources in Texas.

 - H-E-B Newsroom

H-E-B is a longtime partner of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation, and the company’s commitment to environmental sustainability along with Field & Future by H-E-B will support efforts such as:

🔹coastal conservation along the Texas Gulf Coast,

🔹Black Bear restoration in West Texas,

🔹the establishment of Palo Pinto Mountains State Park in North Texas, the state’s newest state park expected to open in 2023.  

Field & Future by H-E-B, which the company launched last year, is an environmentally minded brand of household, personal care and baby products designed to be clean and green.

The brand is made with recycled or recyclable content, biodegradable formulas or plant-based ingredients, and without over 165 harsh chemicals. Currently, there are nearly 100 Field & Future by H-E-B products on shelf, including dish soap, body wash, bath tissue, baby diapers, as well as trash bags and bags for recyclables, which are made from up to 65 percent and 30 percent post-consumer recycled plastic from H-E-B facilities, respectively.

“H-E-B is an iconic Texas company, and this new partnership with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation, our official non-profit partner, is incredibly exciting,” said Texas Parks and & Wildlife Department Executive Director Carter Smith. “It’s fitting that the Field & Future line of products will benefit conservation projects across Texas, and we’re deeply grateful for this new partnership.”

 - H-E-B Newsroom

With Earth Day around the corner, H-E-B Partners (employees) across the state are committed to taking their own steps to beautify Texas. Leading up to and following Earth Day, Partners will volunteer at outdoor events, tree plantings and community cleanups. Many H-E-B stores across the state also will host in-store events to celebrate Earth Day with their customers and communities.

Throughout the year, H-E-B works to champion sustainability initiatives throughout its own operations and across the Lone Star State.

In 2021, H-E-B became part of How2Recycle, a program that places clear, easy-to-read labels on products to let customers know if the packaging can be recycled, which parts are recyclable, and importantly, how to prepare material for recycling to reduce contamination.

The How2Recycle labels are already on more than 1,700 H-E-B branded items, which include H-E-B, Hill Country Fare, H-E-B Select Ingredients, H-E-B Organics, and Central Market.

Furthering its commitment to supporting sustainable efforts within the community, H-E-B gifted $135,000 to support the creation of a community recycling center in Ingleside. Slated to open in the summer, this will be the city’s first ever recycling center, which will service several communities near the Gulf Coast town.

“We know H-E-B and our customers have a shared commitment in protecting the land, water and air of Texas for generations to come,” said Winell Herron, H-E-B Group Vice President of Public Affairs, Diversity and Environmental Affairs. “As H-E-B works to reduce our packaging footprint and increase packaging recyclability, we also look for ways to support community access to recycling. We’re excited to partner with Keep Texas Beautiful and the City of Ingleside to make recycling available for the first time for 65,000 Texans.”  

H-E-B customers also can support sustainability efforts through its annual donation campaign that benefits EarthShare of Texas, a nonprofit that supports more than 70 respected conservation groups. From April 13 through May 24, customers can donate $1, $3 or $5 online at heb.com or in store at checkout, which will benefit the nonprofit organization. From the donation campaign, more than $1 million has gone to support the nonprofit.

Since 2012, H-E-B has contributed more than $20 million to over 500 environmental organizations in land and water conservation, habitat and coastal preservation, and community cleanups. This includes giving more than $2 million in grants to organizations such as Keep Texas BeautifulTexas Conservation Fund, and the Nature Conservancy in Texas.


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HEB FOOD DRUGS

Tent Camping Checklist for Couples by Clever Journeys

This is our go-to list for tent camping as a couple. It can be modified per trip –family, friends, ages, activities (toys, rafts, hunting, skiing, etc.).

We always have protection, a jack, spare, fix-a-flat, jumper cables, portable battery starter, small power unit with lights, stored energy, electricity, etc. in our vehicle.

No two people are the same when it comes to planning a camping trip. What is important to one person may not matter to another when it comes to camping gear. One of my sons prefers to go ultralight and another brings practically everything he can when they camp. As a family, we tend to bring more items. All this to say, there is no right or wrong answer to what you bring on your camping trip.

The Camp

🔹Tent (Coleman Sunbeam 7’×9′ 4-person) & accessories (stakes, bungi cords with hooks, rain roof, bottom footprint tarp)

🔹Mats (outside door, inside door)

🔹Sleeping bags

🔹Sleeping pads

🔹Pillows

🔹Electric extension cord

🔹Lighting: solar lights, head lamp, flashlights, lantern, extra batteries

🔹Camping chairs

Eating

🔹Cooler (We love our soft-sided 4-gallon capacity Kodi cooler from H-E-B Foods/Drugs)

🔹Camping utensils, plates, pans, cups

🔹Camping stove

🔹Can opener

🔹Charcoal &/or fire wood

🔹Insulated water bottles

🔹Matches

🔹Cutting board & knife

🔹Coffee maker

Hygiene

🔹Biodegradable wet wipes

🔹Shampoo & conditioner

🔹Hand sanitizer

🔹Towels & wash cloths

🔹Soap

🔹Deodorant

🔹Rash prevention/lotion

🔹Toothbrushes & toothpaste

🔹Lip balm

🔹Toilet paper

🔹Combs/brushes

🔹Shaving gear

Other

🔹First Aid kit

🔹Rx, prescriptions & supplements

🔹Campsite Reservation Copy

🔹Sunscreen & bug repellent

🔹Trash bags

🔹Duct tape

🔹Mallot

🔹Clothes pins & clothes line cord

🔹Rope

🔹Binoculars

🔹Dry bag (store electronics, etc in event of rain)

🔹Tool bag. Minimum: hammer, pliers, screwdrivers, multi-tool, folding shovel/saw, tin-snips, axe-hatchet, tent repair kit, tent pole repair sleeve

🔹Small fire extinguisher

🔹Emergency (solar/handcrank) weather radio

🔹Travel alarm clock

🔹Travel mirror

🔹GPS

🔹Cell phones

🔹Books, cards, games…

🔹Portable butane heater with extra filled tanks (in cold weather)

🔹Tent fan in warm weather. (We also have a portable “air cooler” we fill with ice cubes if it is too hot).

Clothing

🔹Bandana

🔹Flip flops or sandals

🔹Rain ponchos

🔹Swim/water/shower shoes

🔹Socks (wool or synthetic)

🔹Hiking boots/shoes, sneakers

🔹Hat

🔹Sunglasses

🔹Gloves

🔹Shirts, Jackets, Sleepwear, Pants, Shorts, Swimwear

🔹Underwear

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The True Story of Fire Fighting Smokey Bear

He is not Smokey ‘The’ Bear and Other Fun Facts

The start of World War II meant that many firefighters and other able-bodied men were deployed, leaving communities to manage wildfires themselves. .

The head of the Forest Service at that time, Lyle F. Watts, decided to attack the wildfire problem by educating the public about their role in fire prevention. Watts invited the Ad Council to join the Forest Service in this new ad campaign.Watts and team soon realized that they needed a symbol or character to represent their fire prevention campaign. A forest animal would be ideal.

The Disney Studios offered one of their characters to be the “face” of the fire prevention plan. The movie, Bambi, enjoyed widespread popularity at the time, so the deer Bambi represented the original ad campaign—but Disney’s licensing contract lasted just one year.

Seeing an overwhelmingly successful first year, Watts and his team chose a bear to replace Bambi.

Two decades before, on a July morning in 1922, a case of magnesium powder exploded in a warehouse in New York’s Greenwich Village. The resulting fire was devasting and claimed the life of a heroic firefighter named “Smokey” Joe Martin.

On August 9, 1944, the first Smokey Bear poster appeared. The bear was named in honor of “Smokey” Joe, and his first piece of public service artwork depicted the animal in his iconic hat, dousing a fire with a bucket of water.

A historic Smokey the Bear poster

Artist Albert Staehle painted this first Smokey Bear poster.

The ‘50s and ‘60s brought Smokey’s “ABC” campaign. This was a national push to educate the public about wildfire prevention in three easy steps, and it was broadcast to American homes through radio and TV spots.

Smokey 2

It wasn’t long before more posters of Smokey appeared. The bear gained widespread popularity. Soon Smokey Bear was featured on everything from comic books to toys. He was an undisputed success.

A real Smokey Bear

In 1950, a wildfire burned in New Mexico’s Capitan Mountains. Firefighters there found a young bear cub clinging to a tree branch. Firefighters presumed the cub climbed the tree to escape the raging fire. The little bear was alive, but severely burned. Firefighters rescued the cub and aptly named him Smokey.

News of a real Smokey Bear soon spread across the country. When Smokey had sufficiently recovered from his ordeal, he was moved to the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., where he continued to play a role in educating people about fire prevention.

To handle all of his fan mail–up to 13,000 letters a week–the U.S. Postal Service set up his own personal zip code, 20252, for his area in the zoo. The zip code was decommissioned in 1994, but fortunately brought back in honor of Smokey’s 70th birthday.

When the real Smokey Bear died, his body was taken back to the Capitan Mountains for burial in the State Historical Park.

Smokey carried his “only you can prevent forest fires” message into the early 2000s and placed the responsibility on us all to be careful around the campfire. Additionally, the shift in the use of “forest fires” to “wildfires” in Smokey’s messaging is present, as well.

Today, new Public Service Announcements to educate the public on different ways that wildfires are caused, including hot coals, dragging chains, and burning debris. Smokey’s wildfire prevention message was already resonating with audiences—now, they just needed actionable steps to take.

Today’s Smokey Bear

Other Smokey Bear facts

  • The Smokey Bear campaign is the longest-running Public Service Advertisement campaign in U.S. history.
  • In 1953, the Ideal Toy Company made a Smokey Bear doll. Included with the doll was a card that when mailed back gave children an official “Junior Forest Ranger” identification card. Within two years, over half a million kids had applied and received the unofficial honor.

  • Since its development in the 1940s, it’s estimated that the Smokey Bear ad campaign has reduced the number of acres lost to wildfires by 15.6 million annually.
  • Smokey does not have a middle name. (It’s Smokey Bear. Not Smokey “The” Bear.) A song about the forest icon added “The” to his name in order to make the lyrics and melody sync better. 

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The Dolphin Cried, Then Enzo Dived

The famous Italian diver Enzo Mallorca recalled “when I first started thinking about setting freediving records, the medical experts kept saying that a man could not stay alive diving deeper than 165ft [50m] because his lungs would not make it.”

“Doctors were creating barriers for us and I admit that at the time it worried me,” he admitted. “Even Aristotle claimed a man could dive no deeper than 30 ft.”

In September 1960, he successfully descended to a depth of 45m, in the process setting the first of 17 wworld records in the variable buoyancy category.

Two months later, he extended this to 49m.

Enzo Mallorca died at 86 in 2016.

In August 1961 he set a new record of 50m in the “constant weight” category, in which there are no additional buoyancy aids and the diver must descend and ascend with their own fin power. The Italian media dubbed him Lord of the Abysses.

Years later, Enzo dove into the sea of Syracuse and was talking to his daughter Rosanna who was aboard the boat. Ready to go in, he felt something slightly hit his back.

He turned and saw a dolphin. Then he realized that the dolphin did not want to play but to express something.

The animal dove and Enzo followed.

At a depth of about 12 meters, trapped in an abandoned net, there was another dolphin. Enzo quickly asked his daughter to grab the diving knives. Soon, the two of them managed to free the dolphin, which, at the end of the ordeal, emerged, issued an “almost human cry” (describes Enzo).

(A dolphin can stay under water for up to 10 minutes, then it drowns.)

The released dolphin was helped to the surface by Enzo, Rosanna and the other dolphin. That’s when the surprise came: she was pregnant!

The male circled them, and then stopped in front of Enzo, touched his cheek (like a kiss), in a gesture of gratitude and then they both swam off.

Enzo Mallorca once said, “Until man learns to respect and speak to the animal world, he can never know his true role on Earth.”

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The Real Grizzly Adams, Mountain Man


John Capen Adams [1812-1860] became so famous for his love of grizzly bears, he would go down in history simply as “Grizzly Adams.”

“Grizzly Adams,” in the 1970s, was the title of both a popular motion picture and NBC TV series “The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams.”

On the television, Dan Haggerty played the role of Grizzly Adams” and established new Thursday night record-ratings for the network. Even so, today few people realize there was a real “Grizzly Adams” who migrated to the Sierra Nevada mountains to escape the confines of civilization after participating in the great California Gold Rush.

Dan Haggerty as Grizzly Adams

In 2018, Adventure Outdoors Magazine recognized Grizzly Adams as one of the three greatest American outdoorsmen of all time alongside Buffalo Bill Cody and Ernest Hemingway.

Adams challenged both conventional norms and untamed nature, first by turning his back on a greed-driven society born from the California Gold Rush, and then by blazing a trail into the wildest parts of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range.

There, he built a cabin home in the wilderness, made friends with nearby Native American tribes. Of special note, he found companions among some of nature’s untamed beasts, that especially featured his prized grizzly bears.

Although a California Mountain Man, he was actually born in Boston in 1812. As a young man he fled into the wilderness in search of adventure. To earn money he would trap all kinds of animals and sell them to zoos. It was here he learned to survive in the wilderness and get close to animals.

When he attempted to train a Bengal tiger in a local zoo, he was mauled almost to death. This did not deter him. When the California gold rush kicked off, Adams headed for California himself. Finding no luck as a gold miner, he took to the wilderness, living the life of a reclusive mountain man.

“And it was in the mountains that I successfully worked out for myself the great problem which other men have to work out, each in his own way, before they say that they live.”

– Grizzly Adams (1812-1860)

Grizzly Adams cared for the California grizzly bear, and studied their behavior. He learned to approach and even tame them. He even had a pet Grizzly bear who he stole from a bear den when it was just a pup. Called “Benjamin Franklin,” the bear saved Adams life on numerous occasions.

Another bear Adams named “Samson” was confirmed by the California State Historical Society to be the bear image on the state’s flag.

It was rendered from an 1855 painting done by famous Gold Rush artist, Charles Nahl, who came to know Grizzly Adams well in the 1850s.

With his familiarity, Grizzly Adams captured numerous bears over the years, selling them to zoos, circuses and private collectors. On occasion he would perform in the circus with them.

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10 Clever Facts We Learned at WonderWorks in Branson, Missouri

We passed up going to WonderWorks in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee and I instantly regretted it after we left.

Driving away toward the Great Smokies National Park, I suddenly remembered a Facebook post from a friend, Janie Buys, a few years ago mentioning the attraction. It seems she had doubts about visiting it with husband Phil and son Phil Jr., but after she went in, it didn’t take her long to enjoy it.

A couple of weeks later into our month long roadtrip, Dodie and I were pleasantly surprised to see a WonderWorks in Branson, Missouri.

Dodie navigating through a kaleidoscope tunnel.

Dodie, a retired nurse, has always enjoyed science and the attraction bills itself as “a science focused indoor amusement park, combines education and entertainment. With over 100 hands-on exhibits – there is something unique and challenging for all ages.”

The building is enticing enough to spur anyone’s interest. It looks like a giant four story venue turned upside down. As soon as we walked in, the floor was the ceiling and the ceiling was the floor.

The WonderWorks entrance.

It was fun to experience the power of 84mph hurricane–force winds in the Hurricane Shack. Some chose to make huge, life–sized bubbles in the Bubble Lab.

I enjoyed the NASA Space area but we elected not to get strapped into the Astronaut Training Gyro to “experience zero gravity.” We also passed lying on the death–defying Bed of Nails.

Astronaut Jack.

Here’s the Top 10 Things I Learned at WonderWorks:

1. You can’t see your ears without a mirror.

2. You can’t count your hair.

3. You can’t breath through your nose with your tounge out.

4. You just tried No. 3.

6. When you tried No. 3 you realized that it is possible, but you looked like a dog.

7. You are smiling right now, because you were fooled.

8. You skipped No. 5.

9. You just checked to see if there is a No. 5.

10. Share this with your friends so they can have fun too.

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Wildlife Vaccine Airdrops to Combat Rabies Resume Along Texas Border

The Texas Department of State Health Services’ (DSHS) Oral Rabies Vaccination Program resumes flights Jan. 12 from Zapata, Texas. This successful program, now in its 28th year, led to the elimination of the domestic dog-coyote and the Texas fox rabies virus variants from the state.

DSHS will utilize aircraft from Dynamic Aviation Group, Inc. and a Texas Wildlife Services helicopter to airdrop more than 1.17 million baits containing rabies vaccine in 19 counties along the southern Texas border. The project is slated to run for two weeks. Local and regional public health personnel will commence ground distribution of additional vaccine baits in South Texas and El Paso County in late January.

🔹The first ORVP in southern Texas was initiated in 1995 following an outbreak caused by a domestic dog/coyote variant of the rabies virus, while a gray fox rabies outbreak occurring in West-Central Texas led to an ORVP the following year.

🔹Results were immediate. Texas experienced 122 cases of the dog/coyote rabies variant in 1994, the year before the first vaccine drop, but then recorded zero cases by 2000.

🔹Only two cases have been documented since then – one in 2001 and one in 2004. Both of those cases occurred within a mile of the Rio Grande River, which is why DSHS concentrates the baits in that area to help vaccinate animals that may enter the country across the southern border.

“The annual rabies vaccine/bait distribution along the border of Texas and Mexico is critical for the protection of humans, pets and livestock in Texas,” said Dr. Susan Rollo, ORVP director. “The maintenance distribution levels help keep the U.S. free of the canine strain.”

The vaccine baits to be dropped are small, plastic packets dipped in fish oil and coated with fishmeal crumbles to attract coyotes, gray foxes and other wild carnivores. Extensive research across a wide variety of species has proven the vaccine to be safe; only non-infectious portions of the rabies virus are used. Neither humans nor animals are in danger of developing rabies if they are exposed to the vaccine.

🔹Rabies typically spreads through the bite of an infected animal. If a person or animal exhibits symptoms of rabies, it is nearly always fatal.

🔹Immunizing domestic animals like pets is critical to help stop the spread of the disease and protect the animals and their owners.

🔹Skunks and bats today are the most significant sources of rabies in Texas.

Airdrop operations will be launched from Zapata County Airport, Del Rio International Airport and Alpine-Casparis Municipal Airport.

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Look Up in the Sky: January 2022

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Mars and the Moon Come Together With Venus Nearby

Venus will have an interesting month. Today and tomorrow (January 8-9), it’s going to be closer to Earth than any planet has been in a century.

🔹It’ll be just 0.266 Astronomical Units or 24.7 million miles away, according to Space.com.

🔹It’ll then appear in the pre-dawn sky later in the month, brightening significantly. You’ll be able to see Venus and the crescent moon together in the pre-dawn sky on January 29-30. They won’t be on top of each other, but they should make a nice tableau in conjunction with Mars, which will be even closer to the moon than Venus. 

All Month: Mars is Back

Mars is coming back into view for us earthlings. It passed out of view behind the sun and is just returning. The red planet will continue to get brighter and rise in the sky over the coming months.

The moon will cross the asterism over a series of nights, as it does each month through the winter, providing a great opportunity to watch the movement of the sky across nights.

🔹The winter hexagon will sit high in the southeastern sky.

🔹If you’re under exceptionally dark skies, the Milky Way cuts through the winter hexagon as well.

🔹The moon hits the western side of the hexagon on January 13 and will trek across it until the night of January 16.

January 17: Full Wolf Moon

The full moon alights on January 17. It’s often called the Wolf Moon and its arrival means you’re going to have some light interference if you’re trying to go out stargazing. 

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Veterans, Gold Star Families Get Free Entrance to National Parks, Other Public Lands

Entrance fees for the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and standard amenity recreation fees for the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sites are waived for current Military Service-members and their dependents, Veterans and Gold Star Families.

They now have free access to approximately 2,000 public locations spread out across more than 400 million acres of public lands, which host activities to fit any lifestyle, from serene to high octane, including hiking, fishing, paddling, biking, hunting, stargazing, camping, and much more.

Are you eligible?

For purposes of this program, a Veteran is identified as an individual who has served in the United States Armed Forces, including the National Guard and Reserves, and is able to present one of the following forms of valid (unexpired) identification:

Gold Star Families are next of kin of a member of the United States Armed Forces who lost his or her life in a “qualifying situation,” such as a war, an international terrorist attack, or a military operation outside of the United States while serving with the United States Armed Forces.

The America the Beautiful – the National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass (Interagency Pass) Program

The Interagency Pass Program already includes a free annual pass for active duty members of the U.S. Military and their dependents. Current Military Service-members must show a valid (unexpired) Department of Defense ID. Dependents of current Service-members must show a valid (unexpired) DD Form 1173 AD or DEC.

The annual Military Pass has been expanded to include Veterans and Gold Star Family members. Other free or discounted passes, including some lifetime passes, are available for persons with permanent disabilities, fourth grade students, volunteers, and senior citizens age 62 years or older.

How to get your Interagency Pass

Interagency Passes can be obtained in person while visiting a participating site. Visit Places to Get Interagency Passes for a searchable list and be sure to contact the site before you go, to make sure they are open and have passes in stock.  In addition, Military passes, as well as those for seniors and persons with permanent disabilities, are available online through the USGS Online Store.

For more information about eligibility and passes, visit Free Entrance to National Parks for Veterans and Gold Star Families (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov).

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Autumn in Sedona: Try Ales on Rails at Verde Canyon Railroad

We traveled through enchanting Sedona a few weeks ago, although we couldn’t stay long. It’s only been a few years since I was there, but mercy has it grown…almost to the point that Sedona’s popularity could be a possible burden.

Traffic congestion was considerable and all shops, restaurants and parking areas were full. We will be back, but probably not in the peak of summer. Most likely we will try again in the fall.

The first sign of autumn isn’t always the changing of the leaves; sometimes it’s the changing of the kegs. When the air turns crisp and pint glasses are raised in celebration, it can only mean that Oktoberfest has arrived. 

Ales on Rails is Verde Canyon Railroad’s way of toasting this German tradition, providing a rollicking farewell to summer beginning Tuesday, September 14 and running through Sunday, October 31, 2021.

Sample a wide range of local Arizona breweries, proudly showcased on the depot patio, these are richly crafted local beers ranging from the lightest pilsners to the hoppiest IPAs and deepest stouts the Copper State has to offer.

Now in its 19th year, the very popular Ales on Rails season always sells out in advance and may be reserved to include a Verde Canyon Railroad logo beer glass with four beer-tasting tickets, a made-to-order lunch from the Copper Spike Cafe and a large selection of fine Arizona-brewed craft beers for only $125 per person.

The party begins on the depot patio from 10:30am -12:45 p.m., with beer tasting on tap prior to the train’s 1:00 p.m.  departure.

The fun continues as favorite beers of the day will also be available canned for purchase aboard the train, to enjoy while marveling at the vibrant Verde Canyon scenery.

Echoing the celebration of amber brews are the brilliant bronze and gold colors vividly on display throughout Mother Nature’s masterpiece during the Fall Colors Tour, with autumn foliage ranging from chartreuse to ginger, and vermillion to violet for a wide range strikingly seasonal hues.

If you mixed all four seasons together and skimmed off the very best, you would create autumn.

Radiant colors and mild temperatures with a hint of briskness in the air charges Verde Canyon with a fresh energy. Residents of the Verde Canyon, as well as visitors, feel the seasonal change.

Wildlife sightings increase as deer, Javelina, coyote and other species grow more active. Amidst the fall finery, a chorus of wings adds a touch of music, as migratory birds return to the sanctuary between the canyon walls.

The Verde Canyon’s resident Bald Eagles are joined by these migrating visitors, adding to the population, and the train’s connection with these noble birds.  

The train is a proud sponsor of Arizona-based rescue Liberty Wildlife, who share scheduled Raptors at the Rails programs with depot guests, featuring hawks, owls, falcons and vultures from their education program at the depot, and a bald eagle riding the train each month.

As October draws to a finale, the Verde Canyon’s low whistling winds are perhaps ghostly whispers of ancient Sinaguan cliff-dwellers or of miners’ spirits restlessly roaming from nearby famed “Ghost City” Jerome’s abandoned copper mine shafts.

It’s not the destination, it has always been the journey

No matter what your plans might be for the spookiest night of the year, spend part of your day aboard the Haunted Halloween Express on Sunday, October 31st.

In addition to the blazing colors of fall and the smooth, cool flow of artisanal beer, train staff will be in Halloween disguises ranging from mild to wild, and there will be a costume contest for passengers, with fun prizes and plenty of candy making for ghoulish good fun for the whole family.

Leave the confines of city life in favor of high-spirited fun and an unforgettable journey around every bend and over every bridge as the train winds through its beautiful and historic red-rock riparian canyon home this autumn. Surrounded by the colors of the season, the flavors of Arizona, the curves of the Verde River, a trip aboard the train inspires wonder and fills cameras. 

The Verde Canyon Railroad depot is in Clarkdale, Arizona, 25 minutes southwest of Sedona and two hours north of Phoenix. For reservations book online at VerdeCanyonRR.com or call 800-293-7245.

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