Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Girl With the Apples, (A True story)

The Girl With the Apples, (A True story)
August 1942 - Piotrkow , Poland
The sky was gloomy that morning as we waited anxiously. All the men, women and children of Piotrkow's Jewish ghetto had been herded into a square.

Word had gotten around that we were being moved. My father had only recently died from typhus, which had run rampant through the crowded ghetto; my greatest fear was that our family would be separated.

'Whatever you do,' Isidore; my eldest brother whispered to me, don't tell them your age, say you're sixteen.  I was tall for a boy of 11, so I could pull it off. That way I might
be deemed valuable as a worker.

An SS man approached me, boots clicking against the cobblestones, he looked me up and down, and then asked my age.

'Sixteen,' I said, he directed me to the left where my three brothers and other healthy young men already stood.

My mother was motioned to the right with the other women, children, sick and elderly people.

I whispered to Isidore, 'Why?' He didn't answer. I ran to Mama's side and said I wanted to stay with her. 'No' she said sternly. 'Get away. Don't be a nuisance. Go with your brothers.'

She had never spoken so harshly before, but I understood she was protecting me. She loved me so much that, just this once, she pretended not to. It was the last I ever saw of her.

My brothers and I were transported in a cattle car to Germany . We arrived at the Buchenwald concentration camp one night later and were led into a crowded barrack. The next day, we were issued uniforms and identification numbers.

'Don't call me Herman anymore.' I said to my brothers. 'Call me 94983.'

I was put to work in the camp's crematorium, loading the dead into a hand-cranked elevator.

I, too, felt dead. Hardened, I had become a number.

Soon, my brothers and I were sent to Schlieben; one of Buchenwald 's sub-camps near Berlin .

One morning I thought I heard my mother's voice.

'Son,' she said softly but clearly, 'I am going to send you an angel.'

Then I woke up. Just a dream. A beautiful dream.

But in this place there could be no angels, there was only work, and hunger, and fear.

A couple of days later, I was walking around the camp, around the barracks, near the barbed-wire fence where the guards could not easily see. I was alone.

On the other side of the fence, I spotted someone: a little girl with light, almost luminous curls. She was half-hidden behind a birch tree.

I glanced around to make sure no one saw me. I called to her softly in German. 'Do you have something to eat?'

She didn't understand.

I inched closer to the fence and repeated the question in Polish. She stepped forward; I was thin and gaunt, with rags wrapped around my feet, but the girl looked unafraid. In her eyes, I saw life.

She pulled an apple from her woolen jacket and threw it over the fence.

I grabbed the fruit and, as I started to run away, I heard her say faintly, 'I'll see you tomorrow.'

I returned to the same spot by the fence at the same time every day. She was always there with something for me to eat - a chunk of bread or, better yet, an apple.

We didn't dare speak or linger. To be caught would mean death for us both.

I didn't know anything about her, just a kind farm girl, except that she understood Polish. What was her name? Why was she risking her life for me?

Hope was in such short supply, and this girl on the other side of the fence gave me some, as nourishing in its way as the bread and apples.

Nearly seven months later, my brothers and I were crammed into a coal car and shipped to Theresienstadt camp in Czechoslovakia .

'Don't return,' I told the girl that day. 'We're leaving'.

I turned toward the barracks and didn't look back, didn't even say good-bye to the little girl whose name I'd never learned; the girl with the apples.

We were in Theresienstadt for three months, the war was winding down and allied forces were closing in, yet my fate seemed sealed.

On May 10, 1945, I was scheduled to die in the gas chamber at 10:00 AM.

In the quiet of dawn, I tried to prepare myself, so many times death seemed ready to claim me, but somehow I'd survived. Now, it was over.

I thought of my parents. At least, I thought, we will be reunited.

But at 8 a.m. there was a commotion. I heard shouts, and saw people running every which way through camp. I caught up with my brothers.

Russian troops had liberated the camp! The gates swung open. Everyone was running, so I did too. Amazingly, all of my brothers had survived;

I'm not sure how, but I knew that the girl with the apples had been the key to my survival.

In a place where evil seemed triumphant, one person's goodness had saved my life, had given me hope in a place where there was none.

My mother had promised to send me an angel, and the angel had come.

Eventually I made my way to England where I was sponsored by a Jewish charity, put up in a hostel with other boys who had survived the Holocaust and trained in electronics. Then I came to America , where my brother Sam had already moved. I served in the U. S. Army during the Korean War, and returned to New York City after two years.

By August 1957 I'd opened my own electronics repair shop, I was starting to settle in.

One day, my friend Sid who I knew from England called me. 'I've got a date. She's got a Polish friend. Let's double date.' A blind date? Nah, that wasn't for me. But Sid kept pestering me, and a few days later we headed up to the Bronx to pick up his date and her friend Roma

I had to admit, for a blind date this wasn't so bad; Roma was a nurse at a Bronx hospital.  She was kind and smart; beautiful too, with swirling brown curls and green, almond-shaped eyes that sparkled with life.

The four of us drove out to Coney Island . Roma was easy to talk to, easy to be with. Turned out she was wary of blind dates too!

We were both just doing our friends a favor. We took a stroll on the boardwalk, enjoying the salty Atlantic breeze, and then had dinner by the shore. I couldn't remember having a better time.

We piled back into Sid's car, Roma and I sharing the backseat.

As European Jews who had survived the war, we were aware that much had been left unsaid between us. She broached the subject, 'Where were you,' she asked softly, 'during the war?'

'The camps,' I said. The terrible memories still vivid, the irreparable loss.  I had tried to forget. But you can never forget.

She nodded. 'My family was hiding on a farm in Germany , not far from Berlin ' she told me. 'My father knew a priest, and he got us Aryan papers.'

I imagined how she must have suffered too, fear, a constant companion. And yet here we were both survivors, in a new world.

'There was a camp next to the farm.' Roma continued. 'I saw a boy there and I would throw him apples every day.'

What an amazing coincidence that she had helped some other boy. 'What did he look like? I asked.

'He was tall, skinny, and hungry. I must have seen him every day for six months.'

My heart was racing. I couldn't believe it. This couldn't be. 'Did he tell you one day not to come back because he was leaving Schlieben?'

Roma looked at me in amazement. 'Yes!'

'That was me!'

I was ready to burst with joy and awe, flooded with emotions. I couldn't believe it! My angel.

'I'm not letting you go.' I said to Roma. And in the back of the car on that blind date, I proposed to her. I didn't want to wait.

'You're crazy!' she said. But she invited me to meet her parents for Shabbat dinner the following week.

There was so much I looked forward to learning about Roma, but the most important thing I always knew: her steadfastness, her goodness. For many months, in the worst of circumstances, she had come to the fence and given me hope. Now that I'd found her again, I could never let her go.

That day, she said yes. And I kept my word. After nearly 50 years of marriage, two children and three grandchildren, I have never let her go.

Herman Rosenblat of Miami Beach , Florida



 From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A prune is any of various plum cultivars,  mostly Prunus domestica or European Plum, sold as fresh or dried fruit. The dried fruit is also referred to as a dried plum. In general, fresh prunes are freestone cultivars (the pit is easy to remove), whereas most other plums grown for fresh consumption are clingstone (the pit is more difficult to remove).


More than 1,000 cultivars of plums are grown for drying. The main cultivar grown in the U.S. is the Improved French prune. Other varieties include Sutter, Tulare Giant, Moyer, Imperial, Italian, and Greengage. Fresh prunes reach the market earlier than fresh plums and are usually smaller in size.


Due to popular perception (in the U.S.) of prunes being used only for relief of constipation, and being the subject of related joking, many of today's distributors have stopped using the word "prune" on packaging labels. Their preference is to state "dried plums".[1]


Prunes are used in cooking both sweet and savory dishes. Stewed prunes, a compote, are a dessert. Prunes are a frequent ingredient in North African tagines. Perhaps the best-known gastronomic prunes are those of Agen (pruneaux d'Agen). Prunes are used frequently in Tzimmes, a traditional Jewish dish in which the principal ingredient is diced or sliced carrots; in the Nordic prune kisel, eaten with rice pudding in the Christmas dinner; and in the traditional Norwegian dessert fruit soup. Prunes have also been included in other holiday dishes, such as stuffing, cake, and to make sugar plums. Prune filled Danish pastries are popular primarily in New York and other parts of the U.S. East Coast. Prune ice cream is popular in the Dominican Republic. Prunes are also used to make juice.

Health effects


Prunes and their juice contain mild laxatives including phenolic compounds (mainly as neochlorogenic acids and chlorogenic acids) and sorbitol.[2] Prunes also contain dietary fiber (about 7%, or 0.07 g per gram of prune). Prunes and prune juice are thus common home remedies for constipation. Prunes also have a high antioxidant content.[3]


Dried prunes have been found to contain high doses of a chemical called acrylamide which is a known neurotoxin and a carcinogen.[4] Acrylamide does not occur naturally in foods but is formed during the cooking process at temperatures > 100 °C. Although the common drying mechanism of prunes does not involve high temperatures, formation of high amount of acrylamide has been reported in dried prunes as well as pears.

However, although acrylamide has known toxic effects on the nervous system and on fertility, a June 2002 report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the World Health Organization concluded the intake level required to observe neuropathy (0.5 mg/kg body weight/day) was 500 times higher than the average dietary intake of acrylamide (1 μg/kg body weight/day). For effects on fertility, the level is 2,000 times higher than the average intake.[5] From this, they concluded acrylamide levels in food were safe in terms of neuropathy, but raised concerns over human carcinogenicity based on known carcinogenicity in laboratory animals.[5]

The entire wiki article on the subject can be found at:


Mega-Canyon Discovered Beneath Greenland’s Ice Sheet

 By Becky Lang

Researchers have discovered a mega-canyon lurking below Greenland’s giant ice sheet — a snaking canyon at least 450 miles long that’s been a crucial drainage corridor since before ice covered the island more than 3.5 million years ago.

The canyon is up to 2,600 feet (800 meters) deep, and its scale in width and length rivals parts of the Grand Canyon in Arizona. It starts beneath the ice in central Greenland and winds its way north to drain into the Arctic Ocean, according to new research from scientists at the University of Bristol, as well as researchers from Canada and Italy. The finding helps explain why Greenland doesn’t have pools of water under its ice sheet like Antarctica does: The canyon may be helping divert meltwater and thus keeping Greenland’s ice sheet stable.

Radar’s Penetrating Gaze

Ice-penetrating radar, which at specific frequencies travels through the ice and bounces off bedrock below, has been used to collect data on Greenland’s features for the past 40 years. In addition, previous research has showed through surface topographical measurements that there was some sort of linear landscape feature beneath the ice, but scientists weren’t sure of its extent.

This latest research team combined datasets of the ice-penetrating radar data as well as the topographical information to discover a major subglacial canyon, which has been what the paper calls a hydraulic pathway for millions of years. At the canyon’s mouth on the northern edge of the island, the deep fjord is up to 6.2 miles (10 km) wide. The study appears today in Science.

Greenland’s Underground Funnel

The water that melts on top of an ice sheet such as Antarctica’s or Greenland’s is a key focus in current climate models. When meltwater seeps to the bottom of an ice sheet, it can broadly do one of two things: pool up in a lake or flow out to sea. And though the science is still developing, it appears that when water pools up in lakes it lubricates the base of the ice sheet, and thus makes the ice sheet shift more quickly out to sea. Chunks of ice into the sea in turn raise global sea levels.

Greenland’s newfound canyon may thus serve a protective effect for the island’s ice sheet, though more research on the under-ice water dynamics is definitely needed. And the discovery of this feature alone is fairly remarkable, as lead author Jonathan Bamber of the University of Bristol points out:

“With Google Streetview available for many cities around the world and digital maps for everything from population density to happiness, one might assume that the landscape of the Earth has been fully explored and mapped. Our research shows there’s still a lot left to discover.”

The entire link can be found at:

F-35B Tackles Night Takeoff, Landing Trials

F-35B Tackles Night Takeoff, Landing Trials

By Amy Butler

Source: Aerospace Daily & Defense Report

ABOARD THE USS WASP — Two F-35Bs have conducted 19 night sorties, including short takeoffs (STO) and vertical landings (VL), on the USS Wasp amphibious assault ship.

These are among the 94 STOs and 95 VLs conducted as of the morning of Aug. 29 in Developmental Testing 2, a follow on to a set of day-only DT trials conducted in 2011.

The tests, taking place Aug. 12-30, are designed to open the F-35B’s envelope to include night flying around the ship, different approaches and headings for landings and conducting these operations in various wind conditions. So far, testing included headwinds of 35 kt. and crosswinds of 15 kt., more than was included in DT-1, said Navy Capt. Kurt Kastner, executive officer for the Wasp, which operated about 35 mi. offshore.

The F-35Bs, made by Lockheed Martin, also have flown with internal weapons stores using a variety of inert AIM-120s, GBU 12s and GBU 32s. These were used to alter the aircraft’s center of gravity for approaches, VLs and STOs. Pilots on deck report no anomalies.

Peter Wilson, a BAE Systems test pilot, was able to test F-35 landing at four headings, each 90 deg. apart. He says the testing validates the aircraft can conduct VLs at any heading on the ship.

The VLs were conducted on spots in the aft portion of the ship that have been treated with Thermion, a new heat-resistant coating that includes ceramic and steel; it is a vast improvement over the current anti-skid coating used on the deck and might be applied to other ships hosting F-35 operations in the future, says Joe Spitz, lead tester on deck for Naval Sea Systems Command.

During one of the tests, Wilson landed an F-35B with its nose off toward the port side of the deck and its engine and hot nozzle exhaust on the port side. During this test, the engine nozzle was just at the demarcation on the deck between the Thermion and baseline anti-skid coatings on the deck. The effects are obvious. The anti-skid coating is brown as a result of the intense heat, while the Thermion appears unaffected.

Spitz says that while the anti-skid coating typically used on carrier decks can handle F-35 operations, its service life could be compromised over time. So the Navy is assessing whether it will outline decks — or at least portions to be used by the F-35B — with the Thermion material in the future. The performance trade-off is cost; Thermion is more expensive, he says.

However, heat output also is an issue with the MV-22 Ospreys landing on the decks of carriers and small-deck ships, so it is possible the Navy will take into account the operational use of these tiltrotor aircraft as it plots a way forward for the use of Thermion.

Though both F-35 BF-1 and BF-5 were unable to fly due to maintenance issues during the 3 hr. reporters were on the Wasp Aug. 28, Navy Capt. Erik Etz says the single-engine, stealthy aircraft had achieved a 90% availability rate since flying started early this month.

BF-1, which was scheduled to conduct a demonstration for the media event, was down due to a faulty cooling fan in the engine nacelle; this was repaired and test flights were conducted with the aircraft later that day. BF-5, a production-representative version, was having trouble with its thermal management subsystem.

During these tests, pilots are using the existing “Gen-2” helmet, made by Vision Systems International, a joint venture between Rockwell Collins and Elbit. This helmet includes the ISIE-10 night camera, which has problems with acuity in some night operations. Marine Corps Lt. Col. C.R. Clift, who is participating in the DT-2 test flights, says he has seen some of the results of flight testing with the upgraded ISIE-11 camera that will be put into the Gen 3 helmet, which is needed to allow pilots the full spectrum of operations expected for nighttime. He says he is “optimistic” and that “progress has been made” with the new camera, which was flown in a Cessna in July. The Gen 3 helmet is slated to fly in the F-35 in early 2015.

The Marines plan to declare initial operational capability with their first F-35Bs by December 2015.

On the Front Lines of Syria's Civil War

Elizabeth O'Bagy: On the Front Lines of Syria's Civil War

The conventional wisdom—that jihadists are running the rebellion—is not what I've witnessed on the ground.


With the U.S. poised to attack Syria, debate is raging over what that attack should look like, and what, if anything, the U.S. is capable of accomplishing. Those questions can't be answered without taking a very close look at the situation in Syria from ground level.

Since few journalists are reporting from inside the country, our understanding of the civil war is not only inadequate, but often dangerously inaccurate. Anyone who reads the paper or watches the news has been led to believe that a once peaceful, pro-democracy opposition has transformed over the past two years into a mob of violent extremists dominated by al Qaeda; that the forces of President Bashar Assad not only have the upper hand on the battlefield, but may be the only thing holding the country together; and that nowhere do U.S. interests align in Syria—not with the regime and not with the rebels. The word from many American politicians is that the best U.S. policy is to stay out. As Sarah Palin put it: "Let Allah sort it out."

In the past year, I have made numerous trips to Syria, traveling throughout the northern provinces of Latakia, Idlib and Aleppo. I have spent hundreds of hours with Syrian opposition groups ranging from Free Syrian Army affiliates to the Ahrar al-Sham Brigade.

The conventional wisdom holds that the extremist elements are completely mixed in with the more moderate rebel groups. This isn't the case. Moderates and extremists wield control over distinct territory. Although these areas are often close to one another, checkpoints demarcate control. On my last trip into Syria earlier this month, we traveled freely through parts of Aleppo controlled by the Free Syrian Army, following roads that kept us at safe distance from the checkpoints marked by the flag of the Islamic State of Iraq. Please see the nearby map for more detail.

Contrary to many media accounts, the war in Syria is not being waged entirely, or even predominantly, by dangerous Islamists and al Qaeda die-hards. The jihadists pouring into Syria from countries like Iraq and Lebanon are not flocking to the front lines. Instead they are concentrating their efforts on consolidating control in the northern, rebel-held areas of the country.

Groups like Jabhat al Nusra, an al Qaeda affiliate, are all too happy to take credit for successes on the battlefield, and are quick to lay claim to opposition victories on social media. This has often led to the impression that these are spearheading the fight against the Syrian government. They are not.

These groups care less about defeating Assad than they do about establishing and holding their Islamic emirate in the north of the country. Many Jabhat al Nusra fighters left in the middle of ongoing rebel operations in Homs, Hama and Idlib to head for Raqqa province once the provincial capital fell in March 2013. During the battle for Qusayr in late May, Jabhat al Nusra units were noticeably absent. In early June, rebel reinforcements rallied to take the town of Talbiseh, north of Homs city, while Jabhat al Nusra fighters preferred to stay in the liberated areas to fill the vacuum that the Free Syrian Army affiliates had left behind.

Moderate opposition forces—a collection of groups known as the Free Syrian Army—continue to lead the fight against the Syrian regime. While traveling with some of these Free Syrian Army battalions, I've watched them defend Alawi and Christian villages from government forces and extremist groups. They've demonstrated a willingness to submit to civilian authority, working closely with local administrative councils. And they have struggled to ensure that their fight against Assad will pave the way for a flourishing civil society. One local council I visited in a part of Aleppo controlled by the Free Syrian Army was holding weekly forums in which citizens were able to speak freely, and have their concerns addressed directly by local authorities.

Moderate opposition groups make up the majority of actual fighting forces, and they have recently been empowered by the influx of arms and money from Saudi Arabia and other allied countries, such as Jordan and France. This is especially true in the south, where weapons provided by the Saudis have made a significant difference on the battlefield, and have helped fuel a number of recent rebel advances in Damascus.

Thanks to geographic separation from extremist strongholds and reliable support networks in the south, even outdated arms sent by the Saudis, like Croatian rocket-launchers and recoilless rifles, have allowed moderate rebel groups to make significant inroads into areas that had previously been easily defended by the regime, and to withstand the pressure of government forces in the capital. In recent months, the opposition has achieved major victories in Aleppo, Idlib, Deraa and Damascus—nearly reaching the heart of the capital—despite the regime's consolidation in Homs province.

At this stage in the conflict, barring a major bombing campaign by the U.S., sophisticated weaponry, including anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapon systems, may be the opposition's best chance at sustaining its fight against Assad. This is something only foreign governments, not jihadists, can offer. Right now, Saudi sources that are providing the rebels critical support tell me that they haven't sent more effective weaponry because the U.S. has explicitly asked them not to.

There is no denying that groups like Jabhat al Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham have gained a foothold in the north of Syria, and that they have come to dominate local authorities there, including by imposing Shariah law. Such developments are more the result of al Qaeda affiliates having better resources than an indicator of local support. Where they have won over the local population, they have done so through the distribution of humanitarian aid.

Yet Syrians have pushed back against the hard-line measures imposed on them by some of these extremists groups. While I was last in northern Syria in early August, I witnessed nearly daily protests by thousands of citizens against the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham in areas of Aleppo.

Where does this leave the U.S. as the White House contemplates a possible strike? The Obama administration has emphasized that regime change is not its goal. But a punitive measure undertaken just to send a message would likely produce more harm than good. If the Syrian government is not significantly degraded, a U.S. strike could very well bolster Assad's position and highlight American weakness, paving the way for continued atrocities.

Instead, any U.S. action should be part of a larger, comprehensive strategy coordinated with our allies that has the ultimate goal of destroying Assad's military capability while simultaneously empowering the moderate opposition with robust support, including providing them with anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapon systems. This should be combined with diplomatic and political efforts to first create an international coalition to put pressure on Assad and his supporters, and then working to encourage an intra-Syrian dialogue. Having such a strategy in place would help alleviate the concerns of key allies, like Britain, and ensure greater international support for U.S. action.

The U.S. must make a choice. It can address the problem now, while there is still a large moderate force with some shared U.S. interests, or wait until the conflict has engulfed the entire region. Iran and its proxies will be strengthened, as will al Qaeda and affiliated extremists. Neither of these outcomes serves U.S. strategic interests.

Ms. O'Bagy is a senior analyst at the Institute for the Study of War.

A version of this article appeared August 31, 2013, on page A13 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: On the Front Lines of Syria's Civil War.

Poster's comments:

Most of what I read about the Syrian Civil War, that I tend to listen to, is published in the foreign press.

We in the USA are poorly served by what is published here in the USA.

Hence, here is a USA based report that is interesting to me, and unusual these days.

Here is a map that goes with the article
Just how accurate it is I do not know


Lawless Taxation

Lawless Taxation

Heard the one about the five-year retroactive tax increase?

California imposed a huge retroactive income tax increase last year, but some 2,500 small business owners are learning that once is never enough for Sacramento. The state now wants to hit them with a retroactive levy going back to 2008, to the tune of $120 million or more.

California has since 1993 let investors cut their capital-gains tax in half if they invest in qualified state businesses. But late last year the state Court of Appeal ruled that the tax break violates the U.S. Constitution's Commerce Clause by discriminating against out-of-state firms.

Instead of simply ending the tax incentive going forward, the state Franchise Tax Board has ordered investors who used the tax break to pay five years of back taxes. As a special insult, these taxpayers may have to pay interest and penalties on the "unpaid taxes" they were never required to pay in the first place. So the politicians promise tax favors for investment, but when the courts invalidate the favors the politicians punish the folks who did what the politicians asked them to do.

Normally in such cases, the taxing authority holds taxpayers harmless through what is called "transition relief." But Sacramento has an insatiable appetite for revenue, even after voters approved Governor Jerry Brown's income tax rate hike to 13.3%. That November initiative wasn't even placed on the ballot until July 2012, but it applied to income starting January 1, 2012. The Franchise Tax Board is merely doing what the politicians want.

A grassroots business coalition is urging the state legislature to drop the retroactive tax on grounds of simple justice, and even some liberals agree. "These taxpayers can't somehow go back five years in time and change their investments," says Democratic Senator Ted Lieu, who is sponsoring a bill to eliminate the retroactive tax. "California is not a banana republic." In imposing lawless taxation, oh yes it is.

A version of this article appeared August 30, 2013, on page A12 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Lawless Taxation.


Myths & Facts About Athlete’s Foot

Myths & Facts About Athlete’s Foot

     Here's link on the subject:



       A wiki link on the subject can be found at:

Poster's comments

Why pecan trees could be domesticated and hickory could not is beyond me these days.

How shag bark hickory syrup gets made is still an experiment I have not tried. I have plenty of alternatives around here, like maple syrup and mountain cane sorghum molasses.

There are plenty of hickory nuts on the ground which will make good food for the hungry, to include people like me.

US Open (tennis)

US Open (tennis)

Friday, August 30, 2013

A space weather forecast

A space weather forecast

CME WILL NOT HIT EARTH, STORMS POSSIBLE ANYWAY: A coronal mass ejection (CME) propelled into space yesterday by an erupting solar filament will not hit Earth. However, a solar wind stream will. The stream, which is flowing from a coronal hole in the sun's northern hemisphere, is expected to arrive on August 30-31, possibly sparking polar geomagnetic storms. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras.

MAJOR FIREBALL EVENT, UPGRADED: NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office has upgraded its estimates of a major fireball that exploded over the southeastern USA on August 28th. Lead researcher Bill Cooke says " the fireball reached a peak magnitude of -13, brighter than a Full Moon, and cast shadows on the ground. This indicates that the meteoroid had a mass of over 50 kg (110 lbs) and was about 40 cm (16 inches) in diameter. It hit the top of Earth's atmosphere traveling 23.7 km/s (53,000 mph)." See the picture, then read more about the fireball below:


"As far as I know, this is the brightest event our network has observed in 5 years of operation," he continues. "There are reports of sonic booms reaching the ground, and data from 4 doppler radars indicate that some meteorites may have fallen along the fireball's ground track." (Note: The city in the ground track map is Cleveland, Tennessee, not Cleveland, Ohio.)

Using data from multiple cameras, Cooke has calculated a preliminary orbit for the meteoroid. The shape and dimensions of the orbit are similar those of a Jupiter-family comet. If meteorites are recovered from the Tennessee countryside, their chemical composition will tell researchers more about the origin of the fireball.

The entire link and very quick movie can be found at:


Remembering When I Was Lost at Sea

Remembering When I Was Lost at Sea

The upside of thirst is that it scrambles the brain. By the second day, I began to feel peaceful.


Every year, the U.S. Coast Guard issues a report on recreational boating accidents, most of which occur in the summer. The top five hazards last year: wrecks with other vessels, collisions into fixed objects, flooding, skiing mishaps and falling overboard. This year will likely be the same. Despite the countless literary and cinematic stories of boats being swept into open waters, that danger never makes the short list.

That isn't to say that it doesn't happen: I was lost at sea for four days and three nights in 1982 when I was 13 years old.

Those lost days were almost glamorous—at least in the retelling. My father, stepmother and brother and I had traveled to Grand Cayman Island for a week-long Caribbean vacation. The day after our arrival, we rented an uncovered aluminum rowboat with a small motor from a toothless guy by the bay who seemed happy for the business. It was the middle of August, and there weren't a lot of tourists.

After a day spent snorkeling, we returned to shore, then ventured out again in the late afternoon to return the boat. We were about five miles from Grand Cayman when the engine sputtered and choked. Needless to say, we were surprised to discover that the boat had no spare tank of gas and no oars on board. It was dark when my father put on his snorkel, mask, fins and life preserver and jumped in the water to swim for help. A forceful tide quickly drew the boat far from shore, and my stepmother, brother and I drifted into the night.

Like a Hollywood story, there was a heroic effort to get help and a surprise rescue. We survived and ended up skinny, tanned and on television.

My emotions on the boat were far less dramatic. The combination of shock, a certain amount of disassociation, and the human body's response to being deprived of water and food made my world ethereal and quiet.

Hunger pangs don't last, but dehydration is savage. At first, I couldn't stop thinking about the cold Coke I had at lunch the day we set out, about the brutal sun and about the way the night breeze felt like a rake against my burned skin. But the upside of thirst is that it scrambles the brain. By the second day my body started to shut down and I felt more peaceful. And by the third day, I'd begun to see myself the same as plankton—just existing until I didn't. I never consciously stopped wanting to live, but I ran out of the energy to care.

We were lucky—and kept alive—when a blanket of dark clouds rolled in on the third day. The flash storm lasted only five minutes, but we got what water we could from our hair and licked the drops from the boat. The salted aluminum tasted like poison and clawed at my fillings.

We assumed that my father hadn't survived and that no help would be coming. But on the fourth day in the late afternoon, the crew of a far-off oil tanker happened to be on deck with binoculars. They noticed a mysterious object in the distance: our boat. Their curiosity saved our lives.

All I had in the boat was a bathing suit and a T-shirt. To be pulled onto a massive oil tanker and handed clothing felt bizarre. But the strangest part of being hauled out of what I soon learned were Cuban waters, almost 50 miles from where we had started, was the shock of realizing that we had been missed. I was astonished to hear that my father was alive—he had found help, and my mother, my stepfather, my step-grandmother, the Coast Guard and hundreds of volunteers had been looking for us for 96 hours.

Most jarring was that everyone I knew was aware that I'd been floating in the middle of nowhere—an incomprehensible concept for my 13-year-old, plankton-identified mind. I wish I'd cried (in the movie, I would have) but the truth was I couldn't. I was too stunned from the sun and wobbly from the boat to feel anything.

Every night for two months after the incident, I felt the rocking ocean as I lay in bed. But I kept it to myself and changed the topic whenever anyone asked what it was like at sea. I wanted to be a normal teenager.

My experience was nothing compared with that of Steven Callahan, the American sailor who drifted on a life raft for 76 days. Or the five migrants from the Dominican Republic who sustained themselves for 15 days at sea in 2008 by eating the flesh of other passengers who died on their boat. The only female survivor of the group died in the hospital after being rescued.

I imagine what it would be like to meet these survivors. Our meet-up would have to be held in the middle of the country, a safe distance from either coast, and in a room with clearly marked exit doors and an open bar. I wonder if any of them share my sense of dread when search efforts (in earthquakes, accidents or war zones) are called off. No matter how exhaustive or comprehensive the rescue mission, I have a sense that there are people who are miraculously still alive, just waiting to be found.

Still, there are a few ways to tell a story, even in one's own head. More often than not, I prefer the Hollywood version.

Ms. Bazell is a writer based in New York.

A version of this article appeared August 26, 2013, on page A13 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Remembering When I Was Lost at Sea.


Middle East Pipelines map

Middle East Pipelines map

     Here's a detailed primer on the subject:

What Will You Do When The Toilet Paper Is Gone?

What Will You Do When The Toilet Paper Is Gone?

       Here's one link on the subject:

            Here's some wiki links of the subject area:




Poster's comments:

It's funny when it happens to someone else, but not so funny when it happens to you.

Typical scenarios are no toilet paper when at work, or visiting someone else, at the restaurant, or even on public transportation, like a plane or a bus.

I read splinter free toilet paper wasn't  "invented" until the 1930's in the USA.

People have had these problems for thousands of years, so there are solutions.

If it truly runs out, then we'll survive just fine through accommodation and ingenuity.

In many countries even today, tourists routinely carry toilet paper with themselves.

USA military food kits, like MRE's, routinely provide soft toilet paper with the food.

One old joke where I live in rural east Tennessee is that my great grandfather was complaining that the kids used too much toilet paper,  like more than anyone else in Putnam County. This would have been around a century ago. Well one smart-alecky kid piped up that they might be the only people in Putnam County who even used toilet paper.

When living with the Royal Marines in Arbroath, Scotland decades ago, the toilet paper provided was more like wax paper, with each perforated sheet having a printed triangle on it and saying Government Property. Well we US Marines were aghast, and went into town to purchase more USA softer kind of toilet paper to use.



Willow bark tea to make aspirin

Willow bark tea to make aspirin

       Here's a wiki link on willow trees in general:

            Here's a wiki link on the history of aspirin:

            Here's a link on the medicinal value of white willow bark:

            Here's  one  recipe for making willow bark tea:

The destruction of a way of life

The destruction of a way of life

       All roads take you there when you don't know where you're going

            In my opinion, the USA has a lightweight President, who is not too smart, has frittered away all the wonderful educational  advantages he had, and has hired a bunch of similar lightweights. Our form of federal government under this President is approaching royal arrogance that is not very American. And the USA has a "perfect storm" of poor political leaders that seem to tolerate all this.

            And many in our culture seem to be supporting all this, too. Now so many of them are going to have to die needlessly to correct this, naturally I suspect. What a shame. And by natural I mean cold, wet, hungry, and generally dying  a miserable death. Those who die from pandemics quickly might be the better off, all in all.

            Perhaps all this is inevitable, but at age 65 I know it is not. Now change is inevitable, and change to try improve things makes sense. Change for the sake of change is not usually productive.  The "new normal" is not acceptable to me.  There is a better way. And I know it, and so do many others. The insane or poorly educated or immoral people are not in charge of the asylum and society in general. There is a reason we have, or had, a constitutional republic. Note it is a republic, not a democracy. Our elected leaders are supposed to represent us. And some already do. All should!

            The practical implications to me are simple. Now I am going to have to help my fellow man who is suffering as best I can help them.  The statistics are pretty simple to me. Somewhere around 20% of Americans are really hurting, and I sense a need to help them as best I can. But I also have to help myself, and my Family and their children along the way. Expect some tough love to be applied, all around.

            These young people still have their future in the new world USA, and this idea alone is something worth fighting for.

            Last, where I live in rural east Tennessee,  this area is full of past and failed commune ideas and "share the wealth" ideas and hippy ideas. I guess some just have to learn it and fail all over again. But not at my expense...not money but life and living  and a future for my children in general.



        A  long wiki link on the subject can be found at:

            This is a repeat post.

            Mostly my intent is to suggest it takes a mom and a dad to raise a kid to promote their future, and marriage sure helps that idea along.

An MPPT solar controller primer

An MPPT solar controller primer

        Here's a geeky type link on the subject:

Poster's comments:

            I have a solar setup on my place in east Tennessee. This is not that good a place to try tap solar energy.

            My solar setup is my backup to my micro hydro turbine setup, which is my backup to my main source of energy through electricity, which is TVA public power. And it works pretty well where I live.

            Bottom can overcharge their batteries and ruin them. Hence use some kind of solar controller to help in this effort.

            Here's a wiki link on the subject of MPPT solar controllers:

            There won't be a test.

Bull Falls

Bull Falls

       I am using my memory, so forgive me if I screw it up some. The time was like several decades ago.

            The Bull Falls I remember is not too far upstream on the Shenandoah River and not too far above its confluence with the Potomac River vicinity of Harpers Ferry.

            I ran it in flood stage.

            And being a rough tough Marine, I did not want to show any fear. I also did not want to drown. So I punted on running Bull Falls, while the other more experienced and probably crazier kayakers played around the Falls, though even in flood stage. One of them was a  girl, which really hurt my Marine Corps' mind.

            So later I joined the foray downstream of the Falls, and eventually entered the Potomac River.

            Well the Potomac River again was in flood stage and spring time cold, and the standing waves in the Potomac had me, when between the troughs, surrounded by wave tops on both sides of me, and higher than me when I was in the trough, so I could not see even those I paddled with. I imagined myself coming out of my boat, and the boat washing downstream to Georgetown, about a 100 miles away.

            And this was supposed to be fun?

            Well, I made it, all in all, and now relate this story of my experience at the time, again now decades ago.