Saturday, January 28, 2017

Analysis of the Mountain West Conference Bowl Season

The first bowl game of the season gave us an indication of what to expect this year from the Mountain West throughout bowl season. Wyoming won the ‘The Thrilla in New Mexico’ by beating a solid Fresno State team. BYU destroyed an Oregon State team that was almost in the Rose Bowl and probably wanted to be there instead of Vegas. Nothing against Vegas. The MWC continued their stomping of all things Pac 10 when Utah took apart a Jahvid Best-less California team. Utah has won 9 straight bowl games-impressive. Air Force might have looked better than anybody in the conference when they destroyed Houston. I have already used this quote in another blog but it might be my best quote ever so I want to use it again. We have the greatest and most efficient military ever, but imagine if we had the technology to display the enemy in Missouri and Houston uniforms. Our military would win flawless victories every time. If TCU wins against Boise the Mountain West will attain a perfect bowl record of 5-0 furthering the argument that they deserve an automatic BCS bid. If TCU destroys Boise I might just jump on that band wagon too.

Labels: Analysis of the Mountain West Conference Bowl Season

A Visit to Historic Fort William Henry Lake George New York

Fort William Henry is located in the village of Lake George. In the midst of all the tourist traps is this wonderful piece of 18th century history. In 1755 the world was poised to explode. In Europe it was called the seven years war in the new world it was called the French and Indian War.

The future of the North American Continent hung in the balance as England and France prepared to square off. The Battle of Lake George in 1755 resulted in the first victory of the British and Colonials against the French and the only victory the English can claim that year. . The English built a Fort on Lake St. Sacrament which they renamed Lake George. The fort was called Fort William Henry and was built in the Vauban style. It was built to be secure with the swamp to the east and the lake to the north. The walls were 20 feet tall and 29 feet thick.

The French were not prepared to sacrifice this part of the world yet and over the next two years things fermented until the next confrontation. Pierre Rigault de Vaudreuil the Governor of New France sent his irregular troops to harass the English and they came to within a mile of the fort in the spring of 1757. The French burned everything around the fort. They then retreated back to Montreal when a late snow storm made the offensive difficult. During the summer the French under Montcalm came down the Richelieu River and put the fort under siege. They demanded surrender and the garrison accepted the generous conditions. As the troops, woman and children were marching off to Fort Edward they were attached by the Indians who had come with the French and many were killed. This was not part of the French plan and they tried and did succeed in saving some of the people. This is a black mark on the career of General Montcalm.

The Fort was then burned and the French returned to Canada. Two years later Quebec fell to the British but that is another story.

Today, what we have here at Lake George a wonderful reconstruction. It is a fascinating place to visit and something that children will enjoy as well. Guided Tours are offered on the hour and the tour begins with a film entitled “At it Happened”. It is interesting enough to keep the children who were part of our group interested. You then proceed on your tour with one of the guides who is dressed as a colonial soldier. He introduced himself and then takes us up onto the ramparts.

This is where the real fun begins. There is another soldier who is one of the British regulars and he does a whole little production show that ends up with him throwing the colonial version of the hand grenade. Little boys especially will enjoy this show which involves swords, rapiers, bayonetes and guns. Later in the tour we learn how to load a musket and the cannon gets fired. The last demonstration is how they made the lead musket balls.

You need to be able to climb stairs to take this tour though I did see a handicapped ramp I imagine it might be a bit difficult using it.

After the tour children are invited to dress as soldiers and learn how to march. There are a lot of exhibits in the rooms of the fort. This you tour on your own before or after the guided part of the tour.

There is a large and well stocked gift store and in the grounds there is the remains of an excavation site where the remains of soldiers were discovered. This site is hallowed ground with the blood of many men, woman and children, English, French and Native American.

Ghost tours are conducted in the evening and it is not hard to imagine that this place might be haunted. Tours are offered nightly between July 4th and Labor Day and Friday and Saturday nights at other times.

$14.95 for adult with $2 off for AAA.

Senior $12.95 Children

9am to 6pm


Labels: A Visit to Historic Fort William Henry Lake George New York

A Gift from My Father-in-law

I’ve been married for almost 15 years, and have known my husbands’ family since 1988. I don’t feel particularly close to my father-in-law, but admire him just the same. Often times during family parties and holidays, I’m lost in the shuffle of all of the other daughter-in-laws. You see, my husband is the youngest of six, five of whom are boys. When the grandchildren started arriving, six boys and one girl were added to the family. It’s one big jolt of testosterone whenever we all get together. The guys all play basketball, field hockey, softball, or shoot arrows at a target in the five-acre yard, in preparation for hunting season. The women are usually relegated to the patio chairs and picnic table under the outspread arms of the venerable old oak tree in the yard. I sit with my sisters-in-law, mother-in-law, and the family dog. We eat, gossip, and hang out.

Interaction with my father-in-law is usually limited to casual greetings when we first arrive, and a quick wave as we depart. He’s a great guy, but my fairly quiet nature combined with his gruff exterior aren’t conductive to long conversations.

Yesterday, I went into the kitchen to warm up a little (it was windy and cold) and bumped into my father-in-law. He was at the sink washing his hands, and I sat down at the kitchen table, intending to stay for just a minute or two. I don’t even remember how our conversation started, but found myself peppering him with questions that had never occurred to me before.

What was it like when you were in school? “Well, after you got done with junior high, you could either go on to the high school ,or attend a trade school to learn a trade. Most people around (in Detroit) quit school at the age of 16 in order to help out their family. I was the very first person to graduate from that trade school, in 1947. Wouldn’t have done it if it weren’t for one of my teachers.” He went on to describe what life was like for a teen in the 1940’s in Dearborn and Detroit. About riding the streetcars, where a ticket was a nickel and a transfer was a penny. Shortages during the war years, and a cousin who never came home. He was moved to tears with his own remembrances of a very special teacher that was tough and encouraging in equal measure. He eventually made a successful career out of everything he had learned from that teacher.

How did you meet Mrs O.? “She lived a few blocks away from me, and we would cross paths every now and again when she went to visit her cousin, who lived across the street from me. All of us guys hung out in front of the confectionery shop, and we would whistle whenever she walked by. We started meeting up at wienie roasts, (he cleared his throat and looked down, a small grin suddenly appearing) and that was that. She was my girl from then on.'”I silently agreed, thinking of the sixty years they have been married.

He talked, and I listened. It was like opening a scrapbook that had been put away for years. I learned about how hard it was to raise six kids, and what it was like when the well ran dry in the summer and they had to haul water from a local source. Stories from my husband’s childhood that I doubt he has any memory of, and the grief my father-in-law feels to have so many people dead and gone now… words unsaid, apologies that can never be extended because it is too late. He talked, and I forgot what time it was as I reflected on the things that I need to say; everything I want to do “tomorrow” or “next week” or “soon”.

My mother-in-law came in, slamming the door behind her. She told us that a bonfire had been built, and we needed to get our butts out there and enjoy it. I borrowed a jacket and followed both of them outside, claiming a seat near the short brick wall that circled the crackling logs. We visited for another hour or so, talking and laughing until the fire burned down to a few charred logs and a pile of glowing embers. As each family left, I pulled my borrowed jacket a little closer and smiled at my father-in-law. I feel more a member of this family now than I could have ever imagined twenty years ago, or even yesterday morning.

Labels: A Gift from My Father-in-law

A Family on the Road

For summer vacation w hen I was 13, my mom packed my brother and me into the old Dodge Caravan for a sojourn so epic we began calling it “The Trip”. It was a rambling affair that took us through nearly every state of the contiguous forty-eight. We started in Fresno, California, and gradually dawdled through Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, through New England to Maine, and so on, and so on. What I remember best wasn’t the states we saw, though they were beautiful; nor was it the relatives we visited, though they were friendly and loving. What I enjoyed most was the intense feeling of family that we shared, as we journeyed together, free of distraction. We had no iPod, or cell phone, or walkman. My mom made certain that the only entertainment we had was the surrounding country, and each other.

“The trip” was planned impeccably. Not that we arrived to places on time and in order. That never happened. It was planned impeccably on a grander timeline. “The Trip” took place before my brother’s freshman year of high school. It was “the last time you boys will be willing to sit still with me for three months”, according to my mom. She was probably right. Any year after that, we would have been so distracted by girls, or beer, or whatever, that we wouldn’t have taken away the greatest lesson I ever learned. It’s not where you go or what you do, but whom you do it with.

Labels: A Family on the Road

4 Things to Tell Yourself when Quitting Smoking

The time has come. It’s time to quit. It’s a long haul quitting smoking, so you need to repeat a few mantras to yourself as reminders that it’s worth it and you won’t go back. When I quit smoking, I found that a lot of things didn’t work, no matter how many times I said them to myself. But these four things did. Hopefully, they can help you, too.

“The urge will be over in thirty seconds.”

That overwhelming urge to pick up a cigarette doesn’t last as long as you think. The real chore is getting through that urge, and that’s when you need a little reminder that it will be over soon. Count down if you need to but just keep reminding yourself, “The urge will be over in thirty seconds. Get through that time and it will pass.” And guess what? It does. You’re home free until the next one. You need to train yourself to take a day one urge at a time.

“Remember the mornings.”

You remember them, right? Painful, scratchy throat. Hacking morning coughs. If you’ve been smoking long enough, you can even feel your lungs hurt just by breathing. Everything that’s happening is your body yelling out to you to stop, but what did you used to do? Light a cigarette, first thing, and continue the cycle. Remind yourself: the mornings were horrible because something was wrong and waking up doesn’t feel so bad anymore.

“Do you smell that?”

Doctors have known for over twenty years that smoking damages your sense of smell. Not only do you smell bad when you smoke, but you can’t even smell yourself accurately enough to know the difference. Not to mention all the other smells you’re missing out on: freshly cooked food, warm summer days, the air after it rains. Doctors have also long told us how interrelated taste and smell are, so you’re affecting two of your senses negatively by smoking. Now that you’ve quit — “Do you smell that?” Your sense of smell is improving and you’re starting to smell things like you haven’t for a long time. A huge part of living in the world is coming back to you.

“I won’t have to live in fear.”

Fear of lung cancer, fear of throat cancer. Heart disease, thyroid disease, artery disease. High blood pressure, muscular degeneration, rotting teeth. There are so many fears that are a part of life as a smoker itching in the back of your mind. Maybe you’d smoked so much for so long that these things had come to the front of your mind. Now that you’ve quit, you won’t have to live in fear as much as you did. Doctors have shown that if you quit smoking and stay quit for ten to fifteen years, you reduce your chances of developing lung cancer to that of a person who has never smoked. There’s a load off your back and a lot off your mind.

Labels: 4 Things to Tell Yourself when Quitting Smoking

Air Pollution in Big Cities May Cause Asthma

Asthma is a serious problem for many Americans, with about 20 million people having had an asthma attack. One of the most concerning things about asthma, is that there is no cure.

During an asthma attack, someone’s airways become constricted with mucous and it becomes difficult to breathe. An asthma attack isn’t a very light matter because an asthma attack can kill. Over 5000 people die every year from an asthma attack.

Asthma not only has the possibility to injure people, but it also puts life on hold. Every year, kids stay home from school a total of 14 million days, due to asthma. Adults stay home from work, 12 million days a year.

Since asthma is such a serious condition, one of the most important things to do is to find out what causes it in order to prevent it, or to stay away from what makes it worse.

Studies have shown that living in big cities with a lot of air pollution may be one of the causes for asthma.

Air Pollution like Ground Level Ozone or Smog May Cause Asthma

One of the disadvantages of living in big cities is the constant air pollution from traffic.

Recent studies show that air pollution may cause asthma by producing ground level ozone, a type of toxin. Ozone is produced when pollution from tailpipes of cars and trucks react to oxygen and sunlight. Big cities like Los Angeles and Houston tend to be the biggest risk for ground level ozone.

The California Air Resources Board did a recent with big cities in Southern California. They found that children living there were more likely to develop asthma than children that lived in smaller communities with less air pollution.

The Effects of Air Pollution On Cell Function

A recent study was done in Fresno, California and Palo Alto, California, to show that air pollution may cause asthma and effect cell function.

Fresno was specifically selected because it’s located in California’s central valley. In the valley, high traffic and heavy agriculture mixes with the air, producing some of the worst levels of air pollution in the country. Palo Alto was also selected because the pollution was lower and they could compare the two cities.

What the result of being exposed to too much air pollution?

Children exposed to high levels of air pollution in Fresno, California, had the their immune system’s T Cells suppressed. They found a link between having their immune system suppressed with more severe asthma symptoms and having lowered lung capacity. The children in Palo Alto had significantly better functioning T Cells and less problems with asthma

Dr. Ira Tager, a professor of epidemiology at UC Berkley’s School of Public Health, led the investigation. Afterwards, he stated “there are people who still question the direct link between air pollution and human health, but these findings make the health impacts of pollutants harder to deny.”

How Allergies Symptoms Can Be Decreased

Many studies strongly suggest that air pollution in big cities causes asthma. However, someone who suffers from asthma isn’t completely without hope.

Dr. David Peden, a professor of pediatrics at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and is the director of the UNC Center for Environmental Medicine, Asthma, and Lung Biology gives some really helpful tips.

He suggests that its better to exercise in the morning instead of the afternoon because between 4:00 p.m – 5:00 p.m is when ozone pollution peaks, while it’s lower in the early morning.

He also suggests changing your workouts, because breathing fast will cause someone to experience more negative effects from air pollution. Some people in big cities like to go out for a run. He suggested considering a fast walk instead of running.

He also says, that the air is usually worst at or near the freeways, so it would be good to avoid them if possible. Some people believe that air conditioning in a car can offset it, but he says it actually makes things worse because more air will be pulled in.


Air Pollution in Big Cities and Asthma: Study by UNC

Air Pollution in Big Cities and Asthma: Fresno, CA study

Air Pollution in Big Cities and Asthma: The NRDC

Air Pollution in Big Cities and Asthma: California Environmental Protection Agency

Labels: Air Pollution in Big Cities May Cause Asthma

Aries with Aquarius Love Compatibility

Isn’t it great to be able top get on with your life without always feeling as if you have to answer to your partner? This is a good romance as it is easy-going, fun and it allows you plenty of personal freedom. You don’t have to worry about keeping things tidy all the time.

You don’t have to justify your every thought, decision and action. Your Aquarian partner knows that there are some things you will prefer to do on your own and he or she won’t want to stand in your way.

Aries and Aquarius as Friends and Lovers

Aquarius respects your need for privacy just as he or she will expect you to give them the space they need to get on with their own interests, see their own friends and basically ‘do their own thing’. Because ‘doing their own thing’ is important to the Aquarian. Your Aquarian partner can be very unpredictable at times and yet, perhaps that’s what you like so much about this romance. At the same time, as an Arien, you need plenty of passion and in this area, Aquarius can be lacking!

And so, there are some ways in which you will be able to get on very well with your Aquarius partner. You are both intelligent; you enjoy sharing your schemes and dreams with other people. You are both outgoing and sociable and you like to have a good time. All in all, that doesn’t sound too bad does it?

Aries/Aquarius Compatibility

However, deeper into your relationship, although you are quite impulsive yourself, your partner is ‘unpredictability’ itself. You never know where you are with them and this sometimes makes you jumpy. You might feel as if you can never get really close to your partner and your curiosity makes you wonder what they’re hiding from you.

As an Aries, you are easy going and you will generally accept things at face value. Your Aquarius lover is observant and you could learn a lot during the course of this romance. You might even find yourself delving deeper into some subjects as suddenly a surface interest is not enough. Your Aquarian lover will be indulgent and diplomatic.

He or she will be happy to let you have your own way in many areas but eventually this might frustrate you. As you might start to wonder whether anything is really important to your lover.

Aries with Aquarius Compatibility Astrology

Certainly you will find a good deal of interest in Aquarian’s independent and modern outlook on life. But there’s a strong freedom-loving side to his or her nature that seems to prevent you from getting too close to your partner. Ariens are usually highly sexed while Aquarius can take it or leave it. This is an excellent friendship but it could be a frustrating love relationship.

You see, Aries is a fire sign, Aquarius an Air one. You put a lot of importance on your sex-live, Aquarius isn’t so bothered. However, if you’re willing to meet each other half way, you should get some enjoyment and satisfaction out of this relationship.

© CaroleSomerville. Permission to republish this article in print or online must be granted by the author in writing.

Labels: Aries with Aquarius Love Compatibility

Add Como Park to Your Family Vacation Plans in St. Paul, Minnesota

If you’re planning to take your family to the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul this summer, be sure to plan at least one day in St. Paul’s Como Park. For over 100 years this beautiful area has served the people of the Twin Cities, and your family will love it too.

Como Park includes a zoo, a conservatory, a lake, a lakeside pavilion, an 18-hole golf course, an amusement park and four ball parks, as well as playgrounds for the little ones and paved paths through the landscaped lawn and trees: something for everyone.

Como Zoo is a delightful zoo. The newest exhibit is a polar bear habitat, built for $15.35 million and opened on June 3, 2010, called the Polar Bear Odyssey. The Odyssey is home to twin polar bears Buzz and Neil. The bears are loving their home, with 13,410 square feet of outdoor living space, a large holding area, a den for cubs, and of course, pools. It has already received the 3 Diamond Award from Polar Bears International – only the second zoo in the world to receive that honor.

The kids will love watching Buzz and Neil from the Outpost, a climate-controlled structure that lets visitors see the bears close up, with underwater views of them splashing in their pool and playing in their stream, cliffs, and digging pit! From outdoors, you can get as close as 20 feet, and see the entire habitat. Of course, the bears aren’t the only animals in the zoo, so make sure to take a little time away from this popular attraction to see the rest of the inhabitants!

Another favorite spot in Como Park is the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory. This glass-domed, climate-controlled conservatory is a bright spot of greenery and flowers in the harsh St. Paul winters, but it’s just as lovely in other seasons. It was built in the park in 1915, and like the zoo, is free to visitors. It’s a great spot to catch your breath and take in some beauty. Both the conservatory and the zoo are open all year round.

If your kids are getting antsy, take them to Como Town, a family amusement park within Como Park. It has over 18 rides, including a Splash Zone (perfect on hot summer days). There’s no entry fee, and you can chose to pay just for the rides you want or get unlimited ride bands or packages for costs from $10 to $100. Como Town is open from March through October.

Hot? Head for Como Lake. Swim, hang out on the beach, fish from the pier, or rent a paddleboat. There are also walking trails around the lake. Tired, hungry, or both? Stop at the Como Lakeside Pavilion for the full-service restaurant, and if you get there on the right day, you may be treated to a free concert or play.

Before you leave, visit Cafesjian’s Carousel. It was installed in Como Park in 2000, but the carousel was built in 1913 by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company. After serving many years at the Minnesota State Fair, it was purchased by the city of St. Paul, and eventually made its way to the park. The carousel has 68 horses in four rows, all hand-carved and hand-painted, beautifully restored and maintained, that go up and down as the carousel turns, and two chariots for children with physical disabilities. It also has a fully restored Wurlitzer organ, replacing the original organ destroyed in a fire in 1939. Whether you ride the carousel, or just admire the beauty and the history, it’s truly a must-see at Como Park.

(Sources: ,,, , )

Labels: Add Como Park to Your Family Vacation Plans in St. Paul, Minnesota

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