PANDORA'S BOX

PlanetEarth: Our  Habitat.
And on the 7th day He rested; after finishing His Work of Creation.    Genesis 2.2
God Blessed the 7th day and made it Holy.    Genesis 2.3


Help  Save  Our  Planet:
What is that odor ? Deodorants, perfumes and soaps that keep us smelling good are
fouling the air with a harmful type of pollution--at levels as high as emissions from today's
cars and trucks.  The surprising finding of a study published in the journal Science found
that petroleum-based chemicals used in perfumes, pesticides, paints and other consumer products can, taken together, emit as much air pollution in the form of volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, as motor vehicles do.  (Uh oh.)
VOCs interact with other particles in the air to create the building blocks of smog, namely
ozone, which can trigger asthma and permanently scar the lungs, and another type of
pollution known as PM2.5, fine particles that are linked to heart attacks, strokes and lung
cancer. 
Smog is generally associated with cars, but since the 1970s regulators have push auto-
-makers to invest in technologies that have greatly reduced VOC emissions from cars.
Concentrations of ethanol, for example, were five times higher than expected.  You can
see these really rapid decreases in tailpipe emissions; it just made sense to start looking
at other sources thanfrom fossil-fuel sources alone.
Researchers say they could see the fingerprints of the chemical compounds coming from
personal care products and estimate how many VOCs from paints and finishes inside
buildings were being released to the outside world.
Brian McDonald, a scientist at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental
Science at U.Colorado who led the study had this advice for consumers looking for a greener solution: 'Use as little of the pruduct as you can to get the job done.'
Houston Chronicle//New York Times 2-17-2018 
byline:Kendra Peirre-Louis  and  Hiroko Tabuchi 
Slow Death and Cannibalism :
The Annual Crab-trap removal program is crucial to the ecologic, economic and
recreational health of Gulf Coast marine ecosystems. Since Texas began the an-
-nual clean-up program in 2002, volunteer participants have pulled more than
33,000 Thousand of the wire-mesh traps from Texas bays. This year’s annual
10-day effort is set for Feb. 16-25. PLEASE HELP !
Tens of Thousands of sheepshead and flounder, speckled trout, croaker, black drum and other inshore finfish, pile of stone crabs, a smattering of sea turtles and diamondback terrapins, the odd otter, raccoon and duck; a significant biomass of creatures that help make Texas bays and estuaries the vibrant places they are.
That amount of marine life is a rough estimate of what volunteers in Texas’
abandoned crab-trap removal program have saved from a lingering, unnecessary
and wholly wasteful death. When you pull up an abandoned trap that has crabs
in it, often only one healthy crab and several others that are missing legs the one
big crab has eaten.
Wire crab traps set by commercial and recreational crabbers are very good at
their jobs. Crabs-and other marine entering the cage-find it almost im-
-possible to find their way out through small openings. Trapped, captives
remain until the owner retrieves it, unclips the tie-down cord and empties the
scuttling , snapping occupants into holding containers.
But many crab traps become lost or abandoned. Those ghost-fishing derelict
traps can take a tremendous toll on marine life. A study found a functioning
abandoned crab trap catches and kill an average of 25 blue crabs per year.
Others studies have placed the annual atoll as low as five to thirty-five.
Pushed by coastal anglers frustrated at the thousands of abandoned traps
littering Texas bays; the toll they were taking on marine life, the Texas Legis-
-lature in 2001 passed a bill allowing TPWD to close all Texas bays to the use
of crab traps for a brief period; and designated any crab traps in the bays as
litter that could be removed by anyone.
A list of trap location sites, contact and other info on the annual abandoned
crab trap removal program can be found at: tpwd.texas.gov
Yes, it can be a dirty, wet, chilly, hard work; sometimes volunteers have to
muck through soft shallows and struggle to free traps partially covered with sand
and mud. But the reward is a richer, healthier bay system for everyone.
Many of the staffed sites will have folks cooking meals, offering hot coffee, help
with unloading traps from volunteers’ boats and doing whatever they can to
benefit the effort. At many sites, supplying volunteers with gloves, hooks to
snag and drag the traps, and tarps to try keeping boat decks from getting too
muddy from traps piled on them.
Houston Chronicle 2-11-2018 byline: Shannon Tompkins
(Thank You All and God Bless You and Yours).

Viruses on the Wind:
Scientists have for the first time determined that astounding numbers of viruses
are being swept up from the Earth’s surface and blown around the world in the
planet’s atmospheric circulation. Researchers from Spain, Canada and the U.S.
believe there are at least 800 Million viruses per square meter from just above
the surface to the stratosphere.
The global winds are spreading them, as well as bacteria, for thousands of
miles, possibly from one continent to another. Scientists say the bacteria and
viruses become airborne after winds pick them up in dust and sea spray.
EarthWeek 2-11-2018
Ozone Oddity:
The ozone layer high above the poles may be healing, thanks to an international
ban on ozone-killing chemicals, but new research finds stratospheric ozone above
more populated areas is not recovering. The ozone layer absorbs much of the UV
radiation from the sun, protecting humans and other life on the surface.
Scientists say they don’t quite know what is causing the atmospheric discrep-
-ancy, but suggest altered wind patterns due to climate change could be blowing
the ozone away from where it is created in the lower latitudes.
Another possibility is that fumes of very short-lived substances, like those incre-
-asingly used in solvents, paint strippers and degeasing agents, could be rising to
the lower stratosphere and destroying the ozone.          EarthWeek 2-11-2018
Cat Plague:
A deadly feline virus is spreading among cats in Australia after remaining un-re-
-ported for nearly 40 years. They have been multiple cases of the feline parvo-
-virus, or cat plague, among stray kittens around Melbourne. Australia was one
of the first countries to develop an effective vaccine against pan-leukopenia,
which causes great suffering among its victims as it temporarily wipes out the
animal’s bone marrow.
Treatment can cost thousands of $Dollars and doesn’t guarantee survival. Be-
-cause many of Australia’s feral felines carry the disease, pet owners are urged
to vaccinate their cats.                                  EarthWeek 2-11-2018

Wildlife Babies:
Since the New Year began, there are already ‘spring’ babies being hatched or
born, in our part of Texas. Generally speaking, the larger a bird of prey is, the
earlier in the year it will hatch. Bald eagles and great-horned owls commonly
begin courting very late in the year, with nesting beginning in December/January.
For Bald Eagles, nest building may begin one to three months prior to eggs being
laid. Eagles will often return to the same nest year after year, adding on to the
previous nest. Peak egg-laying occurs in December, with hatching occurring pri-
-marily in January. The female eagle typically lays a clutch of one to three eggs.
As with all birds of prey, eggs are laid days apart, and the eggs hatch in the same
order they were laid. Incubation begins when the first egg is laid and usually
lasts 36-36 days. Sometimes two or three chicks will survive (depending on
availability of prey), but it is not uncommon for an older eaglet to kill a smaller
one, especially if the older is a female (females are consistently larger than males
in the raptor world). Should one chick attempt to kill its sibling, neither parent
will intervene.
Great Horned Owls also begin courtship late in the year in preparation for breed-
-ing. They usually adopt a nest that was built by another species rather than con-
-struct their own nest, but they will also nest in tree cavities, dead snags, deserted
buildings, human-made platforms, or even occasionally on the ground.
Pairs may roost and hunt together near their future nest site for several months
before laying eggs. They sometimes line their nest with shreds of bark, leaves,
down feathers plucked from their own breast, fur or feathers from prey, or in
some areas they add no lining at all.
Eggs are most commonly laid in late December or January, with a clutch of one
to five eggs most common. Incubation takes between 30 and 37 days. As with
eagles, eggs are laid days apart, and hatch in the same order they were laid.
At hatching, the young’s eyes are closed and they are covered with down.
As with many raptor species, older, larger chicks may push younger, weaker sib-
-lings from the nest. The owlets depend on their parents for several months.
Great horned owls are very protective of their nests and young; and will not
hesitate to attack if they feel threatened.
Dock Line Mag. 2-2018 byline: Lisa Wolling
Goin’ Fishin’ :
Cormorants are a paradox-daffy but skillful, ungainly yet graceful, disliked and
respected; they are where fish are. They weigh about five pounds, about two feet
from head to tail; mostly brown to black in coloring, and they have a lightly ser-
-rated bill with a sharp hook on the end which helps them hold onto their catch.
Although this bird is not in the duck family, it has big, black, floppy webbed feet.
When they paddle low in the water, the only thing you may see is their long,
snake-like neck and head. Look closer and you will notice their beautiful, bright
turquoise eyes. Underwater, these cormorants are simply amazing.
Some birds, like osprey and eagles, plunge-dive into the water to catch fish near
the surface. Others, like white pelicans, paddle along the surface, open their
mouths and let their meals swim in. But cormorants do elegant surface dives and
skillfully chase their prey deep underwater. They can stay under for about a min-
-ute, darting down 20 feet or more to catch fast dodging fish. They are delightful
to watch.
The birds are here all year long, but thousands more migrate into the Lake Living-
-ston area during the winter months. Many sports fishermen do not like these
birds. They believe that cormorants eat too many young sports fish, leaving fewer
fish for fishermen. However, cormorants are protected by the Migratory Bird
Treaty Act; which makes it illegal for people to harass, possess or harm them, or
their nests and eggs.
In China, fishermen raise and tame cormorants to fish for them. No worms, no
hooks, and no fishing without catching ! Chinese fishermen tie loose nooses
around their birds’ necks, and put them into the water to fetch fish. The birds pop
back to the surface with fish in their mouths, but the nooses prevent them from
swallowing. They hop onto perches that the fishermen offer, come back into the
boats and are coaxed to give up their catch. Then the cormorants are sent back
into the water to do it all over again. Fish baskets fill up very fast and without
fail. (One man’s trash is another man’s treasure ?)
Dock Line Mag. 2-2018 byline: Bronwyn Clear, Certified Texas Master Naturalist
Great Texas Fish Story: Coastal Fishing in February.
We had the East Galveston Bay to ourselves that impossible-to-forget afternoon
on that afternoon. Light or nonexistent fishing pressure isn’t particularly unusual
on winter days when the air and water temps are in the 40s and a raw north or east
wind rakes the coast, churning bay water into mocha and making for a miserable,
shivering day on the water.
But this day was different-downright mild, the air temp nudging into the 70s
with a light south wind and mostly sunny sky. Not all that uncommon on the
Texas coast this time of year. A promise that can pay off for Texas anglers
looking to find good fishing during a time of year that most write off as a cold,
lost cause.
Quietly idling close to a reach of south shoreline, where a bayou cut back into the
marsh, we eased the anchor off the bow, and when it set, we slipped over the side
into belly-deep green water. The boots of our waders sunk a half-foot into the
muddy goo that carpeted the bay bottom and made wading a bit of a chore.
Water temp was probably 60-65 degrees.
Tide was oozing in, shoving clean water; here and there, swirls and dimples on the
surface gave away the movements of striped mullet. Then: once the bite began; it
was ON ! The speckled trout; not tentative, cold-numbed things…they were
hostile, hammering the mullet imitation plugs with an aggressiveness that sent jolts
down the line and rod and into our chilled hands.
They fought like summer fish, strong and determined. They were solid, big trout;
most 20-25 inches with a couple that pushed 7 pounds. Silver and lavender, sides
and fins flecked with black dots, glowing iridescent in the sun. When we worked
the fish close enough to land and clamp a hand across their thick shoulders just
behind their gills, it felt like grabbing a stainless-steel Thermos.
Sometimes we could almost sight-cast to fish, keying in on the frantic wakes of
mullet torpedoing away from those fanged, yellow-rimmed mouths. We fished
through dusk, unwilling or unable to tear ourselves away from the place until
darkness forced our hand. We slogged back to the anchored boat, each dragging
a stringer of silver ‘logs that took both arms to lift’ over the gunwale.
I remember everything about that afternoon on the eve of February. The sound
of snow geese overhead, the light, the color of the water; the yellow/gold of the
oystergrass nodding along the shoreline as the incoming tide washed onto it.
A day to remember…the trick to February fishing is to watch for those windows
of opportunity and take them. The result can be a Super Memorable Day.
Houston Chronicle 2-4-2018 byline: Shannon Tompkins
Climate Survival:
The continued existence of the Human Species is now threatened more by ex-
-treme weather in a changing climate than by weapons of mass destruction, ac-
-cording to a global survey by the World Economic Forum. It was released just
prior to the foundation’s annual meeting of global leaders in Davos, Switzerland.
The survey of nearly 1,000 international experts and decision-makers reveals that
in terms of likelihood and impact, extreme weather around the world is listed
as the TOP concern. The survey points to how catastrophic hurricane damage
and wildfires last year demonstrate that environmental events can result in de-
-vastation of crucial infrastructure and food supplies. EarthWeek 1-21-2018
Warming Demographics:
One of the world’s largest sea turtle colonies is becoming almost entirely female
due to a warming climate. Scientists from the U.S. and Australia write in the
journal Current Biology that sand temps determine the gender of the turtle hatch-
-lings. And since warmer temps result in more females, virtually no male turtles
are hatching on the hotter nesting beaches of Australia’s northern Great Barrier
Reef.
This is the first direct evidence that global warming is altering the gender of sea
turtle offspring. Sea turtles are among the most ancient species roaming the
world’s oceans, and they have adjusted through the ages. But the modern climate
may be changing more quickly than turtles can adjust to it. EarthWeek 1-21-2018
Collateral Damage:
Wildlife in more than 70% of Africa’s nature preserves was decimated by the ravages
of war between 1946 and 2010, causing populations to enter what a new report describes
as a ‘downward spiral.’
Writing in the journal Nature, Joshua Daskin and Robert Pringle of Princeton U. point to the deaths of 90% of large herbivores in Mozambique’s Gorongosa National Park during that country’s decades-long struggle for liberation from Portugal and subsequent civil war.
The decline in wildlife across Africa also has been compounded by poaching for ivory, hides and other animal parts, often sold on the black market to purchase weapons.
(Needed for food ? NO, just greed.) EarthWeek 1-21-2018
Fleas, Fleas, Fleas:
A U. of Queensland-led global study showed that so-called cat fleas-the main flea
species found on domestic dogs and cats-are carried by more than 130 wildlife
species around the world, representing nearly 20% of All the Mammal Species
sampled. Dog fleas are less widespread and were reported on only 31 mammal
species sampled.
The study warns that the fleas have the potential to transmit harmful bacteria back
to pets and humans, including those that cause Bubonic Plague and Typhus.
(Yikes !) EarthWeek 1-14-2018
War on Invasive Aquatic Species in Texas:
Texas inland waters need help; invasive aquatic vegetation is a large, growing and
spreading problem in the state with the non-natives causing significant ecological
and economic damage. Water hyacinth and giant salvinia, two of the most noxious,
are likely to the most affected by the recent cold weather. Both are free-floating
plants with almost supernatural ability to reproduce, quickly developing into
thick mats that carpet the surface of lakes, bayous, streams, ponds, canals and
other water bodies.
The two spates of extreme winter weather that gripped much of the state earlier
this month, dropping air temps well below freezing and keeping them there for 48
consecutive hours or more in some areas; dealt a cold blow to invasive aquatic
life. These invasive species torment Texas waterways and native aquatic life.
The invasive plants are tropical or sub-tropical in origin, so they are not able to
handle really severe cold.
The bacterial process of breaking down the dead native submerged plants also
sucks dissolved oxygen from the water; resulting in hypoxia. Aquatic life in af-
-fected water-fish, invertebrates such as crawfish, insects, snails and mussels-
cannot survive without that oxygen. The mat of invasive aquatic plants quite
literally smothers the life from the water; dead water equals nothing alive under it.
All that miserably cold weather will have proven a great benefit to Texas’ inland
waters; the millions of Texas anglers and boaters whose lives are enriched by
healthy freshwater ecosystems. (Yaaayy !)
Houston Chronicle 1-21-2018 byline: Shannon Tompkins
Crows: Guardians of the Galaxy.
The American Crow thrives with gusto in city neighborhoods, farmer’s fields, or
in vast woodlands. They do a little bit of good, a little bit of bad, a little bit of both,
and seem to have fun all the while.
There are two types of crows in our Houston
area, the American Crow and the  very similar Fish Crow. They  sometimes travel
together, and are almost indistinguishable from each other. Their call is different:
American Crow sounds like this,Caww Caww, and the Fish Crow sounds like this:
Uh-ah, or Ca-ha.
A flock or group of crows is also known as a murder of crows. They have been
seen staking out, stealing and eating Mockingbird chicks from nests in the shrubs.
They have been seen in yards pecking at insects, seeds, dropped food and all
manner of less edible things. A large murder of crows will demolish a farmer’s
fields of cash crops. Hence: the old invention of scarecrows !
Protective of their universe, crows are always on the lookout to rout the enemies from
their territory. While chasing away birds of prey like hawks or owls, crow flocks are
at their noisiest. The loud, collective raucous calls may also be warning other family
members about hunter birds of prey; 4-legged predators, or unfamiliar crows.
Social, curious, mischievous, and extremely intelligent, research indicates that
crows remember the human faces around them and can recognize these people for
many years. Some species have been known to make and use stick tools to dig out
grubs from rotting wood. Amazingly, there are documented cases of crows bring-
-ing people shiny bits of glass, metal and buttons, all in exchange for regular treats
of peanuts, dog kibble, chicken nuggets and other culinary wonders. Astounding !
A wild bird that barters with humans !
Crows are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which makes it illegal to
harass, possess or harm them, or their nests and eggs. However, when they devour
a farmer’s crop or become a noise nuisance in a neighborhood, authorities can issue
permits to control them. But in reality; crows are really too smart to be caught,
dead or alive.
Dock Line Mag.1-2018 by: Bronwyn Clear, Certified TX Master Naturalist.
Eclipse Ripples:
The total solar eclipse across North America on Aug. 21caused waves to ripple
through the top of Earth’s atmosphere, which scientists say they observed for the
very first time. Data from 2,000 sensors placed along the path of totality found
that the brief but rapid cooling and heating of the ionosphere during the eclipse
made V-shaped atmospheric waves, similar to those made by a boat traveling
through water.
While there was indeed a disruption of the charged particles in parts of Earth’s
geomagnetic field during the eclipse, scientists say it was tiny compared to the
geomagnetic disturbances caused by solar storms. EarthWeek 1-7-2018
Growing Bananza:
A new ‘speed breeding’ method for growing common crops has the potential to
help feed the world’s expanding population, scientists say. Australian researchers
write in the journal Nature Plants that they have developed a way of using
specially calibrated LEDs to accelerate plant growth in spurts of up to 22 hours
per day.
The technique allows them to grow six generations of wheat, chickpea and barley
in a year rather than the single generation of those crops that farmers typically
grow annually.   
Scientists at the U. of Sidney, the U of Queensland and the John Innes Center say
the crops grown under the far-red spectrum LEDs also took healthier than those
grown in standard conditions. EarthWeek 1-7-2018
Vaquita War:
A anti-poaching drone being used to protect the critically endangered vaquita por-
-poise in the northern Gulf of California was shot down by poachers just before
the New Year. The conservation group Sea Shepherd said the drone was being
used in conjunction with its two shops that were patrolling the Upper Gulf of
California Biosphere Reserve.
Live video streaming from the drone showed a fisherman firing repeatedly from a
speedboat before the video feed cut out. Illicit net fishing in the vaquita’s habitat
has devastated the tiny porpoises population by inadvertently snaring and drown-
-ing the animals. Only about 30 of the marine mammals are believed to still be
alive. EarthWeek 1-7-2018
Mass Migration:
The wildebeest migration in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park is back in full
force, thanks to the removal of herds of livestock that had encroached into the re-
-serve. Spokesman Susuma Kusekwa of the country’s National Parks Authority
says there has been a significant increase in the number of the migratory animals
in parts of the park following the livestock eviction.
An estimated 1.4 million wildebeest, as well as a half-million Thomson’s gazelles
and about 200,000 zebras, travel north and south between Kenya’s Masai Mara
and the Serengeti as they follow seasonal rainfall patterns that provide lush
grazing lands for the animals.      EarthWeek 1-7-2018
Bat Cave Cure ?
A way to wipe out the deadly white-nose syndrome that has devastated bat pop
populations by the millions across North America may have been found.
Scientists from the U.S. Forest Service say the fungus responsible for the condi-
-tion is highly sensitive to ultraviolet light.
Researchers say Pseudogymnoacus destructans is unable to repair DNA damage
caused by the UV light, which could lead to new treatments. A few seconds of
moderate UV-C exposure resulted in less than 1% of the fungus surviving. Tests
on infected bats are planned.          EarthWeek 1-7-2018
Snow Birds in Texas:
No, we are not talking about those people who live in cold climes in our country
and migrate to Texas each winter. We are talking about real Winter Texans, Whooping Cranes. Snow white whooping cranes return to their ancestral home in the marshlands of Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas.
The big, white, majestic cranes migrate 2,600 miles from breeding grounds in northwest Canada’s Wood Buffalo National Park. Weighing 14-16 pounds, the birds fly on 8-foot wingspans, traveling a direct route to Aransas with rest stops along the way. Rather than migrating in large flocks as do snow geese, whooping cranes travel in small family groups
 or in groups of a half dozen.
These birds stand 5 feet tall with a white body, red crown, black face, red cheeks
and black wing tips. Juveniles are tawny with white feathers. The feather bustle
on the rump distinguishes cranes from egrets. More than 400 whooping cranes will have migrated to the Aransas refuge and surrounding areas this winter.
The cranes are the last self-sustaining wild population, one that numbered at least 1,400 in the mid-1800s when they bred across the wetlands of the Great Plains and migrated to Texas, Florida and other Gulf Coast locations. Overhunting and con-
-version of the Great Plains to agriculture had depleted the population to 16 birds at Aransas by the winter of 1942.
These birds retain an ancient homing instinct for Texas wintering grounds and Canada
breeding grounds. In a span of 75 years, the whooping crane population has recovered
to more than 400-through the efforts of governmental wildlife agencies in the U.S. and
Canada, along with conservation groups. Further recovery relies heavily on the blue crabs
in Aransas marshes.
Though cranes eat fiddler crabs, frogs and insects, they must consume an ample
diet of blue crabs to build up fats and proteins for successful reproduction. Main-
-taining the brackish marsh in Aransas; where seawater mixes with the river water
flowing into the bays is imperative to the cranes’ survival.  Wildlife officials are working
to restore whooping cranes to a wild, self-sustaining population of 1,000 by 2033.
(We wish them the BEST !)
Observation Tower @ Aransas Refuge. Boat Tours: 361-790-3746.
Whooping Crane Festival: Feb. 23-28, 2018. whoopingcranefestival.org .
Houston Chronicle 12-2-2017 byline: Gary Clark
texasbirder@comcast.net .
Manta Rays:
At the National Marine Sanctuary, about 100 miles off the coast of Galveston;
inhabiting the coral reef system at the Flower Garden Banks; the largest population
of juvenile manta rays have been discovered to be thriving. The discovery is a
huge step in understanding these creatures-a task that becomes ever more vital
since the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration last year proposed
adding one species of manta, the Giant Manta Ray, to the threatened species list
under the Endangered Species Act.
It also happens to be the one found at the banks; both species are listed as vulner-
-able by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Josh Stewart, a Cali-
-fornia-based manta expert, said the only place he has seen juveniles are in fish-
-eries; and we know nothing about the juvenile age.
Emma Hickerson, a sanctuary research coordinator; has spent two decades study-
-ing mantas, said continuing the study can go toward identifying the Galveston-
area as a critical habitat for manta juveniles. Adults can clock in at 25 feet long
and 5,300 pounds; according to NOAA. It is not unusual for juveniles to live
separately from the adults and the area provides a unique level of protection the
animals cannot find elsewhere. Houston Chronicle 1-13-2018 Alex Stuckey

What Matters to Men & Women ?
Looking for Love in all the wrong places ?? Unsurprisingly, the data collected reveals
that both men and women really care a lot about attractiveness (though men care ever so slightly more). Women care about intelligence roughly twice as much as men.
In the speed-dating study, intelligence boosted the chances a woman would want to see
him again by an average of 4.5 percentage points, while an equivalent increase in a woman's intelligence increased the probability that a man would want to reconnect by only 2.3 percentage points.
Attractiveness in a woman mattered far more to potential mates than intelligence
It boosted the chances that a man would want to see her again by an average of
14 percentage points. An equivalent increase in a man’s attractiveness raised the
chances that a woman would want to reconnect with him by 12 percentage points.
Another study of participants in a commercial dating service conducted by a team
of psychologists at the U. of Penn. also conclude that the outcomes of such dates
were largely determined by physical attributes such as height, weight, age and
overall attractiveness. Obsessing about appearance may be worth the effort for
men and women.
Things get really interesting in a speed-dating study by Columbia. Men valued
women’s intelligence only until it matched their own…and they actually found
women whose ambition exceeded theirs to be off-putting. Depressing and dis-
-appointing ?
Yessss.
This finding aligns with other recent research.
A team of economists at U. of Chicago showed that when women out-earn their
husbands, marital satisfaction is lower and divorce more likely. For ambitious
women, perhaps a better approach would be to seek equally ambitious partners
who will value their drive appropriately while we all work on changing social
norms. (Good Luck with That !)
Lest you be left with the impression that only men revealed politically incorrect
preferences….Women have some too….For one, they prefer men raised in more
affluent ZIP codes. In addition, women are dramatically more interested in part-
-ners of their own race, while men show no such in-group preference.
(Could that be because women are just showing good judgement when choosing
a partner ? After all, attractiveness is only skin deep.)
Women: don’t hide your ambition ! You may find more lasting love if you look for an equally ambitious partner. Men: if you’re looking for an Uptown Girl, you may encounter some snobbery, but never fear-there are plenty of fish in the sea… Isn’t that a romantic thought ? (Happy Valentine’s to All Y’all !)
Houston Chronicle//Washington Post 2-13-2018 byline: Katherine L. Milkman
Make the Password Go Away !
Microsoft is trying to kill the password, and it’s about time. The company said
recently that the next test version of its stripped-down Windows 10 S operating
system will strip out passwords as well, by default. But killing the password al-
-together will take more work and time-and the problem may get worse before
it gets better.
Passwords, we can surely agree, are the bane of modern digital existence. Insecure passwords cause an estimated 80% of breaches, according to a report from Verizon in 2017. Right when you need to access your utility bill, you can’t remember if you replaced the ‘ a’ with a ‘4’ or a symbol. Passwords have amassed their share of enemies.
Microsoft has been waging war on passwords for a while. Like others, it has put
efforts into other types of authentication, namely, biometric scans of your face or
fingerprints-it introduced facial recognition unlocking for Windows PCs in 2015.
This relic from the early days of computing has long outlived its usefulness, and
certainly its ability to keep criminals at bay, a blog post from Microsoft said in
December.
One reason passwords are so awful is that there are so many of them…Dashlane,
a password manager company, found in s survey that its customers have an average of 130 accounts with passwords. Geez….. Technology companies are doggedly pushing into more areas of our lives by giving ‘smarts’ to any item that can accommodate a chip…from your toilet, your car, your bed….and more…..
Securing all this gets messy, and it’s not remotely feasible that you could create a secure, unique password for every home appliance. Equally chilling…they are collecting very personal data, and how important it is to have that information secured….
Easy to remember, hard to hack…and find that sweet spot all over again and again. Passwords are required to have a complex combination of caps, symbols,
etc. which can cause us to re-use complex passwords or refuse to change them
once we have committed them to memory…..
(Lord, Please make passwords go away soon…. Thank You, Jesus.)
Houston Chronicle//Washington Post 2-11-2018 byline: Hayley Tsukayama
Unique Treat: Barbacoa Meat.   (This  Story not for those with a weak-stomach).
Down in deep south Texas, barbacoa, for many families, is the foundation on
which all weekends are built. In Brownsville, Armando Vera is bathed in the
aromatic smoke billowing from mesquite coals; as he tosses 40 cow heads into
a 6-foot-deep pit.
Early the next day, customers will line up for Vera’s Backyard Bar-B-Que,
ordering check, tongue and mixed head meat, but most of all: the eyes.
Eye is the Mexican caviar, a delicacy, said the 57-year-old Vera. We are sold out
by 7 a. Goat is the protein of choice farther south into Mexico; up in Central
Texas, brisket is King. Along the Texas-Mexico border, it’s barbecoa des res-
cow’s head barbecue-that reigns.

The savory leathery-brown meat, served with corn tortillas and freshly made salsa
might be found in gas stations, supermarkets or local restaurants, yet None of them
is quite like Vera’s in Brownsville. As the only remaining restaurant in the town,
and likely the entire state, with a permit to cook meat in an earthen pit, Vera’s is a
practitioner of an outdoor culinary heritage that has all but vanished in Texas.
Vera’s father, Alberto, opened his own restaurant in 1957 to Brownsville, where the
family has been serving up barbacoa ever since. Vera grew up, raking coals and
wrapping cow heads for the barbacoa pit. When the city changed its health regs,
prohibiting food prep below ground, Vera’s was grandfathered in, allowing the
family to carry on the tradition.
Preparing barbacoa begins days in advance. The cow heads, between 40 and 60
every week; arrive on Thursdays from a distributor based in Corpus Christi.
The heads are soaked in running water, rinsed of blood, which can sour the flavor
of the meat, according to Vera. Finally, the heads are wrapped in aluminum foil.
The pit measures about 6 feet deep, 6 feet long and 4 feet wide; lined with brick,
except the floor, which is earth and ash.
On Friday mornings the mesquite logs in the pit are lighted; when the coals are
orange hot, a metal sheet is set atop the coals, then the heads, along with additional tongues and cheeks, also wrapped in foil; are tossed inside, covered with another metal sheet, and left to cook overnight.
In the early hours of Saturdays, everything is removed from the pit. The smoked meat is pulled from the bones and readied for the morning rush of business.
Attention from Texas Monthly Magazine has sparked interest in Vera’s Restaurant
in recent months. The restaurant landed on the magazine’s yearly list of TOP 50
BBQ Joints in Texas in 2017.
(Our Sincere Congrats and Best Wishes for Vera’s continued Success.)
Houston Chronicle 2-12-2018 byline: Aaron Nelsen
Talk to Me : Smart Robots For Elders.
Personal-assistant robots such as the ElliQ and Cutii, smart shoes that signal a fall
and even a smart hip-protection air bag-all still in prototype and not yet available
in the consumer market-recently debuted at the Consumer Electronics Show in
Las Vegas, designed with features for aging people whose senses may no longer be
pin sharp.
From technology-assisted home-care services such as Honor to hardware products
such as grandPad’s tablet for seniors, with a magnifying glass and simplified apps,
businesses are seeking to tap into a booming population of older adults and help them tackle a critical challenge of modern aging: social isolation.
More than 8 Million Americans over 50 are affected by isolation, which is a grow-
-ing health epidemic, according to Connect2Affect, an advocacy group launched by the American Assn. of Retired Persons (AARP) to erase social isolation. Feel-
-ing lonely and cut off from the world-may accelerate many diseases, such as
heart disease, and impair immune systems, according to research from the U. of
York in the U.K. and the U. of Chicago.
The number of Americans 65 or older is expected to nearly double in the next three
decades. For older adults, the current landscape of technological devices may al-
-ready be too hard to navigate. A May 2017 survey by Pew Research found only
26% of adults over the age of 65 were ‘very confident’ in using smartphones, tab-
-lets and computers; compared to 74% of adults between 18 and 29 years old.
ElliQ is made of two parts: a movable smart speaker and a tablet screen. The
smart speaker moves on its own when communicating with a user to convey body
language and lights up during certain actions to signal that it is paying attention.
The tablet will display music, send messages to ride-hailing apps and provide
closed captioning responses so users who are hard of hearing can read what ElliQ
says.
Barry Sardis, 70, a retired Sillicon Valley computer programmer, is testing a prototype personal robot from ElliQ, which won a Best of Innovation Award at
CES in Las Vegas. Unlike other personal robots, which normally have a face and are able to move around the room with wheels or mechanical legs; ElliQ purposely does not look human to prevent any notion that the robot is a suitable alternative to human-to-human interaction.
We need to make the technology sophisticated enough that it makes it look easy,
said Dr. Kerry Burnight, a former professor of geriatrics at UC Irvine, who now
serves as chief gerontologist for grandPad.
It is Not Dumbing Down; it is the
opposite
, he said.
French startup Cutii, with its eponymous personal robot, seeks to connect older
adults through organized activities and exercises arranged by the robot, said
founder Antoine Bataille. Yet, even with robots designed to help the elderly
stave off social isolation, doctors still say the human touch is the Best Medicine.
There is no substitute for human connections; technology should only be used as
a supplement.
Houston Chronicle//San Jose Mercury News 2-11-2018
byline: Seung Lee


First Immigrants From Sh-t-hole Countries ?
A fossil found in Israel indicates modern humans may have left Africa as much as
100,000 years earlier than previously thought. Scientists say than an ancient upper
jawbone and associated stone tools also could mean that Homo sapiens-modern
humans-arose in Africa far earlier than fossils now show. (I’m outta here…..?)
The jawbone, complete with several well-preserved teeth, was found to be some-
-where between 177,000 and 194,000 years old. The jaw was found in 2002 in the
collapsed Misliya cave on the western slope of Mount Carmel. They say the jaw belonged to a young adult of unknown gender. Scientists believe our species dis-
-persed from Africa more than once.
(And Still Going On… ! Maybe that was us, you think ?)
Houston Chronicle//Associated Press 1-26-2018 byline: Seth Borenstein
Where Is: ?
Ken Hoffman, aka Drive-Thru Gourmet, formerly wrote a column for the Houston
Chronicle; disappeared suddenly with no explanation. We miss him and his ‘biting’ wit regarding food at various venues in the Houston area.
We Love:
Joe Holley, Native Texan, writes a very interesting column, stories of Texas history, in the Houston Chronicle; as he travels the state and visits interesting
places. His stories make you feel you are right there with him. He is a modern-
day circuit rider//writer.
One of my faves appeared on Jan. 13, 2018. The story involved Nacogdoches, the oldest town in Texas, where an appearance by the Marx Brothers put them on the road to comedy. I have laughed and laughed at this story !
(The story originally appeared on Feb. 20, 2015).
Who Is: ?
Chelsea Manning intends to run for the U.S. Senate in Maryland. Known as Bradley Manning at the time of her 2010 arrest, the former Army intelligence analyst was convicted of leaking more than 700,000 military and State Dept. documents to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks.
The transgender former soldier, 30, filed her statement of candidacy, listing her
address as an apartment in North Bethesda as her address. She has been hailed as
a traitor as well as a courageous hero. Kristin Beck, a retired Navy SEAL who is
also transgender, failed to unseat U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer in Maryland’s Demo-
-cratic primary in 2016. Beck said: ‘Manning is pulling a publicity stunt.’
Houston Chronicle//Associated Press 1-14-2018
The Cutting Edge: ?
An Army veteran who says someone left a scalpel inside him after surgery is suing
a Veterans Affairs hospital. Bridgeport resident Glenford Turner says the scalpel was only discovered years later, after he suffered long-term abdominal pain.
He sued the VA in U.S. District Court, seeking unspecified compensatory
damages. Court papers say Turner had surgery at the VA hospital in West Haven in 2013. Nearly four years later, he went back to the VA with dizziness and severe abdominal pain. An X-ray showed there was a scalpel inside his body.
Houston Chronicle Wire Reports 1-16-2018
Beyond Estate Planning: Disposition of Your Body.
Considering practical matters; you should decide on how the disposition of your
body will be handled. Don’t leave that decision to family members to handle.
You have two choices: burial or cremation, or if you choose, a combination of
the two. You could choose cremation, than burial.
Deciding in advance can potentially save you a considerable amount of money.
Planning in advance allows you to make decisions that involve some steep costs.
If you don’t plan ahead, you will in most cases be forcing your family to make
business decisions in a hurried situation during a time in which they are in a grief-
-stricken condition; this can be costly.
If you have time to think it through and compare prices, you can better control the
costs your estate will be pre-paying. Although in the South, burials used to be the
primary choice, cremations have become more acceptable. Cremations are gener-
-ally less expensive than a typical burial, they can escalate to expensive costs
when services are added. Coffin, body prep, clothes, transportation, police escort, chapel rental, honorarium for clergy, flower and reception, etc. these costs can become exorbitant.
One way to reduce the cost of a space is to consider buying a pre-owned space for
sale by an owner who has decided to sell their space for various reasons. You can obtain a pre-need (a contract arranged in advance of the need) funeral or cremation
contract and pay for it all at once, on payments or finance with an insurance policy.
(It is your choice now, but may not be later, okay ? We all should think about our hereafter while we are still here….….)
Houston Chronicle 1-18-2018 byline: Wesley E. Wright//Molly Dear Abshire

Remember this: If Mama Ain't Happy….Ain't  Nobody  Happy.

When the Bots Take Over:
There are about 2,000 robots for every 10,000 human workers.. .and the gap is closing.
These tireless workers Never left their post, Never called in sick, Never took vacation,
and Never gossiped or griped about long hours or no lunch break.
Neil Dueweke still remembers the day these cold and emotionless invaders quietly
overran factory floors and callously changed the course of automotive history.
With more than 25 years in the robotics business, Dueweke has been on the front
lines while this technological influx gradually replaced people while making the
workplace safer.
From a productivity standpoint, people just can’t compete with equipment that works faster, and works 24 hours a day. Robotics has changed dramatically since I’ve been in it,
Dueweke said. He is body structure general manager of FANUC America Corp., a leading international industrial robotics supplier. And the business continues to change seemingly every day.
You are going to have more and more cases where robots are going to work near or
very close to people, explaining that lift-and-place is one vital way a robot can assist an employee. Robotics in automotive construction continues to evolve but the science is nothing new. Since 1962 when General Motors put the first robots online to perform spot welding and die-casting, the presence of robotics on factory floors has steadily grown to the point of almost full ‘lights out’ automation in some factories, where cars can be built in the dark.
These machines dramatically reduce on-the-job injuries, and Dueweke believe, improve
overall morale within the workplace. The argument about robots taking jobs away from people is rather in the past. While the assembly line workforce may be shrinking some, maintenance and other specialized job opportunities are growing. You have to have a higher educated level workforce doing all kinds of tasks.
Automotive robotics are found in three areas: the body shop where the sheet metal
is attached and the frame is assembled; the paint shop where the vehicles are sealed and painted; and in general assembly when the components are attached and construction is completed.
Japan easily carries the highest international rate of robotic equipment in the auto industry with nearly 2,000 robots for every 10,000 human employees. The U.S. anks fourth with about 1,200 robots for every 10,000 employees. The ratio is expcted to continually close.
Houston Chronicle 12-3-2017 byline: Todd D. Burlage
www.theoctanelounge.com www.wheelbasemedia.com

Until God Opens the Next Door for You-Praise Him in the Hallway.

Help Yourself: Woman's Work is Never Done.
Organization is key to housework. Save steps, get more done and have some free time
for other things. A daily schedule, with all tasks listed, can help get chores done.
Monday: Bathrooms. Deep clean sinks/toilets/tubs/showers.
Tuesday: Kitchen: Clean the fridge and throw out spoiled food. Wipe out the microwave. Clean the floor.
Wednesday: Living Room: Thoroughly dust and vacuum; flip the sofa cushions. Pick up papers and clutter.
Thursday: Bedrooms. Change sheets. Dust and clean floor.
Friday: Pickup day for little chores.
Saturday & Sunday: Laundry days. Family can pitch in and help get chores done.
Gather laundry, fold and put away clean laundry.
Houston Chronicle 1-2018 Heloise Hints.
(It sounds simple ? Well, if you get off schedule, maybe a doctor/dentist appoint-
-ment, then what? Also, which day do I put up the ironing board for ironing ? ?
Oh, you mean no one does that anymore ? I wish someone had told me…..)

Trivia  and  Trivial

oh my gawd, I love them

aaaaaaaaaaaaiii