Category Archives: Did you know?

New blogging friends, apple cider vinegar, EVCO, and Zoey the Cool Cat

Did you know?

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Perhaps the thing I like best about blogging is getting to know so many people—without having to drive to an airport, park the car, stand in line to go through security, go through security, stand in line to check baggage, stand in line to get on the plane. I dislike standing in lines. Dislike them immensely.—and getting to know what bothers them, what interests them, their families and friends, and even what ails them,

So here’s a story about what ails me and how I found satisfaction from someone who recently followed me. I don’t remember who, sadly, but I’m sure I’ll run into them again.

I was born and raised in Deep South Texas. It’s pretty sunny down there. I always have enjoyed the sun, to the extent that some of my friends call me a Sun Bunny. When people asked me what makes me happy, I used to say, “Keep me south of Interstate 10 and I’m pretty happy.” Interstate 10 runs cross-country from Los Angeles CA to Jacksonville FL. 2,460.34 miles. Lots of sunshine south of Interstate 10.

Since I’m a guy, we’re allowed to summarily run around without shirts, and that was my preferred attire for running around. Now, at the age of 61, I am paying for all that beautiful sunshine. Well, as my wise old grandmother used to say, “You can pay now or you can pay later.” I chose to pay later, and later has come.

I am one great big collection of keratoses, both seborrheic keratosis and actinic keratosis. These things itch. I scratch them. I scratch until I bleed. Sometimes they bleed spontaneously, especially from actinic keratoses on my scalp. Getting a haircut can be bloody, traumatic, and embarrassing, so I don’t get a haircut anymore. I cut my own hair while standing in front of a mirror. Hey, it does save money!

I had been using apple cider vinegar with “The Mother” to control them. It does that, but I’m pretty sure you know that vinegar stinks, which encourages one not to use the stuff.

When I was visiting blogs the other day, a new blog I visited was talking about apple cider vinegar and suggested an alternate. The alternate is Extra Virgin Coconut Oil. I checked at the health store and it’s $21 or so for 16 ounces. I found it at Walmart for $13.88, still three times as expensive as apple cider vinegar. I splurged. I’m pretty much willing to do almost anything to get away from vinegar.

The instructions say that a little goes a long way, and it does. Like Brylcream, a little dab will do ya. It does smell like coconut but it’s not overpowering, probably because it hasn’t been processed to smell like coconut; it’s extra virgin.

It goes on much better than skin lotions like St. Yves. It is not greasy even though it’s an oil. It leaves the skin feeling smooth and silky. No itching, no scratching, no bloodletting. I’m sold

But wait! There’s more!

Zoey the Cool Cat has what the vet termed “dry skin.” At certain times of the year, like right now, she scratches. She will scratch herself bloody, especially around her eyes and ears. She scratches so hard that she will scratch all of her eye and cheek whiskers out if I don’t do something. The vet advised me to give her a bath twice a year, which would be now and in May or so. But let me tell you about the first time I gave her a bath after that vet visit.

A wet Zoey the Cool CatMy doors and windows are open except when I’m not here. With Zoey the Cool Cat’s first bath, she howled like there was no tomorrow. She likes to scratch, too, as she is howling. It took 20 minutes to give her a bath. About 5 minutes after I had finished and dried her off, the front doorbell rang. Two police officers were at the door. There had been a report of screaming coming from my condo. I couldn’t help but chuckle, which did not please the officers. I explained that I had been giving my cat a bath, why I was giving the cat a bath, and produced a wet Zoey the Cool Cat as Exhibit One. One of the officers chuckled himself, saying kind of under his breath, “Been there. Done that.” Ever since then, if Zoey the Cool Cat is going to get a bath, the doors and windows get closed, the blinds and curtains get drawn, and the music gets played a little louder.

Extra Virgin Coconut OilFast forward several years to yesterday. Zoey the Cool Cat is scratching herself bloody. It’s time for a bath. But wait! I wonder if Extra Virgin Coconut Oil would make her feel as good as I do. What the heck. It’s a natural oil so I thought I would try it on her little eyebrows. I put a little dab on each eyebrow yesterday at 2:00 p.m. and rubbed it in.

Did it work?

Yes! Resoundingly! Zoey the Cool Cat was the most peaceful kitty ever yesterday. She didn’t wash the coconut oil off, and she never scratched yesterday, not once!

So, Zoey the Cool Cat and I are sold on Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, what I call EVCO for short.

If you have any sort of skin condition, or you’re simply tired of those man-made skin lotions full of man-made chemicals, try Extra Virgin Coconut Oil. Let us know your results. And if you’re the blogger who blogged about apple cider vinegar and EVCO, well, I owe you a margarita!

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Lost time (No, you can’t get it back)

Did you know?

People!
Get off your smartphones
and pay attention
to the traffic signal.
Be prepared for it to turn green
and stomp on the gas!
I don’t want to be honking my horn at you!

I was in La Jolla recently when I saw this sign:

Jean Lowe, Lost Time

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The flyer is dated January 3, 1850, so I didn’t know what to think. Nonetheless, what it said, I found funny, and somewhat true:

LOST, ON MONDAY LAST

Either in the City of LOS ANGELES,
or thereabouts, a sum of Time, Con-
sisting principally of denominations
of Hours and Minutes – the whole
amounting to several Days. Whoever
may have found the same, and will
leave it, or give such information as
shall lead to its recovery, either to
the undersigned, Samuel Keller, Esq.,
or to the Messers. POST & WENT-
WORTH, Alameda Street; shall be
Liberally Rewarded.

January 3, 1850.     ARVIN M. DUNKLE

JEAN LOWE – LOST TIME

When I got home and looked at it more closely, I figured Jean Lowe was an author, her book, “Lost Time,” took place in January 1850, and the main character was Arvin Dunkle.

I went to Wikipedia first. No Jean Lowe. A Google search found her though.

She is an artist, quite an interesting one, too. I found a flyer from two years ago about an art exhibition at the McKenzie Fine Art gallery in New York City featuring her work, titled “Lost Time.” According to the flyer,

….Lowe has created humorous and subversive installations that question intellectual and cultural institutions and societal assumptions. …. Lowe slyly critiques the way society assigns value, and to what, through the creation of a faux auction house showroom. …. From fictional auction houses and websites such as “Roquefort’s,” “Heritage Holdovers,” and “PoliceAuctions.com,“ Lowe’s paintings illustrate items from sales which feature everything from fine watches, love letters, and important old master paintings, to manuscripts and ephemera.

Some of the lots featured in these sales are on display …. These include painted sculptures of an obsolete yellow pages phone book and a volume titled, “If God Loves Me, Why Do I Need a Vibrator?” Additionally, several of the items of faux ephemera are on view:  a 19th-century broadside offering a reward for lost minutes and hours.

In this exhibition, Lowe playfully transforms the banal into the magical and makes the rarified ridiculous by transforming commonplace items into desirable commodities, all in a satirical setting of high commerce.  Through her painted and sculptured recreations the artist humorously questions what is real, what is true, what has value, and why.

Did you catch the last sentence in the second paragraph? A-ha! Obviously her exhibit “Lost Time” made it to La Jolla sometime recently and that “broadside” was mass-produced to bring attention to it.

I love the arts.

But….

While I was searching for information on Madame Jean Lowe, I discovered that there really is such a thing as lost time.

According to Wikipedia,

Lost time is a traffic engineering term for the time during which no vehicles are able to pass through an intersection despite the traffic signal displaying a green (go) signal. The total lost time is the sum of start-up lost time and clearance lost time. Start-up lost time happens when a traffic signal changes from red (stop) to green (go). Some amount of time elapses between the signal changing from red to green and the first queued vehicle moving through the intersection. There is then an additional amount of time for the next vehicle to begin moving and pass through the intersection, and so on. The total time taken for all waiting drivers to react and accelerate is the start-up lost time. Clearance lost time is the time lost to stopping a line of vehicles at the end of a green phase. Lost time is always measured in seconds.

Clearance lost time often is not observable since some vehicles which were waiting at the start of a green phase still be waiting when the green phase ends

Perhaps a repeat is justified:

People! Get off your smartphones and pay attention to the traffic signal. Be prepared for it to turn green and stomp on the gas so all of us will lose less time! I don’t want to be honking my horn at you!

Photographic Art logo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Maybe I’ll just wonder and have another margarita.

Did you know?

An article at gobankingrates.com really caught my attention on August 29. It was titled “The Most and Least Successful States.” Wow. That’s open to interpretation. Who gets to decide which state is the most successful, the least successful? What criteria? What’s the timeline? Oh, my head was exploding with anticipation of having a few moments to sit down and read the article. Last night I had that opportunity.

Not much in the article surprised me as to the most and least successful states. What did surprise me was the extraordinary amount of data gobankingrates used to come to their conclusions:

  • the average income of the top 1 percent
  • the average income of the bottom 99 percent
  • the states’ poverty rates
  • the percentage of the states’ population in the upper, middle, and lower classes
  • the number of millionaire households
  • the ratio of millionaires to total households
  • and the number of billionaires

The Most Successful States, according to their analysis, are:

  1. Connecticut
  2. Maryland
  3. New Jersey
  4. Massachusetts
  5. New Hampshire
  6. District of Columbia (technically not a State, but whatever)
  7. California
  8. Alaska
  9. North Dakota
  10. Virginia

In the last three presidential elections—2012, 2008, 2004—the top seven of those states voted for the Democratic candidate. Of the last three in that Top 10, Alaska and North Dakota voted Republican three times, and Virginia voted Democrat twice and Republican once. The article didn’t tell me any of that; my research did.

The Least Successful States:

  1. Mississippi
  2. New Mexico
  3. West Virginia
  4. Arkansas
  5. Kentucky
  6. Alabama
  7. South Carolina
  8. Louisiana
  9. Tennessee
  10. Arizona

In the last three presidential elections—2012, 2008, 2004—all except New Mexico voted Republican all three elections! New Mexico voted Democrat twice and Republican once.

The most successful states are predominantly Democratic states and the least successful states are predominantly Republican. Interesting.

Here is a map I created based on the 2012 presidential election; blue states voted for Obama and red states voted for Romney. The number in each state is its place on the most successful state list; low numbers are successful states and high numbers are unsuccessful states.

Most successful states

Look at the South. How depressing, IMHO. Using the Mason-Dixon line as the dividing point, the southern states rank 22, 31, 35, 40 41, 43, 44, 45, 46, 48, and 51.

Interestingly, along with the least successful states being Republican states, they also are the most religious states. Here’s the Top 10 most religious states, all red Republican states:

  1. Mississippi
  2. Utah
  3. Alabama
  4. South Carolina
  5. Louisiana
  6. Arkansas
  7. Tennessee
  8. North Carolina
  9. Georgia
  10. Oklahoma

So what gives? Are the religious Republicans not praying for success, for financial well-being? Is that not a goal of theirs? Wouldn’t their greater success and their tithing mean greater success for their churches and religions? I’m just so confused.

As I was pouring over maps and data, I found that the southern states were pretty much blue Democratic states from 1952 to 1976. But there was a change taking place, and it took only one generation for that change to fully occur, starting in 1960 when Alabama and Mississippi voted for a third party candidate.

In 1964, the whole nation except for Arizona and five southern states voted Democratic. Was it a sympathy vote after Kennedy was assassinated?

In 1968, George Wallace, he of Alabama segregation fame (or dishonor, if you will), won the states of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia. It should be noted that Wallace considered himself a Conservative Democrat.

In 1972, the whole nation except for Massachusetts voted Republican, and 1976 was the last time that the South voted Democratic. In 1980 the South turned reliably Republican. Only a few states have broken from the Republican fold since 1980, most notably Florida in the 2012 and 2008 elections.

So the generation that came immediately after World War II effectively changed the outlook of the two parties. Look at the following meme of the 1956 Republican Party platform, exactly the opposite of the GOP’s goals the past 20 years or so.

1956 GOP platform

Of course, politics is not a top down event; there is no trickle down politics. Politics start locally.

What I would love to do is see who was in charge of the cities, counties, and states since World War II. That would probably be much more telling than the presidential election. Unfortunately, I have to work and pay my creditors, and doing wonderful research on who has been in charge of America locally since World War II probably is not going to pay my bills.

Hmmmm. Maybe YOU would sponsor me? Or perhaps I could create a GoFundMe account. Or maybe I’ll just wonder and have another margarita.

If you’re interested in the ranking and how the states voted from 2012 all the way back to 1952, I created that list, too:

Most successful states by presidential vote, 1952-2012

Got margarita?

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Obama is coming for your guns. Here’s the schedule.

Did you know?

Recently I posted on Facebook about a co-worker (NOT a friend) who believes President Obama is coming for your guns this year since he hasn’t come for your guns during his first seven years in office.

Apparently, President Obama reads Facebook because I got this letter from him dated the same day as my Facebook post.

Letter from Presidento Obama

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

If the President of the United States would like to impose on me, well, I have no problem with that.

So after a lot of work and phone calls to cities throughout the nation to make arrangements for the tour, overnight housing, snacks, potty breaks, etc., I have come up with the following schedule:

Washington, D.C. — Tuesday, January 12, 2016
Baltimore, Maryland — Wednesday, January 13, 2016
Dover, Delaware — Friday, January 15, 2016
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania — Saturday, January 16, 2016
Atlantic City, New Jersey — Monday, January 18, 2016
Newark, New Jersey — Tuesday, January 19, 2016
New York, New York — Wednesday, January 20, 2016
Stamford, Connecticut — Saturday, January 23, 2016
New Haven, Connecticut — Sunday, January 24, 2016
Providence, Rhode Island — Monday, January 25, 2016

Obama's coming for your guns schedule

Boston, Massachusetts — Wednesday, January 27, 2016
Manchester, New Hampshire — Friday, January 29, 2016
Portland, Maine — Saturday, January 30, 2016
Bangor, Maine — Sunday, January 31, 2016
Montpelier, Vermont — Monday, February 01, 2016
Plattsburgh, New York — Tuesday, February 02, 2016
Albany, New York — Wednesday, February 03, 2016
Springfield, Massachusetts — Friday, February 05, 2016
Hartford, Connecticut — Saturday, February 06, 2016

Obama's coming for your guns schedule

Scranton, Pennsylvania — Sunday, February 07, 2016
Binghamton, New York — Monday, February 08, 2016
Syracuse, New York — Tuesday, February 09, 2016
Rochester, New York — Thursday, February 11, 2016
Buffalo, New York — Friday, February 12, 2016
Erie, Pennsylvania — Saturday, February 13, 2016
Cleveland, Ohio — Sunday, February 14, 2016
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania — Tuesday, February 16, 2016
State College, Pennsylvania — Thursday, February 18, 2016

Obama's coming for your guns schedule

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania — Friday, February 19, 2016
Frederick, Maryland — Saturday, February 20, 2016
Washington, DC — Sunday, February 21, 2016
Richmond, Virginia — Tuesday, February 23, 2016
Virginia Beach, Virginia — Wednesday, February 24, 2016
Rocky Mount, North Carolina — Thursday, February 25, 2016
Raleigh, North Carolina — Friday, February 26, 2016
Fayetteville, North Carolina — Saturday, February 27, 2016
Wilmington, North Carolina — Sunday, February 28, 2016

Obama's coming for your guns schedule

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina — Monday, February 29, 2016
Florence, South Carolina — Tuesday, March 01, 2016
Columbia, South Carolina — Wednesday, March 02, 2016
Augusta, Georgia — Thursday, March 03, 2016
Charleston, South Carolina — Saturday, March 05, 2016
Savannah, Georgia — Monday, March 07, 2016
Jacksonville, Florida — Wednesday, March 09, 2016
Orlando, Florida — Friday, March 11, 2016
Miami, Florida — Sunday, March 13, 2016
San Juan, Puerto Rico — Monday, March 14, 2016
Miami, Florida — Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Obama's coming for your guns schedule

Tampa, Florida — Thursday, March 17, 2016
Gainesville, Florida — Saturday, March 19, 2016
Tallahassee, Florida — Monday, March 21, 2016
Pensacola, Florida — Wednesday, March 23, 2016
Mobile, Alabama — Friday, March 25, 2016
Montgomery, Alabama — Sunday, March 27, 2016
Albany, Georgia — Tuesday, March 29, 2016
Macon, Georgia — Thursday, March 31, 2016
Atlanta, Georgia — Saturday, April 02, 2016

Obama's coming for your guns schedule

Charlotte, North Carolina — Monday, April 04, 2016
Greensboro, North Carolina — Wednesday, April 06, 2016
Charleston, West Virginia — Friday, April 08, 2016
Washington, DC — Sunday, April 10, 2016
Morgantown, West Virginia — Thursday, April 14, 2016
Toledo, Ohio — Saturday, April 16, 2016
Detroit, Michigan — Monday, April 18, 2016
Ann Arbor, Michigan — Wednesday, April 20, 2016
Lansing, Michigan — Thursday, April 21, 2016

Obama's coming for your guns schedule

Flint, Michigan — Friday, April 22, 2016
Bay City, Michigan — Saturday, April 23, 2016
Alpena, Michigan — Sunday, April 24, 2016
Mackinaw City, Michigan — Monday, April 25, 2016
Traverse City, Michigan — Tuesday, April 26, 2016
Grand Rapids, Michigan — Wednesday, April 27, 2016
South Bend, Indiana — Thursday, April 28, 2016
Indianapolis, Indiana — Friday, April 29, 2016
Columbus, Ohio — Saturday, April 30, 2016

Obama's coming for your guns schedule

Cincinnati, Ohio — Monday, May 02, 2016
Louisville, Kentucky — Wednesday, May 04, 2016
Lexington, Kentucky — Friday, May 06, 2016
Knoxville, Tennessee — Sunday, May 08, 2016
Chattanooga, Tennessee — Monday, May 09, 2016
Huntsville, Alabama — Tuesday, May 10, 2016
Birmingham, Alabama — Thursday, May 12, 2016
Jackson, Mississippi — Saturday, May 14, 2016
New Orleans, Louisiana — Monday, May 16, 2016

Obama's coming for your guns schedule

Baton Rouge, Louisiana — Wednesday, May 18, 2016
Lafayette, Louisiana — Friday, May 20, 2016
Lake Charles, Louisiana — Sunday, May 22, 2016
Orange, Texas — Tuesday, May 24, 2016
Jasper, Texas — Thursday, May 26, 2016
Shreveport, Louisiana — Saturday, May 28, 2016
Little Rock, Arkansas — Monday, May 30, 2016
Memphis, Tennessee — Wednesday, June 01, 2016
Nashville, Tennessee — Friday, June 03, 2016

Obama's coming for your guns schedule

Evansville, Indiana — Sunday, June 05, 2016
St. Louis, Missouri — Tuesday, June 07, 2016
Springfield, Illinois — Thursday, June 09, 2016
Chicago, Illinois — Saturday, June 11, 2016
Milwaukee, Wisconsin — Tuesday, June 14, 2016
Green Bay, Wisconsin — Thursday, June 16, 2016
Madison, Wisconsin — Saturday, June 18, 2016
Minneapolis, Minnesota — Monday, June 20, 2016
Duluth, Minnesota — Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Obama's coming for your guns schedule

Grand Forks, North Dakota — Friday, June 24, 2016
Fargo, North Dakota — Sunday, June 26, 2016
Sioux Falls, South Dakota — Tuesday, June 28, 2016
Omaha, Nebraska — Thursday, June 30, 2016
Des Moines, Iowa — Saturday, July 02, 2016
Kansas City, Missouri — Monday, July 04, 2016
Topeka, Kansas — Wednesday, July 06, 2016
Wichita, Kansas — Friday, July 08, 2016
Springfield, Missouri — Sunday, July 10, 2016

Obama's coming for your guns schedule

Fayetteville, Arkansas — Tuesday, July 12, 2016
Tulsa, Oklahoma — Thursday, July 14, 2016
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma — Saturday, July 16, 2016
Wichita Falls, Texas — Monday, July 18, 2016
Irving, Texas — Wednesday, July 20, 2016
Tyler, Texas — Friday, July 22, 2016
Lufkin, Texas — Sunday, July 24, 2016
Beaumont, Texas — Tuesday, July 26, 2016
Houston, Texas — Thursday, July 28, 2016

Obama's coming for your guns schedule

College Station, Texas — Saturday, July 30, 2016
Waco, Texas — Monday, August 01, 2016
Temple, Texas — Wednesday, August 03, 2016
Austin, Texas — Friday, August 05, 2016
San Antonio, Texas — Sunday, August 07, 2016
Victoria, Texas — Tuesday, August 09, 2016
Corpus Christi, Texas — Thursday, August 11, 2016
McAllen, Texas — Saturday, August 13, 2016
Laredo, Texas — Monday, August 15, 2016

Obama's coming for your guns schedule

Del Rio, Texas — Wednesday, August 17, 2016
San Angelo, Texas — Friday, August 19, 2016
Abilene, Texas — Sunday, August 21, 2016
Lubbock, Texas — Tuesday, August 23, 2016
Amarillo, Texas — Thursday, August 25, 2016
Pueblo, Colorado — Saturday, August 27, 2016
Denver, Colorado — Monday, August 29, 2016
Cheyenne, Wyoming — Wednesday, August 31, 2016
Rapid City, South Dakota — Thursday, September 01, 2016

Obama's coming for your guns schedule

Bismarck, North Dakota — Saturday, September 03, 2016
Glendive, Montana — Monday, September 05, 2016
Billings, Montana — Wednesday, September 07, 2016
Great Falls, Montana — Friday, September 09, 2016
Butte, Montana — Sunday, September 11, 2016
Missoula, Montana — Tuesday, September 13, 2016
Spokane, Washington — Thursday, September 15, 2016
Seattle, Washington — Saturday, September 17, 2016
Anchorage, Alaska — Monday, September 19, 2016
Seattle, Washington — Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Obama's coming for your guns schedule

Portland, Oregon — Friday, September 23, 2016
La Grande, Oregon — Sunday, September 25, 2016
Boise, Idaho — Monday, September 26, 2016
Pocatello, Idaho — Tuesday, September 27, 2016
Salt Lake City, Utah — Wednesday, September 28, 2016
Elko, Nevada — Friday, September 30, 2016
Bend, Oregon — Saturday, October 01, 2016
Eugene, Oregon — Sunday, October 02, 2016
Medford, Oregon — Monday, October 03, 2016

Anchorage, Alaska — Monday, September 19, 2016

Crescent City, California — Tuesday, October 04, 2016
Eureka, California — Wednesday, October 05, 2016
Redding, California — Thursday, October 06, 2016
Chico, California — Friday, October 07, 2016
Reno, Nevada — Saturday, October 08, 2016
South Lake Tahoe, California — Monday, October 10, 2016
Sacramento, California — Wednesday, October 12, 2016
Ukiah, California — Friday, October 14, 2016
Santa Rosa, California — Sunday, October 16, 2016

Anchorage, Alaska — Monday, September 19, 2016

San Francisco, California — Tuesday, October 18, 2016
Oakland, California — Wednesday, October 19, 2016
Stockton, California — Thursday, October 20, 2016
San Jose, California — Friday, October 21, 2016
Santa Cruz, California — Saturday, October 22, 2016
Merced, California — Sunday, October 23, 2016
Fresno, California — Monday, October 24, 2016
Visalia, California — Tuesday, October 25, 2016
King City, California — Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Obama's coming for your guns schedule

San Luis Obispo, California — Thursday, October 27, 2016
Bakersfield, California — Friday, October 28, 2016
Ventura, California — Sunday, October 30, 2016
Los Angeles, California — Monday, October 31, 2016
Honolulu, Hawaii — Wednesday, November 02, 2016
Los Angeles, California — Thursday, November 03, 2016
Irvine, California — Friday, November 04, 2016
Carlsbad, California — Saturday, November 05, 2016
San Diego, California — Sunday, November 06, 2016
El Centro, California — Tuesday, November 08, 2016
Palm Springs, California — Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Obama's coming for your guns schedule

San Bernardino, California — Thursday, November 10, 2016
Barstow, California — Saturday, November 12, 2016
Las Vegas, Nevada — Sunday, November 13, 2016
Page, Arizona — Tuesday, November 15, 2016
Flagstaff, Arizona — Wednesday, November 16, 2016
Phoenix, Arizona — Thursday, November 17, 2016
Tucson, Arizona — Saturday, November 19, 2016
El Paso, Texas — Sunday, November 20, 2016
Albuquerque, New Mexico — Monday, November 21, 2016

Obama's coming for your guns schedule

Amarillo, Texas — Tuesday, November 22, 2016
Lubbock, Texas — Wednesday, November 23, 2016
Midland, Texas — Thursday, November 24, 2016
Pecos, Texas — Friday, November 25, 2016
Fort Stockton, Texas — Saturday, November 26, 2016
Del Rio, Texas — Sunday, November 27, 2016
San Antonio, Texas — Monday, November 28, 2016
Laredo, Texas — Wednesday, November 30, 2016
Brownsville, Texas — Thursday, December 01, 2016

Obama's coming for your guns schedule

Kingsville, Texas — Friday, December 02, 2016
College Station, Texas — Saturday, December 03, 2016
Alexandria, Louisiana — Sunday, December 04, 2016
Vicksburg, Mississippi — Monday, December 05, 2016
Oxford, Mississippi — Tuesday, December 06, 2016
Florence, Alabama — Wednesday, December 07, 2016
Chattanooga, Tennessee — Thursday, December 08, 2016
Winston-Salem, North Carolina — Friday, December 09, 2016
Washington, DC — Saturday, December 10, 2016               Obama's coming for your guns schedule

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I made sure that the tour made it to South Texas (Kingsville and Corpus Christi) twice since that’s where many of my relatives live, and they have more guns than the United States Army….

Go get ’em, Mr. President!

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Happy National Cat Day from Zoey the Cool Cat!

Did you know?

Today is National Cat Day.

Here to help us celebrate is the one and only Zoey the Cool Cat.

img_1101 zoey the cool cat stamp img_1145 zoey the cool cat stamp img_1589 zoey the cool cat stamp img_1592 zoey the cool cat preparing for the weekend img_1619 zoey the cool cat stamp img_1803 zoey the cool cat stamp img_1808 zoey relaxed stamp img_1900 zoey carrier stamp img_1910 zoey the cool cat stamp img_1914 zoey the cool cat stamp img_1941 zoey the cool cat stamp img_1954 zoey the cool cat stamp img_4015 zoey the cool cat sleeping floor stamp img_5257 stamp img_5507 zoey the cool cat stamp img_5621 zoey the cool cat stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Are you happy?

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Need a unique gift for a special occasion?

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I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

The cotton ball tree

Did you know?

Although San Diego is defined as a desert in terms of annual rainfall, it also has a Mediterranean climate, so if you can meet the water needs of virtually any plant, it can grow here in San Diego. There even are redwood groves at the San Diego Zoo (coming out of the polar bear exhibit) and at Safari Park (going up to Condor Ridge).

One of the more unusual trees that grows here is what I call the “cotton ball tree.” Looks like this:

img_5749 floss silk tree stamp

img_5748 floss silk tree stamp

flower (21) floss silk tree flower stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The top two pictures were taken at the San Diego Zoo. The tree is so tall that I had missed it until a few years ago when it was dropping flowers and cotton balls. I asked at the Information Booth what the name of the “cotton ball tree” was. They knew exactly which tree I was talking about.

It’s a silk floss tree (Ceiba speciosa).

The lower part of the trunk often is swollen, while young tree trunks and the upper trunk and branches of older trees are covered with thorns. Roses don’t have anything on this tree!

file000023991 silk floss tree stamp

_MG_9162 silk floss tree thorns framed

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The silk floss tree is a deciduous tree native to the tropical and subtropical forests of South America, mainly in Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, northeast Argentina, and southern Brazil.

It is resistant to drought and moderate cold, and grows quite fast when water is abundant. It can get up to 82 feet tall. In an unusual twist for trees, the trunk is green, which means that it is capable of photosynthesis when leaves are absent. In older trees, the lower part of the trunk usually turns to gray. The swollen trunk stores water, as do the thorns.

The fruit is a ligneous ovoid pod, which sounds like something out of a Stephen King novel. They look like this:

_MG_8748 framed

IMG_0917 framed

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Once the pods ripen, they burst open to reveal a mass of cotton balls surrounding seeds the size and color of black beans.

img_3021 floss silk tree stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The cotton is used as stuffing (think pillows) and in packaging, and to make canoes, paper, and ropes. The seeds provide both edible and industrial vegetable oil.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

SAVED!

Did you know?

My hometown for the last nine years used to have a beautiful downtown area called The Village.

There were mature trees every three to five parking spaces, and I do mean parking spaces, as shown in this photo from Google Maps:

la mesa village trees

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Notice that the two red-arrowed trees are actually planted in the street! It made for a unique downtown experience and provided lots of shade on a hot day.

La Mesa, California, The Jewel of the HillsSadly, about a year ago the City of La Mesa started removing all the trees with the last trees removed a few months ago. The citizenry was in an uproar when it was announced that the trees were to be removed but, as usual, elected representatives and other powers-that-be know best…………………..smh.

Since I have a Bachelor of Science in Forestry from Texas A&M University, there’s a special place in my heart for trees. I’m always saddened when the electric company comes along and tops trees near electric lines, virtually killing them, or when apartment and condominium complexes decide to remove trees due to “maintenance issues.” In other words, they don’t want to maintain the trees, preferring concrete or dirt.

When I go to extraordinarily rich neighborhoods, though, it’s a pleasure to see that the inordinately wealthy seem to understand how much trees add to the beauty of the environment.

While I was up in a wealthy La Jolla beachside residence recently, I found evidence of the care that some people exhibit toward their trees.

In this first picture, many people would simply have chopped that pine tree down in order to have their view of the ocean. These people, however, did exactly what I like to do—they laced the tree so that they could see through it, making the tree look like a monster bonsai.

img_3025 tree la jolla stampPictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Notice the bottom center of the picture where it looks like a huge branch is coming out of the wall. It looks like that because that is exactly what these people did, saving the huge branch by building the wall around it:

img_3027 tree wall stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Those are my type of people!

When I was a senior at Texas A&M University, my senior project in Urban Forestry was to determine how much value trees added to real estate. My group chose to do our research in River Oaks, the wealthiest area in Houston at the time, and probably still. After eight weeks of monitoring the real estate market there, we were able to determine that a mature tree (usually Texas Live Oaks) added between $50,000 and $75,000 to the value of a home in River Oaks. That was in 1977!

Trees need carbon to survive, so while we humans are breathing in oxygen and expelling carbon, trees via photosynthesis are using carbon and expelling oxygen, one more reason why we need our trees, especially the mature ones! Plants are the air-purifiers for planet earth. So, please, if you have a mature tree on your property, find a way to save it instead of chopping it down!

Here is another mature tree, this one a coral tree, in the same neighborhood:

img_3040 la jolla tree stamp

SAVED!

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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