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SNIPPETS (4-22-18)

Snippets

SNIPPET 1

It’s been a month since I was able to work on my Succulent Wall due to rain; brother-in-law having a stroke; a lonely, scared cat (Ninja the Visiting Fat Cat) which came to visit us while BIL was in the hospital; more rain; too cold to work outside (lower than 70°F).

Yesterday was warm and sunny. Wonderful gardening weather.

Every time I put a rock or plant in the ground at by Succulent Wall, I take a picture. When I’m finished, I’ll be able to make a time-lapse GIF.

Following is the final picture from yesterday evening, 7:30. The cruddy fence belongs to the Open Space Preserve next door and is one of the reason why I chose to build my Succulent Wall right there. The beautiful plants & flowers take one’s eyes away from the cruddy fence.

Succulent Wall

SNIPPET 2

I miss the days of yore when we could sample food in the grocery store. Just take off the lid, stick your finger in, lick it, put the lid back on, place back on shelf. No problem. Now we have all these adult-proof plastic thingies on the lids, and if you get it off, you still have another plastic thingie under the lid. Life just ain’t what it used to be. Here’s the “Swiss Army Knife” that I used to sample food in the grocery store back in the ’60s:

Swiss Army Knife

SNIPPET 3

My new BFF gardening friend. I believe this is a huge specimen of the Pinacate beetle. Eleodes sp. Stink bug. Clown beetle.

Pinacate beetle

SNIPPET 4

Seems I wake up every morning to news of a shooting in one of the time zones ahead of me. This morning it’s in Tennessee.

The gun nuts, of course, blame it on the person, not the gun—I’m pretty sure the gun helps—and want to ban everything except guns, even though no one is suggesting banning all guns, only guns used exclusively to commit mass murder. I mean, when was the last time you saw Facebook or Instagram pictures of the deer, or rabbit, or pheasant, that some hunter killed with his AK-47?

This morning’s mass murder was nude except for a green jacket. I guess we need to ban all nudity. Those poor nudists at their nudist resort….

Gun evidence

SNIPPET 5

A+R POTTERY—Designer Pots for your small cactus & succulentsA+R POTTERY had its first official sale as a business entity at the General Meeting of the San Diego Cactus & Succulent Society on April 14.

It sold for $40.

Here it is:

First official sale for A+R POTTERY

SNIPPET 6

A+R POTTERY is going against conventional wisdom in its business venture because the #1 general rule for caring for cactus & succulents is:

Make sure your pot has a drainage hole.

I created a little 4-page, 4.25″ x 5.5″ brochure to explain all about Designer Pots. Here it is for your reading pleasure:

Look ma!

SNIPPET 7

Zoey the Cool Cat has a propensity to yawn twice, the second one exactly 30 seconds after the first.

Once I knew that, it was easy to get photos like this one:

Zoey the Cool Cat

SNIPPET 8

Studies conducted by social psychologists Hart Blanton and Christopher Burrows of the College of Liberal Arts at my alma mater, Texas A&M University, showed that participants had a reduced willingness to drive under the influence of alcohol after playing video games that contained anti-DUI messages.

I’m all for research and trying to improve the world, but I can also see this kind of technology in the hands of people like Twitler, McConnell, Ryan, Cruz, Rubio, the Koch Brothers, the rich, corporations, just about the whole current crop of Republicans, and, of course, the Russians. My vision isn’t pretty.

SNIPPET 9

Last week we knew that the rapture would occur before the end of April. Now we know that it is tomorrow.

Are you prepared?

I won’t be going, of course, because I still have a cat and gardens to take care of……………..

SNIPPET 10

After completing our tax returns on the seventeenth, I can definitively tell you that it’s far more lucrative to get your inheritance via life insurance rather than retirement accounts, bank accounts, savings accounts, CD’s, Roth IRA’s, and 401(k)’s.

Taxes eat up a significant portion of everything except life insurance.

Sadly, our continuing inheritance puts us just under the borderline for next year’s Twitler tax cuts, so we’re going to get hit hard.

Canada, Mexico, and Australia are looking pretty good…..

SNIPPET 11

The other day my bank account had a deposit of $3.15 in it from an entity which I did not recognize. These types of deposits show up occasionally, and whenever they do, it’s usually a class action settlement, as it was this time.

Uber.

My best payday in a class action settlement was a little over $96.

My worst and most ridiculous class action settlement was a penny. Yep. A penny. And it arrived via the mail as a check. Who in the hell writes a check for a penny?

SNIPPET 12

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel!

It’s looking like I will finish my leftover October 2017 Halloween candy by the end of April 2018.

I’m sooooooooooo happy!

This is all I have left out of the original two container stuffed full:

Halloween 2017 leftover candy

SNIPPET 13

Those of us who have studied history know that politics has always involved favors and money. Here’s an excerpt from “The Fountainhead” by Ayn Rand, published in 1943:

[Wynand, the extraordinarily rich guy] asked to be connected with an eminent Senator in Washington.

“Good morning, Senator,” he said when the gentleman came on the wire within two minutes. “It is so kind of you to answer this call. I appreciate it. I do not wish to impose on your time. But I felt I owed you an expression of my deepest gratitude. I called to thank you for your work in passing the Hayes-Langston Bill.”

“But . . . Mr. Wynand!” The Senator’s voice seemed to squirm. “It’s so nice of you, but . . . the Bill hasn’t been passed.”

“Oh, that’s right. My mistake. It will be passed tomorrow.”

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

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SNIPPETS (4-15-18)

Snippets

SNIPPET 1

Yahoooooooooo! First place in the Cactus Novice category at the April 14 General Meeting of the San Diego Cactus & Succulent Society. Novice simply means I don’t have a lot of experience showing plants. Judges rarely comment on presentation but this one did. He was gushing over the black metal pot and black/gray top dressing sandwiched between the white cactus (Mammilaria plumosa) and the white tile. My “Reverse Oreo” look.

1st place, Cactus Novice, Russel Ray, San Diego Cactus & Succulent Society

I also got a third place in the Succulent Novice category. A Crassula corymbulosa (Red pagoda).

3rd place, Succulent Novice, Russel Ray, San Diego Cactus & Succulent Society

Both plants are in Designer Pots by A+R POTTERY (that’s me!).

SNIPPET 2

Thursday night, April 13, was Ninja the Visiting Fat Cat’s last night with J&R Rescue Service. She went back home to her daddy on Friday. Following is the last picture I took of Ninja the Visiting Fat Cat. She and Zoey the Cool Cat were tolerating each other but were none too happy, Ninja at being in a strange home, and Zoey at having a strange cat in her home of 10 years.

Ninja the Visiting Fat Cat & Zoey the Cool Cat

SNIPPET 3

One of my favorite candies in my youth was candy corn. I haven’t eaten any in several decades, so imagine my surprise when candy corn showed up in my garden this past week.

Candy corn succulent

SNIPPET 4

One of the neighborhood kids (we’ll call him Joe Bob) came by this past Friday. Turns out that he missed his school bus so, uh, he didn’t go to school. Gosh, when I missed my school bus when I was his age, my wise old grandmother drove me to school, which made her none too happy.

Joe Bob wanted to rescue bees from my Wildlife Corner pond where the thirsty bees drink after their long journey collecting pollen. We’ve done this twice before.

Normally we use sticks and leaves to rescue the little ones that are drowning and too weak to get out of the water. In this case, Joe Bob cupped his hands, dipped them in the water, and came out with a rescued honeybee which rested on his hand for a minute until its wings were dry enough to fly away. Here’s Joe Bob with his BFF honeybee on his hand.

Rescuing drowning honey bees

Although you can’t see all of Joe Bob’s face, his look was priceless, which you can kind of tell by the smile on his face.

I must admit that I was smiling, too, at seeing a young child taking pleasure in Mother & Father Nature’s creations and helping them out.

I’m always leery of taking pictures of other people’s children so later that evening,  I put the picture on a flash drive and walked it over to Joe Bob’s house, explained what had happened and why I had a picture of their son, and gave the picture to them. They seemed quite happy with me.

SNIPPET 5

I have survived so many end-of-world predictions that I have lost count. The latest prediction is that the end of the world will come by the end of April 2018. I shall wash & dry every day through the end of the month to make sure that I have clean underwear.

SNIPPET 6

This morning I drove by a church out in the boondocks. This message was on their marquee:

“There is nothing too hard for God.”

“Hmmm,” I thought. “The Crusades, Salem Witch Trials, slavery, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, cancer, just to name a few.” I continued: “If there is nothing too hard for God and s/he’s not doing anything, I don’t want to be associated with that God because s/he’s cruel, mean, and heartless.”

SNIPPET 7

Who knew that the Easter Cactus grows little beards after the dead blossoms fall off?

Easter cactus

SNIPPET 8

My new Echevieria ‘Dondo’ planted in a Designer Pot by A+R POTTERY.

Echevieria 'Dondo'

The San Diego platform base actually is attached to the pot using 100% silicone.

SNIPPET 9

Many plants respond to sunlight by turning various shades of red. Here’s an Aeonium which spend a lot of time in the sun and has morning mist drops on it.

Aeonium with raindrops

SNIPPET 10

Baby ducky season is upon us but who knew that daddies could dance? And on water?

Male Mallard dancing on water

SNIPPET 11

And here are a few baby duckies, two of them trying to clamber up the concrete wall of the pond to reach momma and the other little baby duckies.

Baby duckies

SNIPPET 12

Huge, monster, gigantic, big, really really really really big soap bubbles seem to be the latest rage here in San Diego. Tide pods?

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

Euphorbia ferox

Did You Know?—I’m not seeing the similar features

Did you know?

I finally got around to repotting my spiny Euphorbia ferox into a larger pot with similar spines on the side:

Euphorbia ferox

Little itsy bitsy teeny tiny yellow flower buds are popping out all over.

If you’re thinking that you have heard “Euphorbia” before, well it’s possible. Your common Christmas poinsettia is Euphorbia pulcherrima.

Poinsettia

The common “crown of thorns” also is a Euphorbia, Euphorbia milii.

Crown of Thorns

The genus Euphorbia is a very large and diverse genus of plants, as shown here. Who would think that the poinsettia was botanically related to those thorny cacti?

According to sources, it’s the result of convergent evolution where independent evolution results in similar features in species of different lineages.

Hmmm.

I’m just not seeing the poinsettia’s “similar features” to those two thorny cacti?

Anyone?

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

Fight organized crime

Opinion—And now you know: They get to keep it!

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Back in Spring 1976 as a junior at Texas A&M University majoring in Forest Management, one of my required courses was Economics 301. My professor was Dr. Phil Gramm. A tenured professor making around $75,000 per year. For as long as he remained at Texas A&M University.

Some might remember him as the long-time (Jan. 3, 1985 – Nov. 30, 2002) United States Senator from Texas. A Republican Senator.

In 1976, Professor Gramm ran against U.S. Senator Lloyd Bentsen (D) in the Democratic primary. He lost.

In 1978, he was elected to the United States House of Representatives as a Democrat, and re-elected in 1980 and 1982. Gramm was a DINO (Democrat In Name Only) in every sense of that acronym. The American Conservative Union gave Gramm a score of 89 for his first four years in office.

Gramm had been on the House Budget Committee but had a falling out with leadership and was thrown off the Committee. In response, Gramm resigned as a United States Congressman on January 5, 1983. He ran as a Republican in the Texas special election to fill his vacated seat. He won. As a Republican. Gramm became the first Republican to represent the Texas 6th District since its creation in 1846.

That should tell you something about politics right there, both in terms of name recognition and in terms of party affiliation.

In 1984, Gramm ran for the United States Senate to replace the retiring John Tower. As a Republican. To replace a Republican.

Gramm won.

Gramm won re-election to the United States Senate three times, serving until his retirement on November 30, 2002.

When Gramm retired, newspapers throughout the world announced that he had $64 million in his campaign war chest. He got to keep that money. Did not have to turn it over to the State of Texas or the U.S. government. Did not have to return — indeed, DID NOT return — any of it to those who had donated to his campaigns throughout the years, or to his constituents as a “Thank you for your support all these years!”

One person who donated consistently to his campaigns was yours truly. I got not a single cent back. It was that $64 million that resulted in me having never ever ever contributed another cent to a political campaign. I have volunteered my time, but not a single politician at any level is getting a penny of my hard-earned cash.

I bring this up because of the special election in Pennsylvania held a couple of days ago in Pennsylvania’s 18th District, a reliably Republican District which President Twitler won by 20%. The two candidates were Conor Lamp, a Democrat, and Rick Saccone, Republican. Lamp won, making him the first Democrat to represent the District since 2001 and only the sixth Democrat in the District’s history, beginning in 1826.

Current news is reporting that as of February 21, Lamb had raised $3.9 million and spent $3 million, and that Saccone had raised $900,000 and spent $600,000.

For the sake of argument, let’s use those figures.

What do they mean?

Well, essentially it means that Saccone gets to keep $300,000. For losing. I want to be such a loser.

Fight organized crimeLamb would get to keep $900,000. The difference is that Saccone, having lost, can spend his $300,000 immediately. Lamb must retire or lose re-election before being able to spend his $900,000, so what currently-serving politicians typically do is keep any extra money in a “campaign war chest” for future campaigns.

So let’s take this back to Professor Phil Gramm and do the math using round numbers and simple formulas. We’ll presume that tenured professor Phil Gramm, 34 in 1976, would make $75,000 annually, continue teaching until age 65, and never get a raise. Note that such a presumption on its very face is false since Texas A&M University is a public university, and we all know just how generous government jobs are. Nevertheless, here’s the math.

65 – 34 = 31 years at $75,000 per year = $2,325,000

In 1985, when Gramm was elected to the Senate, a Senator’s salary was $75,100 annually. So that’s a wash if we presume no raises for Senators. However, here are the actual salaries for Senators since 1985:

1985 – $75,100
1986 – $75,100
1987 – $89,500
1988 – $89,500
1989 – $89,500
1990 – $98,400
1991 – $101,900
1992 – $129,500
1993 – $133,600
1994 – $133,600
1995 – $133,600
1996 – $133,600
1997 – $133,600
1998 – $136,700
1999 – $136,700
2000 – $141,300
2001 – $145,100
2002 – $150,000

Total – $2,126,300

It’s pretty much a wash in total actual salary, but the professorship covers 31 years whereas the senatorship covers only 18 years. I think I could handle an extra 13 years off!

So now that $64,000,000 comes into play. Does anyone really think that a teacher, even a tenured college professor, perhaps even a Nobel Prize winner, would retire with $64,000,000? (Note that the Nobel Prize in Economics for 2017 was awarded a mere $1,110,000.)

If we’re really generous with the professorship, perhaps Gramm would have written an Economics book that not only got published but was used as a textbook in Economics classes throughout the world. Let’s consider the annual salary totals a wash and be generous and give Gramm a Nobel Prize in Economics and an Economics textbook used as a standard in classes everywhere. Does one really think all of that would have added up to $64,000,000? Maybe if he wrote an Economics horror story. Wait. Gramm WAS an economics horror story…..

Now you know, though, why rich people like the Heinzes, duPonts, Kennedys, and even my own representative, Darrel Issa, a multimillionaire, go into politics. It’s not their desire to serve the public, IMHO. It’s their desire to get an easy job that pays well, has great medical benefits, has a great retirement salary that one can get after only a few terms in political office — certainly nothing like a commoner working until age 65, or later — and, of course, getting to keep everything left over in that ol’ campaign war chest.

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

A+R POTTERY logo and first two completed Designer Pots

A+R POTTERY logo

My partner, Andrew, and I are moving full speed ahead. Our first completed pot, even over-completed since it included a plant, something we’re not going to do, was given to Andrew’s dad. It looked like this:

A+R POTTERY pot #7

That’s A+R POTTERY pot #7.

Andrew took the picture using his smart phone. Then I took the picture into Photoshop, converted it to line art, added color and the text, and voilà! Instant logo. (Instant. Ha! Took me two days!) Following is how we got from that picture to the logo.

First I removed the background:

I took that picture and created black & white line art:

A+R POTTERY

The part that took the longest was applying green and brown to specific sections of the line art. Adding the text was the easiest part.

A+R POTTERY logo

Now I have to create our tagline. Probably something like this:

DESIGNER POTS
for your small cactus & succulents 

Then I have to get shirts and business cards made.

Turns out that I don’t need a business license for where I live because I’m in an unincorporated area of San Diego County. Yahoooooo! Hundreds of dollars saved. Let’s hear it for living outside city limits.

Turns out that I also don’t need a sales tax license for doing Internet sales. However, I will need a state sales tax license because I’ll be selling at cactus and succulent shows throughout the ten counties of Southern California. I’ll also have to get business licenses for each city in which I want to sell. I’ll get those one by one so that the initial cost isn’t prohibitive.

My second designer pot that went out the door has a story behind it:

I have landscaped the new home that Jim, Zoey the Cool Cat, and I moved into in July 2017. I’m not finished but the front is almost done. Looked like this on February 23:

Landscaping on 02232017

After the hail and rain storm on February 27, I decided to put gutters and downspouts up. A roofing company just down the road came by on Friday, March 2, to take measurements and provide a quote. The lady loved my landscaping, as well as the Designer Pot that I was holding in my hand. It was the pot I made for Andrew’s dad, and I was taking it inside to water. She reduced the price of my gutters and downspouts by $39 if I would make her a Designer Pot.

The gutters were installed yesterday; downspouts to come.

I finished her Designer Pot today. Her company’s color is red (and I mean red, like you’ve never seen red before!), so I made a red Designer Pot and put a Spring Cactus with red flowers in it. It’s designated A+R POTTERY pot #18. Looks like this:

Designer Pot by A+R POTTERY

Designer Pot by A+R POTTERY

Designer Pot by A+R POTTERY

If the plant looks like a “Christmas Cactus,” well, it kind of is. First, though, the common Christmas Cactus is not a cactus. It is a succulent. All cactus are succulents, but not all succulents are cactus.

But it’s fixin’ to (fixin’ to is Texan for “about to”) bloom, and although Christmas is right around the corner, Christmas is not here yet. This one is a “Spring Cactus,” which means those little red buds should be in full bloom come March 20.

As with many things in today’s world, people either were not satisfied  or wanted more. Enter plant geneticists and breeders. Along with our standard Christmas Cactus which blooms at Christmas, we now have Halloween Cactus, Thanksgiving Cactus, Valentine’s Cactus, Spring Cactus, and Easter Cactus. All of them are Schlumbergera hybrids.

See if you can guess when they bloom!

Pots #1 through 6, and #8 through 17, are incomplete, either not having been grouted yet or missing their accent pieces (small rocks, pebbles, and wood).

Since the planter itself sits on flooring or pool tile, which are rough and can scratch or otherwise damage whatever the tile is sitting on, I have added those little spot cushions to the underside of each Designer Pot. Makes the pot easier to move around without scratching anything.

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

Going into blogging semi-retirement

I live in my own little world

I’m unretiring from work retirement. What that means to you is that I’m semi-retiring from blogging.

When I started blogging in 2007, I was doing it for the main purpose of getting “Google Juice” for my home inspection business. I blogged at a real estate site called “ActiveRain” until January 2012 when I switched to WordPress. ActiveRain originally was founded as a blogging platform for Realtors. Then it opened up to people in the real estate industry or serving the real estate industry.

Realtors generally, as a whole, don’t like home inspectors, so when I became the #1 ranked person on ActiveRain, lots of Realtors complained, and pretty much I was asked to leave. No big deal. I got my Google Juice, and my company thrived.

I had so much fun blogging, though, that I kept it up.

I had always wanted to be a writer, and I have so many interests, that blogging just came naturally for me. Because of those so many interests, I started blogging three times a day here at WordPress. I touched on real estate, gardening, music (The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray, Music on The Music Chronicles of Russel RayMondays), events of the day (Opinion), photography (How I Did It, Picture of the Moment, Then & Now), fauna, flora (Friday Flower Fiesta), the San Diego Zoo & Safari Park, SeaWorld, cats (yes, cats are in their own category separate from fauna), railroads, my own life (Did You Know?), and probably a few other subjects in the beginning that I’m forgetting about now.

It’s not that I don’t still enjoy blogging, but as with lots of things about the Internet, even the jerks are blogging now, and when they come to my blog and exhibit just how much of a jerk they are, it takes away from the fun that was blogging. Such was the case with a commenter on my recent post “Retirement ends, again.” He brought up some objections to my new business. I have no problem with objections and discussion. It’s the objections and comments that I was looking for. A+R Pottery will be the 39th company that I have created in my career, all of them successful, and most, if not all, still in business. I have lost contact with some of the people and companies who hired me to start their businesses, so I’m not sure if all of them are still going as strong as when I left them.

One of the comments this jerk left on my blog post actually caused me to modify my Styled Pottery design a wee bit. That modification will cost me about 3¢ per pot. It’s a cost that I can live with, and I really do think the modification will help. It’s always nice to address objections before a company ever gets going. However, the guy was such a jerk as I answered his objections that I finally unfollowed him and and deleted his comments and my responses to them. Kind of like when Billy Graham died: “Good riddance to bad rubbish.”

I have given one pot away, #7 to my partner’s dad, and I have already sold two pots, both yesterday, and both for $39.

The first was to the lady from the roofing company who came out to measure my roof for rain gutters. When she drove up, I was walking to the garage with a newly created pot.

The other was to a lady who lives in the neighborhood and moved in just a couple of months after Jim, Zoey the Cool Cat, and I moved in. She and her husband had driven around the neighborhood to look at other properties when they came across me working in the yard. They didn’t stop that day, but yesterday the garage door was open and I was working in the garage creating Styled Pottery. She stopped and honked. I went out to see what she wanted. She just wanted to tell me that she had been driving by my property every day since they moved in to keep track of what I had done that day in my landscaping. She loved it—the cactus and succulents, the container gardening, the not-standard, not-concrete walkway from the garage to the front door, and all the textures, colors, and unusual plants. She asked me what I was doing now, to which I replied that I was making “Styled Pottery.” That intrigued her so I went back to the garage and brought out two samples. She was amazed. She parked her vehicle and came to the garage, saw all the Styled Pottery currently in production, and those which were finished, and bought one of them. The PRP (Public Relations Pot) and the two I sold all were like this:

A+R Pottery, custom cactus and succulent pots for indoors or outdoor protected locations

Yes, I already knew that would be one of my most popular Styled Pots.

Both of those purchases were impulse buys, and that’s exactly the type of purchase that occurs at cactus & succulent show and sales which target the general public. That’s my market.

Starting companies, however, is a time-intensive endeavor, which is why my blogging has been very inconsistent recently. Heck, it’s been inconsistent since December 31, 2016, when I retired. One would think that having so much more time would lead to more blogging, not less. I just wasn’t motivated, though, because I was too sad and depressed about not having anything to do anymore. I like people. Most people. Not jerks. Not people in the mold of President Twitler and his ilk.

In looking for something to do, in January I volunteered to be the new Newsletter Editor for the San Diego Cactus & Succulent Society. My first newsletter was the March 2018 issue. You can read it here. The generic fill-in pictures are mine, so this gives me a great opportunity to continue with my photography, especially my new interest in macro photograph, and get Photographic Art—Pink Hibiscusnew pictures from which to develop my Photographic Art. The newsletter gives me an opportunity to write, something I’ve always loved to do.

With the new position and the new business, time is limited. Something has to suffer. If President Twitler and his ilk were not trying to destroy everything that has made America great during my lifetime, I would not be starting another company to bring in more money. But if Twitler and his ilk take away my health insurance, and I get sick, I’m sunk.

I went without health insurance from January 1, 2004, to June 30, 2014. Not of my own choosing. Insurance companies would not insure me. The Affordable Care Act (aka “ObamaCare”) was just what I needed during my elderly years. Never did I think that Twitler and his ilk would do everything they could to make life hard, or not even worth living, for the poor, the sick, children, victims of natural disasters, the elderly, women, black, gays & lesbians, transgenders, veterans home from deployment, the hungry, and so many others. It’s all so disheartening, and I fit into several of their target groups since I’m an elderly gay person with pre-existing health conditions. A bad earthquake could put me into another group, too.

Zoey the Cool Cat chilling on the lanaiSo at the mere age of 62.362 (my birthday is this coming Sunday), I have to realize that people live longer in today’s world, even without health insurance. I need to ensure that Jim, Zoey the Cool Cat, and I can continue living the style to which Zoey the Cool Cat has become accustomed. Ergo, blogging has to be cut back in favor of the new income-producing enterprise. I’ll continue blogging at least once a week, and I’ll try to mix up the subject matters so no one gets bored. I might continue to post photographs, but when I do, I’ll turn off comments for that specific post. Only the written blog posts will have comments turned on.

Although blogging will be cut back, I shall continue to visit the blogs of people I follow, currently 2,348 bloggers, leaving comments and likes. I won’t be following anyone new, though, so if you left a comment anytime before 3/6/2018, you’ll be in my Excel spreadsheet of people to visit.

Happy blogging!

A+R Pottery

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

Did You Know?—Book Review: “The Demon in the Freezer” by Richard Preston

Did you know?

Many decades ago I wanted to be a history professor. Then I found out how much money K-12 history teachers made and knew that it would not be enough to keep me in the lifestyle to which I dreamed. So I thought about being a college history professor. Then I found out that I probably would have to go to school for eight more years—four for a bachelor’s degree, two for a master’s, and two more for a doctorate’s. Not in this lifetime, or the next. I resigned myself to being a history buff.

"The Demon in the Freezer" by Richard Preston“The Demon in the Freezer” by Richard Preston is a history book about the eradication of smallpox. Smallpox is considered one of the worst diseases in the history of humanity, killing almost one-third of those infected, and killing about 300 million people just in the Twentieth Century. Pictures on Wikipedia of people with smallpox makes me think that it might have been better to die than to live with the results of smallpox.

Smallpox has been eradicated worldwide with the last known naturally occurring case being a case of variola minor (the more serious smallpox is variola major) in October 1977 in Somalia. However, there are “stocks” of smallpox, both variola major and variola minor and various strains of both, at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, and in at the State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology VECTOR in Russia. Theoretically, no one else has any stock of smallpox, but that is assuming that all the countries in the world that once had smallpox stocks either destroyed them or turned them over to the World Health Organization for transmittal to CDC or VECTOR.

After 9/11 and the anthrax letters sent to various officials in Washington, D.C., many researchers started thinking seriously about biowarfare, and smallpox rose to the forefront. Because of the many ways smallpox can travel from human to human, and the population and mobility of the world, many of those same researchers believe that a simple warhead loaded with smallpox could be more damaging to the world than any nuclear bomb. After reading “The Demon in the Freezer,” I can understand why.

One name mentioned in the book that I was quite familiar with was that of Robert S. Mueller III. Currently he is the Special Counsel for the Department of Justice and is investigating the current president and his family for obstruction of justice, collusion with Russia, money laundering, and probably a whole assortment of crimes. The reason why he is mentioned in this book, published in 2002, is because he was the Direct of the Federal Bureau of Investigation from September 4, 2001, to September 4, 2013. He was an integral part of keeping tabs on the anthrax scares at the time, providing then-President Bush with daily updates on bioterror and other terrorist threats.

If you like history, and you have any interest at all in what’s going on in the world with the current U.S. president empowering and enabling all this hatred toward other people, even fellow American citizens, this is a book that might cause you to sit up and take notice.

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