Friday, January 28, 2011

remember that day ?

NASA officials gathered at Kennedy Space Center today to mark the 25th anniversary of one of the worst disasters in the history of space travel. The space shuttle Challenger broke apart 73 seconds after take-off on January 28, 1986, killing all seven astronauts aboard.  

I remember that day well.   I was a junior in high school and Chemistry class had just started.  One of the last students to enter the room had heard the news in the hallway and yelled "THE SHUTTLE EXPLODED !"  No one actually believed her at first.  There was a radio in the room and we proceeded to listen to the news through the entire period.  Silence from everyone.  

Had the mission succeeded, the planned orbital activities were as follows: (from

On Flight Day 1, after arriving into orbit, the crew was to have two periods of scheduled high activity. First they were to check the readiness of the TDRS-B satellite prior to planned deployment. After lunch they were to deploy the satellite and its Inertial Upper Stage (IUS) booster and to perform a series of separation maneuvers. The first sleep period was scheduled to be eight hours long starting about 18 hours after crew wakeup the morning of launch.

On Flight Day 2, the Comet Halley Active Monitoring Program (CHAMP) experiment was scheduled to begin. Also scheduled were the initial "teacher in space" (TISP) video taping and a firing of the orbital maneuvering engines (OMS) to place Challenger at the 152-mile orbital altitude from which the Spartan would be deployed.

On Flight Day 3, the crew was to begin pre-deployment preparations on the Spartan and then the satellite was to be deployed using the remote manipulator system (RMS) robot arm. Then the flight crew was to slowly separate from Spartan by 90 miles.

On Flight Day 4, the Challenger was to begin closing on Spartan while Gregory B. Jarvis continued fluid dynamics experiments started on day two and day 3. Live telecasts were also planned to be conducted by Christa McAuliffe.

On Flight Day 5, the crew was to rendezvous with Spartan and use the robot arm to capture the satellite and re-stow it in the payload bay.

On Flight Day 6, re-entry preparations were scheduled. This included flight control checks, test firing of maneuvering jets needed for re-entry, and cabin stowage. A crew news conferences was also scheduled following the lunch period.

On Flight Day 7, the day would have been spent preparing the Space Shuttle for deorbit and entry into the atmosphere. The Challenger was scheduled to land at the Kennedy Space Center 144 hours and 34 minutes after launch. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


We have lived in our house for almost seven years now and I have never seen a mouse inside until this winter.  Ick.  I hate mice.  But we have one.  I have only seen the little bugger a couple times, but knowing it was nearby was enough to give me the heebie-geebies.  So why with three cats in the house are we experiencing such a problem ??   That's it - "earn your keep" I told them. 

Yesterday, as I came out of my bathroom, Brenda dropped a half-dead mouse at the door.  "GET IT !!!!!!!!!" I screamed.  She picked it up, shook it and dropped it about six feet away.  Now it definitely appeared all-dead.  I quickly disposed of it outside.  

I assumed it would be one of our two used-to-be-outside-now-inside cats that would catch the critter.  But no, it was our Princess.  Way to go, Brenda !  

Here is her re-enactment of the kill ...

Sunday, January 23, 2011

mmmmm . . . . . . . chicken pot pies

We've been working hard over the past year on changing our diets and have been eating much healthier foods overall.  But every once in a while we crave a good stick-to-our-bones meal, especially on a grey Sunday afternoon.  So I made some chicken pot pies from a recipe I found on  I had some 6" puff pastry squares, so I made mine in individual ramekins.  They turned out really delicious.  

1 c. chopped onion
1 c. chopped celery
1 c. chopped carrot
1/2 c. plus 2 tbsp. melted butter
1 c. frozen tiny English peas
1/4 c. plus 2 tbsp. flour
2 c. chicken broth
1 c. half & half
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
4 c. diced cooked chicken
2 (17 1/4 oz.) pkg. frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp. half & half

Saute onion, celery and carrot in butter for 10 minutes. Stir in peas and flour, cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Gradually add broth and 1 cup half & half; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thick and bubbly. Stir in salt and pepper. Add chicken, stirring well. Ladle chicken mixture into oven-proof bowl(s), filling to within 3/4 inch of rim. Set aside.

Roll pastry sheets to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut pastry 1/2 inch larger than bowl(s). Combine egg yolk and 1 tablespoon half & half. Brush one side of pastry. Place brushed side down over bowl(s), folding edges under and pressing firmly to sides of bowl. Brush top with remaining egg mixture. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes until top is puffed and browned. Yields: 6 servings.

Substituting diced Yukon Gold potatoes for the celery was the only change I made.  

Friday, January 21, 2011

Squirrel Appreciation Day

Seriously.  Today - January 21st - is Squirrel Appreciation Day.   From
Squirrel Appreciation Day is an opportunity to enjoy and appreciate your tree climbing, nut gathering neighborhood squirrels. It's held in mid-winter when food sources are scarce for squirrels and other wildlife. Sure, squirrels spent all fall gathering and "squirreling " away food. But, their supplies may not be enough. And, the variety of food is limited. So, give them an extra special treat today to supplement their winter diets.  
Christy Hargrove from Asheville, North Carolina started Squirrel Appreciation Day on January 21, 2001. Christy is a wildlife rehabilitator in North Carolina, and is is affiliated with the Western North Carolina Nature Center.

I thought I had mistakenly landed on The Onion's webpage instead of my intended Huffington Post.  But it's the truth.  As I laughed, something tapped on the office window.  How appropriate. . .   

He (or she) paid no attention to Brenda. It opened the suet basket cage and grabbed what could fit in his/her fat fingers.  Ok, claws.  Whatever.  

Then decided that there must be some riches in the feeder too.  

Right after the next shot, he/she flipped the lid open and proceeded to fall two stories.  Which didn't seem to phase him/her much.  Right back at it.  

Brenda fully appreciated the amusement today.  So celebrated ...... and window cleaning eminent.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

a day of Deception . . .

We took advantage of yesterday's beautiful sunny weather with a quick trip to Deception Pass State Park , at the northern end of Whidbey Island.  

Plaque reads:

Deception Pass
  Named by Captain George Vancouver, 10 June, 1792.  Feeling that he had been “deceived” as to the nature of the inner waterway, Port Gardner, he wrote on his chart “Deception Pass”.  He honored Master Joseph Whidbey, who found the passage while commanding a small-boat crew of explorers, by naming the island “Whidbey”

Velocity of currents in Deception Pass 5 to 8 knots per hour.  
Depth varies 4 to 37 fathoms
1 knot  6082.66 feet                        1 fathom   6 feet

We had lunch at a picnic table along the waterfront.  Not too bad for a January day. The sun was fun while it lasted.    

Sunday, January 16, 2011

oh well . . .

It was fun while it lasted.  Thanks Coach Pete and Seahawks.  
And congrats to the Bears !

Friday, January 14, 2011

let's follow Italy's ways . . .

At the beginning of this year, Italy became the first European country to place a ban on the use of plastic bags.  Having one of the highest rates of consumption in Europe, Italian residents use more than 300 bags each, totaling more than 20 billion bags a year. The law for the gradual ban was first introduced in 2006.  Cities worldwide are moving toward the environmentally conscious decision to ban plastic shopping bags. Here's a short list of what's already been done worldwide from

In April 2007, Leaf Rapids, a town of about 550 people in Canada's Manitoba, became the first municipality in North America to adopt a law forbidding the use of plastic bags by shops. The law calls for fines of as much as 1,000 Canadian dollars, though no one has yet received one, a town official says. Local businesses offer reusable cloth bags as an alternative.

In January 2008, the New York City Council voted to require large stores and retail chains to recycle plastic bags.

In Germany, stores provide consumers with the option of a plastic bag or a canvas- or cotton-made tote for a fee. Many German consumers carry their own bags when doing the shopping and it's not uncommon to see some using wicker baskets or wheeled carts. Stores that offer plastic bags have to pay a recycling fee.

Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania's Zanzibar islands have banned flimsy plastic, introducing minimum thickness requirements. Many independent supermarkets in Kenya's capital, Nairobi, now charge a small fee for each plastic bag but also give away a free, reusable basket with a minimum purchase.

The Swedish government is encouraging plastic bag producers to continually develop greener bags. Two of the Nordic country's biggest grocery chains have made biodegradable paper bags and reusable cloth bags available to shoppers

Click here to view larger image

You can track what's happening worldwide via the interactive map here - thanks to (one of my FAVORITE reusable bags) Their website is loaded with a great deal of information and resources about the reusable bag movement.  

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

cross-eyed Heidi . . .

My friend Heidi brought this story to my attention today.  It makes me laugh.

BERLIN (Reuters Life) – She's middle-aged, gray-haired and stays up all night. Still, Heidi the cross-eyed opossum is Germany's biggest media sensation, and she has not even made her debut at the Leipzig Zoo.

Yet Heidi appears to be the next in a line of animal celebrities in Germany. The 2-1/2-year-old opossum has a growing Facebook following pushing 80,000 fans, sparked a popular song on YouTube and will soon star as a plush toy. However, the public will not get their first glimpse of the opossum until July, when the zoo opens its tropical wildlife exhibit. 

Demand for information about Heidi has been so high the zoo has dedicated a portion of its website to answering Heidi-related questions, such as why she is cross-eyed. 

Zoo officials believe that Heidi's crossed eyes could come from a poor diet when she was young, causing fat deposits to develop behind her eyes -- neither of which causes her pain or poses a health risk, the zoo said. 

Poor vision is not much of a problem for Heidi, the zoo said. As a nocturnal animal, opossum's rely heavily on their sense of smell instead of their sight to get around.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

who dat ?

S E A H A W K S  !!  

I'll admit we're not the biggest football fans and we've only been to one Seahawks game since we moved here, but it's hard not to get excited about yesterday's win against the New Orleans Saints.  And what a game it was.  The 12th Man made it's presence known.   

all photos by Joshua Trujillo/

Friday, January 7, 2011

a photo a day . . .

Thanks to some impetus from my sister-in-law, I started a new blog that will feature a photo a day from camera apps on my iPhone.  

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Here we go, 2011 - here we go

I've been perusing  2010-In-Review articles, looking for fodder for a new year's post.  I thought this piece from was interesting.   It looks at 20 different things that became obsolete last decade.  While I won't recount all 20 here, these were a few that made me feel pretty old - considering I remember SOME of them when they were new.  

   VCRs and VHS Tapes

Travel Agents

(ok - I don't remember these when they were new)

Newspaper Classifieds
(or these)



Fax Machines

Makes me wonder what new gadgets and trends these days will be considered obsolete by 2021.  Will we look at iPads then and say "that's SO 2010 !"  ? ?