I Hate Aphids

So I was looking at my midget lemon tree and saw a bunch of clumps of stuff on several branches as well as noticed that there was a lot of ant activity. I looked more closely at the branches and thought perhaps they were aphid eggs so I did a little research and found that was exactly what they were. The ants were essentially taking care of them but ion a weird sort of way. The ants stroke the aphids with their antennae and that causes the aphids to excrete  honeydew, which is a digestive by-product. At some point the aphids made it to the midget tree first and excreted honeydew which drew in the ants. Still, i hate it. I am now trying non-pesticide ways of getting rid of the ants and drying up the aphids. I may just net off the tree and stick a bunch of lady bugs in there. Lady Bugs are an aphids worst nightmare.

Today i tried spraying white vinegar and sprinkled cinnamon, which ants are supposed to not like. If that doesn’t work I will try corn meal. They will supposedly take it into the colony, eat it and when they take in moisture the cornmeal will swell and essentially kill them.

Here are some pictures and I will non-shamelessly plug my Nikon Coolpix L620 at the same time for its awesome 18MP photos. I don’t normally upload higher MP graphic images but click to view if interested.

Little Red School House – Knott’s Berry Farm

ITP_-_110812-IMG_0483This past weekend me and my family went to Knott’s Berry Farm and one of the things I have always done is make a trek to the Little Red School House to gloat over how I have family that went there on my grandfather’s side under the Tice name when the school house was in Iowa or Kansas. I know in its history it moved a couple of times before its last time to Knott’s Berry Farm at the behest of Walter Knott himself.

The last time I was there, years ago, there were names on each of the small chalk tablets at the desks but this time they were all blank. I asked the person who was playing the role of the teacher if the list still existed and she said No. She looked almost exactly like an older Nina Duden, first school teacher, a bit scary.

Would have been nice if they still had the roster of children that went to it or at least their names still on the little chalk slabs at each desk. I only recall generally where the seat was that bore the name Tice on the chalk slab, it was disappointing to see that little bit had changed. I feel to my family its lost its uniqueness.

I think when most visit the school house they really don’t realize its true history and think of it more as a prop in the Ghost Town area that it is at now. I’m sure I will continue to visit it whenever I vist the theme park.

Where is the logic? Shopping bags versus garbage bags

So I was at Von’s the other day and heard someone complaining about the fact that they left their shopping bag they previously paid for at home and will need to shell out another fifty cents for new ones for all their groceries when they leave. I thought to myself , meh, and then found myself in the kitchen section where they have a plethora of “plastic” garbage and kitchen bags.

The argument about no more producing of plastic shopping bags was that they make it into our landfills as a toxic and non-biodegradable item and that the manufacturing produces gases which destroy our atmosphere – I wont debate the latter – yet there I stood in front of a dozen manufacturers of plastic bags of all assorted sizes. Unless I am missing something and even the production on garbage bags is supposed to end, the argument over plastic bags just died at my feet.

So I stand in line for checkout and most people have their ten cent cloth bags, which are supposed to have been made from recycled cloth products, but some are opting for the paper bag – double bagged even, for things like their milk. I thought to myself that this even makes less sense. Offer a paper bag that was cut from a tree somewhere that also impacts our environment by removing trees which help filter, as well as create, oxygen. Regardless of whether or not the bag has the recycled from logo on it, not all bags make it long term so they have to be replaced at some point by a new tree, or at least parts of trees that are recycled from discarded construction material.

While in line I started to think about how much money these grocery stores are actually making off of what I personally consider to be a scam. I figured it out later. If you calculate a daily customer visit (hypothetically) of lets say 1,000 customers and multiply that by 2 bags at ten cents each (.20 cents) that’s $200 a day, $1400 a week, $5600 a month, $67,200 a year. That’s significant because its money these stores would otherwise not be making.

On my drive home I recalled some of the shopping my wife and I do at small mom and pop shops, as well as shopping retailers like JCPenny, Sears, WalMart, KMart, etc., and they all still offering plastic bags. So it seems like the only people really making out here are the major chain grocery stores.

In any regard, the very person who woke up one day and said to themself, “Gee I’m just going to upset everything by making a bill to ban plastic shopping bags, put thousands of people out of work and plastic bag manufacturers out of business” I think needs a reality check on what they have started. Not that I don’t think this new system is not working, I just feel it is in conflict given the originating landfill argument to stop the manufacturing of plastic shopping bags when plastic “garbage” bags are making their way to landfills, and in greater numbers.

Whats next? Banning the manufacturing of automobile tires because the rubber will never biodegrade and they are more toxic to our environment than shopping bags? Banning motor oil, transmission fluid, shampoo bottles, diapers, printer ink?

This is just a rant so don’t hate me, just debate me.

To Mr. Clint Eastwood

Dear Mr. Eastwood,

I hate writing letters honestly so Im just going to write it here out on the internet in hopes it joins some weird circle that you catch wind of. Please direct and star as lead role in a remake of The Grey Fox, originally performed by the late Richard Farnsworth, before you die. I know you are essentially done with westerns but I totally feel that is a missed role meant for you and that you could totally pull it off. It has all the makings of a good subtle and comedic western with an elder train robber who gets out of prison after years of being in the slammer, the world has changed around him, all his friends are gone, he knows nothing more than train robbing but since its harder to rob trains in the US he decides to try Canada. I think you could do The Grey Fox some real justice remaking this film. Please consider it.

Thanks!

2014 Rose Parade – Are traditional values screwed?

2014 Tournament of Roses ParadeSo this year the Tournament of Roses will allow a marriage to take place on the AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s float, Living the Dream: Love Is the Best Protection, a float that was created to celebrate victories in 2013 for gay marriage “advocates”.  The issue at hand to an increasing amount of people is that the bride and groom are men, long term gay partners and the marriage will be performed in public view during course of the parade that is family oriented, including children, which makes it a like it or not event regardless of personal religious beliefs, views and opinions.

A little quick history, the first ever parade was started by the Members of Pasadena’s Valley Hunt Club in 1890 at the suggestion of one of its members, Professor Charles Holder. Most of the members had all relocated and settled from the East and Midwest and they loved their little corner of California and its weather so much that the parade served to essentially advertise to the world about their little slice of California paradise. Only about 2,000 spectators showed up at the time (c. 1890) and the good Professor is the one who actually suggested the name “Tournament of Roses.” I would advise anyone interested to view the Rose Parade wiki.

Although political agendas were not originally thought or design of the parade, throughout the years, especially in war time, there have been floats celebrating those who have given their lives, floats celebrating cancer survivors and other such theme related floats but if you read up a bit on parade history you will find the originating founders of the parade had God completely on their minds. So much so that they would not even hold a parade or related activities if it fell on a Sunday. Oh there will be those who will say that it was mostly because back then such a parade would disturb church services or tied up horses but if that were the case they could have moved the start time to after church service.

The Foundation spokesman for AIDS Healthcare Foundation said the organization supports legal same-sex marriage because it encourages more stable relationships among gay men as well as behavior that will prevent the spread of HIV. Really? The AHF’s mission is supposedly to deliver medical services and advocacy in fighting AIDS worldwide. What ever set the foundation for such a thought or statement and where is the published research that even enforces their findings? By the very statement it appears that the AIDS Healthcare Foundation is not merely using their float to celebrate gay marriage advocates, as it was designed to do, but is using the float to push the political agenda of gay marriages and the decreased value of traditional marriage.

The Foundation spokesman for AIDS Healthcare Foundation also made a statement that he thinks the wedding is perfect to honor the parade’s theme of “Dreams Come True,” by showing the dream of lesbians and gay men realized. I have a bit of a problem with this actually since gay marriage is actually legal in several states – everyone has dreams – how is marrying two men during a parade even in the same spectrum of the AHF’s mission?

Why wasn’t George Takei considered? That is someone who actually and completely deserves recognition for his contributions to human rights and gay rights – a true advocate with the dream of equality. Instead, the representatives will be two gay men who were picked out of 15 gay couples to get married in public view in a venue that is really undeserving of such a thing.

By the by, I should point out that these men will not be the only gay couple to represent on the AHF float. Another couple, two women who have been together for forty-two years and married for the last five years will be riding along. The Mr. and Mr. marriage is scheduled to occur at 9:30 A.M. PST.

Look, I’m steadfast on traditional marriage but feel that if gays and lesbians want to get married it should be called an equal partnership with the same benefit rights that married couples enjoy.  I have friends that are gay and all-in-all they are the best friends anyone could have. Just because I don’t agree with their lifestyle does not mean I hate them, think less of them, makes them any lesser a human being nor will I not support their endeavors. I will be the first to stand up and say if you believe in something then fight for it and your right to be heard. I still encourage that but at the same time I am in full support of traditional family values of family and procreation. Don’t hate me for my beliefs and don’t make me believe in something that I don’t. Encouragement – man I’ll give all I can. If people want equality though, there is a flag that comes to mind with a nice old saying on it “Don’t tread on me”, that includes my beliefs. Give me respect and I will give you equal respect in return.

I live in Pasadena, will continue to show up in support of the parade, and me and my family may still be inclined to walk down the street to attend the parade since the marriage will take place at least thirty minutes or so before it even reaches us, that way I don’t have to explain anything to my kids. Everything has a time and place, even for learning about life. I simply don’t feel that right now is the time for them to learn about same sex anything. That’s also my right, as a parent.

For the FYI, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation website will be number 82 in order, right behind the (81) McQueen High School “Lancer Band” and before (83) Lutheran Mayman’s League.

UPDATE

I felt inclined to update this. The AHF float was toward the end of the parade and lasted about 30 seconds or so, if that, from what I had seen on TV. I recorded it to watch it later in contrast to what I had seen merely standing out on the boulevard for an hour. The float/ceremony was short and simple but my mind has not changed. I feel that given the AHF’s mission that George Takei would have been far better a representative than the AHF’s public ceremony of two men getting married.

Links

Pasadena Tournament of Roses – Official Site http://www.tournamentofroses.com/

Pasadena Tournament of Roses – Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tournament_of_Roses_Parade

Pasadena Tournament of Roses – Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pasadena_Tournament_of_Roses

Tournament of Roses (Rose Parade) – Facebook https://www.facebook.com/roseparade

Santa Claus – Black or White?

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I was just reading this story on MSN about a teacher who told his black student who showed up dressed as Santa that Santa Claus is white. Over the years I recall reading similar stories from around the country. On its own, the reduction of ethics, and common sense, among a lot of teachers is quite appalling. I have family members who are, or have been, teachers and can solidly vouch for their integrity but there is not a week gone by that strengthens my overall outlook that the integrity of teachers is going down the shitter with reports of sexual misconduct, accepting bribes and sex for good grades, abuse or other misconduct, abusing children with autism, and even racism. All-in-all I dare say that these teachers have themselves become the bully’s. It is no wonder parents are electing for home schooling rather than expose their kids to that.

Enough of that rant. So, getting down to it, is Santa Clause black, is he white, does he carry an ethnic background at all? The answer to one of those is certainly yes. There is quite a bit of history to the founding of Christmas but I will start with how the image of Santa historically came about, that I know of.

The modern image of Santa Claus is actually derived from the Dutch figure of Sinterklaas which also is linked to the creative tales associated with the historical figure of Christian bishop and gift-giver Saint Nicholas. Over time, character traits from tales and folklore are how the character of Father Christmas merged to form the modern Santa Claus known today. It wasn’t until the 1881 illustration by Thomas Nast whom with the help of Clement Clarke Moore helped to create the modern image of Santa Claus, which over time still continued to change a bit. Before that the jolly old fat man did not exist as the Christmas idol we have all come to know year by year. I urge anyone interested to research on their own starting with this great wiki on Wikipedia’s website.

So what the heck happened to Christmas? Most don’t even know St. Nick was an actual Saint let alone who Sinterklaas, Nast or Moore was, or that the jolly old fat dude really stands for the spirit of Christmas. Unfortunately, Santa is now the idol representative of a yearly commercial enterprise that lures people into stores with snake-charmer like abilities to buy things for friends, family and other loved-ones regardless of if they can afford them. These days I at times will jokingly say to people to have a “Merry Commercialized Christmas” and they sort of look at me funny but I can tell they know what I mean.

Yes, I’m no exception to buying anything at Christmas time but it’s for our kids really. I exercise the commercial aspect of it with my kids still as custom dictates so don’t get me wrong but my wife and I instill in them every year what Christmas truly means. It’s not all about the gifts you receive but it’s about the spirit of Christmas – family, health, religion, praying and giving thanks for what we have and for goodwill to everyone. We may buy a gift card to a restaurant or a food gift basket for someone, but I lack psychic abilities otherwise in knowing what someone actually “wants” for Christmas.

As a kid I was brought up as anyone else believing in Santa, wanting toys and candy, waking up that Christmas morning to see what Santa brought. As I got older I learned more and more what it meant. I recall when I learned that Santa didn’t exist at all and I really didn’t mind. I was watching Santa Conquers the Martians, made the same year I was born but watching it like seven years or so later.

So, black, white, ethnic background? I would say that Santa Claus represents all of the above. He is of all ethnic persuasions being that Santa is supposed to represent the Spirit of Christmas, that aspect of giving, love, happiness and joy. So the black kid going to school dressed as Santa – more power to that young man and anyone else, regardless of race, color and creed, that want to suit up and spread good cheer! As for that teacher – “You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch………”

Some good reference links

Saint Nicholas – a brief history
http://www.thehistoryofchristmas.com/sc/saint_nicholas.htm

Santa Claus Links
http://www.thehistoryofchristmas.com/santa_claus.htm

THE HISTORY OF SANTA CLAUS
http://www.northpolesantaclaus.com/santahistory.htm

The History and Origins of Santa Claus
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/panmankey/2013/12/the-history-and-origins-of-santa-claus/

Santa Clause Wikipedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Claus