Sunday, November 15, 2020


In the long history of the uphill struggle for blacks in America, there are many notable firsts.  In addition, black history is populated with some truly notable black heroes who made significant contributions to the prosperity of African Americans and the kind of change that brings about full citizenship and acceptance for African Americans at every tier of society.  One such American hero was Thurgood Marshall.

The bare facts of the rise of this black leader don’t say enough about the tremendous influence his work did to improve race relations in this country.  Thurgood was the great-grandson of a slave and his father did well to educate the boy in the value of education and of the law in modern society.  His brilliant school career which culminated in graduating Magnum Cum Laud from Howard University was the launch of just a brilliant legal career.  

Throughout his time as a lawyer, Marshall’s success in arguing anti-segregation and discrimination cases was phenomenal.  As chief counsel for the NAACP, Marshall argued before the Supreme Court 29 times, winning each case he took on.  Later when he served in the circuit court, he made 112 rulings that were all fully upheld by the Supreme Court.

But there can be no more phenomenal moment in the life of Thurgood Marshall or in black history itself as when in 1967, President Lyndon Johnson appointed Thurgood Marshall to the Supreme Court.  This appointment represented a long uphill climb to see African American leaders take on significant roles of influence in the local, state and federal governments throughout America.  For all of the violent social protests and struggles “on the streets” in the sixties and seventies lead by notable black leaders such as Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, it can be argued that the lasting influence Thurgood Marshall in his time on the Supreme Court made just as much impact to improve the lives of black Americans as any other leader of his time.

When you look at the time frame that Thurgood Marshall demonstrated his leadership at a national level, this was a watershed time period in which he made great strides to take this country from one still being affected by the attitudes and social systems of slavery and a past full of discrimination to society on a clear path to becoming a truly integrated society of the future.  

There can really be no greater single accomplishment that Thurgood Marshall made than his victory in the Brown versus the Board of Education case.  It was the success in the case that effectively brought school segregation to a halt once and for all in America.  While there was still work to be done to make that legal reality one that was part of the lives of all Americans, Thurgood Marshall opened the door for all African Americans to find the same level of high educational excellence that he role modelled for black youth of his day.  In doing so, the economic standard of living and educational level of black America rose significantly throughout his time on the bench giving rise to the first black middle class that only added to the movement of the integration of society across all tiers and situations.  

It is for these many good reasons that we would include Thurgood Marshall among the truly great heroes of the black history of the last one hundred years.  His contribution to the court and the changes in the legal status of Blacks and all minorities and underprivileged people in this country has made America a better place to live for all.  He has set a standard for future black leadership and indeed for all of us to live up to the best of our values to see to it that equality and justice for all persons in our society continue to be the rule of law in this country for a long time to come.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Interesting Facts about WALKING PNEUMONIA

There are many forms of pneumonia and the disease generates different symptoms depending on its origin. Pneumonia generally affects both lungs and involves infection, irritation and swelling. Sometimes only one pulmonary lobe may be affected, in which case the disease is not very serious. Sometimes pneumonia affects only the upper pulmonary region (bronchial area), while in some cases the disease affects the entire region of the lungs. 

There can be many factors that contribute to the development of pneumonia. When the disease is caused by infectious agents, the disease is more serious and requires medical treatment. The forms of pneumonia that don’t involve infection (aspiration pneumonia) usually don’t require any medications and they clear up within a few days or weeks.

Pneumonia can be either typical or atypical. Typical pneumonia is caused by infection with common viruses (influenza, herpes simplex virus, varicella-zoster, adenovirus, respiratory syncytial virus), infection with gram-positive bacteria (Streptococcus pneumoniae, Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pyogenes) or infection with gram-negative bacteria (Haemophilus influenzae, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Neisseria meningitides, Pseudomonas aeruginosa). Sometimes typical pneumonia can be caused by a combination of these infectious agents.

Atypical pneumonia is caused by less common infectious agents, which have the traits of both viruses and bacteria. Atypical pneumonia is also called walking pneumonia. Walking pneumonia, as the name suggests it, usually doesn’t involve hospitalization o medical treatment. Walking pneumonia allows patients to carry on with their normal activities and they are free to leave the hospital right after they receive a physical examination. Although walking pneumonia isn’t always serious, the disease is still very contagious and it is important to take measures in preventing the spreading of the disease. Good personal hygiene is very important in preventing contamination. Although walking pneumonia can be also contracted through breathing, people who suffer from the disease need to avoid close physical contact with other people until they are fully recovered.

Walking pneumonia is common in children and teenagers. The disease is usually caused by microorganisms called Mycoplasma pneumoniae, in which case it doesn’t require medical treatment. Walking pneumonia resembles flu or cold and sometimes its symptoms are perceived at later stages of the disease. A person with walking pneumonia can experience the symptoms of the disease only after several weeks from contracting the microorganisms responsible for the infection. Walking pneumonia evolves slowly and it can be diagnosed long after a person has caught the disease, therefore allowing the infectious agents to be contacted by other people.

Although walking pneumonia is not always a serious disease, doctors may experience difficulties in diagnosing it. The symptoms of walking pneumonia are not specific and can point to flu or cold instead. After identifying the disease, doctors may recommend medical treatment with antibiotics in order to speed up the patients’ recovery and to prevent them from spreading walking pneumonia to other people.

Sunday, November 1, 2020


English: Green Bank Telescope at National Radi...
Green Bank Telescope at National
Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank
(Photo credit: 
For most of us, the idea of astronomy is something we directly connect to “stargazing”, telescopes and seeing magnificent displays in the heavens.  And to be sure, that is the exciting area of astronomy that accounts for its huge popularity.  So to the uninitiated, the idea of “radio astronomy” seems strange. 

 There are two reasons for that.  First is that humans are far more visual than audio oriented.  And the second is that radio astronomy doesn’t really involve “listening” to the cosmos except to the extent that scientists who use this sophisticated form of “stargazing” do not rely on a visual study to conduct their work.

To appreciate what is really exciting about radio astronomy, first, we have to shift how we view astronomy.  That is because of professional astronomers, studying the universe is more about frequencies than it is about visual documentation of phenomenon.  This takes us back to Physics 101.

Light, obviously, is the physical phenomenon that empowers our ability to use our visual confirmation system, e.g. our eyes to appreciate something, in this case, the stars.  So when we look up at the heavens, we can see the light emitting from a star or reflecting from a planet or moon.  In many cases, if we see a faraway star, we are actually seeing it hundreds or thousands of years ago because that is how long it takes for that light to cross the universe and be visible in our sky.  That alone is a pretty mind-blowing idea.

Now light itself is a pretty strange substance.  But to our astronomy scientists, light is just another energy that exists at a certain frequency.  Now, we tend to think of frequencies when we talk about sound waves.  In scientific terms light, energy and sound are just a few forms of the same thing, frequencies of energy that are emulating from a source.

Now we get to why radio astronomy is so necessary.  The range of frequency that light occupies in the big spectrum of frequencies is really pretty small.  To put that more bluntly, we can only “see” a tiny part of the universe that is actually there.  Now when you look up in the night sky and it is so overwhelming, when you then that we are seeing just a tiny amount of what is actually going on up there, again, our minds can get pretty overwhelmed.

Radio astronomy uses sophisticated sensor equipment to study ALL of the frequencies of energy coming to us from the cosmos.  In that way, these scientists can “see” everything that is going on out there and so get a precise idea of how the stars look, behave now, and will behave in the future.

For some of us who have heard about radio astronomy, we think of it in terms of “listening” for signs of life in the universe.  And yes, SETI, or “the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence” is a part of radio astronomy, albeit a tiny part.  But of much greater importance is how radio astronomy has empowered serious astronomers (that is those who get paid to do it) to study stars many light-years away, to study black holes which we could never see with our telescopes, and to gather research and data about the whole of the universe that otherwise would be impossible to know and understand.

This is important work that is constantly ongoing in the world of astronomy.  It is worth keeping up with and learning more about as we have barely scratched the surface in our brief discussion today.  But understanding how important radio astronomy is will only deepen and make more meaningful your love and grasp of this big field of knowledge known as astronomy.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

How to Coax FRESH VEGETABLES From the Garden All Winter Long

Bild von Ulrike Leone auf Pixabay 

Autumn typically signals the end of homegrown vegetables from the garden, but with a little ingenuity, you can harvest garden-fresh produce well into the winter months. My Central Pennsylvania garden continues to supply fresh vegetables during the fall and winter when most gardeners in my growing region are content to dream about next summer’s bounty. Read on to discover simple tricks that will fortify your garden against the onslaught of frigid weather.

Fall often delivers brief cold spells with a few frost filled mornings, sandwiched between weeks of milder, frost-free conditions. The problem is that a single touch of frost can wipe out every tender annual growing in the garden. Fortunately, a little protection will enable frost-sensitive vegetables and herbs to survive a cold snap, and reward the resourceful gardener with an opportunity to enjoy extended harvests.

Something as simple as the transparent, fleecy, floating row covers used to shield plants from harmful insects can also prevent frost damage. Row covers trap the warmth that radiates up from the earth much like the way that a cloud cover holds temperatures and prevents frost from forming. Row covers offer a few degrees of protection, keeping tender annuals safe from light frost. Use the thicker grade covers for maximum benefit.

Late summer is the ideal time to sow cold-tolerant vegetables that will flourish in the fall and endure cold weather without complaint. Examples of hardy vegetables for fall gardening include kale, spinach, collards, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels Sprouts, kohlrabi, turnips, cabbages, oriental greens, rutabagas, and some varieties of lettuce. 

Once freezing conditions arrive, even cold-hardy crops will appreciate some protection if they remain in the garden. Cardboard boxes and fruit baskets can provide shelter to individual plants, while old sheets, blankets, and heavy plastic tarps will protect entire rows or beds of plants. Apply the coverings in the evening when freezes are forecast and remove them the following morning after the sun warms the air. 

Another effective solution is to use a commercial variety of cloche or to set up a portable cold frame over the garden bed. Cloches include the heavy glass, bell-shaped jars, or variously styled and shaped rigid plastic devices.

One style of the cold frame consists of a tubular frame covered by a woven poly material with flaps for venting. You can also obtain sturdier cold frames made with aluminium framing and twin wall polycarbonate panels that lift up for venting. Regardless of the type of protection used to cover your plants you must remove it or provide venting during the day as temperatures rise.

Resourceful gardeners can combine a few discarded window sashes and bales of straw to create a simple makeshift cold frame. Just arrange the straw bales into a rectangular shape around a garden bed and lay the windows across the top to form an enclosed and insulated growing area. This setup will work great to keep a bed of leafy greens growing further into the winter.

Oddly enough, water can protect and insulate plants from the cold. Commercial orchards actually spray water and mist onto their trees to prevent frost damage. 
In the home garden, you can employ plastic gallon jugs filled with water to provide protection. Place the containers around plants, under floating row covers or tarps, and inside of your cold frames.

The water will absorb and store heat during the day and release it at night to provide warmth for your plants. You’ll get the best results by painting the jugs black so that they’ll absorb more energy from the sun during the day. Incredibly, even if the water in the container freezes, it will continue to release a significant amount of heat energy into the surrounding area.

Certain vegetables will survive on their own in the garden through bitterly cold conditions. Leeks, kale, and collards frequently withstand harsh winters without any protection. Fall planted garlic and shallots will develop strong root systems in the fall, spend the winter underground, and then spring up at the earliest signs of the arrival of spring.

Many root crops including beets, carrots, turnips, rutabagas, and parsnips can be left in the garden protected with a thick layer of shredded leaves or straw. You can then continue harvesting as needed, provided that the ground doesn’t freeze and prevent digging. Complete your harvesting before spring arrives though since the quality will degrade once the roots resume growing and switch into seed production mode.

With proper planning and a little extra care, you can easily grow and harvest vegetables beyond the normal spring and summer seasons. Simply implement a few of the ideas presented in this article and you’ll soon enjoy your own homegrown, fresh produce much longer than usual, possibly even year-round.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Winterizing your SWIMMING POOL

backyard swimming pool
Backyard swimming pool (Photo credit: Wikipedia) 

For many people having a swimming pool is something they can only enjoy certain times of the year. It may be too cold for most of the winter months to be able to swim in it comfortably. Taking the time to properly winterize your swimming pool will help ensure it is ready to go again for you when the warmer time of year rolls around once again.

Some people completely remove the water from their swimming pool. Yet this can be very expensive when you consider the volume of water being wasted. A better alternative is to save the water in it properly. That is the route to take if you think there will be some warm spells during the winter when you may actually get to spend some time in the swimming pool.

You want to clean your swimming pool out very good as the first step to winterizing it. Remove all of the dirt and debris from it. Take the time to check the filter and the pump too. Remove debris from the filters and check for signs of leaks, damage, or other issues that you may need to take care of over the winter months in order to enjoy your pool again.

There are special chemicals you can add to the water in order to prepare it for winter. They include chlorine, powder, and alkalizer. Make sure you only buy quality products to ensure they work like they should. You can get them at any reputable pool supply location. You can also buy them online but take the time to evaluate the benefits that they offer based upon the reviews by other consumers.

To save money on such supplies, look into buying complete swimming pool weatherizing kits. They will contain all of the materials you need to accomplish this feat. You will also find that it is less expensive than buying each of the items you need separately. Make sure you read all of the directions while using such products though.

For example, some of them require your swimming pool filter to remain turned on for a length of time. Not paying attention to such directions can result in your products not working as effectively as they should protect your swimming pool. If you will be removing some water from the pool for winter you should only do so after the chemicals have been added to the water.

Place a sturdy cover over the water in the swimming pool as well. This will prevent debris from building up in the water including dirt and leaves. You also don’t want water from rain and snow to get into the swimming pool. It can create layers of ice that will melt and create a mess for you when it does. The cover needs to be a good fit. It also needs to be very secure to fight off strong winds. If there is heavy rain or snowfall you don’t want it to give in because of it.

There are manual covers you can use that will need to be put into place. This is generally a job for a couple of people to accomplish. If it is possible you will be using the swimming pool at times in the winter you may want to get an electric tarp cover. With the touch of a button, it can be put into place and then retracted. While they are pricy you will find them to be well worth the investment.

You will need to remove the filter hoses from the swimming pool. Store them in a cool and dry area. You don’t want them to get too cold or they will end up cracking. Then you will have to replace them when you are ready to use your swimming pool again. If you will be using the pool some in the winter then you can leave them in place. It is a good idea though to invest in insulated ones so they will be well protected regardless of the elements.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

The Search For FAMILY HISTORY Begins With Names

What’s in a name? For anyone, a name defines who a person is. It is how one is addressed, how one signs, and the central feature that differentiates one from the other person. To the family history searcher, one’s name is a concrete marker that tells of the place where one comes from, a bit of history across time.

Names are important because it points to the general direction of the origins of the owners. Constructing a family tree becomes a tad easier because now it has a place to start – the family name.

A broad understanding of the origins, characteristics, and nature of names and name-giving is needed to undertake the search for your family history.

History of names

Until about a thousand years ago, people got by with just one name. And that was all one actually needed in those times where only a few ventured more than a few miles away from their homes. Even members of the royalty did not complain about having only one name each.

Later, as the population grew, people began the practice of further distinguishing a person from his friends and neighbors. “Paul the son of Robert” is called such because he is different from “Paul the farmer”. “John the smith” is called to distinguish him from “John the son of Thomas”. Around the year 1500, most surnames (the affiliation to the first name) became inherited and the practice is thankfully still used today.

For the people who come from Europe, most of their surnames drew meanings from their occupations, their father’s name, the place where they came from, or some descriptive words.

Names from occupations

Someone named MILLER essentially worked in a place where they ground grains to flour. BISHOP could be somebody working for the Bishop, and CARTER could be a maker or a driver of carts. Today, however, it is hard to accurately pinpoint names and their meanings because of changes in pronunciation or spelling.

Names from the fathers

Different countries have different variations on how the father’s name is inherited by the sons. The Irish “O”, the Gaelic “Mac”, the Norman “Fitz” are some of them. Examples are Johnson (the son of John), MacDonald (the son of Donald), Fitzgerald (the son of Gerald), and O’Connor (the son of Connor).

Names from places 

Ancient people usually named newcomers with the name of the place where they came from. A guy who came from the east had EASTWOOD for a surname. CHURCHILL came from a place near a church on a hill. BROOKS is someone who lived near a creek or brook.


Sometime in the Middle Ages, people created pet names for their neighbors and friends based on personality or looks. These names evolved and later became surnames. Examples are Michael ARMSTRONG, John GOODMAN, and Peter WHITE.

Wrong spelling 

It should not surprise a family historian going over old records to find errors in spelling and other inconsistencies in the names. Such problems certainly make the job of a family historian difficult, but not impossible.

There were many reasons for these problems. First, spellings were not standardized before. Anyone could spell their names every which way they wanted or how they heard them.

Sometimes, the problem was in pronunciation. Or it could be in the handwriting where the ornate old style had some different letters looking the same. (Capital letters L and S used to be written the same way and the old writing of letters A, O and U were almost identical.)

Importance of names

Surnames are usually given more attention because it is inherited. Even if it may be altered and corrupted in many ways through the passage of time, some original form is retained somehow.

Given names are also important in a way that they were given intentionally by the parents and represent their special thoughts and feelings for the individual. While they may not have the same weight of attention given to surnames, they still merit careful study because they can have in them valuable intimations about your family history.

Sunday, September 6, 2020

HORSES - Breeds, A To Z

Dartmoor Pony. At Meldon Resevoir, near Okeham...
Dartmoor Pony (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A horse is a horse of course.  Right?  Well, not exactly.  There are more breeds of horses than Carter has liver pills.  We're just going to touch on a few examples here, otherwise we're going to need a book about 2000 pages long.  

For example, and we'll just start with the letter A, there is the Australian Stock Horse.  This is one of those horses that arose from selective breeding due to the demands of the environment.  The history of this breed actually began in 1788.  When the first breed of horses was brought to Eastern Australia by the First Fleet.  These horses were of mixed English Thoroughbred and Spanish stock and they were hardy enough horses that they were a perfect choice for the cavalry.  

Moving along to the letter B, we have the Basotho Pony.  This horse is found only in Lesotho, which is in South Africa.  The horse is used almost exclusively for riding.  The breed itself was developed sometime after 1825 from the Cape Horse.  By the start of the 20th century, this breed almost completely disappeared due to the exporting of the horses and cross-breeding with Arab and Thoroughbred horses.  Fortunately, during the later part of the 20th century, a society was formed to revive the breed.  

One of the most famous breeds of horses starting with the letter C is the Clydesdale.  This horse was developed in a district of Scotland.  It is a heavy draft horse breed.  The breed itself was developed by farmers in Lanarkshire, which is the old name for Clydesdale.  This horse was mainly bred to meet the agricultural needs of farmers.  The Clydesdale is a real workhorse.  Make no mistake about that.  

The letter D gives us the Dartmoor Pony.  This horse is one of nine breeds that are specific to the British Isles.  This particular breed comes from a barren moorland called Dartmoor, which is located in Devon, England.  These are very old horses that go all the way back to the reign of King Henry I.  Today, Dartmoor Ponies are found all over Great Britain as well as countries like France, Sweden, and Germany.  

Moving along to the letter E, we have the Eriskay Pony.  This particular pony is the only surviving variety of the Hebridean pony.  It is found on the Hebrides Islands off the coast of Scotland.  Today this particular breed of the pony is almost extinct.  Recent DNA testing of these animals shows that they are of very ancient origin.  These horses are mostly used for transportation and common chores such as pulling carts and even taking children to school.

And in case you are wondering, yes there are breeds of horses that begin with the letter Z.  One of them is the Zaniskari Pony, which is found in Northern India.  This particular breed is what is called a riding and pack breed.  

Yes, there are more breeds of the horse than you can possibly imagine.