December 04, 2021

The season began with high hopes for all 130 Football Bowl Series (FBS) teams when 0 Week opened on Saturday, August 28, 2021.  The earliest confirmed game involving FBS teams was Nebraska-Illinois in Champaign, Illinois, with a 1 pm EST kick off (an Illinois upset).  The usual questions are always the same.  Who will win the conference championship?  Who will make the College Football Playoff?  Who will win the Heisman Trophy?  Who will win the national championship?  Now after 12 games per team over 13 weeks the Power Five and the other six FBS leagues are holding championship games this weekend.  Sunday’s College Football Playoff Selection Show will determine the four teams vying for the national championship.

While the focus may be on the four teams vying for the national championship, there is plenty of hope for non-championship teams.  There are a total of 35 Bowl games for 70 teams who are not in the championship series.  To be eligible for a Bowl a team is required to win at least 6 games to become Bowl eligible, although during the shortened 2020 season Arkansas was invited to a bowl with a record of 3-7.  That Bowl did not happen due to covid protocols.  While expectations are high for the upper echelon teams, others set their hope at a lower bar.  Arkansas went two years without winning a conference game (2018 and 2019) and was not hopeful for the “conference only” season during 2020, then went 8-4 during 2021.  Hope springs eternal for programs with inconsistent records, but the firings by winning coaches this year indicate for some, good is not enough.

Prior to Sunday’s College Football Playoff Selection Show, the rankings show featured four straight Tuesday releases, all at 7 pm EST following the conference championship weekend games.  This year the final rankings break from that schedule and air at noon EST the day after the conference championship games are played.  The New Year’s Six games (December 30 through January 1) are chosen by the bowl selection committee.  These are the Cotton Bowl Classic, the Fiesta Bowl, the Orange Bowl, the Peach Bowl, the Rose Bowl, and the Sugar Bowl.  Every three years, two of these bowls serve as national semifinal games for the College Football Playoff.  Three of these bowls also have Power Five conference tie-ins.  Every year since 1998, a non-Power Five team is guaranteed one bid to the New Year’s Six bowls.  So far, no additional bids beyond the one has been granted.  We will see if that trend continues.

Thoughts:  While some teams are jockeying for the College Football Playoff Championship, there are other teams at the opposite end of the spectrum.  Every year there are teams trying to build a program who are starting at the bottom.  The only thing America seems to love more than hating a continual winner, is making fun of a perennial loser.  When I went online, I found predictions for the 15 worst teams in the FBS.  While they were not ranked in order of malfunction, it did predict the worst Power Five team in the nation.  These teams do not receive trophies or the accolades of fans, but loyalty goes beyond the won-loss record.  We need to show the same loyalty to our group, humans.  Despite our on-loss record we can work together to resolve the issues of climate, pollution, and racism.  We are in it for the championship.  Do the work.  Follow the science.  Change is coming and it starts with you.


December 03, 2021

With another nice day outside Melissa tempted me with the idea of going fishing again.  While I had considered the idea, I also knew I needed to take care of my yard.  It would be a lot nicer at 75F (24C) than the expected 50’sF (10C) predicted for this weekend and following.  I was the only one on the cul-de-sac who had not mulched their leaves yet (none of us rake).  The problem was, to mulch the leaves I really needed to prune the Bradford Pear and the Snowball bush.  I had pruned the pear this spring, but it was again brushing Melissa’s car turning into the driveway.  I mentioned previously, the bush had not been pruned in at least six years.  I decided I would take a progressive approach to the tasks.

One of the trending ways to hold dinner parties during the 1970’s and 1980’s was called a Progressive Party.  When I looked online, I found that even during pandemic, these parties are still trending.  The concept behind the Progressive is rather than one person hosting the party, or even guests bringing different courses to the hosts house, the guest themselves move from house to house for each course.  This means appetizers at one house, soup or salad at the next, entrée at a third, and end with desert at the last house.  The courses can be mixed or added to, but the point is to keep the party moving.  This moving feast was said to result in hours of entertainment with a limited amount of prep work for each host and spreads the cost of a multi-course dinner between the friends.  The progressive party can be simple or elaborate, inexpensive or pricey, it depends on what the guests agree before the menu is set.

I decided the best way to complete my yard work was to look at it as a progressive party (woohoo!).  Pruning the pear was my first course appetizer to protect Melissa’s roof.  Next, I decided to tackle pruning the Snowball Bush.  I had previously checked online for how to prune the bush, but it still took most of the time, so this became my entrée.  For my third course I blew the leaves out of the succulent beds and off the walks and driveway.  I have an electric (cord) blower and was unable to reach the leaves that had fallen in the street.  No problem.  I decided my desert would be the mulching mower and mulched over the street leaves as well.  There were so many leaves that I needed to make several passes over both the yard and the street.  After a very long afternoon I was able to finish as the sun was going down.  I think next time I will try Progressive Fishing.

Thoughts:  The writer of the article offered several tips and warnings concerning the progressive party.  This suggested having the party on the weekend to allow enough time.  I think Friday counts.  They suggest you needed to take time to allow people to move the next course.  I took time to sit in a chair and drink water.  The third tip was to have the locations close together to avoid spending the evening driving.  These were all in my yard.  The final suggestion was to have designated drivers if wine was being served with the meal.  My water did not need one a driver.  Even though the article was written in February 2021, there was no mention of wearing masks, social distancing, or vaccinations.  Perhaps they needed another tip.  Follow the science.  Change is coming and it starts with you.


December 02, 2021

Since today was another 70+F (21+C) day, we decided to take off early and see if we could find the bluegills that had been feeding so voraciously last week.  When we arrived at the reservoir, we were not surprised to find others had had the same idea.  Luckily (I thought) the spot where we had caught our fish last week was still open.  Melissa tossed out her bobber while I set up my fly rod.  Rather than going with my trusty trout magnet, I decided to tie on the black woolly with an elk hair drop that has been so effective.  I fished for a half hour without is bite and Melissa only got 2 bites on the worm.  There was another couple fishing in my usual spot, and as they left the man told Melissa they had been catching a lot of fish.  After they left, we snuck over to see if we could do any better.  This time I threw out a worm as well and immediately caught a 12-inch (30 centimeter) bass.

When I looked online, I found the largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) is a carnivorous freshwater gamefish in the Centrarchidae (sunfish) family.  This species of black bass is native to the eastern and central US, southeastern Canada, and northern Mexico.  The fish is known by a variety of regional names.  The largemouth bass is an olive-green to greenish gray fish, marked by a series of dark, sometimes black, blotches forming a jagged horizontal stripe along each flank.  The upper jaw (maxilla) of a largemouth bass extends beyond the rear margin of the orbit (eye).  The largemouth is the largest of the black basses, reaching a maximum recorded overall length of 29.5 in (75 cm) and a maximum unofficial weight of 25 pounds 1 ounce (11.4 kg).  The Arkansas state record for the largemouth bass is 16 pounds 8 ounces (7.4 kg).  I do not think my fish was a challenge.

Many of the lakes and ponds we fish are part of the state’s Family and Community Fishing program.  This program provides fishing opportunities throughout Arkansas with fishing events, beginner fishing clinics, and tagged fish contests in selected cities throughout each year.  More than 50,000 catchable-sized rainbow trout are stocked each winter from November through February across the state in Family and Community Fishing Program destinations.  While most of these trout average just under a pound, a few 2-5 pounders are stocked each year.  Every sign I have seen at the entrance of one of these fisheries is the same.  It lists the creel limits (different than other state fisheries), with catfish (3), bream (25), and where applicable, trout (5).  Largemouth bass are said to be in these lakes but must be released immediately into the water.  I have only seen bass in one of these lakes, and never caught one.  The lake we were at today is not part of the program and did it have a sign with the reduced creel limits. 

Thoughts:  I have always heard bass are as elusive trout.  If you see them, they have probably seen you, and they will not bite.  Melissa and I fished a city pond when we lived in Wichita that was full of bass.  The bank had been built up to protect it from erosion and you could look down from a height of about 8 feet into the clear water.  There were always dozens of catchable-sized bass prowling the intermittent weed beds in the shallows.  Although we fished the pond several times a year, we were never able to get a bite.  Most wild animals are wary of humans but can be acclimated through repeated peaceful contact and even domesticated.  Oddly, it is the domesticated animals that should have the most to fear.  Follow the science.  Change is coming and it starts with you.


December 01, 2021

When Melissa and I were watching the news last night I heard a term I do not recall ever hearing before.  The weather person had just gone through the forecast for the coming week, explaining the cold air mass that was dropping temperatures across Canada and the upper states of the US.  This was caused by a high-pressure zone that had settled in Nevada.  The high was keeping the cold air stream far to the north and was allowing the warm southern air to come up from the Gulf.  The result was going to be at least a week of temperatures from 10-15 degrees above normal (40’sF or 10’sC).  Everyone at the station was commenting on how nice it was to have the warm temperatures.  That was when I heard this disclaimer, “But this will not last, because tomorrow we enter into meteorological Winter.”

When I looked online, I found Meteorological reckoning is the method of measuring the seasons used by meteorologists based on “sensible weather patterns” for record keeping purposes.  That means the start of meteorological winter varies with latitude.  Winter is often defined by meteorologists to be the three calendar months with the lowest average temperatures.  This corresponds to the months of December, January, and February in the Northern Hemisphere, and June, July, and August in the Southern.  Night predominates in the winter season, and in some regions, winter has the highest rate of precipitation and prolonged dampness.  This is the result of permanent snow cover or high precipitation rates coupled with low temperatures, precluding evaporation.  

The article also noted the accumulations of snow and ice commonly associated with meteorological winter in the Northern Hemisphere are the result of the large land masses that are dominant.  The Southern Hemisphere has a more maritime climate and the relative lack of land south of 40°S makes the winters milder.  That causes the snow and ice to be less common in inhabited regions of the Southern Hemisphere.  In the southern region, snow does occur every year in elevated regions such as the Andes, the Great Dividing Range in Australia, and the mountains of New Zealand, and occurs in the southern Patagonia region of South Argentina.  Not surprisingly, snow occurs year-round in Antarctica.

Thoughts:  While my news team was touting the short-term rise in temperatures, they were discounting the long-term effect of rising temperatures.  Climate experts project that if global emissions continue unchecked the earth’s temperature will rise by 2F (1C) by 2050 and 8F (3.5C) by the year 2100.  The result is extreme weather events during all the meteorological seasons.  This means hurricanes and tornados, floods and droughts, scorching heat and bitter cold.  Natural ranges of plants and animals will shift, and many will become extinct.  While the geological earth will survive and eventually correct the imbalance, it will likely only happen after the removal of the human cause.  Follow the science.  Change is coming and it starts with you.


November 30, 2021

One week after President Biden tapped into US oil reserves to help with a global shortage, a Canadian group has announced that it will dip into its emergency reserves of maple syrup to try to keep up with global demand.  The Canadian leading trade group, Quebec Maple Syrup Producers, is releasing nearly 50 million pounds of its reserve, which is about half of the stockpile, according to CNN Business.  The trade group is backed by the Canadian government and is at times dubbed the “OPEC of Maple Syrup.”  As of 2020, Quebec produced 73 percent of the world’s supply of maple syrup.  The US is by far the largest buyer of Canadian Maple Syrup.  The reserve was created to prepare for situations when there are poor harvest seasons or a spike in demand for maple syrup.  This year saw uncharacteristic warmth in a short spring, which gave maple syrup harvesters little to work with.  An additional 7 million trees will be tapped for maple syrup this season to replenish the group’s supply to ensure demand is met, and to allow people to continue enjoying maple syrup without delay.

When I looked online, I found Maple syrup is usually made from the xylem sap of sugar maple (Acer saccharum), red maple (Acer rubrum), or black maple (Acer nigrum) trees, although it can also be made from other maple species  In cold climates, these trees store starch in their trunks and roots before winter, and the starch is then converted to sugar that rises in the sap in late winter and early spring.  Maple trees are tapped by drilling holes into their trunks and collecting the sap, which is processed by heating to evaporate much of the water, leaving the concentrated syrup.  Most trees can produce 5 to 15 US gallons (20 to 60 liters) of sap per season.  Maple syrup was first made and used by the Indigenous peoples of North America and was adopted by European settlers, who gradually refined production. Virtually all the world’s maple syrup is produced in Canada and the US, and the Canadian province of Quebec is responsible for 70 percent of the world’s output.

Maple syrup is graded according to the Canada, US, or Vermont scales based on its density and translucency.  Sucrose is the most prevalent sugar in maple syrup.  In Canada, syrups must be made exclusively from maple sap to qualify as maple syrup and must also be at least 66 percent sugar.  In the US, a syrup must be made “almost entirely” from maple sap to be labelled “maple”.  The states of Vermont and New York have more restrictive definitions.  Maple syrup is often used as a condiment for pancakes, waffles, French toast, oatmeal, or porridge.  It is also used as an ingredient in baking and as a sweetener or flavoring agent.  Culinary experts have praised its unique flavor, but the chemistry that produces the flavor is not fully understood.  I have found that “Maple flavored” is not the same.

Thoughts:  The Canadian maple syrup supply has faced issues in the past.  In the 2011-2012 harvest, C$18.7M worth of maple syrup (3,000 long tons; 3,300 short tons), was stolen in what has come to be known as “The Great Canadian Maple Syrup Heist”.  Over the course of several months the contents of 9,571 barrels were stolen from a storage facility in Saint-Louis-de-Blandford, Quebec.  At first the thieves refilled the barrels with water, but as the operation progressed, they stopped refilling them.  When an annual inventory occurred in July 2012, the Inspector inventorying the barrels found them empty.  In December 2012, police arrested 17 men related to the theft.  Humans have been creating reserves of commodities since our inception, and many count the ability to produce and store grain as the advent of civilization.  In our globalized world, what to store as reserves and when to release it becomes critical.  Reserves are to be shared not hoarded.  Follow the science.  Change is coming and it starts with you.


𝘕𝘰𝘷𝘦𝘮𝘣𝘦𝘳 29, 2021

My parents lived among the hill tribes of Northern Thailand during the early 1990’s.  While subsistence farming fed the people, the only cash crop was poppies.  A cooperative venture was started between the Karen people and a large coffee chain to sell Thai coffee in the US.  The excess coffee not purchased was then marketed under their own brand as Tobeebay Coffee.  The Karen had cultivated coffee for decades in the foggy mountains of Northern Thailand.  By turning the coffee into a cash crop the people were able to find income without the connection to the drug trade that was destroying their culture.  According to their packaging, the project initiatives are three-fold.  “To give the Karen a source of income . . . To advocate for the well-being of the ethnic minorities, . . . and to elevate the tribal people economically, socially, intellectually, and spiritually.”

I was forwarded an article on the Quapaw tribe in the US and their quest to become self-sufficient.  This effort means everything served in their Down Stream Casino comes from their own farms and businesses.   One of these efforts is roasting the coffee used by the Quapaw businesses.  The tribe owns two smoke shops and motor fuel outlets, known as the Quapaw C-Store and Downstream Q-Store, and own and operate the Eagle Creek Golf Course and resort in Loma Linda, Missouri.  The primary economic drivers have been their gaming casinos. Two are in Quapaw, the Quapaw Casino and the Downstream Casino Resort, and a third casino, the Saracen Casino Resort, is in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.  These generate most of the revenue for the tribe, and are used to support welfare, health, and education of tribal members.

When I looked online, I found an article from earlier this year in Barista Magazine talking about the growing number of Indigenous coffee roasters and featuring two of them, Ekowah Coffee of the Osage Nation, and O-Gah-Pah Coffee of the Quapaw Nation.  Ekowah means “friend” in the Osage language, and their values of respect, equity, and the goodwill of friendship are extended at every level of business.  This year O-Gah-Pah’s commitment to sourcing fair trade and organic coffees led them to work with the Montero family in Costa Rica.  The overhaul of the Montero’s coffee program is part of an expanded agriculture program by the Quapaw.  “Indigenous Sovereignty is strengthened through our food,” say Ben Parker and Lauren Cousatte, members of the Quapaw Nation.  “We started by returning Bison to our homeland … we have greenhouses that produce vegetables and herbs and have started a seed bank.”  There are over 15 Native-owned coffee roasters in the US.

𝗧𝗵𝗼𝘂𝗴𝗵𝘁𝘀:  Fair trade is an arrangement designed to help producers in growing countries achieve sustainable and equitable trade relationships.  Members of the fair-trade movement add the payment of higher prices to exporters, as well as improve social and environmental standards.  The movement focuses particularly on products that are typically exported from the developing countries but includes use in domestic markets.  This includes handicrafts, coffee, cocoa, wine, sugar, fruit, flowers, and gold.  Fair Trade is a big business with labeling organizations monitoring what defines and what can be called fair trade.  The organizations are backed by consumers, and are actively engaged in supporting producers, raising awareness, and campaigning for changes in the rules and practice of international trade.  Another positive aspect of globalization.  Do the work.  Change is coming and it starts with you.


𝘕𝘰𝘷𝘦𝘮𝘣𝘦𝘳 27, 2021

Yesterday was the first Black Friday since the covid-19 pandemic shut businesses in 2020.  While the stores did not witness the crush of pre-pandemic shoppers, thousands of people did flock to stores searching for deals.  Malls and stores reported decent-sized crowds yesterday, even if not the floods of people that used to fight over the latest toys and electronics.  This year’s shopping experience has been damaged by supply-chain bottlenecks that have led to short supplies of merchandise.  The biggest draw of discounts were disappointing as rising prices driven by a 30-year high inflation constrained deals.  Online shopping is common now and retailers have spread discounts out over the weeks leading up to Christmas on websites and in stores.  Overall Christmas holiday sales are still expected to grow this year.

Most shoppers have heard stories of the crowd crush associated with Black Friday in the past.  After camping out all night a coveted place in line can be erased by the crush that occurs when the doors are opened and crowds rush to the back of the store to retrieve the best electronics or toys.  This became a source of pride for retailers until the crush became dangerous.  During the last pre-pandemic years retailers began to handout coupons allowing shoppers to take a more leisurely stroll to the prized discounts.  The National Retail Federation says holiday sales in 2020 increased about 8% despite the lack of Friday crush as locked down shoppers spent their money online on pajamas and home goods.  In spite of the short checkout lines, the Federation predicts sales will increase between 8.5-10.5% this year.

Shoppers are not the only people who get caught in crowd crush.  At least 10 people were killed and hundreds more were injured at a concert in Houston on November 5th.  The large crowd began pushing toward the front of the stage during a performance by the hometown rapper Travis Scott.  The concert was part of the Astroworld music festival, a two-day event that was later canceled.  About 50,000 people were assembled when the injuries occurred, according to the Houston Fire Department.  It is one of the deadliest crowd-control disasters at a concert in the US since the 1979 crush outside the doors of a show by the Who in Cincinnati that left 11 people dead.  The most common cause of injury and death in crowd crush is compressive asphyxia when people are pushed against one another so tightly that their airways become constricted.  The cause of the surge remains under investigation.

𝗧𝗵𝗼𝘂𝗴𝗵𝘁𝘀:  When I flew in the Middle East during the early 1980’s I had two experiences with crowd crush.  The first came trying to get my ticket as workers pushed and shoved around the airline’s desk hoping to secure a seat to find work.  We finally threw our passports over the crowd and were able to get a seat on the plane.  The second came on my return flight as the airline was boarding the plane.  There were no assigned seats and the crowd surged forward when the doors opened.  I looked down and saw a small boy being crushed by the crowd and yelled out in Arabic, “Seghir walid henna” (small boy here).  Despite my warning the crush continued as I struggled to keep from running over the child.  Large crowds take on a life of their own and can be sparked by the slightest provocation.  Some have used words to inflame crowds and then act surprised when the mob reacts.  Once the crowd begins to move the crush of people will continue until it just as inexplicably stops.  Do the work.  Change is coming and it starts with you.


𝘕𝘰𝘷𝘦𝘮𝘣𝘦𝘳 26, 2021

Sometimes the hardest workday is the one before a holiday vacation.  Many of your coworkers have already bugged out, which means any work that does need to be done is left to the one not fast enough to call dibs on the days just before and right after the holiday.  That is what happened to Melissa this Thanksgiving week.  By noon she was starting to feel overwhelmed and suggested we make a lunch and go sit at the town reservoir.  I finished what I was doing, put together some quick sandwiches, and we took off.  When we arrived, we noticed 12-15 vultures circling in the sky.  We never figured why they gathered here, but they were fun to watch as they soared in and out of view.

When I looked online, I found the Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus) is an abundant species of broad-winged scavenger in the southeast, although scarce in the southwestern US.  In low flight, the vulture proceeds with several quick flaps followed by a flat-winged glide.  When rising thermals provide good lift, it soars high above the ground.  The birds are usually gathered in flocks.  Although the shorter wings and tail make it appear smaller than the Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura), the body size is about the same.  Black vultures are also more aggressive and often drive Turkey Vultures away from food.  During the day, Black Vultures soar in flocks, often gathered with Turkey Vultures and hawks.  They roost in groups in trees and transmission towers, waiting through the early morning for the air to warm up and thermals to develop.  Then once more they are gathered in the sky to soar the thermals. 

After eating lunch and enjoying the vultures gathered in the sky, I convinced Melissa we should at least try dropping a line since we were already at the reservoir.  I previously mentioned how I carry my fishing poles in the back of the jeep “just in case”, and today the worms had somehow managed to sneak in as well.  I set up Melissa’s line then broke out my fly rod.  My trusty trout magnet quickly caught one of the biggest bluegills of the day.  After several fish I decided to join Melissa sitting on the edge of the patio that had been built this summer.  When it comes to bluegills it is hard for me to keep up with Melissa’s prowess and she out fished me.  It seems the fish had all gathered around the boat ramp and were feeding voraciously, fattening up for the winter.  Since they had gathered, we were able to catch 35 fish in just over an hour.  Melissa mentioned while it was nice to catch so many bluegills, she would have liked some variety.  The last fish she caught was a large crappie.  As we left for home, we came across a group of vultures gathered beside the road.  Now that is a way to relieve stress. 

𝗧𝗵𝗼𝘂𝗴𝗵𝘁𝘀:  Like many in America yesterday, we gathered with our close family for a Thanksgiving meal.  While we had chosen to not be gathered last year, we have been vaccinated (even boosted) this year.  The CDC said prior to the holiday the most critical way of protecting you and those around you is to get vaccinated.  Dr. Anthony Fauci implored people to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday safely.  As Thanksgiving and the December holidays draw near, some experts fear that being gathered and increased travel could lead to a new surge in covid cases.  It is predicted that Thanksgiving travel will return to pre-pandemic levels as flight bookings were just 1% lower in 2021 than they had been in 2019.  It is safe to be gathered, but we need to do so wisely.  Follow the science.  Change is coming and it starts with you.


𝘕𝘰𝘷𝘦𝘮𝘣𝘦𝘳 25, 2021

Last Friday the president participated in what has become an annual tradition celebrating Thanksgiving, the pardoning of two turkeys.  This year’s turkeys were named Peanut Butter and Jelly.  Biden quipped, “Instead of getting basted, these two turkeys are getting boosted.”  Peanut Butter and Jelly both weigh about 40 pounds and were raised in Jasper, Indiana.  The tradition is usually credited to President Harry Truman, who did a photo-op with a turkey in 1947.  In 2003 however, Truman’s presidential library said they could find no evidence of Truman pardoning a turkey that he received as a gift in 1947, or at any other time.  The first official turkey pardoning was held in 1989 by President George H.W. Bush, and it became an annual tradition.  This year the president joked Peanut Butter and Jelly were chosen on their temperament, appearance, and he suspects, their vaccination status.  Neither was as spectacular in appearance as the Ocellated Turkey.

While the administration was pushing vaccines with its post, a post from Audubon was touting bird conservation.  There are only two species of turkey in the world.  Most are familiar with the North American Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo), which was first domesticated by the Aztecs and later by American Indigenous Tribes.  While the domesticated form graces many US tables today, the wild flocks continue their decades-long recovery from overhunting and habitat loss across the eastern US.  The Ocellated Turkey (Meleagris ocellata) is less well known.  This iridescent blue relative is only found on the Yucatan Peninsula, or a small part of Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala.  Despite its size and eye-popping plumage, this bird lurks mostly unseen amid thick foliage.   Aside from having picturesque plumage, it is not that different from the bird roaming the eastern forests of America.

When I checked online, I found Ocellated Turkeys breed starting in March.  A displaying male will stride through a group of females, tail spread wide, and head tilted back, resting on his fluffed back feathers.  His wings will shake and occasionally rap the ground.  The male then suddenly bursts into a rapid series of gobbles shallower than his larger American relative.  A dominant male will mate with as many females as he can, while thwarting attempts by other males to mate with them.  Nesting starts in April when the hen lays 8-15 eggs in a scrape on the ground, then incubates the clutch for four weeks.  The young are precocial, meaning that they can scamper off as soon as they hatch, but the chicks stay with the hen until the start of the next breeding season.

𝗧𝗵𝗼𝘂𝗴𝗵𝘁𝘀:  The International Union for Conservation of Nature ranks the Ocellated Turkey as Near Threatened because populations are in decline.  Healthy populations are protected in Guatemala’s Tikal, in private and national reserves in Belize, and in some large Mexican reserves.  The reduction of the Ocellated Turkey has been caused by overhunting and destruction of natural habitat, as was once true for the Wild Turkey.  Most hunting of Ocellated Turkeys is for subsistence (food), but some areas allow sport hunters to buy permits and hire guides.  This provides another source of income for the locals.  Eco-tourists and birders come to the area for the Ocellated Turkey and other varied species, bringing conservation dollars with them.  Some communities report increasing turkey populations kept in balance by a mixture of conservation, cultivation, and sustainable game management.  As with most ventures, education and cooperation are going to be the key for the Ocellated survival.  Follow the science.  Change is coming and it starts with you.


𝘕𝘰𝘷𝘦𝘮𝘣𝘦𝘳 24, 2021

We have both road and housing construction going on near our house and the highway is constantly traveled by large dump trucks hauling dirt from one location to another.  I have noticed the trucks all have two warning signs on the tailgate.  The first is written in large letters and declares, “Do Not Push.”  Having no desire to push a dump truck, I tend to ignore these warning signs.  The other warning tells me to “Stay Back”, and then in smaller letter declares the owner is not responsible for any damage from rocks thrown by the truck.  While the dump trucks have not thrown any rocks my way, I mentioned earlier how the semis on the interstate were a constant nemesis for the windows of our small sports car.

When I looked online, I found the warning about pushing is a reminder for construction workers.  It is common for dump trucks to operate in mud, snow, and icy conditions.  That means construction vehicles get stuck.  Despite the semis pulled on the Strongest Man shows, construction vehicles are not unstuck by people pushing on the bumper.  They need a stronger push and that means another construction vehicle.  A dump truck is made from two main parts, the chassis (the truck part) and the bed (the dumping part).  The connections between these two parts are designed to be strong when supporting the weight of the load and while lifting the bed to dump the load.  The parts are not designed to withstand a horizontal force applied by a push and the connections could break or bend if the truck is pushed from behind.  The warning is a reminder to pull the truck out of the mud rather than push it.

The other warning sign says, “Warning!  Stay Back 200 feet,” and then declares “NOT responsible for broken windshields!” Again, looking online I found that legally you can ignore the second sign, but it is still good advice if you do not want a broken windshield.  Truckers are required to secure their loads and are heavily regulated by both state and federal laws.  They are required to load their trucks in such a way that the contents do not fly off and hurt cars or drivers who share the road.  The problem may be trying to litigate the owner of the truck in small claims court.  If the rock was on the road and did not fall from the truck, the trucker is not liable.  You need to prove the rock was from a specific truck and fell off the truck rather than being thrown by the tires.  My comprehensive insurance covers small chips, and the frequency of events is why insurance companies have a $100 deductible to replace the windshield.

𝗧𝗵𝗼𝘂𝗴𝗵𝘁𝘀:  We rented a car when Melissa and I were in Maui.  I usually consider the insurance a hassle as my personal policy provides the same coverage.  This time I took the insurance without thinking.  One of the sights was driving Hana Road to view the rain forest and waterfalls, but this came with a warning.  The narrow, winding, switchback road is barely wide enough for cars to traverse.  It is also a main road frequented by large dump trucks.  I happened to slow down as we approached a sharp turn and a pair of dump trucks cut the corner and took out my mirror and the side of the car.  They did not stop.  When we arrived in Hana, I reported the incident and was told it happened all the time.  The insurance I had purchased by chance covered the damage.  Insurance is something we buy hoping to never use, but when we do need it makes a difference as we are protected.  The same could be said about vaccines.  Follow the science.  Change is coming and it starts with you.