Saturday, May 31, 2008

Balticon 42: Monday Science Sessions

It was my last day to get my geek fix. I bribed the kids with some pool time and was good to attend a few more sessions. I made it to the last few minutes of Twist and turns at Mercury by Dr. Robin Vaughan, APL, Learning disability as an analog for Extraterrestrial Intelligence by H. Paul Shuch, PhD, Life in Darwin's Universe by Thomas R. Holtz, Jr. and the first half of "Artifacts ID- Hands on 18th and 19th century pieces from Virginia" by TeriLee Edwards-Hewitt, Alexandria Archaeology.

NOTES:

Twist and turns at Mercury

Dr. Robin Vaughan, APL

There is a 15 min lag time for communications with the satellite.

Learning disability as an analog for Extraterrestrial Intelligence

“Aliens Among Us - SETI League’

H. Paul Shuch, PhD

We delivered a special message in 1974 which equaled a small pamphlet about earth in a binary code. At this point he pulled out his guitar and broke into a filk tune. “It takes a long time to talk to ET, EM velocity can’t exceed C”

The idea that aliens first contact with us will be our TV singles of I Love Lucy are pretty much impossible. TV signals may travel but won’t be received as a TV image and sound.

NASA had a SETI program which they started on the 500 year anniversary of Columbus landing. NASA’s SETI program was operational for 1 year when congress shut it down because we had not gotten a response. The program cost each tax payer 1 cent a year. The SETI League took over the operations with many of the same people working on the program. Their website is www.setileague.com. The SETI Institute (CA) uses large donations for a large telescope for a targeted approach to looking for communications from other galaxies. The SETI League (NY) has members in 65 countries, uses lots of smaller donations and uses a sweep approach for communications. The programs are redefining communications. In 1959 they considered gamma rays and decided against it. Instead they worked with the more possible microwaves. In 2000, they are looking for new ways to communicate such as zeta waves.

Human Learning Disabilities or Alien Communication Differences

Aspergers – geeks, poor social skills, very intelligent.

ADHD – Attention Deficit Hyper Activity Disorder, multitaskers, need to command their attention

Autism – lack of attempt to communicate, hyper focused, speak and think metaphorically (example: Star Trek September 1992 Darmok)

Different language - each industry has its own language, need to find a common language for communications (example: techno babble vs. psychobabble)

Time – how a groups sees time: a sundial has the least moving parts and time appears to move slowly; an hourglass has the most moving parts and time appears to move quite quickly. How you perceive time determines the urgency to reply to communications.

So if there is life out there we need to be patient and try to communicate in multiple ways.

Life in Darwin 's Universe

Thomas R. Holtz, Jr

Life in Darwin ’s Universe – the natural history perspectives of the search for life on other worlds. Are we alone? Yes. Frank Drake vs. Enrico Ferni.

Evolution does not expect an outcome of intelligent life or technological advanced society.

N=N* Fp Ne F1 Fi Fc FL

N= number of communication ETI in the galaxy

N* = Stars in Galaxy

Fp = stars with planets

Ne = habitable planets

F1 = planets with life

Fi = involve intelligence

Fc = want to communicate

FL = exist for billion of years (persist)

Star Trek universe N= 3,330,000 communicating universes

Carl Sagon universe N=0.1 communicating civilizations = 1 per 10 galaxies

Life needs an active recycling planet. This uplifts (volcanic, fusion, etc) and weathers the minerals etc to redistribute materials need for life. Activity can be fission (core fission, volcanic, etc) or hydro activity. 4-4.3 billion years ago pheo and proto earth collided and make up our current planet and moon. The rim region of space is metal poor and has less tectonics. The core region of space has more masses colliding.

Common assumptions for fir EIT is life progresses towards intelligence, technology and both will persist. Some animals are problem solving such as elephants, parrots and octopus. Others are tool users such as the otters, ants, and woodpeckers. Bottlenose dolphins do use sponges to pick up spiky things. Animals with one don’t necessarily evolve to do both. Floresiensis (homo flores aka “hobbits”) from 2 histories ago (1500-200ka) were another branch of humans. In the evolution of species often technology only changed when the ‘wet ware” or brains changed. Only in modern man has a group of people who were innovative and the technology changed without a ‘wet ware’ change.

Other obstacles are Sustainable (22 centuries); food growth; ‘oops’ – nuclear, bomb/accident, war, etc; environment – extinction events might not wipe out the technical group but might affect their climate and cause resources to be focused on food rather then communicating with us; fission reaction in the planet may run out and the bio sphere will die, and the sun expanding and destroying the bio sphere.

N=0.0002667 is less than 3% of milky way galaxies would have communicating ETI in any given million years. “Rare Earth” hypothesis. Yet we still have a chance to explore wonderful new worlds with low technology (N=2.667) or unique animal grad worlds (N=1,070,000). There is much to discover out there even if they can’t communicate with us.

"Artifacts ID- Hands on 18th and 19th century pieces from Virginia"

TeriLee Edwards-Hewitt

Twelve years ago they thought the oldest settlement in the Washington DC area was only 8,000 years ago. Now they have recently found proof that there were Indian settlements here as long ago as 13,000 years ago. The sites were found in Alexandria and Georgetown. Some of the discoveries were made because of the recent Wilson Bridge project expanding the bridge and the efforts to make sure the new sound barrier does not disturb graves in a American Civil War cemetery.

The American Indians used tree bark to clean their teeth. There are records of how they thought the settlers had bad teeth. Before the Civil War there was a common family toothbrush that had replaceable bristles. The bristles were commonly made out of boar or horsehair and were secured with copper wire. As the men went of to war they started to carry their own brushes and it became common for each person to have their own.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Balticon 42: Sunday Science Sessions

I'm in geek heaven. There are times I really wish I could be everywhere at once. Sunday's Balticon (www.balticon.org) programming was packed with science programming I wanted to attend. I wasn't able to attend the sessions on Life, the universe and the second law of thermodynamics by John Ashmead nor the Lasers and optics by Matt Reitan. I was able to cut a deal with the family so I could attend several other sessions though. EPOXI and a new extra solar planet exploration by Dr. Timothy A Livengood (Bio and Voyage In DC), A stroll through the forest/jungle of modern astrophysics by Dr. Yoji Kondo, Ancient myth narratives by Rabbi Alan Yuter (wikipedia: Jewish Museum of Maryland) , and James Webb Space Telescope by Laura A Burns. I managed to catch the last 15 minutes of the Pots, poniards and people by Barry M Gittlen, PhD (Baltimore Hebrew University). Unfortunately Dr. Carey Lisse was not able to make it to give the session on Cassini's observations of the Saturn system. The Saturn session was replaced with a presentation of a thesis on quantum time.

The talk on astrophysics was definitely a bit over my head but the speaker Dr. Yoji Kondo is such a sweet wonderful guy I couldn't leave. Until I did some web searching to post this I had no idea how much he has accomplished. I found bios and awards for him on multiple sites including: Balticon bio, wikipedia bio, and NASA News .

The talk on quantum time was delivered by an excellent speaker but I just couldn't follow the physics. Chemistry kept me from going on to an oceanography degree and I’m imagining physics would have accomplished the same. It is difficult for me to wrap that kind of math around in my head.

Unfortunately I only caught the last 15 min of Barry M Gittlen PhD talk on an ancient olive oil factory town in the Middle East. The little bit I was there for was fascinating. Hopefully the excavate more and he does a follow up talk soon. Is a part of “Ask the Archeologist” so I might have other opportunities to learn about his findings. ‘James Webb Space Telescope’ (NASA education site and NASA JWST home page). Yeah, I took more notes and a few websites. Both talks were too short. The audience could have easily kept them busy with an hour of follow questions and discussions. All of the sessions are an hour long.


NOTES:

EPOXI and a new extra solar planet exploration

Dr Timothy A Livengood

Demotion of Pluto from planet status is not unprecedented. The Then there were the talks on ‘EPOXI and the new epoch of extra solar planet exploration’ and

demotion was in the "works" for years.

Planets are named for Roman Gods while other heavenly bodies are named for Greek Gods. Names do not use other myths or religious group deities because it can be a sensitive cultural matter. Not all groups want their God(s) or Goddess(es) use for naming heavenly bodies.

Watching Doppler changes is currently the most common way of discovering new planets. The changing colors (Doppler) are caused by the sun/star's movement or wobble which indicate there is a planet or planets. If you imagine a parent swinging a child in a circle, the child moves and the parent moves (wobbles) too. This wobble affects the light from the star and from the planet (farther and closer away). The wobble proves there is a planet even if none is seen. It can be proven by the light frequency measurements.

Planets known in our solar system = 8

Planets known outside of our solar system = 287

Recommended doing a Google search for "extra solar encyclopedia" and "EPOXI".

There are 6 methods to find planets. Eclipse photometry is the least expensive method. This one just requires a good mass produced telescope, $5,000 camera, and freeware software, totaling less than $10,000.

EPOXI/EPOCH will do it with eclipse photometry.

EPOCH =

Extrasolar

Planetary

Observation &

Characterization

EPOCH is an intensive follow-up study of stars that we already know host a planet. A space craft with a limited view and using already existing equipment. It will measure the brightness changes as the planet orbits the sun. The data will be used to study eclipsing planet and eclipsing stars.

EPOXI was originally to study comet. It is orbiting the sun rather than orbiting Earth. EPOXI can look at an object for 3 to 4 weeks. It has stable radiation levels and a defocused ("crummy") camera. It will also be used to study Earth.

Quantum Time

John Ashmead

His disorientation which he will be presenting in 3 weeks to a

conference for physics in Montréal.

Is time quantized in the same way space is quantized? Time: one

second at time or as a whole. Relativity: time/space. Quantum

mechanics: space is fuzzy, time is a parameter.

Pots Poniards and People

Barry M Gittlen

Pots have been discovered with ancient Hebrew letters saying for Aisha (a goddess). Another said ‘pot Gaia’, the Greek earth goddess with the names of 5 Syrian kings names listed. In the first layer (deepest) there were lots of pig bones showing they were a common food source but the last layer had none and this is the layer which had the inscriptions written in Hebrew. The olive oil factory town they have been excavating could produce up to 1,000 tons of olive oil in a season.

James Webb Space Telescope

Laura A Burns

James E. Webb 1906-1992

James Webb helped develop the science path for NASA, prior it was just exploration. He led Apollo. He was NASA’s second Administrator and began the proposal for a space based telescope. The telescope named in his honor is the only one named for an administrator.

Hubble vs. James Webb Space Telescope (JWST): The Hubble is a serviceable satellite in an earth orbit pattern and uses high resolution images. The JWST is a non serviceable satellite which will be in orbit at L2 (1.5 million kilometers) and will use near and mid infrared. The JSWT has a mirror larger then Hubble’s. Compared to the Spitzer the JWST will have a larger field.

The JWST will have 4 main science goals. 1) To end the dark ages: 1st light and reionization, what are the 1st galaxies. 2) The assembly of galaxies 3) Birth of stars and protoplanetary bodies 4) Planetary systems and the origins of life.

While developing the JWST they had to predict what technology would be available to make the project work and then try to develop it along side of developing the satellite. Its mirror is 6.4 meters and will fit into a 4 meter rocket via “satellite origami”. There are 18 mirror segments and each one has 7 actuators to help align them all to make one continuous surface. The primary mirror segments actuators align the mirror on 6 planes of movement and the 7th can be used to warp the center of the mirror. The mirror segments are cut from a single sheet of barium which is then coated with gold plating to make the reflective surface. The solid piece of barium weighs 100 kg prior to drilling and weighs 13 kg after the mirror is completed.

The launch date for the JWST is 2013 and has a project life span of 5 years with funding to continue through 10 years after launch. Currently there is no way of getting humans to L2 to service the JWST. There is an O-ring on the JWST incase we are able to have humans or robots service it prior to the end of the project life span. The Hubble is the only serviceable satellite in orbit and there is a large cost associated with those services. The cost of the JWST project, as of 2007, is $4.5 billion (US) over it’s 25 year life span covering design, building and operation. This comes to about $15 of taxes per person in the US – total.

There is an unofficial Lego kit of the JWST and it can be found at www.jwstinlego.com

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Balticon 42: Masquerade

Well we pulled it off. William insisted the cats had to have white bellies so there was last minute bellies pinned onto all three cats. Little Cat W and Little Cat S appeared in the green room about 40 min before stage call. Plenty of time to get ‘oos’ and ‘aws’ from their adoring fans in the hallway and get their professional photos taken before lining up with the other young fans to go on stage. There were 8 young fan (under 13) entries. Our mischievous cats were the last ones to go onto stage.
(Listening to the rules in the Green Room)

William wanted to go on before cue and Selena wanted to stay back stage to watch the giant screen. Tim managed to get them onto stage but they stopped before hitting their mark and then over shot it. I was on the other side trying to get them to wave to the audience. Well they did at least look at the audience at least once. The message relayed to me from the tech crew was I was herding cats. Yes I was and this time they were even dressed as cats. The audience seemed to love them. The folks in the hall taking amateur photos had fun with them too. They returned to the stage to get their ribbons. We picked up their certificates on Sunday to add to their scrap books.

Since their hats and bows were store bought and the kid gloves too I didn’t enter into the workmanship competition. The kids seemed to have more fun with it all showing up closer to show time. For me to enter the workmanship competition we would have had to be there 2 hours before the show. We did that the last 3 years and then the judges decided not to judge the adult made kids costumes at the last minute. One friend from the green room suggested I might have been a bit too much competition for a novice. The flattery helped but I don't think I'm that good yet.

William wants to go on stage next year by himself as a super hero. I can work with that and we can have one of us in a "ninja suite" ready to go on with him just in case he decides he wants company on stage. Tim's cat shirt and pants should make for a comfortable ninja outfit for quite a few years to come. Selena seems to love the attention of the photographers and being on stage. We'll have to think of some thing for her to go back on stage next year too.

My little stars shined.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Balticon 42: Saturday Science Sessions

Since I couldn't live in the science room and needed to not only trade off with the kid so my husband could enjoy some time at the con, I also wanted to spend some time with the family. I missed the talks on Fungal Movement - The Microscopic Circus by Nicholas P Money, PhD and Poultry Feathers to Plastic by Dr. Walter Schmidt. Both peeked my curiosity but I just couldn't attend. I did manage to attend the Messenger Update by Noam Izenberg, JHU-APL and Dinosaurs - The Update by Dr. Thomas R. Holtz, Jr. Yes and this geeky science groupie took more notes.

Mercury: Messenger Update

Noam Izenberg, JHU-APL

Messenger has multiple cameras: wide angle and high resolution cameras. They are using filters to get color images which shows the different properties of light effected by the type of rocks, rock age, etc. One other tool is the ultraviolet spectrum for determining rock types.

Should be in the July issue of "Science".

NASA’s website for Messenger and Messenger on Wikpedia.


Dinosaurs - The Update

Dr. Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.

At Balticon just about every one of Dr. Holtz sessions fills to capacity in minutes. He is a wonderfully animated speaker who truly loves his subject matters and enjoys passing that interest on to the audience. The first time I heard him speak he said he had been coming to Balticon for years as a con goer and was flattered when they first asked him to speak. When he is not speaking at Sci-fi conventions, writing books, working in the field and filming TV shows he teaches at the University of Maryland Department of Geology. I can just imagine the wait list for his classes.

I was hanging on his every word and memorized by the PowerPoint slides. The few notes I did take barely scratches the surface of everything he covered.

Dino status determined by placement in history and evolution not by size.

New critters are being discovered at an amazing rate. One of the ones is "old frog" which is an ancestor of modern frogs and salamanders. This is just one of the 44 new dinosaurs names in 2007 and the 16 so far this year.

65 to 66 million years ago an asteroid is high on the list of causes for the "impact winter" causing the end of the rein fo the dinosaurs. But there is a new theory of the "easy bake oven" for the actual killing off of the big critters. They could not hide from the initial heat while the smaller ones could find protection. The food source was also effected. The smaller critters and the scavengers had more opportunity to find food and shelter to survive.

In World War II red/green color blind people were used as pilots since they could "break through" or see through camouflage. What can be a handicap under one circumstances can mean survival in another.

Dr. Thomas R. Holtz, Jr. at University of Maryland and on Wikpedia.

His most recent book: Holtz, T.R., Jr. (illustrations by L. Rey). 2007. Dinosaurs: The Most Complete Up-To-Date Encyclopedia for Dinosaur Lovers of All Ages. Random House

And coming to TV this summer in “Dinosaur fight club” on National Geographic, late summer.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Balticon 42: Friday Night

(Dr. Don Thomas taking questions after his talk)

Friday night is the first night of Balticon and it is my night to play. So what do I do? I got straight to the science room. Dr. Donald Thomas, retired astronaut was giving a lecture on some of the science experiments he conducted on his 4 space missions and oversaw on the space station. Yes, this science groupie took a quick picture and asked for an autograph.

When I told him I dragged the kids outside on a clear winter's night to watch the stars, satellites, and the moon he recommended doing a Google search for "ISS sightings". When he went on to say pointing out the Milky Way, etc I told him I live in the DC metro area. We both agreed it is not the best location to view stars.

I am such a geek. I took notes during a lecture at a sci-fi con.


Dr. Don Thomas (STS-65, 70, 83, 94)

NASA Johnson Space Center, Huston, TX

4 space shuttle flights

17 years with the program

Science experiments on the Shuttle

Experiments on the 2 week long shuttle missions ran up to 30 hours a day while on the space station there averages only 15 hours a week. This is just a small sample of the experiments he described and those were just a small sample of those done on his four missions.

Combustion science: in space there is no warm air rising to shape a flame. In space a burning flame looks perfectly round.

Japanese Red Belly Newt egg and embryo development were studies to see how space affect the development of the inner ear auto lift. The inner auto lift is a gravity sensing organ in many species including humans. The newts born in space had auto lifts twice the size of those born on earth.

Fish were studies to see how they would be affected by space. Fish not only use an auto lift but also use their eyes to determine which way is up. They had the fish in a tank which had lights mounted on four sides: top, bottom, right and left. They would randomly change which light was on. The fish would adjust their swimming orientation with the light "on top" no matter which light was on. After a while the fish adjusted to the change in the light source much quicker.

They grew human colon cancer cells in space so the 3-deminsional cell structure could be more easily studied. Similar cells are grown on Earth for research but those structures are flattened because of the natural gravity they are exposed to making some research more difficult.

Ham radio in space, evidently some of the astronauts snickered at the idea but once in space the opportunity to talk to students around the world became quite popular.

Most cities and country boarders cannot be seen from space with a few exceptions. The boarders of Israel can be easily seen from space because they use their land so differently than their Arab neighbors. Most of Israel's land is being irrigated and supporting farms. There is another country in South American which also can be seen. It is preserving their rain forest while its neighbors are clearing theirs. The Washington DC and Baltimore metropolitan area also stand out, partially because of DC's diamond shape design.

On the shuttle there are 16 sunrises and 16 sunsets each day. Each one shows how small our atmosphere is. It is just a mere 25 miles thick. Each day a thin layer of that atmosphere made up of sodium and oxygen are activated by the sun and they glow at night surrounding the Earth's night sky with a band of green light. This light is called "air glow".

On one of his missions he watched the comet Hail Bob sail across the sky and sink below the horizon. After a moment he realized he had just watched a comet set. Then just 90 minutes later he watched set all over again.

After returning to Earth he had to re-adjust to the Earth's gravity. His inner ear had shut down. This is quite normal and usually takes about 24 hours to fully get back to normal. For those on the space station it can take 2 weeks. He says that is why you often see newly returned astronauts look "drunk" when turning a corner or turn their heads.

Earth KAM: students can control what photos are taken by programming a camera on the space station. It is a great way to get the next generation excited about space and science.

In 2004 President Bush set out the directive for us to go to Mars. This directive means the Space Shuttle program will be retired in 2010 to save funding for Mars mission projects to be funded. Each Space Shuttle trip in the 1990's cost about 1/2 billion dollars (US$). From now on 90% of NASA's efforts and funding will be going to the moon and Mars. They hope to be on Mars in 40 years. This will not be a trip for any of us. It will be the trip of a life time for our children.

Right now I cannot imagine my children going off to college let alone to Mars. If it becomes their dream, it will be mine too.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Hawaii: Aquarium: Jellyfish



I'm off onto the next adventure, Balticon. So I'm cheating a bit and just posting a few pictures of Hawaii for the next few days until we are back. I will have much more to say and more photos for Hawaii when I return and hopefully will also have a few photos from the Balticon Masquerade. 

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Hawaii: Lahaina

(Our lunch time view of Lanai)

One day we drove to Lahaina to gallery hop and shop. It was a beautiful drive from tropical breezes to a climate more like the one you find in Arizona, hot and dry. The lower vegetation highlighted the mountain's majestic profile as it rose up to the sky. To the other side there was a gentile slop down to the sea.
Lahaina is on the west side of Maui and was originally a whaling town.

Lahaina is a beautiful little town along the coast line. The main street is filled with shops and galleries. Many of the artist featured were local with a fair mix of other exceptionally talented artist. There my tour guide introduced me to some fabulous works including those of Vladimir Kush. As a Salivador Dali and Rene admirer I was amazed at the details and imagination shown in Kush's works. We also saw works by Bernard K Passman, Peter Max, The Twins (Alessio and Marcello Bugagiar), Robert Bissell,  and so many others. Robert Bissell's creatures are a delightful mix of realistic details and the whimsy of a cartoon. The Twins had Orchid Symphony on display. The detail of each flower and pot was amazing. 

It is definitely good to have a friend who enjoys similar art and gallery hopping. It made for a perfect outing. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Hawaii: Trust Your Tour Guide

Mo'i Mo, No Ko Oi
(King Mo, No find better )

I was lucky since I was visiting a long time friend who was also going to be my island tour guide. As he took me from one wonderful place to another I could easily trust my tour guide to make the right decisions based on the weather, drive time to each of the sites and how long we might want to linger at each one to ooh and aah. It has always bugged me when visiting someone at a new place they insist on me picking what I want to do even after saying I had no idea what was around their home to visit or do. I can understand asking a guest if they had anything in mind to incorporate into the plans or to have an idea what they are interested in. My tour guide did just that and ran with it. We went shopping and gallery hopping in Lahaina, a drive along the road to Hana, Maui Ocean Center "Maui's Aquarium", a drive up Heleakala to see the Heleakala Observatory, and of course spent some time the beach. 

For some Maui Island history and statistics check out it's Wickipedia page at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maui

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Vacation


Sorry I've been off line a bit over the past week. I was told I needed a vacation and decided it was best not to argue and just take one. How could it go wrong. The husband was sending me off on my own to visit with a long time friend in Maui. I took a lot of photos. Over the next few days I'll be sorting through them to post a few here.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Vegetable Gardening: Watermelon

I planted two different watermelon plants in the same bed as last year. I have added a lot more organic material over the winter and turned the soil several times try and mix the clay, leaf mulch, coffee grounds and new top soil. I also managed to plant them nearly 2 months earlier. I hope I have better luck this year. I planted a Charleston Gray (left) and a Jubilee (right). I’ll have to see if one does better than the other and see which one the taste testers prefer.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Vegetable Gardening: Fence Me In

I planted three tomatoes - two kinds; Early Girl and Better boy. I have seeds for a third kind which I will sow soon. After reading an article about planting tomatoes year after year in the same place I made an extra effort to make sure they are in a different bed this year. It is always a good idea to rotate crops. Each plant tends to take away and add something different to the soil. Planting the same crop in the same place year after year can cause the soil to be depleted of vital nutrients or become toxic with others.


Took out the last of the wong bok, bok choy, and kohlrabi. The flowers on all three are past. The poor kohlrabi was infested with aphids. I may try them again in the fall with an earlier planting but for now I’m preparing the bed for beans and some other spring and summer crops.


I am tired of tomato cages and steaks that seem to topple, bend or break. I’m trying metal fencing this year. My only concern with this experiment is the possibility of the plants burning against the metal fencing. It should be sturdy enough to hold the plants without toppling while looking really sharp. I have to say with a few bags of mulch for the walk way and the new fence it is looking really nice. The neighbor who is often complaining about other yards will have a harder time complaining about mine this year.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Beautiful Iris & Composting

I am happy to say the iris look like the are doing well. Pictured are Iris Sibirica Snow Queen (left), Siberian Iris Ceasar's Brother (above left) and Siberian Iris Pansy Purple (above right). The part of the tree stump garden they were panted in had a mixture of good quality topsoil and the red clay dirt I have everywhere.

The garden center keeps reminding me that with some organic material (aka compost) the red clay is wonderful material to grow a garden. Only time will tell until then I'll keep throwing all the fruit and vegetable kitchen scraps into the compost.

My compost seems to be going from too wet to too dry. One month I have weeds sprouting and then next growing mold. I'm not quite getting it perfect but its all slowly breaking down into a rick looking soil. I just keep hoping it all works out in the end.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Avon Walk: I Walked For...


When I was first asked to join the team I had no idea how many people I knew who's lives were affected by breast cancer. Some who will proudly say they are survivors, others who would rather not be mentioned, and then those who weren't so lucky. When Nicole asked for people to join the team in 2007 I knew it was a good cause but was concerned about raising enough and being able to walk far enough. After a short meeting she convinced me to join. From there the reasons just grew.

In the beginning one of the reasons to walk was a personal challenge. Years ago a drunk driver hit me and I have had to adjust so many parts of my life around the injuries and aftermath. I can still walk. I just wondered how far. In middle school I walked 15 miles for March of Dimes. How far can I walk now? A team mate reminded me that that 15 miles was a LONG time ago. That challenge, wanting to defy injuries and my age helped me get to 17 miles last year. Along the way I discovered what my godmothers daughter was struggling with while I was pregnant with my son. At the time no one would tell me and I only knew she passed leaving behind a husband and two teenage daughters. During my fund raising I was finally told it was breast cancer. The walk had become much more then just a walking challenge. I was now walking for Rachel. Last year I promised her mother I would carry her picture as far as I could and I carried her for 17 miles. After the walk I found that my neighbor Pam was also a survivor. I raised $2,005.00.

This year I wanted to walk again. I wanted to walk farther and raise more. I did both. On Saturday I carried Rachel picture 21 miles on the course and another mile to catch my ride home with my family. On Sunday I returned to go even farther. After helping pack up the team's 7 tents, I walked another 13 miles on the course and another 2 miles home. This time I carried all the names. So Far this year I have raised $2,250.00

In Memory of
Rachel Reppert - god parents' daughter

Survivors
Pam Baker - neighbor
Dorothy Waldbillig - son's teacher's mother
Glenda Lucas - team mate
Jana Allen - team mate


Next year, I'm not sure. I said this would be my last one for now because of work and personal commitments. But... after walking across that finish line on Sunday... I might have to go back. There are no words for what I felt as I heard hundreds of people cheering for the little I raised and the distance I walked. It was wonderful and overwhelming. I might need to try just one more time to walk the whole 39 miles and see if I can get to at least $3,000.00 next year.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Avon Walk: Making a Fashion Statement

Our team captain and her wonderful assistant found us reasonably priced wick dry shirts. Melissa had introduced the team to this wonderful material when she found last year’s team shirts. We just had to have it again. With the addition of a guy, excuse me our ROCK STAR, to the team they felt pink might not be the best shirt color choice even though he was more then willing. They topped us off with camouflage and gray base ball hats for the walk

The rest of our outfits was let up to us. I don’t think I will ever go on a long walk again without my walking socks. I use the Wright Sock double layer socks to prevent blisters. After a bad chafing incident at one of the training walks I feel the same way about my new walking pants. It was humid and there wasn’t a good place to “pull over’ to put on my Body Glide anti-chafing With the new Champion® Double Dry® Women's 19.5'' Gym Performance Texture Capri Pants
that is no longer a problem between the double layers and the type of wick dry fabric chafing is a thing of the past. Luckily in my area all of these can be found at Metro Run & Walk.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Avon Walk: Gear


How do you pack for a day of walking? I was a Girl Scout so being prepared runs through my mind more then traveling light for just about every trip or thing I do. The belt above is about 8 pounds of being prepared. Keep in mind that over 3 pounds of that is drinks (3-20 ounce bottles). Because of my food allergies I pretty much carry what I'll need for the day with me. There were carrots, bananas and grapes at different stops which I did eat; just about everything else contained at least one thing I'm allergic to.

Body Glide anti-chafing is the wonderful stuff. Just roll this stuff on any place anything rubs and you are set to go. I made sure my feet were thoroughly coated and carried some so I could reapply it at the midway point each day. One woman told me she won’t break in a new bra without it. It can be found at most hiking or running shops

Medication: Benadryl is always a safe thing to have with you when you have any kind of allergies: food, insect bites, etc. I also made sure I had two doses of each Tylenol and aspirin.


Gel hand cleaner: What did we do without this stuff. Yes soap and water is best but when you don’t have that around this is second best.

Rain Coat: They called for rain over the weekend all week. I tried the trust worthy way of making sure it didn’t rain – I carried a rain coat. It worked I carried a rain coat and it didn't rain.

My Walking Survival Kit

  • Smilie face purse with bright yellow rain poncho.
  • Leather pouch for Body Glide with sunscreen, lip gloss with sunscreen, lanolin, gel hand cleaner, map of down town DC.
  • Two bottles of Oregon Chai Lates (Yum!)
  • Camera
  • Cell phone
  • Little Black bag: Zone Bar, turkey jerky, dried fruit, tissues, route map, Tea To Go and Propell packets.
  • Water bottle, bandages, antibiotic ointment, Tylenol, aspirin, Benadryl, and eye glass repair kit.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Avon Walk: The Women of the Walk

There were so many women with so many stories. They were walking for loved ones lost and loved ones saved. I heard stories of how they survived or are surviving after being diagnosed with breast cancer. There were women who were counting the years they had survived breast cancer and those who were counting days. They were all amazing.

The common chant was this was easier then chemo. There were signs saying blisters don’t need chemo. Yet I heard one woman say she had gone through chemo and THIS was harder. This walk was the hardest thing she had ever done.

In so many ways it truly is…

For 2 Days, We Walk as one.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Avon Walk: The Other Men Who Helped Us













Here is just an sample of the men on the crew and along the streets cheering and inspiring us.

Then there were the men who supported their wives, mothers, sisters and others as they trained and walked. Especially my husband who took care of the kids while I trained and walked. He encourage me and helped me when ever he could.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Avon Walk: Cow Man


Cow Man, you may think this is utterly re delicious but he is serious about supporting the walkers and finding a cure. He comes to every walk in his cow suit and his pink Cadillac. His crew of volunteers are decked out in cow print aprons handing out all kinds of sweets to get us through the tough hills and long miles. He poses for pictures and says encouraging words. He gives hugs and seems to pop up when every you needed a smiling face to encourage you to go farther. He offers fatherly concern if you are looking drained or dehydrated. He is watching out for each and every walker. I'm looking for a chance to find out what has inspired him to inspire us so much.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Avon Walk: Back Pack Guy

John, the guy with the back pack, was the second person I gave one of my dog tags to. His mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1997. He had hoped to walk before she passed but didn't have the chance to. After retiring from the Marines he started walking. He missed the walks in 2006 because he was finishing rehab from his seventh surgery. In 2007 he walked all 9 Avon Walks and is doing them all again this year.

There are several teams who walk not just every year but at multiple locations each year. He said it was like a reunion at each one and they get the added bonus of seeing beautiful cities in a way they never would be able to other wise. These are dedicated walkers who truly hope to leave breast cancer behind them in a trail of dust.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Avon Walk: Mohawk Man


Glenda and Jana are Team MBA breast cancer survivors. Saturday morning as we were getting ready to walk they handed each of us two pink dog tags. We were given instructions to give away one to someone who inspired us and to keep one for ourselves. As you may notice in the picture I gave away both of mine.

Mohawk Man, Dan, is inspiring us all.

In 2006 he and his wife walked the DC walk together. I heard walkers tell me that they inspired them the last 10 miles. I heard how wonderful they both were to walk with and to know.

In 2007 I saw Mohawk Man. He walked in front of me for several miles. Across the back of his shirt he had photos and the story of him and his wife. Part of it said last year they walked together this year he walked alone for her. She was there but not able to walk more than a few miles. She spent most of the walk riding in the pink Caddy along with cow man. She passed in August 2007.

This year he walked again. This time he had her walking shoes hanging from his belt. He also left pennies painted with pink ribbons. Each time we saw one we were to think of her looking down from heaven. She was with him and with us. I spotted a pink penny as we were crossing the bridge from Virginia back into DC. I let Nicole pick it up as we all got a bit chocked up. We had heard the story but this was the first penny we found. Miles latter after lunch I saw Mohawk Man. I asked him if he had gotten a pink dog tag yet. He hadn't. I told him what my instructions were and told him he inspired my whole team I was just the first one to find him. As we hugged I told him we found one of his pennies. Teary eyed we parted. Sunday morning I saw him in line for breakfast and asked if I could take his picture since I didn't get a chance the day before. He agreed. He showed me he was wearing the dog tag saying he had to wear it. Latter I found several more pennies. I picked up two as a reminder and as inspiration.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Avon Walk for Breast Cancer - Day One


We did it. We walked with over 3500 other walkers. I personally walked over 21 miles. I'm going back on Sunday to walk the second day with my team. Blogs for several days to come will be written about this wonderful and challenging experience.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Avon Walk for Breast Cancer - Event Eve


The Team MBA was going to be checking in at Event Eve for the Washington DC Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in a few hours. My thoughts were bouncing between "OH MY GOD, IT"S TOMORROW" and "WE CAN DO IT".

I went to Event Eve with two checks in hand that took me up to my fund raising goal of $2,200.00. Now all I have to do is walk 20 miles tomorrow and another 13 on Sunday. I think I can, I think I can......

Team MBA raised over $52,000 dollars. Our little 15 member team raised enough to be in the top 10 fund raising teams for the Washington DC walk. Actually we were #7 when we checked in on Friday. Our team captain Glenda, a 2-time breast cancer survivor, had us all wear our gray walk shirts and new camo hats to check-in. We definitely left an impression as we walked in together.

We can do this.

We said we were going to raise $35,000 and we rose over $52,000.

We have trained and we will walk as far as we can carrying the message

We can find a cure for breast cancer.


Thank you for all of your donations and support.


Friday, May 2, 2008

Walkway Lighting and Plants

In my rose bed I had a huge clump of variegated hosta. It looked it hadn’t been divided in years and it had lots of weeds coming up through it. I dug it up to de-weed it and transplant it along the new walkway we are putting in. It was very dense and difficult to pull or cut the plants apart. I hope I didn’t damage too many beyond coming back. The large clump was enough to do the entire bed, about 2 car lengths. Over the next couple of years it should fill in nicely and a few years after that before it will need to be divided again.

I picked up four solar lights from Home Depot. The Hampton bay solar 2-pack solar LED Landscape lanterns (#585 028) are very similar to the ones I found on line and fell in love with but are about $20 less. I installed two in the morning to let them charge all day. They were looking petty good after the sun set. They were still going brightly for several hours before I stopped checking on them to get some sleep. They did a nice job of lighting the path and the newly replanted hosta. They are working well enough I'll install the other two this coming week. Now I just need to get more stones down for the walkway.