Category Archives: Sahara Desert

Amazing Wonders and Creature Marvels

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“Across the sea of space,

the stars are other suns.”

(Carl Sagan)

In August, a 440 pound Galapagos Island, wild-born tortoise joined the Toledo Zoo.

This tortoise, Emerson, is estimated to be 0ver 100 years old. His acquisition caught

my Mom’s eyes, in the friendly photograph she found buried in the mound of papers

she calls, “blog-worthy.” While reading about the history of tortoises, you find out

the horrible reason why sailors kept them in their ships while on long sea journeys.

These amazing creatures can live for almost a year without food or water, delicious

in soups, when there is no ‘meat’ available.

This made me sad, since the carefully cut out article that my Mom included in her

letter this week, had written in the side column by Mom, “Why didn’t the sailors

just eat fish?” Really good point! I learned that Emerson had a first negative

impression of his new environment, so his head was in the corner, not at all

interested in ‘making friends.’ But within hours, he had turned around and was

slowly, methodically moving towards people. He wanted to know about this new

location and nibbled on fresh vegetables. The photograph has him eating a carrot.

Somehow, the fact that he had his head in the corner, showing his reaction to a

new place to live, made me visualize human reactions to our own having to make

moves or transitions in our lives. This human feeling can be turned around with a

new food offered, a person warmly greeting him and calling him by name. I like

the way the journalist, Alexandra Mester, mentions that when he gets up in the

morning, he seems “to pause and soak up the sun”. They further made me ‘like’

Emerson by explaining how he likes his neck rubbed, shown by the way he stretches

his neck out for this daily affection given him.

Sadly, statistics given from the 1800’s when an estimated 100,000 to 200,ooo

tortoises lived in the Galapagos Islands have shrunk in species to 10,000 to

20,000 left. There are 4 of 14 sub-species now considered extinct.

 

Speaking of extinct subjects, Rachel Feltman, for the Washington Post, wrote

about the Spinosaurus. This is possibly the only know ‘swimming dinosaur.’

This is also the dangerous dinosaur that may have ‘chomped down on sharks!’

My grandsons were fascinated by this story, passed on by my mother in the

mail. They still like the variations of the animated children’s movies called,

“The Land Before Time.” New fossil evidence may be found in the September’s

copy of, “Science” magazine.

The speculation of the dinosaur out-ranking the T-Rex in size is also amazing.

It may be a record-breaker, largest predatory dinosaur to have existed on Earth.

Scientists believe that it was mainly a water creature, due to these facts or clues:

1. Tiny nostrils placed far back on the middle of the Spinosaurus’ skull. This

makes it appear like the water-crawling and swimming alligators and crocodiles.

2. The skull’s head has teeth that have interlocking connections that can be good

for catching fish, while trolling in the deep oceans.

3. The hook-like claws would be ideal for catching slippery prey, in the water.

4. Big flat feet- bones that could have connecting skin, making them ‘webbed feet.’

5. Legs and pelvis were unlikely ‘built’ or connected to land animals, more likely

resembling water creatures.

6. It would be easier to carry their own weight in water, paddling around, than

on land.

Over one hundred years ago, a German paleontologist, Ernst Freiherr Stromer

von Reichenbach, found giant “Spinosaurus” fossils. He found them in the Sahara

Desert, where from current satellite’s far out in Space, can determine rivers existed.

Unfortunately, records on paper exist but the “Spino” bones were destroyed during

WWII. I would like to look at the river channels from Space. Wouldn’t you?

I think the greatest part of this story is, you may go to the National Geographic

Museum in Washington, D.C. There you can view the fossil bones structured into

what the researchers and scientists believe to be the ‘spino-saurus aegyptiacus’

in all of its marvelous glory. This is available for the public to see until 4/14/15.

 

Speaking of satellites and Space. . .

NASA’s Mars land rover discovered in 2012, rock-eating microbes. This Mars

rover named, “Curiosity,” had  new details released to the public recently.

It has reached the layered rock area known by scientists as Mt. Sharp on Mars.

The exploring vehicle is getting a little rickety but had been able to begin

drilling into the rocky location. Samples may be soon analyzed by the unique

ability to transfer information back to Earth.  I am very interested in this

further details, since we still have hopes of finding a compatible environment

for human life to exist in the future.

On December 4, 2014- a new gumdrop shaped capsule known as, “Orion,”

will be launched 3600 miles  from Earth. This is four times farther than our

International Space Station and will ‘careen back’ into our atmosphere at the

incredible speed of 20,000 m.p.h. Why? Because this is testing the thermal

dynamics. This would be considered a possible future human (astronauts-

bearing) space ship. It looks like a huge coffee thermos to me, in its drawings.

If it ‘bears up’ in entering our atmosphere without burning up, this would be

a future manned flight that managed to have a strong protective shield. I am

always pleased when NASA is making progress in going farther into the unknown

in Space.

 

“A blade of grass is a commonplace on Earth,

it would be a miracle on Mars.

Our descendants on Mars will know the value

of a patch of green.

And if a blade of grass is priceless,

What is the value of a human being?”

Taken from, “Pale Blue Dot:  A Vision of the Human Future in Space,”

written by Carl Sagan.

Follow Your Bliss

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Andrew McCarthy was one of my ‘heroes’ in movies of the 90’s.

He was a quiet, unassuming young man in some of them, the

best friend in others, along with being the love interest

in “Pretty In Pink.” (My daughters grew up watching him and

I was always glad he kept his actions, for the most part,

clean cut and decent. There were several including “St. Elmo’s

Fire” where he was included in a group that was called the

“brat pack,” which was different by a generation from the

“Rat Pack” which included Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin.

In both groups, carousing and drinking was an element, for

some, they were mostly going through a phase but Andrew

McCarthy admits to being an alcoholic and becoming sober in

1992.

Andrew made his ‘fortune’ in movies, then went on to become

a director, along with his new pursuit of being a travel

writer for “National Geographic Traveler.” It has been a

year since he had his book published, “The Longest Way

Home: One Man’s Quest for the Courage to Settle Down.”

In this book, he uses an unusual approach with his travel

writing, going through his anecdotal life’s journey up

until he took off to explore the world. He uses his varied

experiences as actor, director and writing production

scenes to look at the way nature, history, and landmark

places fit into his world view.

He likes more the idea of the journey, rather than the

outcome. He likes meeting varied peoples, like when he

rode along with hundreds of Brazilians in hammocks,

their scenery the length of the Amazon River.

He enjoyed a two month long trip through 7 countries

to see, from South Africa through to Tanzania. There

are photographs, for readers that like visuals, in his

gorgeous book. In 2005, he took his 8 year old son to

the Sahara Desert. The vastness of the sand, his seeing

the distinctive mountains of sand, had an impact on his

life.

Another wonderful and life-changing trip was on the

“Camino de Santiago,” which begins in France and crosses

the Pyrenees Mountains, and ends in Santiago de Compostela.

He felt that trip ‘changed his life,’ probably the most.

(Read more about this, and other travels in his book or

in book reviews!) His discoveries in Laos, Cmabodia and

Viet Nam ‘thrilled him.’

In a quotation that reveals Andrew McCarthy’s world view

and philosophy:

“People don’t travel because they’re afraid. I don’t think

it’s (about) time. I think it’s fear. If we traveled the

world, we’d be less fearful of people, and if we were less

fearful then, the world would react to us less fearfully.

My goal is to change the world, one trip at a time.”

Andrew’s “hero” and mentor for his trips goes back to Mark

Twain’s cross country, American journeys in his lifetime.

Here is one of McCarthy’s favorite Twain quotation:

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness.”

Andrew McCarthy, also a husband and father, sometimes feels

‘lonely’ at home. He tries to explain ‘loneliness’ to others

by saying it is like missing opportunities and adventures.

Compared to being on the road, where he never feels ‘alone.’

Because of seeking and finding others in places that he will

learn more about, loneliness is different during his travels.

There is an expectancy and excitement to being away from home,

in an unfamiliar place. Although I did not see the word ‘bliss’

anywhere in his reviews or interviews, I feel Andrew McCarthy

has found just that.

How will you find your ‘bliss’ in this new year of 2014?