Bird Nest

For a few years now small birds have attempted to build a nest under the edge of the roof


on this small ledge.


Most of the time they give up. This year however two birds

Little Bird.jpg
Busy collecting stuff for the nest.


worked really hard to get the job done:


Up close it seems like a small and unusual location to have a nest. However from a distance it makes sense:

Can you spot the nest?

It’s a well hidden covered area in which to have their young.



This post was inspired by the Photo Challenge: Unusual

Sugar Ants

Sugar ants seem to stake out their territory; as much as I stake out mine. Once they find a food source them come out in a dense pack to gobble it all up. Battling them is an ongoing challenge. The other day I put down some maple syrup to get them to go to one spot:

Mmmm maple syrup

In a few days I will add a few drops of ant poison. Once the flood of ants slows down I will clean up the area to remove their pathway. It seems to be a good method to combat the sugar ants.

Since ant poison is a poison I only put it in locations where my dog won’t get access.



Ant Conference (

Post Inspired by:


Once again one the Powerball jackpot prize is over $400 million. I’ve noticed that with the higher jackpots two things seem to happen:

  1. More advertisements on TV and radio.
  2. More scams and people trying to sell their “lottery winning systems.”

Here are a few tips to avoid the scams:

  • In order to win a lottery you first have to enter that lottery.
  • Any lottery with an anonymous entry system (like the multi-state ones) won’t have your name and address until you give it to them. You have to go to their offices with your signed winning lottery ticket.
  • When a lottery prize is this large buy the ticket yourself.
  • Don’t waste your money on “lottery winning systems”. Search online for tips. If the person wrote a book, wait until it gets to the library. Or read through the online reviews.

Remember that unlike Poker, BlackJack, or other skill based games; the lottery is based on chance. There is a chance that the numbers on the ticket will match the numbers randomly drawn. The current odds of winning the game are 1 in 292 million. Put another way the odds of winning are: 1/292,000,000 or 3.424e-9 or 0.000000003424%. No matter what “system” is used those are still the odds of one set of numbers winning.

Have you bought a Powerball ticket?

Would you trust someone else to buy and hold the ticket?




Board Game (

Lottery Jackpot (

Electricity Usage Monitor

The other day at the library I saw on display an electricity usage monitor so I grabbed it, checked it out, and brought it home. An electricity usage meter allows the user to plug in devices and determine how much it costs to run household appliances.

I had thought for sure that I knew what would cost the most in electricity usage. However I was absolutely shocked when it came back that the water filter and the heater on the 50 gallon fish tank cost around $45 a month to operate. This doesn’t even include the cost of fish food, the light on the tank, water, and chemicals that have to be used to treat the water. I was absolutely shocked. Other appliances I thought for sure would use a ton of energy when on or off barely used any energy.

I highly recommend anyone to check out an electricity usage monitor and find out what items in your house are sucking up the energy and causing your bill to be high. Maybe like me you will be surprised as to what the culprits really turn out to be.

Earth Day Coloring Contests

Earth Day is celebrated on April 22 of every year.  The day is credited to Gaylord Nelson from Wisconsin who witnessed the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill and took inspiration by the student anti-war movement. He called for an environmental teach in day to be held on April 22, 1970. 20 million people participated that year. Gaylord Nelson wrote about the day:

I am convinced that all we need to do to bring an overwhelming insistence of the new generation that we stem the tide of environmental disaster is to present the facts clearly and dramatically. To marshal such an effort, I am proposing a national teach-in on the crisis of the environment to be held next spring on every university campus across the Nation. The crisis is so imminent, in my opinion, that every university should set aside 1 day in the school year-the same day across the Nation-for the teach-in.”

It was adopted by the United Nations in 2009 and is celebrated in more than 192 countries.  The day even has its own anthem set to Ludwig van Beethovens Ode to Joy that talks about protecting nature and the world.

Earth Day is a day to inspire conservation and good stewardship of the planet. After all this is the only one that we have. Usually the coloring contests are around the theme of reducing, recycling and reusing as are the displays that kids put on in schools. The sponsors are usually organizations and groups dedicated to saving the environment.

Usually. Except for the state of Utah. This is the second year in a row that the sponsors of one of the coloring contests for children in schools has been the Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining; as well as other petroleum companies. The theme for 2012 was “How Do YOU Use Oil, Gas, and Mining?” The theme for this year, “Where Would WE Be Without Oil, Gas & Mining?” The objectives listed for this year include:

  • Improving students and the public’s awareness of the important role that oil, gas, and mining play in our everyday lives
  • To highlight how modern mining and petroleum extraction techniques and reclamation methods minimize environmental impacts while providing society with the raw materials required to have our high standard of living.

Where society would not be what it is today without all the products that oil, gas, and mining have provided to us; that is not the point of Earth Day. Earth Day is about conservation, recycling, reusing, and thinking about ways to move forward without such a dependence on oil, gas and mining for the products that we use. Maybe someone in Utah missed the memo?


Death Star Petition

On Nov. 14, 2012 a petition was created on We The People calling for the U.S. Government to “Secure resources and funding, and begin construction of a Death Star by 2016”. The petition claimed that doing so would spur job creation and strengthen our national defense. The petition received 34,435 signatures. At the time of petition the threshold for a response by the White House was 25,000. As of January 15, 2013 the threshold has changed to 100,000 signatures. The response to the petition came from Paul Shawcross Chief of Science and Space Branch at the White House Office of Management and Budget. The response, from the title to the last sentence, has references to and at least one quote from Star Wars.

Here is the list of references to the movies found in the reply:

  1. “This Isn’t the Petition Response You’re Looking For”. The actual quote by Obi Wan in Episode 4 is “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.”
  2. The fundamental flaw to the original death star in Episode 4 was a one man star ship.
  3. The death star blew up the planet Alderaan in Episode 4.
  4. In Episode 4 Luke, Han, Leia, and Chewbacca hid in an onboard garbage masher.
  5. R2D2 had a small laser he could use and did so in Episode 6.
  6. Spacecrafts were common in the Star Wars universe, and spacecraft were welcomed at various cities and ports.
  7. NASA has a Commercial Crew and Cargo Program Office that has the acronym C3PO. C3PO was the name of the one droid in all 6 of the Star Wars movies.
  8. Kessel Run in 12 parsecs was mentioned in Episode 4 when Han Solo explains that the Millennium Falcon is fast enough to avoid the Imperial ships in orbit.
  9. Probes were used by the Empire to track down and locate the rebel forces in Episode 5.
  10. Floating Robot Assistants and droids. In the Star Wars universe there were a multitude of robots that did various tasks.
  11. Light Sabers were Jedi weapons.
  12. In Episode 5 the rebels used an “Ion Cannon” to help the ships escape the blockade of Imperial ships. In the response it refers to the “advanced marshmallow cannon” the President fired during the White House Science Fair.
  13. Lukes Arm is in reference to Episode 5 when his hand was cut off and replaced by a robotic one.
  14. Imperial Walkers were the giant vehicles used by the Empire in Episode 5 and 6.
  15. The Force is the religion practiced by the Jedi Knights.
  16. In the response it states, “Remember, the Death Star’s power to destroy a planet, or even a whole star system, is insignificant next to the power of the Force.” The actual statement made by Darth Vader in Episode 4 was, “Don’t be too proud of this technological terror you’ve constructed. The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Force.”

The full response to the petition can be found below:

OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE RESPONSE TO Secure resources and funding, and begin construction of a Death Star by 2016.

This Isn’t the Petition Response You’re Looking For

By Paul Shawcross

The Administration shares your desire for job creation and a strong national defense, but a Death Star isn’t on the horizon. Here are a few reasons:

  • The construction of the Death Star has been estimated to cost more than $850,000,000,000,000,000. We’re working hard to reduce the deficit, not expand it.
  • The Administration does not support blowing up planets.
  • Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?

However, look carefully (here’s how) and you’ll notice something already floating in the sky — that’s no Moon, it’s a Space Station! Yes, we already have a giant, football field-sized International Space Station in orbit around the Earth that’s helping us learn how humans can live and thrive in space for long durations. The Space Station has six astronauts — American, Russian, and Canadian — living in it right now, conducting research, learning how to live and work in space over long periods of time, routinely welcoming visiting spacecraft and repairing onboard garbage mashers, etc. We’ve also got two robot science labs — one wielding a laser — roving around Mars, looking at whether life ever existed on the Red Planet.

Keep in mind, space is no longer just government-only. Private American companies, through NASA’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Program Office (C3PO), are ferrying cargo — and soon, crew — to space for NASA, and are pursuing human missions to the Moon this decade.

Even though the United States doesn’t have anything that can do the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs, we’ve got two spacecraft leaving the Solar System and we’re building a probe that will fly to the exterior layers of the Sun. We are discovering hundreds of new planets in other star systems and building a much more powerful successor to the Hubble Space Telescope that will see back to the early days of the universe.

We don’t have a Death Star, but we do have floating robot assistants on the Space Station, a President who knows his way around a light saber and advanced (marshmallow) cannon, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which is supporting research on building Luke’s arm, floating droids, and quadruped walkers.

We are living in the future! Enjoy it. Or better yet, help build it by pursuing a career in a science, technology, engineering or math-related field. The President has held the first-ever White Housescience fairs and Astronomy Night on the South Lawn because he knows these domains are critical to our country’s future, and to ensuring the United States continues leading the world in doing big things.

If you do pursue a career in a science, technology, engineering or math-related field, the Force will be with us! Remember, the Death Star’s power to destroy a planet, or even a whole star system, is insignificant next to the power of the Force.

Paul Shawcross is Chief of the Science and Space Branch at the White House Office of Management and Budget


Secure resources and funding, and begin construction of a Death Star by 2016 (

Terms of Participation (

This Isn’t the Petition Response You’re Looking For (

President Obama on Global Warming

Here is a video where President Obama discusses Global Warming.



Until this year global climate change has been discussed in every presidential debate since 1988. It was a big part of your previous campaign but pushed back on the back burner. Given the urgency of the threat, do you feel that we’re moving quickly enough on this issue, number one, and Samantha from New Jersey wants to know what will you do to make it a priority?

President Obama:

The answer is number one, we’re not moving as fast as we need to. And this is an issue that future generations, MTV viewers, are going to have to be dealing with even more than the older generation is. So this is a critical issue.

And there is a huge contrast in this campaign between myself and Governor Romney. I am surprised it didn’t come up in one of the debates. Gov. Romney says he believes in climate change.  That’s different than a lot of members of his own party who just deny it completely. But he’s not sure that man-made causes are the reason.

I believe scientists who say we are putting too much carbon emissions into the atmosphere and it’s heating the planet and it’s going to have a severe effect. So there are a lot of things we have done a lot of things in the last four years. Number one we  doubled the fuel efficiency standards on cars and trucks. That’s the first increase in 30 years in the fuel mileage standards.  As a consequence we will be taking huge amounts of carbon out of the atmosphere, even as we’re also saving folks money at the pump and reducing our dependence on foreign oil. We’ve doubled clean energy production — wind, solar, biofuels — and that means that increasingly people are getting electricity, companies are generating power, without the use of carbon-producing fuels. And that’s helping as well.

The next step is to deal with buildings and really ramp up our efficiency in buildings. If we had the same energy efficiency as Japan, we would cut our energy use by about 20 percent, and that means we’d be taking a whole lot of carbon out of our atmosphere.

And if we do those things, we can meet the targets that I negotiated with other countries in Copenhagen, to bring our carbon emissions down by about 17 percent, even as we’re creating good jobs in these industries.

In order for us to solve the whole problem though, we’re gonna have to have some technological breakthroughs.  Because countries like China and India, they’re building coal-power plants and they feel that they have to prioritize getting people out of poverty ahead of climate change.

So what we have to do is help them and help ourselves by continuing to put money into research and technology about how do we really get the new sources of power that are going to make a difference.

Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy was the largest Atlantic hurricane on record with winds spanning 1,100 miles.  It’s impact was felt in Jamaica, Cuba, Bahamas and the United States.  In the US it impacted at least 24 states from Florida to New England.

Thoughts and prayers are with those impacted by the hurricane in all of the countries impacted. In the U.S. donations of blood and money can be given to the Red Cross.  For more information on where to donate, or to donate money online go to