Happy Thanksgiving from my Family to Yours.

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To You and Yours

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Why World Day of Remembrance?

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The World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims (WDR) is observed on the third Sunday of November each year by an increasing number of countries on every continent around the world. This day is dedicated to remembering the many millions killed or injured in road crashes and their families and communities, as well as to pay tribute to the dedicated emergency crews, police and medical professionals who daily deal with the traumatic aftermath of road death and injury.

Why is there a need for this day?

Road deaths and injuries are sudden, violent, traumatic events, the impact of which is long-lasting, often permanent. Each year, millions of newly injured and bereaved people from every corner of the world are added to the countless millions already suffering as the result of a road crash.

The burden of grief and distress experienced by this huge number of people is all the greater because many of the victims are young, because many of the crashes could and should have been prevented and because the response to road death and injury and to victims and families is often inadequate, unsympathetic, and inappropriate to the loss of life or quality of life.

This special Remembrance Day is intended to respond to the great need of road crash victims for public recognition of their loss and suffering (see Messages & Thoughts from victims).

National Make a Difference Day

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National Make A Difference Day is an annual community service event which is held on the fourth Saturday in October.

Millions of people have united in the common mission to improve the lives of others.

USA Weekend is a national weekend newspaper magazine which is distributed through more than 800 plus newspapers in the United States and published by Gannett Company as a sister publication to USA Today.   USA Weekend’s focus in on social issues, entertainment, health, food and travel.

For more information on National Make A Difference Day, an “unofficial” national holiday, see:

http://makeadifferenceday.com/

http://makeadifferenceday.com/about-make-difference-day

CELEBRATE

Do what you can to make a difference and use #MakeADifferenceDay to post on social media.

HISTORY

National Make a Difference Day was created in 1992 by USA WEEKEND magazine and joined by Points of Light, together they have sponsored the largest national day of community service for more than twenty years.

DATES
October 25, 2014
October 24, 2015
October 22, 2016
October 28, 2017
October 27, 2018

Hello August

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All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt”. (Charles Schulz)

 

happy-valentines-day-clip-art-5Each year on February 14th, many people exchange cards, candy, gifts or flowers with their special “valentine.” The day of romance we call Valentine’s Day is named for a Christian martyr and dates back to the 5th century, but has origins in the Roman holiday Lupercalia.

Lovers’ holiday celebrated on February 14, the feast day of St. Valentine, one of two 3rd-century Roman martyrs of the same name. St. Valentine is considered the patron of lovers and especially of those unhappily in love. The feast day became a lovers’ festival in the 14th century, probably as an extension of pagan love festivals and fertility rites celebrated in mid-February.

Until the 19th century handwritten valentines were often given rather than modern mass-produced greeting cards.

“I don’t understand why Cupid was chosen to represent Valentine’s Day. When I think about romance, the last thing on my mind is a short, chubby toddler coming at me with a weapon.”
Unknown

Well Spring or 6 more weeks?

 

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February 2nd  brings the most-watched weather forecast of the year—and the only one led by a rodent. Legend has it that on this morning, if a groundhog can see its shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter. If it cannot see its shadow, spring is on the way.

Why the Groundhog?

Since a groundhog (or woodchuck or “whistle pig”) hibernates for the winter, its coming out of the ground is a natural sign of spring. In Europe centuries ago, people watched for other hibernating animals, including badgers, bears, and hedgehogs, as signs of winter’s end. Germans who immigrated to Pennsylvania in the mid-1800s began keeping an eye on the groundhog. The widespread population of the rodent made it a handy agent for this particular weather superstition.

And a superstition it is. But there’s a grain of truth: the winter days when you can see your shadow clearly are often especially cold, because there are no clouds overhead to insulate the earth.

Why now?

Early February is midway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. Throughout history numerous holidays have marked this seasonal crossroads. Among these is Candlemas Day, February 2, a Christian holiday that celebrates Mary’s ritual purification. Early Christians believed that if the sun came out on Candlemas Day, winter would last for six weeks more.

The ancient Romans observed a mid-season festival on February 5, and the pagan Irish celebrated one around February 1. In many parts of Europe early February might herald the start of spring, when crops could be planted.

Punxsutawney Phil and Friends

In the 1880s some friends in Punxsutawney, Penn., went into the woods on Candlemas Day to look for groundhogs. This outing became a tradition, and a local newspaper editor nicknamed the seekers “the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club.” Starting in 1887 the search became an official event centered on a groundhog called Punxsutawney Phil. A ceremony still takes place every year.

Today Punxsutawney Phil lives in a climate-controlled habitat adjoining the Punxsutawney Library. A local celebrity, he gained national fame in the 1993 movie Groundhog Day (which was shot in scenic Woodstock, Illinois). The weather-watching rodent’s predictions are recorded in the Congressional Records of our National Archive. So far, Phil has seen his shadow about 85% of the time.

Canada’s Groundhog Day relies on the predictions of an albino groundhog named Wiarton Willie. Although Punxsutawney Phil gets the most attention, various American cities have their own special groundhogs; New York City’s official groundhog is called “Pothole Pete.”

To read more.

Information Please® Database, © 2007 Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.

Why do birds not freeze

 

bird3If you were one of the many bird watchers who fell into the Polar Vortex and temperatures dropped to nearly 30 below  you may have wondered how birds survive such brutally cold temperatures. I sure did, I spent much of the cold spell sitting in a cozy house, furnace on, wrapped in warm fleece, with favorite cup of coffee.

On days like these I am always astounded that there are any birds left alive, especially considering that most winter feeder visitors weigh in around 10–25 grams (the weight of 2-5 nickels)! But it turns out that birds employ many of the same strategies I was using inside my house plus a couple more to keep their motors running through cold snaps.

So how do they survive?

Bird Body Temperatures

Birds are warm-blooded animals that have a much higher metabolism, and thus higher body temperature, than humans. While the exact measurement varies for different bird species, the average bird’s body temperature is 105 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius). Body temperature can fluctuate during the day depending on climate and activity, but it can be a challenge for birds to maintain such a high body heat when temperatures dip too severely. Smaller birds are particularly at risk, since they have a proportionally larger surface area on their bodies to lose heat but a smaller core volume to generate it. Even the smallest birds, however, have several ways they can efficiently keep warm.

What Wild Birds Do to Keep Warm

Birds have many physical and behavioral adaptations to keep warm, no matter what the low temperatures of their surroundings.

Physical Adaptations

  • Feathers: Birds’ feathers provide remarkable insulation against the cold, and many bird species grow extra feathers as part of a late fall molt to give them thicker protection in the winter. The oil that coats birds’ feathers also provides insulation as well as waterproofing.
  • Legs and Feet: Birds’ legs and feet are covered with specialized scales that minimize heat loss. Birds can also control the temperature of their legs and feet separately from their bodies by constricting blood flow to their extremities, thereby reducing heat loss even further.
  • Fat Reserves: Even small birds can build up fat reserves to serve as insulation and extra energy for generating body heat. Many birds will gorge during the fall when food sources are abundant, giving them an extra fatty layer before winter arrives.

Behavioral Adaptations

  • Fluffing: Birds will fluff out their feathers to create air pockets for additional insulation in cold temperatures.
  • Tucking: It is not unusual to see a bird standing on one leg or crouched to cover both legs with its feathers to shield them from the cold. Birds can also tuck their bills into their shoulder feathers for protection.
  • Sunning: On sunny winter days, many birds will take advantage of solar heat by turning their backs to the sun (therefore exposing the largest surface of their bodies to the heat) and raising their feathers slightly. This allows the sun to heat the skin and feathers more efficiently. Wings may also be drooped or spread while sunning, and the tail may be spread as well.
  • Shivering: Birds will shiver to raise their metabolic rate and generate more body heat as a short term solution to extreme cold. While shivering does require more calories, it is an effective way to stay warm.
  • Roosting: Many small birds, including bluebirds, chickadees and titmice, will gather in large flocks at night and crowd together in a small, tight space to share body heat. They can roost in shrubbery or trees, and empty birdhouses and bird roost boxes are also popular locations to conserve heat. Even individual birds choose roost spots that may have residual heat from the day’s sunlight, such as close to the trunk of a tree or near any dark surface.

Torpor

Many birds will enter torpor to conserve energy during cold winter nights. Torpor is a state of reduced metabolism when the body temperature is lowered, therefore requiring fewer calories to maintain the proper heat. Most birds can lower their body temperature by a few degrees, but torpid birds have lowered their body temperatures by as much as 50 degrees. Torpor can be a dangerous behavior, however, as the reduced temperature also leads to reduced reactions and greater vulnerability to predators. Hummingbirds, chickadees, swifts and other types of birds regularly use torpor as a way to survive cold temperatures.

Helping Keep Birds Warm

Even with all these adaptations to conserve heat and stay warm, many birds still succumb to frigid temperatures and bird mortality can be very high during severe winters. Birders who know how to keep wild birds warm in winter can help their backyard flocks have an edge over the cruelest weather.

  • Offer Good Food: Choosing the best winter bird foods to offer means selecting seeds, suet, scraps and other items high in fat and calories to give birds plenty of energy to generate sufficient body heat.
  • Keep Feeders Full: After a long, cold night birds will need ready access to food to replenish their energy reserves. Keep your birdfeeders full of nutritious seed no matter what the weather so the birds know where to go for a high energy meal.
  • Offer Liquid Water: Birds can melt snow to drink if necessary, but doing so will use precious energy that is needed to maintain body heat. If the birds can drink from a liquid birdbath even in freezing temperatures, they will have a better chance at survival.
  • Provide Shelter: Plant evergreen shrubs and coniferous trees that will provide suitable shelter throughout the winter, or build a brush pile to give birds a safe, sheltered place to roost. Adding a roost box to your yard is also helpful.

When temperatures start to dip, it isn’t necessary to worry about how birds keep warm; they have plenty of efficient adaptations to survive even the chilliest nights. Birders who understand those adaptations and help birds with even better food, shelter and other necessities, however, will be sure to enjoy warm and healthy winter backyard birds no matter how cold it is outside.

Winter Birds Myths and Facts:

When it comes to winter birds, it seems there are more myths than usual. Here are a few of the common ones I’ve heard. Hopefully, I can help debunk these winter birds’ myths once and for all with the correct winter bird’s facts.

Winter Birds Myth: Birds will freeze to death when temperatures drop far below zero. Birds are well equipped to survive the coldest of temperatures. They store fat during the short days of winter to keep themselves warm during the long nights. During those freezing nights, they fluff their feathers to trap heat and slow their metabolism to conserve energy. They also look for good places to roost, whether it’s a birdhouse, natural tree cavity, grass thicket, evergreen or shrub.

Winter Birds Myth: Birds’ feet will stick to metal bird feeders and suet cages. Most suet cages have a laminated covering, so you don’t have to worry about birds’ feet sticking to it. But in general, their feet can endure cold weather. Birds have a protective scale-like covering on their feet, and special veins and arteries that keep their feet warm.

Winter Birds Myth: Woodpeckers drill on house siding in winter for food or to create nesting cavities. Though there are cases where woodpeckers find food in wood siding (and may even nest inside the boards), nearly all the drilling in late winter is done to make a noise to court mates. This is their way of singing a song to declare territory.

Information from Birds and Bloom

How do birds say warm

You Are Unique!!!!

YouareUnique

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Know the Warning Signs of Suicide Today

Know the Warning Signs of Suicide
 

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How do you remember the Warning Signs of Suicide? Here’s an easy-to-remember mnemonic:
IS PATH WARM?
I  Ideation

S  Substance Abuse
P Purposelessness

A  Anxiety

T  Trapped

H  Hopelessness
W  Withdrawal

A  Anger

R  Recklessness

M  Mood Changes
A person in acute risk for suicidal behavior most often will show:
Warning Signs of Acute Risk: Threatening to hurt or kill him or herself, or talking of wanting to hurt or kill him/herself; and or, Looking for ways to kill him/herself by seeking access to firearms, available pills, or other means; and/or, Talking or writing about death, dying or suicide, when these actions are out of the ordinary.
These might be remembered as expressed or communicated ideation.  If observed, seek help as soon as possible by contacting a mental health professional or calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for a referral.
Expanded Warning Signs:

  • Increased substance (alcohol or drug) use
  • No reason for living; no sense of purpose in life
  • Anxiety, agitation, unable to sleep or sleeping all of the time
  • Feeling trapped – like there’s no way out
  • Hopelessness
  • Withdrawal from friends, family and society
  • Rage, uncontrolled anger, seeking revenge
  • Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities, seemingly without thinking
  • Dramatic mood changes

If observed, seek help as soon as possible by contacting a mental health professional or calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for a referral.
These warning signs were compiled by a task force of expert clinical-researchers and ‘translated’ for the general public.  The origin of IS PATH WARM?

To learn more about youth suicide, risk factors, and how to help, click here.

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