What Really Happened to Dinosaurs, Maybe



Remember that we  learned in school how dinosaurs died out when an enormous asteroid  hit the earth causing a dust cloud that enveloped the planet? That blocked out the sun causing most living things to freeze.

The entertaining National Public Radio show, Radio Lab, this time before an audience,  dramatizes a more recent, more interesting theory.  Here is a video of the radio production as seen by the audience. Click on blue (you may want to fast-forward to the 19-minute point.)  rjn



Costa Rica Gallery

 No pollution, no army, no recreational hunting in Costa Rica !   Check note below
Alice’s photos.
Enlarge a photo by clicking on it.

 photo 1

 Hotel:  Casa de Conda del Mar (Home of the Earl of the Sea)

photo 2


photo 3photo (1)                                                                                                 Dark-sand beach

photo (6)



photo (2)


photoCoatimundi, distant cousin of racoon


photo (5)Two-toed sloth


photo (7)Two-footed human


Alice reported on March 28:   Another wonderful long day in Costa Rica. Started with a 5.4 earthquake this morning. I thought a strong wind was rocking my chair out front but there was no wind! The earthquake was centered not too far away in Nicaragua .  Had a boat ride today saw many crocodiles, birds, monkeys.


Map of Central America   Central America

The Republic of Costa Rica,”rich coast”,  is a country in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the west, and the Caribbean Sea to the east.

Once a poor and isolated Spanish colony, since becoming independent in the 18th century, Costa Rica has become one of the most stable, prosperous, and progressive nations in Latin America. It constitutionallyabolished its army permanently in 1949.  A constitutional republic, it is the only Latin American country to have been a democracy since 1950 or earlier.

Costa Rica was cited by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as having attained much higher human development than other countries at the same income levels.

UNDP also identified it as a good performer on environmental sustainability, with a better record on human development and inequality than the median of their region. Costa Rica is known for its progressive environmental policies, being the only country to meet all five criteria established to measure environmental sustainability. In 2007, the Costa Rican government announced plans for Costa Rica to become the first carbon-neutral country by 2021.

The New Economics Foundation (NEF) ranked Costa Rica first in its 2009 Happy Planet Index, and once again in 2012. The NEF also ranked Costa Rica in 2009 as the greenest country in the world.  In 2012, Costa Rica became the first country in the Americas to ban recreational hunting.  Wikipedia (excerpted)


High Roller


Ride the roller coaster atop 1000-foot tower in Las Vegas !

VIDEO  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OgswFsHIkeg

 High Roller. Bye, bye, High Roller. In early 2006 the venerable High Roller was removed to make way for a new observation deck. I’m (Vegasclick writer) a bit nostalgic for the High Roller though. It was the very first ride built on top of the Stratosphere, doing a few circles around the top of the tower, and was surprisingly tame. It never went very fast, probably because if it did the centrifugal force would have destablized the whole tower. But it did give you an awesome view of the strip, and all of Las Vegas actually, since you went all the way around the tower a few times, and it was a good one to ride if you wanted to ride something on top of the Stratosphere but the other rides were too terrifying. Now, if you want to ride something on top of the Strat, you have no choice but to have the holy living mortal snot scared out of you.  About other rides on the tower  http://vegasclick.com/vegas/las-vegas-roller-coasters.html



Daniel and the Indians


By George Lynch                                                                                                                                                                                  Originally published in the Granby Drummer


The Indian slowly emerged from within the recesses of the Granby senior center.  Chief White Eagle aka Chiefee was dressed in war apparel:  feathers stuck into his Nike headband, braids, a nose that would have made Jimmy Durante jealous.  An ominous war spear hinted of savagery.  Here was a direct descendant of dentists in Granby, Connecticut, come to speak to the Granby senior men.  He came to give them an account of a local historical event that has intrigued him since he gave up counting coup.

It was hard living in Salmon Brook in the early 18th Century.  Subsistence wasn’t easy and health was iffy, especially with the Indians who controlled the area wanting to impact your health insurance.

In the Fall of 1708, Daniel Hayes was 22 years old, living in Salmon Brook (now located at Stony Hill Village). He had left his horse in the woods overnight to forage while he enjoyed a corn-husking celebration.  Next morning, he went to retrieve his horse.  Now you have three Indians who have been watching this horse for a while and are thinking, hey, we could get a couple of bucks from the French if we could get the white guy to a French settlement in Canada in one piece.

At the time, the English and Frenchmen were mad at each other (it all carried over from Europe) and were causing a lot of consternation in the valleys of New England.  The Indians were sort of partial to the French who promised rewards for delivering English settlers (or English scalps) to their settlements.

Anyway, along comes Daniel, whistling up the path, looking for his horse.  Bam! They snatch him and he is on his way out of town.  The first night, the three Indians and Daniel camped in the vicinity of Sodom Mountain in Southwick. The Indians were scared.  They had outrun their pursuers but were a bit nervous about safeguarding Daniel.  They took him and put him flat on his back.     They stretched him out on the ground, extended his arms forward, and tied his wrists to a sapling.  They extended his feet the other direction, tied them to another sapling.  They then took long branches and laid them crosswise on his body. One Indian slept on one end of the branches, another slept on the other end.  The third stood guard.  They apparently didn’t want him to get away.  He passed most of his nights bound in this manner during the 30-day trek to Canada.

They eventually arrived at an Indian encampment on the Canadian border.  Daniel was handed over to the “Council of the Nation”, the tribe’s governing body, to be disposed of as they saw fit (No mention of the French rewards).

The Council didn’t really know what to do with this whitey that appeared out of the blue but they thought a gauntlet might be fun and break up the monotony.  So they formed up their best hatchet guys and stone throwers and club swingers into two lines. The idea here is that Daniel is to run between them and, if he can reach a decorated pole at the end of the run, he will stay alive.  So he starts running and, about ten feet in, it becomes evident that he isn’t going to make it.  He takes an abrupt left turn through a couple of dudes who are trying to club him.  They swing, giving it everything they’ve got.  They hit nothing but thin air, like a batter missing one right down the middle, going for the home run.  This puts all of them in a really bad mood.

He is running, literally, for his life, and finally gives out in front of a wigwam.  He couldn’t have picked a better wigwam.  Turns out, this wigwam is not just any wigwam.  This wigwam belongs to the tribe’s matriarch, an infirm old woman.  Her husband and son had been chiefs of the tribe so she has some clout.  She sticks her head out to see what the commotion is all about and there, lying at her doorstep, is this guy, all bloodied up; even better, a young guy who is all bloodied up.  She calls off the posse, gives praise to her medicine man, and adopts Daniel on the spot telling him and the others, “You are my son”.  Daniel the “son” chooses to be her caregiver, his other option being bludgeoned to death.  He keeps her comfortable, brings her food, firewood, takes her to lodge meetings and everybody is relieved that they don’t have to do it.  So it comes to pass that the tribe builds her this sled to get around in the winter.  It’s a fairly heavy structure and Daniel is pulling her up a steep and slippery slope when he loses his footing. Down goes the sled with its passenger and he is standing there looking at the end of his caregiving responsibilities.  He is now in a bit of a bind, having killed the matriarch, but prudently doesn’t run away.  Instead he smooth-talks his way through his accusers and is found not guilty of intentional wrongdoing.  Next on the scene is a “black shirt”, a Roman Catholic priest who comes periodically to convert the Indians.  He has been fairly successful in bringing them to Christ but he doesn’t show up often enough to make it stick.  Anyway, he winds up buying Daniel for seven pounds and then takes him to Montreal where he sells him for 40 pounds to a Frenchman.  The Frenchman is a nice guy who, discovering that Daniel is skilled as a weaver, rents him out.  He allows Daniel to keep most of his wages and, over the course of about two years, Daniel has enough to buy his freedom.  The Frenchman finds an Indian guide who agrees to return Daniel to Salmon Brook.   And he does.

Daniel Hayes settled down on a farm and married. He became prominent, both in civil affairs as well as the church at Salmon Brook.   He died in 1756 at the age of 71.     His brown-red stone tombstone is stored in the Granby cemetery chapel.

Thanks to Dr. Richard Martindale DDS who entertained the Senior Men’s Breakfast with this true tale (with writer ‘s embellishment) of the capture of Daniel Hayes.  The full text of the story can be found at


George and Linda Lynch live in Granby, Connecticut. He writes for the newspaper, the Granby Drummer.  They are Beth’s parents, John Nugent’s parents-in-law.  John is the instigator and designer of this blog.

Discoverer of Breast Cancer Gene



How Being Ignored Helped A Woman Discover The Breast Cancer Gene

Nation Public Radio  All Things Considered  3.27.14

. . .Back in the 1970s, a geneticist named Mary-Claire King decided she needed to figure out why women in some families were much more likely to get breast cancer.


Mary-Claire King says obscurity gave her the freedom to spend years looking for breast cancer genes.Mary-Claire King says obscurity gave her the freedom to spend years looking for breast cancer genes.

It took 17 years for King and her colleague to identify the single gene that could cause both breast and ovarian cancer. During that time, many people discounted her work, saying that genes couldn’t cause complex diseases like cancer. She proved them wrong, first by mapping the gene’s location, and then in 1994, by announcing that her laboratory had successfully cloned the BRCA1 gene. (King describes her experience in Thursday’s issue of the journal Science.)

The discovery revolutionized genetics and cancer treatment. Simple genetic tests now let women know if they have mutations in their BRCA genes that increase cancer risk.

. . . (King answers question about being a woman scientist) one needs to anticipate that people, particularly those who didn’t benefit from affirmative action, won’t take you seriously for a while. But there’s a wonderful phrase: For a woman to be taken as seriously as a man she must be three times as effective. HAPPILY THIS IS NOT DIFFICULT.

(On the radio, King attributed this statement to Simone de Beauvoir,  a French writer, intellectual, existentialist philosopher, political activist, feminist and social theorist.  De Beauvoir was a lover of Chicago novelist Nelson Algren–it ended badly.  Algren wrote award-winning A Walk on the Wild Side which became a a good film with Frank Sinatra. rjn)

Read more of story    http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2014/03/27/295270360/how-being-ignored-helped-a-woman-discover-the-breast-cancer-gene

Listen to the story  http://www.npr.org/player/v2/mediaPlayer.html?action=1&t=1&islist=false&id=295270360&m=295332806

More on King   http://web.mit.edu/invent/iow/king.html

Pelicans Here!


I enjoy the way pelicans fly in tight formations, skimming across the surface of water or way up high, and their headfirst, wing- spread splash, diving into the water for a fish.  rjn

STACEY WESCOTT/TRIBUNE PHOTOS An American white pelican flies near Nippersink Lake this week. Several of the big birds were spotted in the Fox Lake area.

Pelicans make pit stop on annual spring trip
Fox Lake area bird watchers get a look at imposing creatures
By Lisa Black Tribune reporter  3.27.14

Some drivers slowed down, straining to identify the newcomers on Nippersink Lake last weekend in the northwest suburbs. Not a sea gull … not a swan … murmured one woman, who stopped to take pictures.

They are American white pelicans, temporarily resting at one of the few bodies of open water available during an icier season than usual. Traditionally the imposing birds have migrated north along the Mississippi River, but in recent years they have increasingly expanded their migration routes farther east, experts said.

They never fail to surprise those who associate pelicans with warmer climes, such as Florida’s Gulf Coast.

“I have taken pictures and sent them to my friends and co-workers,” said Dave Suchy, who lives near Nippersink Lake. He has lived at same the Fox Lake address since 1999 and has never seen the birds before, he said.

“Everyone is like, what? Pelicans in Fox Lake?” he said.

The birds feed on small fish and usually show up along waterways farther north in Lake and McHenry counties, including Lake Marie and Lake Catherine, said Ron Barker, executive director of the Fox Waterway Agency. This year, he said, they are hanging out at Nippersink and Pistakee lakes, both part of the Fox River Chain O’ Lakes.

White pelicans, some of the largest birds in North America, sport black-tipped wings, large webbed feet and a long bill that they dip into the water to catch fish. Often they fish cooperatively by forming a circle and herding their prey into the center, experts said.

Nippersink, which thawed quicker than other lakes because of the Fox River’s driving current , presents an attractive “dinner plate” for pelicans and bald eagles that have descended on the open water over the past few weeks, said Tom Clay, executive director for the Illinois Audubon Society.

“In the last 20 years, they have become less remarkable,” said Clay, based in Springfield. “People at first are like, ‘What are these huge white birds out there?’ It’s hard to miss them.”

Most will remain in the area only a few days before continuing north toward Canada, experts said. In 2012, the Lake County Forest Preserve District considered naming a newly acquired portion of land off Lake Marie in Antioch Township “Pelican Bay” because of the birds’ annual presence. Officials later decided to call the area Lake Marie Forest Preserve, an official said.

Suchy said this season is among the best he’s seen for bird-watching. “A week and a half ago, it was all bald eagles,” he said. “I can’t wait to see what next week brings.” lblack@tribune.com


American White Pelican with knob                                                                                                                                                                                which develops on bill before the breeding season



Pelicans navigate Nippersink Lake, which has thawed more quickly than other area bodies of water.

Union News


First good news for worker organizations I’ve heard  in a long time!

Alice and I supported our teachers’ union and enjoyed our protection and promotion of wages and benefits.  I was president of our American Federation of Teachers local at one time.  rjn


NU athletes can unionize

By Alejandra Cancino Tribune reporter  3.27.14   Northwestern University football players on scholarship are employees of the school and therefore entitled to hold an election to decide whether to unionize, an official of the National Labor Relations Board ruled Wednesday.

  Northwestern University football players on scholarship are employees of the school and therefore entitled to hold an election to decide whether to unionize, an official of the National Labor Relations Board ruled Wednesday.

The stunning decision, coming after a push by former quarterback Kain Colter backed by organized labor, has the potential to shake up the world of big-time college sports.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association and universities set the rules and cut the lucrative deals with TV networks and sponsors, exerting near total control over the activities of players known as “student athletes.” But now those football players, at least at Northwestern, are employees too and may seek collective bargaining status, according to the 24-page ruling by Peter Sung Ohr, the regional director of the NLRB.

Dangerous, illegal sport



Vitaly Raskalov's feet dangling from on top of the Shanghai tower, China.

Vitaly Raskalov’s feet dangle from the top of the Shanghai Tower, high above the Shanghai World Financial Centre. Photograph: Vitaly Raskalov/Caters News Agency

SCARY VIDEO of 2100-foot climb to the top of the Shanghai Tower                      and slide show of photos from up high.


Interview with climbers and photos they took.




 Being a ‘roofer’ means seeing Russia from a whole different perspective.

PRI’s The World   Reporter Ashley Cleek   March 26, 2014 · 1:45 PM EDT


Lenin Square and the dome of the opera to the right in Novosibirsk.   Nikolai Konyev

Nikolai Konyev walks straight up to the door of a newish 20-story apartment building.

He pulls out a magnetic door key about the size of a coat button, and inserts it into a magnetic lock. But the metal door doesn’t open.  Nikolai blows on the key. And tries again. This time the intercom beeps, letting us in.

Nikolai is soft spoken with a slight lisp and curly, strawberry-blonde hair. He looks like a college kid coming home to see his parents.  But Nikolai doesn’t live here.

“These are my universal keys,” Nikolai says. “They are the best friends of a roofer.”

We take the elevator to the 17th floor, one floor shy of the top, because Nikolai doesn’t want the guards watching the elevator to think he’s headed to the roof. Then we go up some stairs. At the top of the stairs is a heavy iron gate. Nikolai scans it. Shakes it. It won’t budge.Nikolai isn’t discouraged. He pauses for a second to think — and we’re off to find another rooftop.

This is called “roofing.” The English word has been co-opted by young Russians to mean anyone who sneaks onto rooftops. And it’s really popular.

You can find hundreds of photos online of Russian kids standing on the railing of a roof, balancing on the arm of a construction crane or basking in the sun atop a Moscow skyscraper.

Nikolai says when he was “younger” — he’s 19 now — he climbed drainpipes and rusty ladders, dangled his feet over icy ledges. “I don’t do that now,” he says. “I’m scared to stand on slippery places.”

But a lot of kids do. And in the past few years, several roofers have died, falling through glass ceilings or slipping off bridges, trying get good photos. And roofing’s illegal, though the punishment is really a slap on the wrist, a paltry $14 fine. Some officials are trying to make the punishment for roofing more severe. There’s talk of charging roofers with hooliganism, which can involve jail time.

But for most roofers like Nikolai, roofing is worth the risk — whether it’s the fine or the danger — to escape the city for a moment. And to take great pictures.

“It’s hard to explain,” Nikolai says. “When I get to the top, I have this feeling that I did something impossible; that the whole city is in the palm of my hand.”

Nikolai and his roofer friends, like Vadim Makhorov and Vitaly Raskalov, have a code. They don’t go up on roofs alone. They don’t vandalize. They don’t drink while climbing. For them, roofs are like massive camera tripods that let them focus on the city.

“Especially these winter landscapes, like we have here in Siberia, these kinds of sharp evenings. The sky is clean,” Nikolai explains. “Landscape painters should come up here.”

We get to a second building close to sunset. It’s in a newly constructed apartment block. We get to the top floor. This time there is a window with no handle; probably to discourage roofers. This happens a lot, and Nikolai’s prepared.

He roots around in his bag for a spare window handle. He finds the right size and quickly opens the window.

And here we are, 23 floors up, in the center of Novosibirsk. Below, the city is lit up by streetlights and the taillights of cars.

You have to live in the present, Nikolai says. Then he checks his phone to see when the sunset will be and sets up his camera, facing west.

Nikolai says he’s bored with the roofs of Novosibirsk — the highest is a measly 27 floors. He’d like to visit bigger cities. Like Icarus, from Greek mythology, Nikolai wants to get as high as possible.

Though, of course, without getting burned.



What Do You Think?



Our blog is now a year old !

I’ve enjoyed working on it,  I’m grateful to John Nugent for setting it up and coaching me, and to readers for their attention and comments.

Now I’m wondering now what  readers think.

If you have an opinion, positive or negative, about the blog generally or some specific pieces on it, please send a note by clicking on LEAVE A REPLY just below this or send an email to  richardnugent6@gmail.com

Meanwhile, everyone has an experience, a thought, something to tell about.  Please write up something of yours and email it to me.  I’ll edit it and put it on.  We’ll enjoy it.

One of the  student papers I’ve most enjoyed was done by a young man who, with his friends, stole his father’s car and drove overnight to Tennessee to buy fireworks–without getting found out!

Thanks,  rjn