Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Time To Make the Beignets

Do you remember the Dunkin Donuts "Time to Make the Donuts" commercials from the 1980s? Here is an example in case you have forgotten. Well the other day, Scribbles was having food day for French Class. French food is never easy for some reason. (I submit the eclair making into evidence your honor.) Anyway, this time, Scribbles had to make Beignets. You might be asking, "Exactly what is a Beignet"? You wouldn't be alone in asking this, because this is exactly what Jake asked when Scribbles announced that she need about 8 dozen of them by the next day. A Beignet is french for a fried donut. To be more precise, a Beignet refers to a pastry made from deep-fried dough and sprinkled with confectioner's sugar. It just so happens that Jake is a pretty fair hand when it comes to fried food. Pretty much if you can fry it, he's likely to have tried it. Jake took one look at the complicated french recipe and said, "Not No But Heck No!" If they want fried donuts, we are going to make them the way God intended. Take your can of refrigerated buttermilk biscuits. Roll the dough into balls. Pop them in the deep fryer for a minute or so. Roll in sugar and voila (That's French), you got yourself some mighty fine fried donuts (or should I say Beignets).

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Christmas Cactus

Molly is seen here with one of her Christmas Cacti which have begun to bloom.

The Christmas Cactus
(Thanksgiving Cactus, Christmas Cactus, Easter Cactus) are composed of several closely related species in the genus Schlumbergera and the species Hatiora gaertneri, (often called "Zygocactus" in older works). They are originally forest cacti, growing as epiphytes at elevations between 1000 and 1700 meters above sea level (3280 to 5575 feet above sea level) in the Organ Mountains north of Rio de Janeiro in southeast Brazil, South America (not to be confused with the Organ Mountains of New Mexico in the United States of America). They are called "Flor de maio" (May Flower) in Brazil.

Many modern holiday cactus cultivars are hybrids between Schlumbergera truncata and Schlumbergera russelliana, first bred about 150 years ago in England.


All of Molly's Christmas Cacti started from a single plant. Holiday cacti can be propagated quite easily by removing a single segment and planting it a quarter of its length deep in a pot filled with slightly sandy soil (it also helps to put some kind of rooting hormone on the base of the cutting). Place the pot in a well lit area (but not direct sunlight) and keep the soil moist. The cutting should begin showing signs of growth after two or three weeks.



The soil should be evenly moist for best growth, but they are intolerant to constantly wet soil and poor aeration. If outdoors, an established plant may only need to be watered every two or three days in warm, sunny weather; or every week in cool, cloudy weather.


Christmas cactus will do best in bright indirect light. Long term direct sunlight can burn the leaves and stunt growth. If taken care of properly, a single planting can last for hundreds of years.


Christmas cactus will create flower buds when subjected to cooler temperatures (10–14°C/50–58°F) for 6-8 weeks.

Pohick High School Christmas Concert 2008

A couple of days ago we attended the Sarah Ray's Middle School Concert. Last night, we attended Scribble's High School Band Concert. It was very nice. The band played for about an hour. The video above is a selection of three of the songs that were played. The songs included:
  • Jingle Bells - "Jingle Bells", also known as "One Horse Open Sleigh", is one of the best known and commonly sung secular Christmas songs in the world. It was written by James Lord Pierpont (1822–1893) and copyrighted under the title 'One Horse Open Sleigh' on September 16, 1857. The song has been translated into many languages, was made in thanks giving by the composer.
  • Ukrainian Bell Carol - "Carol of the Bells" (also known as the "Ukrainian Bell Carol") is a choral miniature work originally composed by the Ukrainian composer Mykola Dmytrovych Leontovych. Throughout the piece, a 4 note motif is used as an ostinato and was taken from an ancient pagan Ukrainian New Year's chant known in Ukrainian as "Shchedryk". The original work was intended to be sung a cappella.
  • Sleigh Ride - Sleigh Ride is a popular light orchestral piece, composed by Leroy Anderson. The composer had the original idea for the piece during a heat wave in July, 1946; he finished the work in February, 1948. Lyrics were written by Mitchell Parish in 1950. It was first recorded in 1949 by Arthur Fiedler & The Boston Pops Orchestra.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Lion Middle School Beginner Band

This was Sarah Ray's first year in band and last night was her very first performance. Sarah and the rest of the Lion Middle School Beginner Band did a pretty good job at their first performance. Way to go Lions!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Happy Mileversary Sally Racer

Congratulations Sally! What a milestone! Today Jake's Car Sally Racer had her 100,000 mileversary. Sally is a 1998 Mercury Tracer Wagon.

So how far is 100,000 miles? To put it in perspective, the distance around the Earth at the equator is about 25,000 miles. That means that Sally has driven all the way around the Earth about 4 times.

In all that distance, she has only had a minor failure or two like the Lost in the Wild Incident. She has been a steady performer during her 11 years of service to the Pohick family. It is especially noteworthy given the fact that recently she has been helping a student driver learn how to drive.

So what is the birthday girl going to do for her mileversary? First she is going to get a nice oil change and lube job. Then she is going to get a thorough washing inside and out and a nice coat of wax. We've got to keep her looking nice as she begins her second 100,000 miles.

Animated Christmas Lights

Motivated by the great Christmas Light Displays at the Huntsville Botanical Gardens Galaxy of Lights, Jake decided to get his very own light display put together. Though not as fancy as the Galaxy of Lights displays, Jake's display is still pretty cool. The trees and lighted border all change colors controlled by a computer controlled light controller from the Animated Lighting company. Next year Jake is planning to add a few more lights and set the whole thing to music.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Momma Mia That's a Good Pizza

Tonight Jake decided to cook his world famous home made pizza for dinner. Usually, he would just run out to a pizza joint and pick up a pie, but it was cold out tonight that he decided it was actually easier to just make it himself. It must have been pretty good because everyone came back for seconds and thirds. The dough was mixed in the Bread Machine, but you could probably make the same recipe by hand.

Here is the Recipe

  • 4 Cups Flour
  • 2 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp sugar
  • 1-3/8 Cups water
  • 3 Tbsp. Margarine
  • Sauce
  • Cheese
  • Pepperoni
  • Oregano
  • Garlic Salt

Mix the Flour, yeast, salt, sugar, water and margarine and let rise for two hours. Knead several times and allow to rise. Spread dough on pizza platter. Add toppings and cook for 15 minutes at 450 degrees. Enjoy!

We Haven't Moved Far Enough South Yet

This week we had a few cold days and even a little bit of snow. The snow didn't last very long, but it was just enough to get Molly all out of sorts. She is fairly against winter as general principle. To her family and friends she is known as the Heat Miser. She claims to have the magical ability to ward off cold weather. Well apparently her powers were exhausted this week.

I'm Mrs. Green Christmas
Mrs. Sun
Mrs. Heat Blister
Mrs. Hundred and One
They call me Heat Miser,
What ever I touch
Starts to melt in my clutch
I'm too much!

She's Mrs. Green Christmas
She's Mrs. Sun
She's Mrs. Heat Blister
She's Mrs. Hundred and One

They call me Heat Miser,
What ever I touch
Starts to melt in my clutch

She's too much!

Thank you!
I never want to see a day
That's under sixty degrees
I'd rather have it eighty,
Ninety, one hundred degrees!
Oh, some like it hot, but I like it
REALLY hot! Hee hee!

She's Mrs. Green Christmas
She's Mrs. Sun

Sing it!

She's Mrs. Heat Blister
She's Mrs. Hundred and One

They call me Heat Miser,
What ever I touch
Starts to melt in my clutch
I'm too much!

Too Much!

Galaxy of Lights

Last night the Pohick family visited the Galaxy of Lights at the Huntsville Botanical Gardens. This exhibit consists of countless animated light displays. It took us about 30 minutes to slowly drive through the various displays. The displays included nursery rhymes, a holiday village, dinosaurs, wild animals, a magical twinkling icicle forest, garden scenes, a patriotic display featuring red, white, and blue ‘fireworks’, and a hilarious host of animated snowmen. This was the first year that the Pohick family attended the display which is open nightly from Thanksgiving until New Year's day. We will definitely go back again next year.

See the Galaxy of Lights on the map of places we've been.

Monday, December 01, 2008

2008 Hicky Awards

Hello Folks. It's time for the 2008 Hicky Awards. Entries on the Pohick Website that made us laugh and cry. Entries that we just couldn't get enough of. Ladies and Gentlemen of the Academy, you voted and here are the results.

In the category of People's Choice (most viewed blog entry):
In the Category of Comic Video
In the Category of Editor's Choice

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

What are you thankful for this thanksgiving? We are most thankful for all of our friends and family. We are especially thankful for our friends the Frugenglagia family who drove all the way from Kansas to spend the holiday with us. Something we found out about the Yankees from Kansas is that they really do love their ranch dressing. Who knew?

Here are some additional photos from our visit with the Frugenglagia Family.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Salvation Army Credit Card Kettle

Since 1891, the Salvation Army and their Army of bell ringers have been collecting donations in a kettle. It is a Christmas tradition to hear the sound of ringing bells at the entrance to all of your Christmas shopping destinations. This year however, you may notice a small change in the tradition.

Not having cash is no longer a valid excuse for avoiding eye contact with the bell ringer. This year, a pilot program in several locations will allow donors to use their debit and credit cards to make their donations.

Mike Smith, who oversees kettle-based donations for the El Paso chapter, says one reason for the experiment is due to an increasing number of people carrying plastic instead of cash. Smith also cites slowing donations, which have decreased by 10 percent, and a 25 percent increase in demand for charitable services this year because of economic troubles.

"We're seeing people from middle-class neighborhoods who didn't used to need help now needing food, rent and utility assistance to get back on their feet," he told the Colorado Springs Gazette.

The locations where debit and credit card transactions are accepted will change during the campaign, which run until Dec. 24. U.S. Bank will oversee the transactions to monitor their security.

Some Salvation Army red kettle locations also accept used gift cards with balances for donations. The charity collects the cards, which can be from any retail store, and sends them to a Californian company that converts the balance into cash. If a location isn't handy, gift cards can be donated online too.

What do you think about this change? Is this taking technology too far or is this just the way things are done in 2008?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Snarly Kraut

A long standing tradition in the Pohick house is that when someone asks, "What's for Dinner", the wise guy response is, "Snarly Kraut and Reppy Snips". This tradition started with Molly's father, Mr. Boyardee. Jake however has taken this family tradition inherited from his father-in-law and carried it to the next level. Jake sings songs and injects "Snarly Kraut" any time he does not know the actual words to the song. Some folks use the word watermelon in a similar fashion. This word substitution drives Molly crazy for some reason which just encourages Jake to do it all the more. Molly has an uncanny ability to remember every word to every song. She routinely plays along with the show "Don't forget the Lyrics" and rarely misses a word. Jake sometimes pretends that he is a capable of playing along by searching the lyrics on the internet in the other room and calling over as if he actually knew the words to the song. Nobody actually believes that he knows the words though. In any event, Jake is ready for the upcomming Christmas season when he can loudly sing all of the old classics such as "Oh Snarly Kraut", "Deck the Halls with Snarly Kraut", and "Oh Little Town of Snarly Kraut".

Monday, November 10, 2008

Brush With Insanity: The Truth

Jake is a nice guy. I, the artist formerly known as Princess Scribbles, will admit that. He works hard all day, deals with last-minute crises, and only locks me in the tower on rare occasions.
However, Jake doesn't know all the things that go on in his humble abode while he isn't looking.
Hairbrush crisis? How can one not find a single hairbrush when one owns twelve? That is Jake's argument. Oh, it was so easy to track down all those hairbrushes. Those silly Pohick girls, not being able to find a brush! Even sillier than those little kittens who lost their mittens! Why, just round all those hairbrushes up, and BAM: Crisis avoided. Now, if those girls would just keep those brushes in the bathroom, life would be so easy!
Not the case.
A hairbrush is a devious instrument. It is, however, very useful and a great necessity for those like me who have long, beast-like hair. The brush uses this fact to its advantage and schemes against its owners in a repeated and predictable pattern:
1) In a calm, unstressed time, the hairbrush will allow itself to be found, used, and put away.
2) When no one is looking, the hairbrush will sneak out of its drawer and hide itself away. Some hiding places are good, while others are so bad they don't even count as hiding places.
3) A stressful time, such as a morning, will come about, and someone will need a hairbrush. But where have they all gone? A search ensues. The dastardly hairbrush will sneak around, slipping into nooks and crannies so that, even though a person may search for hours, the hairbrush will never be found.
4) When the hairbrush is needed least (as in, two weeks after somebody actually needed it), it will come out of hiding, chuckling malevolently, and allow itself to be found. The vicious cycle starts all over again.
It's the truth!
Haven't you ever heard the sad lament of Larry the Cucumber? "Oh, where is my hairbrush? Oh where is my hairbrush? Oh where, oh where, oh where, oh where, oh where, oh where, oh where, oh where, oh where is my hairbrush?"
"Hairbrush Matador" Scribbles signing off.

Brush With Insanity

This morning there was panic in the Pohick house. The girls could not find a single hair brush. Not one. This is amazing given that it is a rare day when Jake does have to police up a whole bunch of hair brushes that have been left around in a willy nilly fashion. Granted, Jake doesn't have a vested interest in hair brushes. As a matter of fact, it's been about 25 years since he actually combed or brushed his hair. But as a general rule, he is against drama first thing in the morning. So after the immediate crisis was solved, Jake took a quick tour of the house and managed to find an even dozen hair brushes of every conceivable design. Big Brushes, litte brushes, soft brushes and brushes that look like they would really hurt if you got them anywhere near your scalp. Now, what to do with these brushes Jake asked himself. The easy answer is to put the brushes back into the girls bath room where one would assume they should be in the first place. Using history of a guide though quickly rules this out as a feasible option. The brushes just wouldn't stay in the bath room. They have never remained there in the past at least. Perhaps Jake could keep all of the brushes and issue them out any time someone needs to spruce up their hairdo? No, this would probably turn into a full time job and make Jake grumpier than he already is. Maybe Jake could tie a string to the end of the brush so that it wouldn't stray too far from its rightful place. Hmmmm.... Well, I guess you are right. There is no real good answer to this dilema. Jake will just return the brushes and wait for the next cry of, "I can't find a hair brush!"

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Pohick Park

CNN announced this week that scientists from Japan have produced clones of mice that have been dead and frozen for 16 years -- a feat that could lead researchers to one day resurrect long-extinct species, such as the mammoth.

Jake immediately got to thinking, if we can bring back long dead creatures, why stop with the mammoth. Why not get really old school and bring back some dinosaurs. As a matter of fact, if we brought back a bunch of dinosaurs, we could put them all in a park so that people can come and see them. Kind of like a dinosaur zoo.

Yes, I guess someone already had that idea. In other news, writer Michael Crichton author of the best selling book Jurasic Park died this week. Is there any connection between the timing of these two events? Probably not, but it sure is coincidental.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Welcome To My House

Well, that's another halloween come and gone. As usual, Jake did a fair bit of decorating. This year Jake constructed a graveyard, lights, spider webs, creepy guy in the upstairs windows, fog machine, and creepy music. Those trick or treaters who stopped by seemed to enjoy the theatrics pretty well.

The number of trick or treaters this year was a little disappointing though. Halloween this year fell on a Friday Night and all of the High Schools had football games. Last year Jake counted approximately 50 ghosties and ghoalies. This year Jake kept track of the haunters and the count was exactly 27. Check below for the distribution of the visitors.

As always, Jake bought entirely too much candy just in case there was a large turn out. This of course will put a bit of a crimp in his diet plans. He is already planning to take the extra candy to work with him. He figures that if he is going to get fat (fatter?) he might as well take the rest of his office mates down with him.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Maize

The Pohick gang headed out for a little adventure today. We visited The Maize in Brownsboro, Alabama. As we wondered thru the maze cut into the corn field, we happened to find a number of Disney characters including Winnie the Pooh, Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, and Tigger who had apparently become disoriented and hopelessly lost. We never realized that cartoon characters were so directionally challenged. In any event, we help the characters find their way to safety and it was a lovely day to take a stroll.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Armadillo Aerospace Wins Prize

Congratulations, Armadillo team! The Armadillo Aerospace team made space history as they won the first level of the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge in Las Cruces, NM. The win not only puts the private company into the history books, but nets them the long-awaited $350,000 prize offered by the NASA Centennial Challenge fund.

The Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge (often called simply the Lunar Lander Challenge) is a $2 million prize program funded by NASA's Centennial Challenges program. The Challenge offers a series of prizes for the teams that launch a Vertical Take Off, Vertical Landing (VTVL) rocket that achieves the total delta-v that would be equivalent to those needed for a vehicle to move between lunar orbit and the lunar surface. The multi-level competition is conducted by the X PRIZE Foundation, with sponsorship from the Northrop Grumman Corporation, with the prize purses paid by NASA. The competition is held annually at the X PRIZE Cup, making its debut at the 2006 Wirefly X PRIZE Cup in October, 2006.

The Challenge is divided into two levels of Competition, an easier Level 1 and a harder Level 2. Both levels require teams to demonstrating control of their vehicle by flying to an altitude of more than 50m, flying laterally for 100m, and landing on a pad. For Level 1, this pad is a simple 10m diameter circle; for Level 2, it is a simulated lunar surface, complete with craters and boulders. After completing this first flight, the vehicle can then be refueled, and must then fly a second leg back to the original starting point. Each flight must meet a required minimum flight time of 90 seconds for Level 1 and 180 seconds for level 2. For each Level, the two flights along with any necessary preparation must be accomplished within a short 150 minute time period.

Each Level offers a first and a second-place prize. Level 1 features a first place prize purse of $350,000 and a $150,000 purse for second place. The more difficult Level 2 offers a first place prize of $1 million and a $500,000 second place prize. 2006 was the first year of the competition.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Eclairs Are Finished

The eclairs are finished, or as the French like to say, "Les ├ęclairs sont finis." This was one of those projects that none of us will soon forget. It seemed like a simple enough project. All Scribbles had to do, was make 30 eclairs to share with her French Class. This was the follow up to the video she made last week. But as often happens in the Pohick House, simple projects take on a life of their own. Scribble's friend Caramelina volunteered to help her with the project. Jake didn't pay much attention to what was going on at first. Actually, he hid out in his man cave since the girls certainly didn't need his help preparing a few pastries. His first hint that something was amiss occurred about an hour into the project. He detected a hint of smoke in the air. Hmmm.... he wondered. "I guess they left a batch in a little too long." A short while later, Scribbles knocked on the door of the man cave. "Yes?", Jake said. Scribbles then requested that Jake go to the grocery store to purchase more supplies for eclair making. This didn't seem right to Jake. He had purchased eclair making supplies just that morning, and he was pretty sure that he hadn't forgetten anything. His shopping list had included 3 dozen eggs, a sack of flour, 4 boxes of butter. What could he have forgotten? So he asked Scribbles, "What did I forget to buy?" Scribbles stated, "You didn't forget anything, we need more eggs, flour and butter." "What?", Jake said. "I bought enough stuff to make a hundred eclairs." Scribbles then stated, "We've had a few set backs." "What?", Jake said again. "How many eclairs have you made so far?" Scribbles said, "Well, we haven't actually had a batch turn out yet. The eclairs just won't rise."

Jake went into the kitchen and witnessed a scene reminiscent of Omaha Beach. Every pot, pan, cooking sheet, bowl, and spoon in the house was covered in a thick coating of eclair batter. The kitchen counter was overflowing with what could only generously be described as hockey pucks. A nice thick layer of smoke was eminating from the stove which was giving a very fair portrayal of an old fashioned franklin stove. Scribbles stated that maybe if she left the eclairs in long enough, they might rise a little. "No", Jake replied. "I'm pretty sure that once they get that nice charcoal briquette look, they aren't going to rise any more." Jake gave the girls instructions to clean up the kitchen and headed off to the grocery store for another round of supplies. Jake ended up with the same cashier he had earlier in the day as he paid for another 3 dozen eggs and various other supplies. "Did you run out of eggs already?", she asked him. Everybody is a comedian.

So here is what we learned from the experience:
1. Follow the recipe exactly. (Expecially when you are cooking fancy french food. If it says add the eggs one at a time, that is pretty much what you have to do.)
2. If what you are doing doesn't work, doing it over and over is not going to have a different result. (If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got. Unless you actually need 100 eclair shaped charcoal briquettes.)
3. Never underestimate the time and materials for a project (ie., 30 eclairs = 6 dozen eggs, 2 bags of flour, 8 boxes of butter, and 7 hours of prep time)
4. French is harder than Spanish (All the kids in spanish class had to do was whip together a bowl of guacamole dip which took about 10 minutes)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Caramel Apples

Nothing says Fall like caramel apples. Scribbles and her friend Caramelina decided to whip up a batch of Caramel Apples. They were quite yummy.

Recipe from Kraft.com

Prep Time:
20 min
Total Time:
1 hr 30 min
5 servings
What You Need
5 medium apples, washed, well dried
1 bag (14 oz.) KRAFT Caramels (about 50)
2 Tbsp. water
Make It

INSERT wooden pop sticks (from bag of caramels) into stem end of each apple. Cover large plate with waxed paper; grease paper with butter. Set aside.

PLACE caramels in large saucepan. Add water; cook on medium-low heat until caramels are completely melted, stirring constantly.

DIP apples into melted caramel until evenly coated, spooning caramel over apples if necessary. Allow excess caramel to drip off. Scrape bottoms of apples, then place on prepared plate. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or until ready to serve. Remove from refrigerator and let stand at room temperature 15 min. before serving. Store leftovers in refrigerator.

Kraft Kitchens Tips
Try our recipe for Easy Caramel Apples with our easy-to-use KRAFT Caramel Bits.

Cooking Know-How
Wash and dry apples thoroughly so that caramel adheres to the apple peel.

Special Extra
Prepare as directed, rolling bottom of each freshly dipped apple into one of the following: 10 coarsely chopped OREO Cookies; 1-1/2 cups JET-PUFFED Miniature Marshmallows mixed with 1/4 cup sprinkles; or 1/2 cup PLANTERS COCKTAIL Peanuts, chopped. Or, drizzle dipped apples with 2 melted squares BAKER'S Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate.

Morning Has Broken

The sunrise this morning was so awesome, it just begged to be photographed.

Jake is a morning person. This wasn't always the case. He can still how hard it was as a teenager to wake up before noon. Not any longer. Now the alarm clock is kind of superfluous. Jake just wakes up and heads outside for his early morning run through the countryside. Morning energizes him. Morning, which used to be a thing to be dreaded, has become like the return of a dear friend. Morning holds a promise of all of the great things that will happen throughout the day.

As the great Cat Stevens once said, "Morning has Broken".
Morning has broken, like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird
Praise for the singing, praise for the morning
Praise for the springing fresh from the word

Sweet the rain's new fall, sunlit from heaven
Like the first dewfall, on the first grass
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden
Sprung in completeness where his feet pass

Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning
Born of the one light, Eden saw play
Praise with elation, praise every morning
God's recreation of the new day

Boogie Shoes

Tonight was the Pohick High School Homecoming Dance. Scribbles and her posse went to dinner and then stopped by the house on the way to the big social event of the season.

Black Racer Snake

So, a few days ago, Molly came into the house at about 10:30 at night in a bit of a panic. She had been out picking tomatoes in the garden by flashlight. (WHO PICKS TOMATOES BY FLASHLIGHT) Anyway, she noticed that a snake had gotten twisted up and died in some garden netting. She made Jake promise to go get the dead snake out of the garden. And then she nagged him hourly for a couple of days until he finally went down to the garden to retrieve the dead snake. At first glance, Jake thought. Wow, that's a pretty big dead snake. I wonder how come he hasn't begun to decompose yet. After a minute or two of net cutting, the reason the snake hadn't begun to decompose became readily apparent. The Snake turned and looked Jake dead in the eye. As a general rule, Jake does not appreciate when dead things spring back to life. It gave him a bit of a start. Now, Jake was faced with a dilemma. How do you cut loose the big black snake without becoming a big black snake snack. (Try to say that ten times fast)

Jake enlisted Scribbles to help in the effort. She held down the snake's head while Jake carefully over the period of hour cut away the netting loop by loop from the snake. When the snake was finally freed, it rose about a foot up into the air, opened it's mouth about as wide as your hand, and attempted to eat Jake's face. So much for gratitude. The snake then quickly headed off into the brush pile behind the house.

Jake consulted a friend who is a snake expert. His friend believes that the snake is a Black Racer. Black Racer's eat lots of things and are good at keeping the rodent population down. I wish we had a few of these snakes around our house in Virginia during our war with the rodent population.

According to OutdoorAlabama.com, The Black Racer is Common statewide, but declining in many areas. A familiar diurnal species that occurs in virtually all terrestrial habitats. Most frequently encountered in open forest and forest edges, and along brushy margins of aquatic habitats.

According to the University of Georgia, Black Racers are only active during the daytime and are most active in warm weather. At night and during cool weather they take refuge in burrows or under cover such as boards or tin. Racers hunt by sight and are often observed actively foraging during the day. They are not active at night. They eat a wide variety of prey including insects, lizards, snakes, birds, rodents, and amphibians. In turn, they are preyed upon by a variety of predatory birds, mammals and snakes such as kingsnakes and larger Racers. When captured, prey are not constricted and are consumed alive. Racers are faster than most other snakes, very agile, and generally flee when approached, often climbing into small trees or shrubs. If cornered, however, they do not hesitate to bite. Although primarily terrestrial, they climb well and are occasionally observed sleeping in vegetation at night. Racers mate in the spring, and females lay up to 36 eggs in early summer. Eggs hatch in late summer or early fall.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

French Cooking

Scribbles was given a french class assignment of translating a recipe into French and then creating a video as she prepares the recipe. Escargot anyone? Actually, for her assignment she prepared eclairs. They didn't turn out exactly like the picture on the recipe, but they were quite tasty and hopefully she will get a good grade on her assignment. Scribbles sure has come a long way from the last time she tried to cook something. Bon appetit!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Text Messaging: The World in the Palm of Your Hand

On the way home from dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, the Pohick family is stuffed, sleepy, and relatively quiet.
That is, except for the CLICK CLICK CLICK clack CLICK clack clack CLICK that's coming from the back seat.
"Who are you talking to?" Jake inquires.
None of your business, I want to answer. But then again, he could get violent. I could end up in one of his beloved mousetraps. So instead, I give him a vague "My friends."
I, Scribbles of the Pohick Clan, thoroughly enjoy texting people. If I can send someone a text message instead of calling them, you can bet your hat that I will. It's easier, in a way. How is taking five minutes to type in a bunch of letters easier than just making a dang phone call? ...I don't know. It just is.
Texting is also a useful means of mass communication. For example, if you're stuck with your family on yet another road trip to see some historical museum or whatever, you send one message to all your friends who have cell phones. "Help! I'm going to die of boredom!" Almost immediately, you get several replies that are chock full of sympathy. "So sorry!" "Another trip???" "Where are you going now?" "*hug!*"
Another example: "Band practice today! Don't be late!" Send it to the entire band- they'll all show up. It's like magic.
Oh, this is a good one: "My dad just got fired from being the king... Can I stay at your castle?"
And you don't even have to use complete sentences. Many texters opt to use the IM language that has developed over the past years. "ctrn... pos! ttyl, ok? ily- cu l8r"
Text messaging is a misunderstood art. The younger generations are catching on quickly to the texting wave, but there are still adults who like to tease and complain. Just learn to live with it. You don't have to like it. You don't even have to use it- you can go on having vocal conversations all your life. Let us go on in our text mania. It could be much, much worse... Trust me on this one.
"Fingers of Fury" Scribbles signing off.

Bigfoot is Real

It has been widely reported today in all of the major media outlets that two men from Georgia have for the first time ever recovered the body of a deceased bigfoot. Seriously?

I say what is the big deal? In Alabama, we see big foot all the time. He works in the 7-11 down the street. He's not the friendliest fellow, but I can't say anything bad about him. And come to mention it, I've never once heard him mention any kin folk from over in Georgia.

Matt Whitton and Rick Dyer say they stumbled across the 2.3m-high (7ft 7in), 226kg (500 pound) corpse in a wood in the north of the state in June.

A photograph on the men's website shows what appears to be the body of a large, hairy creature with an ape-like face. Bigfoot experts reacted suspiciously to the men's press conference claims. I'm not sure what surprises me more, the fact there are bigfoot experts or the fact that reputable news organizations are falling all over themselves to interview these folks. I guess that everyone has a reasonable expectation to 15 minutes of fame, but I think these guys are getting just a bit more than their fair share.

Anyway, I need to get on down to the 7-11 and ask BF what he thinks about all this.

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Friday, August 08, 2008

Mythbusters Lunar Landing Hoax

Update: This episode of Mythbusters originally aired on August 27th, 2008 at 9Pm.

The Huntsville Times is reporting today that an upcoming episode of the popular TV show Mythbusters will explore the conspiracy theory that NASA faked the moon landings. The episode will be broadcast on the Discovery Channel. Portions of the episode were filmed on location at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, AL. This episode will broadcast on August 27, 2008 at 9PM. For years, conspiracy theorists have said that the U.S. government, the Apollo astronauts and thousands of NASA employees faked the lunar landing in order to win the space race to the moon.

The idea that the moon landing was faked first came from Bill Kaysing's book "We Never Went to the Moon: America's Thirty Billion Dollar Swindle," released in 1974.

Four years later, the movie "Capricorn One" (which depicted a fake Mars landing) added to the conspiracy's popularity.

Facts cited by conspiracy theorist's that the landings were faked include:

  • Blueprints and design and development drawings of the machines involved are missing.
  • Apollo 11 data tapes containing telemetry and the high quality video (before scan conversion) of the first moonwalk are missing.
  • Crosshairs in photographs appear to be behind objects.
  • There are no stars in any of the photos. The Apollo 11 astronauts also claimed in a press conference after the event to have not remembered seeing any of the stars.
  • The color and angle of shadows and light are inconsistent.
  • Identical backgrounds in photos are listed as taken miles apart.
  • The number of photographs taken is implausibly high. Up to one photo per 50 seconds.
  • The flag placed on the surface by the astronauts flapped despite there being no wind on the Moon
  • The Lander weighed 17 tons and sat on top of the sand making no impression but directly next to it footprints can be seen in the sand.
To learn more about the Moon Landing Hoax Theories, check out these resources.

Here are some video clips of the episode Mythbusters episode.

Part 1

Part 2

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Cowan Railroad Museum

While returning from a trip to North Carolina, the Pohick family ended up traveling slightly off their nominally planned route. This is another way of saying that they made a wrong turn. Sometimes though, making a wrong turn can lead to interesting discoveries such as the Cowan Railroad Museum. This museum represents the railroad that has been an integral part of the city of Cowan, Tennessee since 1849 when construction began on boring a railroad tunnel through the mountain two miles southeast of town. The Cumberland Mountain Tunnel was finished in 1852 before the railroad actually made it to Cowan from Nashville. The town, the railroad and the tunnel still exist today. In support of that endeavor and later frequent trains through this region, a substantial frame depot was built in 1904, and that building is where the museum now houses its collection for your enjoyment.

Visitor information

The Museum is open from May through October, Thursday through Saturday 10 AM ‘till 4 PM and Sundays 1-4 PM. Other times can be arranged in advance by calling the museum and leaving a message: (931) 967-3078. Or you can call the nearby Cowan Welcome Center (931) 968-9877.

Admission is free! (But donations are greatly appreciated!) Volunteers, new members and other donations are always welcome. The museum is recognized as an official railroad museum by the State of Tennessee, but sustains itself by gifts, dues and contributions.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Indian Creek Greenway

Today we went hiking along the Indian Creek Greenway in Huntsville, Alabama. The section of the greenway that we hiked is two miles long, so we did four miles out and back. The greenway appears to be very well maintained and is a very easy hike. The section we hiked was 100% paved with cut grass on both sides of the trail. It is very scenic and crosses a creek several times. In typical southern fashion, all of the folks we met along the hike were very friendly. There are plans to extend the greenway in the future.

Here is a map of the Greenway.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Procion MX Tie Dye T-Shirts

Last week we created T-Shirts using Rit Dye Powder. This week we decided to try a different dye technique using procion mx dye which we purchased online from Dick Blick Art Supplies. The shirts turned out great and this technique is a lot easier than the boiling vats of dye we used last week with the RIT Dye Powder.

For additional photos and step by step instructions check out Pohick How To: Better Tie Dyed T-Shirts.

Check out the gallery of shirts we made.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Huntsville Air Show

Today the Pohick family attended the Huntsville Air Show at the Huntsville International Airport in Huntsville, Alabama. The show was a lot of fun, but despite precautions to the contrary, everyone in the family got a pretty good case of sun burn. We all worn sun screen, hats and sun glasses, but any exposed skin was pretty much burned. The head liners for the show were the US Army's Gold Knights Parachute Team and the US Navy's Blue Angels.

Admission to the air show was "free", but parking was $10 per car and the amount we spent on refreshments was truly frightening. Our estimate is that we consumed 9 bottles of water, 4 sodas, several frozen confections and several other treats during the 4 hour show. So, we spent approximately $60 at the free air show, but we still had a great time. Some of the aero acrobatics were just plain amazing!

The two Golden Knight demonstration teams travel the United States (and occasionally overseas) performing for public audiences at venues ranging from relatively small civic events, to nationally and internationally televised events (such as Monday Night Football games, NASCAR races and large International airshows). The two, 12-member teams travel approximately 240 days per calendar year, and use the team's two C-31 Friendship jump aircraft as their primary means of transportation, and sometimes the De Havilland Canada UV-18A Twin Otter.

There are two demonstration teams, affectionately dubbed the Gold Team and Black Team, in reference to the official Army colors. Team members come from a variety of backgrounds in one of the 150 jobs available in the US Army. Each team has a team leader, who typically has the most time and experience performing demonstration jumps and is typically holds the rank of an Army Sergeant First Class (SFC).

The 24 demonstrator positions on the team are typically held for at least three consecutive years. At the end of their tenure, soldiers will then either rotate back to Army line units or they may request to stay with the team for an additional period in one of several specialty positions. These positions are usually reserved for tandem parachute instructors, videographers, team leaders and competition parachutists.

The demonstration teams perform several types of shows; each is performed to exacting standards of practice but can also be tailored to the specific venue. These shows range from jumpers exiting the aircraft and landing in a major-league stadium, to more involved 20 or 30 minute aerial displays. The 20 minute Mass Exit show consists of multiple jumpers exiting the aircraft and forming a geometric shape, often with smoke canisters employed for additional crowd effect. The 30 minute Full Show consists of several aircraft passes or "jump runs"; with each pass consisting of one or more jumpers exiting and then performing exciting and somewhat unusual parachuting techniques. Once safely on the ground, the jumpers traditionally perform a ground line-up, in which each jumper is introduced and then the team will usually present a team memento to a distinguished selectee from the show audience.

Each maneuver the Knights perform is executed with the enjoyment and safety of the audience being the paramount concerns. As a testament to their professionalism and skill, the Golden Knights enjoy an unparalleled safety record in the professional parachuting arena.

The Blue Angels first flew three aircraft in formation, then four, and currently operate six aircraft per show. A seventh aircraft is for backup, in the event of mechanical problems with one of the other aircraft, and for giving public relations "demonstration flights" to civilians, usually selected from a press pool.

This aerobatic team is split into "the Diamond" (Blue Angels 1 through 4) and the Opposing Solos (Blue Angels 5 and 6). Most of their displays alternate between maneuvers performed by the Diamond and those performed by the Solos. The Diamond, in tight formation and usually at lower speeds, performs maneuvers such as formation loops, barrel rolls, or transitions from one formation to another.

The Opposing Solos usually perform maneuvers just under the speed of sound which showcase the capabilities of their individual F/A-18 Hornets through the execution of high-speed passes, slow passes, fast rolls, slow rolls, and very tight turns. Some of the maneuvers include both solo F/A-18s performing at once, such as opposing passes (toward each other in what appears to be a collision course, narrowly missing one another) and mirror formations (back-to-back. belly-to-belly, or wingtip-to-wingtip, with one jet flying inverted).

At the end of the routine, all six aircraft join in the Delta formation. After a series of flat passes, turns, loops, and rolls performed in this formation, they execute the team's signature "fleur-de-lis" closing maneuver.

The parameters of each show must be tailored to local visibility: In clear weather the "high" show is performed, in overcast conditions it's the "low" show that the spectators see, and in limited visibility (weather permitting) the "flat" show is presented. The "high" show requires an 8,000-foot (2,400 m) ceiling and visibility of 3 nautical miles (6 km) from the show's centerpoint. "Low" and "flat" ceilings are 3,500 and 1,500 feet (460 m) respectively.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Hurricane Creek Park

Hurricane Creek Park is a 67+ acre natural area, nestled in a 500 foot deep canyon in the foothills of the Appalacian Mountains. The park was founded in 1961 by William "Buddy" Rogers. He ran the park as a day-hike/picnic area for forty years. In 2003 he donated his beloved park to the State of Alabama Wildlife & Fisheries.

The City of Cullman Parks & Recreation now has the responsibility of operating the property. There is something here for outdoor enthusiasts of all ages. The park features several waterfalls that are rain fed and run about eight months out of the year. There are many unusual rock formations including a na
tural bridge, and beautiful scenic views. The park has several miles of well marked hiking trails.

In addition to hiking, vis
itors can picnic beside the creek under the covered pavillion or at individual tables in the same vicinity. We are building mountain bike trails that are currently being detailed and finished, we are forging ahead with expansion on a daily basis. Check out our MTB Freeride Elements

One trail passes through the spooky Twilight Tunnel, a dark, rocky crevasse barely wide enough for a person to squeeze through. The tunnel isn't completely dark, but since we ha
d no idea where we were going it was a little disconcerting. Making use of modern technology, we all got out our cell phones and used the collective dim light from our phones to navigate our way through the long cave.

The park also offers a "My First TIme Rock Climbing" program which is conducted every Saturday morning. This program is great for birthday parties, family get-togethers, activity dates, etc. Hurricane Creek Park has been added as a stop on the North Alabama Birding Trail and is host to many species of birds.

Admission into the park is $2.50 for Children and $3.00 for adults.

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Cullman County Museum

The Cullman County Museum opened in 1973 during Cullman's Centennial, and has been collecting and preserving items from the county's unique past ever since. Housed in a replica of Col. Johann G. Cullmann's home (our founding father), the Museum brings the past to life in its displays, paying tribute to the families that made the area their home. Each gallery showcases a different aspect of life in early Cullman.

The Archaeological Room houses artifacts from the earliest Cullman County settlers, the Native Americans. A highlight of the room is an interactive display that gives museum goers an opportunity to make rubbings of projectile points.

Other items include: a timeline of Native American artifacts, demonstrations of arrowhead making and the use of a throwing stick, and examples of Native American pottery with a rare, full pot.
Located in the Primitive Room are turn-of-the-century tools used to carve a living out of Cullman County's hilly landscape. Wood rafters and walls taken from old local barns are the backdrop for plows, lanterns, household items, and other fixtures of daily living.

Stroll along the Main Street gallery for a feel of small town life a hundred years ago. Medical tools and patent medicines from that era are showcased in the doctor’s display. A general store display shows common and unusual items from that time. Old photographs give a feel for the way people dressed and worked and played then. Items from a historic saloon, a case devoted to Civil War skirmishes fought in Cullman County, the county’s three state governors, the bell from the first school in Cullman and artifacts from more recent wars in which Cullman residents fought are on display as well.

  • Regular admission is $4 for adults, $2 for children 11 and younger.
  • Parking is free.
Google Map of Cullman County Museum

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Ave Maria Grotto

Ave Maria Grotto, known throughout the world as "Jerusalem in Miniature," is a beautifully landscaped, four-acre park designed to provide a natural setting for the 125 miniature reproductions of some of the most famous historic buildings and shrines of the world. The Ave Maria Grotto is located at St. Bernard College Campus in Cullman, Alabama. The masterpieces of stone and concrete are the lifetime work of Brother Joseph Zoettl, a Benedictine monk of St. Bernard Abbey. Begun as a hobby, with various materials he could find, and infinite patience and a remarkable sense of symmetry and proportion, Brother Joseph re-created some of the greatest edifices of all time.

The builder of the miniatures at the Ave Maria Grotto was a Benedictine Monk--Brother Joseph Zoettl, O.S.B. Born in Landshut, Bavaria in 1878, he was maimed in an accident that gave him a hunchback, but luckily it did not hurt his ability to bend over and build the miniatures. He came to Saint Bernard Abbey in 1892. After becoming a Brother in the Benedictine Order, he was appointed to the power plant for the Abbey, and while there he developed his hobby of building miniature shrines.

In contemplating the Main Grotto, which was to be the centerpiece of the whole park, Br. Joseph had yet to decide on the type of building materials he would employ and where they would come from. A partial solution was handed to him on April 29, 1933, when there was a derailment of the L&N railroad about twenty miles away near Vinemont, Alabama. One freight car full of marble from the Gantt Quarry, Sylacauga, Alabama overturned and the marble was crushed. It was useless to the owner so he gave it to Saint Bernard. The monks went up and carted it down to Saint Bernard; it was exactly what Brother Joseph needed as the main stalactites to hang in the Great Grotto.

Admission into the Ave Maria Grotto is $5.00 for adults and $3.00 for children ages 12 and under.

Google Map of Ave Maria Grotto

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