Archive for February, 2013

Butter-Fried Sweet Potatoes – Not Yams!

No Comments »

The following side dish is a great alternative to your common potatoes. Whether you’re a culinary guru and are just trying to add a little orange (steamed carrots are not the only option) to the greens and yellows on the dinner plate, looking for more Vitamin A sources, complex carbohydrates, something fried and yummy, or if you’re trying to add a little healthy sweetness to the mix, this side dish may be for you.

But before we begin, lets not confuse this vegetable with Yams! I actually detest that, as Yams are not even related to a Sweet Potato, yet many folks, even from the south, say “I like those fried yams!” A freakin’ Yam is the typical given name for a plant species in the genus Dioscorea (family Dioscoreaceae) that also forms edible tubers albeit they are much larger. These crazy-growing Yams are perennial herbaceous vines cultivated for the consumption of their starchy tubers in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean and Oceania. Although the sweet potato has, for whatever reason, been wildly referred to as a Yam in parts of the United States and Canada, it is not part of the family Dioscoreaceae, rather it is in the Morningglory family Convolvulaceae.

Even without all the scientific babble, Yams can grow up to nearly 5 feet in length, so be sure to let me know when you have seen a Sweet Potato grow to such size!

Oh, this food-related post is about Butter-Fried Sweet Potatoes, so lets get on with it.

First of all, these are Sweet Potatoes, depicted below:

sweet_potatoes

After you have realized that you are taking on some mighty Sweet Potatoes, the next thing to do is wash them and peel ’em. Ya know, sort of like you would common white potatoes and/or spuds, just before your make mashed potatoes. But hold your horses from this point, as you don’t begin to slice anything yet, and we sure as heck ain’t mashing anything (excuse my attempt to sound southern). Below, I’ll show an image of what step you should be at now, after peeling your potatoes. Please note, the plate of trimmings to the right in that image, as they are great to add to your compost pile or to just throw them out in your garden spot as vegetable waste, if you are into such things as the recycling of table scraps and organic compost, etc.

sweet_potatoes_1

Okay, so you have your peeled Sweet Potatoes, not Yams, and now it is time to soften these suckers up, before they get sliced and butter-fried. To do so, you need to grab a big pot, fill it with water and heat to a boil. …Add those orange potatoes into the boiling water and boil for about 6 or 7 minutes. Check out the steam below, as we let the good times roll on the stove-top…

sweet_potatoes_2

From here, you drain the hot water, add some cold water and let cool for a few seconds. Then, you take each potato out and begin to slice into about 3/8th inch slices. Take a large skillet out, add a fair amount of butter and sprinkle a tablespoon of sugar around the pan. After everything gets hot and melted, add your sweet potatoes and begin to fry. Of course, feel free to add a little salt and black pepper onto at least one side of the potatoes while frying. The process should look something like this:

sweet_potatoes_3

Now, although I elected to not go to the trouble to seek out wild, large, crazy Yams, the common Sweet Potatoes when butter-fried with sugar, salt, and pepper, usually turn out like this:

sweet_potatoes_4

Well, since this is a food-related post about a side dish, why not add an image of the current main dish and/or entree? Anyway, in addition to these deliciously butter-fried yams, oops, I mean sweet potatoes, I plan on adding several other items like asparagus, turnip greens (no fried squash today) and so on, to some oven-baked, well-seasoned and slowly cooked chicken thighs, as shown below:

baked_chicken_thighs

—End of Post

The History of Money – Barter, Trade, Gifts, Coins, Bank Notes…

1 Comment »

old_coin  This is such a lovely subject, especially since many folks are always thinking about money. I hear it all the time on the beloved writing site called “HubPages,” as many people are in a constant battle with this whole writing online for extra greenbacks thingy or, in some cases, typing poppycock for pennies; ha!

  Well, after reading a little bit about the history of money, just be glad you are not out there bartering cows, sheep and chickens for wheat, fruit & vegetables and clothing, or out trying to trade your pretty bracelets and cute sea shells or beads for some half-stewed squash, green tomatoes or a small, dried-out serving of wild boar meat that stayed on the fire too long, for example.

Anyway, when a person reads various history books in conjunction with online references, many of the dates don’t match up. So when you see a date listed here beside a certain form of money, just feel free to add a +/- sign to the end of it, when contemplating the accuracy.

Going through the timeline, although I’ll leave out a few similar mediums, I’ll list several types of money used by civilizations along with their estimated dates that they originated – except for the method that was used during our prehistory, of course. Before we begin, one must first understand that “money” is any object of value that is generally accepted as payment for goods and services along with the repayment of debts and so on. …Way before paper money, bank notes and metallic coins ever arrived to the scene, the Homo sapiens have traded items of value in the exchange of gifts, livestock, tokens, etc.

Okay, lets go back to what most humans refer to as “prehistory.” Prehistoric people used common livestock such as cattle for their main money source, and probably looked at chickens and sheep sort of like we would small change. I mean, lets compare a chicken to 25 cents (a quarter) and a cow to twenty- or 50-dollar bills, for example. This would be classified as “barter,” which is to trade by exchange of goods.
Since we are going back to ancient times, one can only imagine what all they may have traded. I mean, I wouldn’t stop at just livestock and one may also say that the phrase “exchange of goods” is at least a semi-ambiguous statement, to say the least.

Moving right along into roughly 1200 B.C., some of these bi-peds used sea shells as money. Starting from the Maldives, the use of cowrie shells as a form of currency spread throughout the Pacific. This practice later reached Africa by the 19th century. This type of money was both used as whole pieces and as small pieces that was often found in the form of beads.

Some time around 1000-500 B.C., the Chinese used typical tools that were cast in metal and punched with holes, which made ’em easy to string together, as a form of money. Have you ever heard of “knife money?”

Somewhere around 640 B.C., the state of Lydia supposedly made “the first true coins” consisting of a gold & silver alloy that normally contains an image of a lion’s head. Whether or not Lydian coins were the first, doesn’t matter, but either way, coin currency came about long after barter and trade. Shortly after, Greek coins arose (around 465 B.C.). The Roman coinage system was reformed around 27 B.C.

I’ve heard several different dates within different dynasties of China on this next one, but we’ll say that around the years 800-820 (A.D.) the earliest bank notes were issued. I have also read that the Jin Dynasty issued the first “true” bank notes during the year 1189.

Henry II of England really stepped up to the monetary plate in 1158 and created some high-quality coins with a nifty little cross design that was based on a silver penny. Well, well, ain’t we slick…

Are any of y’all sick of hearing about money yet? No? Uh, okay… I am, so I’ll speed this thing up…

Moving way on up the timeline, during the 17th century, the use of checks spread rampantly in Europe. Hmm, I wonder what they did to people who “wrote bad checks” back then? Ha!

Blah, blah, blah… Oh, I’m still typing this blog post about money… Uh… The Bank of England issued its first bank notes in 1694. Woot-woot!

This next tidbit is something I learned today (shows how much US history I’ve studied in the past), which is that the United States Treasury issued the first dollar bills for national circulation, in the year 1862. You know, those green suckers people used to often call “greenbacks.”

Going by what I have read lately, Credit Cards first appeared in the United States of America during the year 1949. …It is funny though, as we begin the year 2013 (at the time I’m writing this), the US seems like one giant maxed-out credit card itself… Anyway, Debit Cards started to be used during the 1980s although I didn’t start using mine until about the year 2000, which is when I started trusting their electronic transfers more – since ya know, “everybody is doing it;” ha!

Oh, I almost forgot one interesting subject about money, which is not about trade/barter, coins, bank notes, paper cash, etc., but it is about gifts.
Normally I wouldn’t resort to such, but for the explanation of what is known as a “gift economy,” I’ll copy a quick excerpt from Wikipedia, here:

“In a gift economy, valuable goods and services are regularly given without any explicit agreement for immediate or future rewards. Ideally, simultaneous or recurring giving serves to circulate and redistribute valuables within the community. Some consider the gifts to be a form of reciprocal altruism. Another interpretation is that implicit “I owe you” debt and social status are awarded in return for the gifts. Consider for example, the sharing of food in some hunter-gatherer societies, where food-sharing is a safeguard against the failure of any individual’s daily foraging. This custom may reflect altruism, it may be a form of informal insurance, or may bring with it social status or other benefits.

When I read about a “gift economy,” I can’t help but think more about people working together as opposed to the commonly corrupt monetary systems we often see today. That is why I saved the form of money via gifts for last, as I think it sort of doesn’t belong in the same category as the others, if ya get my drift…
At any rate, if anybody starts hating their money after reading this post, they can always feel free to send me an expensive gift or a rather large monetary donation, you know, just for your sake, of course… LOL!

[———]

Addition:  I originally wrote this on another website and there were a couple of comments in the comment field, so I’ll post them below:

I started the comment section with:  “As societies became more complex, a need arose for a uniform medium of exchange to acquire goods. Money was created to fulfill this role, and it evolved from cattle to precious metals, and finally, to coins and bank notes. Today, money is exchanged more abstractly, through credit cards or electronic transfers.” —Timelines of History

Yeah, the same concept that allows us to flourish and grow also allows for us to sell out, cheat, and become corrupt. Yep, I’ll take me some more of that “money stuff” any day… LOL!

Commenter said: “Roman soldiers were paid for work in salarium or salt. This explains origin or word salary and phrase “worth one’s salt.” Many societies used Porto money like cocoa, tobacco etc., and it would be interesting to know why cowrie shells were used as money.”

I said in reply: “It is commonly believed that Roman soldiers were at certain times paid with salt. (They say the soldiers who did their job well were “worth their salt.”) The word ‘salary’ derives from the Latin word salārium, possibly referring to money given to soldiers so they could buy salt.  If you are curious as to why or how cowrie shells were used as money, instead of me explaining this, it might be easier to start here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shell_money

Thanks for stopping by and good luck with the online revenue; ha!”

If anybody has any additional comments, feel free to add them below…

—End of Post

Additional Blog Link:  “The History of Electricity – From Magnetism to Nuclear Power…

Fried Green Roma Tomatoes

No Comments »

I’m sure that many of you have heard about the southern tradition involving fried green tomatoes, but have ya ever tried ’em? Well, even if you have, I’m sure most of you have always used the standard full-sized tomatoes like Big Boy, Better Boy, etc. Hey, I’ve always did the same thing, because that is all I have ever heard people talk about, when concerning this blissful, fried dish of tomato madness.

Well, the other day I got a little creative after realizing that a few of my tomato plants turned out to be Roma tomatoes, and did a quick test-cook to see if there is a better alternative for fried green tomatoes. Oh, if you are wondering, Roma tomatoes are small, pear-shaped tomatoes that are often used in sauces and/or during cooking (also known as Italian tomatoes) because they are more meaty and contain less seeds and juice. I don’t prefer them over the common, larger tomatoes when it comes to eating them in a ripe state or in salads, etc., because they just don’t have the juice and robust flavor like the others. But we are not talking about red tomatoes here…

Anyway, here is a quick snapshot of some green, Roma tomatoes, below:

roma_tomatoes

Another reason why I decided to try this, is because I thought that the meatier Roma tomatoes would fair better when fried, as opposed to the traditional, large, juicy tomatoes. At any rate, I couldn’t help but notice that these smaller tomatoes would also be easier to maneuver and flip around in the skillet, sort of like when you fry squash, zucchini, and/or okra, for example (it’s obvious I’m from the south, eh?). But anyway, there is only one way to find out, right? So I started to slice these little devils…

sliced_green_tomatoes

After you have sliced ’em up in about 1/4th inch slices, it is now time to add the batter. Unlike most people, I choose against the whole “egg wash” hooey, as I have had the best flavor and texture when battering wet food directly into the batter, as opposed to using the pre-batter egg/milk dip thingy. Although I think my simple batter is the best in the world, you can use whatever type you desire. I prefer yellow corn meal mixed with a decent amount of seasoned salt, black pepper and a few tablespoons of sugar.

I suppose I could show an image of the battered & seasoned green Roma tomatoes, but I think you have a pretty good idea of what that may look like.

Well, it is time to cook, so have a large skillet ready with the oil of your choice (I prefer canola oil), preheated of course, and fry those suckers until golden brown on each side. After they are done, drain on a plate with paper towels and season to taste with salt, pepper, hot sauce (even ketchup, if ya like) and/or whatever floats your boat.

To cut to the chase, the verdict is in: Roma Tomatoes, even though it may not be as popular, make for the best fried green tomatoes I have ever ate. If cooked right, they almost seem like “tomato chips,” however that may sound. Hey, check out the finished product below: 

fried_green_roma_tomatoes

Side Note:  When I originally wrote this recipe, it was at the peak of garden season and I had plenty of green tomatoes at the time. However, the other day, since it is still winter time, I applied this same cooking method to some store-bought Red Roma Tomatoes and it still turned out good. They wasn’t as firm, but still fairly tasty.  Since store-bought tomatoes are usually bland, I compensated by adding extra seasoning to the batter; cheers!

—End of Post

Semi-related Blog Link:  “Buy Stainless Steel Skillets, Frying Pans, and Cookware Online

The parallel of order within “Narcissistic Personality Disorder”

No Comments »

narcissistic…Although I’m definitely not a fan of psychology along with the fact that psychologists have a very high suicide rate when compared to the percentages within various types of occupations, there have been many studies about the Narcissistic Personality Disorder, that I simply don’t agree with.

Before we delve into this subject, I must remind you that “back in the day,” people were simply called nuts, crazy, an as*hole, violent, self-centered or whatever, and we didn’t have all of these fabricated conditions like bi-polar, narcissism, and so on.

However, since this is such a big deal to many folks, I’m going straight to Wikipedia and will not only provide a definition for this narcissistic condition, I will also critique each listed symptom of it, as there are quite a few…

If you are wondering what the purpose of this post is, well, it is simply because I think a lot of people get bad “names & titles” for things that they shouldn’t, as well as my detestation for folks that try to always blame the person with leadership qualities and say how it is wrong to be in control and responsible for your own actions, even if aggression and boldness is required. Oh, I don’t have the audacity to write this? Ha! Who are you kidding…

One last justification for this post: The reason why this scribbling is entitled “The parallel of order within “Narcissistic Personality Disorder” is simply because, to me, I find that many of the so-called symptoms of this psychologically labelled disorder, actually covers good traits that shouldn’t be frowned upon. If the world didn’t have these qualities, I can only imagine what an even more weak, pathetic state mankind would be in. Besides, what is Yin without the Yang? Now lets continue…

Wikipedia states: “Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a personality disorder in which the individual is described as being excessively preoccupied with issues of personal adequacy, power, prestige and vanity. This condition affects one percent of the population. First formulated in 1968, it was historically called megalomania, and it is closely linked to egocentrism.”

Okay, now, they list 14 primary symptoms of this “disorder,” and I will critique each symptom in a numerological order, below:

Symptoms of this disorder include…

1) Reacting to criticism with anger, shame, or humiliation – Really? How many folks react poorly to honest reviews and opinions? This just concerns narcissistic people? I see it all the time on this site, for example. If you don’t believe me, just go to the forums or the comment sections within various blogs and the ones found within certain Q & A sections. Offline, I see that most folks don’t take too kindly to criticism and this often boils down to how they respond, whether it is cry, pout, become mute, get mad, etc., but the last time I checked, they called that an “emotional response,” which is sort of hard to not have, albeit the last symptom listed here (#14), sort of contradicts such things – via Wikipedia, of course.

2) Taking advantage of others to reach their own goals – Well, although this is commonplace amid society, I can’t say that this is a very good trait. However, being a cheat and/or a con artist wouldn’t have to relate to a “disorder” would it, or is that just what they call folks that like to “play the game and/or system?” Manipulating the Disability Benefits and Welfare System would also apply here, so does that mean that all of those people are “narcissistic bums?”

3) Exaggerating their own importance, achievements, and talents – I see this all over the place! They used to call this pretentious trait a “wanna-be” and also a “charlatan” along with simple terms like ‘faker’ and ‘fraud’ and whatnot.

4) Imagining unrealistic fantasies of success, beauty, power, intelligence, or romance – Ah, yes… This is what we call dreaming and fantasizing about better things, and to think they call this a “disorder?”

5) Requiring constant attention and positive reinforcement from others – Although this particular symptom is quite sickening, although common, I can’t say that it would relate to narcissism. I mean, if you are that weak and in need of constant reassurance, how can you be a narcissistic being, as it seems that you mainly lack confidence among other things.

6) Becoming jealous easily – Wow! So it is a disorder to expect devotion in a relationship or to contemplate over whether or not you are a top priority in somebody’s life or something? Besides, ain’t most people prone to a little jealousy every now and then, during a normal life span? If so, does that mean that the majority is narcissistic? WTF?

7) Lacking empathy and disregarding the feelings of others – Back in the day, they used to call ’em a-holes and disrespecting _____ (fill in the blank). No big deal, well, at least not a disorder by any means. This is the opposite of a tree hugging hippie that worries about stepping on an ant, so what gives?

8) Being obsessed with oneself – I must say, that there are many people with problems in this area. On the same note, if you don’t take care of yourself (What does “finding self” mean?), nothing else matters and you can’t trust anybody better than you can trust yourself. However, out of all the symptoms thus far, self-centered obsession is one that does seem to remain consistent with the definitions of narcissistic beings. Okay, fine then, I’ll give ’em one point for symptom number 8 (The only 1 out of 14 symptoms, ha!)…

9) Pursuing mainly selfish goals – This is yet another symptom of narcissism that I just simply don’t understand. How in the hell can you have goals for yourself without being selfish? I could type paragraphs about the asininity of this one, but I’ll move on instead…

10) Trouble keeping healthy relationships – As high as the divorce rates are of today (not counting all the endless break-ups of common relationships), they blame this on a “disorder” now? What a joke!

11) Becoming easily hurt and rejected – Many soft-hearted people with low self-esteem fall under this category, as I’d hardly relate it to narcissistic ways. I’m starting to question this whole psychology behind narcissism, eh?

12) Setting goals that are unrealistic – Hey, there is nothing wrong with aiming high. I’d rather shoot high and miss, than not aim high enough when I could have landed in a much better position.

13) Wanting “the best” of everything – Well, my gawd! Is it better to want “the worst” of everything?

14) Appearing unemotional – They used to call this “apathy” and it is also a typical symptom of being jaded with life in general due to being worn out or from overuse, but I’d hardly narrow it down to one certain type of personality disorder for the wanna-be psychologists to pinpoint, ya know?

Conclusion: I don’t know about y’all, but the next time anybody calls me a narcissistic being, I’m going to say “thank you!” Ha!

Feel free to comment about “The Parallel of Order within “Narcissistic Personality Disorder,” below…

—End of Post

Spicy ‘Stuffed Mackerel’ Patties

No Comments »

canned_mackerel Although I generally prefer fried Salmon patties over Mackerel, I can’t help but notice how the cost of canned Mackerel is about half the price of Salmon, so why not try to spice it up a bit and make it worth the purchase?

 Anyway, if you’re a seafood lover, you most likely not only enjoy a large variety of fish along with those tasty scavengers known as shrimp, but you also probably enjoy those scrumptious crab cake patties, as well. Well, that’s what I attempted to do with the canned Mackerel, and incorporated some ‘stuffed crab’ techniques into those affordable Mackerel, to save me a few dollars from buying canned Salmon all the time.

…Hmm, does anybody else just want to skip this spicy recipe and go creek fishing? No? Okay… Now that the frugality of seafood bliss is out of the way, lets get started, shall we…

mackerel_fillets

First step, is to take the Mackerel out of the can. Wow! Who would have thought? Anyway, have a paper plate or whatever standing by, as you will need to remove the bones and outer skin layers, etc. [I give the scraps to my outdoor cats] Put all of the good meat into a big mixing bowl, and add a large egg into the mix and set aside. Now, what are you going to stuff the patties with? I use a small tomato that I core out (throw out the juicy parts) and dice into small pieces, a couple pieces of raw onion chunks, and one decent sized Jalapeno pepper (I’m currently using the ones from my garden, but store-bought will work). …Before we add the batter and mix it all together, here is a picture below, that depicts this current step.

mackerel_recipe

Finely chop your jalapenos, onions, and tomatoes, and add them into the big mixing bowl that contains your Mackerel and one large egg. Now, sprinkle a fair amount of seasoned salt into the bowl along with black pepper, and add 5 heaping tablespoons of Corn Meal. Normally, I’d only add 4, but we are adding an extra one since we are “stuffing” these patties with extra ingredients.

Mix it all up with a big spoon, then make two big patties out of the mix by hand. It should look something like this, as shown below:

mackerel_patties

Well folks, it is now time to fry! Grab a large skillet and preheat the oil, then gently add your spicy ‘stuffed Mackerel’ patties into the hot oil. Important step: Do not turn and/or flip over until about 5 minutes or so, or else you’ll risk the chance of your patties falling apart. The first flip over is the most crucial, but after that, let them cook another 4 or 5 minutes on the other side, and the rest is up to you, as to how “done” and/or brown ya want ’em to get. I added a side order of golden-brown french fries (crinkle cuts) to my plates (to serve two people [somebody please add the Ketchup!]), and this is how mine turned out:

fried_mackerel

Spicy 'Stuffed Mackerel' Patties

—End of ‘Quick & Easy’ Recipe Post

Decorate your home … Ancient Egyptian Style

No Comments »

This lovely thought of utter adornment popped into my mind earlier today, after looking around the house and noticing just how much ancient Egyptian stuff I have collected over the years. I have enough spread out around here to completely style an entire room, but what about the rest of my home? I wonder how many folks actually decorate their entire house with such things…

This post also reminds me of a page that I wrote on a health blog two years ago, entitled “Surround yourself with positive Chi, Ch’i, Qi, Energy…” It is a fairly simple concept, concerning the health benefits of being surrounded by things you like, which could also be called “positive energy.”
Okay, now lets get on with the different ways to bedeck your bedroom or home via Ancient Egyptian Style!

I haven’t tried this wall-painting thing yet, since I’d rather have colors that contrast, but one could always paint their walls a sand-like or tan color, to help set the background up for such things. From there, you could buy paintings with ancient hieroglyphics on ’em or get creative and paint your own. I have a paper around here somewhere that I have had for 20+ years, that has a hieroglyphic alphabet on it, so that helps a great deal.

One of the easiest, yet more expensive ways to add an ancient Egyptian theme to your home or room, is to buy lots of individual pieces such as: Egyptian god figurines, ancient-looking vases, obelisks, wicked candle holders featuring coiled cobra snakes, etc. One of my most expensive pieces was an Egyptian infinity mirror with LED lights, but I fried the dang thing while showing it off at some other person’s house after a few minutes (due to some unqualified clown performing electrical work while I had it on).

…Anything gold also brings out the touch of antiquity and, in addition to that, amethyst was also big during ancient Egyptian times. I have several amethyst clusters that I bought several years ago from one of those metaphysical websites, albeit I bought such things because they looked great, not due to the metaphysical claims found within that mystic site. Anyway, if I was going to decorate my room or home with this particular style, having a few figurines, images, photos, paintings, etc., of the Pharaohs, the great Giza Sphinx and Pyramid structures, would be a definite imperative duty!
If you’re an artist, it is cheaper to do most of your decorations via paintings, but whatever your method, you may find it well worth the time & money, once you get this theme complete.
I’d start with the room you dwell in the most and, from there, decide if you want to expand this notion into a house-wide project.
If your home contains several people, you may have to limit your project to certain areas – unless a common interest is shared, howbeit it rarely is; ha!

Below, I’ll share a few photos featuring some of the ancient Egyptian things I have acquired over the years. Of course, there are loads more, but I’m just providing a few samples or else this page would be full of more picture space than words:

egyptian_3

egyptian_2

egyptian_1

This is actually part of a lamp...

The beloved Amethyst... I have so many of these, including many other supposed metaphysical stones & crystals...

The beloved Amethyst... I have so many of these, including many other supposed metaphysical stones & crystals...

At any rate, regardless if you choose to decorate your home with this type of style, one could always use the same concept and apply it to other themes. For example, if you like fish and aquariums, you could turn one of your rooms into “aqua world,” so to speak. I’ve actually did that before… The bottom line, if possible, make your home more fun and relaxing – besides, the outside world, your job, and so on, can be quite stressful at times, so why not come home to a place that gives you peace from within; cheers!

We need to keep the Shark Population thriving…

1 Comment »

big_shark  It really vexes me, when I hear a lot of talk about senseless shark killing for nonsensical products and pills. There are many reasons why we need to keep the shark population thriving, albeit it seems to be on the decline, at the moment. Below, I’ll list a few reasons why these vicious predators and swimming machines help keep the ocean waters clean along with keeping other types of life in check, which all helps to maintain a balanced ecosystem – something that a lot of us humans are always trying to challenge.

  With a shark being at the top of the food chain, they affect many different types of life as well as their populations, as you go down the line. I’m sure a lot of you probably think, “well, if we have less sharks we will just have a few more innocent seals, right?” Wrong! It doesn’t work like that, although, yeah, we would also have a massive boom in the seal population, as well. Okay, for the ones that like to eat fish and shellfish, do you know that would also be affected by a mad decrease in the number of sharks swimming around? No? Well, the reason is simple… Sharks eat other predatory fish that eat other fish. Sharks also consume rays along with other aquatic creatures that feed on shellfish, for example. Once the shark population has suffered too many deaths from the Homo sapiens for their asinine reasons, the clams, scallops and oyster populations (just to name a few) are preyed on heavily by other aquatic life that would normally not be thriving in such large numbers due to getting ate by the, uh, sharks.

For some reason or another, many folks don’t like to refer to sharks as scavengers, albeit their scavenger-like ways help keep the water clean. If something dies, like a squid that floats to the top of the water or whatever, it is not uncommon for a large shark or several small sharks to group up and make a meal out of it. That particular aspect combined with their insatiable appetite, makes me want to label most of them as scavengers, but call ’em what ya want.

Anyway, we have enough problems with overly fishing certain types of commercial fish for human consumption, and about the time we fix one problem we are busy creating bigger ones, it seems. This simple concept about the better management of our shark population, doesn’t stop in the water. Many land mammals that are overly hunted and/or killed for fur, expensive clothing, out of spite, etc., end up causing population explosions elsewhere in the ecosystem that is unwanted and often reeks havoc for the environment, and so on. For an even better example, I recently read this quote:
“In A Sand County Almanac, Aldo Leopold wrote about one of the apex predators of the west. In his days with the Forest Service there was a mass kill policy for wolves. As a result, deer populations exploded. This led to major overgrazing of mountain vegetation. Erosion and river-choking sedimentation are a couple of the problems associated with overgrazing. Leopold wrote: “I now suspect that just as a deer herd lives in mortal fear of its wolves, so does a mountain live in mortal fear of its deer.” You can read more from that page, here: http://www.clf.org/blog/ocean-conservation/in-honor-of-shark-week-why-i-love-sharks/

Anyway, now that it is obviously apparent that we need to keep the shark population thriving, even with only reading a few out of the many examples, it is time to move on to some of these senseless products that the humanoids like to use sharks for. Oh, but before I start on that, I forgot to mention another thing that bothers me about the ones who try to kill sharks just for spite and/or for pathetic reasons. Ya know, the ones who think they are “protecting” humanity from the Great Whites or the ones who took the movie JAWS a little too serious, and are mad that humans get bit and/or killed on occasions from these deadly creatures. One must realize, that no matter what, even though it sucks when humans do get killed by sharks, that we are on their territory when we are out surfing or swimming or floating around in the ocean.

Okay, now back to some of the products and uses that come from sharks…

The least ridiculous use of sharks, are the ones that at least consume them. I’m not talking about the Shark Fin Soup, either, as we’ll get to that in a minute. Sharks are a common seafood in many places, including Japan and Australia. In India, baby sharks are sold as a food product, as well. However, when it comes to a total waste, I must bring up the Shark Fin Soup. It is common for fishermen to capture live sharks, fin them with a hot metal blade, and dump the fin-less animal back into the water where the immobile shark later dies from suffocation or from other predators. All for a little expensive soup, eh? …The things some people will do to make a lot of money… Utter nonsense…

Anyway, there are many products that are unnecessarily made from sharks, such as certain types of lipstick and skin care products. It is not uncommon for people to sell a shark’s sharp teeth to make necklaces. Some folks use the shark’s skin to adorn certain types of handles, such as a sword handle, for example. There is even a silly demand for their jaws, as well.
Another reason why there has been a shark killing craze over the last several years, is due to all the hype about how shark cartilage can cure cancer. It is funny that they haven’t proved this yet, and further research is showing that, although rare, sharks can get cancer. Either way, we sure got a lot of shark cartilage capsules to sell in the herbal sections throughout the globe, now don’t we? I’m sure there may be some health benefits from taking these non-herbal shark cartilage capsules or extracts, but I’m also sure that with whatever benefit they can find from these pills, it can be matched or triumphed by another extract that is a true herb and grown from the ground. Plus, they have experimented with bovine (cow) cartilage in the past, so why not stick with that? At any rate, I have provided many reasons why we need to keep the shark population thriving as opposed to the direction it is heading now, which is on the decline.

Well, I’ve chattered about this subject a little more than I meant to, but before I end this page, here is one last tidbit: Out of more than 360 species of sharks, only 4 have been involved in a significant number of fatal, unprovoked attacks on humans: the great white, oceanic whitetip, tiger, and bull sharks.

great_white_shark

—End of Post

The Immortal Jellyfish – Turritopsis nutricula

No Comments »

Turritopsis_nutricula_immortal_jellyfish  First of all, many of you most likely have your own opinions about mortality and immortality – whether it be basic scientific definitions of death or spiritual beliefs and whatnot. Personally, if our existence is as insane as I think it is, the textbook definition of death is far from the truth, to say the least. At any rate, that is neither here nor there at the moment, as this post is about something else entirely… or is it?

  Have you ever heard of the immortal jellyfish? This small creature is scientifically labeled “Turritopsis nutricula” and it has the ability, technically, to be biologically immortal (the only known case in the world, at the moment) by way of the process known as transdifferentiation.

  This bizarre hydrozoan can transform from a jellyfish state that is already sexually mature, to a totally sexually immature colonial stage when it comes across unfavorable (adverse) conditions, for example. During the process of transdifferentiation, the medusa of the immortal jellyfish is transformed into the polyps that later become a new colony.

To make this easier to understand, this oceanic creature begins its life (outside of the egg stage, of course) as a little polyp until it reaches sexual maturity, in which it becomes a multi-tentacled being. From here, it has the capability to amazingly transform back to the polyp stage after it reabsorbs (resorbs) its tentacles, mesoglea, etc.

This whole transdifferentiation thing is worth further study. I suppose the confined and/or limited forms of transdifferentiation would be like a salamander’s ability to regrow limbs, and many of us have seen the lizards that regrow their tails, etc. However, the Immortal Jellyfish can regenerate everything!

Of course, the aquatic Turritopsis nutricula is only biologically immortal in theory, as we all know that this thing will become another creature’s snack via the food chain or die from disease at some point in time, but theoretically this freaky medusa has the ability, in a perfect world, to live forever.

So, what does this mean for us? Well, research for one along with the hopes that this can somehow help the scientific community learn more about transdifferentiation and hopefully find a way to make stem cells use this regenerative process for renewing damaged or dead tissue in humans. The human body is generally very resilient when healthy, but having the knowledge, know-how and ability to renew dead or damaged cells by learning more about the cellular processes behind the Turritopsis nutricula, makes the Immortal Jellyfish that much more important.

Side Note: The last I heard, the population of these strange little jellyfishes are on the rise, so we shouldn’t have to worry about having trouble finding the specimens to research anytime soon, unless something globally really goes awry in the future (yikes!). Anyway, I just thought I’d share a few interesting tidbits today – brought to you by Mother Nature; cheers!

Check out this cool image below, which is what I’d call the depiction of immortality:

immortal_jellyfish

—End of Post

Going from Wing Chun to Jeet Kune Do

No Comments »

tao_jeet_kune_doFor many years I have been very interested in martial arts. I was first inspired by Bruce Lee at the early age of 7 years old. I first watched the film Enter the Dragon during that time frame, and was mainly fascinated with nunchucks (nunchaku). Not long after watching that film, I made a pair out of two wooden sticks, a small chain and 2 nails used to hold the chain into each piece of wood. Yes, at age 7, I already thought I was a kung-fu master. I took my cheaply made nunchucks, invited a neighborhood kid to come over, and let him use them for a while … but after seeing that he was having great difficulty, I took them from him, did a few moves and busted him over the head. The kid fell to the ground, then got up holding his head and took off running to his parents while crying loudly. I was in trouble; the parents came over to talk to mine, but nothing came of it, other than he wasn’t allowed to come over and play anymore.
My dad decided to go buy me some practice-style nunchucks that were made of foam. Who in the hell wants foam nunchucks?
Anyway, years later, I now not only have a huge collection of real nunchucks ranging from metal, wood, and glow-in-the-dark acrylic, mini-chucks, tele-chucks, studded, you name it, I also have a huge array of various martial art weapons.

…None of that may have to do with my favorite style of Wing Chun and Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do, but the point is, I showed an interest early on and went through various studies and different styles before realizing just what the core philosophies behind Bruce’s Jeet Kune Do really was. It was a combination of multiple styles, but unlike traditional martial arts, there was no particular style or traditions in Jeet Kune Do. If something worked you kept it, and if other aspects of a style was a waste or not as efficient, you trashed it. Jeet Kune Do doesn’t try to be showy and flashy either, as one of the main principles is the simplicity and the way of the intercepting fist.

One of Bruce Lee’s primary, original styles was Wing Chun. There for the longest he kept his kicks below the waist and mainly incorporated the direct movements, trapping, and blocking techniques of Wing Chun. Out of all the styles, it is by far my favorite. If one could take some extra grappling classes and perhaps learn some pressure point techniques in combination with this style, you would, in my opinion, be better equipped than most martial artists of today.

If anybody knows very much about this subject, they will also be very familiar with what is known as a Wing Chun Dummy. This particular wooden dummy is a thick wooden post with three arms and a leg mounted on a slightly springy frame representing a stationary human opponent. Although representative of a human opponent, the dummy is not a physical representation of a human, but an energetic one. Wooden dummy practice aims to refine a practitioner’s understanding of angles, positions, and footwork, and to develop full body power. It is here that the open hand forms are pieced together and understood as a whole. Personally, I find these things to be way too expensive.

When I was a teenager, a basic wooden Wing Chun Dummy cost around six or seven hundred plus. Now, after checking on the web, these things are up to over a thousand dollars! This is another reason why I used to build my own. Yes, it was a cheap imitation, but I’d go out in the woods and build with trees, to practice this style of martial arts. Another good thing about using these wooden targets, is that it toughens up your arms and blocking areas, such as your forearms.

Anyway, I’m not going to promote the idea of kicking and punching trees, albeit it is cheaper than the Wing Chun Dummy; ha! One thing that I never was pleased with, concerning Wing Chun, was their lack of weaponry. Advanced students got to use large Butterfly Knives (a little shorter than short swords), a.k.a. Double Knives, and what they called a Long Pole. At any rate, I suppose it doesn’t matter in my case, because I have enough weapons to perform my own training without the limitation of a style or a tradition (hey, that sounds like Jeet Kune Do).

The title of this Hub sort of represents Bruce’s transition from Wing Chun to his own form of martial arts, Jeet Kune Do. Now, I can’t type about every style and method he tried and tested throughout his short life, as it would take way too long. However, I will say that I have never heard of a guy training harder than he did. At age 13, Bruce Lee started lessons in the Wing Chun style of kung-fu for self-defense reasons. Well, over the next 19 years, he transformed his knowledge into a science, an art, a philosophy and a way of life. In fact, while reading over his main book, best seller, “Tao of Jeet Kune Do,” I was more interested in his philosophy than anything else. I bought my copy about 17 years ago, and actually waited a couple years before reading it because at the time I was still studying some of the more ancient arts of kung-fu.

I’ve did most of my training via self, although I have took traditional Karate classes that I found to be rather limiting. I detest being restricted to a certain style or limited to a certain way of thinking, etc. This applies to a lot of things in life, which Bruce Lee obviously integrated into his way of fighting. I remember when taking classes, I’d have a few minutes before class started to practice my own moves, etc. Then the sensei would come into the room, and here we go with boring, boring, basic stiff moves. That reminds me of another aspect of Wing Chun, as it thrives on relaxed muscles, as tension reduces punching speed and power. This also helps with the center-line punches & movements. Wing Chun techniques are generally “closed,” with the limbs drawn in to protect the central area and also to maintain balance. In most circumstances, the hands do not move beyond the vertical circle that is described by swinging the arms in front, with the hands crossed at the wrists. To reach outside this area, footwork is used. A large emphasis and time investment in training Chi Sao exercise emphasizes positioning to dominate this center-line. The stance and guard all point at or through the center to concentrate physical and mental intent of the entire body to the one target.

Well, I’ve rambled enough about this subject. I’ll leave it up to you to do your research on Wing Chun and Bruce Lee’s awesome Jeet Kune Do way of life…

tao_jeet_kune_do_1

————>‘Click Here’ for a Fine Selection of Wing Chun Dummies<————

—End of Post

The Best Crankbait for Creek Fishing

No Comments »

crawfish_lureThis is more or less an opinion post, even though I have tried and tested this particular crankbait along with many others while creek fishing, for several years. I must say, the water conditions, weather, time of year, etc., can all affect what works best, but overall I found one type of fishing lure that worked the best in the creeks I fished in…

Of course, live bait is hard to beat, but we are talking about artificial lures at the moment. Crankbaits are very versatile and come in a wide variety of colors, sizes, and types; they are an excellent alternative to other artificial lures like plastic worms, spinnerbaits, and so on.

Anyway, the bait of choice is . . . The Rebel brand, medium-sized crawfish crankbait. You can get a small and large version as well, but I had the best luck with the one in the middle. Even though I haven’t went fishing in a few years, I used to roam up and down various streams, creeks, etc., with nothing but a stringer, a couple extra hooks, sinkers and swivels (in case I got hung up and had to resort to live bait), along with my awesome Rebel brand crawfish crankbait. Yes, occasionally I’d loose these things, as crankbaits have the extra hooks, which makes it easier to get hung around big rocks, weeds, etc. Hell, I’ve even lost one up in a tree one time while casting out (don’t ask how I managed to do this). I always preferred to bring a full tackle box, a pellet gun in case I seen an unfriendly snake, and be settled in one or two good fishing spots at the creek, but sometimes it is fun to change it up and walk up or downstream and fish while pretending to be a pro – especially if you find a good creek that has a lot of walking room on a rocky bank on one side or the other.

When it comes to using this crawfish crankbait, it is basically trial and error. You’ll find a rhythm and technique that works best for you, the more you use it. I’ve caught a many smallmouth bass and several largemouth bass while using this lure, but this bait is especially effective for those pesky little Rock Bass, also known as Red-eye Bass, Rock Perch, and Google-eye. Rock Bass are technically not a bass, but they look like one and put up a great fight for their size. They have big red eyes, and can rapidly change colors from light green to a very dark color to help match their surroundings (a chameleon-like trait). Red-eye bass love rocky and cave-like areas (hence the name), and it is always pleasant to see one jolt out of their little underwater cave to pounce on your crawfish crankbait. Oh, they make for some pretty good meals, as well… Here is a picture of a nice, plump one, below:

rock_bass

Well, I suppose I could start telling random fishing tales or how I caught my biggest smallmouth bass ever, using a bread ball on a big hook, but I figure that I will spare y’all my short-lived success stories while creek fishing; ha-ha! However, if anybody wants to talk about what their favorite crankbait is or what artificial bait has worked best for you while fishing in creeks and/or small-to-large streams (along with anything else related to fishing), feel free to drop it down in the comment field below. Dang, after writing this short Hub, I’m now in the mood for a big fish fry. Hmmm…

Now, it is time to find the creeks & streams:

creek_fishing

————>‘Click Here’ to shop @ Amazon for a fine selection of Crankbaits<————
 

—End of Post