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  • Dead birds, dead fish, dead crickets...what could it mean?

    Posted by Jessie B Hawkins

    A virus has killed millions of crickets raised to feed pet reptiles and those kept in zoos.

    The cricket paralysis virus has disrupted supplies to pet shops across North America as a handful of operators have seen millions of their insects killed.

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    Some operations have gone bankrupt and others have closed indefinitely until they can rid their facilities of the virus.

    Cricket farms started in the 1940s as a source of fish bait, but the bulk of sales now are to pet supply companies, reptile owners and zoos, although people also eat some.

    Most U.S. farms are in the South, but suppliers from Pennsylvania to California also raise crickets.

    The virus had swept through European cricket farms in 2002. It was first noticed in 2009 in the U.S. and Canada.

    The virus marks the latest in a recent series of mass animal deaths

    Blackbirds fell out of the sky on New Year's Eve in Arkansas. In the days that followed, 2 million fish died in the Chesapeake Bay, 150 tons of red tilapia in Vietnam, 40,000 crabs in Britain and other places across the world.

    However, biologists say these mass die-offs happen all the time and usually are unrelated.

    Federal records show they happen on average every other day somewhere in North America.

    Video: Arkansas’ animal deaths: Coincidence or conspiracy? (on this page)

    In the past eight months, the U.S. Geological Survey's National Wildlife Health Center has logged 95 mass wildlife die-offs in North America and that's probably a dramatic undercount, officials say.

    The list includes:

    • 900 some turkey vultures that seemed to drown and starve in the Florida Keys.
    • 4,300 ducks killed by parasites in Minnesota.
    • 1,500 salamanders done in by a virus in Idaho.
    • 2,000 bats that died of rabies in Texas.
    • And the still mysterious death of 2,750 sea birds in California.

    Officials blamed the deaths of 5,000 red-winged blackbirds in Beebe, Ark., on New Year's Eve fireworks.

    Experts say the loud cracks and booms likely sent the birds into such a tizzy that they crashed into homes, cars and each other before plummeting to their deaths.

  • Babies born this year may never know these things...

    Posted by Jessie B Hawkins

    Isn't it amazing the technology we have these days.  I've noticed little things like my 4 year old will never use a rotary phone, record music on a blank cassette tape or play atari like I did when I was a kid.  I came across this and thought I'd share...if you are expecting a child this year...here a few things they may never know...

    Video tape: News stories today have all been shot, edited, and distributed to TV stations without ever being on any kind of tape. Not only that, the tape-less broadcast camera they use today costs less than the lens on the camera they used before.

    Travel agents: While not dead today, this profession is one of many that's been decimated by the Internet. When it's time for their honeymoon, will those born in 2011 be able to find one?

    The separation of work and home: When you're carrying an email-equipped computer in your pocket, it's not just your friends who can find you -- so can your boss. For kids born this year, the wall between office and home will be blurry indeed.

    Books, magazines, and newspapers: Like video tape, words written on dead trees are on their way out. Sure, there may be books -- but for those born today, stores that exist solely to sell them will be as numerous as record stores are now.

    Movie rental stores: You actually got in your car and drove someplace just to rent a movie? Netflix, Dish and cable...who needs to rent a movie?

    Watches: Maybe as quaint jewelry, but the correct time is on your iphone, which is pretty much always in your hand.

    Paper maps: At one time these were available free at every gas station. They're practically obsolete today, and the next generation will probably have to visit a museum to find one. I must admit...I myself don't use one.

    Phone Books:  What's that?  It's so much easier to google the business or establishment you're looking for and family and friends all have cell phones - not listed in the phone book.

    Wired phones: Why would you pay $35 every month to have a phone that plugs into a wall? For those born today, this will be a silly concept.

    Long distance: Thanks to the Internet, the days of paying more to talk to somebody in the next city, state, or even country are limited.

    Newspaper classifieds: The days are gone when you have to buy a bunch of newsprint just to see what's for sale.

    Dial-up Internet: While not everyone is on broadband, it won't be long before dial-up Internet goes the way of the plug-in phone.

    Encyclopedias: Imagine a time when you had to buy expensive books that were outdated before the ink was dry. This will be a nonsense term for babies born today.

    Forgotten friends: Remember when an old friend would bring up someone you went to high school with, and you'd say, "Oh yeah, I forgot about them!" The next generation will automatically be in touch with everyone they've ever known even slightly via Facebook.

    Forgotten anything else: Kids born this year will never know what it was like to stand in a bar and incessantly argue the unknowable. Today the world's collective knowledge is on the computer in your pocket or purse. And since you have it with you at all times, why bother remembering anything?

    CDs: First records, then 8-track, then cassette, then CDs -- replacing your music collection used to be an expensive pastime. Now it's cheap(er) and as close as the nearest Internet connection.

    Film cameras: For the purist, perhaps, but for kids born today, the word "film" will mean nothing. In fact, even digital cameras -- both video and still -- are in danger of extinction as our pocket computers take over that function too.

    Catalogs: There's no need to send me a book in the mail when I can see everything you have for sale anywhere, anytime. If you want to remind me to look at it, send me an email.

    Wires: Wires connecting phones to walls? Wires connecting computers, TVs, stereos, and other electronics to each other? Wires connecting computers to the Internet? To kids born in 2011, that will make as much sense as an electric car trailing an extension cord.

    Hand-written letters: For that matter, hand-written anything. When was the last time you wrote cursive? In fact, do you even know what the word "cursive" means? Kids born in 2011 won't -- but they'll put you to shame on a tiny keyboard.

    Talking to one person at a time: Remember when it was rude to be with one person while talking to another on the phone? Kids born today will just assume that you're supposed to use texting to maintain contact with five or six other people while pretending to pay attention to the person you happen to be physically next to.

    Mail: What's left when you take the mail you receive today, then subtract the bills you could be paying online, the checks you could be having direct-deposited, and the junk mail you could be receiving as junk email? Answer: A bloated bureaucracy that loses billions of taxpayer dollars annually.

    Commercials on TV: They're terrifically expensive, easily avoided with DVRs, and inefficiently target mass audiences. Unless somebody comes up with a way to force you to watch them -- as with video on the Internet -- who's going to pay for them?

    Wow huh?  What will the next generation bring and what will be lost forever?

  • Tips for keeping that lose weight this year resolution

    Posted by Jessie B Hawkins

    It's the New Year, and hard as we may try to say we don't have an resolutions...there's always that, "I'm going to lose weight and get in shape" resolution we tell ourselves we aren't making.  Just our secret...here's a few ways to drop a pound a day.  By cutting 500 calories out of your daily diet. 

    At Breakfast: Choose an English muffin instead of a bagel to slash 220 calories, a glass of  skim over whole to save 70 calories, Turkey sausage is a healthier choice than pork or bacon!  Choose to make a one egg omlet or two instead of three and save 70 plus calories.

    If it's cereal or oatmeal you prefer...measure your portions and use skim milk!  Keep in mind that a cup of granola can have up to 600 calories, while a cup of high-fiber cereal has only about 120.

    At Lunch

    Move on your lunch hour. “A brisk 15-minute walk burns about 100 calories, and it gives you less time to eat,” says Marjorie Nolan, RD, CND, CPT and national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. Walk during your lunch for five days and burn 500 extra calories. Or try wearing a pedometer to measure out 10,000 steps a day, or about 5 miles—you’ll automatically burn 500 calories without even hitting the gym.

    Order wisely. Swap hummus or mustard for mayo, and a roll for sliced bread on your sandwich, and cut about 200 calories. Opt for a salad instead of fries to save another 300 calories for a total of 500 saved.

    Chew your food. An easy way to slash calories is to slow down when you eat. Women who chewed at least 20 times before swallowing ate up to 70 calories less at mealtime, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Since it takes 20 to 30 minutes for your body to register that you are full, researchers believe eating more slowly allows you to get to the point where you feel satiated on fewer calories than if you’re shoveling it in.

    At Dinner

    Downsize your plates. Rather than depriving yourself of food to drop pounds, simply use smaller plates. “People eat as much as is on their dish rather than the amount that their body actually needs,” says Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, author of Beat Sugar Addiction Now! “If you shrink the size of your dishes by a quarter, such as going from a 12-inch plate to a 9-inch plate, you’ll cut 500 calories without feeling deprived.” The research backs it up: People serving themselves ice cream in larger bowls ate 31 percent more than their counterparts eating from smaller bowls—and both groups reported feeling full, according to the American Journal of Preventative Medicine.

    Wait to have seconds. Once you’ve downsized to smaller plates, Dr. Teitelbaum recommends giving yourself permission to eat as much as you want, but waiting 20 to 30 minutes to have a second helping. “You almost never go back because you’ve given your body time to register that you’re feeling full, so you easily save hundreds of calories.” Even if you do opt for seconds, you’re likely to get a smaller helping because hunger hormones won’t be driving your appetite.

    Slim your sides. Instead of dipping chips in fat-packed sour cream, try serving baked tortilla chips or whole wheat pita wedges with low-fat refried beans and chunky salsa. It’s a tasty way to sneak in an extra serving of veggies and cut 109 calories. Or trade a side of traditional potato salad for sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions tossed with fat-free Italian dressing to cut 258 calories.
    For more on tips to lose weight check out the full article here:
  • Like father...like daughter?

    Posted by Jessie B Hawkins

    Toby Keith will kick off 2011 by helping his 25-year-old daughter, Krystal, fulfill her country music dreams. Keith - who promised all of his three kids that, after they finish college, he would help them to follow in his footsteps - produced Krystal's debut album, which is set for release in 2011.  

    Keith's latest single, "Bullets In The Gun," is currently in the Top 20 on the country charts. He shares that the tune is a true love story, saying, "I wanted to do an attitude song, where a drifter, instead of riding a horse is riding a motorcycle, and make it a Western theme but bring to modern day time. In the name of love, this drifter meets his soul mate, and she's wilder and crazier and maybe even meaner than he is."

  • Where is Ralphie now?

    Posted by Jessie B Hawkins

     

    Courtesy of Yahoo! 

    Every year a new audience is introduced to "A Christmas Story," the 1983 movie about a Depression-era family that became an unlikely Christmas classic when TBS started playing it nearly around the clock every holiday season. Peter Billingsley memorably played Ralphie, the bespectacled blond boy who wanted just one thing for Christmas: a Red Ryder BB gun. Now Billingsley is all grown up and making movies himself, and talking in depth about "A Christmas Story" for the first time.  Monday night, ABC's "Nightline" caught up with Billingsley on the occasion of the world premiere of "A Christmas Story: The Musical" in Seattle. Billingsley, who produced the musical and hopes it gains a wider audience in other cities, talked about the role that still gets him recognized on the street regularly. 

    "No one wanted to make it," Billingsley says of the film today. "It was, you know, a kid wants a BB gun, not the greatest most cinematic pitch in the world." Billingsley explains on "Nightline" that the movie's director had to agree to make a separate horror film just to get the studio to make "A Christmas Story." 

    Audiences who remember Billingsley as Ralphie, as well as from the over one hundred commercials in which he starred in the late '70s and '80s, might be surprised that he's now enjoying success behind the camera. Billingsley frequently works as a producer on films like "The Break Up" and directed the hit comedy "Couples Retreat," and is a regular collaborator with Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn. He also had small roles in those movies—you might even be one of the people who exclaimed "It's Ralphie!" when you saw him on the screen.

    In the "Nightline" interview, Billingsley also talks about one of the most beloved and hilarious scenes from "A Christmas Story," in which a classmate of Ralphie's licks a frozen flagpole on a dare and his tongue gets stuck. Billingsley says he learned not to do that from the movie, joking "It's 100% true: if you do that, it will stick." He also reveals that the pole itself was fake, and it's good to know that no child actors were tortured in the making of the holiday classic. 

    Once again this year, TBS will air "A Christmas Story" for twenty-four straight hours starting at 8 p.m. on Christmas Eve, and a new generation will discover Ralphie and his chaotic family. 

    Billingsley no longer is acting...but why would he?   : ) ~JB

  • Lunar eclipse

    Posted by Jessie B Hawkins

     

    It's been moons since the last lunar eclipse!  Early Tuesday morning, for the first time in hundreds of years  a lunar eclipse will fall on the winter solstice.

    READ ON FOR MORE ON THE LUNAER ECLIPSE FROM AOL


    With the full moon high in the winter sky, the lunar eclipse will be visible from four continents, with the best views from North America and Central America if weather permits, scientists say.

    Total lunar eclipses during winter in the northern hemisphere are fairly common, NASA says. However, a lunar eclipse falling precisely on the date of the solstice is quite rare.

    Geoff Chester of the U.S. Naval Observatory inspected a list of eclipses going back 2000 years for NASA.

    "Since Year 1, I can only find one previous instance of an eclipse matching the same calendar date as the solstice, and that is 1638 DEC 21," Chester said, according to NASA. "Fortunately we won't have to wait 372 years for the next one ... that will be on 2094 DEC 21."

    This year's event will take 3 hours and 38 minutes. The eclipse begins on Tuesday at 1:33 a.m. ET, when the Earth's dark-red shadow will turn up on the edge of the moon, according to NASA. It will take about an hour for the shadow to cover the entire moon. Totality begins at 2:41 a.m. and lasts for 72 minutes.

    COOL! ~ JB


  • Not so good presents for Christmas

    Posted by Jessie B Hawkins

     

    Courtesy of Yahoo...here are some not so good Christmas present ideas.  What's the worst or thoughtless gift you have ever received?

    At first glance, you might think these are the perfect holiday presents. But don't be fooled — they come with some hidden drawbacks.

    Flowers

    Flowers
    Photo: Taxi/Getty Images

    Whoever said a fresh flower bouquet is right for any occasion clearly never took into account the fact that many people are traveling, on vacation, or out of the office this time of year. Translation: by the time everyone's settled back at home after the holidays, the arrangement you sent will be droopy and dead.

    What to buy instead: A mix tape 2.0. iTunes lets you buy songs then email them directly to a friend, along with a personal message.

     

    Cheese of the Month
    Photo Courtesy of
    Murray’s Cheese Shop

    Cheese of the Month Club

    Enrolling a friend in these food clubs sets you back close to 50 bucks a month. So even if you opt for just half a year, you're dropping serious cash. And since most of that cost is going towards the packaging, presentation, and shipping costs, don't expect gourmet goodies.

    What to buy instead: For a foodie friend, put together your own gorgeous gift basket of preserves, spices, bread, and cured meats. It looks super luxe and can be done for $50, what you'd spend on just one shipment of cheese.

     

    The DVD of His New Favorite Movie

    Just because he raved about it in the theater doesn't mean he wants to watch the movie on DVD over and over again. Plus, when movies are first released (especially those that come out right before Christmas), the price-tag tends to be pretty steep.

    What to buy instead: For the same cost as a DVD, you can sign him up for four months of unlimited movies. Netflix just added the option of a streaming-only package, which allows you to instantly watch thousands of movies from your computer (or on your TV via Wii or PS3) for $7.99 a month.

     

    Boutique Top
    Photo: Kevin Sweeney/
    Studio D

    A Pretty Top from a Boutique

    Unique clothing is a great gift...as long as you know exactly what to get. But if you're not quite sure, steer clear of apparel from small stores. Because if the recipient wants to return it, chances are she'll get a store credit for the post-Christmas discounted price, i.e. way less than you were generous enough to spend.

    What to buy instead: Stick with chains and department stores–and include a gift receipt. The item has all the benefits of a gift card (exchangeable for anything) without the impersonal feel. Plus, how awesome is it when you can turn one returned sweater into three because of markdowns?!

     

    iTunes Gift Card
    Apple iTunes Gift Card

    Credit Card Gift Cards

    Did you know there's often an activation fee associated with these plastic presents? Seriously.

    What to buy instead: Stick with a plain old gift card, but make sure it's place or website they'll go to in the next year–iTunes is a safe bet— because certain ones start to lose value after 12 months.

     

    $50 to Some Super Pricey Store

    Now that is just mean! Forcing someone to spend three figures in order to use your gift card will only annoy them.

    What to buy instead: Impress a luxe-loving friend with a designer label item that you picked up for cheap at a discount store, where you can find high-end accessories marked waaay down. Cut off the discount pricetag, leave on the original tag (but black out the price), and she'll never know it was a bargain.

  • So much snow the Metrodome roof collapses!

    Posted by Jessie B Hawkins

    Blizzard conditions in Southern MN this past Saturday!  Some areas saw as much as 18 inches of snow fall in one day!  The Vikings felt the sting of the snow, the Metrodome roof collapsed postponing their game against the Giants on Sunday!

  • Jason and Jessica Aldean Christmas tradition

    Posted by Jessie B Hawkins

    Jason Aldean and his wife, Jessica, have a great Christmas Eve tradition that they share with their daughters Keeley (7) and Kendyl (3). Jason tells CMT, "We always try to find a cool area where there's a lot of lights for them to go look at. We'll drive around a while and let them check that out, come home, then, my wife and my mom will bake some cookies for Santa Clause." Then on Christmas..."my wife cooks me my favorite thing to eat, and I only get them at Christmas - sausage balls, which for some people may sound disgusting, but it's sausage and cheese and they are insanely good! You don't have to get me any presents, just make me those and I'm a happy man."

    I'm making a trip to Bentleyville and driving around our neighborhood to look at Christmas lights and decorations our family Christmas tradition.  And of course we'll bake cookies and leave a few out for Santa with a glass of milk and a carrot for his reindeer.  It's so precious how children have faith like a lion and are so filled with excitement for Christmas morning. 

    What traditions do you and your family have for celebrating the Christmas season? Jason Aldean and Jessica

  • Raymond

    Posted by Jessie B Hawkins

    This song is amazing, I love it so I thought I'd share the video to it.  Brett Eldredge - "Raymond"  Enjoy - and might want to have some kleenex handy...