Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Sea Turtles: National Geographic Kids

Sea Turtles by Laura Marsh, National Geographic Kids, Washington, D.C., 2011.
Many things in this little book about Sea Turtles of which I  was not aware.  For example, there are six different types of sea turtles.  Five types have shells, but one type, the largest type of sea turtle, does not have a shell.  This is the leatherback.  Instead of a shell it has rubbery skin with bones underneath.  The Kemp Ridley is the smallest sea turtle.  It is also the most endangered.  The Olive Ridley has an olive color.  The flat back has the flattest body.  The green turtle is the only sea turtle which likes to warm itself in the sand on the beach.  The hawksbill usually stays closer to the surface.  Turtles are reptiles.  The breath like we do.  They must stay close to the surface, but some can dive  very far down.  However they must resurface to take another breath.  Some things we can do to help turtles, pick up trash on the beach and don't let trash get in the ocean.  Flying balloons by the ocean can be especially bad.  Help pick up trash.  Turn of unnecessary lights by the ocean as lights can confuse the turtles.  Follow warning signs about turtle hatching  areas.  Stay away.  You can accidentally step on a nest.  Tell others about turtles and how to keep them safe.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Bobette and Charlie Giles

The Giles Memorial Park, the park outside where the Boys and Girl's Club is located in Manteca is named for Charlie and Bobette Giles.   This bench in Woodward Park is dedicated to Charlie Giles.  Who are Charlie and Bobette Giles and how are they important to Manteca?
Charlie Leo Giles, with his wife, built Mountain Valley Express trucking Company.  He founded the company in 1976 with just one truck and built the company to 400 vehicles and 250 employees.  The  company was known for its safety record.  However he is honored not only for his business successes, although that is part of the equation.  He and his wife Bobette were always big supporters of the Manteca Boys & Girls Club.  They are among those who made the club possible, supported it though out their lives, and even made donations to the club in their wills.  Charlie Giles also supported the Manteca Morning Rotary.  Bobette ran a restaurant, and would take the left overs at the en of the day to a programs feeding the homeless.  Mr. Giles passed away in 2003.  His family continues to run the business which now has terminals throughout the Western United States.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Santa Clara Tower: Dedicated to Safety

At the Santa Clara Station is a tower, which is an unusual feature for a train station.  It is the building most noticed at the station for those on the train.  I can understand a tower at an airport.  This tower was once a very important hub for train transportation as from this tower many tracks were monitored and regulated, and red lights displayed to avoid accident.  It has now been replaced by a modern looking pole of lights.  I don't know from where the train lines are monitored now, but there must be a central place with someone monitoring the trains.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Mesa Verde: Spruce Tree House

Spruce Tree House, The Mesa Verde Museum Association.
Mesa Verde was inhabited by the Anasazi around 1200.  Spruce Tree House is the third largest cliff dwelling in Mesa Verde.  It was likely the residence of about 100 people.  When discovered by White people, they entered by climbing a Douglas Spruce Tree, which was later cut down.  From this tree the cliff dwelling takes its name.  The structure included eight Kivas, many dwelling rooms, and refuse rooms, as well as storage rooms.  Many of the windows and doors were built in a t fashion.  Many of the walls were covered with a plaster, into which there were designs at times.   A Kiva had a natural ventilation system.  They included a Firepit, and a Sipapu (often now missing) which represented the hole through which man came to Earth.

Book Review: My Story: Elizabeth Smart with Chris Stewart

My Story: Elizabeth Smart with Christ Stewart, St. Martin's Press, New York, 2013.
This book is a very good and quick read.  It is about a fourteen year old girl, who writes her own story, and the couple who stole her away from her family.  It describes the man, Bryan David Mitchell, a self-proclaimed prophet, who took her and raped her daily, saying she was his wife.  Also his wife, Wanda Barzee, who did nothing to stop this descent into depravity.  The descent "below all things" as Mitchell said was his goal, included consumption of alcohol, drugs, rape, homelessness, hunger, thirst, living outdoors, pornography,  a cruel steel cord around her ankle, and other acts unable to even be mentioned.  Smart does an excellent job of portraying these events in a sensitive way.  At times she admits there is worse, but does not go into specifics.  Sometimes specifics are not needed. 
She also talks of surviving such an ordeal.  At one point, early on, she feels death, suicide would be better than what she is enduring, but finally concludes she must survive.
This is a book of faith and miracles.  She finds comfort in feeling God's spirit, and that of her deceased grandfather.  She also receives miracles, rain when it was needed, and a glass of water when she was dying of thirst.
It is difficult to imagine someone so evil as to do these things to another human being.  However, Mitchell was not a prophet, but a pedophile who would manipulate and do whatever he needed to establish control. 
There are times this book brings tears.  When she talks about the pain of her parents.  Being a father I empathize when this.  However, her rescue also brings great joy, and again tears. 
She finally talks of resiliency, the power to overcome.    She drew strength from the words of her mother--don't let this person steal more of your life.  Be happy.  There is a great lesson there.
I highly recommend this book.  Even though it describes terrible events, it is a book about overcoming and moving on.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Book Review: Lighthouses of California

Lighthouses of California: A Guidebook and Keepsake, by Bruce Roberts and Ray Jones, Insiders' Guide, Guilford, Connecticut, 2005.
This is a fascinating reference book, which leads me to adding a new bucket list.  I have visited a few California lighthouses, but not very many.  There is the one close to Rodeo Beach which always closes before we get there.  Cabrillo Point in San Diego.  There is the one on Yerba Buena we drove past, but it is hard to see from the road.  There is one north of Santa Cruz.
Any way, back to the book.  This book adds a historical context for the light houses.  Why were they built? and what is the history.  Some have been rebuilt, many modernized with modern lights.  Most are now automated.  Some include fog horns.  I am most interested in northern California light houses, and have a personal goal to visit Point Arenas.  This is a tall one.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Moche (of Peru) Burials Uncovered

by Christopher B. Donnan photographs Kenneth Garret and art by Christopher A. Klein, National Geographic, March 2001.
The Moche predate the Inca by about 1000 years.  They inhabited the northern coast of Peru.  This article tells of the discovery of three tombs, whole and intact.  This find is rare in this area where people have been looting for 300 years.  The 105 foot pyramid at Dos Cabezas had been virtually destroyed by Conquistadores looking for gold.  It has also been pock marked by those seeking artifacts.  However these tombs were left undisturbed, and provide a wealth of information about the people.  This included a ceramic death mask.  It also included miniature tombs, a model of the actual tombs.   There were artistic potteries of animals which are very fascinating.
There are mysteries surrounding the Moche people, where did they come form and where did they go.  The inhabited one of the most arid regions on earth, and did so with irrigation methods.  They were there form about 100 a.d to 800 a.d.  They appear to have had classes, as one of the tombs honors someone of some import.  The people found appear to have been related.  They are unique in that the seem larger than other Moche people who were generally short.