I’m still here!!!

Hello everyone! I am still here and Girl says she will help me post a new blog soon! Thank goodness, I told her, because I have so much to share from the last 18 months! #StayTuned 😄

Modern Day Pen Pals

Hello everyone! I know it’s been a long time since I wrote a blog post, and I apologize! We’ve been so busy renovating The Bear Cave that I’ve not had time to focus on anything else. But I’m here now, ready to post some thoughts that are very dear to my furry little heart: Furiends around the world!

Thanks to technology, a simple little Bear like me has made wonderful furiends all over the world. I get to have interesting and uplifting conversations with people in Europe, Australia, other parts of America, and small scattered places everywhere! I have gotten to know other bears, cats, dogs, zebras, tigers, elephants, humans, and all sorts of other curious creatures! We share our daily lives, funny stories, and sad experiences, and bond over everything from shared sports teams to saving those less fortunate. I’ve learned that, despite our differences or our distances, we are all the same inside! We all love our friends and family, we all have hobbies and interests that are important to us, and we all are interested in the bigger world out there! We are modern day pen pals!

A lot of my furiends are on Twitter (you can follow me at at @IamDieselBear), but I’m also connected to the world via Instagram (iamdieselbear), Facebook (Diesel Bear), and of course here on WordPress (iamdieselbear.wordpress.com)!  At times, it seems overwhelming keeping up with all these sites, and I must admit that a LOT of the posts are cross-shared, resulting in my seeing the same thing three times on three pages. But, it’s still worth it…and it makes me feel less silly (or annoying) to be sharing my own thoughts four times!

We become family to each other, my online furiends and me. When someone has not posted for a few days, words of worry go around! Has anyone heard from so and so? Does anyone know if they were going on vacation or having computer problems? Who has their email to check on them? When there are health problems or losses in a furiend’s life, grief is shared and support is offered worldwide. Some might say that some stranger in another country saying they’re ‘sorry for your loss’ really doesn’t mean anything…but I think it does! I think having a large, diverse, wide-spread network of support and advice is a wonderful thing! I hope all my furiends would agree!

Traditional pen pals began with snail mail, of course! Often, school teachers would assign students pen pals as a writing exercise, for practicing spelling or penmanship. Small, envelope-fitting tokens were often exchanged, including stickers, photos, stamps, and cards. During World War II, letters were a prized thing on the front. Knowing that someone, anyone back home was taking time to write to you was very moral-boosting. Nowadays, snail-mail pen pals are mainly a prisoner thing. Because many incarcerated people are not allowed internet access, they have actual pen-and-paper correspondence.

In the vein of pen pals past, my furiends and I often exchange tokens of our homes! Postcards are always circling the world, sharing vacations and hometowns. Local delicacies, like chocolates and candies, are often shared (and critiqued!) between different countries because what’s sold in Australia may not be available in England! Many of my furiends have fabulous creative talents, and clothes and crafts are always passing through the post! I even have pins on my travel vest from furiends around the world!

It really is ‘a small world’, with many of us finding we know cousins and relatives of our furiends. Here at The Bear Cave Refuge for Unloved Bears, several of our bears are related to my online furiends! Not a week goes by that I don’t notice resemblances between my roommates and my furiends’ pictures!

I truly enjoy my techno-pen pals, or keyboard pals, or whatever we’re called nowadays, and I wouldn’t trade them for all the real-life bears in the world. I’ve learned so much about their homelands, their personal stories, and their families. And I see myself in all of them…my dreams are their dreams, my fears are their fears, and my life is their life!

D-Day +70 Years

Today, June 6th, 2014, marks the 70th anniversary of the D-Day Invasion of Normandy, France. There have been many commemorations and festivities to mark this occasion, and all have undoubtedly included reverence to General Dwight D. Eisenhower.

DDE (because typing Eisenhower repeatedly is just asking for typos!) would later go on to become the 34th President of the United States, but before the wars and the Oval Office, he was just a small town boy. His boyhood home is in Abilene, Kansas…and that’s just about 45 miles from where I live! His Presidential Library is there, as well as his final resting place, and the museum always has interesting exhibits, both traveling and permanent. The link below is for the Library’s homepage, where much of my research came from!

http://www.eisenhower.archives.gov/index.html

DDE, known by the nickname of “Ike”, was born October 14th, 1890 in Denison, Texas.  In 1892, his family moved to Abilene, Kansas.  Ike was a good student, especially interested in history, and his mother would sometimes lock his school books up until he finished his neglected chores!  He was also talented at sports, particularly baseball and football, but he also boxed, fished, hunted, trapped, camped, and liked to play poker. Abilene schools were integrated…”but when some of his football teammates refused to line up opposite a visiting African American player, Eisenhower volunteered for the position, and shook the player’s hand after the game. As a boy from the wrong side of Abilene’s class-dividing tracks, Ike knew the minimizing indecencies of prejudice all too well.”

Ike graduated from Abilene High School in 1909 and worked for 2 years at a local Creamery, 7 days a week, 6pm-6am.  In June of 1911, he entered The United States Military Academy, West Point, New York. 4 years later, in 1915, he graduated West Point , a Second Lieutenant. In 1916 he married his wife Mamie, and they had 2 children, losing one at 4 years old to Scarlet Fever. Ike went on to his amazing military career, and after retiring in 1952, ran for President that same year.

Following 2 terms, from 1953 to 1961, he was returned to active duty in the Army, by a law signed by new President John F. Kennedy. Once again a 5-star General, he kept an office at Gettysburg College and lived on a farm near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania until his death on March 28th, 1969. Dwight David Eisenhower made one final visit to Abilene, Kansas on April 2nd, 1969…to be buried in the “Place of Meditation” at the Eisenhower Center and Presidential Library. He is laid to rest alongside his wife Mamie (1979) and his first son, Doud.

The link below is for the entire Chronology of Ike’s life, including all of his military postings.

http://www.eisenhower.archives.gov/all_about_ike/chronologies.html#dde

library The Eisenhower Presidential Library

museum The Eisenhower Presidential Museum

home The Boyhood Home

chapel The Chapel/Place of Meditation

 

“The proudest thing I can claim is that I am from Abilene.” -Dwight D. Eisenhower, reflecting on his life.

 

Baseball Bear!

Hello all…long time, no blog! But I’m here today to share my baseball adventure with you! A few weeks ago, my people took me to my very first baseball game. They’ve been to games before, but this was my first and while it wasn’t terribly exciting (our team won 1-0), it was still full of neat sights that I’m going to share! Our ‘local’ team (although they are 3 hours away from us and technically belong to Missouri) is the Kansas City Royals. Kansas City sits on a river/state border, and the team (along with NFL team the Chiefs) is on the Missouri side…but we Kansans still cheer them on!

It was an evening game, but my boy Paul had to work that Saturday, so we met all the family at the stadium during the 2nd Inning. Of course, seats are not meant for big people, and we had about 6 big people in what should have been about 4 seats, so we went and explored during the uneventful game. Along with food and souvenir stands, there is a nice museum behind the Jumbo-tron. That’s where many of my photos came from!

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The giant scoreboard, as seen from the drive into the parking lot, and from the shopping places beneath/behind it! Sometimes, they shoot off fireworks from behind it! But not this time, alas.

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In 1985, the Royals won the World Series…but since then, not so much! The other claim to fame is that in 2012, they hosted the All-Star Game!

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My girl made me a catcher’s mitt, it was kind of ugly but I appreciated her effort. Maybe next time it will be Golden, like these lovely Golden Glove awards! And maybe a bit bigger…definitely gonna need a bigger mitt!

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This paw-some statue was made out of baseballs stuck together, and the people behind me got yelled at by the guards for even trying to touch it…good thing they didn’t notice me!

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There was a model of Kaufman Stadium, and this cool Statue of Liberty…who knew she was a Royals fan?!?

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We had to hit up the souvenir stand, and while my people wouldn’t get me the giant foam finger, they DID get me a pin for my travel vest…naturally!

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By the 7th Inning, it was dinner time! We had some paw-some BBQ, followed by the biggest Ice Cream Cone ever! And we watched the game the whole time!

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The Kansas City Royals won, 1-0, off an early 2nd Inning run…but the Baltimore Orioles gave us a good, last minute scare, with the bases loaded and their very last batter up! But he struck out, thankfully! We watched the end from behind the fountains…you can see them below the Jumbo-trons in the first pictures!

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That night we stayed with Grandma and Grandpa in Topeka, it’s on the way home from Kansas City. I taught some of my furiends there to play catch, and left them my mitt and ball so they could practice for my next visit!

It’s Tornado Season

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As any Bear living in Kansas will tell you, Spring is Storm Season! Well, Spring and Fall both. Many people think that Kansas, and the Midwest in general, are just overrun with storms and twisters and craziness! But that’s not really the case…the news just seems to really highlight the incidents that do occur. I’m gonna tell you all about tornadoes and the crazy weather we have here, and share some safety tips for getting through scary weather!

First, you have to understand Kansas’ unlucky location. We are in what’s called “Tornado Alley”, and that just means that several of the middle states in America get all the icky weather.

 New Inside 4col temp

And that is because we are all east of the Rocky Mountains. The cool, dry air from up around Canada and Alaska comes blowing down into America, from west to east, and runs right into the mountains. It has to kinda roll over the tall mountains, and comes spinning down onto the plains. But! While the cold air is rolling in from the Northwest, there is hot, dry air blowing up from the Southwest (think Arizona-ish desert, hot and dry)! But! There’s still more! Hot, wet air is bubbling up from the Southeast, a la the Gulf of Mexico. So…we have all these different types of air, all traveling towards the center of America, thanks to jet streams and normal Earthly wind currents.

ColdWarm

All of these different types of air, hot and cold and wet and dry, smash into each other and they create instability in the atmosphere. A change in wind direction and an increase in wind speed with increasing height creates an invisible, horizontal spinning effect down near the ground. Rising air inside the updraft tilts the rotating air from horizontal (sideways) to vertical (upright). The next thing you know, you have a Tornado: a violent, rotating column of air extending from a thunderstorm to the ground.

tornadoes[1]

Tornadoes come in several different shapes, tall and thin or low and broad. They can form out of dust, (dust devils), or over water (water spouts).  The most severe tornadoes can have winds of up to 300 miles per hour, and can travel touching land for 100 miles or more. But most tornadoes have wind speeds less than 100 miles per hour (161 kilometres per hour) and travel just few miles before exhausting themselves. In an average year, 1200 tornadoes are reported nationwide…the most of any country in the world.

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Many people only hear about Tornadoes in terms of the severity. F2’s and F3’s…but what does that mean?!? In 1971, a man named Tetsuya Fujita created a scale for Tornadoes, based on the damage left behind. Back in the day, the only way to judge a Tornado’s strength was the aftermath…wind measurement and science had not advanced enough to study such dangerous things. The “Fujita Scale” goes from “F0 to F5”, and takes into account wind speed, with references to damage from those winds. The chart below lists it all…rating, wind speed, what kind of damage is expected. In 2007 though, the scale was rewritten. It is now called the “Enhanced Fujita Scale” and goes by “EF0-5”. The Enhanced Scale is more accurate about the wind speeds and damage around a Tornado, reflecting the updates in science, building codes, and storm understanding. Many states (and countries for that matter) still use the original scale, though.

Fujita_scales

So! That’s Tornadoes in a nut shell of very basic terms! We MidWesterners are very used to storm season, but that can be a bad thing. Several States have started public awareness campaigns to remind people to take storm warnings and blaring sirens seriously. There are two main types of Tornado (and Storm, for that matter) warnings: Watches and Warnings. Watches mean that Tornadoes are possible in your area and that you should stay tuned to the radio or television news. Warnings mean that a tornado is either on the ground or has been detected by Doppler radar, and that you should seek shelter immediately! Most cities and towns in America have Storm Sirens, and they will sound for warnings or if a Tornado has been spotted near that town. However, many sirens don’t work (due to aging infrastructure, budget concerns, whatever) and people in the country certainly can’t hear them. Also, many people (especially in Tornado Alley) have become so accustomed to hearing the sirens when the slightest rain cloud appears, that they don’t take sirens seriously! Many States have started Public Service Campaigns to remind people that danger is imminent.

When the sirens do sound, or the TV weatherman tells you to seek shelter, it’s time to move! Basements are always recommended, but many houses don’t have basements or cellars. In those cases, closets, bathrooms, or the lowest interior room in the house is supposed to be safest. Many structures, especially mobile and trailer homes, are especially dangerous during Tornadoes. It’s recommended that those people leave the place and seek shelter elsewhere. Many Trailer Parks in the MidWest have cement storm cellars somewhere on the property.  The lightweight, thin-walled, poorly-anchored metal homes are no match for the high winds. Wherever you hide, you should try to get under sturdy furniture (in case of falling debris) or blankets/mattresses (in case of flying glass or debris), and hold on tight! You should always be careful when exiting a shelter, in case there are sharp debris laying around!

Many MidWesterners are also advised to keep an Emergency Kit handy. That’s got stuff like flashlights, some extra food and water, anything that you might need if the power is out or you have to leave your house for awhile. And you should always have a Disaster Plan with your family, in case you are seperated! Agree on where to meet if the kids are coming from school but you are coming from work, or pick a relative to have everyone touch base with if they are spread out. All of these things apply regardless of the situation, Tornado or Hurricane or Fire!

So, that is my blog all about Tornadoes and living here in Kansas during Storm Season! Some of my details came from Wikipedia and weatherwhizkids.com, but most of it is just known around here. I hope that next time you hear about a Tornado-ravaged town on the news, you will have a better understanding about what happened and how!

To-may-to, To-mah-to

However you say it, I love tomatoes! And my people do to, which is why I grow them some in my garden! Last year, I didn’t get the tomatoes planted until June, and I had to hurry and pick them all green because the autumn frosts came! This was only a fourth of them…this bear had tomatoes coming out his furry little ears!

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This year, the last snow has finally passed and I am about to plant my tomatoes outside! I have the baby plants inside right now, and I’ve been watering them and keeping them in our sunniest window!

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Besides the little plants to go out in my garden, I am keeping a Cherry Tomato plant inside this summer! I just noticed today that the first little cherries are growing! I can’t wait to pick them off and eat them. It’s just kind of sad they are only one bite…I might need more plants!

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