Steve, Ed, Sarah and I went to Starved Rock State Park Today.  It was fun, a s
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I cut some grass and then cooked out....charcoal briquets fired up and grille bratwurst and polish sausage, pork chops, veggie babs and corn.   Yum

Well, there is a change in plans.  I will not go up to Michigan tomorrow, but instead go to Iowa on Sunday through Tuesday.  Later, I will go to Michigan, probably the following weekend.  Ah, the plans change as quickly as the weather can change.
It looks like I'll be heading up to Michigan to see my brother Phil and his family, and help him out with some home improvements.  Then, we'll head back to Joliet and then drive out to Iowa to see my sister Becky and her family.  Then, return to Joliet, and maybe go up to Wisoncsin to see my brother Bernie.  It will be a busy time.
I am back home in the USA to visit family, friends, and do a little busy business.  It's July 23rd, Friday, and I got back here on Tuesday the 20th, so exhausted, severely jet lagged, but intact.  

It's good to be back, but I miss my girl in China.

I also turned forty five on the fourteenth of July, so I'm now officially old.  Mid life crisis, here I come!

Wednesday saw us bucking 104 bales of hay for my sister's horse fodder for the year in 90 degree heat.  That tuckered me out pretty severelly, then I hang out with the nephews and nieces and yucked it up.  We went and got chicken at the white fence farm and then serious sweet corn from Glascock's and had a nice dinner, then got a bottle of red wine and relaxed for the rest of the night.

Thursday saw me starting to reduce a huge branch from a mulberry tree that had fallen down in my mother's yeard perhaps two months ago.  I cut off some branches and hauled them to the periphery of the property, and will do a little bit of that every day.

Today, I have to call about my visa, make arrangements to send up my passport and ship out some things that I sold this week on (a dvd series box set, a cd and a software suite), so I made $200 this week, woo hoo!  Also twenty bucks for buckin' hay.

Next will see us go out to see my sister in Iowa and maybe go see my brother in Wisconsin and another brother in Michigan.

'Red hot' chillies arrive at frozen seed vaultPage last updated at 08:22 GMT, Tuesday, 13 July 2010 09:22 UK

By Mark Kinver
Science and environment reporter, BBC News
Chillies cultivated by Native Americans are among those entering the vaultSeeds from some of North America's hottest food crops have arrived on the Arctic Archipelago of Svalbard to be stored in a "doomsday vault".

The consignment of chilli seeds was delivered to the frozen outpost by a delegation of seven US senators.

Built deep inside a mountain, the vault is designed protect the world's main food plants from future disasters.

Since opening in 2008, it has stored seeds from more than half a million of the planet's crops.

"The chillies really are an interesting story," said Cary Fowler, executive director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, which funds the operation and management of the seed vault.

Continue reading the main storyThe seed vault in Svalbard will be the safety deposit box that ensures that we can keep that food supply intact

Benjamin Cardin,Democrat Senator for Maryland"They are traditional varieties; they have colourful names and histories," he told BBC News.

"A number of the varieties were provided by a fantastic group of nine US government organisations called Native Seed Search who work with Native American communities.

"These (chilli plant) varieties have been safeguarded for a long time and long may it continue," Dr Fowler added

"But that - of course - depends on an unbroken chain going into the future and you can never really count on such a thing."

In from the cold

Among the varieties to be deposited in the vault was Wenk's Yellow Hots, a pepper that starts out yellow and hot before losing some of its potency and turning red.

The remote, frozen landscape provides an ideal backdrop for the vaultAnother specimen was the "unpredictable" San Juan Tsile, described as a pepper with a heat that has been described as "ranging as anything from mild to medium to hot".

This particular variety is still cultivated by elder farmers in a Native American community in New Mexico.

The group delivering the seeds was led by Benjamin Cardin, Democrat Senator for Maryland, who said the all parts of the world were interdependent when it came to crop diversity.

"As we manage the impact of climate change around the world, the seed vault in Svalbard will be the safety deposit box that ensures that we can keep that food supply intact," he said.

The seeds from the chilli plants, along with other samples such as soy, melon and sorghum, were provided by the US Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Plant Germplasm, based in Colorado.

"[We] have a strong commitment to sharing our crop diversity to ensure that Svalbard is well positioned to protect the world's genetic diversity," explained Edward Knipling, administrator for the USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS).

The seeds are preserved at a temperature of -18C (-0.4F) in two secure store rooms located 130m (426ft) inside a mountain.

The vault has been designed to store duplicates of seeds from collections from all around the world.

If the nation's seeds are lost as a result of a natural disaster, such as widespread flooding, the seed collections could be re-established using the specimens stored in the Arctic.

The £5m ($7m) facility took 12 months to build and opened in February 2008.

There was a gas leak in our kitchen in our apartment yesterday.  My girlfriend cooked lunch at 2 PM-3 PM.  Little did we know that the gas had sprung a leak near to the stove (from corrosion),   It was a super hot day here in Shenzhen, so I closed both doors to the kitchen (one leads outside to the hot porch, the other to the air conditioned living room).  Fortunately for us, though we stayed in the apartment for another 4 or 5 hours before going out to dinner, we did not succumb to the gas.  At 8:30, we went out for some Guangdong style food, and returned with a couple of beers and duck neck at about 9:30.  I went to the kitchen and smelled the strong smell of gas, so I opened the door to the porch to areate the room, and we called building security to make sure that things were not going to blow.  

We have read that a slight spark from a light switch or electrical outlet would be all that is needed to explode a gas leak.
and so we are really lucky.  At about 5 PM, I had made coffee from my coffee machine, which often sparks when turned on or off.

So, we had to wait until this morning that the gas company could come and assess the problem, and make sure the valve cut off the gas flow.

Tomorrow, an additional technician will come to replace the faulty pipe and valve system, so that we can cook again.

My gf's father tried to save a baby bird yesterday, but the bird died in the evening.  My gf's grandmother thinks that the bird had to die to save our lives.  It's a pretty good exchange, but the idea isn't exactly scientific.

The reading of events and omens is the provender of the Yi Qing and the traditional.  But who knows?  Maybe there is more to life than meets the eye.

I am completely appalled by this poll. 4 out of 10 Americans aged 18-29 do not know that the United States declared independence from Great Britain (England)!!!!!

Wake up, America!

Tomorrow is Independence Day, July 4th, 2010. On July 4, 1776, Thomas Jefferson's Declaration of Independence was signed and adopted. The 13 former British colonies had declared independence from England.

Check out the poll here:’t-know-much-about-history/ and here:
The epic three day Battle of Gettysburg was fought between July 1 and July 3, 1863.  This was the "high tide" of the Confederacy, and was a Union victory, which turned the tide of the war.  On the same day, Vicksburg fell in the west.  These two victories marked the beginning of the end for the Confederacy, with nearly two bloody years of fighting before the American Civil War would end.

On July 2nd, the day's fighting included actions in the Peach Orchard, the Wheat Field, Devil's Den, Culp'and Little Roundtop.
I have returned from Hong Kong, having spent five days there.  My reasons for going were two-fold: to get a new visa for China and to get an eye examination and new glasses.  The relaxation was just a side effect.  I went on Sunday, had a lovely dinner in the airport, then applied for a multiple entry, six month visa and went to my hotel in Silvermine Bay.  The next day, Monday, I ventured to Kowloon, and found a Lenscrafters and had an eye exam.  Good news, I do not have glaucoma.  Bad news, I had to pay five thousand hong kong dollars for the exam and two pair of new glasses, one for reading, and one for every day 'going out' use.  Had to wait two days for the visa and three days for the glasses, so stayed in the hotel and had some lovely hikes and dinners, and visited the Big Buddha.

Disappointment....I spent two thousand eight hundred hong kong dollars for what became a single entry, fifteen day visa to china.  I suspect they ripped me off, but until my gf comes back from hunan and calls the embassy, I won't know for sure.