Dec 30, 2011


Chickadees Are My Favorite Winter Bird

When I exit from the kitchen door in wintertime I am greeted
by the chickadees at the feeder filled with sunflower seeds.

I find this little bird endearing with lots of personality.
They let me know when the feeder is empty.
While I refill it they can hardly wait to take a seed.
They never eat at the feeder but fly to a nearby branch
and dehull the seed.

The NY DEC has a page up from the Conservationist magazine
discussing the various winter birds we see at our feeders. (LINK)

The photos are by Jeff Nadler who works in
Finance for  General Electric in Schenectady, NY.
More of his bird photography can be viewed at his web site.

If you like to venture beyond your backyard bird feeder
click on the Link to Watchable Wildlife.

The Sapsucker Woods
across from the Ithaca Airport off Rt 13 is my favorite place.


George Vanderwoude

Dec 29, 2011


Every day we are bombarded by news about
findings and conclusions in medical research along with advice
about our health.

It is a never ending stream.
Most of it confusing and possibly slanted due to
corporate money moving behind the scenes.

At one finds a nugget now and then.

Click this link and view a 14 minutes video
putting a valid perpective on it all.

George Vanderwoude

Dec 21, 2011



If you travel or are have vision problems you may have
been thinking about acquiring audiobooks.

A visit to one of the book store chains
is not likely to persuade you to build
a library of audiobooks.

Audiobooks are expensive.
Sometimes there is a sale but maybe the titles
are not appealing enough to make
you part with
your money.

In 2005 an author, Hugh McGuire, living in Montreal
set up a blog and posed the question:
"Can the net harness a bunch of volunteers to help bring books
in the public domain to life through podcasting?"

The result as of this writing is a library of 5279 items,
consisting of unabridged books to shorter items.
All works are in the public domain so no copyright issues.
Librivox has become the most prolific publisher since 2007.
The Audiobook Library can be accessed by clicking here.

Ninety percent of the books are in English.
The remaining 10% represents more than 30 languages.

Recent downloads:
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
Christmas Poetry and Hymn Collection
Great Expectations
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
The Art of War
Moby Dick, or the Whale
Pride and Prejudice
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
A Tale of Two Cities

You can search for titles or authors as well as by genre or language.
One can also look for all works read by a particular volunteer.

I have fond memories of a book of my youth, rich with illustrations,
which I read many times.

The Adventures of Reddy Fox
by Thornton W. Burgess

To access the Reddy Fox library page click here.

You can listen to the book online or download it in various formats.
MP3 format is available in two speeds.
An audio CD at Amazon will set you back $49.95 (LINK)

George VanderWoude


The Guardian, a British Newspaper, is runnning a
series of pictures of kids photographed in Santa's lap.
It appears that kids would rather be somewhere else.
Here is one of the pictures from the series.


George Vanderwoude


About 40% of police officers screened positive for at least one sleep disorder
in a study published by
Charles Czeisler, MD, PhD,
Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, MA.
The majority of the police officers had not been diagnosed
with sleep disorders previously.
It affected their driving performance and resulted in administrative errors etc.
Police officers have irregular schedules and work at odd hours.
Consequently they are at greater risk for sleep disorders and injuries.
Body weight was also a factor.
The study included 4,957 officers from the U.S. and Canada
between July 2005 and December 2007.
Journal of the American Medical Association



A few weeks ago on a late afternoon I am driving west on
Jennings Creek Road toward Route 221 in the Town of Lapeer.

The sun is low above the horizon and
I am slowing down because it blinds me.

As I approach the Amish Schools I discern the silhouettes of two
Amish men on an open buggy driving toward me.
I slow down some more.

The men are wearing bright orange striped hunting vests
and orange Amish hats.
They wave and I lift my hand off the steering wheel.

In the rearview mirror I see the licenses pinned to their vests.

The Amish don’t want their pictures taken but if there ever was an
opportunity for a good photo this was one.

Off the highway on Hunts Corners Road I notice an
Amish man operating a sawmill.

Having been born with a tendency to ask questions
I swing into his driveway.

“Hi, my name is George Vanderwoude and
I am wondering if I could ask you a question?”

“Sure, go ahead”.

“I just saw the most startling thing I have seen recently,
two Amish men with bright orange hats and hunting vests”.

Jason (not his real his name) smiles.

“Do the Amish people hunt?”

“Oh yes we love hunting”.

This begs for more questions.

His brother and many others own gun collections.
Shotguns, rifles, muzzle loaders and air guns for the kids.
Many of them are no stranger to archery.

Since then I have become acquainted with Jason’s brother in law
who cuts deer and processes meat into a bologna
that makes me sneak to the fridge in the middle of the night.
The seasoning is unequalled.

The deer processing sign at Hunts Corners (four corners)
has been replaced with a sign
for blacksmith/horse-shoeing services.

I am thinking of slaughtering a cow.
A steady supply of Amish Bologna makes my mouth water.

George Vanderwoude

For more information about Amish hunting
click on

Dec 12, 2011


On December 2, 2011 the Christian Science Monitor published an article
about food waste in the U.S. (LINK)

According to the Monitor more than
34 million tons of food is wasted in the U.S. every year.
Most of it ends up in landfills creating
voluminous amounts of methane gas

which is more damaging to the environment than carbon dioxide (CO2).

“American Wasteland: How America Throws Away Nearly Half of Its Food”
A book written by Jonathan Bloom wo also
writes a blog called Wasted Food  (LINK) is quoted as stating:
“On a fundamental level it doesn’t make sense to me that
we waste so much food when
so many other people have trouble getting food.”

Quote from the Monitor:
"He estimates that as much as 25 percent of the
food we bring into our homes is wasted.

 The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO LINK) reports
that annually an estimated one-third of the food produced
for human consumption worldwide is wasted."

According to an article published in the
 Health Section of
The New York Times

A quarter to half of all food produced in the United States goes uneaten,
left in fields, spoiled in transport,
thrown out at the grocery store,

scraped into the garbage or forgotten until it spoils.

According to a to a Tompkins County study

40% of food waste occurs in the home.

A survey by the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab
indicated that 90% of consumers bought food they never used.

What Happens When Food turns to Waste?  (link)
A new study states that the Brits living in London produce food waste
which emits 6.3 million tons of greenhouse gases per year.

In the U.S. 18% of landfill waste is food.

If your family spends $160.00 per week on food and one quarter
of it goes to waste you lose $40.00 per week adding up to $2,080.00 annually.


George Vanderwoude

Link to You Tube video "Food Waste is Money Waste"

The Cornell University Food and Brand Lab
features an interesting Lesson Planning Section.

Dec 9, 2011


In the good old days when we had something to sell
or were looking for a bargain
we turned to the classified ads in the Pennysaver or the local newspaper.

However, the Internet has mostly superseded that in the form of

Searching on Craigslist is tedious and time consuming.
In New York State the number of areas covered by Craigslist
has grown to:
finger lakes
glens falls
hudson valley
long island
new york city
twin tiers NY/PA
The listing of these areas can be found on
Craigslist by clicking HERE ON THIS LINK.

Based on the information provided in the previous "Google Search" post
 you may be persuaded to search with the "Google Operators"
site: horse trailer
This search will not yield the results you are looking for.
You will get better results with horse trailer
The locations displayed are all over the U.S. and you will
have to click on every listing that seems to be within a
reasonable travel distance.
Very frustrating and time consuming and no pictures.
There may be a very nice trailer for sale in California but
do you want to travel across the continent to pick up a used horse trailer?

The best way to search Craigslist is to point your browser to
Click on image for larger version.
Here you can select distance from your zip code and
what you are looking for.
You can also select to include Ebay and Amazon
as well as Category and Sub-Category.
There is a checkbox to select listings with pictures only.
In the bar on the top you can enable widgets.
When the search has been completed you will be shown
the results in blocs per location.
It will include trailers of various types from boat to utility trailers.

As in the Google Search quotation marks work in Search Tempest also.
Narrow the search to "horse trailer".

At the top of a bloc listing you can select to show the pictures in the listings.
Once you are done viewing a "location bloc"
you can "X" it to cut down on clutter.

George VanderWoude

Dec 8, 2011

Robot Flying Like A Bird

A Robot modeled after a Herring Gull
flies over the audience at the
Edinburgh International Conference Center

Plenty of robots can fly -- but none can fly like a real bird.
That is, until Markus Fischer and his team at
built SmartBird,
a large, lightweight robot,
modeled on a seagull,
that flies by flapping its wings.
More videos at

George V

Google Search - How To

So you want to search via and come up with some nuggets?
The words you type into the Google search box can lead you everywhere.
However, if you are familar with what are called "Google Operators"
your search will be considerably more effective.

Example Number 1:
You want to search the web site of the Marathon Central School District
for the Board of Education Minutes.
Type in the following: Board minutes
The results will surprise you with 3 pages of links.
This is a search for specific information at a given web site.

Example Number 2:
To search the New York State Education Department web site
for Marathon.
Type in: marathon
The result is about 11 pages of links.
If you would like to refine the search to the school only marathon school
If you were to type in "marathon central school"
you would get less satisfactory results.

Example Number 3:
Let's assume you are interested in acquiring knowledge
about crow families.
Now we are looking for files pertaining to the
characteristic of crows
and their families.
Type in:
crow families
The results are quite interesting and range all over.
However, you are interested in finding some *.pdf files
describing crows and their families.
filetype:pdf crow bird intitle:family

Never ask Google a question like:
"What is the airspeed velocity of swallows?"
It is better to look for pdf files because much research is published in the
form of the ubiquitous Acrobat Reader format of .pdf files.
filetype:pdf air speed intitle:velocity of *swallow
The asterisk is inserted to encourage Google
to insert qualifying words or phrases.

Example Number 4:
You are interested in learning everything that has been published
in connection with Congressional Representative Richard Hanna.
If you were to type in just the first and last name you would
receive results of
Hanna and Richard in all sorts of
To limit the search as much as possible to Richard Hanna
type in
"Richard Hanna"
between quotation marks.
If you scan down to the bottom of the page you will notice
clickable suggestions for other searches relating to Richard Hanna.

Example Number 4:
You are interested in publications by an author.
Type in
author:"Karen Johnson-Weiner"
To narrow and limit searches to specific
information always use quotation marks "......" as operators.

Google Images Is Fun
After you have opened your browser to
click on the "images" tab shown in the upper left hand
of the page. This should open up to

If you were to type in
you will be shown thumbnails of pictures from everywhere
and about anything. So let us narrow it down with
"Marathon NY"
This is as good as it can get even though you are shown
pictures of Marathon Runners in and around Manhattan.
You will notice different results if you insert a comma between the words.

You should wait for the page being loaded.
Then mouse over the thumbnails for a brief description.
Right click on the thumbnail and select to open it in new tab.

I will end this post with showing some pictures listed down the page.

The McEvoy Family exhibiting one of their dairy cows.

The Gerald Johnson Collection of
Snow Plow Equipment
at Clark's Corners.


George Vanderwoude 

Dec 4, 2011

Menno Simons and Mennonites

Let's start in
Witmarsum, Province of Friesland, The Netherlands

In A.D. 1496 a boy was born there and baptized in the Roman Catholic Church
Minne Symens.
His father's name was Symen  therefore he was designated as
"Minne son of Symen".
A patronymic system in use by the Friesians at that time.
Friesians speak a language different from the Dutch.
(The Netherlands is officially bi-lingual).
Minne called his father and mother  "Heit"and "Mem".
In the Dutch language it is "Vader" and "Moeder"
more like the German "Vater" and "Mutter".
Minne Symens (referred to as Menno Simons in Dutch) was a
very bright young man and as such the priesthood was in his future.
He was educated in Latin and Greek in a school
near Bolsward and later in Utrecht where he was ordained at age 24.
At age 28 he reports himself to be a Roman Catholic priest
assigned to the parish in the village of Pingjum in Friesland.
A 45 minutes walk from Witmarsum.
According to ancient manuscripts his father hailed from Pingjum.
His father was a well to do dairy farmer.
Minne Symens was not the only priest in the parish.
There was no shortage of priests in those times.
In A.D. 1521 the total population of Friesland was listed as 75,000.
Number of priests 2,000.
Monasteries 50.
As a "vicar" Minne Symens had an easy and good time in Pingjum.
He was sought after as an excellent and popular preacher.
His superior was a man who according to Minne's writings
"was man who did not lift the heavy end of a beam".

As to his appearance:
A contemporary scribe described Minne Symens as
"heavy set, big framed, irregular face and a brown beard,".
It is also mentioned that he had a hard time moving around.

Later in life he desribed himself
as "Menno Symons de Creupele".
("Creupele" translates into "cripple").

In 1531 we find Minne Symens back in Witmarsum as the head of the parish.
He is now called "pastoor".
This meant that he was also overseeing the land holdings of
the local Roman Catholic Church.
He wrote that it was an easy job.
All he had to do was copy what others did.
But changes were afoot.

In 1517 Martin Luther had nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the door
of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany thus initiating
the Protestant Reformation and subsequent turmoil in the Holy Roman Empire.
The times were turbulent and warring factions of nobles
caused much suffering and death among the local population.

Minne Symens had never really studied or read the Bible,
but he wrote later that many times when he handled
the bread and wine at Mass he doubted very much
that it was literally the flesh and blood of Christ.
In 1531 Sikke Freerks, a taylor in the city of Leeuwarden (Capital of Friesland)
was beheaded because "he had renewed his baptism".
Minne Symens wrote that he knew of Freerk's faith
and beliefs and that his death stuck a dagger in his heart.
He started studying the Bible and came to the conclusion
that "infant baptism" had no basis in the scriptures.
He wrote that he discovered that he was misled about the Eucharist and Baptism.
As a consequence he broke with the Roman Catholic Church
on January 30th, 1536 after his brother Pieter Symens was put to death
with 300 Anabaptists near Bolsward, Friesland.
The men were beheaded or hanged and the women
were tied into sacks and drowned in the nearby canal.
His brother Pieter was a "Münsterite". See below.

He travelled to Groningen, NL where he was rebaptized
and married Geertruydt Hooyer from Witmarsum.
Subsequently the newlyweds took up residence in
Oldersum, Northwest Germany.
About 100 miles by car from his birthplace.
Google Maps:

In 1525 Anabaptists in Switzerland had started a movement looking for a radical
reformation of the prevailing Roman Catholic social order.
They wanted to introduce baptism at an adult age
and diminish the influence of rulers in the churches.
Some early Anabaptists (Münsterites) resorted to violent tactics.(Link)
Despite the fact that the majority of the Anabaptists adhered to pacifism
and nonviolence the governments intensified
the persecutions and many Anabaptists were killed.
 See "Martyrs Mirror".(Link)

Menno Simons strongly disagreed with the violent tactics of the Münsterites.

The Anabaptists lacked a strong and educated leader.
Minne Symens (now referred to as Menno Simons) felt he had a calling
to minister to the demoralized and scattered Anabaptists (Wiedertäufer).
He made long and secret voyages to the Anabaptist congregations in
the Netherlands and Northern Germany
preaching, baptizing and serving Holy Communion

He was also a prolific writer.
In A.D.1539 he published "Dat Fundament des Christelycken Leers"
(Foundation Book at Amazon. Link).

Even though The Holy Roman Emperor Charles V offered a substantial sum
of golden guilders for the head of Menno Simons he was never caught.
He continued to travel throughout the Netherlands and Germany preaching and writing.
In the process establishing a printing press to circulate Anabaptist teachings.
Menno Simons took the Bible literally, sometimes even legalistically.
The emphasis was on Christian living rather than doctrine.
He defended the doctrine of the Trinity.
However, he refused to use the term because it did not appear in Scripture.
As Menno Simons continued travelling. His family had to flee many times.
In AD 1554 he wrote that he and his family had been refugees for 18 years.
Multiple times he wrote of his wife being "sickly".
She died between 1553 and 1558.
In 1553 he sent greetings from his wife.
In 1558 he sent greetings from his daughters only.
His son (Jan) and his wife were presumably not alive anymore at that time.

The marriage produced one son and at least two daughters.
Only one daughter survived his death in 1561.
In his last years he was occupied with the doctrine of
shunning excommunicated church members.
However, in all his writings (more than 40 exist to this day), he always began
by quoting the Apostle Paul's letter to the Corinthians:
"No other foundation can any one lay
than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ."

At age 66, he became ill on the twenty-fifth anniversary of his renunciation
of the Roman Catholic Church.
He died a natural death the following day January 31, 1561
in a house at a nobleman's estate located near
Bad Oldesloe, Northern Germany.
Here he had been provided a safe haven several years earlier.

At the end of the 16th century approx. 25% of the Friesians had become Mennonites.
 They were awarded limited freedom of religion in 1595.
Small churches were allowed to be built,
but these churches could not be visible from the throroughfares.
The Mennonites built churches with facades looking like regular dwellings.

Monument commemorating Menno Simons in Witmarsum, Friesland.
Today Menno Simons has close to one million folllowers worldwide.

Submitted by George VanderWoude

Dec 2, 2011

H.R.1148 adresses insider trading by Congress

What's this you say?
Members of Congress trade stocks on "Insider Information"?
Yes they do.
For members of Congress it is legal and frequently done.
On November 13, 2011 CBS-60 minutes aired a segment about
members of Congress trading stock on inside information..

Why is it legal?
Inside information is also called non-public information.
Following is a qoute from:
"Like everyone else, members of Congress
are subject to current insider trading laws.
However, current insider trading laws do not apply to nonpublic information
about current or upcoming congressional activity --
that's because members of Congress aren't
technically obligated to keep that information confidential.

So, for instance, if a lawmaker learns an upcoming bill
will grant a company a large government contract, which could boost that company's stock,
he or she is free to buy that stock ahead of the bill's public introduction.
This form of "insider trading" is one of the reasons
why there are so many wealthy members of Congress

If you would like to keep track of Congress you can point your browser to:

It is an interesting web site to keep track of the happenings on Capitol Hill.
To keep track of H.R.1148 also called the "Stock Act' visit

In the right hand margin you can select to email your Congressional representative
or share the page with friends.

Submitted by George Vanderwoude