JusJoJan: Octopus

Todays Just Jot It January prompt is: words that start with “oc”. I always found octopi to be extremely interesting creatures. I like to watch them at the zoo. They’re super smart and curious. There is a large variety around the world (about 300 species), from tiny little ones the size of your thumb to the giant pacific octopus, where one was measured at 30 ft across it’s arms!

Check out the video for a quick introduction to the octopi. 😉

Thursday Treat- Turtles!

I had a real treat yesterday! I got to go to NOAAs research facility in Galveston and learn all about what they’re doing with the sea turtles there.

I only found out about this whole thing last week. I happened to Google ‘things to do in Galveston” and one of the things listed was a sea turtle tour. I had known about the turtles in the back of my mind, since I’ve known about the turtle patrol and the efforts to protect the turtles along our beaches.

When I heard of this tour, I thought it would be interesting, so I called and signed up.

They only have the tours on Thursdays, and you have to make an appointment beforehand. It’s free. 🙂

Apparently I got there a little late (tho not by my watch). The room was full and they were already discussing all sorts of things about the program. Tip: Arrive early!

The tours are put on by volunteers. Thursday’s presentation was led by the team of John and Lynn Wright- “master naturalists”. They did a great job of explaining the situation with sea turtles today and what NOAA is doing with them in Galveston.

They started with a slide show explaining the facts that there are 7 total species of sea turtles and 5 of them can be found in the Gulf of Mexico. Those include (from smallest to largest): Kemp’s ridley, Hawksbill, Loggerhead, Green and Leatherback.

They showed us how to tell what kind of turtle we see (if they have 4 ‘scutes’ they’re either green or hawksbill, if they have 5 they’re either Kemp’s ridley or loggerhead- leatherback doesn’t have any).

They described turtle life cycles and what kind of food they liked to eat. They showed some amazing movies of the arribada from the late 1950’s. Thousands of female sea turtles arriving on the Texas beaches.

Then they showed a slide telling the sad story of their decline since we’ve become more ‘advanced’. Decimating all 7 of the turtle species, by eating their eggs, catching them in nets while fishing for other species, killing them with our pollution (especially plastic), destroying their habitat…

They also mentioned a few things we can do to help protect the turtles. Mainly- reduce your use of resources, especially plastic. Dispose of trash properly. Reuse and recycle. Help clean up the beaches and waterways. Take care with your fishing gear. If you see a sea turtle, its tracks or nest on the beach call 1-866-TURTLE-5 

I learned yesterday that the Kemp’s ridley has been designated the official state sea turtle of Texas. The Wrights informed us that in 1985 there were 400 nests after a large drop in numbers, in 2017 there were 353. They found 3 right here in Surfside (and 1 on Quintana)! They said there’s been some recovery. I hope so.

After the slide show, the Wrights led us over to the turtle barn where we could see all the little turtles. First, we got a chance to see how a TED (turtle excluder device) works. The kids were happy to run through the net and escape- acting as surrogate sea turtles. 😉

NOAA has kind of a conflict of interest here. They are supposed to help the fishermen, and they are supposed to help the sea turtles. They are doing a lot of studies to try and come up with answers to solve many issues surrounding our ocean resources.

One of those studies is to do with testing TEDs. The objective is to find a way to increase the survival rates of any sea turtles (and other by catch) that get caught up in a shrimp boats net. The turtles in the turtle barn are all about 1.5 years old. They’re raised in Galveston til they get to be about 2. Then they are sent over to Florida for the tests.

They’re placed in larger tanks and allowed a few weeks/months to acclimatize themselves. Then they’re taken out to sea and working with a team of shrimpers, divers, and scientists the turtles are run through the nets, out the TEDs and collected again afterwards. After the turtle finishes its run through the TED, it’s released to the wild. The scientists will use the data to refine the TEDs and other fishing gear.

The barn was full of turtles (hawksbills), at least a few dozen, all about 1-2 ft long. They swam around in small plastic containers set inside larger tanks of filtered seawater. We were warned not to touch the turtles or put our hands in the water (it’s a ‘federal offense’). If something fell in the water, they would have to drain the whole tank and replace the water due to concerns about contamination. 🙁

I felt kind of sad for all those little turtles, swimming around in their tiny little tanks, but they told us that if they were all allowed to swim together they would fight and/or eat each other. They said the turtles didn’t notice or care that they were stuck in such small containers, they would circle around forever and never know the difference. I suppose, but I still felt bad for them. 🙁

I also wondered why they weren’t raising more turtles- in a breeding program. Like they did with the whooping cranes down in Port Aransas. I’d hate to see the turtles go extinct. With only 353 nests (of Kemp’s ridleys) on the Texas beaches last year it wouldn’t take much to wipe them out. I asked John about it. He said in Texas the focus was on finding nests and moving them to Padre Island which was safer for them and where they’d be released to return later. There were other programs around the world that raised the turtles for a higher survival rate on release.

I recommend the turtle tour for anyone interested in marine science or sea turtles. The Wrights were very knowledgeable and great with answering any and all questions. Hopefully the research done there at NOAA will help more sea turtles survive (and also help the fishermen with better results and less bycatch). I’d love to see more turtles out at sea and maybe even find a nest on the beach one day. It would be fantastic to see an arribada like the one in the film they showed us. Let’s hope we can make that happen. 🙂

This looks like the video they showed, but there was no sound and they said the video was taken in Texas. This video is from Mexico it might be a different one. I found it on youtube.

PS- This is my Just Jot it January post for today. 😉 Today’s prompt is: memories. Well, they’re only a day or so old, but I think they count. 🙂

Share Your World- Week 40

Here’s another challenge from Cee. I really like her blog. She always has something interesting going on over there (and she takes some gorgeous pictures!). One of the things she does is run a “Share Your World” challenge. Check out the link to see others answers to her questions or to join in yourself. Here’s my answering post for this weeks challenge…

If you have been to a foreign country name those you have been too? I’ve been to a lot of foreign countries (check out my previous port calls). There are still plenty I haven’t been to yet and would love to go visit at the first opportunity. I’m still looking forward to seeing India, Egypt, Chile, Vietnam, Uruguay and Antarctica (even tho it’s not a country).  I travel every chance I get!

I started out young, I went to Canada and Mexico with my grandmother. Then I got to go to school on a sailing ship. We left Athens, Greece on the ship and sailed to ports in Italy, Spain, hit the Canary Islands and crossed the Atlantic to Martinique. We left the ship and flew to Caracas, Venezuela. We traveled overland to Columbia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia. I joined the same ship again in Martinique. We sailed to the Azores, then France, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, the USSR and back to Copenhagen (Denmark).

After that trip I was hooked on traveling. I’ve since been to the UK (England, Ireland, Scotland). I’ve been to Turkey, the UAE, Oman, Bahrain, Mauritius, Angola, Congo, Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, China, Indonesia, Thailand, Laos, Singapore, Honduras, Belize, Nicaragua, Costa Rica.

Is the glass half empty or half full? What type of glass is it and what is in the glass? I have to admit, I am a natural pessimist. I almost always see the glass as half empty. I will say, I’ve never really thought about what kind of glass it is. I would say it’s probably a beer glass. One of those hour glass shaped ones they give you at the beer joint. And of course, BEER would be in the glass!

If you could have an endless supply of any food, what would you get? I would get a burger. I LOVE a good burger and there are so many ways to make them!

List:  List at least five places worth shopping. I’m not much of a shopper, I usually only really enjoy shopping for books and food. 🙂 I like shopping at AmazonSmile, a (small) percentage of everything I spend there goes to a charity I choose. I also liked to shop at Powells Books in Oregon (tho I haven’t been able to get there for ages). I like Half Price Books on the way to Houston. I like to ‘shop at the Goodwill and Salvation Army stores. They have lots of interesting things and decent prices. I go there when I’m looking for furniture or appliances for my properties, or for work clothes. I also like to shop at museum stores, I almost never buy anything, but they always have beautiful and interesting items for sale.

Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up. I am grateful to have a job, but I am SO looking forward to getting off this ship and going home!!

Writing 101: Be Brief

Along the Old River the shrimp boats unloaded. A battered white envelope drifted in the breeze. Bored, I picked it up. Something interesting?

“Dave” was the only address. I opened it.

“Dear Dave” it began. Would Dave clean up his act if he read the list of his shortcomings?

Nah.

3 Significant Songs

Todays’ assignment from the Writing 101 Challenge is to write about the ‘three most important songs in your life’. Then they carry on in the assignment about ‘free writing’ and ‘committing to a writing practice”.

Here goes…

1. Son of a Son of a Sailor by Jimmy Buffet. I’m sure some of you might have an idea of why this song is important to me. “I went out on the sea for adventure”. Yep, that’s me. I always have identified with this particular song. I always loved Jimmy Buffet. I think he’s a great songwriter. He always tells a story in his songs and it’s usually a story I can understand and relate to. I grew up on the beach in Florida. My town used to be a little fishing village. We had plenty of characters hanging around. Many of them were the same familiar types Buffet sings about. I remember a few times growing up when Buffet would come through our town visiting. I saw him play a few times at some of my favorite local bars (I was still underage). My stepmother told me once that his manager was married to my stepsister. I never was that close to her so I never investigated any of that. I love that particular song since it seems to tell so much of what I feel like. The only thing that gets me is the whole “SON” of a “SON” of a Sailor. They never talk about the ‘daughter’ of a sailor, unless it’s something like she’s sitting around waiting for her loved one to come home. I was always a little jealous (maybe more than a little) about how the men always had it so easy. They could do all the things I always wanted to do so badly. For ME, it was always such a huge fight. Even now, it’s still a struggle. I should have been born a man!

2. House of the Rising Sun. I always loved this song. It was the first song I learned how to play on the guitar. It’s such a soulful song and so easy to sing. I still sing it for kareoke sometimes. I love New Orleans. It’s one of the reasons I chose to move to Texas to go to school for my AB ticket instead of one of the other 2 schools in the country at the time (San Diego or North Carolina). I thought I would be able to go to New Orleans every weekend to party. I thought I could go to Mexico every other weekend and El Paso to visit family fairly often too. I had NO idea how big Texas was or how long it took to drive to any of those places from where I moved to go to school.

3. What do you do with a Drunken Sailor. This was the song we sang all the time when we were getting rowdy when I was in high school on the sailing ships. We sang it at the end of my high school graduation on the wharf in Copenhagen. We were all dressed in our blue jeans and blue Oceanic t- shirts with our yellow foul weather jackets on. We had our diplomas printed on the back side of some Russian chocolate wrappers we had saved up special for it. I love how this song is such a FUN song to sing. It gets more and more creative after the first few verses.

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OK. I went a couple of minutes over my time limit that I set for myself to ‘free write’. I had a hard time holding back from adding some interesting links. No editing, no thinking hard, just letting the words flllooooowwwww…

So, I didn’t want to deprive anyone of seeing what I’m talking about, so here are some links. 🙂

Here’s a video Son of a Son of a Sailor

Here’s one of the Animals singing the House of the Rising Sun

And here’s a link to an earlier post with a great video of the Drunken Sailor Song. 🙂

Pirates Hauling $400 Million Since ’05 Pocket Little of Booty, Report Shows

Pirates Hauling $400 Million Since ’05 Pocket Little of Booty, Report Shows | gCaptain

I’m amazed they needed to do a study to learn this! Pirates work for bosses too, just like pirate leader Muse told Tom Hanks in the movie Captain Phillips. 🙁

According to the study, the pirates only get about 0.01 percent of what they manage to collect. The rest goes to the ‘financiers’. Wow!

One of the comments makes an excellent point and its too bad that no one will actually follow up on this idea…

“So! — the real crooks behind this reign of terror at sea are (as elsewhere) the financiers and the companies, who are profiting from the work of their ‘foot-soldiers’.”

Civil forfeiture: The grabbing hand of the law

Civil forfeiture: The grabbing hand of the law | The Economist.

I’m always amazed at how many people still don’t understand the way our government has changed. Our government that was formed ONLY to PROTECT our rights has somehow morphed into something intent on destroying them instead. Asset forfeiture or civil forfeiture as they call it in this article is just one particularly horrible example.

I started paying more attention to this issue years ago when I heard about a case where a man had his airplane stolen (confiscated) by the government. He spent years and thousands of dollars trying to get it back. It’s hard to fight the government when they’ve already stolen every asset you might have to pay for a lawyer to fight them with. 🙁

Since then, I’ve heard of SO many cases around the country. It’s really sad. The laws are written so that they are technically filing charges against the PROPERTY. Property is not a person. Property has no rights. Property can not defend itself. Property is guilty until proven innocent (which is VERY hard to do)!

We now have over 200 federal forfeiture statutes!! Any one of which could be used to steal everything you own. You are not likely to win any part of it back (unless you have big bucks hidden away someplace). Even then, good luck!

This article from the Economist concentrates on the Dehkos, who are fighting right now to keep their grocery store. Grocery store! Apparently the grocery store has been ‘money laundering’ for the last couple of years! Pretty obviously the grocery store is NOT guilty of anything, much less ‘money laundering’ (which is not a crime anyway since there is no victim).

This charge against the ‘grocery store’ leaves the Dehkos (who actually own/operate the store) in deep trouble. The government has already confiscated all the money they had in the bank. How hard do you think it is to run a business when all your money has just been stolen?

Thanks to the Institute for Justice (www.ij.org), the Dehkos might just have a fighting chance. They’ve stepped in to help fight government overreach and will try to help these people recover their money and their lives.

The article mentions a case involving a motel. This case was just recently settled. The Caswells spent almost 4 years fighting the attempted government theft of the property that had been in their family for generations. Thanks to the help of the Institute for Justice they were finally able to prevail. Here’s a link for more on that case http://www.ij.org/massachusetts-civil-forfeiture-release-3-15-2013. Its a pretty good example of the kinds of things going on around the country.

Sorry to say, most people in this country don’t have the help of the Institute for Justice. I wish more did. I’ve been a supporter of the IJ for years, I REALLY appreciate everything they do. Most people don’t have the resources to fight the government. So most people will lose.

It’s a legal fiction to charge the property. It is ONLY done to make it easier for the government to win its case. Cases that most probably could NOT be won if they had to play by the rules.

Take a look at some of the information posted by the Forfeiture Endangers American Rights Foundation (F.E.A.R.- www.fear.org). They’ve been at the forefront of this issue for years. They’re trying to make some very needed changes but seems they’re not making much headway. Here’s a link to a ‘position paper’ from F.E.A.R. on asset forfeiture http://www.fear.org/fposit.html.

I keep hoping that if more people only knew about all these violations of our rights. Of all the ways the government is stealing our freedoms. Of all the ways they are making our society poorer and meaner. Then people would stand up for themselves and put a stop to it. Say ‘ENOUGH IS ENOUGH’. I keep hoping…