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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

What Makes People Gay?

by Neil Swidey, Boston Globe

The debate has always been that it was either all in the child's upbringing or all in the genes. But what if it's something else?

With crystal-blue eyes, wavy hair, and freshly scrubbed faces, the boys look as though they stepped out of a Pottery Barn Kids catalog. They are 7-year-old twins. I'll call them Thomas and Patrick; their parents agreed to let me meet the boys as long as I didn't use their real names.

Spend five seconds with them, and there can be no doubt that they are identical twins - so identical even they can't tell each other apart in photographs. Spend five minutes with them, and their profound differences begin to emerge.

Patrick is social, thoughtful, attentive. He repeatedly addresses me by name. Thomas is physical, spontaneous, a bit distracted. Just minutes after meeting me outside a coffee shop, he punches me in the upper arm, yells, "Gray punch buggy!" and then points to a Volkswagen Beetle cruising past us. It's a hard punch. They horse around like typical brothers, but Patrick's punches are less forceful and his voice is higher. Thomas charges at his brother, arms flexed in front of him like a mini-bodybuilder. The differences are subtle - they're 7-year-old boys, after all - but they are there.

When the twins were 2, Patrick found his mother's shoes. He liked wearing them. Thomas tried on his father's once but didn't see the point.

When they were 3, Thomas blurted out that toy guns were his favorite things. Patrick piped up that his were the Barbie dolls he discovered at day care.

When the twins were 5, Thomas announced he was going to be a monster for Halloween. Patrick said he was going to be a princess. Thomas said he couldn't do that, because other kids would laugh at him. Patrick seemed puzzled. "Then I'll be Batman," he said.

Their mother - intelligent, warm, and open-minded - found herself conflicted. She wanted Patrick - whose playmates have always been girls, never boys - to be himself, but she worried his feminine behavior would expose him to ridicule and pain. She decided to allow him free expression at home while setting some limits in public.

That worked until last year, when a school official called to say Patrick was making his classmates uncomfortable. He kept insisting that he was a girl.

Patrick exhibits behavior called childhood gender nonconformity, or CGN. This doesn't describe a boy who has a doll somewhere in his toy collection or tried on his sister's Snow White outfit once, but rather one who consistently exhibits a host of strongly feminine traits and interests while avoiding boy-typical behavior like rough-and-tumble play. There's been considerable research into this phenomenon, particularly in males, including a study that followed boys from an early age into early adulthood. The data suggest there is a very good chance Patrick will grow up to be homosexual. Not all homosexual men show this extremely feminine behavior as young boys. But the research indicates that, of the boys who do exhibit CGN, about 75 percent of them - perhaps more - turn out to be gay or bisexual.

What makes the case of Patrick and Thomas so fascinating is that it calls into question both of the dominant theories in the long-running debate over what makes people gay: nature or nurture, genes or learned behavior. As identical twins, Patrick and Thomas began as genetic clones. From the moment they came out of their mother's womb, their environment was about as close to identical as possible - being fed, changed, and plopped into their car seats the same way, having similar relationships with the same nurturing father and mother. Yet before either boy could talk, one showed highly feminine traits while the other appeared to be "all boy," as the moms at the playgrounds say with apologetic shrugs.

"That my sons were different the second they were born, there is no question about it," says the twins' mother.

So what happened between their identical genetic starting point and their births? They spent nine months in utero. In the hunt for what causes people to be gay or straight, that's now the most interesting and potentially enlightening frontier.

WHAT DOES IT MATTER WHERE HOMOSEXUALITY COMES FROM? Proving people are born gay would give them wider social acceptance and better protection against discrimination, many gay rights advocates argue. In the last decade, as this "biological" argument has gained momentum, polls find Americans - especially young adults - increasingly tolerant of gays and lesbians. And that's exactly what has groups opposed to homosexuality so concerned. The Family Research Council, a conservative Christian think tank in Washington, D.C., argues in its book Getting It Straight that finding people are born gay "would advance the idea that sexual orientation is an innate characteristic, like race; that homosexuals, like African-Americans, should be legally protected against 'discrimination;' and that disapproval of homosexuality should be as socially stigmatized as racism. However, it is not true."

Some advocates of gay marriage argue that proving sexual orientation is inborn would make it easier to frame the debate as simply a matter of civil rights. That could be true, but then again, freedom of religion enjoyed federal protection long before inborn traits like race and sex.

For much of the 20th century, the dominant thinking connected homosexuality to upbringing. Freud, for instance, speculated that overprotective mothers and distant fathers helped make boys gay. It took the American Psychiatric Association until 1973 to remove "homosexuality" from its manual of mental disorders.

Then, in 1991, a neuroscientist in San Diego named Simon LeVay told the world he had found a key difference between the brains of homosexual and heterosexual men he studied. LeVay showed that a tiny clump of neurons of the anterior hypothalamus - which is believed to control sexual behavior - was, on average, more than twice the size in heterosexual men as in homosexual men. LeVay's findings did not speak directly to the nature-vs.-nurture debate - the clumps could, theoretically, have changed size because of homosexual behavior. But that seemed unlikely, and the study ended up jump-starting the effort to prove a biological basis for homosexuality.

Later that same year, Boston University psychiatrist Richard Pillard and Northwestern University psychologist J. Michael Bailey announced the results of their study of male twins. They found that, in identical twins, if one twin was gay, the other had about a 50 percent chance of also being gay. For fraternal twins, the rate was about 20 percent. Because identical twins share their entire genetic makeup while fraternal twins share about half, genes were believed to explain the difference. Most reputable studies find the rate of homosexuality in the general population to be 2 to 4 percent, rather than the popular "1 in 10" estimate.

In 1993 came the biggest news: Dean Hamer's discovery of the "gay gene." In fact, Hamer, a Harvard-trained researcher at the National Cancer Institute, hadn't quite put it that boldly or imprecisely. He found that gay brothers shared a specific region of the X chromosome, called Xq28, at a higher rate than gay men shared with their straight brothers. Hamer and others suggested this finding would eventually transform our understanding of sexual orientation.

That hasn't happened yet. But the clear focus of sexual-orientation research has shifted to biological causes, and there hasn't been much science produced to support the old theories tying homosexuality to upbringing. Freud may have been seeing the effect rather than the cause, since a father faced with a very feminine son might well become more distant or hostile, leading the boy's mother to become more protective. In recent years, researchers who suspect that homosexuality is inborn - whether because of genetics or events happening in the womb - have looked everywhere for clues: Prenatal hormones. Birth order. Finger length. Fingerprints. Stress. Sweat. Eye blinks. Spatial relations. Hearing. Handedness. Even "gay" sheep.

LeVay, who is gay, says that when he published his study 14 years ago, some gays and lesbians criticized him for doing research that might lead to homosexuality once again being lumped in with diseases and disorders. "If anything, the reverse has happened," says LeVay, who is now 61 and no longer active in the lab. He says the hunt for a biological basis for homosexuality, which involves many researchers who are themselves gay or lesbian, "has contributed to the status of gay people in society."

These studies have been small and underfunded, and the results have often been modest. Still, because there's been so much of this disparate research, "all sort of pointing in the same direction, makes it pretty clear there are biological processes significantly influencing sexual orientation," says LeVay. "But it's also kind of frustrating that it's still a bunch of hints, that nothing is really as crystal clear as you would like."

Just in the last few months, though, the hints have grown stronger.

In May, Swedish researchers reported finding important differences in how the brains of straight men and gay men responded to two compounds suspected of being pheromones - those scent-related chemicals that are key to sexual arousal in animals. The first compound came from women's urine, the second from male sweat. Brain scans showed that when straight men smelled the female urine compound, their hypothalamus lit up. That didn't happen with gay men. Instead, their hypothalamus lit up when they smelled the male-sweat compound, which was the same way straight women had responded. This research once again connecting the hypothalamus to sexual orientation comes on the heels of work with sheep. About 8 percent of domestic rams are exclusively interested in sex with other rams. Researchers found that a clump of neurons similar to the one LeVay identified in human brains was also smaller in gay rams than straight ones. (Again, it's conceivable that these differences could be showing effect rather than cause.)

In June, scientists in Vienna announced that they had isolated a master genetic switch for sexual orientation in the fruit fly. Once they flicked the switch, the genetically altered female flies rebuffed overtures from males and instead attempted to mate with other females, adopting the elaborate courting dance and mating songs that males use.

And now, a large-scale, five-year genetic study of gay brothers is underway in North America. The study received $2.5 million from the National Institutes of Health, which is unusual. Government funders tend to steer clear of sexual orientation research, aware that even small grants are apt to be met with outrage from conservative congressmen looking to make the most of their C-Span face time. Relying on a robust sample of 1,000 gay-brother pairs and the latest advancements in genetic screening, this study promises to bring some clarity to the murky area of what role genes may play in homosexuality.

This accumulating biological evidence, combined with the prospect of more on the horizon, is having an effect. Last month, the Rev. Rob Schenck, a prominent Washington, D.C., evangelical leader, told a large gathering of young evangelicals that he believes homosexuality is not a choice but rather a predisposition, something "deeply rooted" in people. Schenck told me that his conversion came about after he'd spoken extensively with genetic researchers and psychologists. He argues that evangelicals should continue to oppose homosexual behavior, but that "many evangelicals are living in a sort of state of denial about the advance of this conversation." His message: "If it's inevitable that this scientific evidence is coming, we have to be prepared with a loving response. If we don't have one, we won't have any credibility."

AS THE 21-YEAR-OLD COLLEGE JUNIOR IN A HOSPITAL JOHNNY slides into the MRI, she is handed controls with buttons for "strongly like" and "strongly dislike." Hundreds of pornographic images - in male-male and female-female pairings - flash before her eyes. Eroticism eventually gives way to monotony, and it's hard to avoid looking for details to distinguish one image from the rest of the panting pack. So it goes from "Look at the size of those breasts!" to "That can't be comfortable, given the length of her fingernails!" to "Why is that guy wearing nothing but work boots on the beach?"

Regardless of which buttons the student presses, the MRI scans show her arousal level to each image, at its starting point in the brain.

Researchers at Northwestern University, outside Chicago, are doing this work as a follow-up to their studies of arousal using genital measurement tools. They found that while straight men were aroused by film clips of two women having sex, and gay men were aroused by clips of two men having sex, most of the men who identified themselves as bisexual showed gay arousal patterns. More surprising was just how different the story with women turned out to be. Most women, whether they identified as straight, lesbian, or bisexual, were significantly aroused by straight, gay, and lesbian sex. "I'm not suggesting that most women are bisexual," says Michael Bailey, the psychology professor whose lab conducted the studies. "I'm suggesting that whatever a woman's sexual arousal pattern is, it has little to do with her sexual orientation." That's fundamentally different from men. "In men, arousal is orientation. It's as simple as that. That's how gay men learn they are gay."

These studies mark a return to basics for the 47-year-old Bailey. He says researchers need a far deeper understanding of what sexual orientation is before they can determine where it comes from.

Female sexual orientation is particularly foggy, he says, because there's been so little research done. As for male sexual orientation, he argues that there's now enough evidence to suggest it is "entirely in-born," though not nearly enough to establish how that happens.

Bailey's 1991 twin study is still cited by other researchers as one of the pillars in the genetic argument for homosexuality. But his follow-up study using a comprehensive registry of twins in Australia found a much lower rate of similarity in sexual orientation between identical twins, about 20 percent, down from 50 percent. Bailey still believes that genes make important contributions to sexual orientation. But, he says, "that's not where I'd bet the real breakthroughs will come."

His hunch is that further study of childhood gender nonconformity will pay big. Because it's unclear what percentage of homosexuals and lesbians showed CGN as children, Bailey and his colleagues are now running a study that uses adult participants' home movies from childhood to look for signs of gender-bending behavior.

Cornell psychologist Daryl Bem has proposed an intriguing theory for how CGN might lead to homosexuality. According to this pathway, which he calls "the exotic becomes erotic," children are born with traits for temperament, such as aggression and activity level, that predispose them to male-typical or female-typical activities. They seek out playmates with the same interests. So a boy whose traits lead him to hopscotch and away from rough play will feel different from, and ostracized by, other boys. This leads to physiological arousal of fear and anger in their presence, arousal that eventually is transformed from exotic to erotic.

Critics of homosexuality have used Bem's theory, which stresses environment over biology, to argue that sexual orientation is not inborn and not fixed. But Bem says this pathway is triggered by biological traits, and he doesn't really see how the outcome of homosexuality can be changed.

Bailey says whether or not Bem's theory holds up, the environment most worth focusing in on is the one a child experiences when he's in his mother's womb.

LET'S GET BACK TO THOMAS AND PATRICK. BECAUSE IT'S UNCLEAR why twin brothers with identical genetic starting points and similar post-birth environments would take such divergent paths, it's helpful to return to the beginning.

Males and females have a fundamental genetic difference - females have two X chromosomes, and males have an X and a Y. Still, right after conception, it's hard to tell male and female zygotes apart, except for that tucked-away chromosomal difference. Normally, the changes take shape at a key point of fetal development, when the male brain is masculinized by sex hormones. The female brain is the default. The brain will stay on the female path as long as it is protected from exposure to hormones. The hormonal theory of homosexuality holds that, just as exposure to circulating sex hormones determines whether a fetus will be male or female, such exposure must also influence sexual orientation.

The cases of children born with disorders of "sexual differentiation" offer insight. William Reiner, a psychiatrist and urologist with the University of Oklahoma, has evaluated more than a hundred of these cases. For decades, the standard medical response to boys born with severely inadequate penises (or none at all) was to castrate the boy and have his parents raise him as a girl. But Reiner has found that nurture - even when it involves surgery soon after birth - cannot trump nature. Of the boys with inadequate penises who were raised as girls, he says, "I haven't found one who is sexually attracted to males." The majority of them have transitioned back to being males and report being attracted to females.

During fetal development, sexual identity is set before the sexual organs are formed, Reiner says. Perhaps it's the same for sexual orientation. In his research, of all the babies with X and Y chromosomes who were raised as girls, the only ones he has found who report having female identities and being attracted to males are those who did not have "receptors" to let the male sex hormones do their masculinizing in the womb.

What does this all mean? "Exposure to male hormones in utero dramatically raises the chances of being sexually attracted to females," Reiner says. "We can infer that the absence of male hormone exposure may have something to do with attraction to males."

Michael Bailey says Reiner's findings represent a major breakthrough, showing that "whatever causes sexual orientation is strongly influenced by prenatal biology." Bailey and Reiner say the answer is probably not as simple as just exposure to sex hormones. After all, the exposure levels in some of the people Reiner studies are abnormal enough to produce huge differences in sexual organs. Yet, sexual organs in straight and gay people are, on average, the same. More likely, hormones are interacting with other factors.

Canadian researchers have consistently documented a "big-brother effect," finding that the chances of a boy being gay increase with each additional older brother he has. (Birth order does not appear to play a role with lesbians.) So, a male with three older brothers is three times more likely to be gay than one with no older brothers, though there's still a better than 90 percent chance he will be straight. They argue that this results from a complex interaction involving hormones, antigens, and the mother's immune system.

By now, there is substantial evidence showing correlation - though not causation - between sexual orientation and traits that are set when a baby is in the womb. Take finger length. In general, men have shorter index fingers in relation to their ring fingers; in women, the lengths are generally about the same. Researchers have found that lesbians generally have ratios closer to males. Other studies have shown masculinized results for lesbians in inner-ear functions and eye-blink reactions to sudden loud noises, and feminized patterns for gay men on certain cognitive tasks like spatial perception and remembering the placement of objects.

New York University researcher Lynn S. Hall, who has studied traits determined in the womb, speculates that Patrick was somehow prenatally stressed, probably during the first trimester, when the brain is really developing, particularly the structures like the hypothalamus that influence sexual behavior. This stress might have been based on his position in the womb or the blood flow to him or any of a number of other factors not in his mother's control. Yet more evidence that identical twins have womb experiences far from identical can be found in their often differing birth weights. Patrick was born a pound lighter than Thomas.

Taken together, the research suggests that early on in the womb, as the fetus's brain develops in either the male or female direction, something fundamental to sexual orientation is happening. Nobody's sure what's causing it. But here's where genes may be involved, perhaps by regulating hormone exposure or by dictating the size of that key clump of neurons in the hypothalamus. Before researchers can sort that out, they'll need to return to the question of whether, in fact, there is a "gay gene."

THE CROWD ON BOSTON COMMON IS THICK ON THIS SCORCHER of a Saturday afternoon in June, as the throngs make their way around the 35th annual Boston Pride festival, past booths peddling everything from "Gayopoly" board games to Braveheartian garments called Utilikilts. Sitting quietly in his booth is Alan Sanders, a soft-spoken 41-year-old with a sandy beard and thinning hair. He's placeda mound of rainbow-colored Starbursts on the table in front of him and hung a banner that reads: "WANTED: Gay Men with Gay Brothers for Molecular Genetic Study of Sexual Orientation."

Sanders is a psychiatrist with the Evanston Northwestern Healthcare Research Institute who is leading the NIH-funded search for the genetic basis of male homosexuality (www.gaybros.com). He is spending the summer crisscrossing the country, going to gay pride festivals, hoping to recruit 1,000 pairs of gay brothers to participate. (His wife, who just delivered their third son, wasn't crazy about the timing.) When people in Boston ask him how much genes may contribute to homosexuality, he says the best estimate is about 40 percent.

Homosexuality runs in families - studies show that 8 to 12 percent of brothers of gay men are also gay, compared with the 2 to 4 percent of the general population.

Sanders spends much of the afternoon handing out Starbursts to people who clearly don't qualify for a gay brothers study - preteen girls, adult lesbians wearing T-shirts that read "I Like Girls Who Like Girls," and elderly women in straw hats who speak only Chinese. But many of the gay men who stop by are interested in more than free candy. Among the people signing up is James Daly, a 31-year-old from Salem. "I think it's important for the public - especially the religious right - to know it's not a choice for some people," Daly says. "I feel I was born this way."

(In fairness, there aren't many leaders of groups representing social and religious conservatives who still argue that homosexual orientation - as opposed to behavior - is a matter of choice. Even as he insists that no one is born gay, Peter Sprigg, the point person on homosexuality for the Family Research Council, says, "I don't think that people choose their sexual attraction.")

In the decade since Dean Hamer made headlines, the gay gene theory has taken some hits. A Canadian team was unable to replicate his findings. Earlier this year, a team from Hamer's own lab reported only mixed results after having done the first scan of the entire human genome in the search for genes influencing sexual orientation.

But all of the gene studies so far have been based on small samples and lacked the funding to do things right. Sanders's study should be big enough to provide some real answers on linkage as well as shed light on gender nonconformity and the big-brother effect.

There is, however, a towering question that Sanders's study will probably not be able to answer. That has to do with evolution. If a prime motivation of all species is to pass genes on to future generations, and gay men are estimated to produce 80 percent fewer offspring than straight men, why would a gay gene not have been wiped out by the forces of natural selection? This evolutionary disadvantage is what led former Amherst College biologist Paul Ewald to argue that homosexuality might be caused by a virus - a pathogen most likely working in utero. That argument caused a stir when he and a colleague proposed it six years ago, but with no research done to test it, it remains just another theory. Other scientists have offered fascinating but unpersuasive explanations, most of them focusing on some kind of compensatory benefit, in the same way that the gene responsible for sickle cell anemia also protects against malaria. A study last year by researchers in Italy showed that female relatives of gay men tended to be more fertile, though, as critics point out, not nearly fertile enough to make up for the gay man's lack of offspring.

But there will be plenty of time for sorting out the evolutionary paradox once - and if - researchers are able to identify actual genes involved in sexual orientation. Getting to that point will likely require integrating multiple lines of promising research. That is exactly what's happening in Eric Vilain's lab at the University of California, Los Angeles. Vilain, an associate professor of human genetics, and his colleague, Sven Bocklandt, are using gay sheep, transgenic mice, identical twin humans, and novel approaches to human genetics to try to unlock the mystery of sexual orientation.

Instead of looking for a gay gene, they stress that they are looking for several genes that cause either attraction to men or attraction to women. Those same genes would work one way in heterosexual women and another way in homosexual men. The UCLA lab is examining how these genes might be turned "up" or "down." It's not a question of what genes you have, but rather which ones you use, says Bocklandt. "I have the genes in my body to make a vagina and carry a baby, but I don't use them, because I am a man." In studying the genes of gay sheep, for example, he's found some that are turned "way up" compared with the straight rams.

The lab is also testing an intriguing theory involving imprinted genes. Normally, we have two copies of every gene, one from each parent, and both copies work. They're identical, so it doesn't matter which copy comes from which parent. But with imprinted genes, that does matter. Although both copies are physically there, one copy - either from the mom or the dad - is blocked from working. Think of an airplane with an engine on each wing, except one of the engines is shut down. A recent Duke University study suggests humans have hundreds of imprinted genes, including one on the X chromosome that previous research has tied to sexual orientation.

With imprinted genes, there is no backup engine. So if there's something atypical in the copy from mom, the copy from dad cannot be turned on. The UCLA lab is now collecting DNA from identical twins in which one twin is straight and the other is gay. Because the twins begin as genetic clones, if a gene is imprinted in one twin, it will be in the other twin as well. Normally, as the fetuses are developing, each time a cell divides, the DNA separates and makes a copy of itself, replicating all kinds of genetic information. It's a complicated but incredibly accurate process. But the coding to keep the backup engine shut down on an imprinted gene is less accurate.

So how might imprinted genes help explain why one identical twin would be straight and the other gay? Say there's an imprinted gene for attraction to females, and there's something atypical in the copy the twin brothers get from mom. As all that replicating is going on, the imprinting (to keep the copy from dad shut down) proceeds as expected in one twin, and he ends up gay. But somehow with his brother, the coding for the imprinting is lost, and rather than remain shut down, the fuel flows to fire up the backup engine from dad. And that twin turns out to be straight.

IN THE COURSE OF REPORTING THIS STORY, I EXPERIENCED A good deal of whiplash. Just when I would become swayed by the evidence supporting one discreet theory, I would stumble onto new evidence casting some doubt on it. Ultimately, I accepted this as unavoidable terrain in the hunt for the basis of sexual orientation. This is, after all, a research field built on underfunded, idiosyncratic studies that are met with full-barreled responses from opposing and well-funded advocacy groups determined to make the results from the lab hew to the scripts they've honed for the talk-show circuit.

You can't really blame the advocacy groups. The stakes are high. In the end, homosexuality remains such a divisive issue that only thoroughly tested research will get society to accept what science has to say about its origin. Critics of funding for sexual orientation research say that it isn't curing cancer, and they're right. But we devote a lot more dollars to studying other issues that aren't curing cancer and have less resonance in society.

Still, no matter how imperfect these studies are, when you put them all together and examine them closely, the message is clear: While post-birth development may well play a supporting role, the roots of homosexuality, at least in men, appear to be in place by the time a child is born. After spending years sifting through all the available data, British researchers Glenn Wilson and Qazi Rahman come to an even bolder conclusion in their forthcoming book Born Gay: The Psychobiology of Sex Orientation, in which they write: "Sexual orientation is something we are born with and not `acquired' from our social environment."

Meanwhile, the mother of twins Patrick and Thomas has done her own sifting and come to her own conclusions. She says her son's feminine behavior suggests he will grow up to be gay, and she has no problem with that. She just worries about what happens to him between now and then.

After that fateful call from Patrick's school, she says, "I knew I had to talk to my son, and I had no clue what to say." Ultimately, she told him that although he could play however he wanted at home, he couldn't tell his classmates he was a girl, because they'd think he was lying. And she told him that some older boys might be mean to him and even hit him if he continued to claim he was a girl.

Then she asked him, "Do you think that you can convince yourself that you are a boy?"

"Yes, Mom," he said. "It's going to be like when I was trying to learn to read, and then one day I opened the book and I could read."

His mother's heart sank. She could tell that he wanted more than anything to please her. "Basically, he was saying there must be a miracle - that one day I wake up and I'm a boy. That's the only way he could imagine it could happen."

In the year since that conversation, Patrick's behavior has become somewhat less feminine. His mother hopes it's just because his interests are evolving and not because he's suppressing them.

"I can now imagine him being completely straight, which I couldn't a year ago," she says. "I can imagine him being gay, which seems to be statistically most likely."

She says she's fine with either outcome, just as long as he's happy and free from harm. She takes heart in how much more accepting today's society is. "By the time my boys are 20, the world will have changed even more."

By then, there might even be enough consensus for researchers to forget about finger lengths and fruit flies and gay sheep, and move on to a new mystery.

*By Neil Swidey

Why Can't We Have A Nice Igloo Like The Meekitjuks Next Door?

This so-called "igloo" of ours, dear, is a complete embarrassment. Some days, I don't even want to be seen crawling out of the entrance. Now, the Meekitjuks next door, they've got a beautiful place—perfectly cut blocks of ice, a nice, wide entrance, and a two-sled snow rampart built into the back. Why can't we live in a decent igloo like them?

Just take a look at this poor excuse for an igloo: there are ice shavings all over the floor, the ceiling is filthy with smoke, and the wall that faces the rising sun is so uneven, it looks like it's ready to cave in at any second. I wouldn't be surprised if we came home one day to find the whole dome collapsed! Yes, we're the laughingstock of the whole neighborhood.

Yesterday, I had some of the gals from the neighborhood over for a bit of blood soup. I didn't even have a decent hammered-copper bowl to serve it in. On top of that, do you think they didn't notice the worn-out condition of our qipiik? It's more hole than caribou hide! And this old polar-bear-skin rug—it's an ancient hand-me-down from my grandmother, and we're still using it.

All the other women in the village enjoy the latest modern conveniences: blades made of metal, coffee cans to cure the blubber dip. Meanwhile, I don't have so much as an ulu knife to butcher the darn seals.

Not that I've had much to butcher lately. Yesterday, I was peeking out the front entrance and saw Pauloosie Meekitjuk come home after a day of hunting. He was dragging two seals home on his sled! When was the last time you brought two seals home? Last week, it was a few skinny little otters. You're always giving the same lame excuse, telling me it's a "hard winter." Well, we must have some real strange weather patterns around these parts, because it doesn't seem to be a hard winter 20 feet away over at Chez Meekitjuk.

You come home every night, complaining about how exhausted you are from standing over the ice all day with a harpoon, waiting for a seal to surface. And that's not even counting all the nights you come crawling in the front hole at 2 a.m., armed with some phony-baloney story about how you've been out all night following caribou tracks across the frozen tundra. Please. I'm not stupid. I know you're down at the kashgee listening to the shaman stories with the guys. And you know what? I'm really starting to get tired of it.

This coming Sunday, we're invited to the seal-sharing feast over at the Meekitjuks. You'll be happy to know that there will be a whole feast of sliced flipper and blubber and caribou-stomach contents. And I'm sure you'll enjoy it every bit as much as the Meekitjuks' last feast. But we're not going to be invited too many more times if you don't bring home a seal soon to return the favor. Then where will we be? We'll be shunned and have to move our igloo to the bad part of the village, out where the anthropologists live.

I know what you're thinking: "But Komangapik! We just got a new kayak this year! Doesn't that count for something?" Some kayak! The Meekitjuks have a 14-foot kayak, and ours is barely 10 feet long. And what about the caribou-skin interior you keep saying you'll put in it as soon as you get the time? You promised to do it 20 moons ago!

The only thing you care about is that stupid sled of yours. Did we really need another dog? I think Qallunaaq and Kitikmeot were more than adequate, but you insisted we needed Nujuattaittut and Nujuattaittuttuta, too.

My mother warned me about you. She said, "Komangapik, that man has the spirit of the mighty humpback whale in his soul, but nothing but dust in the pockets of his parka." What did I know? I was only 14. Now that I'm older, I understand all too well what she was saying.

Don't I deserve a decent igloo? Do you think I just sit around all day chewing dried salmon while you're away hunting? Yesterday, I spent all day repairing last year's sealskin boots with sinew thread and bone needles, just so I'd have something decent to wear to storytelling sessions around the group fire. If only I could have something besides the same old fox-fur coats.

You spare no expense when it comes to your precious harpoons and knives. You just had to have that toggle harpoon made out of ivory when the antler one would have done fine. But as soon as I want a few small things for around the igloo, we suddenly don't have the skins to trade for them.

Did you see the wooden mask Amik Meekitjuk has on her wall? I asked her where she got it. She said she bought it during an umiak trip to Baffin Island and that it cost only a pot of seal oil. Only! We barely have enough seal oil to keep our igloo lit through the winter, and they're trading away a whole pot of oil! The fact that she got it during a trip to Baffin Island only makes it worse. Every year, you promise that the whole family will migrate there for the summer to fish and capture birds. Then, when it's time to go, you take off with the other men and say there's not enough room in the umiak for me and the kids.

Do you think I enjoy sitting home, staring at the same one wall day after day? Of course not! Then, when I offer to accompany you on the hunt, you say I talk too much and prevent the seals from coming to the surface! Well, maybe if I had more otter to skin, I'd have less time to talk. Hmmph.

*by By Komangapik Mukpa The Onion

Chem 101

Chem 101
I think you will like this one. The following is supposedly an actual question given on an American University chemistry mid-term. The answer by one student was so "profound" that the professor shared it with colleagues, via the Internet, which is, of course, why we now have the pleasure of enjoying it as well.

Bonus Question: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)?

Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle's Law (gas cools when it expands and heats when it is compressed) or some variant.

One student, however, wrote the following:

First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing in time. So we need to know the rate at which souls are moving into Hell and the rate at which they are leaving. I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving.

As for how many souls are entering Hell, let's look at the different religions that exist in the world today. Most of these religions state if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell. Since there is more than one of these religions and since people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all souls go to Hell.

With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially. Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell because Boyle's Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same, the volume of Hell has to expand proportionately as souls are added.

This gives two possibilities:

1. If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose.

2. If Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over.

So which is it?

If we accept the postulate given to me by Teresa during my Freshman year that, "it will be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with you," and take into account the fact that I slept with her last night, then number 2 must be true, and thus I am sure Hell is exothermic and has already frozen over. The corollary of this theory is that since Hell has frozen over, it follows that it is not accepting any more souls and is therefore, extinct...leaving only Heaven thereby proving the existence of a divine being which explains why, last night, Teresa kept shouting "Oh my God."

THIS STUDENT RECEIVED THE ONLY "A"

The Big Bang Theory - incl. Call Me Maybe - Flash Mob

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Really Stupid Questions Asked about Canada

These questions are really being asked by STUPID People booking to come to CANADA!!!!!.

Q: I have never seen it warm on Canadian TV, so how do the plants grow?(UK)
A. We import all plants fully grown and then just sit around and watch them die.

Q: Will I be able to see Polar Bears in the street? (USA)
A: Depends on how much you've been drinking.

Q: I want to walk from Vancouver to Toronto-can I follow the Railroad tracks? (Sweden)
A: Sure, it's only Four thousand miles, take lots of water.

Q: Is it safe to run around in the bushes in Canada? (Sweden)
A: So it's true what they say about Swedes.

Q: It is imperative that I find the names and addresses of places to contact for a stuffed Beaver. (Italy)
A: Let's not touch this one.

Q: Are there any ATM's (cash machines) in Canada? Can you send me a list of them in Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton and Halifax? (UK)
A: What did your last slave die of?

Q: Can you give me some information about hippo racing in Canada? (USA )
A : A-fri-ca is the big triangle shaped continent south of Europe. Ca-na-da is that big country to your North...oh forget it. Sure, the hippo racing is every Tuesday night in Calgary. Come naked.

Q: Which direction is North in Canada? (USA)
A: Face south and then turn 180 degrees Contact us when you get here and we'll send the rest of the directions.

Q: Can I bring cutlery into Canada? (UK)
A: Why? Just use your fingers like we do.

Q: Can you send me the Vienna Boys' Choir schedule? (USA)
A: Aus-tri-a is that quaint little country bordering Ger-man-y, which is...oh forget it. Sure, the Vienna Boys Choir plays every Tuesday night in Vancouver and in Calgary, straight after the hippo races. Come naked.

Q: Do you have perfume in Canada? (Germany) A: No, WE don't stink.

Q: I have developed a new product that is the fountain of youth. Can you sell it in Canada? (USA)
A: Anywhere significant numbers of Americans gather.

Q: Can you tell me the regions in British Columbia where the female population is smaller than the male population?(Italy)
A: Yes, gay nightclubs.

Q: Do you celebrate Thanksgiving in Canada? (USA)
A: Only at Thanksgiving.

Q: Are there supermarkets in Toronto and is milk available all year round?(Germany)
A: No, we are a peaceful civilization of Vegan hunter/gathers. Milk is illegal.

Q: I have a question about a famous animal in Canada, but I forget its name. It's a kind of big horse with horns. (USA)
A: It's called a Moose. They are tall and very violent, eating the brains of anyone walking close to them. You can scare them off by spraying yourself with human urine before you go out walking.

Q: Will I be able to speak English most places I go? (USA)
A: Yes, but you will have to learn it first.

I'm my Own Grandpa

I'm my Own Grandpa Click here.
Click above to watch the movie

Christmas Traditions in Ukraine

Christmas season is here! In Ukraine Christmas is celebrated on January 7. The Christmas season ends on the feast of Jordan on January 19 and 20 with ceremonies that include a blessing of the water (or ice) of the rivers. Christmas in Ukraine is celebrated January 7 according to the Gregorian calendar as in most of other Orthodox Christian countries.

During the Soviet time it was not officially celebrated in Ukraine. Instead communist government tried to substitute Christmas with the holiday of New Year. But people did not forget their traditions. After gaining it’s independence in 1991 Ukraine started to celebrate Christmas officially as well.

There are numerous Christmas traditions here. They vary significantly at the different parts of Ukraine.

In most parts of Ukraine on the Christmas Eve people create so-called ‘Vertep’ (means cave in ancient Greek). These are scenes from Bible of Jesus birth. They show little Jesus in manger, Mary, strangers offering their gifts and Bethlehem star in the sky. Those verteps are exhibited at public places, usually near or inside churches. At night candles are installed inside verteps for people who come to church for the night service can observe them.

The Christmas Eve is called in Ukraine ‘Sviaty Vechir’ (Holy Evening) sometimes also called ‘Sviata Vecheria’ (Holy Supper). People usually cook some tasty foods for this evening. There should be at least 12 different foods on the table. Those should mandatory include ‘Kutia’ -- the ritual food which is prepared from cooked wheat and special syrup containing diluted honey, grated poppy seeds, raisins and sometimes walnuts.

For this evening people install and decorate Christmas trees in their houses. (Sometimes they are called also ‘Novorichna Jalynka’ -- New-Year’s firtree here). Another tradition exists in some regions of Western Ukraine to decorate the table with ‘Didukh’ -- a sheaf of oats or wheat of special shape: with four legs and numerous little bundles. It symbolizes prosperity for the next year.

St. Nicolas (Santa Claus) also called here ‘Did Moroz’ is an ubiquitous Christmas character and is supposed to bring some gifts under the Christmas tree this night.

Also in some regions people make decorated Christmas eggs very similar to Easter eggs -- ‘Pysanky’.

Halloween is not celebrated in Ukraine but some similar traditions are performed here for Christmas. Children this evening come around their neighbors with torches and sparclers (called here Bengal lights) spreading grains and colored seeds. They wish people good health and abundant harvest for the next year and ask for some donations. Also they perform some Christmas songs called in different parts of Ukraine ‘Koliadky’ or ‘Shchedrivky’ like these:

"Radujsia zemle, radujsia. Syn Bozhyj narodyvsia." -- Joy, Earth, Joy. The Son of God was born.

"Dobryj vechir, Sviaty vechir. Dobrym liudiam na zdorovja." -- Good evening, Holy evening. To good people for good health.

Next day in some villages in Western Ukraine people organize some folk performances which obviously were inspired by ancient pagan habits. They dress up themselves as monsters with pelts and horns and run through the village trying to scare people. After that they run to the special place on the outskirts of the village and there happens the main act: they fight with all people of the village and finally are defeated. The scarecrows are burned in the big fire. And all people are dancing around this fire. This symbolizes the fight of Good and Evil and that Good defeated Evil for the whole next year.

Oompa-Trumpa - dippity-do!

Oompa-Trumpa - dippity-do! The United States will be destroyed by you!
The United States will be destroyed by you!

Monday, November 28, 2016

History of the Middle Finger!


***This is an urban legend according to snopes.com. Thanks Erwin!***

Well, now......here's something I never knew before, and I feel compelled to send it on to my more intelligent friends in the hope that they, too, will feel edified.

Isn't history more fun when you know something about it?


Giving the finger
Giving the Finger


Before the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, the French, anticipating victory over the English, proposed to cut off the middle finger of all captured English soldiers. Without the middle finger it would be impossible to draw the renowned English longbow and therefore they would be incapable of fighting in the future.

This famous weapon was made of the native English Yew tree, and the act of drawing the longbow was known as "plucking the yew" (or "pluck yew").

Much to the bewilderment of the French, the English won a major upset and began mocking the French by waving their middle fingers at the defeated French, saying, "See, we can still pluck yew!"

"PLUCK YEW!"

Since 'pluck yew' is rather difficult to say, the difficult consonant cluster at the beginning has gradually changed to a labiodental fricative 'F', and thus the words often used in conjunction with the one-finger-salute!

It is also because of the pheasant feathers on the arrows used with the longbow that the symbolic gesture is known as "giving the bird."

And yew thought yew knew everything!

Guess what cup size?

Guess what cup size?

Okay, what did you guess????
Click above

This Day In TV History

First Interracial TV kiss!
First Interracial TV kiss!

The Wizard is a "True Canadian"

The Wizard's still wearing flip-flops -- 0*C/32*F
The Wizard's still wearing flip-flops -- 0*C/32*F

'BARNEY MILLER' STAR RON GLASS DEAD AT 71

from TMZ.com

Ron Glass, a centerpiece on the 70's sitcom "Barney Miller" has died ... according to his rep.

Glass had recently battled with various illnesses, and was an active member in the L.A. Buddhist community. He passed away at his home Friday, where'd he'd been watched by a caretaker.

Glass received an Emmy nomination for his role as Detective Ron Harris on the show ... he also made appearances on the original Hawaii Five-O, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Firefly and more recently on an episode of CSI in 2014.

Glass' rep Jeffrey Leavitt tells TMZ ... "Ron passed late last night of respiratory failure. Ron was a private, gentle and caring man. He was an absolute delight to watch on screen. Words cannot adequately express my sorrow. "

Ron Glass

Sunday, November 27, 2016

White Enamel Mystery Game

 Click here to visit
Click above to play
Only Hint: Start game by clicking on a part (Like Part 1)
I will tell you everything that is nothing, and nothing of what is everything. Do not be fooled by what I am saying. Please listen carefully, try to hear what I am ...

World Births and Deaths, Simulated in Real-Time

Fascinating! Have to see it to believe it! Cool!
 Click here to visit
Click above to visit!

Death Date... When will you die?

click here to find out!
Click above, if you dare
The Wizard's results: The Mechanism computes date in three modes: neutral, optimistic and pessimistic. Current mode is: neutral - by its predictions you will live exactly 54 years, 4 months and 8 days

Predicted Death Date: 20 january 2017
Time left: 0 years, 1 month and 24 days

I didn't do so well.... :)

Abandoned Mental Hospital Game - Scary

Whose idea was it to break into an abandoned mental hospital on Halloween? Now I'm locked in and my friends are gone! I need to get out of here! Use your mouse to navigate the hospital and collect objects. Click on objects to examine, collect, and interact with them. Click on the question marks in your inventory to other objects, or into the room, to combine. Escape the mental hospital!
 click here to play!
Click above to play!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

The Urinal Game

The Urinal Game

Click above

Jeffery Straker - "Gravity" - Official Music Video


Proud to count Jeff among my friends. (He's nice to look at as well!)

11 Front Yard Decorating and Landscaping Mistakes to Avoid

Sure, It's Your Yard. But Everyone Else has to Look at It
crap in teh front yard
Our homes and yards are often personal expressions of who we are, and unless we live under the rules of a homeowners' association (HOA), we can pretty much landscape and decorate our front yards as we please.

However, some landscaping and decorating choices are best avoided. Among them: anything highly personalized, valuable, potentially offensive, or associated with hoarding.

Look at it this way: a front yard should be an entry garden that is pleasing, goes with the architectural style of a house, and uses plants that are native or indigenous to the region and are well maintained.

The entry and front door should also be easy to access, unless you live in a gate-guarded home or community.

Let your backyard be your personal outdoor space, where you can let your creativity, hobbies, passions, and favorite ways to relax all happen, privately.

No, They Can't Take That Away From Me. Or Can They?

Many cities and residential communities enforce or ban what you can and can't do with your front yard, which includes landscaping, decorating, and even operating something as innocent as a lemonade stand.

Before you build something, make plans, or invest time and money in your personal front yard project, check with local codes and ordinances.

To make it easier, consult this list of things that should not be happening in your front yard.

Click here to see the rest!

Art by Ruben Chavez

Art by Ruben Chavez
"It demonstrates a conflict between a man and a woman as well as the outer and inner expression of human nature. Their inner selves are executed in the form of transparent children, who are holding out their hands through the grating. As it’s getting dark (night falls) the children start to shine. This shining is a symbol of purity and sincerity that brings people together and gives a chance of making up when the dark time arrives.”
#AlexanderMilov (artist)
Art by Ruben Chavez

Cuba's Fidel Castro, former president, dies aged 90

from BBCNews.com
Fidel Castro
Fidel Castro led the Communist revolution in Cuba in 1959
Fidel Castro, Cuba's former president and leader of the Communist revolution, has died aged 90, his brother has said.

"The commander in chief of the Cuban revolution died at 22:29 hours this evening (03:29 GMT Saturday)," President Raul Castro said.

Fidel Castro ruled Cuba as a one-party state for almost 50 years before Raul took over in 2008. His supporters said he had given Cuba back to the people. But he was also accused of suppressing opposition.

Obituary: Fidel Castro
Fidel Castro: A life in pictures

Ashen and grave, President Castro told the nation in an unexpected late night broadcast on state television that Fidel Castro had died and would be cremated on Saturday.
There would now be several days of national mourning on the island.

Barring the occasional newspaper column, Fidel Castro had essentially been retired from political life for some time, the BBC's Will Grant in Havana reports.
In April, Fidel Castro gave a rare speech on the final day of the country's Communist Party congress.

He acknowledged his advanced age but said Cuban communist concepts were still valid and the Cuban people "will be victorious".

Fidel Castro made a rare appearance at Cuba's Communist Party congress
Fidel Castro made a rare appearance at Cuba's Communist Party congress
"I'll soon be 90," the former president said, adding that this was "something I'd never imagined". "Soon I'll be like all the others, "to all our turn must come," Fidel Castro said.

Castro temporarily handed over the power to his brother in 2006 as he was recovering from an acute intestinal ailment.

Raul Castro officially became president two years later.

more at BBCNews.com

Friday, November 25, 2016

World's Easiest Quiz...

(Passing requires 4 correct answers)

1) How long did the Hundred Years War last?
2) Which country makes Panama hats?
3) From which animal do we get cat gut?
4) In which month do Russians celebrate the October Revolution?
5) What is a camel's hair brush made of?
6) The Canary Islands in the Pacific are named after what animal?
7) What was King George VI's first name?
8) What colour is a purple finch?
9) Where are Chinese gooseberries from?
10) What is the colour of the black box in a commercial airplane?

Burning question mark
All done? To check your answers click here.

Normisms

Norm!
What's doing, Norm?
"Well, science is seeking a cure for thirst. I happen to be the guinea pig."

What's up, Norm?
"My nipples. It's freezing out there."

What's shaking, Norm?
"All four cheeks & a couple of chins."

What's new, Norm?
"Terrorists, Sam. They've taken over my stomach & they're demanding beer."

What'd you like, Normie?
"A reason to live. Give me another beer."

What'll you have, Normie?
"Well, I'm in a gambling mood Sammy. I'll take a glass of whatever comes out of the tap."
Looks like beer, Norm.
"Call me Mister Lucky."

Hey Norm, how's the world been treating you?
"Like a baby treats a diaper

What's the story, Mr. Peterson?
"The Bobbsey Twins go to the brewery. Let's cut to the happy ending."

Hey Mr. Peterson, there's a cold one waiting for you.
"I know, if she calls, I'm not here."

What's going on, Mr. Peterson?
"A flashing sign in my gut that says, 'Insert beer here.'"

"Whatcha up to, Norm?"
"My ideal weight if I were eleven feet tall."

How's it going, Mr. Peterson?"
"Poor."
I'm sorry to hear that.
"No, I mean pour."

How's life treating you, Norm?
"Like it caught me sleeping with its wife."

"Women. Can't live with 'em.... pass the beer nuts."

What's going down, Normie?
"My butt cheeks on that bar stool."

Pour you a beer, Mr. Peterson?
"Alright, but stop me at one....make that one-thirty."

How's it going, Mr. Peterson?
"It's a dog eat dog world, Woody & I'm wearing Milk Bone underwear."

What's the story, Norm?
"Boy meets beer. Boy drinks beer. Boy meets another beer."

Can I pour you a beer, Mr. Peterson?
"A little early, isn't it, Woody?"
For a beer?
"No, for stupid questions."

What's the story, Norm?
"Thirsty guy walks into a bar. You finish it."

What's new, Norm?
"Most of my wife."

Beer, Norm?
"Naah, I'd probably just drink it."

What's doing, Norm?
"Well, science is seeking a cure for thirst. I happen to be the guinea pig."

Can I draw you a beer, Norm?
"No, I know what they look like. Just pour me one."

How about a beer, Norm?
"Hey I'm high on life, Coach. Of course, beer is my life."

How's a beer sound, Norm?
"I dunno. I usually finish them before they get a word in."

Beer, Normie?
"Uh, Coach, I dunno, I had one this week. Eh, why not, I'm still young."

Norm comes in with an attractive woman. Normie, Normie, could this be Vera?
"With a lot of expensive surgery, maybe."

What would you say to a nice beer, Normie?
"Going down?"

What'll it be, Normie?
"Just the usual, Coach. I'll have a froth of beer and a snorkel."

What do you say, Norm?
"Any cheap, tawdry thing that'll get me a beer."

[coming in from the rain] "Evening, everybody."
Norm!
Still pouring, Norm?
"That's funny, I was about to ask you the same thing."

Whaddya say, Norm?
"Well, I never met a beer I didn't drink. And down it goes."

[Norm goes into the bar at Vic's Bowl-A-Rama] Off-screen crowd: Norm!
Sam: How the hell do they know him here?
Cliff: He's got a life, you know.

What's your pleasure, Mr. Peterson?
"Boxer shorts and loose shoes. But I'll settle for a beer."

How's life, Mr. Peterson?
"Oh, I'm waiting for the movie."

What can I do for you, Mr. Peterson?
"Elope with my wife."

How's life in the fast lane, Normie?
"Beats me, I can't find the on-ramp."

What's happening, Mr. Peterson?
"The question, Woody, why is it happening to me?"

How are you today, Mr. Peterson?
"Never been better, Woody. ... Just once I'd like to be better."

Hey, Mr. Peterson, what do you say to a cold one?
"See you later, Vera, I'll be at Cheers."

Well, look at you. You look like the cat that swallowed the canary.
"And I need a beer to wash him down."

Hey, Mr. Peterson, how's life?
"Well, the plot's okay, Woody, but it kind of falls apart at the end."

What's going on, Mr. Peterson?
"Let's talk about what's going in Mr. Peterson. A beer, Woody."

How's life treating you?
"It's not, Sammy, but that doesn't mean you can't."

Beer, Norm?
"Have I gotten that predictable? Good."

What do you know there, Norm?
"How to sit. How to drink. Want to quiz me?"

Hey, how's life treating you there, Norm?
"Beats me. ... Then it kicks me and leaves me for dead."

How would a beer feel, Mr. Peterson?
"Pretty nervous if I was in the room."

Hey, Mr. Peterson, what's up?
"The warranty on my liver."

What can I do for you, Norm?
"Open up those beer taps and, oh, take the day off, Sam."

What's going on, Normie?
"My birthday, Sammy. Give me a beer, stick a candle in it, and I'll blow out my liver."

How about a beer, Norm?
"That's that amber sudsy stuff, right? I've heard good things about it!"

What's shaking Mr. Peterson?
"What isn't?"

How's it going, Norm?
"Cut the small talk and get me a beer."

What can I do for you Norm?
"Well, I am going to need something to kill time before my second beer so how about a first one?"

How's life Norm?
" Ask a man whose got one."

What'll you have, Norm?
"Fame, fortune, and fast women."
How 'bout a beer?
"Even better."

How's the world treating you, Norm?
"Like I just ran over its dog."

"Parking Place"

As pastor of a two-church parish, my husband had to drive every Sunday morning about six kilometers from the 9:30 service at one church to the 11 o'clock at the other. He would often find the parking lot of the second church full, and be forced to park down the road and race to the church on foot. The problem was finally solved when he selected a parking spot near the side door of the church, where he posted a sign: YOU PARK - YOU PREACH.

"News"


God called down to Moses and said, "I've got good news and bad news. Which do you want first?"

Moses replied, "Most merciful God, if I have brought you any favor, please give me the good news first."

"Moses, the good news is that I've chosen you to deliver my people from bondage," God answered. "I will force Pharaoh to release my children by causing years of pestilence in Egypt. There will be plagues of locusts and frogs and incredible devastation upon the land. Pharaoh's armies will chase you as you try to leave, but do not fear because I will part the waters of the Red Sea to aid in your escape."

"And the bad news?" Moses inquired.

"You have to prepare the Environmental Impact Statement," God replied.

Florence Henderson, beloved mom on 'The Brady Bunch,' dies at 82

Florence Henderson, beloved mom on 'The Brady Bunch,' dies at 82
Florence Henderson arrives at a gala in Los Angeles on Oct. 29, 2014. Henderson, who went from Broadway star to television icon when she became Carol Brady on "The Brady Bunch," has died at age 82. (Jordan Strauss / AP)
by Tribune news services Contact Reporter

Florence Henderson, who went from Broadway star to become one of America's most beloved television moms in "The Brady Bunch," has died, her manager and her publicist said. She was 82.

Henderson died Thursday night at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, after being hospitalized the day before, said her publicist, David Brokaw. Henderson had suffered heart failure, her manager Kayla Pressman said in a statement.

Family and friends had surrounded Henderson's hospital bedside, Pressman said.

On the surface, "The Brady Bunch" with Henderson as its ever-cheerful matriarch Carol Brady, resembled just another TV sitcom about a family living in suburban America and getting into a different wacky situation each week.

But well after it ended its initial run, in 1974, the show resonated with audiences, and it returned to television in various forms again and again, including "The Brady Bunch Hour" in 1977, "The Brady Brides" in 1981 and "The Bradys" in 1990. It was also seen endlessly in reruns.

"It represents what people always wanted: a loving family. It's such a gentle, innocent, sweet show, and I guess it proved there's always an audience for that," Henderson said in 1999.

more at The Hartford Courant

Thursday, November 24, 2016

"Cannes" Photo Festival ;-)

From 2005 - but still pretty cool!

Architects and engineers compete to see whose team can build the most spectacular structure using little more than cans of food at Canstruction, the 13th annual NYC Design and Build competition in New York. The exhibit was at New York Design Center. At the end of the competition on 23 November 2005, the 130,000 cans that are part of the exhibit will be given to the Food Bank of New York City.

Can-erfly
CAN-ERFLY

Can-KONG
CAN-KONG

Can-Ster
CAN-STER

Can-&M's
CAN-&M's

Can-Maid
CAN-MAID

Can-Shuttle
CAN-SHUTTLE

Can-Obra
CAN-OBRA

Can-Lip
CAN-LIP

Can-Aliens
CAN-ALIENS

Do I Smell?

Trying to control my dry hair, I treated my scalp with olive oil before washing it. Worried that the oil might leave an odor, I washed my hair several times. That night when I went to bed, I leaned over to my husband and asked, "Do I smell like olive oil?"

"No," he said, sniffing me. "Do I smell like Popeye?"

I don't get it. If you do... make a comment

Making Sense Of English!

Nothin here
Lets face it
English is a stupid language.
There is no egg in the eggplant
No ham in the hamburger
And neither pine nor apple in the pineapple.
English muffins were not invented in England
French fries were not invented in France.

We sometimes take English for granted
But if we examine its paradoxes we find that
Quicksand takes you down slowly
Boxing rings are square
And a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

If writers write, how come fingers don't fing.
If the plural of tooth is teeth
Shouldn't the plural of phone booth be phone beeth
If the teacher taught,
Why didn't the preacher praught.

If a vegetarian eats vegetables
What the heck does a humanitarian eat!?
Why do people recite at a play
Yet play at a recital?
Park on driveways and
Drive on parkways
How can the weather be as hot as hell on one day
And as cold as hell on another

You have to marvel at the unique lunacy
Of a language where a house can burn up as
It burns down
And in which you fill in a form
By filling it out
And a bell is only heard once it goes!

English was invented by people, not computers
And it reflects the creativity of the human race
(Which of course isn't a race at all)

That is why
When the stars are out they are visible
But when the lights are out they are invisible
And why it is that when I wind up my watch
It starts
But when I wind up this poem
It ends.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

What STR8 Guys Do In The Bathroom...

Click here for the movie

Click above.

I remember it well...

The husband leans over and asks his wife, "Do you remember the first time we had sex together - over 50 years ago? We went behind this very tavern where you leaned against the back fence and I made love to you."

"Yes," she says, "I remember it well!"

"OK," he says, "How about taking a stroll around there again and we can do it for old time's sake?"

"Oh Charlie, you old devil, that sounds like a crazy, but very good idea!"

There's a police officer sitting in the next booth listening to all this, and having a chuckle to himself. He thinks, "I've got to see these two old-timers having sex against a fence. I'll just keep an eye on them so there's no trouble." So he follows them.

They walk haltingly along, leaning on each other for support, aided by walking sticks. Finally they get to the back of the tavern and make their way to the fence.

The old lady lifts her skirt and the old man drops his trousers.

As she leans against the fence, the old man moves in.

Suddenly, they erupt into the most furious sex that the watching policeman has ever seen! This goes on for about forty minutes.

Finally, they both collapse panting on the ground.

The policeman is amazed. He thinks he has learned something about life that he didn't know.

After about a half an hour of lying on the ground recovering, the old couple struggle to their feet and put their clothes back on.

The policeman, still watching thinks, this was truly amazing. He's got to ask them what their secret is.

As the couple passes, he say to them, "Excuse me, but that was something else. You must've had a fantastic sex life together. Is there some sort of secret to this?"


The old man says, "Fifty years ago that wasn't an electric fence."

Holy SH*T!

Trunk Monkey

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Your Child and Bullying - Tips for Parents and Communities

(ARA) - Many children in America today are terrified to attend school. At the extreme, this is caused by the school shootings that have occurred over the past ten years and once again recently on a reservation in Red Lake, Minnesota. These shootings are tragedies that we must work hard to end. But a much more common reason that children fear going to school is because they are being teased, taunted and often physically attacked at and on their way to and from school.

This behavior, also known as bullying, is prevalent in the lives of 30 percent of school children within a school year. It is a phenomenon that we must address and is one that requires a coordinated response across our communities. Left unchecked it creates an environment within our schools that leads to greater and greater levels of violence, including the types of school shootings that have tragically captured the nation's attention.

Would you know what to do if your child or someone you knew constantly appeared sad, moody, teary or depressed, and has lost interest or refuses to go to school? These symptoms are not uncommon and could be signs that a student is being bullied. Bullying must no longer be treated as a right of passage for children as they move through the school system. It is too rampant in scope and the harm it causes is too profound to be treated so lightly.

In one way or another all students are impacted by the act of bullying. Children who are bullied are at a greater chance of school failure, dropping out, depression, sleep disorders, suicidal ideations, and committing acts of violence as a means of retaliation. Children who act as the bully also are impacted -- having a greater probability of committing criminal acts later in life, perpetuating family violence and also committing suicide at a greater rate. Bullying even harms the bystanders, leaving them feeling helpless, out of control, intimidated and guilty for not taking action. It is important for everyone to know what to do to protect all children from bullying whether it is taking place in their schools or in their communities.

Working in collaboration with the Child Welfare League of America and others, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offers the following tips:

* Open up the lines of communication. Parents need to talk with their children about what is happening in their kids' lives -- both the good and the bad. This is particularly true about their hours in school and whether there is anything troubling about their school experience.

* If you are unsure, check your sources. If you are not certain that what your child is experiencing is bullying, do some research. There are very clearly defined warning signs. Go to StopBullyingNow to see if any of these fit the characteristics of your child.

* Help children take a stand. Empower children to notify an adult at their school if they are experiencing bullying and to stand up for themselves or others if they witness this action happening to their peers. Empowering them may mean standing by their side as they report this behavior to the school.

* Use every moment as a "teachable moment." Educators and school administrators need to use every opportunity to address the topic of bullying in their schools. They should use an incident of bullying as an opportunity to let all involved know that bullying is not acceptable and will not be allowed.

* Help to get your community focused on the problem of bullying. We can all play a pivotal role in developing coalitions designed to tackle this issue, helping to pass clear "codes of conduct" in our schools that address bullying in a proactive way, and targeting bullying early.

* Get a prevention program started in your community. Don't attempt to reinvent the wheel; instead consider one of the many useful programs located on the StopBullyingNow.hrsa.gov Web site. You can access information on step-by-step guides to get a program started where you live. Law enforcement can also be a vital resource in spearheading your efforts.

* Don't think that peer mediation and conflict resolution are the answer. Peer mediation and conflict resolution are not the best ways of dealing with most instances of bullying. These methods can re-traumatize the student who has been bullied and generally are not found to improve the relationship between the parties. Instead, adults should help the child being bullied to regain control of the situation through other means -- providing support and safety from retaliation for the child and any witnesses who report the bullying -- and holding the bully accountable for their actions.

* Create a safe and secure place for children to hang out. Children need a safe haven where they can feel protected from harm and deal with the issues that they are facing. We can all help to provide these places, while at the same time providing after school educational and recreational opportunities.

Bullying is no longer just a school-yard issue. In light of the school shootings in the late 90s and again in recent weeks, bullying is a problem that everyone needs to take personally. There are resources out there that all of us can use. Go to the Department of Health and Human Services Web site www.StopBullyingNow.hrsa.gov to find the tip sheets that parents, peers, kids, administrators, law enforcement, educators and communities can follow to do their part in making a difference in the lives of children who are being bullied. If we do, we may end up saving a child's life.

*Shay Bilchik is President and CEO, Child Welfare League of America

Two Sisters

Two sisters, one blonde and one brunette, inherit the family ranch.

Unfortunately, after just a few years, they are in financial trouble.

In order to keep the bank from repossessing the ranch, they need to purchase a bull so that they can breed their own stock. Upon leaving, the brunette tells her sister, "When I get there, if I decide to buy the bull, I'll contact you to drive out after me and haul it home."

The brunette arrives at the man's ranch, inspects the bull, and decides she wants to buy it.

The man tells her that he will sell it for $599, no less.

! After buying him, she drives to the nearest town to send her sister a telegram to tell her the news. She walks into the telegraph office, and says, "I want to send a telegram to my sister telling her that I've bought a bull for our ranch. I need her to hitch the trailer to our pickup truck and drive out here so we can haul it home."

The telegraph operator explains that he'll be glad to help her, then adds, "It's just 99 cents a word."

Well, after paying for the bull, the brunette only has $1 left. She realizes that she'll only be able to send her sister one word. After thinking for a few minutes, she nods, and says, "I want you to send her the word "comfortable".

The telegraph operator shakes his head. "How is she ever going to know that you want ! her to hitch the trailer to your pickup truck and drive out here to haul that bull back to your ranch if you send her the word, "comfortable?'"

The brunette explains, "My sister's blonde. The word's big. She'll read it slow. - - - - "com-for-da-bul"