Saturday Morning Links

1. Ever heard of Mt. Taranaki? Me neither. It’s a dormant volcano in the North Island of New Zealand, western side of the island. I absolutely love mythology, regardless of the origin.

According to Māori mythology,[23] Taranaki once resided in the middle of the North Island, with all the other New Zealand volcanoes. The beautiful Pihanga was coveted by all the mountains, and a great battle broke out between them. Tongariro eventually won the day,[24] inflicted great wounds on the side of Taranaki, and causing him to flee. Taranaki headed westwards, following Te Toka a Rahotu (the Rock of Rahotu) and forming the deep gorges of the Whanganui River,[25] paused for a while, creating the depression that formed the Te Ngaere swamp, then heading north. Further progress was blocked by the Pouakai Ranges, and as the sun came up Taranaki became petrified in his current location. When Taranaki conceals himself with rainclouds, he is said to be crying for his lost love, and during spectacular sunsets, he is said to be displaying himself to her.[26] In turn, Tongariro’s eruptions are said to be a warning to Taranaki not to return.

Photo by Sophie Turner on Unsplash

2. Via the BBC, two of Charles Darwin’s journals were returned to the Cambridge University Library in a pink gift bag.

3. Via Texas Monthly, the story of  Elsik and their high school soccer team made up almost entirely of immigrants. I see so much of Yo in some of those faces (there is a student from the Democratic Republic of Congo on the team).

4. Via D Magazine, Iztok Franko is from Slovenia, the same place as Luka Doncic and he wrote about his visit to Dallas to see Luka. Iztok is an insanely talented writer and explainer of basketball.

5. The Oregon coast.

Saturday Morning Links

1. Ever heard of Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park? It’s a national park in Brazil on top of a plateau that’s 1.8 billion years old. It is a park that is 929 square miles and is known for it’s huge waterfalls.

Photo by J. Balla Photography on Unsplash

2. I didn’t know what “hot girl shit” was and now I know how race car drivers do or should do hot girl shit.

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3. Via NPR, Pradeep Mehra runs 5 miles every day after working his shift at McDonald’s in order to stay in shape to eventually join the India army and to then go home and cook for his brother (who is also working the night shift). For me, this is really about how people all around the world do things to get by and we’re all running in some form or fashion to get things done or do things or maybe we’re normal.

4. Via LondonSE1, the largest Roman mosaic from 175-225 AD was recently discovered and it’s a work of art.

5. Anton somewhere is a Ukrainian YouTuber and he normally does amazing travel videos and now he’s chronicling life in Kyiv under the Russian siege.

Saturday Morning Links

1. Arizona is amazing. Honestly it was way too short of a time and could have spent a week there. We left on Saturday morning and after travel and everything else, we arrived in Flagstaff around 4 in the afternoon. We flew into Phoenix and then drove to Flagstaff from there, which is about 2 and a half hours later.

2. The first day we go to Sedona and I should say that it was my family, my parents, my sister and her 4 kiddos, my brother, his wife and 1-year old, and my sister who was by herself. We take the scenic route from Flagstaff to Sedona and down the valley and it was really beautiful. I drove, so I couldn’t take it in like I wanted, but it is a drive I would take again. We do a small hike, the Birthing Cave, that was maybe a mile or so away from the trailhead. It was really pretty and the red rock and the blue sky are just perfect. A perfect combination of colors. We have lunch at the car and then we go into town to walk around for a bit and then we went to the Chapel of the Holy Cross. My wife loves the vacation t-shirt so there’s just no stopping that. On the way home, things became more adventureous. I started to become very short of breath and was essentially gasping for air. I was of course driving and we were maybe 15 minutes outside of Flagstaff. The highway patrol were called, but my wife ended up driving me to the emergency room in Flagstaff. This has happened to be before, maybe 15 years ago. It was my diaphragm contracting, almost like a muscle spasm and when it happened previously the doctors gave me a muscle relaxer and it stopped. Well, in this instance, it didn’t stop until I got into the emergency room and they put some fluids in me and by the time I had relaxed it was better. All of my vitals came back normal, the only thing that was off was really high blood pressure. After 5 hours in the ER, I was sent home.

3. The next day we went to Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument and it was just terrific. The weather was still cool and there was still ice on the ground, but it was just lovely and the blue skies were great with all of the lava rock and pine trees. We then looped around to the Wupatki National Monument and it was also terrific. Just a really neat site and to drive down from Sunset Crater to Wupatki is incredibly extreme even though it only takes like half an hour. The trip back to Flagstaff requires you to basically drive through the saddle of the range where Flagstaff sits.

4. The next day, my wife and kids had wanted to do the Grand Canyon, but the rest of the crew was unsure as to how that would work with smaller kids. So we piled in the minivan and drove the hour and a half to the Grand Canyon and it did not disappoint. In fact, it was one of the most favorite places I’ve ever been. We did the hike down to Cedar Ridge, which still had a bit of ice on it, but once it opened up to the canyon was was work and beautiful. Just loved the whole experience. I wish we would have hiked just a bit more to see the river, but we had a long day driving, we had not eaten lunch, and we had to hike back up, which ended up not being that bad at all. I’m also fairly certain that I saw Jim Walmsley running back up the canyon. We grabbed a burger in the small town that’s just south of the entrance and the hour and a half back to Flagstaff really wasn’t that bad at all. We didn’t spend nearly enough time around the Grand Canyon, but I’m very thankful to have been there.

5. I’d tell you that I absolutely loved my time in Arizona. Would do again and I’m almost certain that we really didn’t do all of the things to do around Flagstaff and the various hikes that are along the way to Sedona. We probably just hit the tip of the iceberg and I’m almost certain we’ll be back in some form or fashion.

Saturday Morning Links

1. Ever heard of El Nido? Me neither. It is a municipality in the province of Palawan, Philippines. This is a well-known place and it is one of those picturesque places that you’ve probably seen a million times. So there’s a distinct possibility that you’ve seen this photo or photos from El Nido, but not known what it was called. Now you can plan your vacation.

Photo by Cris Tagupa on Unsplash

2. Ever heard of Mansa Musa? It is thought that he was the richest person in history, having an estate of $400 billion and lived from 1280 to 1337 but is actually difficult to calculate and that he had more gold than thought possible and he reigned over the Mali Empire. Another aside was that Musa is Arabic for Moses and Mansa means third born.

3. You will be able to view Stephen Hawking’s blackboard, which is wild for me as I’ve only remembered him as being bound by his wheelchair, but he definitely doodled and it’s neat to look at for sure.

4. I don’t know what my top 5 animals would be. I would need to give that some thought, but they would definitely include the buffalo, horses, and the rhinoceros. This is a story of bringing back the White Rhinoceros in Zambia:

But a series of key decisions around the management of the park have made it an exception, the first of which happened long before reintroduction even began. In 1986, the Zambia Wildlife Authority (now, the Zambian Department of National Parks and Wildlife) joined forces with the international conservation organization the Frankfurt Zoological Society to form one of the first partnerships of its kind in Africa. This collaborative management partnership (CMP), which gave birth to the North Luangwa Conservation Program (NLCP) that exists to this day, did a few key things.

First, it provided financial and technical support to get large-scale poaching under control to an extent that had been impossible under meager national government funding in a park without much tourism. Deploying special intelligence-based protection units, skilled rangers, ecological data monitoring, canine units and even monitoring by aircraft, North Luangwa became the safest national park in Zambia. Elephant populations rebounded and breeding herds settled. Lions and wild dogs made a comeback. Evidence of poaching slowly evaporated.

5. I’ve mentioned that I don’t watch a lot of TV other than sports, but this is another thing that I enjoy watching, which is time lapse videos of the stars. It is nothing short of amazing for me to watch, which may make me a child that I’m still enthralled by this, but I’m okay with that.

Saturday Morning Links

1. Ever heard of Tsé Bitʼaʼí? That’s actually Shiprock and the Tsé Bitʼaʼí is the Navajo name, which translates to “rocks with wings” or “winged rock”. I am almost positive I’ve seen a picture of this before, never knew the name. Tsé Bitʼaʼí is a monadnock (which is an isolated rock and I did not know this word before right now) and has a significant religious importance with the Navajo people. I am sure I am not the only person that loved reading first nation explanations of things as a kid growing up and still do.

Photo by Jimmy Conover on Unsplash

2. I’ve mentioned before that I don’t watch TV, but I do watch things and one of the things that I watch is this guy, Scotty’s Gone Walkabouts, he basically hikes and eats in the Australian Outback. In this particular episode, Scotty hikes out, just can’t get over how amazing the stars look while having a gin and tonic, chides fellow Aussies for leaving trash at campsites, and generally very much cares about the way he leaves things.

3. This is super-interesting to me, but a guy was hacked by North Korean spies and he decides to get them back, all from the comfort of his home. If you don’t think that a bunch of nerds (and I use that term as a person who considers himself a nerd) run the internet and fix and break things on purpose then you would be incorrect.

4. For the first time from the Hubble telescope, two galaxies interacting with each other? It’s an amazing photo even if you don’t know what’s happening.

5. Did you know that the US stores 1.4 million pounds of surplus cheese in caves in Missouri?

Saturday Morning Links

1. Ever heard of Nagaland? Me neither, but it is a state in northeast India. As an aside, the attribution link didn’t work on Unsplash and want to make sure and point you right here as to where I got the photo.

2. Such a weird week. I had planned gallbladder removal for Thursday and that was really just the start of the week. Almost 10 months ago I went in for a regular physical and was wanting to get some more life insurance. I had some liver numbers that were slightly off and so my doctor asked me to lay off of alcohol for a few weeks and get re-tested. My last sip of alcohol was March 31st. The results improved, but not perfect so the search continued. X-rays, ultrasounds, and MRI’s later, I eventually arrive at the idea that I do have gallstones and the best way to make sure that nothing was wrong was to have the gallbladder removed before the gallstones really become an issue and then do a liver biopsy.

3. Zoey has been my wife’s and my dog for our entire marriage. Right before Miranda and I were to get married Zoey walked up to her parents’ house, where she was living at the time, and she asked if we could keep her and how could I say no to my bride-to-be? She was a very good puppy dog, the kind of dog that was nearly perfect. Never a problem save for a couple of times. She must have been hit as a puppy because she never wagged her tail when you would pet her, she was seemingly always scared. Funny how things that happen to you can shape you as a person or a dog. We eventually had 3 dogs, my wife’s pug Olive and I had a dog that I adopted, Blue. When we brought Fitsum home, Olive died and I’m not exactly sure what happened, but Blue attacked Zoey and broke her hip. I had to give Blue to my brother for fear that she would kill Zoey. This would have been a decade ago. She was an absolute disaster, but we took her to the vet and they somehow fixed her up and 10 years later her body finally gave out. The past few years Zoey has lost her sight and hearing for the most part. She could still see bright lights and loud claps, but that was about it. By the end of her life she was in a lot of pain in the end, she struggled to lay down and we had prepared the boys and they knew how much pain she was in. On Wednesday, we said goodbye to sweet Zoey.

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4. A high school student at the school district where my wife teaches wanted to do her UIL project on our family and I think it turned out wonderfully.

5. It’s been 4 decades since I’ve been fully anesthetized. All I could think about when it happened this week for me was this is what it was like for Zoey to go to sleep in her last moments. It is incredibly peaceful and that gave me some solace. Having those two events so close together couldn’t have been more strange and normally I wouldn’t associate the two.

Saturday Morning Links

Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash

1. Ever heard of Taghazout? Me neither. It’s a small fishing and surfing village in Morocco, approximately 5,000 people. It looks like the kind of place that no one really knows about, but you know about and you go there in the winter and you spend a week at the beach.

Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash

2. I’ve only participated in a couple of ultramarathons and to see all that happens behind the scenes is amazing. Plus, footage of the Pacific Northwest, Victoria B.C., is pretty fantastic.

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3. Medieval warhorses were really no bigger than ponies, via the Guardian.

Outram said the vast majority of medieval horses, including ones believed to have been used in war, were less than 14.2 hands (4ft 10in) high, the maximum height of a modern pony.

One of the biggest they found was a horse from the Norman period, the remains of which were discovered in the grounds of Trowbridge castle in Wiltshire, but it was only 15 hands – the size of a small modern light riding horse.

Outram said that size clearly wasn’t the be-all and end-all for medieval warriors. He said that there might well have been some particularly large warhorses but armies would also have needed smaller horses for tasks such as harrying a retreating enemy, carrying out long-range raids and transporting equipment.

4. GQ on the best footballer in the world, Mohamed Salah.

5. I’ve been alcohol free since April 1st of 2021. Not an April Fool’s Day joke, but I suppose it could be. In the months leading up to April 1st I was trying to get some life insurance and I took a blood tests that turned up some weird results with some liver things. My doctor asked me to take a break from alcohol so I could get those tests done. The results improved and there are still issues which I hope to have resolved soon, but being alcohol free has been good. And I was never a big drinker. The most I’d drink in a day is 3 beers and I never got drunk in college. It just never appealed to me. Not having any alcohol as a 47-year old man is definitely different and I thought I’d miss it, but I really don’t. Not really at all. I sleep better and being clear 100% of the time has both its upside and downside. I probably won’t go back, largely because I don’t’ think I need it in my life and I’m perfectly content not drinking. I’m one of those annoying people that doesn’t really succumb to peer pressure so that won’t bother me in the future.

Saturday Morning Links

Photo by Allyson Beaucourt on Unsplash

1. Ever heard of Etretat? Me neither, but it looks like the White Cliffs of Dover, but this is actually Etretat in France, so they essentially mirror each other and the only reason I’m posting this is because I had never considered the same thing on the other side of the English Channel.


Photo by Laurent Gence on Unsplash

2. The James Webb Space Telescope is hurtling in space and if you want to know exactly where it is, this site from NASA tells you exactly where it is and how it has been deployed.

3. I found this very humorous because so many times art is revered, particularly art of Christ, but that doesn’t mean the artist did a good job of drawing a baby and yes, it appears at times that the artist has never seen a baby.

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4. These are the church forests of Ethiopia, or also called “Gardens of Eden” and are oases in the middle of deserts that are protected by their priests. Ethiopia is in such a unique part of Africa, so close to Egypt and the Middle East and if you want to see one aspect of Ethiopia, these pictures are great.

5. And since we’re talking about art, we should also talk about good art, via Open Culture, exploring all 717 gigapixel’s of Rembrandt’s The Night Watch. And watch this for an idea as to why it is important.

Saturday Morning Links

1. Ever heard of the Cameron Highlands? Me neither. It sounds like some place in Scotland, but it’s actually an area in Malaysia. It was surveyed by geologist William Cameron in 1885, hence the name, and is known for well, farming as you might guess, tea, orchards, golf courses, wildlife, etc.

Photo by Sokmean Nou on Unsplash

2. Beau Miles is back and he’s planting a tree for every minute in the day.

3. Want to start 2022 on the right foot? WeRateDogs’ Dogs of 2021.

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4. From Inverse, how dogs went from wolves to our best friends according to scientists:

“We propose that initial selection during early dog domestication was for behavior … which secondarily gave rise to the phenotypes of modern dogs,” the study’s authors write.

The authors of the study found the behavioral traits that were selected first eventually led to the selection of the physical traits of modern dogs. They concluded that primary selection during domestication “likely targeted tameness,” so you can thank our ancestors for teaching wolves to chill out, as tameness appeared as a trait before any other differences between wolves and dogs developed.

5. I don’t know how to end this week’s Saturday Morning Links. Another thing to read or perhaps another video doesn’t seem appropriate. 2021 was weird and I am ready for a non-weird year. I hope that you are happy and healthy and that you improve upon your 2022. Last year I did my year in graphs and I haven’t had time to find my old spreadsheets, but I can assure you that I have accomplished my mini-goals every day for this past year.

  • 458 straight days of having a glass of water before coffee.
  • 453 straight days of writing a gratitude journal.
  • 697 straight days of picking up a book.
  • 736 straight days of doing 100 push ups.
  • 368 straight days of planks.
  • 341 straight days of meditating for at least 3 minutes.
  • 368 straight days of putting away my phone when I got home from work.
  • 623 straight days of brushing my teeth at night. This is what started these habits, or finding an app to track them.

Saturday Morning Links

1. Ever heard of the Banks Peninsula? Me neither. A normal photo of what it is really doesn’t do it justice, but an overhead view from a NASA satellite photograph really makes you appreciate how it just sprouts up from nothing, this huge land mass. And the peninsula is two large shield volcanoes that were formed 8 million years ago. The header photo is from the Akaroa Harbor, which looks amazing.

Header Photo by Michael on Unsplash

2. Really kind of a neat story of a man, Hugh Wilson, who had a vision to turn the Banks Peninsula in New Zealand back into it’s native vegetation, which was old growth forest through a conservancy and purchasing land and letting the land do it’s thing. Imagine doing something with your life that you will likely never fully realize.

3. I read two really long articles while at soccer practice for Youssouf, Texas Monthly’s Skip Hollandsworth writing “The Notorious Mrs. Mossler” and D Magazine’s James Dolan writing “My Father, the Hitman”.

4. The Atlantic’s top 25 news photos of 2021.

5. Tommy Rivs Puzey is the guy that taught me how to run. He didn’t do it personally, but through i-Fit on my Nordic Track treadmill. Tommy has a rare form of cancer that affected his lungs, was in a coma from June or July through November and his weight went down to 95 pounds. I found his coma experience absolutely fascinating and hopeful and maybe a guidepost for how to live your life. Tommy wasn’t here, he was somewhere out there. He makes it clear that this was his experience, and not everyone’s experience. If you want to start at a place, start at the 49 minute mark. I cannot tell you how much I love and appreciate this experience.

The most powerful part for me, especially with my wife and her family losing her brother, was his explanation of what heaven and hell was for him. Again, this is what was in his consciousness and this was his experience and he definitely wasn’t attempting to be definitive of what your experience may be.

It’s not just darkness, it doesn’t just end. And it’s right here, it’s all happening right here, but it’s different. I remember realizing that, okay, if I become unmoored from this body, I can’t go back, and I will still be here, right here. All of this will still be happening, but I won’t have the ability to communicate with everybody who’s still in that space. And I remember thinking how agonizing that would be to see my girls and that they would still be right here, but I wouldn’t be able to communicate to them. I wouldn’t be able to let- But you would have awareness of the other dimension. But also complete awareness of all of their fear and all of their questions and all of their grief and all of their heartache and being able to see it and feel all of it, but not be able to reach across and say, but I’m still right here, just so I’m still right here. The fear of that was a huge motivator.

I remember also thinking and feeling and seeing that heaven and hell and they exist, but they exist to everybody simultaneously. And they exist in proportion to the amount of love that we give and the amount of love that we’re able to receive. And then the hell part is the recollection and the understanding of all of the love that we didn’t give and didn’t receive when we could have, and that heaven and hell exists simultaneously based off of the different relationships that we had while we had the opportunity to express those things. That there could be a sense of heaven. It’s such a big term, but a sense of peace with the way that we conducted ourselves with a certain individual and the complete opposite was an awareness of the way that we connect to ourselves with somebody else. And that it’s all connected, that it all continues.

And that, gosh, just the urgency of now and that what we continue to feel beyond this is directly linked with the way that we interact with people.