Friday, April 30, 2010

Telephone: The Afghanistan Remake

The video below was posted on YouTube on April 23, 2010 by "malibumelcher". The caption to it reads: "This is a couple guys located in afghanistan, that re-made the music video by Lady Gaga....Telephone. Prepare yourself for a fantastical journey.
Right now this is the temporary version, we have more scenes to cut, and edit, however with guys always on mission it is harder to film than you think."

This video is awesome! I can't wait to see the final edit of this video!

Way to go, guys! I have to say this is my favorite Lady Gaga remake yet.

New Species of Ancient Flying Reptile Discovered

If you've read any of the past posts in this blog you know I am a huge fan of news about the discovery of a new species. I've talked about a few, exciting new discoveries, recently. However, this new species discovery is quite different from those I've talked about previously.

This new discovery isn't an animal you'll be able to travel to some remote location of the globe to try and catch a glimpse of or one that you'll be reading about conservation efforts to protect. This new discovery is about a species of flying reptile that lived almost 95 million years ago according to scientists.

The flying reptile, or pterosaur, had a wingspan of 9 feet and flew over what is currently the Dallas-Fort Worth area of Northern Texas in the United States. A fossilized jaw was discovered embedded in soft, powdery shale during an excavation of a hillside next to a highway in the area in 2006.

New analysis of the jaw suggests it belongs to a never-before-known genus of pterosaur named Aetodactylus halli. It was named after the individual who discovered it, Lance Hall, a hobbyist fossil hunter and member of the Dallas Paleontological Society. The animal was identified and named by Timothy S. Myers of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.

The jaw measures about 15 inches (38 centimeters) long and originally contained 54 slender, pointed teeth. Only two teeth were still intact at the time of discovery. The discovery of a pterosaur with teeth was surprising to scientists as all North American pterosaurs were toothless with the exception of the Coloborhynchus.

While the Aetodactylus halli isn't something we'll ever get to actually see in the wild I still think this is a pretty fascinating and remarkable discovery.

For more information about this discovery and to see a photo of the jaw discovered by Lance Hall refer to this article.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Massive NASA Space Balloon Crashes in Australia

A giant 400-foot (121-meter) balloon belonging to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) crashed into the Australian outback on Thursday, April 29, 2010. The balloon was loaded with a telescope that had been built to scan the sky at wavelengths invisible to the human eye. the balloon crashed just after the balloon was beginning to lift its payload. It crashed through a fence, overturned a nearby SUV and narrowly missed another parked car containing an Alice Springs couple watching the launch. The equipment carried by the balloon was destroyed.

The launch of the balloon and telescope occurred at the Alice Springs Balloon Launching Center in the northern territory of Australia.

The telescope being carried by the balloon was a Nuclear Compton Telescope (NCT), a gamma-ray telescope built by astronomer Steven Boggs and his colleagues at the University of California at Berkeley. The telescope took the team of scientists years to build. Some of the NCT components appear to have survived the crash relatively intact.

Had the launch gone off without a hitch, the balloon would have climbed to an altitude of approximately 23 miles (37 kilometers). This was the second NASA balloon campaign this month in the Australian territory. The first experiment, which happened on April 15, 2010, was a launch of a Tracking and Imaging Gamma Ray Experiment, a gamma-ray telescope, for searching the galactic center of the sky for emissions from radioactive materials. That launch went according to plan.

The crash site has been cleaned up and the wreckage returned to a staging hangar. The crash is being investigated. The balloon was unmanned and no one was injured as a result of the crash.

Australian officials have announced another balloon payload, an X-ray telescope named HERO for mapping the galactic center for NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in May of this year.

NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration is an Executive Branch agency of the United States government. It's duties include aeronautics and aerospace research and the United States space program. The mission statement of NASA is to "pioneer the future in space exploration, scientific discovery and aeronautics research." It was established on July 29, 1985 and became fully operational on October 1, 1958. It employs almost 18,000 individuals with an annual budget of almost 18 billion US dollars. It is is headquartered in Washington, D.C. and has 18 centers, stations and facilities in the United States and one station each in Canberra, Australia and Madrid, Spain.

For more information on NASA visit their official web site.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Dark News on the Alzheimer's Front

Alzheimer's Disease is something very personal to me. I lost my beloved grandmother three years ago to his horrible disease. There isn't a day that goes by that I do not miss her and wish that she hadn't developed the horrible form of dementia. I watched her go from a vibrant, loving and active woman down to someone who couldn't care for herself, speak or even remember my name. Because of her struggle with the disease I make sure to keep myself informed of new developments in Alzheimer's research.

There is some new news on the disease that isn't quite as positive as I would have liked for it to be.

For years now we have heard that if we challenge our minds, exercise and eat the right kinds of foods and even take certain dietary supplements we could possibly prevent, or at the very least, slow down Alzheimer's Disease.

According to studies done by Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois, this isn't the case. A group of medical experts poured over the dozens of studies of ways to possibly prevent Alzheimer's Disease and concluded that none of the ways we've long been told could help does anything to prevent the disease.

According to Dr. Martha Daviglus, chairwoman of an independent panel meeting at the National Institute of Health outside Washington D.C., most of the studies that have been done thus far show associations but none show cause and effect.

Alzheimer's Disease is an incurable disease and scientists currently do not completely understand how it works. Research continues to determine just how the disease develops and progresses. There are drugs that have been approved to treat Alzheimer's Disease but the effect they have on the disease is only temporary. They do not cure it.

The Alzheimer's Association says that as many as 5.3 million Americans have the disease and they estimate that as many as 16 million will be affected by the disease by 2050.

You can download and read the entire report here.

For more information on Alzheimer's Disease visit the Alzheimer's Association web site.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The 2010 Kentucky Derby

The Run for the Roses
The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports
The Fastest Two Minutes in Sports
The Sport of Kings

Whatever you call prefer to call it, the 136th Kentucky Derby is almost upon us! It doesn't matter where in the world you are from, chances are you've heard of or even watched a broadcast of the Kentucky Derby.

Why is the Derby called the "Run for the Roses" you might ask? Good question! It is nicknamed that because the winning horse is draped with a blanket of 554 red roses. The current governor of the State of Kentucky awards the garland and trophy to the winner. The first recorded record of a horse being draped with the blanket of roses was 1896 and it has happened every year since with the exception of 2008. Big Brown, the horse that won the Derby didn't like flowers and the jockey didn't wish to upset the winner so he didn't allow the blanket of roses to be placed on the horse.

In a little over four days on May 1, 2010 the jockeys will saddle up, lead their horses into the stalls at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky and shoot out of the gates to the words "and they're off!!" to take that two minute, one and one-fourth mile ride that will lead them to either fame or disappointment. The rich and famous, and even the not-so-rich and famous turn out in droves to sip Mint Juleps (an iced drink of bourbon, mint and sugar syrup) and eat a dish of burgoo (a thick beef, chicken, pork and vegetable stew). They party and celebrate the biggest event Louisville sees all year. In 2007 even Queen Elizabeth II attended the Kentucky Derby.

But it isn't just Derby Day seeing the partying. For two weeks before the Big Day there are parties galore in Louisville. So, even as you read this there is a party happening somewhere in Louisville, Kentucky celebrating the Derby.

If you're lucky enough to secure a ticket to the Derby you can watch the race from the infield, where the "average" spectator can sit for general admission prices although the seats are usually so poor you can see very little of the race. Or, if you happen to be rich enough or know the right person you can watch the race from "Millionaire's Row". Millionaire's Row is an exclusive and extremely expensive section of box seats where the rich, famous, well-connected and sometimes royal spectators are privileged enough to sit. It's there where you will see men and women in fine outfits and the ladies wearing large, and often rather elaborate hats. Unless you're just a race junkie that absolutely must attend the event your best bet, and best seat, is right in front of your television on race day. You can see every second of the race and don't have to worry about being seated in front of a woman with a large, ugly and annoying hat.

The Kentucky Derby is responsible for making such household names as the two most winning jockeys of all time: Eddie Arcaro (1938, 1941, 1945, 1948, 1952) and Bill Hartack (1957, 1960, 1962, 1964, 1969), Ben A. Jones, the trainer with the most wins (1938, 1941, 1944, 1948, 1949, 1952), William "Willy" Shoemaker (1955, 1959, 1965, 1986), and Calumet Farms, the owner with the most wins (1941, 1944, 1948, 1949, 1952, 1957, 1958, 1968). Notable horses include Mine that Bird (2009), Barbaro (2006), Smarty Jones (2004), Funny Cide (2003), War Emblem (2002), Seattle Slew (1977), Dancer's Image (1968), Citation (1948), War Admiral (1937), Sir Barton (1919) and the very first winner of the Derby, Aristides in 1875.

Probably the most famous of all Kentucky Derby names is Secretariat. Owned by Penny Chenery and trained by Canadian Lucien Laurin and ridden by Canadian jockey Ron Turcotte, Secretariat is probably the most famous racehorse of them all. He was the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years and he set not one, but two speed records. Secretariat completed the Kentucky Derby in 1973 at 1:59 and the Belmont Stakes in 2:24 . Both records stand to this day.

The Kentucky Derby is the first of three races in the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing held each year. The Preakness Stakes (held on the 3rd Saturday in May each year) run at the Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland and the Belmont Stakes (in June five weeks after the Derby and three weeks after Preakness) run at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York are the second and third events.

Only eleven horses have ever won the Triple Crown. The last horse to win the United States Triple Crown was Affirmed in 1978. Perhaps this will be the year we see another Triple Crown winner?!

For more information about the Kentucky Derby you can visit the Official Kentucky Derby Web Site.

In the meantime, enjoy this video replay of the 2009 Kentucky Derby presented on the Kentucky Derby Official YouTube Channel. They also have videos posted showing you how to make your own gaudy Derby hat, Mint Julep's and other racing videos.

Monday, April 26, 2010

New Killer Whale Species Proposed

There have been several stories in the news lately about new species that have been
discovered. I personally would love to see a new story like this in the news every single day of the week.

The latest news is that scientists have proposed a new species of killer whale.

In the North Pacific, three distinct types of killer whales are recognized: resident orcas, transient orcas and offshore orcas. The three different types seem to live in the oceans surrounding Antarctica as well: type-A, type-B and type-c.

Using a fairly new method called highly parallel sequencing scientists have been able to "see clear differences among the species" according to Phillip Morin, a geneticist at NOAA's Southwest Fisheries Science Center in La Jolla, California.

As of now, it is unclear whether the resident, offshore, type-A Antarctic and North
Atlantic types of Orcas are a single species, separate species or separate subspecies. Researchers would like more samples for further analysis but collecting information on killer whales in the wild isn't always the easiest thing to do.

Concrete information on the species of killer whales is important because not only does it help us understand them better but it will also help in conservation efforts.

Orcas, or killer whales as they are commonly known, aren't really whales at all. They're actually the largest of all dolphins. Orcas are intelligent and powerful animals that have the capability of hunting and killing anything including the much feared great white shark. Orcas are probably most widely known and recognizable for their appearances in the "Free Willy" movies and for their performances at marine parks such as Sea World.

For more information and a graphic check out this article.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sunday Funnies: Mr. Bean

If there's one thing I really love to do it is laugh. And Rowan Atkinson can surely make me do that.

I was first introduced to him when I managed to catch his one man show Rowan Atkinson, Live! on late night television many, many years ago. I absolutely fell in love with him and his comedy then and I have loved everything he's done since.

Mr. Atkinson is probably best known around the world as the rarely-speaking, easy-to-get-into-trouble Mr. Bean. There were only 14 episodes of the live action Mr. Bean series ever made so considering the popularity of Mr. Bean, I think that says a lot!

For this weeks Sunday Funny I have chosen a clip from one of my favorite Mr. Bean live action episodes. This clip is from Mr. Bean in Room 426. For whatever reason, Mr. Bean is spending a couple of days in a hotel. Apparently, for reasons only known to the strange mind of Mr. Bean, he feels the need to compete with the man in the room next to his. When his "competitor" heads to the dining room Mr. Bean is close behind. He vows he will eat more food faster than his competitor. And he does. But there is a problem. The oysters he eats aren't exactly good so Mr. Bean ends up paying for his competitive ways.

He wakes up a little after midnight after a hard night of being ill to the sound of a loud television in the room next to his. Of course, he wants that noise stopped so he goes next door to complain. Should be easy enough, right? Well, not exactly. Nothing really is easy with Mr. Bean, is it?

Enjoy this Sunday Funny and, if you've got the time, take a chance to view more videos upped by this user: the Official Mr. Bean YouTube Channel! You'll find clips from the live action Mr. Bean series and the animated Mr. Bean series (which is just as great as the live action). There are over 300 videos there to enjoy in all.

Happy laughing! (I know you will!)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

New Species Discovered in Borneo

What better news could we receive for Earth Day than the discovery of a new species? How about the discovery of a whopping 123 new species! Now that is some seriously good news, isn't it?

The species live in the remote forests of Borneo and include such interesting finds as a frog that can glide through the air, numerous orchids, a gorgeous snake called the Kopstein's Bronzeback and a greenish-yellow slug that shoots "love darts" at would-be mates.

For more information and to download the report of these amazing finds visit the website WWF.

You can view a photo slide show of some of the new species here and read an e-mail exchange between and Christoper Greenwood, WWF Initiative's international communications manager here.

Happy Earth Day!!

It's that time of year again! It's Earth Day! Today is the day to do anything and everything you can to protect the planet and environment.

2010 marks the 40th anniversary of the very first Earth Day. In 1970, U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson founded Earth Day as an environmental teach in and it has since been picked up by numerous countries worldwide. Even the United Nations celebrates Earth Day each year, usually on or around the 20th of March.

Some 20 million individuals, schools and organizations participated in the very first Earth Day. In the 40 years since, that number skyrocketed to well over 200 million individuals.

We have realized the necessity for protecting the planet and environment and realize that everyone, not just a few, must commit themselves to doing what is right instead of what is easy.

There are so many ways we all can start living a "greener" life. What we eat, what we wear, the appliances in our homes, how we get rid of trash and even old computers and televisions or whether or not we burn or recycle our trash--making minor adjustments to all of those things, and more, can go a long way to helping preserve the environment. It's something we should all do every single day and not just one day out of the year.

For more information about Earth Day, visit the following sites:

Earth Day Canada

United States Environmental Protection Agency Official Earth Day Web Site

Earth Day Network. While you're there, take a moment to sign the Earth Day 2010 Climate Declaration petition demanding a comprehensive climate bill from the United States Congress.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Animal Health: Canine Seizures

Very little is more frightening than to see your best furry friend going through a seizure. The paddling, the gnashing of teeth, the loss of bladder or bowels, the vocalization beforehand, the disorientation afterward and the wondering how long it will be before it happens again or if it ever will happen again.

This is a subject very near and dear to my heart. I have a dog that has suffered with seizures for five years come May of this year. He was just three years old when he had his first seizure and, when it happened, I honestly thought I was watching my dog die. His most recent seizure was late Sunday night and, after seeing what feels like millions of them, they are still just as frightening as when I saw that very first one.

There is no feeling worse than having to watch your beloved pet go through a seizure and know that you cannot take them away and make them never happen again. You feel so helpless. It's an agonizing feeling.

The good news is that for a good majority of dogs who have seizures the trigger that causes them can be identified. Whether that trigger is something in their environment or an actual health reason, veterinarians can sometimes, through a series of testing, can identify the trigger that causes Fido to uncontrollably seize. For some dogs, the triggers have been something as simple as the doorbell ringing. For others, the causes have been a much more serious brain tumor. When the vet can pinpoint the cause, he or she can most often treat it or you will know what to make sure your pet avoids to prevent the seizures from happening.

But, in some cases, it isn't that easy. In some instances, it doesn't matter how many tests you and your vet do you will not be able to find the cause of the seizures. In this case, they are deemed as "idiopathic seizures" because there is no known explanation for them.

And all seizures aren't created equal. Some pets experience grand mal seizures (generalized tonic clonic). Those are the seizures where the animal will paddle their feet and gnash their teeth, among other possibly symptoms. Other pets experience petite mal seizures (partial or focal). During these, the animal may stop whatever activity it is doing and seem to stare at nothing with some slight movement of the legs or head. Sometimes, petite mal seizures can lead into tonic-clonic seizures.

More good news is that canine seizures can most often be controlled with medications such as Phenobarbitol and Potassium Bromide.

If you think your pet has had a seizure, or even if you know he/she has, the first thing you need to do, if you haven't already, is get your pet in to see your veterinarian. He or she can help start you and your furry friend on your way to hopefully finding the cause of the seizures or working to control them.

If your pet suffers from seizures you will need to do as much research as you can. The more you know the easier things will be for both you and your pet. Read every single article you can get your hands on, talk with your vet and talk with other pet owners who have epileptic dogs. Epileptic pets are truly special babies.

You can visit the following sites for more information:

Canine Epilepsy Guardian Angels

Canine Epilepsy Resources

Canine Epilepsy Network

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Genius That is Stephen Fry

I must say that I am a massive fan of Stephen Fry. I've adored his work and Fry himself for years now. I love words, love everything about them. No one person that I've ever seen on television before has had such a unique grasp on the English language as Stephen Fry. To listen to him speak or to read his writings is to immensely enjoy the English language. His manner of speaking and writing is a pleasure to behold.

I was first introduced to Mr. Fry and his work when I bought the UK comedy The Black Adder on VHS many, many years ago. Mr. Fry plays an incarnation of Lord Melchitt in Blackadder the Second, Blackadder the Fourth and Blackadder: Back and Forth. In Blackadder the Third, Mr. Fry makes a greatly memorable appearance as the Duke of Wellington in the final episode of the series. He also appears in several of the Blackadder specials as various characters.

Fans of Mr. Fry probably know him best as the other half of the comedy team Fry & Laurie with Hugh Laurie, of House fame being the second half. Fry & Laurie had their own hugely successful television series in Britain titled "A Bit of Fry & Laurie". Fry & Laurie also worked together in the aforementioned Blackadder series.

Stephen Fry also made a brief, yet hilarious appearance in Rowan Atkinson's British comedy "The Thin Blue Line" playing an over-the-top guide, Brigadier Blaster Sump. The character is truly barking mad and will say anything!

Anyone who has seen the works of Stephen Fry knows for certain that he is bold, daring, funny and absolutely genuine. I honestly believe that when you see Stephen in his documentaries that what you see is what you get: he is a kind, honest, caring and straightforward individual who harnesses his status as a celebrity to help bring attention to issues that need to have attention brought to them.

I firmly believe that no one could watch him in his BBC documentary "The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive" and not be impressed with the man you see on the screen. Mr. Fry shares some of the most deeply personal details of his life with viewers and, in the course of two episodes, helps viewers to better understand manic depression and those who suffer from it. I think every single person, whether you or someone you love deals with depression on a daily basis and especially if you know nothing about it at all should watch this documentary.

In 2009, another Fry documentary aired in the UK, Last Chance to See. In this brilliant work, Stephen Fry and Mark Carwardine traveled the globe in search of 6 animals on the brink of extinction. This documentary set out to education viewers about the perils many species face in the world today and I believe it succeeded brilliantly. For an in-depth review of this documentary I highly recommend visiting the Media Mindset Blog. The blogs author has written a detailed summary of the first part of this 6 part series and intends to review the other five as well.

Another Fry documentary, Stephen Fry in America, will be discussed later on this blog.

As much as I adore him, don't be surprised to see many things about Stephen on this blog as time goes by.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Look to the Heavens: Lyrid Meteor Showers

For anyone who loves science or considers themselves an amateur astronomer or meteoriticist, the next few days should make you very happy!

Over the course of the next several days you can see the annual April Lyrids.

The Lyrids are some of the oldest known meteors with written records dating back almost 27 centuries! They come around every year and can be seen any night from the 16th of April through the 25th of April.

The April Lyrids will peak around April 22, 2010 so make sure to keep looking to the heavens for the next several days to see this brilliant display! You may not see a massive shower but if you are patient enough you should see something.

Although it isn't guaranteed, you might also get a bonus if you keep watching for the Lyrids: a glimpse of fireball meteors from a different meteor storm.

Good luck getting a glimpse of the April Lyrids this year!

If you would like to read a bit more about the April Lyrids, including sighting info, refer to this article.

Sunday Funnies: The Barking Man

I have to say that I love the Australians. Not only do they have one of the most beautiful countries in the world but the Australian people are pretty darned awesome. Plus, they make some of the best television shows I've had the pleasure of watching. I honestly would move to Australia in a heartbeat if I knew I could find a good job once I got there!

I think it would be pretty safe to say that some Australians have absolutely no trouble expressing themselves.

I gather the story behind this is that this gentleman, Ray Graham, was being interviewed on a Melbourne news show. He was complaining about his neighbors vicious dog and the following video is the product of that. This video seems to have taken on a life of its own on YouTube. There is a 'remix' video and even an 'epoch remix' video.

In the second video below you can see what Mr. Graham's reaction is to his new-found celebrity status.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sunday Funnies: The Key of Awesome

I love a good laugh. I'm also quite addicted to You Tube videos. I can get on there and spend years going from video to video. When I came across The Key of Awesome I hit gold!

The Key of Awesome specializes in hilarious spoof videos for celebrities, pop culture and "the latest Internet memes". The fantastic Mark Douglas appears in the videos that cover everything from Twilight, Adam Lambert and John Mayer to Lada Gaga and Jersey Shore. Key of Awesome also does a short companion "behind the scenes" video to give viewers a bit of insight into how each parody video was made. The behind the scenes videos are just as great as the actual spoof videos themselves.

Enjoy one of my favorite The Key of Awesome videos: Twilight Sucks! Emo Vampire Song and check out the rest of their videos on YT! You'll be glad you did once you pick yourself up off the floor from the fit of laughter you'll get into.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Giant Lizard Species Found in the Philippines

All too often we are hearing about how yet another species of animal is dangerously close to extinction so I really love reading news like this.

While he is nothing new to residents of the Philippine islands Western scientists have found a giant lizard species that is new to them.

It's a brilliantly colored, 6 ft. (1.8m) relative of the Komodo dragon named Varanus bitatawa. It has huge, curved claws that it uses to climb trees and has a diet of the fruit of the Pandanus trees.

For the past 10 years scientists had heard rumors of the giant lizard and even saw photographs of the animal being carried by hunters in 2001. In 2005, two different groups obtained young Varanus bitatawas but, for some reason, didn't collect genetic samples. In July of 2009, scientists embarked on a two month expedition to find the lizard they'd only heard stories of. Near the end of their expedition, they finally found an adult male that had been captured in the snares of a tribal hunter.

Genetic analysis, along with it's coloring, scales, body size and reproductive anatomy has confirmed the Varanus bitatawa as a new species.

You can read further about this exciting new find, and see photographs of the Varanus bitatawa here and here.

This is the sort of news I'd love to see every day when I check the headlines!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Stark Raving Mad: A Show That Should Be On DVD But Isn't

Batty, bonkers, crazy
Loopy, loony, hazy
Chaotic, neurotic, peculiar and amazing
Demented, deranged, particularly strange
Frantic, raving, shaky, flaky, making me insane!

After he was an immigrant cabbie in Wings and before he became an obsessive compulsive detective in Monk there was Stark Raving Mad. In this short lived NBC series Tony Shalhoub was the exact opposite of Detective Monk when he played Ian Stark, an off the wall horror writer with a twisted sense of humor.

Fresh off the success of his first novel, Below Ground, horror novelist Ian Stark (Tony Shalhoub) is assigned a new editor, Henry McNeeley (Neil Patrick Harris). Henry has many "issues": he is a germaphobe, easily-frightened, claustrophobic, asthmatic with vertigo and a serious-minded Yale graduate who doesn't fit in with Ian's bizarre way of doing things.

Jake Donovan (Eddie McClintock), Ian's live-in typist is short in the smarts department but tops in the humor department. He delivers enough great lines to keep the viewer constantly laughing and waiting to see what bonehead thing he will do next. McClintock does a brilliant job with not only the verbal aspect of the comedy but the physical aspect as well. Sometimes the things he does are just as funny as what he says.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Fort Heiman, Kentucky: 2002 Photographs

The photographs of the remains of Fort Heiman presented here were taken on June 8th, 2002.


This sign is located approximately one-half mile to one mile from the entrance to Fort Heiman. As you can see beneath the sign, there is information pertaining to the unfortunate development of the fort.


This sign is located approximately a few hundred feet past where the original entrance sign (this can be seen above) was located.


As difficult as it is to tell from this photograph, this is a trench. Upkeep on the Fort leaves much to be desired.


Another trench that has been taken over by underbrush.


This is a wonderful view of the Tennessee River was taken atop one of the many hills that comprise the Fort. This isn't too far from where the cemetery and ammunition bunker used to be.


Same as above.


This is a view of the Tennessee River taken not far from the cemetery and ammunition bunker. There is pretty much a straight drop to the river. When the water-level of the lake was low you used to be able to see the remains of an old road that existed, to my best guess, around the time of the War.


Same as above.


This is a trench directly across the road from the above photos. If you look very hard on the right of the photo is the road leading to where the cemetery and ammunition bunker was located.


Same as above.


Another view of the hill overlooking the Tennessee River described above.


Same as above.




When the Fort was cut into tracts and sold this is the replacement for the old house (see photos above) originally located on top of one of Heiman's hills. The trench in the previous photo is in the back yard of this house. If you are in front of this house you have a magnificent view of the Tennessee River. The fifth, sixth and seventh photos I posted yesterday (the 1980's photos) were taken from that viewpoint before the Fort was sold. From the rock in photo number seven you can see the general area where Fort Henry once stood.


Another view of the trench.


Another view of the house.

I hope you have enjoyed looking at these pictures and taking your "virtual tour" as much as I have enjoyed posting them for you.

If you have any information about Fort Heiman that you wouldn't mind sharing, please post in the comments or drop me a note and I will, with your permission, post the information or references you have. I will give proper credit.
As I find historical information regarding Fort Heiman I will be certain to share it with you.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter!

I'd like to wish everyone a very happy and safe Easter holiday!

Sunday Funnies, 04-04-2010: Loan for a Frog

Each Sunday I will post a joke or image that I find to be funny. For a while I've been collecting jokes and funny pictures on the Internet and I'd love to share some of them with you. Whenever possible, I will include the source of the joke. If you would just so happen to see a joke or photo that belongs to you and you would like credit or the item removed, please contact me and I will oblige.

The weekly jokes will be cataloged on the "Sunday Funnies" page under the "Contents" section so you can go back and catch up on any you may have missed.

And now, for our first Sunday Funny...

A frog goes into a bank and approaches the teller. He can see from her nameplate that her name is Patricia Whack.

'Miss Whack, I'd like to get a $30,000 loan to take a holiday.'

Patty looks at the frog in disbelief and asks his name. The frog says his name is Kermit Jagger, his dad is Mick Jagger, and that it's okay, he knows the bank manager.

Patty explains that he will need to secure the loan with some collateral.

The frog says, 'Sure. I have this,' and produces a tiny porcelain elephant, about an inch tall, bright pink and perfectly formed.

Very confused, Patty explains that she'll have to consult with the bank manager and disappears into a back office.

She finds the manager and says, 'There's a frog called Kermit Jagger out there who claims to know you and wants to borrow $30,000, and he wants to use this as collateral.'

She holds up the tiny pink elephant. 'I mean, what in the world is this?'

The bank manager looks back at her and says..

'It's a knickknack, Patty Whack. Give the frog a loan, His old man's a Rolling Stone.'

Fort Heiman, Kentucky: 1980's Photographs

**In this, my second-to-last post about Fort Heiman, I will be sharing with you photographs I took when I was able to visit the fort with my family back in the mid-1980's. Please note that it has been a very long time since I've been to Fort Heiman. Anything I have marked in red as no longer being in existence was at the fort in the 80's but NOT there when I last visited on my own in 2002. If any of the signs that I have marked as being no longer in existence have been restored I am unaware of it at this time. While areas such as the ammunition bunker and empty Union cemetery surely still exist, the last time I was there extremely thick underbrush had overtaken the areas. I am hopeful that now the National Park Service owns Fort Heiman they will do whatever they can to restore these areas so they can be viewed once again.**


This is the sign signifying the outer defenses of the fort. This is no longer in existence.


This is the entrance sign leading from the main road back into the fort. This is no longer in existence.


This structure is no longer standing nor was it part of the original Civil War fort. To the best of my knowledge, this house was built by a former professor of Murray State University in the 1960's. The property it sat on is now private property as it was purchased when the fort was sold off. A new building, looking much like this one, has been constructed in its place. I would imagine the current owner assumed this building was "period" and copied its style for the structure he built. Tomorrow I will be posting a picture of the "new" house that was built to take the place of this.


The back and side of the old house. This side of the house was a large living room. The chimney belonged to a huge fireplace, suitable for cooking in. Walking out of the living room, was a kind of 'dog-trot' as my grandmother called it. (A dog trot is an open breeze way between two parts of a structure.) Across the dog trot was the kitchen of the house. The kitchen and living room were the only rooms I was ever in.


This photo, as is the one below, is the river view just before proceeding down a small path that is located in front of the old building. This view and the two photos below are now on private property and cannot be accessed.



This is a path in front of the building that leads to a very large rock. From this rock there is a magnificent view of the river. Standing or sitting on this rock, I couldn't imagine anyone not being able to dream of a little bit of the past. I vaguely remember also being able to see a path below the rock that may or may not have been some sort of road at one time.

The following three photographs are some of the trenches of the fort.





The sign reads: OLD POWDER MAGAZINE Here, Cannonballs & Black Powder
Were Stored For the FORT This is no longer in existence. I could not find the sign for this and the area where it was once located consists of very thick underbrush.


This is the Ammunition Bunker. When this photo was taken, it had rained just a few days prior which is why there is so much standing water in the bunker. While the bunker itself surely still does exist, (or I'd like to think it still does!) I could not find the sign for this and the area where it was once located consists of very thick underbrush.


The sign reads: EMPTY UNION CEMETERY After the Civil War The bodies were
taken home or reburied in Dover at the NATIONAL MILITARY CEMETERY. This is no longer in existence. I could not find the sign for this and the area where it was once located consists of very thick underbrush.


This is the where the empty Union cemetery is located. This is no longer in existence. I could not find the sign for this and the area where it was once located consists of very thick underbrush.


This is one of the final trenches you can see on your way out of the fort. The area where this is located consists of extremely thick underbrush.

I hope you have enjoyed looking at these pictures and taking your "virtual tour" as much as I have enjoyed posting them for you. Tomorrow, I will be posting photographs taken in 2002.

If you have any information about Fort Heiman that you wouldn't mind sharing, please post in the comments or drop me a note and I will, with your permission, post the information or references you have. I will give proper credit.
As I find historical information regarding Fort Heiman I will be certain to share it with you.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Fort Heiman, Kentucky: Related Newspaper Articles

Ft. Heiman Proposed Stop on Civil War Trail

Murray Ledger & Times Monday, August 5, 2002

LOUISVILLE, Ky (AP)--State and economic development officials, Civil War buffs, university professors and local officials are working together to map out driving trails for tourists that promote Kentucky's role in the Civil War.

The idea is for motorists to follow marked highway routs to historic sites, stopping along the way to see displays about local skirmishes and take tours of places that became important during the conflict.

Sites along the three proposed trails include Fort Heiman, a Confederate outpost that fell to then-Brig. Gen. Ulysses Grant in 1862, and Octagon Hall, an eight-sided antebellum estate in Simpson County that served as a shelter for Confederate troops. Officials hope at least one trail will be ready by spring.

Kentucky officials don't have an estimate on how many visitors the trails might draw, but they see the approach as a package giving tourists a variety of places to visit.

"If we can make it that much easier for the visitor, I think it does increase not only tourists to the state, but it increases the level of satisfaction to those who come to the state," said Carole Summers, cultural heritage tourism coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Travel. "They have a better visit."

Kentucky never seceded from the Union, but as a border state its loyalties were divided. Both Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis, the Confederate president, were natives of the state, and Union and Confederate forces battled for strategic points here until the war ended.

The three planned Kentucky trails are:

*The Cumberland Valley Trail, which will tell the importance that transportation routes played in the war. Trail sites include Octagon Hall, Camp Nicholas and a burial site of executed Confederate prisoners in Simpson County; Dumont Hill, an encampment at Allen Springs and guerrilla activity sites in Allen County; and Fort Webb, Riverview and Fort Albert Sidney Johnson in Warren County.

The Cumberland trail system runs along U.S. 31W in Warren and Simpson counties, Ky. 231 in Warren and Allen counties and Ky. 100 from Simpson County through Allen County. The trail also dips into six Tennessee communities.

*The John Hunt Morgan Trail, named for the Alabama-born cavalry leader whose raids reached the outskirts of Cincinnati. The trail will include links to Morgan trails in Tennessee, Indiana and Ohio.

The Morgan trail will show "the flow or the movement of that campaign as it was conceived by Gen. John Hunt Morgan, and actually what happened on that march," said Thomas Fugate, Civil War sites preservation coordinator for the Kentucky Heritage Council. The trail is a work in progress that includes sites in 16 counties and carves a north-south path down the middle of Kentucky.

*The Fort Heiman Trail in Calloway County. Fort Heiman is where the Union supply vessel Mazeppa, sunk by Confederate cavalry in 1864, sits on the bottom of the Tennessee River. Fort Heiman visitors can also see the remains of Fort Henry, on land partially submerged across the river, and it is near Fort Donelson in Tennessee.

The three forts guarded the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers, cutting of river movement of Union soldiers and supplies until February 1862, when Grant-led Army-Navy join operation captured them.

The development costs, and estimated completion times, vary for the trail projects. The Morgan trail is expected to cost $231,700 and will be completed within six to nine months; the Cumberland Valley Trail will cost $48,680 and will be finished within six months after the project gets a state grant, which is blocked until the legislature passes a budget; and the Fort Heiman Trail will cost $750,000 and will be completed in the next two years. Plans call for Fort Heiman to become a part of the National Parks system.

The trails will take motorists down historic paths that run along federal, state and county roads. Along the way, signs will direct visitors to roadside exhibits featuring maps, brochures and other displays to help people understand the sites in a historic context.

Below is the text and scans of the Saturday, June 15, 2002 Murray Ledger & Times newspaper article providing information about the federal land grant awarded to Calloway County towards the purchase of Fort Heiman.

Click on the thumbnails to see the full images.

City, County get funding for Miller Annex, Fort Heiman

By Edward Sheridan

Staff Writer

The four-day span of June 11 through June 14 may go down as one of the most propserous times in Calloway County history.

Just three days after welcoming the Pella Corporation and its new jobs to the local community, two grants administered through the Kentucky Department of Local Government were delivered to Murray Friday that will aid local preservation efforts.

A $60,000 federal land and water conservation grant was presented that will enable the Calloway County Fiscal Court to apply for additional funding to go toward the purchase of land where Civil War site Fort Heiman once stood. An additional $500,000 community development block grant from the department of local government was presented to the Murray Main Street program which will allow for the renovation of the Miller Courthouse Annex.

"This has been a great week for Murray and Calloway County and the entire region," state Sen. Bob Jackson (D-Murray) said during a check presentation ceremony held Friday afternoon on the steps of the courthouse annex.

Department of Local Government Commissioner and Calloway native Jody Lassiter added additional good news by announcing that the Fort Heiman project would not only receive the $60,000, but would also be eligible to add another $15,000 onto the grant total if efforts to preserve went above the original grant total.

"The $60,000 is going to be the first step to purchase the most important part of Fort Heiman," he said. "Before it's all done, Calloway County is going to have the second national park in Kentucky, as (Fort Heiman) becomes part of the Fort Donelson system."

According to Steve Zea, president of the West Kentucky Corporation, the entire $60,000--or $75,000--will be used to provide matching monies for a larger TEA 21 grant that, if approved, will be used to purchase the property. News on that grant could come within the next 30 days.

"They want to see an effort of other money," Zea said. "We're going to have to use this money to match the other money."

Whatever monies are acquired will be used to purchase the portions of Fort Heiman that are in the most danger of succumbing to commercial development. Much of the fort is currently under private ownership.

Additional federal monies for Fort Heiman could be on the way if it is included on the list of sites under consideration for the Vicksburg Train. U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) said during the ceremony that there is currently a technical corrections bill pending in Congress that would place Fort Heiman on that list.

Note: all portions of the article relevant to Fort Heiman end here. The remainder of the article deals with the grant to renovate the Murray Couthouse Annex.


Image Caption: Jody Lassiter DLG Commissioner


Image Caption: MORE MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENTS...From left, Commissioner for the Department for Local Government Jody Lassiter, Senator Bob Jackson, Sandy Forrest, Calloway County Judge Executive Larry Elkins and Murray Mayor Freed Curd display a check for $500,000 for community development and preservations projects for Murray and Calloway County and a check for $60,000 for the Fort Heiman Civil War Preservation. Lassiter, representing Paul Patton's office, presented the checks during a ceremony Friday afternoon.

Special Note: Paul Patton was governor of Kentucky at the time and the ceremony was Friday, June 14, 2002.


Friday, April 2, 2010

Happy Good Friday!

Happy Good Friday to all!

Have a pleasant and safe Easter weekend!

Fort Heiman, Kentucky: Maps & Illustrations

Here's a collection of maps and illustrations about Forts Henry and Heiman. The drawings and maps collected here were taken from Forts Henry and Donelson: The Key to the Confederate Heartland by Benjamin Franklin Cooling. University of Tennessee Press, 1987. If you look hard enough, you can also find a few scattered maps and illustrations (most likely the same that I have here) in copies of old newspapers from the Civil War era as well as books that focus on illustrations and maps of the era. I know my focus in all my posts has been Fort Heiman but I have included illustrations and maps of Fort Henry because you pretty much can't talk about one without focusing on the other as well.

Click on the thumbnails to see a larger image.

The Western Theater, 1861-62

Twin Rivers Area, 1862

Interior of Fort Henry, the morning after its capture, February 2, 1862. Sketch by H. Lovie, Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, March 15, 1862.

Landing of Federal troops below Fort Henry, February 4, 1862. Sketch by H. Lovie, Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, March 15, 1862. (I apologize for the center crease of the book spine.)

Foote's Flotilla Attack on Fort Henry, February 6, 1862. Sketch by S.O. Hawley, Massachusetts Order of Loyal Legion Collection, U.S. Army Military History Institute.

Confederates defend Fort Henry, February 6, 1862. Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, March 1, 1862. (I apologize for the center crease of the book spine.)

Country between Forts Henry and Donelson, 1862. U.S. Army Infantry School. Military History Methods of Research Compilation of Sources (Fort Benning, 1937).

Environs of Fort Henry, 1862. U.S. Army Infantry School. Military History Methods of Research Compilation of Sources (Fort Benning, 1937).

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Fort Organization of Forces, Forts Henry, Heiman & Donelson--Confederate

This information taken from: Forts Henry & Donelson: The Key to the Confederate Heartland by Benjamin Franklin Cooling. University of Tennessee Press, 1987.

TILGHMAN (approximately 2,700-3,300, Feb. 6, Fort Henry)
  • 6 infantry regiments + 1 battalion
  • 3 batteries of light and heavy artillery
  • 2 battalions + 1 company + miscellaneous cavalry

1st Brigade (Heiman)
  • 10th, 48th Tennessee Infantry
  • 27th Alabama Infantry
  • Culbertson’s Light Artillery Battery
  • Gantt’s Battalion, Tennessee Cavalry
2nd Brigade (Drake)
  • 4th Mississippi Infantry
  • 15th Arkansas Infantry
  • 51st Tennessee Infantry
  • 26th Alabama (Garvin) Infantry (2 companies)
  • Crain’s Light Artillery Battery
  • Alabama Cavalry Battalion (Hubbard, Houston)
  • Milner’s Cavalry Company
  • Padgett’s Spy Company
  • Milton’s Ranger Detachment
Taylor’s Company, Tennessee Artillery Corps

FLOYD (approximately 15,000-21,000, Feb 13-16, Fort Donelson)
  • 27 infantry regiments + 1 battalion + 2 companies
  • 9 artillery batteries (field guns, siege, seacoast)
  • 2 cavalry regiments + 1 battalion

Pillow’s Division (B. Johnson)
Heiman’s Brigade
  • 10th, 30th, 42nd, 48th, 53rd Tennessee Infantry
  • 27th Alabama Infantry
  • Maney’s Tennessee Battery Light Artillery
Drake’s Brigade
  • 4th Mississippi Infantry
  • 15th Arkansas Infantry
  • 26th Alabama (Garvin) Infantry (2 companies)
  • 1st Tennessee Battalion (Browder, Colms) Infantry
Simonton’s (Davidson’s) Brigade
  • 1st, 3rd Mississippi Infantry
  • 7th Texas Infantry
  • 8th Kentucky Infantry
Baldwin’s Brigade (-) (Buckner)
  • 26th Tennessee Infantry
  • 20th, 26th Mississippi Infantry
Wharton’s Brigade (Floyd)
  • 51st, 56th Virginia Infantry
McCausland’s Brigade (Floyd)
  • 36th, 50th Virginia Infantry
  • Guy’s Battery, Goochland (Va.) Light Artillery (Floyd)
  • Green’s Tennessee Battery Light Artillery
  • French’s Virginia Battery Light Artillery (Floyd)

Buckner’s Division
Brown’s Brigade
  • 3rd, 18th, 32nd Tennessee Infantry
  • Porter’s Tennessee Battery Light Artillery
  • Graves’ Cumberland Kentucky Battery Light Artillery
Baldwin’s Brigade
  • 2nd Kentucky Infantry
  • 14th Mississippi Infantry
  • 41st Tennessee Infantry
  • Jackson’s (Va.) Battery Light Artillery (Floyd)

Forrest’s Cavalry Brigade
  • 3rd Tennessee Cavalry Regiment
  • Gantt’s Tennessee Cavalry Regiment
  • 1st Kentucky Cavalry Regiment
Fort Donelson Garrison (Head)
  • 30th, 49th, 50th Tennessee Infantry
  • Maury Tennessee Battery Light Artillery (Ross)
  • Detachment Taylor’s Company Tennessee Artillery Corps (Stankiewicz)
  • Water Battery Heavy Artillery (Culbertson)

Fort Organization of Forces, Forts Henry, Heiman & Donelson--Federal

This information taken from: Forts Henry & Donelson: The Key to the Confederate Heartland by Benjamin Franklin Cooling. University of Tennessee Press, 1987.

Federal Forces:

GRANT: (approximately 12,000, Feb. 6; approximately 25,000, Feb. 16.)
  • 37 infantry regiments + 1 company
  • 8 artillery batteries (field guns)
  • 2 cavalry regiments + 4 independent companies

First Division (McClernand)
1st Brigade (Oglesby)
  • 8th, 18th, 29th, 30th, 31st Illinois Infantry
  • Battery D, 2nd Illinois Light Artillery (Dresser)
  • Battery E, 2nd Illinois Light Artillery (Schwartz ) (Gumbart)
  • Companies A, B, 2nd Illinois Cavalry (Noble)
  • Company C, 2nd US Cavalry (Powell)
  • Company I, 4th US Cavalry (Powell)
  • Carmichael’s Illinois Cavalry
  • Dollins’ Illinois Cavalry
  • O’Harnette’s Illinois Cavalry
  • Stewart’s Illinois Cavalry (King)
2nd Brigade (W.H.L. Wallace)
  • 11th, 20th, 45th, 48th Illinois Infantry
  • Battery B, 1st Illinois Light Artillery (Taylor)
  • Battery D, 1st Illinois Light Artillery (McAllister)
  • 4th Illinois Cavalry (Dickey)
  • 3rd Brigade (Morrison—wounded, Feb. 13, command passed to W.H.L. Wallace on
  • Feb. 15, Ross senior officer present)
  • 17th, 49th Illinois Infantry

Second Division (C.F. Smith)
1st Brigade (McArthur)
  • 9th, 12th, 41st Illinois Infantry
3rd Brigade (Cook)
  • Battery D, 1st Missouri Light Artillery (Richardson)
  • Battery H, 1st Missouri Light Artillery (Welker)
  • Battery K, 1st Missouri Light Artillery (Stone)
  • 7th, 50th Illinois Infantry
  • 12th Iowa Infantry
  • 13th Missouri Infantry
4th Brigade (Lauman)
  • 25th Indiana Infantry
  • 2nd, 7th, 14th Iowa Infantry
  • Birge’s Western Sharpshooters
5th Brigade (M.L. Smith)
  • 8th Missouri Infantry
  • nth Indiana Infantry

Third Division (L. Wallace)
1st Brigade (Cruft)
  • 31st, 44th Indiana Infantry
  • 17th, 25th Kentucky Infantry
2nd Brigade (attached to 3rd Brigade)
  • 46th, 57th, 58th Illinois Infantry
3rd Brigade (Thayer)
  • 1st Nebraska Infantry
  • 58th, 68th, 76th Ohio Infantry

Not Brigaded
  • Company A, 32nd Illinois Infantry
  • Battery A, 1st Illinois (Chicago) Light Artillery (Wood)

FOOTE: (6-8 iron- and timber-clad gunboats)

At Fort Henry
Cincinnati (Stembel); Essex (Porter); Carondelet (Walke); St. Louis (Paulding); Conestoga (Phelps); Tyler (Gwinn); Lexington (Shirk)

At Fort Donelson
St. Louis (Paulding); Carondelet (Walke); Louisville (Dove); Pittsburg (Thompson); Tyler (Gwinn); Conestoga (Phelps)