Wednesday, December 31, 2003

George Washington's 1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me to "recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:"

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand, at the city of New York, the 3d day of October, A.D. 1789.

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

I resolve...

Now is the time when I hear people say, “I’m making a New Year’s Resolution. I’m going to eat right starting tomorrow (but today, I’m going to binge like never before). Beginning on January 2nd, I’m going to exercise everyday (but today, I’m not going to get off the couch). With this New Year, I’m going to watch my spending habits (but today, I’m going to take advantage of the year-end sales and buy everything in sight). With this New Year, I’m going to drink less (but with football going on all day today, all bets are off).

Any time I hear someone say, “I’m making a New Year’s resolution, and I’m starting tomorrow,” I know that their stated resolve won’t last one week, much less a year. The first thing wrong with a New Year’s resolution, is the fact that a person has to wait for a specific calendar day to make that resolution. A true resolution will be made immediately when a person realizes that the former activity is detrimental. A true resolution will be acted upon immediately, not at some point in the future. A true resolution will be monitored on a regular basis, and kept at the forefront of a person’s mind.

So, with this Old Year coming to an end, and a New Year coming around the bend, I resolve to never make a New Year’s resolution. In its place, I will closely monitor my life throughout the year, making corrections when corrections are needed. I will not burden myself with worries about past activities that I cannot change. Instead, I will boldly walk into the future, using wisdom and knowledge from the past to guide me around obstacles that once tripped me up.

I resolve to not make resolutions lightly, but to make resolutions that will mold and shape my life as it should be.

Larry Tate 12-27-08

Friday, September 12, 2003

Memorable Quotes

Andrew Carnegie

There is no use whatever trying to help people who do not help themselves. You cannot push anyone up a ladder unless he be willing to climb himself.


We are twice armed if we fight with faith.

He who is of a calm and happy nature will hardly feel the pressure of age.

One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.


Children today are tyrants. They contradict their parents, gobble their food, and tyrannize their teachers.

Wednesday, May 28, 2003

Those Nasty Spider Webs

We all feel disgusted and violated when we step into an unseen spider web. What good can that material possibly be?

Well, it just so happens that the silk of a spider can be rather handy. Until WWII, spider silk was used for crosshairs in optical devices, including microscopes, telescopes, guns, and bombing systems. Today, some military facilities still keep a spider around to provide the crosshairs in old instruments.

To this day, Australian aborigines still use the silk of a giant spider for fishing lines.

Another benefit of spider silk seems to be nearly unbelievable. It is a known fact that spider silk is stronger than steel of the same diameter. Consequently, scientists are in the process of developing spider silk for use in the next generation of bulletproof vests. Currently, bulletproof vests are made of Kevlar, which provides a dependable barrier against bullets. Soldiers and police personnel, however report that Kevlar vests are heavy; inflexible and hot to wear. Vests made of spider silk may resolve these problems.

In addition to being super strong, spider silk is also very elastic. One teaspoon of spider silk can be stretched to almost three miles. If it were possible to create a strand of pencil-thick spider silk, it would be capable of stopping a Boeing 747 in full flight!

Maybe those spider webs aren’t so nasty after all.

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Daddy Longlegs—Are they Poisonous?

It is often said that Daddy Longlegs are the most poisonous spiders in existence. The lore regarding this bug continues to state that the only thing saving us is the fact that its fangs are too short to penetrate human skin. Is that True?

Actually, Daddy Longlegs is the name associated with more than one bug. There is a Daddy Longlegs, and then there is a Daddy Longlegs Spider. The bug most correctly called Daddy Longlegs is in the Order known as Opiliones. They are characterized by having one basic body segment, and all eight legs attach to the pill-like body segment. These insects do not have venom glands, fangs or any other mechanism for chemically subduing their food. Therefore, they do not have any poison.

Another creature often called Daddy Longlegs really is a spider. It belongs to the family, Pholcidae. There is no reference to any pholcid spider biting a human and causing any detrimental reaction. So the myth of them being especially poisonous is just that: a myth. There is no scientific basis for the supposition that they are deadly poisonous. As for the short fangs, it is true that they really are short, which in archaeological terms is called “uncate.” However, the Brown Recluse spiders also have an uncate fang structure, and they obviously are able to bite humans.

Sometimes, myths just seem to never end. The next time you see a Daddy Longlegs, don’t run in fear. You’re more likely to hurt yourself by tripping on a rock than you are to get hurt from the bite of his innocent little bug.

Monday, May 26, 2003

Do Tarantulas Bite?

Tarantulas are hairy and often very large spiders. They mainly eat insects using ambush as their primary method of prey capture. The mouth of a tarantula is a short straw-shaped opening than can only suck, meaning that anything taken into it must be in liquid form. Prey must be crushed and ground up or predigested, which is accomplished by coating the prey with digestive juices that are secreted from openings in the chelicerae. Although it has eyes, a tarantula’s sense of touch is its keenest sense and in hunting it primarily depends on vibrations given off by the movements of its prey.

Regardless of their fearsome reputation, tarantulas are eaten by a range of animals, including one particular family of wasps. Besides the normal hairs covering the body of tarantulas, some also have a dense covering of irritating hairs that they sometimes use as protection against enemies. Some people are extremely sensitive to theses hairs, and develop serious itching and rashes at the site. Tarantula hair has been used as the main ingredient in the novelty item, “itching powder.”

Tarantulas may live for years—most species taking 2 to 5 years to reach adulthood, but some species may take up to 10 years to reach full maturity. Upon reaching adulthood, male typically have but a 1 to 1.5 year period left to live.

The Goliath bird eater tarantula is considered a delicacy by the indigenous Piaroa of Venezuela. Fried tarantulas are also considered a delicacy in Cambodia.

Despite their often threatening appearance and reputation, none of the true tarantulas are known to have a bite which is deadly to humans. While bites by some species are known to be very painful, most tarantula bites are no worse than a wasp sting. Most Tarantulas are harmless to humans. Some species, while not known to have ever produced human fatalities, have venom that can produce extreme discomfort over a period of several days.

Sunday, May 25, 2003

Spiders--What Good Are They?

No matter where you find yourself, you are just a few feet from a spider. Spiders live everywhere, from the highest peaks to the lowest valleys; from the driest of deserts to the wettest of wet lands. Thankfully, there are more species of spiders than any other predator on earth.

Where would we be if there weren’t any of those fearful-looking spiders? Most likely, we’d all be dead.

Their enormous numbers (there can be millions of spiders on every acre of ground) make them the planet’s dominant predator. Spiders play a vital role in the life of humans the world over. The lowly spider is the ultimate exterminator; and his services don’t cost us a dime. They keep themselves busy eating insects that would otherwise be eating our crops before they get to the store shelves. Without those millions of hungry spiders, insect populations would increase unchecked and destroy all of our crops before we could have a chance to harvest them. If it wasn’t for spiders, the human population might starve to death within a matter of just a few months due to lack of food.

An additional benefit derived from nature’s eight-legged exterminator is disease control. Spiders prevent more disease than all of the doctors in the world put together. If it wasn’t for spiders, the human population would probably cease to exist due to a myriad of insect-borne diseases.

So next time you see a spider, think twice before stepping on him. Instead, you might consider getting down on your knees, shaking one of his eight feet and thanking him for saving your life. Without him and his brethren, you would probably be dead already.

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

Under the Shade of a Tree

Some called you my little four-legged friend. Others called you nothing more than my pet. But, you were so much more than that to me. You were my love. Yours was an unconditional love; an unwavering love; a devotion that could not be matched.

You wanted nothing out of life but to be near me. You would wait patiently for me to come home from my long day at work. Wherever I went, you would follow. While sitting on the couch, I could always find you nestled on the cushion right next to me; not just next to me, but always touching me. When I had chores and activities to do outside, you would always be at my side.

As the years came and went, you grew older, and you became weaker. You could no longer keep up with me when I was outside. Instead, you would lie down in the cool shade of a tree and watch my every move. Your eyes were always on me, never letting me out of your view.

You trusted me. You depended on me. I provided you with protection, food, shelter, and most certainly, my love. But, my love was never a match for yours. The level of my love would often come and go, depending on my circumstances, and on my mood. But, your love was always the same. Regardless of how you felt, you always had me in your sight; whether from the couch right next to me, or from the cool shade of a tree.

On your last morning, I wasn’t with you. When you passed on to the other side of life, you were alone. When I found you, your eyes were still open. You were still looking for me as your last breath was drawn. Your love for me would not permit your eyes to close, even as you struggled at death’s door. Until the very end, you held out hope that you would find me in your sight just one more time. Perhaps I could have saved you. Perhaps our eyes could have met just one more time. Your unconditional love for me was causing you to look for your master until the very end.

Your passing was one of the saddest chapters in my life. In your honor, I wanted to extend one last effort to care for you just as you cared for me. I buried you in the shade of a tree, so that you might forever be sheltered and protected from the heat of the relentless summer sun.

But even in death, you would not allow me be the final giver of love. You found a way to watch over me, and to love me from the other side of life. You see, a tree draws its very being and substance from the ground in which it has been planted. The soil, its minerals, and its nutrients transform themselves, and virtually become the tree. Over time, your body became food and nutrients for that tree. Over time, you became a part of that tree.

Your love for me would not allow you to stay buried in the ground, forever departed from your master. You found a way to continue looking out over the field, watching everything I do. You continue to give me more love than I could ever give back to you. You are no longer lying under the cool shade of a tree; you are creating the very shade that cools me as I stand and gaze down at your final resting place.

Now, every time I stand in the shade of a tree, I am forever reminded of you, and your unmatchable love for me.

Larry Tate
December 2006