Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Sahara Desert

The Sahara Desert is not lush in vegetation, only in the Nile River Valley, a few Oasis and in the Northern Highlands. Many thousand years ago the Sahara was a green home to water loving animals, like Hippo's. About 10,00 years ago, the climate changed, which turned most of the Sahara into a Savannah-type environment. This was caused by Monsoon rains sweeping onto the Sahara, transforming the region into a habitable area, swiftly settled by the Nile dwellers. Then after 5,500 years ago the rains stopped and the desert returned, then the people had to return to the Nile River Valley or the Oases.

The Sahara Desert is the worlds largest hot desert, it is located in Northern Africa, it is known to be the hottest place on earth. Due to the climate change of thousands of years ago, today rising and falling winds pull moisture away from the desert, but they rarely bring rain. Sand dunes make up only 15 per cent of the desert, the size of the desert is about three and a half million square miles, even a single dune can be enormous and the rainfall reaches less than three inches a year. The desert covers a third of the African continent, it is almost the size of the United States. The Sahara Desert has just two permanent rivers and they are the Nile and Niger River's. The Oases are referred to as "Distant Islands", left behind by the sea.

There are several Oases in the Sahara Desert, without these Oases these wet stops for human and animals, crossing the desert would be almost impossible. An Oasis is the product of fresh water being available from underground reservoirs, rising to the top causing large pools. Many Oases are fertile, due to a constant supply of water and sunshine. These Oases are very beautiful and very large, the population can vary from a few hundred to a few million people. They make their living on agriculture, such as dates and olives, in recent decades tourism has been a vital source of income. In the Siwa Oasis it was discovered what maybe the world's oldest human foot print, it was discovered in 2007, it dates back over three million years. Progress has been made by roads built to the Oases, they no longer are isolated.

Water in Egypt take different forms, the royal river flows on the surface and water hidden in the depths, swelled with rain that falls in faraway lands. The royal river (Nile) is confined to the valley and can't water the desert and the Oases. The underground water was stored deep inside the earth in some distant, long-forgotten time, when the climate was rainy. This water flows deep, becomes fossilized, it is held captive, hidden; and yet it brings life and the possibility of survival to the oases.

When I had my heart attack a few years ago, my wonderful son and granddaughter bought me Egyptian books, lots of them from Barnes & Noble. While I was mending I read them all, I fell in love with the mystery of Egypt and her Pharaohs, Queens, people, building temples, tomb's, pyramids and the Valley of the King's & Queen's. This is fascinating reading and I recommend it to everyone.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

H.J. Heinz

The other day I was using Heinz ketchup and I remembered I had been given a copy of his Biography by the Heinz Company in April of 1973, I read the book from cover to cover. This is such an interesting book, he is among the first icons of American History and what a success he was. I have read this book at least three times.

Henry Heinz was born in 1844 in Birmingham, now the south side of Pittsburg, PA.. At the age of eight he had to do his share of the family's labor. His mother had a kitchen garden as it grew bigger, he went into the village and sold the produce, when ten he went from a basket to a wheelbarrow, and two years later a horse and wagon. His feet was already set on the path that willlead him to great success, but at this time neither himself or his parents had such dreams.

Henry's parents wanted him to be a minister, and they sent him to school for this. The house in Sharpsburg, Pa. had a bountiful kitchen garden and Henry helped and was so interested in it, so without intending it, his mother directed his course of life away from the ministry. So, a business genius was saved to the world.

In 1869 he married, and he formed a firm which became the ancestor to today's company. The firm formed by Mr. Heinz was a partnership with l.C. Noble, the firm was named Heinz & Noble. Henry' s first product was grated horse-radish in bottles, he had faith that food products could be made into a big enterprise. In 1871 they expanded, and a year later Henry took on another partner, E.J. Noble brother to L.C. Noble. By 1874 the firm was cultivating one hundred acres in the Allegheny River Valley.

There was the Panic of 1873, it spread far and wide, but the young company weathered it. In 1875 the company had expanded again, they had made arrangements to buy crops from a canning and pickling company in Illinois. The year 1875 turned out to be a phenomenal crops, the bumper crop was coming in at the rate of two thousand bushels a day, calling for twelve hundred dollars a day, not to mention cabbage and other crops coming in. Not that this was bad enough another financial crisis passed over the land, bank's failed and could not honor checks,Henry's company was failing.

This is from his diary: Oct. 17-I have by the aid and strength of God, saved the firms paper from protest. Nov. 2-:I have two hundred dollars to meet tomorrow and not a penny to meet it with: The crops kept rolling in, he borrowed money from his wife, it hurt him to do this. The crash came and his records showed he did everything to meet the firm's obligations.

In those days when you file bankruptcy and you want to continue your company, you have to use a different name. Henry was thirty-one years old when disaster fell on him, he had a wife and two children. His brother John and cousin Fredrick Heinz gave him money to start anew, so in February 6, 1876 under the name F. & J. Heinz the business was launched once again. With the understanding John and Fredrick would be stock holders.

The history of the business after 876 may be divided into three periods--1876 to 1888 in which year the firm name Heinz Company, 1905-when the partnership form was changed to the corporate form under the same name and 1905 to present time. He had succeeded as he always did, in 1888 he took over, his brother John wanted to go west. Henry believed in God, himself and his fellow man. We all know that there are a variety of product made by Heinz, a long cry from his starting product, horse-radish, which is still sold today.

Henry Heinz, had developed a cold and was advised to stay in bed, he was assured he could leave for New York in a few day's. On Sunday he became worse, developed pneumonia, on Tuesday at 4 o'clock on the next afternoon the end came, the year was 1919. Henry was the first employer to provide dinning-rooms, locker rooms, first aid station, hired a trained nurse and free life insurance (which I am sure is not free now day's).

The reason I received this book from The Heinz company , is I bought an old old bottle 1888 from a vendor at Muskegon flea market, it was aqua, the side panel's were embossed F & J Heinz. I knew right away this was old and I contacted the company. They not only sent me the book but literature, and photos of their old bottles up to the present. They told me I had a rare bottle and should read the book and I would know what was in the bottle (horse-Radish). There is a lot of reading in this book and I would recomend it, you will not be disapointed. The book is 233 pages long and has many photos in it.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Winter Tale: The Mitten

While going through my boxes of pictures to day I came across this cute tale, it appeared in the schools Weekly Reader in 1991. At this time my granddaughter Sarah was in the second grade at Ferrysburg School in Ferrysburg. I thought you might like to read about it, it is titled A Winter Tale: The Mitten.

One winter day, a little boy went for a walk in the woods. He stopped to tie his boots. He put his mittens down on a log. When he left, he picked up only one mitten.

Along came a chipmunk. She was very cold! "That mitten looks nice and warm," she thought. So in she climbed. Soon a squirrel came along. "That mitten looks nice and warm. Can I get in too?" the squirrel asked. "OK" said the chipmunk. So in he climbed.

Soon a fox came along. "That mitten looks nice and warm. Can I get in too?" the fox asked "OK" said the Chipmunk and the Squirrel. So in she climbed. Soon a bear came along. "That mitten looks nice and warm. Can I get in too?" the bear asked. "OK" said the chipmunk, the squirrel, and the fox. So in he climbed.

Soon a tiny mouse came along. "That mitten looks so nice and warm. Can I get in too?" she asked. "Well, it's pretty crowded. But "OK" said the chipmunk, the squirrel, the fox, and the bear. So the mouse tried to climb in.

The mouse wiggled and squirmed and pushed. But just as she got her head in- the mitten burst. Later, the little boy came back. He was looking for his lost mitten. But all he could find was a little bit of blue yarn. He never did find his mitten.