Monday, June 12, 2017

I Want To Be A Cowboy

Have you ever thought of working on a ranch with horses and cattle?

A cowboy/cowgirl handles mostly cattle or cows, with similar duties as a wrangler.
A person who works mostly with horses is called a 'wrangler.' Here are some of the responsibilities of a wrangler or a cowgirl/cowboy:
  • Examinations for health purposes
  • Vaccinations
  • Feeding
  • Branding
  • Training
  • Keeping their stalls clean/mucking out
  • Transporting them by horse trailer
  • Grooming
  • Shoeing (horses)
  • Assisting in foaling with horses (birthing), or calving with cows
  • Wranglers sometimes find work in motion pictures and television when horses are needed
  • Machinery repair
  • You may be driving a pickup truck a fair amount of the time as well.

                                                                 Shoeing a horse

                                                           Wranglers often have dogs to help them herd cattle.

                                                    *****History lesson*******

After the Ice Age, horses and their relatives were largely extinct in what is now North America. The Spanish brought horses with them in the 16th century, and the horses thrived and reproduced throughout the country. Spanish 'cowboys' are called Vaqueros.  Cattle were largely wild, and the horses were captured and tamed to help herd the cows in groups for ownership by ranchers.

Cowboys were literally once boys: they started helping with horse and cow management at the age of 12 or 13. We have since learned that a grown adult is much better at handling and managing these large and heavy animals.

Did you know that a saddle weighs between 20 and 30 pounds, and a horse from 1,000 to 2,000 pounds?

This is not a job for someone who knows nothing about horses!

Keep in mind also that being a cowboy, cowgirl, wrangler, or ranch hand is physically demanding work that you will do outside 99% of the time (the other 1% may be taken up bandaging blisters and applying ice packs!)
There is a great deal of heavy lifting, with the possibility of back injuries.
You may fall or be thrown off the horse, be kicked by the horse, or bitten by the horse, as well as sprains and pulled muscles: you are trying to manage an animal that weighs close to a ton.
When you are not on a horse you will be on your feet.

You will not get days off because the weather is bad, and animals need maintenance 24/7, 365 days a year.
You will be dirty most of the time, and tired as well.

You will probably find that other people working at the same ranch aren't terribly social: They prefer the horses' company to humans. If you are also like that, you'll fit right in.

Another way to become involved with horses or other farm/ranch animals is to become a veterinarian or vet tech specializing in equines or farm animals.

If you want to own a ranch instead of only working on one, what skills would you need?

  • Business set-up skills
  • Goal Setting
  • Marketing--how do you let people know about your business?
  • Accounting--managing your money
  • Managing your supplies
  • Managing your animals
  • Managing your employees
  • Meeting any government requirements
  • Maintaining your land and equipment
  • Relationships with other businesses and the local Chamber of Commerce
  • Will you want a website for your ranch? Who will design and maintain it?

Most ranches are in the western or southern states of the U.S. such as Texas, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Colorado, etc. You would probably need to move to one of these states to find work on a ranch.

How can you see if this is a job you would like?

Try visiting a dude ranch:

Attend a cattle auction, here are some in Minnesota:

To get a feel for the way cattle and horses are handled,
Attend rodeo school:

Here are rodeos in Minnesota:


Cowboys at work:

Here's a man who has learned the power of massage for horses: 

And a YouTube video:

Ready to saddle up?

Monday, June 5, 2017

Tiny Houses

There's a new trend in housing: Tiny houses.
Some facts about tiny houses:

  • They are usually built on a platform with wheels so they can be moved easily
  • Space-efficient:storage is tucked away everywhere
  • Sometimes they are solar-powered
  • They can be built by the owner or someone else
  • Tiny homes have features like any other house, only on a smaller scale, including washers, air conditioning, bathrooms, electricity
  • They can be as tiny as 65 square feet up to about 900 square feet (the size of a 1960s rambler is about 1100 square feet)
  • They are kinder to the planet: They use less materials to build, less electricity or gas for fuel, and create less waste
Here's some facts about housing costs--quite eye opening:
Less stuff: How much do we really need?
George Carlin about stuff:
  • Smaller spaces are cheaper to heat and air-condition
  • Minimal outside and inside maintenance
  • Less stuff = less to clean up
  • You'd learn to be better at food consumption--not a lot of storage
  • You could live by the advice of: Make do, use it up, do without
  • Deciding what to wear would not be a problem
  • Cleaning house would take very little time
  • They discourage consumerism, the habit of obtaining more to impress others
  • As such, a tiny house confirms that 'things' aren't going to make you happy
  • You will value and take care of those few things you really want to have
  • You could stay in one place or move whenever you wanted to
  • If your neighbors bother you, you can just move
  • If you know someone with land, you could park your tiny house there and pay no rent
  • You may be able to use campground hookups to temporarily park your home
  • You won't need any yard equipment: Lawn mower, snow blower. A shovel for snow, maybe. There's nowhere to put them anyway.
  • It is your own home, as opposed an apartment
  • Would you rather have a tiny house that's affordable, or a big house you can barely pay for?

Here are some ways a tiny house makes better use of minimal space:
  • If you like to have a lot of stuff, that would be a problem
  • Close quarters can make it hard to live with someone-or not
  • With a roommate, you'd have to agree on what stuff to bring into the house
  • Often, the bed or one of the beds will be in a loft with very little headroom
  • Permits to park your tiny house can be difficult to get
  • Also, hookups for water or electricity might be a problem sometimes
  • You would not have a garage. This could be a problem in a state with a long winter.
  • You would need a P O Box to use as your address, perhaps one in several areas, in order to receive mail.
  • Having an established doctor might be an issue

The first thing you'd have to do if you were considering a Tiny House, is to pare down your belongings to a bare minimum. This is, of course, hard to do if you already have a 'regular' sized house or apartment. If you are still living with your parents and/or in an apartment, it might be easier.
Here's one company that builds them or sells kits so you can do it yourself. Check out a few of their models:
Here's a video tour of a tiny house:
Here's a tiny house that's pretty fancy:
Here's a little community of Tiny Houses in Portland, Oregon:
Besides the obvious advantage of saving money on a house, imagine what they could do for the homeless: Wouldn't it be better to have somewhere safe, warm, and dry to sleep at night? A place where you call home, no matter how small? Check this out: People building tiny houses for the homeless:
 What do you think? Could you live in a tiny house? Would it be rewarding to you? Does it make you re-think traditional housing?

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Summer Bucket List 2.0

Here are some ideas to keep your brain functioning and your days less boring for Summer 2017:
  • Make an entire meal for your family: Plan it, make it, clean up afterwards. If you already do this, try something new.
  • Take a walk around your neighborhood and see how many different types of trees you can recognize.
  •  Press some flowers--just put them under something heavy, or between the pages of a thick book, and wait
  • Make a fairy garden without buying anything:

  • Try to take an unusual picture every day for a week. Or two weeks. A month?
  • Or, take tons of pictures all summer and then make an album or collage right before school starts-there are photo apps with a collage feature. Share with friends you haven't seen since the end of this school year.
  • Fly a kite
  • Visit your library. Get a library card if you don't already have one.
  • While at the library, find a book that has an interesting title or whose author has an odd name. Read it. Did you like it, or not? Why?

  • Re-read something you liked a while ago. Or exchange favorites with a friend.
  • Built a blanket fort, or a cushion fort. Maybe build one outside.
  • Clean your room. Put up some cool decorations you make yourself. It will shock your parents.
  • Think up a great Halloween costume: you have lots of time--but how awesome would it be if it was all ready?!!

  • Write something on the sidewalk with chalk, to brighten someone's day.
  • Look for minnows in a lake. Watch how they behave.
  • How many rainbows will you see this summer? Try to get a picture of each. They fade fast.
  • Go to a free outdoor concert--Look for free concerts available by looking up your city website.
For example, these free concerts are held at the Coon Rapids Dam, Pavilion 3:
Do one good deed every day without asking anything in return:
  • Give someone a smile.
  • Open a door for someone
  • Before the end of the school year, say thank you to a custodian for keeping your school in order.
  • Pull some weeds
  • Put something away even if you didn't get it out
  • Pick a flower from your yard, put it in a vase, set it out to enjoy
  • Leave a dollar somewhere for someone to find

  • Call your grandparent just to talk for a while
  • Buy lemonade from a kid's lemonade stand
  • Go up to someone shy in a gathering and start a conversation.
  • Sit quietly with someone having a hard time
  • Share a snack with someone
  • Post something positive on Facebook
What's on your summer bucket list 2017?


Monday, May 22, 2017

Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking is a Theoretical Physicist known for his knowledge of the universe. Limited to life in a wheelchair due to ALS, he can only speak using a computer, he has nevertheless accomplished a lot in his life.

  • In his early years, he was a poor student and didn't learn to read until later than most of his peers, which he blames on poor teaching methods.
  • At the age of 16, he and a friend built a computer using parts of a clock, a telephone switchboard, and assorted junk.
  • His father wanted him to study medicine, but Stephen was more interested in Physics and Cosmology (the study of the universe).
  • He attended the University of Oxford in England, starting young at the age of 17. He did his graduate work at Cambridge University, also in England.
  • He was physically awkward, but because he was small, he was a coxswain (team captain/director) for men rowing Crew at Oxford. He was known to be very reckless with the boats. 

                                                      Oxford University (Harry Potter, anyone??)
                                                               Cambridge University
  • During his graduate studies, he was diagnosed with ALS: Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. It affected his walking and his speech, and he was given 2 years to live.
  • He earned his PhD in 1966, age 24. 
  • In 1985, he came down with pneumonia, which meant he had to have a tracheotomy in order to breathe. This ended his ability to speak.
  • Currently, he uses his cheek muscles to speak using a computer that has a word predictor. It has a vocabulary of 2500 to 3000 words-in an American accent.
  • There are people working on finding a way for him to move his wheelchair using his chin, which is a problem because he can't move his neck.
  • He occasionally has breathing trouble as well.
 What is ALS? Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis: damage to the brain and spinal cord that causes muscles to stop working.

You can learn more about ALS here:

  • He has three children: Lucy, Timothy, and Robert. He has written 7 books and co-authored 5. He's also written four children's books with his daughter, Lucy.
  • Mr. Hawking's net worth is $20 million.
  • He reportedly turned down a knighthood offered him by the Queen of England.
  • He has appeared on TV: Conan O'Brian, The Simpsons, Star Trek, and the Big Bang Theory (an episode in which Sheldon meets Hawking, whom he considers to be his intellectual equal).


Stephen Hawkings is Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretic Cosmology at the University of Cambridge in England..

In 2007, he was able to experience weightlessness in a spacecraft simulator.


How does his wheelchair work?


A film was made about his life called "The Theory of Everything," which illustrates his story as well.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Top Ten Things I Wish I Had Known As A Graduate

10.  Even at your young age, being mindful of your money is smart.
-Subsection A: If you are about to start college in the fall and are looking at loans, be careful about how much money you'll owe. If you are graduating from college and staring down repayment in 6 months, you're seeing the result of the loans you have: Payments are a thing.
-Subsection B: Credit cards are usually not a good choice. Think: Is this a need or a want? The wants can add up to a big ugly debt really fast. Live simply.

9.  Although you think you're pretty busy, have an activity or two you enjoy after work hours. It may very well become your Happy Place during rough times. Plus, you'll meet cool like-minded people.

8.  Care about something: Save the whales. Work with voter registration. Be a champion for arts in the schools. In other words, be a part of your community by action, not just complaint, no matter where you land.
Subsection A: Be Kind To Other People. Everyone has a story. You would be surprised to know not only what problems others have, but also what talents they have. A smile, an encouraging word, taking those few seconds to listen, can make a difference in someone's life.

7.  Take time for yourself every day. Notice the weather. Take a walk. Listen to music. Relax. Breathe. Repeat. Appreciate your surroundings.

6.  Try something new on a regular basis. What if you actually like ska music or Cajun food? Zip-lining? Swing dancing?  Poetry? Zorbing? Never, never, stop learning.

5.  Take care of your health: Eat better than you did in high school or in college (they're called fruits and vegetables). Get a yearly checkup, even if you don't think you need it. Keep up with dental care. Get new glasses when you need them. Get some exercise (which doesn't have to take place in a gym. Just sayin').Wear a helmet when you're on a motorcycle. Don't text and drive. Wear sunscreen, because: Wrinkles and skin cancer.

4. College grads: Yes, get a job ASAP. But, do not take 'something' because it's better than 'nothing.' Make an effort to be careful in your choice of job. That is, choose a job that sounds like it's at least a little challenging, and has fun people to work with. You're going to be there 8 hours a day or more. High school or any other kind of grad: Whatever you do, do your best. Have a good work ethic, make an extra effort, be cooperative and inquisitive: You know how I am able to do this blog? I simply asked my supervisor if I could, and he agreed.

-Subsection A: Live on your own as soon as you can, and live on your own before you get married or have a partner. Find out what it's like to manage your life independently. It's a very good thing.

3.  Share your knowledge by mentoring or tutoring: think about someone who did this for you, and how much it meant to you--pay it forward. Start with just one person and see how it enriches your life as well as the other person's.

2.  Your family is not only people related to you, but your friends as well. Nurture those relationships, hang on to them with intent and ferocity , because you will not only enjoy those relationships, but will need them from time to time. Knowing you have solid connections no matter what happens, makes all the difference.

And the #1 thing to know:

Be Grateful. Your life is always full of promise, as long as you're alive. Appreciate your home, friends, family, experiences you've had and are still going to have, and the power of knowledge.


Monday, May 1, 2017

What Do You Know About...Toronto?

If someone asked you what Canadian province(s) are to the direct north of Minnesota, would you know?

They are Ontario and Manitoba.

The largest city (in population) of Ontario is Toronto. Toronto sits on the northern edge of Lake Ontario. Look at this map: The province of Ontario is very large, spanning an area from the northern edges of Minnesota and Wisconsin eastward to New York. It is 929 miles from Minneapolis to Toronto if you go by car, which would take about 13 hours.

The pale yellow area covered by the largest arrow is all Ontario.
                                                                            Toronto Skyline

Although Canada covers a huge amount of land, which includes six time zones and people who speak more than 100 languages, it has only 27 million people, which is close to the population of Texas. Minnesota, by comparison, has just under 6 million residents (about 500,000 in the City of Minneapolis).

  • Toronto is home to 2.6 million people.
  • Their 'official' language is English.
  • If you plan to travel to Toronto or anywhere in Canada, you need a passport but not a visa.
  • Canadians use the metric system.
  • If you drive to Toronto, or anywhere else in Canada, keep driving on the righthand side just as if you were still in the U.S.
Toronto has cold winters and warm, humid summers. Lake Toronto keeps the temperature lower and can cause a chilly breeze at times, plus lake-effect snow in the winter. Annual precipitation is about 32" and annual snowfall, 48".
What about school in Canada?

Children attend school much like they do in the United States. Most schools run from September to the end of June, and students generally go up to Grade 12. It is compulsory (required) until the age of 16, like it is here in the States.

The word "college" in Canada usually refers to a technical school, while "university" refers to an institution of higher learning where you would obtain a 3 or 4 year degree similar to our Bachelor's Degree. People say, "She's attending university now" to indicate the person has moved on to the next level of education. Sometimes what we call high school is called a "collegiate institute."

The exception to these rules is the province of Quebec, which handles school somewhat differently.

One in seven adults in Canada has obtained a university degree.

Here are some institutes of higher education around the Toronto area:
These offer a range from what we would call a technical certificate all the way up to a baccalaureate degree:
  • Ontario College of Art & Design
  • Centennial College
  • George Brown College
  • Humber College
  • Seneca College

Here are some interesting things to check out in Toronto:

                       The CN Needle, 1815' tall:
Notice the huge domed structure to the left of the CN Needle?
That's the Rogers Centre, home of the Toronto Blue Jays.
Learn more about the Rogers Centre at:

                    The Toronto Zoo
The Hockey Hall of Fame
Centreville Amusement Park
The Royal Ontario Museum
and another view of the museum:
Eaton Centre Mall

Most people who live in Toronto are of these backgrounds:
  • English  12..9%
  • Chinese  12. %
  • Canadian 11.3%
  • Irish   9.7%
  • Scottish  9.5%
  • East Indian  7.6
  • French  4.5%

The most common religion is some form of Christianity, and of those people there are more Catholics than Protestants. 24% of the people say they have no religion.

Here is Toronto's city website:
Free things to do in Toronto:

The Toronto Farmers Market:                

You can visit a labyrinth in Toronto:  

The Aquarium of Canada

Ontario Science Centre

Niagara Falls is on the border of New York and Ontario

                                     So there you have it: Toronto in a nutshell. Think about a visit one day!