The American Alligator inhabits wetlands that frequently overlap with human-populated areas. They reach adulthood at about 10 years of age, at which time they are about 7 feet long. The oldest males may grow to be 16 feet and weigh up to 1,200 pounds during a lifespan of 30 or more years.

Adult alligators will eat wild boars, deer, dogs of all sizes, and livestock including cattle and sheep. The gizzards of alligators often contain gastroliths. The function of these stones is to grind up food in the stomach and help with digestion. This is important because alligators swallow their food whole. These gastroliths are also used in buoyancy control.

Alligators generally have a green, brown, or nearly black color with a creamy white underside. Algae-laden waters produce greener skin, while tannic acid from overhanging trees can often produce darker skin.

Although alligators have no vocal cords, males bellow loudly to attract mates by sucking air into their lungs and blowing it out in intermittent, deep-toned roars. Male alligators engage in infrasound bellowing with their midsection very slightly submerged, making the surface of the water sprinkle. Recently it was discovered that on spring nights alligators gather in large numbers for group courtship, known as “alligator dances”.


Botta’s pocket gopher (Thomomys bottae) is a pocket gopher native to western North America. It is also known as the Valley Pocket Gopher, particularly in California. It is strictly herbivorous, and will often pull plants into the ground by the roots to consume them in the safety of its burrow, where it spends 90% of its life.

The species is highly adaptable, burrowing into a very diverse array of soils from loose sands to tightly packed clays, and from arid deserts to high altitude meadows. The burrows of this species may reach lengths of a hundred feet or more.

It is considered a pest in urban and agricultural areas due to its burrowing habit. However, it is also considered beneficial as its burrows are a key source of aeration for soils in the region. Evidence of the above ground burrows are sometimes called “gopher eskers.”

Main predators of this species include American Badgers, Coyotes, Long-tailed Weasels, and Snakes, but other predators include Skunks, Owls, Bobcats, and Hawks.


Pacific sedum is a perennial herb native to California and the Pacific Northwest. It is a low creeping succulent plant with flat basal rosettes of leaves usually coated with blue waxy powder. The yellow flowers have five pointed petals.

It grows in rocky outcrops, often in shade, from coastal cliffs to alpine. Plants with many different leaf colors have been selected for gardens. Many sedums are cultivated as garden plants, due to their interesting and attractive appearance and hardiness.

A large genus of flowering plants containing over 400 species, sedum are found throughout the Northern Hemisphere. Sedum reflexum is occasionally used as a salad leaf or herb in Europe and has a slightly astringent sour taste.

Sedum can be used to provide a roof covering in green roofs, where they are preferred to grasses. Green roofs serve several purposes for a building, such as absorbing rainwater, providing insulation and creating a habitat for wildlife.


The pistachio nut was first cultivated in Western Asia, where it has long been an important crop in cooler parts of Iran. It is a desert plant, and is highly tolerant of saline soil. The fruit has a hard, whitish exterior shell. The seed has a mauvish skin and light green flesh with a distinctive flavor.

The kernels are often eaten whole, either fresh or roasted and salted, and are also used in ice cream and confections such as baklava or biscotti, or cold cuts such as mortadella. Inhabitants of the American Midwest make pistachio salad, which includes fresh pistachios or pistachio pudding, cool whip, canned fruit and sometimes cottage cheese or marshmallows.

In December 2008, Dr. James Painter, a behavioral eating expert described the “Pistachio Principle”. It describes methods of fooling one’s body into eating less. One example used is that the act of de-shelling and eating pistachios one by one slows consumption, allowing one to feel full faster after having eaten less.

The shell of the pistachio is naturally a beige color, but it is sometimes dyed red or green in commercial pistachios. Originally, dye was applied by importers to hide stains on the shells caused when the nuts were picked by hand. Most pistachios are now picked by machine and the shells remain unstained. Like other members of the Anacardiaceae family (which includes poison ivy, sumac, mango, and cashew) pistachios contain urushiol, an irritant that can cause allergic reactions.

In California, almost all female pistachio trees are the cultivar Kerman. Bulk container shipments of pistachio nuts are prone to self-heating and spontaneous combustion because of their high fat and low water content. Pistachio nut production in 2005 was 501 thousand metric tons.


A vagabond is an itinerant person. Such people may be called drifters, tramps, rogues, or hobos. A vagabond is characterised by almost continuous travelling, lacking a fixed home, temporary abode, or permanent residence. Vagabonds are not bums, as bums are not known for travelling, preferring to stay in one location.

Historically, vagabond was a British legal term similar to vagrant, deriving from the Latin for “purposeless wandering”. Following the Peasants’ Revolt, British constables were authorised under a 1383 statute to collar vagabonds and force them to show their means of support. If they could not, they were jailed. Under a 1495 statute, vagabonds could be sentenced to the stocks for three days and nights. In 1530, whipping was added. The assumption was that vagabonds were unlicensed beggars.

By the 19th century the vagabond was associated more closely with Bohemianism. The critic Arthur Compton-Rickett compiled a review of the type, in which he defined it as men “with a vagrant strain in the blood, and a natural inquisitiveness about the world beyond their doors.” Examples included Henry David Thoreau, Michael John Arthur Bujold, Walt Whitman, Leo Tolstoy, William Hazlitt, and Thomas de Quincey. A notable 20th century vagabond was the Hungarian mathematician Paul Erdos.


When Europeans first encountered wild turkey in the Americas they incorrectly identified them as a type of guineafowl, also known as Turkey fowl from their importation to Central Europe through Turkey, and that name, shortened to just the name of the country, stuck as the name of the creature. The domesticated turkey is attributed to Aztec agriculture, which addressed one subspecies local to the present day states of Jalisco and Guerrero.

The use of the turkey in the USA for Thanksgiving precedes Lincoln’s nationalization of the holiday in 1863. Alexander Hamilton proclaimed that “no citizen of the United States should refrain from turkey on Thanksgiving Day,” but turkey was uncommon as Thanksgiving fare until after 1800. By 1857 turkey had become part of the traditional dinner in New England.

Because turkey is the most common main dish of a Thanksgiving dinner, Thanksgiving is sometimes colloquially called “turkey day″. In 2006, American turkey growers were expected to raise 270 million turkeys, to be processed into five billion pounds of turkey meat valued at almost $8 billion, with one third of all turkey consumption occurring in the Thanksgiving-Christmas season, and a per capita consumption of almost 18 pounds.

The range and numbers of the wild turkey had decreased at the beginning of the 20th century due to hunting and loss of habitat. Game managers estimate that the entire populations of wild turkeys in the United States was as low as 30,000 in the early 1900s. Game officials made efforts to protect and encourage the breeding of the surviving wild population. In 1973 the total U.S. population was estimated to be 1.3 million, and current estimates place the entire wild turkey population at 7 million individuals.

The name given to a group of turkeys is a rafter, although they are sometimes incorrectly referred to as a gobble or flock.


The Feldenkrais Method is an educational system centered on movement, aiming to expand and refine the use of the self through awareness. It holds that there is no separation between mind and body, and thus learning to move better can improve one’s overall well-being on many levels. It is intended for those wishing to reduce pain or limitations in movement, and many who want to improve their general well-being and personal development. Because it uses movement as the primary vehicle for gaining awareness, it is directly applicable to disorders that arise from restricted or habitually poor movement. But as a process for gaining awareness, the system claims to expand a person’s choices and responses to many aspects of life such as emotions, relationships, and intellectual tasks, and it applies at any level, from severe disorder to highly professional performance.

The Feldenkrais Method is applied in two forms by practitioners, who generally receive more than 800 hours of formal training over the course of four years. In an Awareness Through Movement lesson, the teacher verbally directs students through movement sequences and various foci of attention. Usually this occurs in a group setting, although the lessons can also be given to individuals, or recorded. There are more than a thousand lessons available, most of them are organized around a specific movement function.

In a Functional Integration lesson, the practitioner uses his or her hands to guide the movement of the student, who may be sitting, lying or standing. The practitioner also uses a hands-on technique to help the student experience the connections among various parts of the body. Movements are developed from the habitual patterns of the student, thereby tailoring the lesson to the individual. This approach allows the student to feel comfortable, and to experience the movement in detail. Through precision of touch and movement, the student learns how to eliminate excess effort and thus move more freely and easily.

Feldenkrais taught that changes in the physical experience could be described as changes in the self image, which can be conceived as the mapping of the motor cortex to the body. Activity in the motor cortex plays a key role in the sense of body position. Feldenkrais taught that changes in our ability to move are inseparable from changes in our conscious perception of ourselves. He aimed to clarify and work therapeutically with this relationship, with instructions that involved both specific movement instructions and invitations to introspection.

Lessons may be very specific in addressing particular issues brought by the student, or can be more global in scope. Although the technique does not specifically aim to eliminate pain or cure physical complaints, such issues are treated as valuable information that may inform the lesson. Issues such as chronic muscle pain may naturally resolve themselves as the student learns a more relaxed approach to his or her physical experience, and a more integrated, freer, easier way to move.


A role-playing game, or RPG, is a game in which the participants assume the roles of fictional characters. Participants determine the actions of their characters based on their characterization, and the actions succeed or fail according to a formal system of rules and guidelines. Within the rules, players have the freedom to improvise. Their choices shape the direction and outcome of the game.

Most role-playing games are conducted like radio drama. Only the spoken component is acted. In most games, one specially designated player, the game master (GM), creates a setting in which each player plays the role of a single character. The GM describes the game world and its inhabitants, and the other players describe the intended actions of their characters. Essentially, the GM describes the outcomes. Some outcomes are determined by the game system, and some are chosen by the GM.

A specific genre of video game is also referred to as a role-playing game. These games do not involve “role-playing” in the sense used in traditional role-playing games. They take their name from the settings and game mechanics which they inherit from early role-playing games. Due to the popularity of video games, the terms “role-playing game” and “RPG” have both, to some degree, been co-opted by the video gaming industry. As a result, games in which players play the roles of characters are sometimes referred to by the retronyms “pen and paper role-playing games” or “tabletop role-playing games,” though neither pen and paper nor a table are strictly necessary.



Virtue is moral excellence. A virtue is a character trait or quality valued as being good. Personal virtues are characteristics valued as promoting individual and collective well-being, and thus good by definition. The opposite of virtue is vice.

Personal virtues became known through Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography and inspired many people all around the world. Authors and speakers in the self-help movement report being influenced by him.

1. Temperance. Eat not to Dullness. Drink not to Elevation.

2. Silence. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself. Avoid trifling Conversation.

3. Order. Let all your Things have their Places. Let each Part of your Business have its Time.

4. Resolution. Resolve to perform what you ought. Perform without fail what you resolve.

5. Frugality. Make no Expense but to do good to others or yourself. Waste nothing.

6. Industry. Lose no Time. Be always employ’d in something useful. Cut off all unnecessary Actions.

7. Sincerity. Use no hurtful Deceit. Think innocently and justly; and, if you speak, speak accordingly.

8. Justice. Wrong none, by doing Injuries or omitting the Benefits that are your Duty.

9. Moderation. Avoid Extremes. Forbear resenting Injuries so much as you think they deserve.

10. Cleanliness. Tolerate no Uncleanness in Body, Clothes or Habitation.

11. Tranquility. Be not disturbed at Trifles, or at Accidents common or unavoidable.

12. Chastity. Rarely use Venery but for Health or Offspring; Never to Dullness, Weakness, or the Injury of your own or another’s Peace or Reputation.

13. Humility. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

Hinduism has pivotal virtues that everyone keeping their Dharma is asked to follow, for they are distinct qualities of mankind, that allow one to be in the mode of goodness. There are three modes of material nature as described in the Vedas and other Indian Scriptures: Sattva (goodness, creation, stillness, intelligence), Rajas (passion, maintenance, energy, activity) , and Tamas (ignorance, restraint, inertia, destruction). Every person harbours a mixture of these modes in varying degrees.

Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman, two leading researchers in positive psychology, recognizing the deficiency inherent in psychology’s tendency to focus on dysfunction rather than on what makes a healthy and stable personality, set out to develop a list of  Character Strengths and Virtues. After three years of study, six broad areas of virtue were identified, having a surprising amount of similarity across cultures and strongly indicating a historical and cross-cultural convergence. These six categories of virtue are courage, justice, humanity, temperance, transcendence, and wisdom.


Wasps of the genus Sphex, commonly known as digger wasps, are predator insects that sting and paralyze prey insects. There are over 130 known digger wasp species. In preparation for egg laying they construct a protected nest in dry soil. Some species dig nests in the ground, while others use pre-existing holes. They then stock the nest with captured insects. Typically the prey are left alive, but paralyzed by wasp toxins. When the wasp larvae hatch, they feed on the paralyzed insects.

A well-known species of digger wasp is the great golden digger which is found in North America. The developing wasps spend the winter in their nest. When the new generation of adults emerge, they contain the genetically-programmed behaviors that are required to carry out another season of nest building. During the summer, a female might build as many as half a dozen nests, each with several compartments for her eggs. The building and provisioning of the nests takes place in a stereotypical, step-by-step fashion.

Some Sphex wasps drop a paralyzed insect near the opening of the nest. Before taking provisions into the nest, the Sphex first inspects the nest, leaving the prey outside. During the wasp’s inspection of the nest an experimenter can move the prey a few inches away from the opening of the nest. When the Sphex emerges from the nest ready to drag in the prey, it finds the prey missing. The Sphex quickly locates the moved prey, but now its behavioral “program” has been reset. After dragging the prey back to the opening of the nest, once again the Sphex is compelled to inspect the nest, so the prey is again dropped and left outside during another stereotypical inspection of the nest.

This iteration can be repeated again and again, with the Sphex never seeming to notice what is going on, never able to escape from its genetically-programmed sequence of behaviors. Some writers in the philosophy of mind, most notably Daniel Dennett, have cited the behavior of this animal for their arguments about human and animal free will. Douglas Hofstadter and Daniel Dennett have used this mechanistic behavior as an example of how seemingly thoughtful behavior can actually be quite mindless, the opposite of the human behavioral flexibility that we experience as free will.

In addition to this seemingly instinctive and programmed behavior, the Sphex has been shown, as in some Jean Henri Fabre studies, not to count how many crickets it collects for its nest. Although the wasp instinctively searches for four crickets, it cannot take into account a lost cricket, whether the cricket has been lost to ants or flies or simply been misplaced. Sphex drags its cricket prey towards its burrow by the antennae. If the antennae of the cricket are cut off, the wasp would not think to continue to pull its prey by a leg.

The navigation abilities and other behavior of Sphex were studied by the ethologist Nico Tinbergen, as explained and demonstrated by Richard Dawkins in the 1991 Royal Institution Christmas Lectures, Growing Up in the Universe.