Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Time Travel to the Bayou City, 1913

Reliving the Early 20th Century of Houston! An appreciative crowd of 41 adults experienced the burgeoning Bayou City of the 1910 and beyond during today's LIFE Workshop with guest speaker, Mike Vance! Issues such as mass transit, clean water, education, and city infrastructure were as popular then as they are today! More on Houston Arts and Media, Vance's non-profit history organization at Pictured with Vance are Sharon Samson and Roxanne Beck. Thanks to all who attended this informative presentation.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Healthful Hummus Snacks

Librarian Valerie Davis let us enter into her world of the new four food groups: fruit, vegetables, grains and beans. Valerie's family has thrived for years on their vegegarianism which includes eggs and dairy. We saw two of Valerie's six children, Luke and Eric, who are fine examples of young vegetarians.

We got to taste and see how to make four delicious examples of hummus which include traditional chick pea dip, but also some interesting variations on a theme such as black beans, white beans, and spicy jalapenos. Lovely vegetables and yummy pita chips rounded out the tasting experience. Valerie even showed us how to peel a fine tuber called jicama which was crunchy and flavorful. The Vitamix blender is super high powered, but a regular blender would do the trick if you want to try this at home. Tips: roll your lemons and limes before juicing to get the most juice, crush your garlic before peeling, and cut up those broccoli stems for great soup fillers or elegant crudités.

Hummus Recipes

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Skeletons in My Closet

Forensic sculptor, Amanda Danning, gave a tour de force presentation today at LIFE. Amanda does facial reconstruction geared toward archeology, not criminology. Her sense of history, artistic ability, and love of science make for a unique career and specialty. Her passion, talent, knowledge, and creativity are evident in this thoughtful, fascinating, and unusual presentation. Amanda has the ability of a trained professor to engage the audience, asking questions, probing for thoughtful answers, and involving the audience in live demonstrations of skull damage with Bowie knives and such. Reconstructing faces from skulls seems like an impossible task, but Amanda explained it so well that even the lay mind can get an inkling of her techniques. One super interesting dig involved the skeleton of a human male and a young female which dated back ten thousand years. This was a ritual burial with symbols, riches, forethought, and time – not something you think of in Paleolithic man. And these were not the race of our “native Americans.” This skeleton named Sam was facially reconstructed by Amanda and truly changes mankind’s view of history. 

Want to learn more? Here are some books Amanda recommends:
Written in Bone by Douglas Owsley and Karin Bruwelheide
No Bone Unturned by Jeff Benedict
Faces From the Past by James Deem
The Kennewick Papers by Douglas Owsley (coming soon perhaps early 2014)

And visit Amanda Danning’s website:

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Are You Out There?

Dr. Daniel Kainer, Director of the Biotechnology Institute of LSC-Montgomery opened our minds to the possibility of life outside our planet and the ways in which great thinkers have approached that topic. Are we alone in the universe? This question has been asked throughout history and Daniel led us through the timeline of the human concept of the universe. We've gone from the geocentric theory where it was believed that Earth was the center of the universe, to the heliocentric theory, which placed our sun at the center, to everything we are currently learning about how our tiny planet fits into the universe. Astrobiology is a multi-disciplinary approach that asks questions about the existence of life in the universe. The Fermi paradox questions the existence of other life by asking, if there is intelligent life in the universe, why haven't we had any contact with it (that we know of)? Of course, this is a very simplified description of the contradiction. Daniel also introduced us to the Drake Equation as a way of estimating the number of planets upon which intelligent life could actually exist, and of those, how many develop a way to communicate with other life. Thank you to Daniel for expanding our horizons in the most astronomical way!

You can find the video that Daniel mentioned, Cosmography of the Local Universe, here.

Our group had an interesting discussion about signs of extraterrestrial life at the beginning of the program, and Mick showed us a web site he had come across that details UFO sightings. If you'd like to check it out, it's at under Non-military records: Project Blue Book - UFO Investigations.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


Vernon Henry got everyone moving as he introduced us to Flexercise, a routine that combines stretches and cardiovascular exercises to strength and tone.  Vernon is an adjunct professor here at LSC-CyFair who teaches kinesiology. This morning he led us through a series of stretches to increase flexibility and improve balance, ending the session with a series of breathing techniques to slow the heart rate and focus the mind. Our group ended the session feeling refreshed and energized, though I'm sure our sore muscles tomorrow will remind us of how hard we worked!

Vernon will be leading his last weekly Flexercise class next Tuesday, October 8, at 5:30 p.m. in the Conference Center.

For more information about Flexercise or to order DVDs or books: