Why Is My Skin a Different Color Than Your’s?

Why is my skin a different color than your’s?


The answer: a chemical called melanin.  Melanin is a complex polymer that is found in your skin.  The more melanin you have, the darker the shade of skin. In contrast, those with less melanin, have less color in the skin.

Fun Fact:  The cute little freckles on your body which people of all skin colors have, are simply concentrated areas of melanin.

For most animals on earth, including humans,  the amount of melanin present not only determines the shade of the skin but also determines the color of the hair or fur and eye color.


Go to http://www.webexhibits.org/causesofcolor/7F.html for more in-depth information on the science behind hair, eye, and skin color.

What determines the amount of melanin present?

The answer:  genetics.  Having more melanin is a dominant trait, i.e. brown eyes,  while having less melanin is a recessive trait,  i.e. blue eyes.  When someone with brown eyes has children with someone with blue eyes, chances are, three out of the four children will have brown eyes because brown is the dominant genetic trait.

FYI:  There is a great article from Stanford School of Medicine at https://genetics.thetech.org/ask/ask59  for more detailed information on understanding genetics and eye color.

The amount of melanin present in your skin, eyes, and hair determines the color. The amount present is determined by genetics but also serves as an evolutionary purpose.  Those with darker skin and eyes can better withstand harsh rays of the sun. Darker skin absorbs sunlight rather than reflecting it. Scientists believe that this is an adaptation to protect against UVA radiation which causes skin cancer. (See National Geographic.)

friends at the beach

Color is everywhere in nature just like on an artists pallet. Open your eyes and your arms and enjoy what surrounds you.  Mother nature loves variety. Relax and enjoy it with her.


Quote of the Day

Life is a gift, that’s why they call it the present.” – Author unknown.







In Memory of Senator John McCain, a True American Patriot

Senator John McCain

Senator John Sydney McCain III


When Senator McCain was asked how he would like to be remembered he stated this:

“He served his country, and not always right, made a lot of mistakes, made a lot of errors, but served his country and I hope we can add honorably”.

Yes, Senator, we can and do add “Honorably”.

No matter your political affiliation, we can all honor Arizona Senator John McCain for his lifetime of selfless service to the United States of America.  He served in the Navy as a pilot during the Vietnam War. He was a POW that endured over five years of captivity and torture.  And, he was a dedicated civil servant in the United States government for 36 years until his death on August 25th, 2018 from incurable brain cancer at the age of 81.  Thank you, Sir.  We honor you as a true and self-less American patriot.

He was born John Sidney McCain III at Coco Solo Naval Air Station (at the Panama Canal) on August 29th, 1936 to Four-Star Admiral John S. McCain Jr. his wife, Roberta (Wright) McCain.  John’s father as well as his grandfather were decorated four star admirals in the United States Navy.

John himself was a “maverick” from day one. He was a rebel that struggled to conform in high school as well as in the Naval Academy.  He graduated  “fifth from the last” from the Naval Academy but went on to become one of the most admired Americans in United States history.  The strength of personality that made him a maverick may have actually saved his life during his time in captivity as a POW in Vietnam.

Senator John McCain 8

John volunteered for combat duty as a Navy pilot during the Vietnam war. He served on many missions but on his 23rd bombing mission in 1967 his plane was shot down and crashed in a lake. He sustained two broken arms and a broken leg. In what is now  a famous

John McCain being pulled from the water

Vietnamese pulling John out of the water

picture,  Vietnamese men can be seen pulling him out of the water after his plane crash. And, according to John, when they pulled him out of the water they weren’t very happy to see him because he had just “bombed the place”.  They roughed him up on the spot. The butt of a rifle was slammed into his shoulder, shattering it. He was also stabbed in the abdomen and the foot with a bayonet. He suffered an injury to the knee as well.

When asked about his memories of the torture as a POW,  Senator McCain said, “The joy of my life was the bonds that were forged between me and my fellow POW’s.  They were wonderful.  We fought together.  We loved each other.  We would tap on the walls to each other. I look back on that experience with a great deal of pride.”

He was  taken to what was known as the “Hanoi Hilton”.  He was held in captivity, enduring near daily torture and solitary confinement, for five and a half years.  He was 31 years old at the time of his captivity.  He was offered release after about a year due to his family connections, but John refused to leave his fellow POW’s and instead allowed others who had endured captivity longer to be released first. He was nearly 37 years old when he was finally released in 1973 and able to come back home to the United States.  The injuries he sustained from the ordeal left John with permanent disability.  He was never again able to raise his arms above the shoulder and he walked with a visible limp.








Update:  See video below of John McCain’s interview while in captivity. Caution: The following video is very raw and emotional.  It’s extremely hard to watch.




Unbelievably, after his release, John continued his service in the military regaining his flight status in the Navy.  Captain John McCain, went on to receive the following Navy Honors:

  • Silver Star for valor in combat
  • Bronze Star for meritorious service in combat
  • Legion of Merit for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of service
  • Purple Heart for wounds received while in military action
  • Distinguished Flying Cross for extraordinary achievement while in flight

Because of the permanent injuries he sustained as a POW, John’s military service was limited after his release from captivity. He chose to retire from the military in 1981 in John McCain and Barack Obama debateorder to run for the United States House of Representatives. He was elected to the U.S. House in 1982, then elected to the U.S. Senate in 1986.  He would go on to serve 6 consecutive Senate terms representing the State of Arizona in Washington D.C. . He ran for president in 2000 and again in 2008 where he was elected as the republican party nominee running against then Senator Barack Obama.  After losing the presidential election, John resumed his duties as an Arizona Senator, a position he filled until the day he died.

John is remembered as a man who would vote his conscience. After his own diagnosis of brain cancer and the surgery to remove the blood clot above his eye, Senator McCain, who was advised by his doctors to rest, instead joined his fellow Senators on the floor of the Senate to vote on the life of the Affordable care act.  After a warm welcome from his fellow Senators, John the maverick, in typical fashion, gave the decisive vote against  doing away with the Affordable Health Care Act to the dismay of his own party.  He had voted his conscience and made no apologies in typical John McCain fashion.

He was never afraid to speak his mind and according to most associates, at times had a temper to match.   However, John  was also never afraid to admit when he was wrong and he would apologize to anyone he felt he had wronged.

Senator John McCain 4

Other colleagues note the wonderful sense of humor Senator McCain had.  His self-deprecating humor was regularly on display. And, in response to Senator McCain teasing Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Lyndsey Graham told her that John only teased those he liked.

“…duty, honor, country, is the loadstar for the behavior that we have to exhibit every single day.”

John MCain after surgeryIn 2017, after a medical exam at the Mayo clinic in Arizona, John was given emergency surgery for a blood clot near his eye.  He was then told that he had glioblastoma, an extremely aggressive form of brain cancer that also took the lives of his friends, Senator  Ted Kennedy and Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, son of former Vice-President Joe Biden.  Senator McCain began taking both chemotherapy and radiation along with a healthy diet and other treatments in order to combat this aggressive cancer.

When told of his grim prognosis with the brain cancer diagnosis, Senator McCain stated that they should get the best doctors and do what they can but at the same time  “Celebrate with gratitude, a life well-lived.”

Senator John McCain 11John continued to work in the Senate, taking treatments in the morning before going to work at the Senate each day.  In later stages, he retreated to his ranch in Arizona where on August 24th, 2018, his family announced he would no longer be receiving any medical treatments.  The following day, on August 25th, 2018, Senator John McCain passed away surrounded by family and friends just a few days shy of his 82nd birthday which was to be celebrated with friends on August 29th.

“I’ve been a servant [to my country] first, last, and always.”

Good bye Senator McCain.  Thank you for your service.  Good journey.

Senator John McCain 10

Quotes of the Day

“Celebrate with gratitude, a life well-lived.” – Senator John McCain

“Gratitude is the sign of noble souls.” – Aesop


Update: Honoring John McCain at the 2017 Liberty Medal Ceremony




Women that Helped Change the World, The Series: Mae West, Hollywood Actress and Business Woman. She Was No Pushover.

Mae West 2

Mae West, American Actress and Business Woman

“Why don’t you come up sometime and see me. Come on up, I’ll tell your fortune .” – Line from the 1933 movie”You Done Him Wrong” with Cary Grant.

Mae West, sex symbol of the movie screen in the 1930’s, was an extremely savvy business woman who single-handedly saved Paramount Pictures and was the second highest paid person in the United States in 1934!

Born Mary Jane West in Brooklyn, New York on August 17th, 1893 to Matilda and John West. Mae was the oldest of three children.  Her father was  an amateur boxer and underground street fighter. Her mother Matilda was a German immigrant that dreamed of being an actress herself but her family had disapproved.  Matilda appeared to have projected her dreams of stardom onto little Mae, her favorite child, and Mae ate it up.

Mae showed an early ability to imitate and entertain.  At the tender age of 3, she was already mimicking those around her to the delight of her parents.  She performed her first act at a church social and by age 7 her mother had enrolled her in dance classes.  She was soon performing at burlesque shows and by age 14 she was performing in vaudeville. While there, she took on the a more assertive attitude in character that stuck with her for life.

After a short marriage to a fellow performer at the age of 17 in 1911, Mae made her way to the stage. There she seems to have honed her future character as she danced suggestively and learned the art of the double entendre.  She even began writing her own lines and later her own plays using a pen name.

“Virtue has its own reward but no sale at the box office.”

Mae penned the play “Sex” but before it could go onstage,  she was arrested  on a morals charge for the blatant sexuality in the play.  However, the arrest simply made “Sex” a hit due to all the publicity. Mae wrote several more plays containing adult content, enhancing her career and refining the sultry character she had created for herself.

Mae West 3

“It’s better to be looked over than overlooked.”

By the mid 1930’s Mae had been noticed by Hollywood and she made her debut in pictures with “Night After Night”. She was 38 years old and in control. By the year 1935, Mae West was the second highest paid person in the entire United States, beat only by publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst.  It is said that when Mae signed on to Paramount Pictures, she demanded a salary of $251,000 because Adolph Zuckor, the head of Paramount Pictures, was making $250,000!  She wanted more money  and she got it. It was the highest salary ever paid by the studio. Mae was no pushover.  The public loved her and she knew it.  She demanded what she was worth. Mae went on to make movies for Paramount Pictures for another 6 years.

“Those that are easily shocked, should be shocked more often.”

Mae was a unique character.  Along with her risqué lines, her Brooklyn accent was a part of her character as well as her sultry walk.  Mae had a unique walk that may be at least partially attributed to the platform shoes she wore to make herself appear taller.  At  just 5 feet tall, this petite woman was a firecracker.

Picture of Mae West's platform shoes from Wikipedia

Picture of Mae West’s platform shoes from Wikipedia

Mae was a brilliant business woman.  She knew what the audiences wanted of her characters and she played right to it. Her characters, whether on screen or on the stage, were unabashedly sexual.  The double entendres in her lines were shock-inducing at the time. She made no apologies.

“A dame that knows the ropes isn’t likely to get tied up.”

Mae was shrewd about her own career but she was also a talented scout.  She introduced the world to the talents of Mr. Cary Grant.  As the story goes, Mae spotted Grant walking on the sidewalk at the studio and asked Adolph Zuckor who he was.  He told her  Grant was a bit player whose contract was set to expire.  Mae insisted that Grant be her leading man in the movie “She Done Him Wrong” and that was that.  The world took notice of Cary Grant, all thanks to Mae. Grant was always quick to point out that he made eight movies before playing opposite Mae West, but in reality it was only after he was on the big screen opposite Mae West that he became a star.

Mae was also a supporter of the “outsiders” in early 20th century society.  In one of her early plays, called “The Drag”, she brought the topic of homosexuality to the forefront without apology. She was also an early supporter of gay rights and the women’s liberation movement. Mae was very supportive of the Black community as well.  Mae credited, Bert Williams, an African-American entertainer,  with being one of her earliest influences. And once she got to Hollywood, she didn’t change.  In her movie “Belle of the Nineties” she insisted on working only with Duke Ellington and his orchestra and in another movie African-American actors were given roles that had warm relationships with Mae’s character and not just the role of servant as so many other movies did. Mae was clearly a woman ahead of her time.

“We are intellectual opposites…I’m intellectual and you’re opposite.”

The censorship of the era hit Mae’s career in pictures hard. The creation of the Hay’s Act, more properly known as the Motion Picture Production Code, severely limited what Mae could and couldn’t say in pictures.  The code became strictly enforced after 1934 and censors had a field day with Mae’s lines.  Her risqué  dialogue was no longer allowed and after the dismal box office receipts of her movie “The Heat’s On”, Mae moved away from doing pictures and back to the stage.  She brought her show, with all its sex appeal, to the night clubs and she was a hit once again.

With all of this celebrity came money and Mae was no dummy when it came to a dime.  She invested her hard-earned money in real estate and made millions.  At the time of her death in 1980, her personal property alone was worth $1 million.  That doesn’t sound like a lot by today’s standards but when you realize that Mae was born in 1893 and made her millions during the Great Depression of the 1930’s, it’s astounding.

Mary Jane West, or as we know her Mae West, was a woman living in a man’s world but she didn’t let that stop her.  At a time when women were limited in the work they could get and the money they could make, Mae made millions.  She unabashedly flaunted her sexuality and shocked people with her words.  She knew what she was worth and demanded to be compensated.  She played the game and played it well.  Mae died on November 22, 1980 at the age of 87 after suffering from pneumonia.  She is buried in Brooklyn, New York where it all began.  Mae is a legend in Hollywood and her influence can be seen even now.  One look at Christina Aguilaera with platinum blond hair speaks volumes! Best of all, Mae was a superb businesswoman that made no apologies in demanding what she was worth.  What a lady!

Quote of the Day

“It’s a man’s world.  I happen to know how to play their game.”

– Mae West, American actress




Reuben Paul, Twelve Year Old CEO and Cyber Hacker

Reuben Paul is in the 6th grade. He enjoys such things as martial arts, gymnastics, and giving presentations to tech companies to demonstrate how easy cyber hacking really is.  What?  Yes, you read that right.  This young man calls himself a cyber ninja. He is a tech genius who can hack his “smart” Teddy Bear Bob along with your Fitbit! Oh and by the way, in his spare time, he goes to grade school and he runs his own non-profit company called CyberShaolin. Wow!

Reuben initially learned the basics of hacking  from his father, Mano,  who himself works in cyber-security.  Reuben took this initial knowledge and went on to learn more on his own.  This brilliant and caring young man even took advanced material and synthesized it down into easy-to-understand information so everyone can understand how this is done in order to keep themselves and their loved-ones safe.  Reuben says that he gives presentations and works on cyber-security because kids use internet-connected toys to communicate with their friends and he wants to make sure everyone stays safe. His demonstrations show how someone with malicious intent can exploit these weaknesses and gain access to our homes and children.

Reuben gives presentations to tech companies and government entities to show how easy it is to hack into electronic devices that use Bluetooth and Wi-Fi technology.   At some of these demonstrations, Rueben hacks into Bob the Bear onstage, then uses Bob to record the speaker’s questions and audience reactions before playing back what he has just recorded to the astonishment of the crowd.  And, he does all this within a matter of minutes.  According to Reuben, “Cars, lights, refrigerators, everything like this that is connected in our homes, could be used and weaponized to spy on us, even harm us.”  Reuben explained in one interview how easy it would be to shut off a patient’s pacemaker at a doctor’s office!  That’s scary stuff.  And, you know if a 12 year old can do it, so can someone without innocent intent.


In one startling example at a presentation for the military, while Reuben is onstage hacking into Bob the Bear and looking at his computer screen, he says, “Wow, I see someone’s Fitbit…looks like someone’s device like an Apple watch…” Shortly thereafter, Ruben says to the audience, “If you’re trying to turn off your Bluetooth devices, it’s too late.” Nervous laughter is audible in the room after that remark and the speaker has a shocked look on her face.

This amazing young man named Reuben, shows why we need to support education for all our children.  They deserve it. And,  if we want to survive and thrive in this advanced technological world, we need them.  They are our future.

See the video below for a demonstration of what this amazing child can do! Go Reuben!


Women That Helped Change The World, The Series: Latina Justice Sonia Sotomayor of The United States Supreme Court

Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor of the United States Supreme Court

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor

The first person of Hispanic decent and the third woman to sit as a Justice on the United States Supreme Court.

“I do know one thing about me:  I don’t measure myself by others’ expectations or let others define my worth.”

On August 8, 2009, Justice Sonia Sotomayor became the first person of Hispanic decent and the third woman to become a Justice on the United States Supreme Court.  Her beginnings were humble, but she was taught the importance of an education from an early age.  Justice Sotomayor went on to graduate summa cum laude from Princeton and later earned a J.D. from Yale Law School. This was just the start of the mark she would make on history.

On June 25, 1954 in the Bronx in New York City, Juan and Celina Baez Sotomayor became the proud parents of a baby girl named Sonia.  Sonia was born to a Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor with her parents as an infantworking  class family of Puerto Rican decent.  Celina had a career as a nurse and Juan worked as a tool-and-die worker.  A short time after Sonia’s younger sibling was born, Juan passed away in 1963 when Sonia was only 9 years old.

Justice Sotomayor tells the story that at the age of 10, she watched an episode of the legal drama television show Perry Mason.  She discovered that prosecutors prosecute those that do wrong by the law but prosecutors can also dismiss charges for those that are not guilty of committing a crime.  She explained in an interview that because of that, she decided she wanted to be an attorney and worked hard in her education to do just that.

“Until we get equity in education, we won’t have an equal society.”

Celina worked hard to support her family after her husband’s death and she stressed to both her children the importance of a good education. Sonia took her mother’s words to heart and worked hard to progress in her education.  With self-discipline and hard work, Sonia graduated valedictorian from high school in 1972.  From there she earned a scholarship to Princeton where she then graduated summa cum laude in 1976 with a Bachelor’s degree in History.  She then went to Yale School of Law where she was co-chair of the Latin American and Native American Students Association.  She also worked for the Yale Law Journal as the editor. Sonia Sotomayor proudly graduated from Yale with a Juris Doctor in Law in 1979.

Her career in law began with her work as an Assistant District Attorney in the New York County District Attorney’s Office.  She worked in the trial unit prosecuting crimes from petty offenses to homicides.  She held the position from 1979 through 1984 when she went on to become an associate and later a partner at the law firm of Pavia & Harcourt in New York City from 1984 through 1992.

Associate Justice Sonia SotomayorHer amazing work as a dedicated attorney earned her a nomination from George H.W. Bush to the United States District Court of the Southern District of New York .  She held this position from 1992 through 1998.  During her time in this position she became known as the Judge who saved Major League Baseball with her decision in Silverman v. Major League Baseball Player Relations Committee, Inc., which ended the strike.

Then in 1997, she was nominated by President Bill Clinton to the United States Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit. She was awarded the position and worked as an Appeals Court Judge from 1998 until 2009. She is remembered by the legal community for her carefully worded opinions and her fearlessness in confronting others appearing before her while she served on the bench.

The apex of her legal career occurred in May of 2009, when President Barack Obama nominated her for the position of Justice of the United States Supreme Court.  Congress approved her nomination and on August 8th of 2009, Justice Sonia Sotomayor was sworn into office. On that day she became the very first person of Hispanic decent to sit as a Justice on the bench for the United States Supreme Court.

Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor

“I am an ordinary person who has been blessed with extraordinary opportunities and experiences.”

Associate Justice Sonia SotomayorAssociate Justice Sonia Sotomayor once said, “The Latina in me is an ember that blazes forever.”  She has used that tenacity as a career attorney and as a Justice of the United States Supreme Court to accomplish her goals and to serve the people by upholding the law and the Constitution of the United States of America.

“It is important for all of us to appreciate where we come from and how that history has really shaped us in ways that we might not understand.”

The Wonder of the Human Voice, Marcelito Pomoy

Mimics are not uncommon in either the human or natural world.  Many animals can imitate the noises made by other animals and many people make a living out of imitating the voices of other people.  However,  to use your voice to sing a song that’s a duet between two of the most famous vocalists in the world is an incredible talent not many people possess.  But, Marcelito Pomoy is just such a person.

Marcelito Pomoy is a young man that was born in the Philippines.  He has a very gifted Marcelito Pomoy2voice with the ability of being able to sing in both soprano and tenor. Singing in both vocal ranges is not unique but Marcelito is able to not only sing in both vocal ranges but he is able to switch instantly from one to the other.  This unique talent was on display when Marcelito won the second season of the television show Pilipinas Got Talent by singing the song The Prayer, a duet originally by multiple Grammy Award winning Canadian singer Celine Dion and world renowned tenor,  Italian singer, Andrea Bocelli.

The beauty of this young man’s voice is stunning. His talent was on full display once again as Marcelito was able to repeat his amazing winning performance from Pilipinas Got Talent on Wish 107.5, an FM radio station in the Philippines.  (I found the following video on YouTube.  I do not own the video and do not intend to infringe on any copyrights. )


Not only does Marcelito have a beautiful voice but also notice that he is not only singing in two separate vocal ranges but he is switching from English to Italian and neither language appears to be his native tongue! Amazing!

Compare his voice to the original duet:


Note.  I earn no profit from writing this article.  I wrote this article because I am stunned by this young man’s ability and wish only to share his unique talent with readers.  See Marcelito Pomoy’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/marcelitopomoy08/ for more information and videos of his amazing performances. 

Women That Helped Change The World, The Series: Mary Pickford, Actress and Powerhouse Hollywood Business Woman

Mary Pickford 2

Mary Pickford

Nickname:  America’s Sweetheart

Legendary Actress and Powerhouse Hollywood Business Woman of the Silent Film Era

“You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing that we call ‘failure’ is not the falling down , but the staying down.”

Mary Pickford was, at one time, the most powerful woman in Hollywood. During the silent film era, she was the highest paid woman in the world.  She used her ambition and business sense to become as powerful as the men around her in a time when women were not even given a seat at the table.  The 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920 giving all women the right to vote, and by that time, Mary Pickford had already become the first woman to earn $1 million in Hollywood and she was a co-founder of the film studio United Artists making her one of the most powerful people in Hollywood.

Mary Pickford was born Gladys Louise Smith in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on April 8, 1892.  She was five years old when she first performed in the theatre. She was just fifteen years old when she reluctantly agreed to act in silent films at the urging ofMary Pickford 4 her mother to help provide for the family after her father passed away. At the time, movies were seen as vulgar and only the lowliest of actors would sink so low as to perform on-screen.  The director and producer D.W. Griffith who would become a large player in her future as an internationally renowned movie star,  told her that film was in its infancy and she would help bring it up to the level of theatre acting.  Mary stated in interviews that she was put off by Griffith upon their first meeting however his faith in her abilities were unwavering.

He convinced her to trust him and she began to work in film. However, Mary was never afraid to voice her opinion and would outright refuse to act in ways that she felt were unnatural or ridiculous.  Director George Cukor later stated that Mary was the mother of method acting and pioneered a more natural form of pantomime that later became commonplace in Hollywood films.

Even at this early time in her career, Mary was wise in business.  She estimated that she had only a short time to appear in films before her career was over.  She went to Griffith and stated that she would no longer work for the $5.oo a day she was receiving which was a standard wage for actors of the day.  Griffith relented and asked if she would stay on if he would pay her $10.00 per day.  She agreed.  Because of her business sense and unbending will, she doubled her income in one day!

“Make them laugh, make them cry, and hack to laughter.  What do people go to the theatre for?  An emotional exercise.  I am a servant of the people.  I have never forgotten that.”

Mary started her career in New York City but by 1911 she had moved out to Hollywood, California. In 1914, Mary starred in the movie Tess of the Storm Country for the Famous Players studio and Mary Pickford, the Star, was born.  With such fame came more power and she was given the right to choose her own scripts, director, and so on.  During this period of time, her income also increased exponentially as she was given $10,000 per week against 50% of the profit.  She was also writing and selling scripts which further increased her income.

Mary continued to make movies during this time and in 1917 she made Poor Little Rich Girl with director Adolph Zukor for Paramount Studios.  In it she played a ten-year old girl even though she was actually Mary Pickford 3twenty-one years old at the time.  The movie was a huge success and afterwards Mary demanded more freedom to pick and choose her projects and with whom she would work.  She was granted her demands as she was the number one Hollywood star at the time.  She was also the highest paid woman in the world.  She was the first Hollywood actress to have earned a staggering $1 million dollars.  This at a time when the average school teacher in the United States was making $10.00 per day!

“I believe you always have to have a goal no matter what it is.”

United Artists, co-founded by Mary and her friends Douglas Fairbanks, D.W. Griffith, and Charlie Chaplin, was announced in 1919.  Each partner bought into the new company at $100,000 each with equal say for all the partners, including Mary.  At that time, producers in Hollywood were complaining that actors had too much power so  producers were coming together to control salaries for everyone involved in filmmaking, including actors and writers.  Upon learning about the newly formed United Artists,  it is said that the President of Metro Pictures stated “The lunatics have taken charge of the asylum!”  But United Artists was well on its way to becoming one of the longest lasting and most successful film studios in Hollywood. United Artists, or UA as it is now known, is still producing films to this day, however it was bought out by another studio in the early 1980’s.

In reference to being released from Adoph Zukor of Paramount Studios Mary stated, “Freedom, it’s a heady wine, having once tasted it, its impossible to go back and to work for someone under restriction.”

Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks were in a romantic relationship for several years and were finally married on March 28, 1920 after their divorces from their respective spouses. Seen as Hollywood’s first royal couple, they lived at Pickfair, which was a hunting lodge in the remote areas of Beverly Hills that the couple remodeled and made their own.  Hollywood’s elite as well as actual royalty from around the world visited Mary and Douglas at Pickfair.  Even the physics genius Albert Einstein made it to a dinner there.  According to Mary, Einstein attempted to explain the physics of other dimensions to her by using the eating utensils at the table.  She later commented rather humorously in an interview that Einstein did his best to explain it to her but in the end, she still didn’t understand.

Mary may not have understood the physics of dimensions but she understood well how movies were made.  She was never afraid to take control when she needed to.  In one movie she starred in,  the director of the film was well-known for overindulging in alcohol and would show up late on set if he showed up at all.  In the absence of the director, Mary actually took over the directing duties to keep the movie on schedule and get it made.  She did most of her own stunts in the movie and was nearly thrown from a horse that was spooked when it lost its shoe during one riding scene.  She took it all in stride however and the movie was a hit with audiences upon its release.

In 1927, Mary made her last silent film called My Best Girl.  Her leading man in the movie was Buddy Rogers who would later become her third husband after her divorce from Douglas Fairbanks. That same year, she was one of thirty-six actors that co-founded the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences and she later won the Oscar for Best Actress for her role in her first talking motion picture called Coquette.

In reference to her charitable work Mary stated, “The world has been wonderful to me, people have been wonderful to me, it’s the least I can do to try to pay back, any way I can”

In 1933 Mary Pickford made her very last film, called Secrets.  In 1934 she retired from acting but continued on for the Board of United Artists and in 1937 she became the first woman vice-president for the film studio.  That same year she went on to marry Buddy Rogers with whom she would adopt two children.  She was never able to have children of her own due to an illness and surgery from her early adulthood.

Even after retirement, Mary was not done working on behalf of the Hollywood community she loved so much. In 1941,  she convinced several others in Hollywood to help her build the Motion Picture Country Home for aging individuals employed in the film industry.   It was created for those that could not afford to pay for  nursing home care on their own. Mary’s business savvy mind seems to have always been balanced by her caring heart.

The grand life of Mary Pickford came to an end on May 29, 1979 in Santa Monica, California. She was 87. Just a few short years before her death, the Academy of Motion Pictures awarded Mary with her second Oscar for the Life Time Achievement award.  Her words of gratitude were befitting of her personality as a sweet, head-strong, willful, and loving woman.  Her eyes moist with tears, she said in a small but clear voice,  “I’ll cherish this always.”  This was a fitting end for an incredibly artistic and intelligent business savvy woman who helped create Hollywood and make it what it is today.

Do Animals Have Emotions?

Do animals have emotions?  If you are an animal lover as I am, your answer is likely a resounding, “Yes!”.  If you aren’t an animal lover or if you’ve never been around animals, your answer may be “no”.  So which is it?

Animal species, as well as animal family groups, and even individual animals have special signals they use to communicate.  A dog will growl when it’s scared or angry and wolves will howl to communicate with other wolves, but what about a gorilla that can use sign language to tell you she’s lonely?  Does she have thoughts and feelings like a human?


I have been rescuing animals for more than thirty years.  I have worked with hundreds of abandoned, abused, and neglected animals. These animals have ways of letting me know what they have been through without words. But, do these animals have emotions?

One of my rescue dogs did not particularly like men.  However, when a male friend of mine dropped by for emotional support after a particularly difficult romantic breakup, my dog sat next to my friend, leaned against his leg, and allowed my friend to stroke his fur.  My dog even laid his head on my friend’s leg as my friend cried.  My dog stayed by his side during our entire conversation.  What would explain my dog’s behavior? Was my dog feeling my friend’s pain or was my dog simply vying for attention?

Another of my rescue dogs came from an abusive situation. He was being physically abused by his owner.  I did what I could and talked the owner into giving me the dog.  A few months later, I saw the owner while I was outside with the dog.  The owner picked the dog up from the ground without asking. The dog immediately froze. The dog turned its head away from his previous owner and looked directly at me.  I asked the owner to set the dog down.  As soon as the dog’s feet were resting on the ground, it went away and hid. This behavior was very telling of previous treatment but was the dog looking at me as a signal to intervene?  Was his fear an emotion or an instinct?

I have also worked with abused children. Years ago, I was hired by a non-profit to work with the State in conducting supervised visitations between abused children and their parents.  During that time, I worked with a young child that was not yet a year old and she didn’t speak.  She had been physically abused by her mother who was diagnosed as bipolar.  When I would bring the child into the play room to be with her mother, the child would wrap her arms and legs around me and she wouldn’t let go.  I would have to entice her to interact with her mother through the use of toys.  During one particularly tense visit, her mother was feeding her while the child sat in a walker.  The mother suddenly sat back in her chair, crossed her arms, and looked away.  The young child immediately became very still.  She looked at the floor and made no sound.  At that moment, it was clear that the child was afraid. But was the child’s action in this situation simply the instinct of self- preservation or was it something more? Was the child relaying thoughts and emotion as an animal might in this situation?

Neither the children nor the animals I worked with in these situations had the words to express their emotions, yet both could express these feelings through behaviors.  We accept that children are sentient beings that simply cannot yet express their thoughts and feelings in words.  Can we also accept that animals are sentient beings that express thoughts and feelings without words?

Can animals feel love?

Can animals feel sorrow?


Can animals feel joy?

Are animals sentient beings with thoughts and emotions like humans or are humans simply projecting their own emotions onto the behaviors of animals?  Science does not yet have the technology to reveal the answer.  For right now, you’ll simply have to decide for yourself!

Quotes of the Day

An animal’s eyes have the power to speak a great language.

– Martin Buber, Jewish philosopher


Some people talk to animals. Not many listen though. That’s the problem.”

-A.A. Milne, author of Winnie the Pooh


I am in favor on animal rights as well as human rights.  That is the way of a whole human being.

-Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States



Women That Helped Change The World, The Series: Marie Van Brittan Brown, Inventor of the Home Security System and the Closed-Circuit Television




Marie Van Brittan Brown

Inventor of the Home Security System and the Closed-Circuit Television


Marie was a very private person in life. As I could find no direct quotes from Marie herself,  I chose a quote from a brilliant scientist that epitomizes the life of this amazing woman.

“Life is not easy for any of us.  But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves.  We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this must be attained.” – Marie Curie, scientist and Nobel Laureate

Marie Van Brittan Brown was born on October 22, 1922.  She was a nurse from Queens, New York.  She invented the forerunner to the modern home security system and the first closed-circuit television.  In the 1960’s, Marie was working the unconventional hours that nurses often do, coming home late at night after a long shift. She was often home alone as her husband, Albert Brown, an electronics technician, also worked unconventional hours.  Marie was nervous being home alone as she and her husband lived in a rough neighborhood where police protection was unreliable at best.  She was especially concerned about her safety while answering the door as she didn’t know who would be standing on the other side. Due to their home’s location, fear and nervousness in her own home was a part of Marie’s life.

Instead of wallowing in anxiety and fear, Marie chose to take matters into her own hands. She designed a security system in which a camera was mounted in a small box on the front door.  Through a unique system of peepholes and camera movements, the camera picked up the image of the person at the front door and fed it via a radio controlled wireless system to a television monitor in the bedroom. Other features included a microphone to allow the home’s occupant to converse with the visitor at the door, an alarm system to allow the homeowner to alert a neighbor or police if there was a problem, and a remote lock to allow the occupant of the home to lock or unlock the front door at the push of a button.

Blueprint for home security system

Original patented blue print of the home security system as drawn by Marie Van Brittan Brown

Marie and her husband applied for a patent on the design in 1966. The patent was approved on December 2, 1969.  The new invention was called “Home Security System Utilizing Television Surveillance.” It is the precursor to the modern home security system which millions of people utilize today in order to keep themselves and their property safe.

Marie lived in Queens until her death on February 2, 1999 at the age of 76.  She used her intelligence and skills to craft a system of security in her home to keep her family safe. Marie’s legacy continues as she also influenced a second generation to follow in her footsteps.  Her daughter Norma Brown, also a nurse, became an inventor in her own right patenting as many as ten inventions including an anti-rape device patented in June 1998.