Monthly Archives: November 2014

Zoo Animals-Coping With Winter Weather

Red Panda Winter in D.C.

For those of you who are reading this weeks’ blog and who live on or near the equator the subject matter is probably irrelevant, perhaps slightly interesting. For those of you reading this blog who live in the mid-latitudes of the Southern Hemisphere, well, just park this away until next June.

Okay, here we go. So, I am watching the news programs a few days ago and see the poor people of Buffalo, New York struggling through one of the worst snowstorms they have had in Buffalo this early in the season. Over a several day period last week they received over 6 feet of snow. A few days after the first lake-effect snowstorm roared through town they got hit again with another 3 feet of snow. That’s 108 inches of snow. Ouch!!

That portion of Buffalo that was hit hardest was paralyzed. How do ambulances get through? How do you go out shopping for food or medicine?

And my fertile imagination percolates and I am saying to myself, “…hey Fred, does Buffalo have a zoo and what are the poor animals doing to cope with this storm (they do have a zoo by the way: 300 Parkside Ave, Buffalo, NY 14214 (716) 837-3900)? How do the animals stay warm? How do they exercise? Do they get cabin fever from being cooped up?” And I projected even further, it’s not just Buffalo, how do all zoos in the Northern Hemisphere this time of  year and into December, January, February, handle the extreme cold conditions.

I then started to research the subject matter. I love research. And since I have written a book about zoo animals, see below folks, I had an idea what sources I should tap into to get some answers.

First of all, I was very surprised to find out that most zoos stay open the year round. Actually the staff seems more attentive to both the visitors and the inhabitants to zoos during this period of cold and snow. The animals require it and the people get more individual acknowledgement and treatment because there just aren’t that many people who sit around saying to themselves… “…ya know what, it’s 8 degrees above zero with three feet of snow on the ground, let’s go to the zoo.” But, there are people who actually do just that. I guess it’s the challenge of braving those conditions walking around in the open to find out how the animals are coping.

At home in winter we all seem to hunker down, turn up the thermostat, eat some hot meals and curl up in front of the telly, or TV as we call it here in the States, and maybe cuddle up with the ones we love. Guess what, the zoo animals do the same.

There are some animals like the Red Panda pictured above, lions, tigers and most mammals, who are equipped to handle the cold winter weather. Birds, insects and reptiles, not so much or not at all. Zoo animals who wander to their outside paddocks during summer months have a warm interior sanctuary at night. Those same inside homes are heated during the winter with staff making sure they are stimulated with new toys or challenges to keep them from getting restless.

Animals that do go outside are more active outside during the winter, moving just to keep warm. And zoo staff also notices they are more attentive to the human visitors who are fewer in number. Those fewer numbers makes them pay attention more and cues them to watch the behavior of the humans who are observing the behavior of the animals.

Animals such as Siberian Tigers or Leopards or Lions also have the luxury at most zoos of being able to lounge on manufactured rocks or ledges that are heated.

Birds mostly stay indoors during the winter. Reptiles definitely stay indoors.

Bottom line, depending on the animal species and their cold tolerance, there will be winter weather criteria that applies in most zoos around the world. And I think it is a wonderful time to visit the zoo. If you dress warm, take care not to slip on ice or snow, and duck into the reptile building to warm up, you will do just fine.

Finally, the Thanksgiving holiday is upon us next week and to all of my U.S. readers Happy Thanksgiving, with Christmas just around the corner.

And for all my readers to this blog I want to say thank you for checking in with me in ever increasing numbers. I hope my content and thoughts are of some value to you and they are at least mildly entertaining. I will keep you informed soon about my new podcast that I am working on now and some writing projects that are also currently in-work.

If you want more info on my zoo animal anthology book, please click on the book cover below. I’ve embedded a hyperlink that will take you directly to my Amazon Kindle page.

Till next time, bye.


Visit the Zoo, 12-Book Anthology, Your Guide To the Zoo Over 120 Animals Featured


New Grand Canyon Video


GC BookCover Update 10-27-14 copy

New Grand Canyon North Rim video just uploaded and active on my YouTube Channel. Running Time is 2:44. Click on Link to view:

Description on YouTube: Book Trailer for the Just Published and Updated 2014 Edition of: “Grand Canyon-Your South & North Rim Guide to Hiking, Dining & Lodging.” This complete and very popular book will give you all the information you need for your next visit to one of the wonders of the world, The Grand Canyon. You will see photographs very few other guides include. This video is a glimpse of the magic and spectacle in store for you on the North Rim of the canyon. Videos of the South Rim are also available on Frederick Fichman’s YouTube Channel, please subscribe for more cool vids to come. For more information and a direct link to Amazon Kindle to purchase this book go to: and please Share, Like and Comment this YouTube video.


Fred F

The Movie “Interstellar”-My Review

InterstellarInterstellar ComingInterstellar Lobby Card for Blog

Now in U.S. wide release, Paramount Pictures and Warner Brothers have distributed the $165 million dollar science fiction film, “Interstellar.” The running time of this film is 169 minutes, that’s 2 hours and 49 minutes. I saw the film this morning and I want to give you my review and my “take” on what I saw. Normally I would leave this to others and believe me reviews for this film have been flooding the media here in the United States for days on end. But I come at this with a unique perspective. I write science fiction. I have poured years of my life into the research and writing of my epic science fiction novel, “The SETI Trilogy.” Available now on Amazon Kindle, you can buy each of my three books separately or together in one volume in an anthology. The book is 799 pages long and contains 220,000 words. Because of that word count most publishers would consider this novel in the category, “Epic.”

For years I have done research into Theoretical Physics, Quantum Mechanics, Time Dilation, and Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity. Trust me, I am not an astronomer, physicist, or learned scholar on the subject but I do know enough about these subject matters that I can sit down and write three books weaving these disciplines into my story line. Ergo, that is why I feel I have a background in these matters strong enough to tell you a little about what the movie “Interstellar” is about. And, by the way, thank goodness director Christopher Nolan engaged Caltech cosmologist Kip Thorne as Technical Adviser for this film.

Without giving away any major plot lines that would destroy your experience, basically this is film about a dying Earth and the imperative for mankind to move to another planet quickly for the human species to survive. Movie actor Matthew McConaughey plays the part of Cooper the only pilot capable of guiding his ship and support vessel through a wormhole to find a suitable replacement for our planet. There’s a girl involved, Anne Hathaway, sitting next to him in the copilot’s seat as scientist. There’s a “baddie” briefly played by Matt Damon. The NASA professor starting the entire expedition in motion is played by Michael Caine. And a wonderful character in this film played flawlessly by Ellen Burstyn.

The crew is sent through a wormhole, has adventures on a couple of planet candidates for relocation. In the end it is Cooper, the pilot, who moves through time and space and a Black Hole for a twist ending that did take me a bit by surprise but tracked beautifully with the possibilities of dimensional travel and time dilation…all theoretical at this point in our human history.

There have been comparisons of “Interstellar” to the sci-fi film all others are measured by, “2001.” But it is my contention you really can’t compare the two. Separated by almost 47 years the physics and quantum theories have evolved since then and for certain the technology of movie making have advanced many times over. But what this movie, “Interstellar,” succeeds at is that it is the Science in Science Fiction. Throughout the film these theories of travelling through wormholes, creating floating cities in space, moving past the Event Horizon of a Black Hole are key elements of the storytelling that propels that story forward. I think that exposition succeeds in my humble opinion.

Okay, I admit it; I am a Science Fiction, geek. I love to read it, watch it on TV, and experience it in the movie theater. But most important of all I write science fiction novels and I am immersed in the science of all of these exotic theories and I have basic understanding. Does the general public have that same recognition? I doubt it but there is one thing that filmmakers and writers of science fiction should never do and that is underestimate the wisdom and intelligence of their audiences. And that I do with every word I write.

So then, I think that for most people “Interstellar” works. The theater this morning was about half-full. That is pretty good for a Friday morning, work week in Prescott, Arizona. I’ll be anxious to see the weekend box office results that should report this Sunday, but I have a feeling the numbers will be pretty good and Paramount and Warner Brothers should be happy.

I know that when I left the theater I was happy. I was satisfied because I think “Interstellar” is a great movie. Not perfect, but great, wonderful, must-see type of a film. Will it hold through time like “2001”…uh, maybe. Stanley Kubrick made a movie in 1968 that was ground breaking in the way it was photographed; he started his career as a photographer for Life Magazine way back when. The story for “2001” came from the master science fiction writer, Arthur C. Clarke, my science fiction writer hero of heroes, from his original story “The Sentinel.” So when you have a brilliant filmmaker working closely with a brilliant writer, your chances of succeeding are greatly increased, not guaranteed but in this case monumental in result.

For our time amongst the sea of crap that floats in the current library of films on the screen now with death, mayhem, slaughter, butchery, constant vehicle chases, and widely scattered explosions, this film “Interstellar” stands out. It stands out and I recommend you see it. I plan to see it again and certainly will get the Blu-Ray disk when it is released months from now. I want to close the loop on a few story tricks used in the film that I may have missed. Hey, I am a writer and I can learn from success, right?

There are two quick items I do want to end up with in regard to this film. An actor speaks a line in the film something like: “…children should never die before their parents.” That very correct concept seemed to be emerging throughout the film. All I can say in this review is that this statement rings true for my wife and me. Because of that concept spoken in dialogue the film moved me and will stay with me as part of our personal tragedy for the rest of my life.

Secondly and finally, what struck me about the story line of “Interstellar” as I sat there in the theater watching intently; it is very close to the exact reverse story line of my three-book saga, “SETI.” Therefore, let me state with confidence and little humility, If You Liked the Movie “Interstellar” You Will Love My Book Anthology, “The SETI Trilogy.” I have placed a photo with the cover below and embedded a hyperlink that will take you to my book page on Amazon Kindle.

In sum, I really liked “Interstellar” and rate it a good 8.5-9 out of 10. I am going to purchase this film on DVD or download it when available because I liked it so much and will be watching many times as the years go on.

I hope you enjoyed reading this extended blog, my review of “Interstellar.” I also hope if you are a sci-fi geek like me, you will try to catch the film in its current release or when it is released in your country as well. The story and ideas in this film have no borders and they can be enjoyed by all 7 billion of us humans on our island planet circling our star, our Sun, 92 million miles away.

Thank you for sticking with me and being a part of my blog community. Your comments below would be greatly appreciated. I want to know what you think.


Frederick Fichman


“Insterstellar” Coming To A Theater Near You

Interstellar Coming

The anticipated movie, “Interstellar,” will be coming to theaters in wide release tomorrow here in the U.S. I will be first in line tomorrow morning at 10:45am local time, about 11 hours from this posting, and I will be giving you my movie review as soon as I get home. But from all that I have seen and read I have the distinct feeling that I will love this movie. The running time is 169 minutes and it is a long duration film but I must see this film as soon as possible. Some reviewers have already written that this film is as important and monumental as Stanley Kubrick’s “2001.”

This movie event is important to me for two reasons. First, I spent a career in the television-film business in Hollywood and I have studied film for decades. Secondly, I write novels in the Science Fiction genre. My epic 799 page 220,000 word novel, “The SETI Trilogy,” is available now on Amazon Kindle. So, I am approaching this movie “Interstellar” from a unique perspective, an informed perspective and I can honestly tell you I can hardly wait to see this film.

I know that many of you are reading this blog live in countries other than the U.S. so your release dates will lag a bit behind the wide screen release tomorrow, November 7th. But, it will find its way to a theater near you. This is a big film with some big waves of excitement pushing it in your direction. Tomorrow, I will give  you my take on “Interstellar.” Stay tuned and thank you.

Frederick Fichman


Mount Everest


There is a great website that posts daily photos of Mt. Everest. The webpage is written in Italian but your Google browser will be able to automatically translate into your language of choice. What’s fascinating about these daily photos is how the weather surrounding the mountain changes from day to day. The picture above is from today, November 3, 2014 and shows us a rare clear image of the world’s tallest mountain.

Mt. Everest is part of the Himalaya mountain chain and sits on the international border between China to the north and Tibet to the south. It is rises to an altitude of 8,848 meters or 29,029 feet above sea level.

The picture below was taken from the International Space Station in 2004, Expedition 8, and shows the stretch of the Himalayas. The ISS operates at an altitude in continuous orbit at 330km (205 miles) to 435km (270 miles) above the surface of the Earth.

Everest from ISS 2004

To visit the Mt. Everest daily photo posting site go to:



To go to links below click on image or url:

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EAM–Emergency Action Message



I know this is at the last minute and I apologize but as a Science Fiction writer I love this type of stuff listed below. I just received this email from an organization called Slooh which is an astronomy community that has its own people-controlled telescope. The organization occasionally has special live events on momentous occasions like lunar and solar eclipses. Anyway, I am sorry for the late notice, they probably will do a replay later, but I thought you might be interested. This live event is TODAY…so read below carefully. The URL for this event is:



To Celebrate the November 7th release of Interstellar, Slooh and Warner Bros. Pictures (UK and Ireland) have teamed up to host a unique online space event with special broadcast team and live feeds from the Canary Islands. Viewers can ask questions during the show by using hashtag #interstellarspaceevent. When: Sunday, November 2nd 11:00 AM PST / 2:00 PM EST / 19:00 UTC Where: