Showing posts from September, 2007

In the Wee Hours...

I awoke this morning and realised that I needed to move my car, since we have graciously "donated" our driveway to my squad for parking while they hold the Community Garage Sale. I was supposed to be in it, but pulled out last week. I don't think my back can handle that.

The first thing that struck me was the sight of Venus in the still dark sky. (It is now getting light enough in the east that Mars and Regulus are no longer visible.) I moved my car, then took out the binoculars to get a better look at things. Venus looks more like a planet through the binoculars, as does Mars - they look like discs. But I want pictures. I stopped in the house, swapped my binoculars for my camera and attempted, yet again, to take more photos of Venus and a couple of Mars.
The western setting moon is easy. I'm well aware of what I need to do to manipulate the camera to give me good moon shots. Venus is brilliant but small and I can still do it, but it is harder. Mars was damn near impos…

Letter to Tide...

More bad humour!

Dear Tide:

I am writing to say what an excellent product you have! I've used it all of my married life, as my Mom always told me it was the best. Now that I am in my fifties, I find it even better! In fact, about a month ago, I spilled some red wine on my new white blouse. My inconsiderate and uncaring husband started to belittle me about how clumsy I was, and generally started becoming a pain in the neck. One thing led to another and somehow I ended up with his blood on my new white blouse!
I grabbed my bottle of Tide with bleach alternative and, to my surprise and satisfaction, all of the stains came out! In fact, the stains came out so well the detectives who came by yesterday told me that the DNA tests on my blouse were negative, and then my attorney called and said that I was no longer considered a suspect in the disappearance of my husband.
What a relief!

Going through menopause is bad enough without being a murder suspect! I thank you, once again, for having a g…
Some interesting questions were sent to me by Mary (Crystal Chick) and I think it is time to answer them:
1. Do you consider yourself smarter than most people? Why/why not?

I don't think it is as easy as that. Do I think I'm smarter than most people... well, when I see the most popular television shows and movies, and how crude and stupid a lot of it is, I have to say that yes, I'm likely to be more intelligent than other people. Or, maybe I just have no sense of humour, as Luis likes to tell me. But there are a great many people that are much, much smarter than I am. And I am not all-around smart. I'm also not strong with common sense things, either. What I know about, I know a lot about. What I don't know about, I really, really don't know about. So I don't think that this is an easily answered question.
If I have to say that I am, the biggest reason why is due to voracious love of reading. I have tons of books and I love to read them. I read new ones and ol…

Mt Ruapehu Eruption: 25 September 2007

Mt Ruapehu erupted on Tuesday evening at 8.26pm and produced two lahars, amoderate eruption column to about 15 000 feet, with ashfall and rock fallacross the summit of the volcano. Following are summaries of variousaspects of the eruption.
Seismic Summary: The explosive eruption occurred at 8:26pm and was accompanied by an earthquake that lasted for 8 minutes. A record of the air blast recorded at Whakapapa Village showed that the explosive part of the eruption lasted for no more than 1 minute and occurred at the start of the eruption sequence. As determined by the Ruapehu Eruption Detection System (EDS), the earthquake was magnitude 2.9. The explosion earthquake was preceded by about 10 minutes of minor earthquake activity that was recorded only at the Dome Shelter seismograph and weakly at another seismograph 2 kilometres away. This initial activity was too small and of too short aduration to provide a useful warning of the impending eruption. Following the eruption there was an incre…

Focus Factor Exam

Testing Your Brain

"It's that time of year to take our annual senior citizen test." Exercise of the brain is as important as exercise of the muscles. As we grow older, it's important to keep mentally alert. If you don't use it, you lose it!

Below is a very private way to gauge your loss or non-loss of intelligence.

There are only 5 questions, so don't get all excited and confused yet.

Take the test presented here to determine if you're losing it or not. The spaces between the question and answers below are there so you don't see the correct answers until you've made your answer.

OK, relax, clear your mind and begin.

1. What do you put in a toaster?
"bread." If you said "toast," maybe you should give up now and do something else. Try not to hurt yourself. If you said, bread, go to Question 2.

2. Say "silk" five times. Now spell "silk." What do cows drink?
Cows drink water. If…

A.W.A.D. - Toponyms

Once upon a time, a person's name was his complete identification and address. It could comprise his given name, profession, father or mother'sname, a personal trait, and even the name of his village. That was because where one lived defined a person as much as anything else. The place of origin often turned into a generic term for some personal characteristic.
The English language is replete with such expressions where the name of a place has become associated with a particular quality, such as laconic (using few words) from Laconia in ancient Greece or bohemian (unconventional) from Bohemia in the Czech Republic. There are hundreds of toponyms --words derived from the names of places. This week we visit five places that have become toponyms in the English language.
(AB-dir-ee-uhn) adjective
Given to excessive or incessant laughter.

[After Abdera, in ancient Thrace (present day Bulgaria, Turkey, and Greece), the birth place of Democritus, the Laughing Philosopher. Locatio…

Bella Luna

The harvest Moon was rising over the squadhouse last night. It was stunning. I have more photos of it but I have not yet downloaded them onto the computer. So there is this one, which is kind of dark but shows beautiful detail of the face of our lovely full Harvest Moon.

While the Moon is beautiful to me in all of its phases, whether it runs high or runs low, at apogee and perigee, in conjunction with other planets, so many people don't even see it. How do you miss that enormous gorgeous satellite of ours? How does anyone miss so lovely a sight?
In the hours of 0430 - 0630, the crescent Moon will be in conjunction with Venus (who is brilliant in the early morning hours now), Saturn and the blue star Regulus. I will absolutely be up for that. I would not miss that for the world! That is a Sunday morning, so I can happily set my alarm for 0430, get up, dress, take my beloved telescope out and view this incredible quartet up close. I can also get photos of it through the telescope - s…

October 2007 Farmer's Calendar

I love, love, love the Old Farmer's Almanac, which I have been reading since I was a kid. Here is the right hand-most column of the October calendar pages:
"Nobody knows for sure what accounts for the cycles in the lives of oak trees in which they make a huge crop of acorns every four or five years after several years of far lower production. Some baotanists say the superabundant years are due to ideal weather conditions when the trees are in flower. Some think the wide swings in production are adapted to foil insect parasites.
In a big year (a "mast year", so called), the woods seem to be flooded with acorns. They're treacherous underfoot; going down a woods road in an acorn super-year is like walking on marbles. An acre of oak woods in a normal year may produce a quarter-million acorns. In a mast year that crop might be doubled or trebled.
Whatever causes it, the extraordinary production of acorns is good news in the forest. Acorns are the bread of the woods. Dee…

Proper Job Placement

Methods from Human Resources...

1. Put 400 bricks in a closed room.

2. Put your new hires in the room and close the door.

3. Leave them alone and come back after 6 hours.

4. Then analyze the situation:
a. If they are counting the bricks, put them in the Accounting Department.

b. If they are recounting them, put them in Auditing.

c. If they have messed up the whole place with the bricks, put them in Engineering.

d. If they are arranging the bricks in some strange order, put them in Planning.

e. If they are throwing the bricks at each other, put them in Operations.

f. If they are sleeping, put them in Security.

g. If they have broken the bricks into pieces, put them in Information Technology.

h. If they are sitting idle, put them in Human Resources.

i. If they say they have tried different combinations, they are looking for more, yet not a brick has been moved, put them in Sales.

j. If they have already left for the day, put them in Management.

k. If they are staring out of the window, put them in Str…

Fall Foliage is A-Comin'!

I took a look at the map on to see what the fall foliage was looking like. Here, it appears to me as though autumn leaves are starting early but only on select plants, such as poison ivy and the younger maple trees. Neither of my older maples have shown so much as one odd-coloured leaf, but the stripling maples across the street, in Volunteer's Park, those are definitely well on their way to changing from their usual lighter green to bright orange and red now.
The very tall oaks in the back yard are completely indifferent to calendar and lunar seasonal changes and are not showing any change at all. I imagine that in hte next week or two that, too, change.
So far the US fall foliage map seems to think that the autumn leaves have not yet made it to New Jersey. So far, except for those two notable differences, they are correct. As I drive by the many trees on my way home from work (my trip to work is made in the darkness), I see mostly normal looking trees, except that a co…

Eye Drops?!

A doctor in Louisiana wanted to get off work and go hunting, so he told his assistant, "Boudreaux, I am going hunting tomorrow and we don't want to close the clinic. I want you to take care of the clinic and take care of our patients."
"Yes, sir..." answers Boudreaux.

The doctor goes hunting and returns the next day and asks: "So Boudreaux, how was your day?"
Boudreaux tells him he took care of three patients. "The first one had a headache, so I gave him TYLENOL."
"Bravo, Boudreaux! and the second one?" says the doctor.

"The second one had stomach burning, and I gave him MAALOX, sir," says Boudreaux.
"Bravo, bravo Boudreaux! You're good at this. And what about the third one?" asks the doctor.
"Sir, I was sitting here, and suddenly the door opens, and a woman enters like a flame. She undresses herself, taking off her bra and her panties and lies down on the table, spread her legs and shouts: HELP ME! For five y…

Redneck Challenge

Some Southerner has gotten sick and tired of hearing about how dumb people are in the South, and has therefore issued the following challenge to "any so-called smart-ass Yankee" to take this exam:
1. Calculate the smallest limb diameter on a persimmon tree that will support a 10 pound possum.
2. Which of these cars will rust out the quickest when placed on blocks in your front yard? (A) '65 Ford Fairlane
( B) '69 Chevrolet Chevelle
(C) '64 Pontiac GTO.

3. If your uncle builds a still which operates at a capacity of 20 gallons of shine produced per hour, how many car radiators are required to condense the product?
4. A woodcutter has a chainsaw which operates at 2700 RPM. The density of the pine trees in the plot to be harvested is 470 per acre. The plot is 2.3 acres in size. The average tree diameter is 14 inches. How many Budweiser’s will be drunk before the trees are cut down?
5. A front porch is constructed of 2x8 pine on 24-inch centers with a field rock foundation. …

Score: 43

Below is Dr. Phil's test. (Dr. Phil scored 55; he did this test on Oprah - she got a 38.) Some folks pay a lot of money to find this stuff out!
Read on, this is very interesting! Don't be overly sensitive. The following is pretty accurate and it only takes 2 minutes. Take this test for yourself and send it to your friends. The person who sent it placed their score in the e-mail subject box. Please do the same before forwarding to your friends (send it back to the person who sent it to you.) Don't peek, but begin the test as you scroll down and answer. Answers are for who you are now --- not who you were in the past. Have pen or pencil and paper ready.
This is a real test given by the Human Relations Dept. at many of the major corporations today. It helps them get better insight concerning their employees and prospective employees. It's only 10 Simple questions, so grab a pencil and paper, keeping track of your letter answers to each question. Make sure to change the subj…

Baby's First Mammogram

I can't imagine what all the fuss was about. It wasn't nearly the OH MY GOD sort of thing that so many people make it out to be. I was not disappointed by that but I was surprised. I must say that Janet and Pat were more honest about it. It is just a second or two and then that is it, it is over!
I arrived at the Montville facility around 1535, which was good - there was a boatload of paperwork to be filled out and I needed around seven minutes for that alone. Maybe even ten. I filled out one general/insurance/payment/HIPAA form, one form specific to the mammogram and one specific to the DEXA (bone density scan).
Once that was done, the front desk person copied my Cigna card and I sat down but only for a minute or two before the technician came to get me. She was very pleasant - she was probably in her late 20s (maybe), and pregnant - about six or seven months. She had a nice demeanor and seemed to like to talk so we chatted through the whole thing - both tests.
They would not al…

Mid-Autumn Festival

Since we are now in my absolute favourite time of the year, here is something of interest:
The Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival, is a popular East Asian celebration of abundance and togetherness, dating back over 3,000 years to China's Zhou Dynasty. In Malaysia, Taiwan, and Singapore, it is also sometimes referred to as the Lantern Festival or "Mooncake Festival", which is just the same as "Mid-Autumn Festival" but with different names.
The Mid-Autumn Festival falls on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month of the Chinese calendar (usually around mid- or late-September in the Gregorian calendar), a date that parallels the AutumnEquinox of the solar calendar. This is the ideal time, when the moon is at its fullest and brightest, to celebrate the abundance of the summer's harvest. The traditional food of this festival is the mooncake, of which there are many different varieties.
The Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the two most important holidays i…

A Day at the Faire

We had a fun day up at the New York Renaissance Festival. It was nice to return after not being there all season. I got to see many people that I really enjoyed spending time with over the last twenty years. And Luis went with me, which was really nice. We also brought alone John and Alayna Bowman, her son Bowman (don't ask), and their daughter Ava 9 (definitely don't ask! No one gets it anyway...). They hadn't been and really enjoyed it.
I always love the social aspect of the Faire. There are people that are still there from the first Faire I ever came to, in 1986. I'm still good friends with all of them, those that remain. David has been there most of the 20 years that I've been; we've been really good friends for a very long time. Peter, too.

The weather, unlike the day prior, was gorgeous. Blue, sunny skies, nice temperature, a breeze - it was perfect. Quite a lovely day. We got there around 1100, and John couldn't find their tickets and realised that he&…

October, November and December's Ember Days

Well, folks, the tallies are in - almost. When I return home from the Renaissance Faire today I will know for certain how December will look - so far, at 0907 this morning, it looks overcast.

Wednesday - weather was mild, beautiful, clear skies, no humidity (in the low 30s, which for New Jersey is nothing); perfect.

Friday - warmer, but still beautiful, clear skies, low humidity (in the mid-40s, still very low for New Jersey)

Saturday - the weather at this moment is cool with dropping humidity, overcast skies. There is a 20% chance of showers today after 1400. We shall see. Right up until 2000 when I checked today's farecast, it showed clear skies and a high of 88 degrees. (I'm not showing temperatures here for the simple fact that those will not be accurate reflections of the latter months. Except Wednesday, which was closer to the norm for October... But temps in the 80s will assuredly not be the average for December, no matter how mild it is!

OK. Well, I shall return tonight to…

Beauty & the Geek - Season Four

(I think it's Season Four... I watched some of last season, but not the others.)
Well, it is embarrassing to admit that I watch this with Luis but there it is - my dirty little secret is out. It's a completely frightening show. The guys are not in the least scary. Most of them, at least 90%, are very sweet, guileless guys who just are a little out of touch with what is happening in the world and fashion and what's in and popular. They look a little geeky, ranging from nothing a nice haircut can't cure to wow, you'll always look geeky. But they are all intelligent and most of them have a good sense of humour. They're socially awkward, but so what?
Then there are the beauties. A collection of women who are if not truly beautiful, at least pretty. Unfortunately most of them are blondes that without peroxide and other chemicals would not know one truly blonde colour moment. They are cutsey, bouncy creatures mostly with large breasts, and good figures. I am not usuall…

A.W.A.D. - Fabric Words Used Metaphorically

We're advised not to wash our dirty linen in public. Our leaders seek to project a homespun image, even though they may be shrewd, dyed-in-the-wool politicians. Well, you may have cottoned on to the fact that today I'm talking about words related to fabrics.
Clothing is one of the three basic necessities in life and it's no wonder that our language has many idioms based on words related to cloths.
This week's A.Word.A.Day is woven around words related to fabrics that are often used metaphorically.
(LIN-zee WOOL-zee) noun
1. A strong, coarse fabric of wool and cotton.
2. An incongruous mix.

[From Middle English linsey (linen, or from Lindsey, a village in Suffolk, UK) + woolsey (a rhyming compound of wool).]
(BUK-ruhm) noun
1. A stiff cotton fabric used in interlining garments, in bookbinding, etc. 2. Stiffness; formality

verb tr.
1. To strengthen with buckram.
2. To give a false appearance of strength, importance, etc.

[Of uncertain origin. Perhaps after Bukhar…

A Comment to "Shocking"!

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Shocking!":

I wrote the 'Lick Me In The Ass' article, and I'm also the guy who chooses the featured articles you see every day. I'm glad to hear you liked them both. -

Wel, Mark, you certainly rival and surpass me for useless but cool knowledge!

Ember Days

Yesterday, I sent this e-mail to our Director of Grounds:

"I had mentioned to you that I put messages in every payroll I run. No exceptions (unless by some freak chance Joe runs it, as may happen in October.
This week your check reads "Autumnal Equinox - 9.23.07 05:51".

Last week your checks read "Ember Days - 9/19, 9/21, 9/22"

Ember Days: The [Old Farmer's] Almanac traditionally marks the four periods formerly observed by the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches for prayer, fasting and the ordination of clergy. These Ember Days are the Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays that follow in succession after (1) the First Sundayin Lent; (2) Whitsunday-Pentecost; (3) the Feast of the Holy Cross and (4) the Feast of St. Lucia, December 13. The word ember is perhaps a corruption of the Latin quator tempora, "four times".
Folklore has it that the weather on each of the three days foretells the weather for the next three months; that is, for September's Ember…

The Royal Forrester

I am a forester of the land as ye may plainly see
It's the mantle of your maiden-head that I will have for me
with me riddle dum riddle-dy rye, dom roddle-dy rye do roddle-de rye

He's taken her by the milk white hand and by the leylan sleeve
He laid her down upon her back and asked no man's leave
with me riddle dum riddle-dy rye, dom roddle-dy rye do roddle-de rye

Now since you've lain me down, young man, you must take me up again,
And since you've had your will with me come tell to me your name
with me riddle dum riddle-dy rye, dom roddle-dy rye do roddle-de rye

Some call me Jim some call me John, begat it's all the same,
But when I'm in the king's high court Erwilian is me name
with me riddle dum riddle-dy rye, dom roddle-dy rye do roddle-de rye

She being nay a scholar she spelt it o'er again,
Erwilian that's a latin word but Willy is your name
with me riddle dum riddle-dy rye, dom roddle-dy rye do roddle-de rye

Now when he heard his name pronounced he mount…

A Fun Time with Cigna & PT

It seems like just when things can’t get worse, suddenly they become unknotted and it all falls into place. It’s a good feeling. Too bad I had to go through a lot of wasted time and extra bullshit to get there!

The site has a feature to find the doctors or medical service closest to the patient. I went looking for the closest physical therapist provider covered through my HMO. One listing came up, for both Parsippany and Springfield. Yikes – and it was at Chilton Hospital, which is the opposite direction from work and about seven miles from home. But it is out of the way. Still, I need to have this done, so I called Chilton. The woman told me that the Outpatient building, just up the road handles that. Sure. I called that number. They told me, no, they don’t take Cigna HMO but they have a subsidiary that does. Okay. I called the subsidiary in Wayne, about 15 miles away, and it is in the YWCA… seriously? Wellll… ok. I left a message as directed and this morning the guy there…

Warm Season in US... (NOAA Article)

September 12, 2007 — The June-August 2007 summer season ended with a long-lasting heatwave that set more than 2,000 new daily high temperature records across the southern and central U.S., according to scientists at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. The record heat helped make this the second warmest August and the sixth warmest summer on record for the contiguous U.S., based on preliminary data. At the end of August, drought affected almost half of the continental U.S. The global surface temperature was seventh warmest on record for the June-August period.
U.S. Temperature Highlights for Summer
For summer 2007 (June-August), the average temperature for the continental U.S., based on preliminary data, was 73.8 degrees F (23.2 degrees C), which was 1.7 degrees F (1.0 degrees C) above the 20th century mean and the sixth warmest summer since national records began in 1895.
This was the warmest summer for Utah and Nevada and it ranked in the top 10 warmest summers on r…

Dinner Out

Eating dinner out is not a new thing for us; we do it fairly frequently. Going out to eat with Pam, Luis' ex-girlfriend from a million years ago, happens about once every two years, since about ten years ago. The first time it happened it was awkward, as you may well imagine. That was a long time ago and it is not awkward for me anymore.
I'm the one who is with Luis, and Pam is married to someone and has a three-month-old granddaughter.
She was quite upset when she found out that her 26-year-old, irresponsible, not-long-with-a-loser boyfriend who split the second he found out she was pregnant. Yikes. So now she is on welfare with a tiny baby, working part-time and living with a guy who is just stepping in and being a father. She's quite happy - Pam is. I don't honestly know how the daughter feels. I guess it is hard, but she wouldn't consider something like that. Most wouldn't, but I am terribly pragmatic about these things. Being in a poor financial position is …

A.W.A.D. - Falsely Split Words

What's common among an orange and an omelet... and an uncle and an umpire? Earlier all these words used to take the indefinite article "a", not "an".

They were coined by a process called false splitting. Let's take orange. The original word was Sanskrit naranga. By the time it reached English, the initial letter n had joined the article a, resulting in"an orange". The word for orange is still narangi in Hindi, naranja in Spanish, and naranj in Arabic.This false splitting caused what should have been "a napron" to become "an apron". The same process transformed "a nadder" into "an adder", and reshaped many other words.

The n went the other way too. "Mine uncle" was interpreted as "my nuncle"resulting in a synonym nuncle for uncle. The word newt was formed the same way: "an ewte" misdivided into "a newte".

Could false splitting turn "an apple" into "a napple&…

How Gorgeous is This?

Early morning mist clings to the hills southeast of Ensay, Victoria, Australia. The township is named after the now-unpopulated island of Ensay in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. "Ensay" is a Gaelic translation for Jesus.

I don't care what this is called, I want to be there! How gorgeous is that? And you know I won't say that easily when I have the most glorious views from my own workplace!

Wikipedia - D&D

I had to laugh when I saw this. How many teens did I know weeding my way through the mid-pubescent torture that is known as high school did I know into Dungeons & Dragons? This is from the age of paper, 4, 6. 10, 20 and 100-sided dice that you rolled to determine your supremacy in this or that field or fracas. I used to make fun of them in a kindly fashion (most of them were my friends, too, as I was a social outcast as well), and they did invite me to try it - once.

Unfortunately, my love of details derailed my interest in this game way too much. I also wanted to know what the characters couldn't have sex. I was around 18 when I tried it. This is a game better suited to boys who still think that girls have cooties.

Now, of course, all this is mostly in the annals of history with the advent of "Worlds of WarCraft", "Ultima Online", and sundry other online games and some still just for the stand-alone computer. Luis has tried them all and guess what. I wasn…

Great News!

I'm delighted to say that I have in my hot little hands a script for physical therapy for three times a week and I have to go back to see the orthopedist in two weeks. I can resume yoga but there will not be any riding for me yet. I miss that, but I need to get better and while this may not be the instant answer, but at least it is the right direction and action of a real kind, not just throwing medication with dangerous implications at the issue!

He is convinced it is all muscular! WAHOO!!

Looking At MySpace Differently

Hiya, Mary!

I was impressed with what you wrote about MySpace and your experience with it. Phred sounds like he was a really nice guy and he just wanted to talk to some one, and you happened to be listening at the right time. He may have been fishing for a lover when he found you but instead found a friend. There is nothing wrong with that and everything is right about it.
I'm sorry that your husband got really riled about that. For most people that is where is the insecurities of life come into play. Jealousy is one of the most common forms of the uglier side of people and the easiest to show. I used to be a jealous person, but I realised when I was 19 or 20 the only person who was terribly miserable and unhappy was me, not the object of the jealousy. So I just stopped. I have never looked back, never allowed such a hideous green monster to rear its ugly head. I'm a very happy and unencumbered person.
I also understand the whole affair thing is really just physical. I happen to …

Humour - and Good!

My beloved lieutenant sent me this: A cardiologist died and was given an elaborate funeral.

A huge Heart, covered in flowers, stood behind the casket during the service.

Following the eulogy, the heart opened, and the casket rolled inside. The heart then closed, sealing the doctor in the beautiful heart forever.

At that point, one of the mourners burst into laughter.

When all eyes stared at him, he said, "I'm sorry, I was just thinking of my own funeral.........I'm a gynecologist."

The proctologist fainted.


I always open my day at work by starting up my various programs that I'll bounce back and forth between throughout the insanity that is my normal workday. And they are always in the same order:

Microsoft Excel
Microsoft Word

The timekeeping program, GenPro, is always running.

This is not me being unbelievably anal or just a little OCD, this is logic. I know excatly where everything is. It's just good organisational skills.
When I open Outlook it is almost entirely for the e-mail. Yes, I do know how to use all of Outlook (well, 80% of it, any way, but since I use my belovèd Franklin Covey Time Management system (the physical book, not the electronic solution), I only use Outlook for e-mail.
What is so shocking, you may ask? Be patient, I'm getting to that.

I open the Internet and the default page is Wikipedia, in English. I happen to love that site and skim over whatever interesting things it may have, such as:
Today's Featured Article
The word thou was a second p…