Saturday, 29 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 impossible. I need to bring my telescope to my parents' house so that Ray can help me put it together again.

It's not apart, per se, but I had loosened up too many things and it won't stay on the stand and I can't seem to train it on anything. That ruined the last eclipse completely and I really want to see the conjunction of the Moon, Saturn, Venus and Regulus Sunday morning. I do not want to miss this.
Ray is really good with fixing things, so I think he can do this. And once I can train my beautiful telescope on things, then I know I can take really great photos of the stars and planets. I've done it before.
Still, here is what I did get.

Friday, 28 September 2007

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 great product. Well, gotta go. I have to write to the Hefty bag people.
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 old ones repeatedly. I like to look things up on the Internet. I love to learn. That is, in a nutshell, why.

2. Do you believe that smartness can be judged with an I.Q. score? Why/why not?

I really don't know. I'm not sure that it is a good idea to get tested and know what it is... My parents had someone give me an IQ test when I was a kid. I never did find out the results. I would say it doesn't matter. I'm not unhappy with my ability to learn.

3. Do you think that we as humans have the potential to evolve some more, or is this the end of the line for us? Why/why not?

Oh, goodness. To say that we have evolved as far as we can is to say the race is doomed - and in short time on a cosmic scale. No, I believe that there is always room to grow, to evolve. The real question is will we evolve into some thing good or something more aggressive or stupid or whatever than we already are?

Good questions, though... certainly food for thought.

Thanks, Mary!

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 increase in the level of volcanic tremor by a factor of about 10, but this gradually declined to normal levels within 24 hours. No further volcanic earthquake activity has occurred since the eruption.

Eruption Deposits:
A ballistic (rock fall) apron extends north from the lake, and actually exceeds the ash fallout zone. Typically ash travels further than the heavier ballistics, however in this case the ballistic rocks were ejected with sufficient force to out travel the lighter ash material. Some well-travelled ballistics made it to within a couple hundred metres of the Far West T bar. Many of the ballistic rocks appear to have formed impact craters, while others appear to have later melted their way into the snow/ice. No ballistic rocks were seen over Mangaturuturu Glacier, to the west, an indication of the strong directionality of the blast. The ballistics comprises various rock types, from old andesitic flows (from 1945 and 1995/96 eruptions), a variety of tephra, and vent-fill debris. There is evidence for hydrothermal sealing of the vent prior to the eruption. A number of sulphur-bearing rocks show evidence of the sulphur having been molten on ejection, indicating vent temperatures at the base of the lake in excess of 119 °C.

Crater Lake:
The northern vent is vigorously discharging gas at present, with strong sulphur slick formation, and white frothy, gas-rich patches at the surface. A much less active discharge was observed over the usually more active southern vent area. The lake is a uniform grey colour, being well mixed. Prior to the eruption the lake temperature was 13° C, it is now 19° C. Lake level is 1-2m below the outlet, but appears to be higher than yesterday (consistent with heating and melt water inflows).

Scientists from GNS Science and Massey University have visited the Lahar deposits. The Whakapapa ski field lahar travelled approximately 1 km down the ski field, reaching half-way down the Far West T-bar to an altitude of c.2100 m. The deposit is about 30 m wide and consists of grey ashy snow, with fragments of rime ice and scattered rocks. Initial estimates suggest the lahar travelled at 20-30 km/hr. A snow slurry lahar also travelled down the Whangaehu River, leaving a deposit c. 80 m wide and 1-3 m thick near the Round-the-mountain-track bridge 7 km from Crater Lake. The deposits comprise dirty granular snow with a small percentage of Crater Lake water and mud, and scattered ice fragments and pieces of rock. The deposits thin rapidly downstream, with a thickness of c. 40 cm at the bund (10 km), 30 cm at the Wahianoa aqueduct (23 km), and 10-20 cm at the Rail gauge (28 km). Data from flow monitoring equipment suggests a complex flow process, as they show evidence of two and at times three phases of flow - two depositional and one erosional.

This eruption is similar to the 1969, 1975 and 1988 eruptions. It's smaller than the 1969 and 1975 events, but larger than 1988. All evidence available to date indicates the eruption was hydrothermal in nature.We cannot rule out the likelihood of a future eruption and lahars at Mt Ruapehu in the next few days to weeks and as such people should follow Department of Conservation guidelines for access to the mountain. Any future eruption may also be strongly directional towards the summit plateau and hence the risk for that area remains high. The alert level remains at 2 (Minor eruptive activity) and will continueto be re-assessed.

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 you said "milk," maybe you shouldn't even attempt to answer the next question. Your brain is apparently over-stressed and may even overheat. Content yourself with reading more appropriate literature such as Auto World. However, if you said "water", proceed to question 3.

3. If a red house is made from red bricks, and a blue house is made from blue bricks, and a pink house is made from pink bricks, and a black house is made from black bricks, what is a green house made from?
Greenhouses are made from glass. If you said "green bricks," why are you still reading these??? If you said "glass," go on to Question 4.

4. It's twenty years ago, and a plane is flying at 20,000 feet over Germany (If you will recall, Germany at the time was politically divided into West Germany and East Germany ) Anyway, during the flight, TWO engines fail. The pilot, realizing that the last remaining engine is also failing, decides on a crash landing procedure. Unfortunately the engine fails before he can do so and the plane fatally crashes smack in the middle of "no man's land" between East Germany and West Germany Where would you bury the survivors? East Germany, West Germany, or no man's land"?
You don't bury survivors. If you said ANYTHING else, you're in real bad shape and for your own sake you must stop. If you said, "You don't bury survivors", proceed to the next question.

5. Without using a calculator - You are driving a bus from London to Milford Haven in Wales. In London, 17 people get on the bus. In Reading, six people get off the bus and nine people get on. In Swindon , two people get off and four get on. In Cardiff, 11 people get off and 16 people get on. In Swansea , three people get off and five people get on. In Carmathen, six people get off and three get on. You then arrive at Milford Haven. What was the n ame of the bus driver?
Oh, for crying out loud! Don't you remember your own name? Or have you forgotten it was YOU driving the BUS!!

PS: 95% of people fail most of the questions!!

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. Location on the map:]

(ahr-TEE-zhuhn) adjective
Pertaining to a well that has water rising to the surface under natural pressure, without the need of a pump.

[After Artois, a former province in France, where many such wells were drilled.]

(HESH-uhn) adjective
1. A mercenary soldier or a ruffian.
2. Burlap

[After Hesse, a state in central Germany. Sense 1 derives from the fact that Hessian mercenary served in the British army in America during the American Revolution.]

(VAWD-vil) noun
Theatrical entertainment featuring a variety of acts such as songs, dances, comedy, acrobatics, magic, pantomime, etc.

[From French vaudeville, from Old French vaudevire, a shortening of chanson du Vau de Vire (song of the Valley of Vire), from Vire, a valley of Calvados, Normandy in France where satirical folksongs were composed by Olivier Basselin in the fifteenth century.]

(BRIG-uh-doon) noun
An idyllic place that is out of touch with reality or one that makes its appearance for a brief period in a long time.

[From Brigadoon, a village in the musical of the same name, by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe, based on the story Germelshausen by Friedrich Gerstacker. Brigadoon is under a spell that makes it invisible to outsiders except on one day every 100 years.]

Thursday, 27 September 2007

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 - something I've done before.

Cross your fingers for me!

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. Deer, bear, squirrels, wild turkeys, partridge thrive in mast years. If you take to the woods in the spring following a bountiful acorn year, you'll be hard pressed to find a handful. That tidal wave of acorns has been consumed on the spot, or it has been cached by squirrels in safe places--some of them so safe that the provident squirrels themselves have overlooked them. Those acorns are the ones that will grow the oaks that will make the acorns that in turn the ankles of grandchildren."

Last year (and this is in the blog), Luis and I went up to Bear Mountain and it was clearly a mast year there. We were walking along the paved path but eventually I wanted to walk in the woods, not near them. We were coming down an incline and suddenly WHAM! I'm on the ground looking up and my heart is pounding madly! They were just like marbles. Just like that, and down I went. I wasn't injured but I certainly was worn out that night and sore the next day.

I keep waiting for our oaks to have a mast year in our back yard. I would love to see that!

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 Strategic Planning.

l. If they are talking to each other, and not a single brick has been moved, congratulate them and put them in Top Management.

m. Finally, if they have surrounded themselves with bricks in such a way that they can neither be seen nor heard from, put them in Congress.

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 couple of them will have one small burst of colour - a cluster of anywhere between 6 and 24 leaves in a brilliant yellow. That tantalising first show!

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

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 years I have not seen any man!!"

"And what did you do Boudreaux?" asks the doctor.

"I put eye drops in her eyes."

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. The span is 8 feet and the porch length is 16 feet. The porch floor is 1-inch rough sawn pine. When the porch collapses, how many dogs will be killed?

6. A man owns a Georgia house and 3.7 acres of land in a hollow with an average slope of 15%. The man has five children. Can each of his grown children place a mobile home on the man's land and still have enough property for their electric appliances to sit out front?

7. A 2-ton truck is overloaded and proceeding 900 yards down a steep slope on a secondary road at 45 MPH. The brakes fail. Given average traffic conditions on secondary roads, what is the probability that it will strike a vehicle with a muffler?

8. With a gene pool reduction of 7.5% per generation, how long will it take a town which has been bypassed by the Interstate to breed a country-western singer?

I betcha thought that there test was gonna be an easy one, didn't ya? It's okay if'n ya didn't do all that well. Just goes to show ya.... There's a whole heap of things that big city book-learning don't prepare ya for in this life.

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 subject of the e-mail to read YOUR total. When you are finished, forward this to friends/family, and also send it to the person who sent this to you.

Make sure to put YOUR score in the subject box. Ready? Begin.

1. When do you feel your best?
a) in the morning
b) during the afternoon and early evening
c) late at night

2. You usually walk...
a) fairly fast, with long steps
b) fairly fast, with little steps
c) less fast head up, looking the world in the face
d) less fast, head down
e) very slowly

3. When talking to people you...
a) stand with your arms folded
b) have your hands clasped
c) have one or both your hands on your hips
d) touch or push the person to whom you are talking
e) play with your ear, touch your chin, or smooth your hair

4. When relaxing, you sit with...
a) your knees bent with your legs neatly side by side
b) your legs crossed
c) your legs stretched out or straight
d) one leg curled under you

5. When something really amuses you, you react with...
a) big appreciated laugh
b) a laugh, but not a loud one
c) a quiet chuckle
d) a sheepish smile

6 When you go to a party or social gathering you...
a) make a loud entrance so everyone notices you
b) make a quiet entrance, looking around for someone you know
c) make the quietest entrance, trying to stay unnoticed

7. You're working very hard, concentrating hard, and you're interrupted...
a) welcome the break
b) feel extremely irritated
c) vary between these two extremes

8. Which of the following colors do you like most?
a) Red or orange
b) black
c) yellow or light blue
d) green
e) dark blue or purple
f) white
g) brown or gray

9. When you are in bed at night, in those last few moments before going to sleep you are...
a) stretched out on your back
b) stretched out face down on your stomach
c) on your side, slightly curled
d) with your head on one arm
e) with your head under the covers

10. You often dream that you are...
a) falling
b) fighting or struggling
c) searching for something or somebody
d) flying or floating
e) you usually have dreamless sleep
f) your dreams are always pleasant

1. (a) 2 (b) 4 (c) 6
2. (a) 6 (b) 4 (c) 7 (d) 2 (e) 1
3. (a) 4 (b) 2 (c) 5 (d) 7 (e) 6
4. (a) 4 (b) 6 (c) 2 (d) 1
5. (a) 6 (b) 4 (c) 3 (d) 5 (e) 2
6. (a) 6 (b) 4 (c) 2
7. (a) 6 (b) 2 (c) 4
8. (a) 6 (b) 7 (c) 5 (d) 4 (e) 3 (f) 2 (g) 1
9. (a) 7 (b) 6 (c) 4 (d) 2 (e) 1
10 (a) 4 (b) 2 (c) 3 (d) 5 (e) 6 (f) 1

Now add up the total number of points.

OVER 60 POINTS: Others see you as someone they should "handle with care." You're seen as vain, self-centered, and who is extremely dominant. Others may admire you, wishing they could be more like you, but don't always trust you, hesitating to become too deeply involved with you.

51 TO 60 POINTS: Others see you as an exciting, highly volatile, rather impulsive personality; a natural leader, who's quick to make decisions, though not always the right ones. They see you as bold and adventuresome, someone who will try anything once; someone who takes chances and enjoys an adventure. They enjoy being in your company because of the excitement you radiate.

41 TO 50 POINTS: Others see you as fresh, lively, charming, amusing, practical, and always interesting; someone who's constantly in the center of attention, but sufficiently well balanced not to let it go to their head. They also see you as kind, considerate, and understanding; someone who'll always cheer them up and help them out. You are very loyal to your friends and lovers. People find it easy to come to you with their problems, you are someone they can always rely on.

31 TO 40 POINTS: Others see you as sensible, cautious, careful & practical. They see you as clever, gifted, or talented, but modest. Not a person who makes friends too quickly or easily, but someone who's extremely loyal to friends you do make and who expect the same loyalty in return. Those who really get to know you realize it takes a lot to shake your trust in your friends, but equally that it takes you a long time to get over if that trust is ever broken.

21 TO 30 POINTS: Your friends see you as painstaking and fussy. They see you as very cautious, extremely careful, a slow and steady plodder. It would really surprise them if you ever did something impulsively or on the spur of the moment, expecting you to examine everything carefully from every angle and then, usually decide against it. They think this reaction is caused partly by your careful nature.

UNDER 21 POINTS: People think you are shy, nervous, and indecisive, someone who needs looking after, who always wants someone else to make the decisions & who doesn't want to get involved with anyone or anything! They see you as a worrier who always sees problems that don't exist. Some people think you' re boring. Only those who know you well know that you aren't.

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

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 allow a photo to be taken of me having the mammogram, though. I did ask.

The machine is not at all a scary looking aparatus at all. It has a plate with dotted-line guidelines for breast placement and unlike what I'd been told, this facility did not tape the nipples with a piece to help line up the breast correctly. She took two images - one lateral and one from above.

I suppose a lot of women find it embarrassing to stand there while the technician actually does all the placement of the breast on the plate for each image. Having only had four done, it was easy and I found the experience to be just fine. Of course, as an EMT you get used to handling people all over and so having a trained medical professional (especially one the same gender) handle my breasts did not bother me at all. It was completely clinical, just like going to the gynecologist.

Yes, they do squash the breast fairly flat, although not as much as I'd been lead to believe. I felt pressure, not pain, and it was as long as maybe three to four seconds. Then I exhaled and the machine lifted up. It was quite easy and very quick.

The bone density was a very simple scan and not worth mentioning, other than I had it done. I should have those results soon!

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 Autumn Equinox 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 in the Chinese calendar (the other being the Chinese Lunar New Year), and is a legal holiday in several countries. Farmers celebrate the end of the summer harvesting season on this date. Traditionally, on this day, Chinese family members and friends will gather to admire the bright mid-autumn harvest moon, and eat moon cakes and pomeloes together.

Accompanying the celebration, there are additional cultural or regional customs, such as:

Eating moon cakes outside under the moon
Putting pomelo rinds on one's head
Carrying brightly lit lanterns
Burning incense in reverence to deities including Chang'e
Planting Mid-Autumn trees
Lighting lanterns on towers
Fire Dragon Dances

Shops selling mooncakes, before the festival, often display pictures of Chang'e floating to the moon.

Now, that is pretty cool!

Sunday, 23 September 2007

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'd left them home. They bought tickets and we went in (I had gotten tickets from David). Right at the front, we met a guy in a stunning outfit. I had my picture taken with him - what a cool outfit! We got in maybe as far as the first five booths and I ran out of space in my camera. I looked in and sure enough - I'd forgotten to take the memory card out of my laptop and put it back into the camera. AAAAAAAAAAAAA!

I was devastated. The last day of the faire, beautiful weather and so many people and I had to delete a bunch of images (all 6) and then spent an hour trying to find someone - anyone - with a memory card! No luck - those who did had the wrong size card (the same as my old camera used but not the current one). I really love taking many photos and I could not take more than a tiny handful... until Luis suggested I lower the resolution. I did - down from 7.1 megapixels to around 1... really low. I usually get 900+ images onto one card at the highest resolution. But I went from six images to 33. OK... I can work with that, even if it means being very careful. I was - I deleted a bunch of things that I discovered were bad images right after I took them.

Now, I was at least a little happier. I had something to work with. So we did different things, although I did not always stay with Luis and the Bowmans. Still, I had a pretty good day. Bowman (the son, whose last name is NOT Bowman) seemed to have a good time. We saw the Birds of Prey show, and we tried to see the Living Chess game, but apparently that show has changed dramatically. It used to be at 1330 and one hour long. Now it's at 1300 and a half hour long... amazing. I can't imagine what they did to it.

The birds of prey show is one of the best that they have, and I'm glad to see it is still there. It is a much more recent addition to the list of shows there; maybe four or five years old, I think. I'd seen it the first year it was there. I loved it - and now he has enough birds there that he doesn't show them all in one show. We saw the vulture, the peregrine falcon (gorgeous), and a tercel (sp?). Very cool. The peregrine falcon flies at over 50 miles an hour. Incredible. I tried really hard to get photos of the falcon in motion but by the time I got the camera to take the photo, the falcon was many feet away! Practically an impossible shot.

The snake, however, was really gorgeous and I couldn't wait to meet him. Snakes are amazing creatures and I love them. They have the most amazing feel. Here I am holding the really friendly snake!
I did some shopping. I paid off the balance on my leather skirt; got not one but two beautiful flourite balls; some shirts; a glass Moon to hang in a window again. I had a good time. It was a fun day. I got to see Peter again; see David and Rook, Nightbringer, Tom Blackman, George Chris, tons of people. People that I miss and only get to see during the Faire. Worth it - sooooo worth it!

Saturday, 22 September 2007

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 update this!

Bad news - December won't be so glorious. And if the way the meteorologists screwed up Saturday, if that falls into the folklore of Ember Days, then we are screwed for an entire month of completely inaccurate weather forecasts. Everyone read and/or heard the same forecast that I had up until this morning: low 80s, beautiful clear sunny skies and low to no humidity.

As I had seen the skies the previous two days, I kept thinking that those high up mackerel clouds were presaging bad weather. I know weather - or I at least understand the different kinds of clouds and those horsetail clouds that look reminiscent of the fusilage trail left by airplanes way up high mean poor (or rather precipitative) weather in 24 to 48 hours. It would have been a boon to have it on Friday, rather than the start of the Club Championship and the last Saturday of Ren, but it was coming at its own pace and showed up early morning of Saturday instead.

Stupidly, I kept convincing myself evertime I saw those clouds, that the forecasted weather is still clear from now (Thursday and yesterday) through the weekend and into next week. WRONG! I knew better and still I doubted myself.

Anyway, the real deal was that Saturday was temperate (around mid-70s), wet and had intermittent downpours. The Old Farmer's Almanac is predicting a mild winter in December for the Mid-Atlantic region, so I guess that we will see some rain then...

Friday, 21 September 2007

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 usually crazy about the hair or faces; there is something... fake about them. Fake like Pamela Anderson. I don't know how to explain it.

And there is not a brain cell amoung them. Not one. When the people affiliated with the show were asking the different interested would-be contestants questions, the women were unbelievably dumb... I mean truly, incredibly, possibly not-for-real stupid. What is closer, the sun or the moon? You can't imagine the answers... the sun is closer, because it's much bigger... yikes. One of the candidates said, "Isn't the moon and the sun the same thing?"


Who wrote "Hamlet"?
One woman said, "Is that poetry? No, wait... I don't know anything about that."

Who one the Civil War?
One said, "Who was that between?"
Another said, "We did. The United States! We won everything!"

Do you know what word "Memo" is short for?
"As a journalism major I should know that, right? No."

What animal is the symbol of the Democratic party?
"A bird?"
What kind of bird?
"I dunno, a big bird."

One if the previous contestants asked her partner when D-Day was and he correctly responded, "1942". She looked a little aggrieved as she said, "no, 1942 is when Coloumbus sailed the ocean blue." Uh, no. Try 1492, idiot. If you don't know, say you don't know.

When they had the contestants narrowed down to the choices for the show, they had a psychologist meet with each of them to determine where the beaties fell in terms of intelligence (none) and the men in terms of social skills and romantic skills (also zero). The man interviewing the women asked one of the women to list the different countries of the world in alphabetical order, Her first answer? "Uh, Alabama?"

Oh, booooyyyy...

The alphabetical part would be difficult but I could take a stab at naming the A countries of the world: Armenia, Australia, Austria, Antarctica, Albania, Argentina... I'm sure I'm missing some. I wonder if I can name all 50 states. I'm sitting in the sunroom with Luis, who is watching some movie called The Philadelphia Experiment. I have no immediate access to a globe or map, so let me give it a try.

Alabama, Arkansas, Alaska, Arizona,
California, Colorado, Connecticut
Georgia (10)
Iowa, Illinios, Indiana, Idaho
Kansas, Kentucky
Minnesota, Missouri (20), Mississippi, Montana, Maine
North Dakota, New York, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New Jersey, North Carolina, Nevada (30)
Oregon, Ohio
South Carolina, South Dakota
Texas, Tennessee
Virginia, Vermont (40)
West Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin

I'm missing seven states... Hmmm. Which ones? Ah, Rhode Island. Easily forgotten, since it is so tiny. What else? Massachussets. Ummm... Oklahoma, Nebraska, uh... three left... I should know this. Well. I'll look now on the Internet and see what I've missed.

Maryland (geez, I've only been there how many times?!)

Still, not bad.

How'd I do with A countries? Let's see...


That was all I was missing. I like that. And Antarctica is not a country, I guess it is only a continent, since it is inhabited only with penguins and scientists. How funny.

But at least I can hold my own with geography.

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 Bukhara, Uzbekistan, a city noted for textiles.]

(grog) noun
1. An alcoholic drink, especially rum diluted with water.
2. Any strong alcoholic drink.

[After Old Grog, nickname of Admiral Edward Vernon (1684-1757), who ordered diluted rum to be served to his sailors. The admiral earned the nickname from his habit of wearing a grogram cloak. Grogram is a coarse fabric of silk, wool, mohair, or a blend of them. The word grogram is from French gros grain (large grain or texture).]

(BOM-bast) noun
Pompous speech or writing.

[From Old French bombace (cotton padding), from Latin bombax (cotton).]

(FUS-chuhn) adjective
Bombastic: marked by pretentiousness or pomposity

1. Pretentious speech or writing.
2. A coarse, sturdy cloth, blend of cotton and linen, usually having twill weave.

[From Old French fustaigne, from Latin fustanum, from fustis (tree trunk, stick), or from El Fostat (a suburb of Cairo, Egypt, where it was first made).]

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 Days, Wednesday forecasts the weather for October, Friday for November, and Saturday for December.

Based on that, I have the Ember Days noted in my binder and yesterday was beautiful. If the folklore has even the smallest truth to it, we will find out - October is just around the corner. And looking at this week's forecast, I would say that November and December will be warm and you'll finish the sprinkler head project without incident!

How'd ya like that?

Happy travels!"

There are times when having a head full of useless knowledge has its benefits. This would be one of those times. I have no idea how much of this folklore is truly on the nose - as a general rule, few of them are. But then you have phrases that I grew up on such as:

Red skies at dawning, sailor take warning
Red skies at night, sailor's delight

There is more truth to that than one would know. I guess we will put this to the test of time...

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

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 mounted his high horse
She's belted up her petticoat and followed with all her force
with me riddle dum riddle-dy rye, dom roddle-dy rye do roddle-de rye

He rode and she ran a long summer day
until they came to the river, that's commonly called the Tay
with me riddle dum riddle-dy rye, dom roddle-dy rye do roddle-de rye

The water it's too deep my love, I'm afraid you cannot wade
But afore he'd ridden his horse well in, she was on the other side
with me riddle dum riddle-dy rye, dom roddle-dy rye do roddle-de rye

She went up to the king's high door, she knocked and she went in
Said, one of your chancellor's robbèd me, and he's robbed me right and clean
with me riddle dum riddle-dy rye, dom roddle-dy rye do roddle-de rye

Has he robbed you of your mantle, has he robbed you of your ring?
No, he's robbed me of me maiden-head and another I cannot find
with me riddle dum riddle-dy rye, dom roddle-dy rye do roddle-de rye

Then if he be a married man then hangèd he shall be
And if he be a single man he shall marry thee
with me riddle dum riddle-dy rye, dom roddle-dy rye do roddle-de rye

This couple they got married, they live in Huntley Down
She's the earl of Airlie's daughter and he's the blacksmith's son
with me riddle dum riddle-dy rye, dom roddle-dy rye do roddle-de rye

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 called me back, apologized and explained that Cigna still has them listed as a PT provider through their HMO but they are not. Which leaves no one.

I had been thinking about it over the weekend and called my broker to find out if there would be any possibility of moving to the PPO or some other option. After that I got the call from the PT place and realized that no options means that the insurance has to cover something locally even if they are not in the network.

I called Eric again and told him the latest thing. He hadn’t called by the time I’d left work for my OB/GYN appointment. I called him when I get home, since I was in agony and really need to get this ball rolling. He had called at work but missed me and left me a message. Apparently, Cigna sort of out-sources their physical therapy coverage, and I needed to call Orthonet to find providers near me.

I did and I finally went tonight - it was both relieving and horrifying. The electricity thing was good as was the heat the therapist put on my back. I fell asleep a couple of times during that. I was okay with that part. When she was starting the massage, I thought that this would feel really good. Wrong. It felt really bad. It was terrible. The left side was far worse - far more senstive than my right - and when she was pressing down I wanted to scream. I didn't but I was almost off of the table.

She had me do some minor exercises and then I was done. I had already made the next four appointments - tomorrow afternoon, Monday, Thursday and Friday of next week. My next ortho appointment is on Thursday, 4 October. (I'm pretty sure it is...) We shall see how that goes.

I just hope the therapy works, not permanently disables me - as if I am not already...

Saturday, 15 September 2007

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 record for 11 other states. Alaska had its fourth warmest summer on record. Only Texas and Oklahoma were cooler than average.

The much warmer-than-average conditions in the Southeast and throughout the West contributed to above average residential energy demand for the nation. Using the Residential Energy Demand Temperature Index (REDTI - an index developed at NOAA to relate energy usage to climate), the nation's residential energy demand was approximately 8 percent higher than what would have occurred under average climate conditions for the season.

U.S. Temperature Highlights for August
For the contiguous U.S., the average temperature for August was 75.4 degrees F (24.1 degrees C), which was 2.7 degrees F (1.5 degrees C) above the 20th century mean and the second warmest August on record, based on preliminary data.

A severe heatwave persisted throughout much of the month across southern and central parts of the nation. More than 30 all-time high temperature records were tied or broken and more than 2,000 new daily high temperature records were established.

Raleigh-Durham, N.C., equaled its all-time high of 105 degrees F Aug. 21. Columbia, S.C., had 14 days in August with temperatures over 100 degrees F, which broke the record of 12 set in 1900. Cincinnati, Ohio, reached 100 degrees F five days during August, a new record for the city.
This was the warmest August in the 113-year record for West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, the Carolinas, Georgia, Alabama, Florida and Utah. For the Southeast, the length, severity and area of the heat wave led to comparisons with events in 1983 and 1954.

U.S. Precipitation Highlights for Summer
Overall, the summer was drier than average for the nation. Rainfall was below average in the Southeast, mid-Atlantic, Ohio Valley, the northern Plains and Northern Rockies. (Click NOAA image for larger view of the June-August 2007 statewide precipitation rankings. Please credit “NOAA.”)
Texas had its wettest summer on record and Oklahoma its fourth wettest. The unusually wet period was punctuated by heavy and persistent rains in June and July that produced devastating flooding in the region. In the Southeast, this was the driest summer since records began in 1895 for North Carolina and the second driest for Tennessee.

A hot and dry July in the Northern Rockies contributed to a fast start to the wildfire season, and August remained very active as warmer and drier-than-average conditions persisted in many areas. By early September, more than 7 million acres had burned across the nation, most of it in the western U.S.

U.S. Precipitation Highlights for August
The record warmth and below-average rainfall in August led to an expansion of drought in the Southeast and parts of the mid-Atlantic and Ohio Valley. At the end of August, drought affected approximately 83 percent of the Southeast and 46 percent of the contiguous U.S., according to the federal U.S. Drought Monitor.

Severe drought persisted throughout much of the West and an area that stretched from northern Minnesota to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Part of the Midwest received record precipitation in August, as a persistent frontal system provided a focus for heavy rain and thunderstorms. Precipitation was two to three times normal for the month in a wide band across the central Midwest, and major flooding occurred in parts of a region that stretched from southeastern Minnesota to central Ohio. Iowa had its wettest August on record.

Tropical Storm Erin made landfall near Lamar, Texas, Aug. 16, bringing heavy rains to areas already much wetter than normal for the year. Widespread flooding ensued in southern Texas and Oklahoma.
Global Highlights
The combined global land and ocean surface temperature for August was the eighth warmest on record, 0.85 degrees F/0.47 degrees C above the 20th century mean. The global surface temperature for June-August (Northern Hemisphere summer) was the seventh warmest since records began in 1880.

Separately, the global land-surface temperature was the third warmest for August and the fifth warmest for boreal summer. The August ocean-surface temperature was the ninth warmest in the 128-year period of record as cooler-than-average conditions in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific indicated the ongoing development of a La Niña episode.

Hurricane Dean, the first major hurricane of the Atlantic hurricane season made landfall as a category 5 storm near Costa Maya, Mexico Aug. 21. This was the first Atlantic Basin hurricane to make landfall as a category 5 storm since Hurricane Andrew struck Florida in August 1992.
Heavy monsoon-related rainfall that began in June continued to affect parts of South Asia in August. Millions of people were affected by flooding and thousands of flood-related deaths were reported.

Friday, 14 September 2007

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 not a good time to have children. It's funny, people budget to buy a car or a house but it seems like no one budgets to have a child. That's only the biggest expense you'll ever have!

It does seem to have turned out well, however. Pam was furious when she found out (understandably) but now that Katie is here and the other guy is being really great and the daughter is working, well, it seems that suddenly things are looking up. A rare success story!

Amazingly, she is out here again with her friend and coworker, Rhonda. They come out here usually every other year for the user meeting, and every time they travel they drink all night, every night. Luis is out with them and another CLS guy, Josh. They all drank except for myself and Luis. I rarely if ever drink and Luis doesn't drink either. Maybe a bit more than I do, which isn't saying much! But these two drink all the time. Every time I see them, they are hammered or working on getting there. We went to Boston in April of 2005 and they were trashed by 2000, when we made it there. Embarrasingly so. Pam kept asking me what spell I used to attract a good man like Luis. Saying I was underwhelmed is an understatement. I wanted to get out of there in the worst way. After an hour, I finally told Luis I'd had more than enough and went to our room to read.

Tonight she hadn't reached that stage, but had I not gone home when I had, who knows what would've happened. She's pleasant and real when she is sober, but I don't like being around drunks in any setting, especially since I see too many of them on the ambulance.

We went to Don Pepe's and had a shrimp dinner that was excellent, but a dish full enough to feed a third-world country. Possibly two. I should have taken a photo of it. It was unreal. In my hungriest, worst moments I could not eat that much. I barely scratched the surface. None-the-less, it was quite delicious. The meal was great. But the conversation was a little tense (unless the four of them talked shop, in which case it was just boring.

In any event, I'm glad it's over. We have had better times out. This weekend will be better. I have to go into work tomorrow to work on the H-2B visa stuff, the only opportunity to concentrate enough to get this all done will be on a day I'm not usually in and close the door, put on my iPod with the headphones, classical or maybe movie scores (music without lyrics) and focus. It's due in by 1 October and I need to get it in by next week to feel comfortable.

Tomorrow afternoon when Luis has had sleep and I'm done with my project, we'll head over to my parents' house and fix their computer and maybe get something to eat.

Sunday is the Parsippany Fall Festival, so I will be there just to take blood pressures and stuff, no lifting, no EMS... I need to be there, even if I only make it through half of the day. At least the weather is supposed to be promising. Then it will be back to normal on Monday... as normal as it gets, anyway.

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" or "a nail" into"an ail" some day? Before the advent of printing, the language was primarily oral/aural, resulting in mishearing and misinterpreting. Today, spelling is mostly standardized, so chances of false splitting are slim, though not impossible.

This week we'll look at a few more examples of words formed by false splitting.

(EYE-uhs) noun
A nestling, especially a young falcon or hawk.

[By erroneous splitting of the original "a nyas" into "an eyas". From Latinnidus (nest), ultimately from the Indo-European root sed- (to sit) that is also the source of sit, chair, saddle, soot, sediment, cathedral, and tetrahedron.]

ouch or ouche
(ouch) noun
A brooch or buckle set with precious stones.

[From the misdivision of the phrase "a nouche" as "an ouche", from Anglo-Norman ouche (brooch). Ultimately from the Indo-European root ned- (to bind) that is also the source of node, noose, annex, and connect.]

(AT-uh-mee) noun
A skeleton.

[From the word anatomy taken as "an atomy". From Latin ana- (up) +tome (a cutting). Ultimately from the Indo-European root tem- (to cut) that is alto the source of tonsure, temple, epitome, and contemplate.]

(AW-guhr) noun
Any of various boring tools resembling a corkscrew, used in carpentry, digging, etc.

[From the misdivision of "a nauger" as "an auger". Ultimately from the Indo-European root nobh- (navel) that is also the source of nave, navel, umbilical, omphaloskepsis (navel gazing), and Hindi nabhi (navel).]

(nons) noun
1. The present or immediate occasion.
2. The time being.

[From the phrase "for the nonce", a misdivision of "for then anes", from for + then (the) + anes (one).]

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't any more cut out for that than anything else!

But here it is:

Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) is a fantasy tabletop role-playing game originally designed by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, and first published in 1974 by the Gygax-owned company Tactical Studies Rules, Inc. The game is currently published by Wizards of the Coast. It was derived from miniature wargames, with a variation of the Chainmail game serving as the initial rule system. D&D's publication is widely regarded as the beginning of modern role-playing games, and, by extension, the entire role-playing game industry. Players of D&D create characters that embark upon imaginary adventures within a fantasy setting. A Dungeon Master (DM) serves as the game's referee and storyteller, while also maintaining the setting in which the adventures occur. During each game session, the players listen to descriptions of their character's surroundings, as well as additional information and potential choices from the DM, then describe their actions in response. The characters form a party that interacts with the setting's inhabitants (and each other), solves dilemmas, engages in battles and gathers treasure and knowledge. In the process the characters earn experience points to become increasingly powerful over a series of sessions. D&D departs from traditional wargaming by assigning each player a specific character to play, as opposed to a military formation.

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

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 agree with that. A love affair through letters and e-mails but never consumated is just that - correspondence. You can discuss sex, that hardly means you are having it. But in men that is a common fear. I suppose it is a bigger - or maybe just much more obvious - fear in women. I have seen women get so bizarrely jealous over a man. I refuse to fear or hate all women because they might want Luis. And if one did and he slept with her, the only person I would be mad at is Luis. People argue that with me all the time. Everyone seems to feel that the culpable party is the woman who lures away the man. If the woman expresses interest in Luis, well, that is what any man or woman does when they are interested in another person - regardless of gender. It is what Luis does in that situation. That is the only thing that matters in that scenario. I am not going to hold it against someone else for his actions. He is an adult and that is what happens to adults who make less than sound decisions.

Well, be that as it may, I still have not found anything other than the meatmarket look that MySpace seems to have. Not that Blogger hasn't got a few bottomfeeders or just meat-hunting people too, but my general impression, Mary, especially after finding you and some of the people you've listed and that they have listed as well, is that people on Blogger are mostly there with something worthwhile to share. You are. The others I read are. I am.

If you would, direct me to some of the better MySpace places and I will be happy to revise my opinion of it.

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 person singular pronoun in English. It is now largely archaic, having been replaced in almost all contexts by "you". Thou is the nominative form; the oblique/objective form is thee (functioning as both accusative and dative), and the possessive is thy or thine. Originally, thou was simply the singular counterpart to the plural pronoun ye, derived from an ancient Indo-European root. In imitation of continental practice, thou was later used to express intimacy, familiarity, or even disrespect while another pronoun, you, the oblique/objective form of ye, was used for formal circumstances (see T-V distinction). After thou fell out of fashion, it was primarily retained in fixed ritual settings, so that for some speakers, it came to connote solemnity or even formality. Thou persists, sometimes in altered form, in regional dialects of England and Scotland. The disappearance of the singular-plural distinction has been compensated for through the use of neologisms in various dialects. Colloquial American English, for example, contains plural constructions that vary regionally, including y'all, youse, and you guys.

Pretty neat, huh? I bet you did not know that... I did but I don't consider youse to be appropriate English.

Then I came to the "did you know" section and almost immediately these words (in bold, no less) leapt right off of the page: Lick Me in the Ass...! Don't misunderstand me, I did not find it offensive or anything, but I did find it shocking - consider the source. This is Wikipedia, not some porn site or a site that I might normally expect to see something in the more, uh, common vernacular. I did eventually read the whole sentence:

...that the original scatological lyrics of Lick Me in the Ass, a canon composed by Mozart, were only rediscovered in 1991?

I can honestly say I did, in fact, not know that. (Just because I sound like a know-it-all doesn't mean I am not completely cognizant of the fact that there is a whole lot more that I don't know than do...) And I can't help but wonder if I'm any the better for it? Scatological is certainly correct. What the hell kind of canon is that, I wonder! And sparked Mozart - one of my favourites, in company with Beethoven and Vivaldi - to write such a vitriolic title to a canon? Unbelivable.