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Showing posts from 2008

The Last Post of 2008

How'd that happen?

Where did it go?

Normally this is where I would say that 2008 was just horrendous and 2009 has to be better. What an idiot I am. It is what I make of it. No year goes by that doesn't have its horrors. No year goes by that doesn't have its shining moments. They are all like that - the good and the bad, the memorable and the unmentionable. And if I go around moping about the year I'm in and saying that it can't get worse and the next year has to be all smiles and no tears, well, I'll never find the happiness that I'm always telling others I feel.
In general I am happy (today was a huge exception to the rule - it was good from 0330, when I woke up to around 0830 but really turned to shit after that), and somehow I let the unhappy moments rule my life and then when December comes along, dragging all the "holidays" and ultimately the big change of the year (which is strictly a manmade thing and doesn't even tie in with astronomy), I…

Celestial Show Set for New Year's Eve

A delightful display of planets and the moon will occur on New Year's Eve for anyone wishing to step outside and look up just after sunset. Venus, brighter than all other planets and stars, will dangle just below the thin crescent moon in the southwestern sky. It'll be visible -- impossible to miss, in fact -- just as the sun goes down, assuming skies are cloud-free.
Soon thereafter, Mercury and Jupiter will show up hugging the south-southwestern horizon (just above where the sun went down) and extremely close to each other. Jupiter is very bright and easy to spot; Mercury is faint and harder to see, but it'll be apparent by its location just to the left of Jupiter. Jupiter and Mercury will set less than an hour after the sun, so timing your viewing just after sunset is crucial. You'll also need a location with a clear view of the western horizon, unobstructed by buildings, trees or mountains.
All the planets, along with the moon and sun, traverse an arc across our sky c…

Banned Words List Offers No "Bailout" to Offenders

DETROIT – A movie about a "maverick," his journey "from Wall Street to Main Street," his "desperate search" for a "monkey" and a "game-changing" revelation about his "carbon footprint" probably would make the nation's word-watchers physically ill. Especially if it were the "winner of five nominations."
All those words and phrases are on Lake Superior State University's annual List of Words to Be Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-use, Over-use and General Uselessness. The 34th version of the list was released Tuesday, which means, "It's that time of year again." The school in Michigan's Upper Peninsula selected 15 entries from about 5,000 nominations.
Despite the year's economic meltdown (which itself wasn't banished but don't rule it out for next year), the most entries came from the environmental category — for "green" or "going green."
"If I s…

The 6 Biggest Skin-Care Mistakes

The most amazing part to me is that anyone agonises over this. But maybe there is something valuable to this that I don't know. To be perfectly honest, I have good skin (other than it being oily) that doesn't wrinkle and doesn't get dry. I can live in the desert and not appear 90 years old. So guess what! I'm sticking to my skin regime - to leave it alone and not worry about the free radicals staging a coup!
"If there's one thing I stress to my patients, it's that great skin doesn't require spending a fortune on some "miracle cream" made from rare seaweed from the Arctic Circle! It's all about simple good habits. But let's approach those habits from the opposite direction: What are the most damaging bad habits that I see time and time again?
1. Using a cleanser with harsh detergents: Many people assume that the suds of their vigorously foaming cleanser are a good sign -- surely they'll leave skin extra clean. Unfortunately, copious …

The Truth About Diet Soda

Posted Tue, Dec 23, 2008, 3:33 pm PST

We talk a lot about ''watching what we eat,'' but if you never gave a thought to what you ate and instead watched only what you drank, you could probably cut 450 calories a day out of your life. (Yes, nearly a pound of fat loss a week!) That's what a study from the University of North Carolina found. Americans today drink about 192 gallons of liquid a year—or about 2 liters a day. To put it into perspective, this is nearly twice as many calories as we did 30 years ago.
When confronted with the growing tide of calories from sweetened beverages, the first response is, “Why not just drink diet soda?” Well, for a few reasons:
Just because diet soda is low in calories doesn't mean it can't lead to weight gain. It may have only 5 or fewer calories per serving, but emerging research suggests that consuming sugary-tasting beverages--even if they're artificially sweetened--may lead to a high preference for sweetness overall. Th…

FaceBook Groups

I belong to a bunch of them now, this one the newest:

Please Respect Separation of Church and State: "The name says it all. The idea that religion should not affect the running of our country was enshrined in the Constitution by our founding fathers for a very good reason.By turning their back on this precept, those religious activists who insist on imbuing America with religious symbols and ideology are turning their back on the men who created the very country they claim to love."
I also belong to 35 other groups:

The Official NASA Facebook Group
Toi Aussi Envoices tes Vieilles Chaussures a G. W. Bush!
Barak Obama (One Million Strong)
I Wouldn't Have Road Rage if Other People Weren't So Stupid
All I Need is Coldplay
1,000,000 Against Sara Palin
CSI: New York
No, I Don't Care if I Die at 12AM, I Refuse to Pass on Your Chain Letter
When I Was Your Age, Pluto Was a Planet
Emergency Response Personnel of Facebook
OFFICIAL Petition to Keep William Peterson on CSI
Parsippany Volun…

Christmas Eve

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Some pictures from the Christmas Eve festivities:


My cousin Renee with her Lambie blanket. I got myself a couple of those, too. I love how soft it is and knew she would, too. True to form, she loved it.
This is my Uncle Raoul, Luis and Aunt Amy. Luis is trying to set up the iTouch that Amy got for Christmas. They'll have to hook it up to the laptop or primary computer to really do that, but she seems to like the toy.
Renee with her Lambie. Another successful gift!
Alex with one of many, many books that he got! He did really well with the books and DVDs and such. So did all of us - it is a great family that I am part of in that we all read a lot.

Renee with her father at the dinner table.

Cheeps, Cheeps, Everywhere!

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I love the Bath& Body Works Sheep! Luis refers to them as "cheep", as though pronouncing it with a Spanish accent. I have lots of 'em already but now I am getting the mondo-sized sheep. Yahoo! I found it on e-bay and struck a deal.
And she's really nice:
"Hi Ash!
Wonderful; $170.00 for the mondo cream sheep and a small 6" x 9" pink body sheep it is! The shipping calculator should show the correct shipping price as $24.70 if it does not just let me know. I first saw the huge sheep in ONE store in my area... it is the only one that every has the unique items.
I loved them and really wanted one of each for myself... black and cream!!... HI, MY NAME IS PAM AND I'M A LAMBIE ADDICT... Well, I waited about three weeks and went back to the store to do some shopping and they were gone!!! I thought I would cry... until one of the managers said they expected some in later that day so I left her my number for her to call me. I live about 45 minutes away from t…

A.W.A.D. - Words Referring to Fish

I remember the day I caught my first, and last, fish. I was in college. During the winter break, a friend invited me to visit him. With makeshift fishing rods in our hands we went to the dam near his house. I sat there uneasily, holding the rod with the line dipped in the still water of the reservoir. A while later there was a tug and I promptly handed over the rod to my friend. He pulled the line in. There was a small orange fish on the end. It was alive, wildly flailing at its sudden change of fortune. With a promise of food I had tricked it out of its life.
Much time has passed since then. Now whenever I'm near water and see someone sitting with a fishing rod extended over the lake, I softly say "Good luck!" in his general direction. He thanks me. I tell him I was saying that to the fish. He smiles at the apparent joke... But I wasn't joking.
All of this week's words refer to fish, but they are more than just fish words. They can also be used metaphorically in o…

Memes Again!

25 December 2008
3x Thursday: 12/25/y2k+8: Merry Platypus, One And All!
1. What are you doing for Xmas this year?

The usual: my mother's family on Long Island on Christmas Eve, my parents' house on Christmas Day, and then we exchanged gifts and had dinner with Tom, Alayna and Matthew last night. I have a couple of gifts to send out this week. Otherwise, I'm pretty much done.
2. What items are on your wishlist this year?

The shorter list is what isn't on my list... My Amazon Wish List is usually 4 pages long. I want candles all of the time but no one wants to fund that. I got a lot of nice things, and I am not unhappy. I did regift something from Luis' father and the recepient loves it. I don't use hand lotions; my skin is never dry.
3. What do you think about the idea of gift giving in general. Do you think it's necessary? Why/why not?
There are a great many things that humans do that has nothing or little to do with necessity; but it is fun and enjoyable and I lo…

Worst of What Were They Thinking?! 2008 - omg! photos on Yahoo!

Worst of What Were They Thinking?! 2008 - omg! photos on Yahoo!

"Oh-My-God", said as Bill Engvall would say it, does not cover all that I am thinking... I personally will never be a slave to fashion - heck, I'm not even terribly interested in looking okay - but the world of the fashionista is one I don't even make an attempt to understand. In fact, the word "fashionista" translates to, "I have heaps of money but no mirror and no plans to own one", as evidenced by the lovely frocks and other fabric-related no-nos this site abounds with!

I am not going to look like Linda Evangelista or Iman but I'm okay with that. I'm okay with my face and while my body isn't as I'd like it yet, it is getting better. But I will keep my mediocre face and my overweight body and my total lack of interest and my what-not-to-wear wardrobe over the super unbelievable fashion faux paux made by wealthy and/or famous people. And I will be fat and happy if that …

Happy Boxing Day!

26 December 2008
09:31

I am enjoying my quiet day off from work and holiday recovery. It was not terrible, but it was quite hectic and a little detox, a little downtime will really do wonders for me.
I have a small to do list:

-- Put away gifts
-- Finish laundry
-- Reorganise the pantry by the fridge
-- Return/exchange duplicate gifts from Amazon
-- Look up a couple of candle fragrances and a large sheep on e-bay
-- Call Sears about the garage door
-- Possibly (if it is not too crazy) go to Macy's and Best Buy to do some other duplicate returns/exchanges -- Get to Fortunoff's for one last gift

I don't have to do it all today, either. Some of it can be done over the phone; some by Internet, some I have to suck it up and go out. We shall see.
1733

Well, Tom and I were successful in some endeavours. We picked up fire wood, went to a KayBee toy store closing soon, had lunch at Panera's, and then stopped at Fortunoff's, where'd I'd hoped to pick up a turntable converter for T…

Surviving Kittenhood

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I love this kitten but I am forced to wonder if I can survive her childhood.


Eighteen years ago I had kittens. I see easily why people have multiple children! They clearly have forgotten what a hassle it was the first round. If your memory can fade that much in a year and a half, imagine what mine is like after almost two decades!


I have clearly forgotten it all. When Siobhan was on her way, I figured I'd block the ways behind the couch... by putting an 18" roadblock. What was I thinking? Boing, boing, boing - right over the couch and down the back. She jumps onto the counter all the time as a matter of course. She even paces along the top of the shower doors (yikes!). I can't keep her out of the garage. I have to find unique and circuitous ways in and out of the house so that she doesn't escape.


I had until mid-September two geriatric cats who couldn't hop onto the couch and this is a whole new world. But she's cute, so it is all survivable... except...


I am the …

A.W.A.D. - Places From India

Namaste from India! I've just landed in Mumbai, where I'm planning to spend the rest of this year.
Mumbai was formerly known by its anglicized spelling, Bombay. The name of the city is derived from Mumba (name of a goddess) + ai (mother in the Marathi language). Each place has a story, and this week we'll visit five places from India that have become words in the English language.
golconda
PRONUNCIATION: (gol-KON-duh)
MEANING: noun: A source of great wealth

ETYMOLOGY: After Golconda, a ruined city in southern India, once known for its diamond mines in the nearby hills.
doolally
PRONUNCIATION: (DU-lah-lee)
MEANING: adjective: Irrational, deranged, or insane

ETYMOLOGY: After Deolali, a small town in western India. It's about 100 miles from Mumbai with an unusual claim to fame. It's where British soldiers who had completed their tour of duty were sent to await transportation home. It was a long wait -- often many months -- before they were to be picked up by ships to take them…

Arkansas Family Welcomes 18th Child

It's my worst nightmare!

'ROGERS, Ark. – An Arkansas woman has given birth to her 18th child. Michelle Duggar delivered the baby girl by Caesarean section Thursday at Mercy Medical Center in Rogers. The baby, named Jordyn-Grace Makiya Duggar, weighed 7 pounds, 3 ounces and was 20 inches long. "The ultimate Christmas gift from God," said Jim Bob Duggar, the father of the 18 children. "She's just absolutely beautiful, like her mom and her sisters." The Duggars now have 10 sons and eight daughters.
Jim Bob Duggar said Michelle started having contractions Wednesday night. She needed the C-section, her third, because the baby was lying sideways. Jim Bob said both baby and mother were doing well Thursday night. "We both would love to have more," he said.
The cable network TLC broadcasts a weekly show about the Duggars, called "17 Kids and Counting." Chris Finnegan of TLC — which handles public relations for the Duggar family — said the show&#…

More Memes - Think They are About the Holidays?

Thursday, 11 December
3x Thursday: 12/11/y2k+8:
Has It Ever Occured To You That...
1. Do you think that if more people in this world got laid on a regular basis (what a regular basis is, is up to you!), there might be less generally unhappy people? Why/why not?
Absolutely! I am on board with that one hundred percent! And not just because having the Big-O is great, but because the genders to some degree and people specifically are so out of whack with each other. Men in general want a more frequent and steady sexlife but women aren't as into it - expecially those with children. This creates a lot of problems... how many couples are not faithful? How many people (not just men by any stretch) stray? If we are all getting a little somethin'-somethin', maybe this kind of problem would not be so prevalent. And who wouldn't be smiling (and just a little weak-kneed) with a steady diet of sex and orgasms?
2. Do you think there are just some people on this planet that will never *eve…

Christmas Already?!

I wonder where time goes, but why wonder? It goes in the ebb and flow of life. And it comes full circle... daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, annually. And like every year, it is the "holidays" again. I'm not sure how this time got the rather generic moniker of "the holidays"... There are enough different cultures and religions that there are holidays occurring all the time. Why just this time?
Partially there is the whole thing with Christianity, who realised that good PR begins with a peaceful approach to conversion, not the bludgeoning process that the Crusades were. And clearly neither approach was wholly successful - the Saracens clearly held their own, and good for them! It is appalling how many religions and cultures no longer exist. So there is some of it. And empiracally, there is nothing to suggest that Jesus was born in December - since the calendar as it is did not exist, it assuming a lot to say we do.
And then there are a lot of big holidays, the on…

The Scofflaw King

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MAN OWES CITY $81G FOR 415 PARKING TICKETS
By KYLE MURPHY and CHUCK BENNETT
The city's No. 1 parking-ticket scofflaw is a 30-year-old insurance broker from Long Island, records show.

Alexander Khamish earned the dubious distinction of wracking up an $81,039 debt, according to the city's Department of Finance. But despite amassing 415 tickets since 2004, the Merrick man claims they've got the wrong guy.
"Basically, someone registered [the offending] vehicles under my name," Khamish said. "I knew about this a couple years ago, but I didn't know it [involved an] $80,000 [debt]. Someone did register vehicles under my name before I found out, but I was going back and forth with the DMV, and from the last I heard, I thought everything was OK."
Khamish said he had no idea of the debt until contacted by The Post. Ken Brown, a spokesman for the state Department of Motor Vehicles, said it received no paperwork regarding Khamish's claim.
But Khamish denied ever …

Moon Travels 31,000 Miles Closer on Friday

I hope this means Friday, 19 December!

"Earth's moon will be closer to our planet on Friday night. The moon will definitely put on a bright show as it will situate more than 31,000 miles closer to earth.
Astronomers say the moon will be approximately 31,000 miles closer to Earth on Friday night. The moon will be full and 30 percent brighter.
It will mark the first time in 15 years where the moon has this proximity to the Earth.

Astronomers say the moon will be 30 percent brighter on Friday evening as it begins to rise. "For reasons not fully understood by astronomers or psychologists, low-hanging moons look unnaturally large when they beam through trees, buildings and other foreground objects. The swollen orb rising in the east at sunset may seem so nearby, you can almost reach out and touch it," Tony Phillips, Science@NASA's production editor, said in a statement.
Tides are estimated to be six inches higher due to the moon's closeness to the Earth. The moon comp…

A.W.A.D. - What We Do To Trees

A few months back I featured this quotation from the journalist Hal Borland (1900-1978): "You can't be suspicious of a tree, or accuse a bird or a squirrel of subversion or challenge the ideology of a violet."
Astute linguaphile Mark Germer wrote in response: "Recent work on information processing (even kin recognition) in plants suggests that there may be more going on there than we now understand; as for birds and mammals, it has long been appreciated that they are perfectly capable of deception and subversion. For my part, I don't find these things odd or disturbing, as it's the continuity of all life that intrigues me most. Humans are not alone in their baseness -- though a few may be alone in their desire to rise above it."
Mark said it well. There's more to trees and plants than we think (see nature.com). So next time you pluck an apple from a tree or trim that hedge, be aware that it may not be as oblivious as you think.
This week's words re…

Life Through Another's Eyes

An e-mail from an extremely close and wonderful friend:

"Hi Aislínge,

I wanted to tell you I will close my profile at facebook. It´s not for me, I am sorry. I would never get used to this, I want to keep personal correspondence with my penfriends (including you, of course!!!), not this public affair. I will read your website instead. I hope you don´t mind. E-mails are okay. Luis´ family is really something, but my father was a mental case, so I guess I have no business to talk, he he he. I would probably also smile and nod... actually I never know what to say to these people. I usually try to get away. I know it´s pointless to argue with them. It´s just a waste of time and effort. You can´t convince anybody they aren´t mental, if they don´t see it themselves. he he. Luis Sr is probably not as bad as some of his siblings... and you are right, one has to appreciate it. Maybe he is just happy he can live in his son´s house and learned to appreciate it in time? Maybe he doesn´t want t…

A Letter to the Pets

The following was found posted very low on a refrigerator door.

Dear Dogs and Cats:

The dishes with the paw prints are yours and contain your food. The other dishes are mine and contain my food. Placing a pawprint in the middle of my plate and food does not stake a claim for it becoming your food and dish, nor do I find that aesthetically pleasing in the slightest. The stairway was not designed by NASCAR and is not a racetrack. Racing me to the bottom is not the object. Tripping me doesn't help because I fall faster than you can run.
I cannot buy anything bigger than a king sized bed. I am very sorry about this. Do not think I will continue sleeping on the couch to ensure your comfort, however. Dogs and cats can actually curl up in a ball when they sleep. It is not necessary to sleep perpendicular to each other, stretched out to the fullest extent possible. I also know that sticking tails straight out and having tongues hanging out on the other end to maximize space is nothing but s…

"Jesus was Born In June" Say Astronomers

Astronomers have calculated that Christmas should be in June, by charting the appearance of the 'Christmas star' which the Bible says led the three Wise Men to Jesus.

They found that a bright star which appeared over Bethlehem 2,000 years ago pinpointed the date of Christ's birth as June 17 rather than December 25. The researchers claim the 'Christmas star' was most likely a magnificent conjunction of the planets Venus and Jupiter, which were so close together they would have shone unusually brightly as a single "beacon of light" which appeared suddenly. If the team is correct, it would mean Jesus was a Gemini, not a Capricorn as previously believed.
Australian astronomer Dave Reneke used complex computer software to chart the exact positions of all celestial bodies and map the night sky as it would have appeared over the Holy Land more than 2,000 years ago. It revealed a spectacular astronomical event around the time of Jesus's birth.
Mr Reneke says the…

Cancer to be World's Top Killer

ATLANTA – Cancer will overtake heart disease as the world's top killer by 2010, part of a trend that should more than double global cancer cases and deaths by 2030, international health experts said in a report released Tuesday. Rising tobacco use in developing countries is believed to be a huge reason for the shift, particularly in China and India, where 40 percent of the world's smokers now live.
So is better diagnosing of cancer, along with the downward trend in infectious diseases that used to be the world's leading killers. Cancer diagnoses around the world have steadily been rising and are expected to hit 12 million this year. Global cancer deaths are expected to reach 7 million, according to the new report by the World Health Organization.
An annual rise of 1 percent in cases and deaths is expected — with even larger increases in China, Russia and India. That means new cancer cases will likely mushroom to 27 million annually by 2030, with deaths hitting 17 million. Un…

A Warm and Fuzzy Christmas Story!

I remember my first Christmas adventure with Grandma. I was just a kid. I remember tearing across town on my bike to visit her. On the way, my big sister dropped the bomb: "There is no Santa Claus," she jeered. "Even dummies know that!"
My Grandma was not the gushy kind, never had been. I fled to her that day because I knew she would be straight with me. I knew Grandma always told the truth, and I knew that the truth always went down a whole lot easier when swallowed with one of her "world-famous" cinnamon buns. I knew they were world-famous, because Grandma said so. It had to be true.
Grandma was home, and the buns were still warm. Between bites, I told her everything. She was ready for me. "No Santa Claus?" she snorted .... "Ridiculous! Don't believe it! That rumor has been going around for years, and it makes me mad, plain mad!! Now, put on your coat, and let's go."
"Go? Go where, Grandma?" I asked. I hadn't ev…

The Past Week's Memes

Thursday, 4 December 2008
3x Thursday: 12/04/y2k+8: Post-Election Reflections
So, now that' you've had a month to digest things...
1. How do you feel about the results of the U.S. presidential elections? Did the guy you wanted win? What is your reasoning behind supporting the guy?
I feel better than I would have had McCain won. As it is, we will see what happens soon enough. I can tell you, however, that the current, soon-to-depart administration is making the transition of the leadership an easy, painless process. My sister-in-law, whom I love dearly, is on the transition team for the incoming President-Elect.
2. Were there any propositions or specific persons you were rooting for/against in this year's election? If so, what were they, and why did you care?
Mmmmm. No, not really. The biggest thing I am interested in outside of our sinking economy is the immigration program problems. And no one, not one single person, had anything to say about it. Not even a peep. It is the hot …