Friday, 29 February 2008

A.W.A.D. - Whose What

Last year we featured a week of terms in the pattern "x's y", for example"busman's holiday" (a vacation spent doing things as at work) or "widow's peak" (a v-shaped hairline at the top of the forehead). Terms that answer the question "Whose what?" generate a huge response from readers. Perhaps that's because each of those phrases has a story behind it.

Last month we featured a week of such terms coined after animals, such as a dog's letter (the letter R) and a mare's nest (a confused mass; a hoax). This week we'll discuss terms named after specific persons.

Buckley's chance
(BUK-leez chans) noun
No chance at all (or only a very slim chance).

Also called "Buckley's and none" or "Buckley's hope".

[The origin of the term isn't certain but the most popular story pins it to William Buckley (1780-1856), a British convict transported to Australia. There, he escaped and found refuge among the Aborigines for more than three decades. When he was rediscovered he had forgotten how to speak English. Since survival in the outback was difficult it was said that anyone lost there had Buckley's chance of making it.

Another possibility is a pun on the Melbourne department store Buckley and Nunn, i.e. one has two chances: Buckley's or none.]

Pandora's Box
(pan-DOR-uhz boks) noun
A source of many unforeseen troubles.

[In Greek mythology Pandora received a "gift" of a jar which she was told never to open. Her curiosity got the better of her. She opened the lid, and out came its contents: all the evils of human life.]

Job's comforter
(johbz KUM-fuhr-tuhr) noun
A person who tries to console or help someone who not only fails but ends up making the person feel worse.

[Originally there was not just one, but three Job's comforters. In the Biblical story these people tried to console Job, an upright person, that his troubles must be divine retribution for his sins.

There are Job's comforters in current times as well: soon after any disaster these TV preachers are ready to explain how the afflicted had offended gods and brought it upon themselves.]

Buggin's turn
(BUG-inz turn) noun
Assignment to a position based on seniority or rotation, instead of merit.

Also Buggins's turn.

[The identity of this original Buggin(s) fellow is, unfortunately, lost in the mist of history.]

Leap Day!

Let's face it, how many Leap Days do you get? This is my eighth one, I think. Not many... so might as well make the most of this one. It has been a good day, I really cannot complain. And it closed on a really high note.


Last night was not so good - I dragged myself across the street to do rig check and was very tired with a breaking voice. At five minutes to 1900, we were blown out for an MVA on Route 46. We raced down there and upon arrival, went to the rear-ended car... at least, that's what Ptl. Griffin told us. I didn't believe him for a split second - he's a great guy and I wouldn't doubt him but there was not so much as a scratch on the bumper. Not even paint transfer...


I went to her, and opened the door, telling her to not face me and stay right where she is. She said that she has nech and back pain (I'm mystified as to what the pain was from, still). So I got in the back seat and did head stabilization, and Bob was collaring her. Rob must have checked on the other patient. We got this one all boarded and ready for transport and fifteen minutes later when she was packaged, Bob sent me to the other patient to get an RMA.


The other driver, a 21-year-old woman, was fine and had no complaints. She told me that she looked down for a moment to adjust the radio and there was a faint tap and she'd bumped into the car in front of her. She asked what was wrong with the other driver and I replied that she is working it up for insurance. I reassured this driver that the police report would show no damage to either car.


To be sure, I had looked at the front of the guilty party's car - nothing. Same as the other car - untouched, no damage, not even a scrape. Cars are designed to crumple and show a lot of damage now, especially the guilty party of a rear-ender. Both cars were newer and would have shown some kind of damage even if the collision was five miles an hour.


I really feel that tickets should be issued to people who take an ambulance or any emergency vehicle out of service for a non-existant problem! I'd feel better about it.


I came home coughing and hacking and feeling competely awful. I wanted to go off at 2200 but Bob had just me so I stayed on until midnight. I'm delighted to say that nothing happened. I don't know if I'd have survived any more time outside.


I'm on tomorrow night, but hopefully it won't be so bitter cold.


I went to bed around 0045, but I got the laundry done and the bedroom straightened up. I feel good about that. Luis woke me up this morning for a little romp and thus the day began. Its fine - his penis did not begin the day at 0500, it started at 0750. I'm okay with that.

I got up and showered and stopped at Dunkin' Donuts on my way in. I got to work at 0920 and got caught up on my tasks. My intern came and finished his project and I was glad of that. I won't have him the next two weeks but I have been promised that I will get him back after the rotations that were scheduled are done.

I left at 1510 (not right on time, but close enough). I went to the bagel place on Route 10 to meet with John O'Neill, whom I'd worked with at USII. It was so great to see him! I've missed him a lot. He was the Operations Manager and I was the HR Generalist there. He's working at Novartis and is a lot happier there. I'm delighted. He really put up with a lot of abuse (as we all did) at USII. None of us miss them.

We were there until 1800 chatting and then we went our separate ways. I came home and Luis was home already. Now it is snowing and piling up and it does look nice.

Tomorrow looks like it will be a little crazy. Luis wants to drop his car off at Acura for them to fix the lock on the passenger door. I have an appointment with Lucy to get my hair done. I need to stop at a jewelry store in Kenilworth and then at work to get some payroll books for a last minute project that's come up. Then I need to stop at the dry cleaner's and get our quilt and my sweater and drop off a couple of other items. I think that this is it.

So it was a good leap day!

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

A Great Day Again!

This is quite a nice experience. Once again, the joy of a good intern helps considerably. He worked madly and did a great job. He got all the term files revamped and put away and now there are no more stacks of terminated employee files out, lying in wait to trip the unwary (me!).



I got everything waiting for me on my list done, which was nice. Despite more interruptions and explaining things to my intern, I still managed to complete the couple of tasks open from yesterday and close out all but two of today's - but I just finished them now.



In fact, I have even begun some of tomorrow's work.



Sometimes, even though it is painful at the time, that slap in the face is what is needed to really put things into the right perspective. I missed six days of work but thanks to me using the tools I have, the brains I have and really sticking to this, I am managing to get everything done and then some and feel really, really good about it, too!

I Miss the Triplets!

Little hot water bottles of love:
These are the girls (and one boy, Ollie, the light brown one): On the top, with glowing eyes, is Dixie, whom Ray calls Vivian - he says she looks like a Vivian, the next one down is Belle, then Ollie and then Velvet. They are the dogs of two sisters and they almost always come as a package. We love having them. They are wonderful and I think that they are as crazy about me as I am about them. And Ollie, who belongs to my parents, is my baby. I hope they will always have at least one Dachshund. If I wanted to own dogs, this is the type of dog I'd get!

Here is Dixie, looking for attention. Tell me that this is not the cutest thing in the world! She does this and we just melt. Yup, the cold, heartless bitch who fires people turns into a puddle with the triplets.

Here we are again, relaxing in front of the fireplace to warm up. Sunday wasn't as cold as it has been, but it was cool and wintery and the fire was lovely. I really enjoy sitting in front of the fire blazing. And especially with these warm wonderful creatures!

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

The Sun will Destroy Earth in 7.6 Billion Years

This is what keeps me up at night...

Not really...

"There currently isn’t a sun cream in existence with sufficient factor value to counteract the upcoming bombardment our solar system’s star will eventually unleash upon the Earth, according to predictions issued by astronomers at the University of Sussex.

We can only hope that 7.6 billion years of evolution, which is how long those astronomers are suggesting it will take for the expanding Sun to absorb the Earth, is sufficient time to see mankind long since gone amid the stars.

According to Dr. Robert Smith, Emeritus Reader in Astronomy, previous calculations related to the expansion of the Sun indicated that although the Earth would be burnt to a crisp, it would likely be spared from total destruction. However, the university team now believes that the outer atmosphere of the dying star will actually cause Earth to drift into the Sun.

“We showed previously that, as the Sun expanded, it would lose mass in the form of a strong wind, much more powerful than the current solar wind. This would reduce the gravitational pull of the Sun on the Earth, allowing the Earth's orbit to move outwards, ahead of the expanding Sun,” explained Dr. Smith in the new science paper, which was co-written with Dr. Klaus-Peter Schroeder.

“If that were the only effect the Earth would indeed escape final destruction. However, the tenuous outer atmosphere of the Sun extends a long way beyond its visible surface, and it turns out the Earth would actually be orbiting within these very low density outer layers. The drag caused by this low-density gas is enough to cause the Earth to drift inwards, and finally to be captured and vaporised by the Sun.”

7.6 billion years is some way off and people are unlikely to be overly concerned by the paper’s prediction, which is compounded by the fact that scientists believe the Sun’s gradual expansion will turn Earth into a barren and uninhabitable rock in around 1 billion years.

While the extinction of mankind and the destruction of Earth appear certainties, Dr. Smith offers that a team working out of Santa Cruz University believe it’s possible to prolong the planet’s survival by a further 4 billion years if man can periodically harness the gravitational effects of a passing asteroid to nudge Earth’s orbit so that it slowly moves away from the Sun.

Conceding that the plan sounds like science fiction, Dr. Smith maintains that “the energy requirements are just about possible and technology could be developed over the next few centuries” to make it a reality. However, he also warns that miscalculations could see the asteroid fatally impact the Earth, reports Science Daily, before suggesting that “a fleet of interplanetary ‘life rafts’ could manoeuvre themselves always out of the reach of the Sun,” as a much safer solution."

Wikipedia - Featured Article - Europa

Europa (pronounced /jʊˈroʊpə/ yew-ROE-pə listen (help·info); or as Greek Ευρώπη) is the sixth-nearest and fourth-largest moon of the planet Jupiter. Europa was discovered in 1610 by Galileo Galilei (and, some say, independently by Simon Marius), and named after a mythical Phoenician noblewoman, Europa, who was courted by Zeus and became the queen of Crete. It is the smallest of the four Galilean moons.

At just over 3,000 kilometres (1,900 mi) in diameter, Europa is slightly smaller than Earth's Moon and is the sixth-largest moon in the Solar System. Though by a wide margin the least massive of the Galilean satellites, its mass nonetheless significantly exceeds the combined mass of all moons in the Solar System smaller than itself. It is primarily made of silicate rock and likely has an iron core. It has a tenuous atmosphere composed primarily of molecular oxygen. Its surface is composed of ice and is one of the smoothest in the Solar System. This young surface is striated by cracks and streaks, while craters are relatively infrequent. The apparent youth and smoothness of the surface have led to the hypothesis that a water ocean exists beneath it, which could conceivably serve as an abode for extraterrestrial life. Heat energy from tidal flexing ensures that the ocean remains liquid and drives geological activity.

Although by 2007 only fly-by missions have visited the moon, the intriguing characteristics of Europa have led to several ambitious exploration proposals. The Galileo mission provided the bulk of current data on Europa, while the Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter, cancelled in 2005, would have targeted Europa, Ganymede and Callisto. Conjecture on extraterrestrial life has ensured a high profile for the moon and has led to steady lobbying for future missions.

God Put a Smile Upon Your Face

Where do we go
Nobody knows
I've gotta say
I'm on my way down
God gave me style and gave me grace
God put a smile upon my face

Where do we go to draw the line
I've gotta say I wasted all your time, honey honey
where do I go to fall from grace
God put a smile upon your face, yeah and

Ah, when you work it out I'm worse than you yeah,
When you work it out I wanted to and
Ah, when you work out where to draw the line
Your guess is as good as mine

Where do we go
Nobody knows
Don't ever say
You're on your way down
When God gave you style and gave you grace
And put a smile upon your face, ah yeah and

Ah, when you work it out I'm worse than you yeah,
When you work it out I wanted to and
Ah, when you work out where to draw the line
Your guess is as good as mine

It's as good as mine it's as good as mine
It's as good as mine as good as mine

Where do we go
Nobody knows
Don't ever say
You're on your way down when
God gave you style and gave you grace
And put a smile upon your face

Monday, 25 February 2008

This Company Has Rocks In Its Head!

My husband's company, after 25+ years, has finally decided to get some HR input into their works and develop better corporate standards.

Towards that end, they are developibg a handbook. Luis is weeding through it and reading bits and pieces to me. It actually states in there that employees will be paid vacation upon termination. WHAT?!

They are giving employees five personal days and three sick days. That's generous, but in the wrong order. It should be five sick days, three personal days.

The vacation package is a little strange... two days for the first year of service (STINGY), one week until three years of service, two weeks until seven years of service. Who came up with this?

I wonder about them all the time. They have alcohol on the premises, they allow harassment of the worst kind, they are just so ignorant of the issues that these things can cause. And they have an enormous harrasser working there.

We shall see how this works out.

Friday, 22 February 2008

A.W.A.D. - Short Words

The sharper the point of the needle, the more easily it goes through. The thinner the blade of the sword, the more swiftly it cuts through. Often the same goes for words. A short, potent word helps convey the idea in just a few letters. This week we'll feature a few single-syllable words, and in the spirit of this week's theme, we'll keep this paragraph short.

cairn
(kairn) noun
A heap of stones set up as a landmark or a memorial.

[From Scottish Gaelic carn (pile of stones).]

wax
(wax) verb intr.
To increase, to grow, or to become.

[From Old English weaxan. Ultimately from the Indo-European root aug- (increase) which is also the source of auction, authorize, inaugurate, augment, august, auxiliary, and nickname ("a nickname" is a splitting of the earlier "an ekename", literally, an additional name).]

weald
(weeld) noun
A woodland.

[From Old English weald (forest).]

echt
(ekht) adjective
Authentic; typical.

[From German echt (genuine, typical).]

lea
(lee, lay) noun
A grassland.

[From Old English leah (meadow). Ultimately from Indo-European root leuk- (light) that has resulted in other words such as lunar, lunatic, light, lightning, lucid, illuminate, illustrate, translucent, lux, and lynx.]

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

The Gods of Lunar Eclipses Were Good to Me!

The shrouded moon was crystal clear and so was the entire night sky when I finally put on enough layers to get outside to see the Moon go into totality at 2226. It turned a pale orange colour, was momentarily pink, then the slightest sliver appeared on the southwestern most edge. At 2252 it began to leave the umbral shadow.

The gorgeous full Snow Moon will be coming out of the umbral shadow fairly soon and will not be completely out of the penumbral shadow until 0009 (or 2409). Then there will be no more total lunar eclipses visible here or anywhere, really, until December 20, 2010. There will be, I hope, a partial or two eclipses here for us to see. There is a partial eclipse slated for August, but disappointingly, it will not be visible anywhere in the North American viewing area. At least that would be something!

Not So Hopeless!

I woke up on the couch just ten minutes ago (it's 2043) and searched the western sky for a single sign that the skies are possily clear. It did not look too good. I wandered over to the eastern facing window... slowly bent over... and well... there was a light in the sky... unmistakeable... oh! The Moon! The full, beautiful moon, which is just entering the penumbral shadow. It is very fuzzy, as it is shining through the cloud cover. I hope it clears up more by 2226... but I will take what I can get! I'm holding off on going to bed just yet. I will go in to work a little later than 0600... I am not on call tomorrow night so I can work until I'm done. Or until I run out of energy. Whatever happens first.

I'm hopeful! Think clear skies for me!

Follow-up to "An Interesting Morning"

We went to the urologist today and he thinks that the rest of the passage should be easy. The stone got stuck at the bottom of the tube going from the kidney to the bladder and here's some Flomax and that should help relax the muscles both at the top of the urethra and the bottom of the passage into the bladder. From there, he said, it will be very easy, most likely. We both liked the doctor immensely.

Surgery could be a road to take but it seems to be very, very unlikely. The only less-than-positive note was that Luis' chance of getting another stone is 50% in the next decade and 90% the rest of his lifetime. Still, those are odds I can live with and we certainly know what to do should it happen again. But the doc thinks that this will pass uneventfully after this.

My father had his gall bladder removed a year ago right around this time... Let me see... Wooooowwww... I did not post a thing about Ray's being in the hospital for his gall bladder. It was super-easy. Two days there and he was out with NO issues. Unlike his knee surgery of November 2006, about which I know I posted several items. I was so pissed off about that. But the gall bladder thing now, is as you say: three tiny holes and they suck it right out!

Pretty cool!

Be A Mind Leader

This is an article by Steve Gilliland, a motivational speaker that I have seen and thoroughly enjoyed! Oddly enough, to my friends; but unsurprisingly to my coworkers!

"If only Joe Friday, the no-nonsense officer from television's Dragnet series, could be the voice inside our heads, reminding us to focus on thefacts. Instead, the voice inside our heads sometimes is more like George Costanza, the paranoid, oversensitive, and over reactive character from television's Seinfeld series. Some days it is as if a tornado is happening in our head. There are thoughts soaring around everywhere, your boss to please, family to think about, friends to consider, bills to pay, schedules to keep and on and on and on. We've all had those days. Intellectually we know we can't change or control the circumstances of the day, but shouldn't we be able to be in command of those voices in our head, direct what they say and do, both to and for us?

Managing the voices in your head is not easy. Getting them to concur and work with you instead of against you can be out-and-out exasperating. Last year after speaking at an event, the meeting planner mailed me the evaluation summary from the participants. 98% of the attendees ranked me 5 (out of 5), while one person scored my presentation a 1. To be a mind-leader, you have to consider how much someone else's opinion of you is a result of his or her own "stuff." Maybe that one participant evaluated me badly because I reminded her of an ex-boyfriend. Whatever the motive, certainly that is her stuff, or issue, not mine.

Regrettably, much of what is said in our head is based on assumption, supposition, or downright bogus information. For example: someone doesn't reply to my email so they must not want to talk to me. Or, maybe the person is just as busy as I am and hasn't been able to see the virtual bottom of their overflowing inbox in weeks. Someone walks right by me in the grocery store and didn't say hello. They must be mad at me. What did I do? Do they not like me anymore? Or, maybe the person had a sick child at home and was running by the grocery store for ginger ale and saltine crackers and their pressing need had them single-focused and rushing to the checkout line.

But our internal voices tell us otherwise, don't they? Next time your internal voice jumps to an emotional conclusion, ask yourself, "What else could it mean?" And listen for Joe Friday's voice and not George Costanza's. If you are tired, fatigued or stressed out about work or your personal life, all of these conditions can lead to a distorted perception of reality. They can also lead to more harsh reactions and high sensitivity. Have you ever over reacted only to realize later that what you reacted to really wasn't so bad after all, which then led you to somber damage control? You must pay attention to what is going on in your life and manage the emotions of your mind.

Becoming a mind-leader is not effortless. Most of us know what to do, but struggle with doing it consistently. Yes, just as the bad habits take practice to get rid of, the good habits take time to form and take hold, and remember that those voices in your head have been talking to you habitually for years. Spend time paying attention to how you react to things and determine how you want to react and how you'd like to respond differently. Get good at looking at the facts in situations that have an emotional attachment (baggage) for you; these are the ones most likely attached to habitual, but not necessarily accurate thinking.

A neighbor, friend, or family member who pays no attention to you is all right. By exercising effective internal voice management, you come to the conclusion that they are dealing with their "stuff." It isn't about you or something you've done; it is about them and their present circumstances. Monitor how much you care about what other people think. If someone doesn't like you, or support you, that is okay. We tell others that we can't make everyone happy and that we won't please all the people all the time, yet why is it that when it comes down to the business of managing our own internal voices, we conveniently delete the message?

Be careful not to fall into a dialogue with yourself that may have no basis in truth or accuracy. Just because something may have been a part of your past, it shouldn't get in the way of your present internal mind management. The next time someone doesn't respond or react to you the exact way you thought they should, be cautious not to assume or over react. The next time something happens that triggers a habitual thought process, look at the facts (the complete picture), and blunder on the side of reasonable doubt instead of assuming guiltiness because of your past circumstances.

A mind-leader is the meeting of the minds and harmony between the voices inside your head which is where we find happiness and contentment. The extent to which you can pilot your own voices will determine your ability to focus on what is truly important and make an enormous difference in your individual and professional life."
Maybe this is what all those crazy Bridezillas need: Steve Gilliland's book, Enjoy the Ride. I loved this book and should read it again, to regain my balance, and to keep my cool as tomorrow I return to work after a week-long absence. It will stress me out when I see all the stuff awaiting me. But I must say that while I did not get a lot done while out, I did log in each day at least once to check my e-mail and did ccomplish the payroll and 401(k) upload and transfer for this week. One thing Joe did not have to do... if he had to do anything. And the first thing I do tomorrow is organise all that work awaiting me by priority, set down certain items for each day, and get it done. I suspect that as much as I want to go in on Saturday, that will only be a short trip in and I will do most work at home.
I think this weekend will be much like last for both of us - do nothing.
This article is so me. I do all of that. I overthink everything and worry over comments that I should not. It is crazy. I need to post this in my office somewhere, like on my monitor or on my desk that says something simple, like BE A MIND LEADER. Just that one phrase to not jump to stupid conclusions.
Be a Mind Leader!

Bridzillas - the World's Stupidest Women

I haven't seen a single "Groomzilla" so I would have to imagine that this is a form of insanity that is strictly for women. Men can't understand the big thing about weddings and quite honestly, neither can I. (My friend Daniela, who is very much like me in things like this, can't understand it, as well.)

Bridezillas are an industry-wide term among wedding planners to refer to women who turn into absolutely evil wretched monsters like Godzilla that have to have everything just right, get involved in every little bit of minutae, torture their fiances, friends and family (and sometimes the wedding planner) and ay far, far more money than I would even consider for a lifetime of parties, forget just one.

I always maintained that our wedding, should we ever decide to go that route, which seems unlikely, would have a guest list about 20 people long. One bridesmaid, one groomsman. A place to have dancing and a nice dinner. No religious stuff, a JP (justice of the peace) or the mayor of Parsippany to do the actual nuptials. That's is. Total expense: maybe $3,000 for the whole nine yards.

Bridezillas are the stupidest women n the world. No matter how normal they started out, the moment they were engaged she turned into the evil creature of doom and non-budgeting. One couple had a budget of $30,000 and the wedding ended up costing $57,000. Another couple had a $100,000 wedding. That is a great downpayment on a house! What is wrong with people?

The more lavish the wedding, the shorter the marriage, has been my direct experience. And that is the truth. We have been to a million weddings and the ones that were outrageously expensive have all long since ended. The ones where the couple (not just the bride) concentrated on their marriage and not the one-day party, have mostly withstood the test of time.

Tom and Alayna had a really nice wedding with (to me) way too many people, but carried it off for a really reasonable price. And while there was some stress involved, and there always is some, neither one was nuts and no one had fights, and it all went really well. They enjoyed themselves and had a great time along with the rest of us. And Tom was as much a part of the planning as Alayna, not an accessory to go along with the bride. That is the right way to do this.

One of the brides on this show said, "What little girl doesn't want to be a princess?" Another misguided creature stated, "This day is all about the bride, not the groom." I hate to tell you this, you incredible moron, but without the groom (or another bride in deferrence to same-sex couples), you can't get married! A marriage is union between two people (or maybe more, if that is allowed). Without that other person, you are still single.

There are a couple of women who very nearly ended up single and by rights, they should have been. One American African woman was so abusive that Luis and I were rooting for the groom to dump her. Before, during, whenever - just don't marry this woman! There are plenty of other so many better, normal women out there. And then there is that small group of us who are wholly indifferent to our nuptials or even having them! I happen to like that about myself. Then again, my mother was never one to fill my young head with stupid ideas like a wedding day is the most important day of a woman's life (isn't that some misguided thinking!) or all women do is marry and have children.

Amazing.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Tomorrow's Eclipse Not Looking Too Positive

It is supposed to get cloudy tomorrow around 1000, then snow from noonish to 2000. Around 2100 it should mostly cloudy.



Not good.



Tomorrow is the last total lunar eclispe until 2010. I realise that two years is not that long. But even so. I like to see them twice yearly and last year neither worked out well. This one has to count. But the eclipse begins at 2043, enters the umbral shadow at 2201, reaches totality at 2226, exits the umbral shadow at 2251 and the moon exits the penumbral shadow at 0009. I can manage to stay up through the first part and into totality and then it will be off to bed at 2230. I will be perfectly satisfied to see the moon turn that lovely red shade, get some images through the telescope and then be off.





I need that eclipse. Please think good thoughts about the sky clearing up earlier rather than later!

An Interesting Morning

I can finally return to work on Thursday. I hope I am more up to it.
I went to the doctor yesterday and I have the flu and a sinus infection. What a winning combination that is. I feel so drained of energy but totally full of mucus! And the cold is now moving into my chest, so I will soon be coughing a lot. It takes most people three weeks to shake the cough... which means it will take me the better part of six weeks to kill it off.
Luis gave me quite a scare this morning. We were both awake after midnight and Luis had been to the bathroom a hundred times (it seemed) in a short period of time. He kept going in there and I finally asked him if he wanted an Immodium (for diarrhea) - I figured something must be wrong. Well, something was wrong. He kept feeling a very urgent need to go to the bathroom. Around 0110 he said to me, "I need to go to the hospital: I now have pain." We got dressed and EMT took over and I drove a steady 80 MPH to Morristown Memorial Hospital. I dropped him off at Triage and parked.
Fortunately it was a quiet night at Mo'town and he was right in (Room eight - I said to the triage nurse, "Eight... eight... the fishbowl?" She laughed and asked how I knew that. I told her I'm always there dropping off patients, as an EMT and she appreciated that - we all know the nicknames of the rooms. The fishbowl is a room that holds four patients and is in the white zone (Red zone: severe trauma/cardiac; yellow zone: gastrointestinal issues, mild breathing; white zone: indeterminate issues; green zone: mild injuries, non-emergent patients and children). The whole front of the room in the white zone is glass, so we all call it the fishbowl.
Luis was in the cheesy gown and was off to the bathroom to go again. The doctor came to see me and I told him my findings, last meal eaten and when, the type, location and strength of pain. I said that he either has a kidney infection or more likely a kidney stone. The doctor looked at me with mild surprise and said, "Are you a doctor?" I laughed and told him that I'm an EMT but have dealt with too many people with gall and kidney stones. The pain is... distinctive, since I ask patients a lot of questions and try to get full descriptions of their problems.
Luis told me I should go home instead of staying there and not getting any sleep. He'd call me when he was released. I got in around 0220 and called Ray to tell him what was going on. I went to bed around 0245 and crashed. I guess after eight days of not getting any sleep (except for the rare ten or fifteen minutes here and there) because of all the congestion and having to sleep propped upright, my body couldn't take it. I slept and slept hard. So hard, in fact, that I did not hear the phone - all fifteen times that he called.
When I awoke at 0730 to the staccato sound of his snoring, I was shocked! I wondered for a split second if I'd dreamt the whole thing. I must have gasped or something and Luis told me he'd gotten a cab to bring him home. I couldn't believe it! I hadn't heard the phone ring at all.
He has a 5 millimeter kidney stone that migrated last night from his left kidney to his bladder. That is a medium sized stone and can certainly create a lot of pain. The fun thing (not really) about stones produced the human body is that they are not nice smooth pebbles. Instead, they are the accumulation of unprocessable things that we take in and become these horrible spiky, sharp-edged terrors that rip and shred the surface of the tube it is going through. Now, as bad as the journey through the tube connecting the kidney to the bladder was, the next leg is the worst. It will (should) travel through urea to the outside. That would be through his penis.... uh, can you say YOOOOWWWW!?
That is what Luis will be saying.
He went into work around 1000 and was home by 1700 - he'd forgotten to take his little sieve that he has to urinate through to work and held it in all day! The sieve is to catch the stone so that the doctor can see it. He came home and urinated a lot. A healthy sound, I admit. He was uncomfortable throughout the day, but took Motrin for it. He has percocet in case he needs it but thinks he is okay without it. His pain is a 1. I told him to save the percocet for when he needs it - when that sucker is ready to pass, he will need it. The pain is excruciating. He's only got the two the hospital and the script that he had filled today for 15. Better not to use them unless needed.
So I am still benched and Luis is being careful. Tomorrow I am going with him to Denville to his urologist. That will be interesting, I think. Time to learn more about kidneys and stones and other things.
I will admit that I was amused watching Luis get the "cough test". There is no bending over, but he definitely did something that made Luis suddenly cough with great force! I had to chuckle at that.
I napped today and I am mostly drinking more water than I thought I could ever manage and resting. By Thursday I hope to feel slightly more energetic.

Well. How's that for a fun day?

Monday, 18 February 2008

Lunar Eclipse Wednesday

You do not have to be an astronomy buff to appreciate the lunar eclipse coming up on Wednesday night, the last of its kind until 2010. Yet, if you are one to mind local folklore, legend has it that pregnant women should keep to their beds during eclipses.
It is warned that women with child should refrain from looking at eclipse or from moving at all. The "old wives" tale suggests that pregnant women should sit or lie still for the duration of the event, or risk the baby being born with a scar or defect. The Caribbean Institute of Astronomy (CARINA) has advised that the celestial spectacle will begin at 9.43 p.m., local time, when the moon is high in the sky.
A lunar eclipse occurs when the moon, in orbit around the Earth, passes into Earth's shadow. The shadow has two parts, because the sun is not a point of light-the inner, darker umbra and the outer, lighter penumbra.
If the whole moon enters the umbra, the eclipse is total. If the umbra hides only a part of the Moon, the eclipse is partial. Earth's shadow takes 78 minutes to envelop the moon. Totality (when the moon lies totally within the Earth's umbra) begins at 11.01 p.m.

The moon would not disappear, however. Some sunlight passing through Earth's atmosphere falls on the lunar surface. During totality, the moon's northern edge will appear darker than its southern side. This disparity occurs because the moon's northern limb will lie closer to the centre of the Earth's shadow.

Totality lasts 51 minutes. During the first half, the sky becomes progressively darker, the background stars of Leo the Lion will appear. The constellation's brightest star, Regulus, appears three degrees (six moon-widths) above the moon. After totality, it takes the moon another 78 minutes to leave Earth's umbra.

Sunday, 17 February 2008

Eclipse to Darken Wednesday's Moon

The Riparian Preserve's observatory will be open Wednesday night for a lunar eclipse. The viewing will be from 6 to 9 p.m. at the preserve, at Greenfield and Guadalupe roads, with the best viewing time between 8 and 9 p.m.

"The moon turns to blood in a sense," said Claude Haynes, president of the East Valley Astronomy Club, who will be present at the viewing, along with other club members. "The sunlight angles through the earth's atmosphere causing a reddish-orange color to form. It's almost like a sunset."

The moon will be full, Saturn will be closer to the moon, and the Earth will cast shadows on the moon, and there will be less conflicting or reflected light, causing it to be darker, Haynes said. The lunar eclipse should be viewable in the Western United States, Haynes said. "Anyplace you happen to be, you can see it where you are, that part is rare," Haynes said. "Next year, it could only be viewable in the summer in China. "The next lunar eclipse for the western United States will be in 2010.

"It's an interesting thing to see," Haynes said. "It's unusual, even for a young child. They will see a curved shadow, proving that the earth is round. It could be a very educational experience for children and a great way to teach them about the stars and the heavens." Attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs, and there is a $3 suggested donation for attendees. Telescopes will be set up outside for public viewing, in addition to the main telescope in the observatory. "It's a really good one," said Scott Anderson, Director for the Riparian Institute about the eclipse. "This one will be complete and pretty noticeable."

Anderson expects there will be a good turnout. "A lot of people will show up out of curiosity." he said.

Friday, 15 February 2008

The Best of Friends

Some friendships have the most unusual dynamics and they work so well.

Yes, I really do love the show Boston Legal. In it, there are two characters: Denny Crane, an older, very experienced nutter who must always be in the limelight, has an ego the size of Texas, is so conservative it is painful and falls back on Mad Cow disease (instead of Alzheimers) to explain hideous lapses in judgment. He is well-played by William Shatner.

And then there is Alan Shore: a younger, cocky, very liberal, fight-for-the-underdog kind of guy who has the sexual morals of an alley cat but very strong morals for right and wrong: he will happily torpedo his own case if he cannot get on board with what it fights. He cannot commit to a single relationship but will do anything for Denny Crane.

These two men have the most unique and unusual friendship. Denny is a total homophobe but there is a dance scene in the second season episode Helping Hands. Denny has on a fast-paced salsa song and Alan stops in to talk to him. While talking, they are dancing beautifully to this song. The dynamics are amazing. The whole friendship is. If you have an opportunity, watch the show, if only for that.

It's worth it.

A.W.A.D. - Words Related to Medicine

The human body has been described as the most complex machine around. No wonder Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, said, "The life so short, the craft so long to learn." This complex machine has an equally bewildering number of terms to describe its various conditions, symptoms, cures, effects, and side-effects. This week we review five of them.

sequela
(si-KWEL-uh) noun,
plural sequelae (si-KWEL-ee)
A pathological condition resulting from a previous disease or injury.

[From Latin sequela (sequel).]

nosology
(no-SOL-uh-jee) noun
1. The branch of medical science that deals with classification of diseases.
2. A systematic classification or list of diseases.

[From New Latin nosologia, from Greek nosos (disease) + -logy (study).]

idiopathy
(id-ee-OP-uh-thee) noun
A disease of unknown origin or one having no apparent cause.

[From New Latin idiopathia (primary disease), from Greek idiopatheia, from idios (one's own, personal) + -pathy (feeling, suffering).]

sternutation
(stur-nyuh-TAY-shuhn) noun
The act of sneezing or a sneeze.

[From Latin sternuere (to sneeze).]

nosocomial
(nos-uh-KO-mee-uhl) adjective
Originating or acquired in hospital. Used to refer to infections.

[From Latin nosocomium (hospital), from Greek nosokomeion (one who tends the sick).]

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Sicker Than Imaginable/Old Soldiers

Yuck.

I'm home, laid low with the flu. Good to see that $30 copay I spent on getting the flu shot was SO worth it. Ive got the whole nine yards - more mucus than can be believed, a raging headache, sore throat and a burning fever. And just for fun, I had to go to Newark with a coworker for a hearing.

I had been fighting some heinous bug for the last week, but I guess whatever contagion Luis picked up wasn't going to give up so easily, so here I am... NOT at work. I miss it but on the other hand I'm too tired to care.

The hearing went well, especially since the idiot in question did not show up for his part of it. I find that amusing - all the time. Danny and I had a good time, and we had enough conversation going that I was quite distracted and wasn't constantly thinking about the agonising time I was having... getting comfortable in those chairs designed by Torquemada was not fun!

I'm home now, I got in around 1130. I stopped and picked up a slice of pizza on my way home. I'm having tea now and hope to fall asleep shortly. That was the hardest part of this. I had to be up early to finish the payroll process (just dealing with the checks) when I've had maybe at most three hours of sleep. Danny drove in, thank the gods!

I'm watching the end of yet another M*A*S*H episode, and this one, Old Soldiers, is a special one. It has to do with one of Colonel Potter's old buddies from WWI dying, and he is the last survivor of the group of them that made it through that war. They had been hiding out in an old abandonded chateau when they came across an old case of brandy. When they got to the last bottle, they made a tontine that whoever survived to be the last of the group would get the bottle and drink a toast to them.

He got the bottle.

And he explained how he got the bottle and then said, "I have been sick the last couple of days... feeling sorry for myself, knowing that I'm getting up in years... But I'm looking at things a little differently now. I've been very lucky man. I've had some wondrous joyous times, that's what counts.

"But, as much as my old friends meant to me, I think you new friends mean even more. So... I'd like you to share this bottle with me."

They pour the drinks, and he continues: "Just one thing: I'd like to make the first toast solo to my old buddies." He raises his glass. "Here's to you, boys: to Ryan, who died in WWI, the war to end all wars; to Gianei, who died in the war after that; to Stein, the joker of the crowd; and to Grusky, my best friend, who just passed away in Tokyo. You were the friends of my youth, my comrades through thick and thin, and everything in between. I drink to your memories. I loved you fellas, one and all.

"OK, that's the old, now for the new: to love and friendship."

Oh, my gods. I don't know how many times I have seen this and it still makes my eyes tear. Of course, today, it might be illness!

Sunday, 10 February 2008

HUMOR FOR LEXOPHILES

(LOVERS OF WORDS)

I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger. Then it hit me.

Police were called to a day care where a three-year-old was resisting a rest.

Did you hear about the guy whose whole left side was cut off? He's all right now.

The roundest knight at King Arthur's round table was Sir Cumference.

The butcher backed up into the meat grinder and got a little behind in his work.

To write with a broken pencil is pointless.

When fish are in schools they sometimes take debate.

The short fortune teller who escaped from prison was a small medium at large.

A thief who stole a calendar got twelve months.

A thief fell and broke his leg in wet cement. He became a hardened criminal.

Thieves who steal corn from a garden could be charged with stalking.

We'll never run out of math teachers because they always multiply.

When the smog lifts in Los Angeles, U.C.L.A.

The math professor went crazy with the blackboard. He did a number on it.

The professor discovered that her theory of earthquakes was on shaky ground.

The dead batteries were given out free of charge.

If you take a laptop computer for a run you could jog your memory.

A dentist and a manicurist fought tooth and nail.

A bicycle can't stand alone; it is two tired.

A will is a dead giveaway.

Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.

A backward poet writes inverse.

In a democracy it's your vote that counts; in feudalism, it's your Count that votes.

A chicken crossing the road: poultry in motion.

If you don't pay your exorcist you can get repossessed.

With her marriage, she got a new name and a dress.

Show me a piano falling down a mine shaft and I'll show you A-flat miner.

When a clock is hungry it goes back four seconds.

The guy who fell onto an upholstery machine was fully recovered.

A grenade fell onto a kitchen floor in France, resulted in Linoleum Blownapart.

You are stuck with your debt if you can't budge it.

Local Area Network in Australia: The LAN down under.

He broke into song because he couldn't find the key.

A calendar's days are numbered.

A lot of money is tainted: 'Taint yours, and 'taint mine.

A boiled egg is hard to beat.

He had a photographic memory which was never developed.

A plateau is a high form of flattery.

Those who get too big for their britches will be exposed in the end.

When you've seen one shopping center you've seen a mall.

If you jump off a Paris bridge, you are in Seine.

When she saw her first strands of gray hair, she thought she'd dye.

Bakers trade bread recipes on a knead -to-know basis.

Santa's helpers are subordinate clauses.

Acupuncture: a jab well done.

Vagarities of the English Language

For those who love the philosophy of ambiguity.... ( as well as the idiosyncrasies of English)

1. Don't sweat the petty things and don't pet the sweaty things.

2. One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor.....

3. Atheism is a non-prophet organization.

4. If man evolved from monkeys and apes, why do we still have monkeys and apes?

5. The main reason that Santa is so jolly is because he knows where all the bad girls live.

6. I went to a bookstore and asked the saleswoman, 'where's the self-help section?' She said if she told me, it would defeat the purpose.

7. What if there were no hypothetical questions?

8. If a deaf person signs swear words, does his mother wash his hands with soap?

9. If someone with multiple personalities threatens to kill himself, is it considered a hostage situation?

10. Is there another word for synonym?

11. Where do forest rangers go to 'get away from it all?'

12. What do you do when you see an endangered animal eating an endangered plant?

13. If a parsley farmer is sued, can they garnish his wages?

14. Would a fly without wings be called a walk?

15 Why do they lock gas station bathrooms? Are they afraid someone will clean them?

16. If a turtle doesn't have a shell, is he homeless or naked?

17. Can vegetarians eat animal crackers?

18. If the police arrest a mime, do they tell him he has the right to remain silent?

19. Why do they put Braille on the drive-through bank machines?

20. How do they get deer to cross the road only at those yellow road signs?

21. What was the best thing before sliced bread?

22. One nice thing about egotists: they don't talk about other people.

23. Does the little mermaid wear an algebra?

24. Do infants enjoy infancy as much as adults enjoy adultery?

25. How is it possible to have a civil war?

26. If one synchronized swimmer drowns, do the rest drown too?

27. If you ate both pasta and antipasto, would you still be hungry?

28. If you try to fail, and succeed, which have you done?

29. Whose cruel idea was it for the word 'lisp' to have 's' in it?

30. Why are hemorrhoids called 'hemorrhoids' instead of 'assteroids'?

31. Why is it called tourist season if we can't shoot at them?

32. Why is there an expiration date on sour cream?

33. If you spin an oriental person in a circle three times do they become disoriented?

34. Can an atheist get insurance against Acts of God?

How a Lunar Eclipse Saved Columbus

On the night of Feb. 20, the full moon will pass into Earth's shadow in an event that will be visible across all of the United States and Canada.

The total lunar eclipse will be made even more striking by the presence of the nearby planet Saturn and the bright bluish star, Regulus.

Eclipses in the distant past often terrified viewers who took them as evil omens. Certain lunar eclipses had an overwhelming effect on historic events. One of the most famous examples is the trick pulled by Christopher Columbus.

Shipwrecked
On Oct. 12, 1492, as every schoolchild has been taught, Columbus came ashore on an island northeast of Cuba. He later named it San Salvador (Holy Savior). Over the next ten years Columbus would make three more voyages to the "New World," which only bolstered his belief that he reached the Far East by sailing West.

It was on his fourth and final voyage, while exploring the coast of Central America that Columbus found himself in dire straits. He left C�diz, Spain on May 11, 1502, with the ships Capitana, Gallega, Vizca�na and Santiago de Palos. Unfortunately, thanks to an epidemic of shipworms eating holes in the planking of his fleet, Columbus' was forced to abandon two of his ships and finally had to beach his last two caravels on the north coast of Jamaica on June 25, 1503.

Initially, the Jamaican natives welcomed the castaways, providing them with food and shelter, but as the days dragged into weeks, tensions mounted. Finally, after being stranded for more than six months, half of Columbus' crew mutinied, robbing and murdering some of the natives, who, themselves grew weary of supplying cassava, corn and fish in exchange for little tin whistles, trinkets, hawk's bells and other rubbishy goods.
With famine now threatening, Columbus formulated a desperate, albeit ingenious plan.

Almanac to the rescue
Coming to the Admiral's rescue was Johannes Muller von Konigsberg (1436-1476), known by his Latin pseudonym Regiomontanus. He was an important German mathematician, astronomer and astrologer.

Before his death, Regiomontanus published an almanac containing astronomical tables covering the years 1475-1506. Regiomontanus' almanac turned out to be of great value, for his astronomical tables provided detailed information about the sun, moon and planets, as well as the more important stars and constellations by which to navigate. After it was published, no sailor dared set out without a copy. With its help, explorers were able to leave their customary routes and venture out into the unknown seas in search of new frontiers.
Columbus, of course, had a copy of the Almanac with him when he was stranded on Jamaica. And he soon discovered from studying its tables that on the evening of Thursday, Feb. 29, 1504, a total eclipse of the moon would take place soon after the time of moonrise.

Armed with this knowledge, three days before the eclipse, Columbus asked for a meeting with the natives Cacique ("chief") and announced to him that his Christian god was angry with his people for no longer supplying Columbus and his men with food. Therefore, he was about to provide a clear sign of his displeasure: Three nights hence, he would all but obliterate the rising full moon, making it appear "inflamed with wrath," which would signify the evils that would soon be inflicted upon all of them.

Bad moon rising
On the appointed evening, as the Sun set in the West and the moon started emerging from beyond the eastern horizon, it was plainly obvious to all that something was terribly wrong. By the time the moon appeared in full view, its lower edge was missing!

And, just over an hour later, as full darkness descended, the moon indeed exhibited an eerily inflamed and "bloody" appearance: In place of the normally brilliant late winter full moon there now hung a dim red ball in the eastern sky.
According to Columbus' son, Ferdinand, the natives were terrified at this sight and ". . . with great howling and lamentation came running from every direction to the ships laden with provisions, praying to the Admiral to intercede with his god on their behalf." They promised that they would gladly cooperate with Columbus and his men if only he would restore the moon back to its normal self. The great explorer told the natives that he would have to retire to confer privately with his god. He then shut himself in his cabin for about fifty minutes.

"His god" was a sandglass that Columbus turned every half hour to time the various stages of the eclipse, based on the calculations provided by Regiomontanus' almanac.

Just moments before the end of the total phase Columbus reappeared, announcing to the natives that his god had pardoned them and would now allow the moon to gradually return. And at that moment, true to Columbus' word, the moon slowly began to reappear and as it emerged from the Earth's shadow, the grateful natives hurried away. They then kept Columbus and his men well supplied and well fed until a relief caravel from Hispaniola finally arrived on June 29, 1504. Columbus and his men returned to Spain on Nov. 7.
Another side to the story
In an interesting postscript to this story, in 1889, Mark Twain, likely influenced by the eclipse trick, wrote the novel, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. In it, his main character, Hank Morgan, used a gambit similar to Columbus'.

Morgan is about to be burned at the stake, so he "predicts" a solar eclipse he knows will occur, and in the process, claimed power over the sun. He gladly offers to return the sun to the sky in return for his freedom and a position as "perpetual minister and executive" to the king.

The only problem with this story is that on the date that Mark Twain quoted — June 21, 528 A.D. — no such eclipse took place. In fact, the moon was three days past full, a setup that can't generate an eclipse.

Perhaps he should have consulted an almanac!

Coming Feb. 20: Total Eclipse of the Moon
Sky Calendar & Moon Phases
Lunar Eclipse Galleries

Friday, 8 February 2008

Partial Solar Eclipse

Travelling half way around the world in the hope of seeing a solar eclipse is nothing new for Jay Pasachoff, who managed to get a perfect view of the phenomenon from Nelson on Thursday. Mr Pasachoff, a professor of astronomy at Williams College in Massachusetts, travelled to New Zealand to view and photograph Thursday's partial eclipse, where the moon passed between Earth and sun.

It was the 46th solar eclipse he had seen, in a quest that has taken him around the world to places including Papua New Guinea, Antarctica, and now New Zealand.

While full lunar eclipses could be studied for scientific purposes, including getting a closer look at the sun's 1,000,000degC outer surface, partial eclipses - such as Thursday's - offered little scientific value, he said. But it did have value as it offered practice for documenting full lunar eclipses, as well as getting people interested in astronomy.

He said it was amazing that he could sit at his desk in the United States and figure out that being in Nelson, New Zealand between 4.34pm and 6.44pm Thursday would offer him the best view of the eclipse. Nelson was chosen for its clear weather at this time of the year, he said. This was despite the fact that only 62 percent of the sun was shaded for New Zealand viewers, with that peak happening at exactly 5.42pm. In Antarctica, the eclipse got to 96 percent.

A French climber was to scale a peak on the continent in the hope of seeing the "annular eclipse" - when the sun and moon are exactly in line - but Professor Pasachoff had not yet heard if it had been successful.

The next full solar eclipse near New Zealand would be visible from northern Australia on March 9, 2016. That eclipse will also be seen off the top of the North Island, although the sun will only be obscured by about 90 percent.

Ten Signs a Book Has Been Written By Me:

This is kind of a strange thing... I've never put together something quite like this!

1. It starts out normal but continues on and on. I'm thinking it will be a trilogy comprised of five books (think David Eddings)

2. The title has to be something witty, like Lumps in the Sugar

3. The mian character is me, but will have a different name and not only by intelligent but not so ADD and physically stunning; dark hair, hybrid but deep eyes, a face that can support tons of thick curly hair like Julia Roberts' in Pretty Woman, and a killer body!

4. The pages are uneven parchment with old style font numbers

5. The font has to be Garamond. Or maybe Old Bookman

6. It will come out on tape with the voice of James Earl Jones or maybe the guy on Boston Legal who plays - oh, yes, James Spader

7. The cover jacket will have the stunning me in a Renassaince Festival outfit

8. The extreme religious right will burn it, but that's okay, it will be the number one best seller so they can't buy 'em all! Anyone too stupid will want to kill me and I will have to live in Ireland in secrecy to avoid the insulted parties trying to kill me - but I won't have to pay taxes and I will get to hang out with Bono

9. When it's made into a high-budget movie, Janeane Garafolo will play the role of my written persona; The title song will be Spring by Rammstein - oh, and will have to be a ten hour epic four part or more film because of all the music that has to be in it to satisfy me!

10. My husband will be played by Antonio Banderas (yowza)

Wikipedia - Golden Plates

Oh, the irony. I should probably call this is post "The Bizarre World of Mormonism Part III"... When I rebooted my computer at work this article came up on Wikipedia:

"The golden plates, also called the gold plates or the golden bible (an antiquated reference), are described as a set of engraved plates, bound into a book, that Joseph Smith, Jr. said was his source material for the Book of Mormon, a scripture of the Latter Day Saint movement. Smith, the founder of that movement, said he obtained the plates on September 22, 1827 on Cumorah hill in Manchester, New York, where they were hidden in a buried box and protected by an angel named Moroni. After dictating a translation and obtaining signed statements by eleven other witnesses, he said he returned the plates to the angel in 1829.

According to the Book of Mormon, the golden plates were engraved by a pre-Columbian prophet-historian, from an early American civilization, named Mormon and his son Moroni (who after death protected the buried plates as the angel Moroni) in about the year 400 AD. These men said they had abridged earlier historical records from other sets of metal plates in a language they called "reformed Egyptian". Part of the plates were said to have been sealed, and thus could not be translated. The golden plates are the most significant of a number of metallic plates important to Latter Day Saint history and theology.

As a youth Joseph Smith, Jr. lived on his parents' farm near Palmyra, New York, a place and time noted for its participation in the Second Great Awakening and a "craze for treasure hunting". Beginning in the early 1820s he was paid to act as a "seer", to use seer stones in (mostly unsuccessful) attempts to locate lost items and buried treasure. Some contemporaries state that he would put the stone in a white stovepipe hat, put his face over the hat to block the light, and then "see" the information in the reflections of the stone. Some say that his favored stone, chocolate-colored and about the size of an egg, was found in a deep well he helped dig for one of his neighbors."

Tell me that isn't nuts - and funny timing!

A.W.A.D. - Words Related to Sleep

Sleep has been called temporary death, but there's so much that goes on during that time of repose. While visiting that other world one might walk, talk, grind teeth, and sometimes dream. Your brain is more active while you're asleep than when watching television.

And that's even when you don't walk or talk in sleep. No wonder our language is rife in sleep-related idioms. You can sleep in, on, out, around, with, and over. You can lose sleep over things. You can go without food for a while but you can't cheat on sleep. It demands its dues. According to a report, you would be 25% less alert on just an hour's loss of sleep.

This week's five words are all about sleep.

somniloquy
(som-NIL-uh-kwee) noun
The act or habit of talking while asleep.

[From Latin somni- (sleep) + loqui (to speak).]

diurnation
(dy-uhr-NAY-shuhn) noun
The habit of sleeping or being dormant during the day.

[From Latin diurnus (daily), from dies (day).]

soporose
(SOP-uh-ros) adjective
Sleepy; in an unusually deep sleep.

[From Latin sopor (a deep sleep). Ultimately from the Indo-European root swep-(to sleep) that is also the source of insomnia, hypnosis, and somnambulate (to walk in sleep).]

hypnopompic
(hip-no-POM-pik) adjective
Pertaining to the semiconscious state before waking.

[From Greek hypnos (sleep) + pompe (sending away).]

lychnobite
(LIK-nuh-byt) noun
One who works at night and sleeps during the day.

[From Greek lychnos (lamp) + bios (life).]

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Klinger's the Best!

In M*A*S*H, Maxwell Q. Klinger is always smiling and ready with a quip or joke. I love people who are happy and real (not that false paint every cheery even when you really can't). He's great.

I'm watching the episode The Birthday Girls, where a wounded cow is immenently giving birth to a calf and Margaret Houlihan's upcoming birthday is supposed to be celebrated in Tokyo. Klinger started to drive her to Kimpo to catch her flight, but the roads were out and the jeep keeled over and they were stuxk out in the wild. At one point, Klinger left her a bran muffin with a burning match to celebrate her birthday...

She came over to where he was sitting behind the jeep and said, "I have half a bran muffin going cheap."

He responded, "I have a half a flask of cheap Scotch going fast."

Gotta love that.

He's always smiling, and I usually am, too. And I'm lucky in some ways, I'm fairly easily distracted by other things. People smile at me and I smile back - usually genuinely. Others can always see when I'm upset and some have noticed that I've been upset for a while - I'll get through it.

I know another person at work who is in a funk, and I like talking to him more now - I think we understand each other even more than usual now. Two people in a funk.

Oh, and how is this to test one's patience? Luis is sick - again - the third time this year! It is only early February - not that far into the year. This is a guy who rarely gets sick in five years, so five weeks is saying something!

What a week... what a year.

Scientists Explain Big Vapor Plume on Saturn Moon

LONDON (Reuters) - Scientists on Wednesday said they have an explanation how one of Saturn's moons can spew out a giant plume of water vapor, adding to evidence a source of life -- water -- lies beneath the moon's frozen surface.


Using a computer model, German researchers showed the temperature at the bottom of surface cracks on Enceladus has to be about 0 degrees Celsius, the so-called triple point of water where vapor, ice and liquid water all can coexist.

"This makes this moon very interesting for further study because there is a connection between liquid water and life," Sascha Kempf, a physicist at the Max Planck Institut in Heidelberg, said in a telephone interview. "This is the kind of thing planetary scientists hope for."
The scientists published their findings in the journal Nature.

Mars, Jupiter's moon Europa and Enceladus are the only places in the solar system with direct evidence of water. Finding organisms different from those on Earth may provide scientists with answers to questions ranging from where diseases come from to how our sun and planets formed more than 4.5 billion years ago.
Scientists have taken an especially close look at Enceladus because it seems to have a smooth surface -- suggesting recent geological activity that, in turn, could mean liquid water.
They are also intrigued by the plume itself, a gigantic geyser of water vapor and tiny ice particles. One mystery was how the dust particles slowed down to keep the plume restrained by the gravity of the moon, said Kempf, who worked on the study.
Their model showed most of the dust particles collide with the walls of the surface crack as they are ejected and constrain the gas flow to keep the plume close to the surface rather than shooting into the atmosphere, Kempf said.
The team used images of the plume and properties of the escaping gas and dust particles to run their model. They found it only reproduced the plume when the temperature was at zero degrees at the bottom of the cracks, implying water exists there in liquid form.
"The density of the gas jet inside the cracks is so high that the small dust particles should have the same speeds to escape from the gravity of the moon," he said. "If this was true you wouldn't see plumes. You would see a long jets expanding into the system."
Saturn has at least 47 moons and at least seven rings. The joint U.S.-European Space Agency Cassini mission, launched in 1997, is spending four years examining Saturn. Cassini is scheduled to fly 50 kilometers (31 miles) over the moon's surface in March, which will provide more information on the precise chemical composition of the particles and water vapor as scientists try to better understand the plume, Kempf said.

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Wife Swap - Where Do They FIND Them?!

This show started out well, last season or whenever it began. Now, it's gone waaaaay downhill, but with the writers' strike, beggars can't be choosers - anymore. We keep hoping this will end, but it seems the writers can hold out longer than we the viewers can.

This week's families:

The overwieght mid-Western woman with an absolutely useless husband who is into truck-pulling. Good gods. Every time I think they've hit a new low in hayseed digging (this guy is a mental midget), they find someone dumber and more self-absorbed than the last one. The woman does everything and Mr. Useless has ripped apart the kitchen and bathroom and did not do anything to put them back together. Seven years that kitchen has been under construction.

This guy started things off by saying, "In this family, we believe in finishing everything we've started." LYING sack of--- well, you so get the idea.

The other family is a little odd, but not as dysfunctional. The mother, Cory (maybe it is Corrie), is useless - she is all about the way she looks. It takes her ninety minutes to get made up. Shit, I'm in and out of the shower, dressed and ready to go in less than an hour. That is the whole thing, from getting up, showering, doing my hair, getting dressed, packing up for work - this is the whole nine yards!

This woman does nothing around the house - she doesn't like dirt and doesn't want to ruin her nails. Her nails. Wow. GET OVER YOURSELF! The daughter, Tuesday, who is 15, is fast heading down the road for early motherhood, and is totally useless. It's amazing.

This show needs help in a big way.

Wisecracks Benefit Workplace

I loved this so much I gave it to all the managers:

"Study finds occasional jokes enhance creativity, cohesiveness, performance

Kidding around at work is commonly thought of as perilous, as the hit sitcom "The Office" often explores to wincing extremes.

Now intense research finds light humor at work is a good thing.

In their study, "The Case for Developing New Research on Humor and Culture in Organizations: Toward a Higher Grade of Manure," researchers analyzed theories on humor, emotion and mood from several hundred studies in the fields of psychology, sociology, anthropology, philosophy and communications.

"There's an Ernest Hemingway quote we relied on for our title — 'It always seemed to me that in those who make jokes in life the seeds are covered with better soil and with a higher grade of manure,'" said researcher Chris Robert, a psychologist at the University of Missouri at Columbia. "The double entendre there is that people who use humor may be, well, full of it, but there's a positive side as well."

The researchers make the case that humor is serious business.

"It's not just clowning around and having fun. It has meaningful impact on cohesiveness in the workplace and communication quality among workers," Robert said. "The ability to appreciate humor, the ability to laugh and make other people laugh actually has physiological effects on the body that cause people to become more bonded."

Job jokesThe researchers noted many studies found that humor — particularly joking around concerning things associated with the job — actually has a positive impact in the workplace. Occasional humor among colleagues enhances creativity, department cohesiveness and overall performance, they said.

The investigators also outlined the current thinking concerning the psychological foundation of humor and developed specific predictions about how humor might affect organizations. Robert and colleague Wan Yan noted that humor is difficult across cultures, such as between the United States and Asian economic powerhouses China and India.

In such cross-cultural situations, which arise commonly in multinational organizations, "it's hard to know what's going to be funny or when to use humor," Robert said. "Some people have suggested that you just avoid it all together — don't be funny, don't try to make jokes. We basically reject that."

Cross-culture how-toTo carry jokes across cultures, Robert suggested finding common ground. "The most accepted theory of humor is incongruity theory — that people find things funny when you take two things and you connect them in an unexpected way," he said. "Humor doesn't work when you don't share expectations."

If you do use humor across cultures and in the workplace, "often the very work you're doing provides common expectations you can build on — customers, clients, coworkers, yourself, suppliers, the building you're working in," Robert said. "Or there are general human experiences, like funny things kids say, that almost anyone can share. Where people get into trouble is stepping on expectations, such as with religion, ethnicity or other values." Of course, attempts at humor can go too far.

"The show 'The Office' regularly explores extreme cases of something that obviously happens in everyday life — you have people who try too hard," Robert said. "You shouldn't blame the messenger there, the humor, though — you should blame the person."

Sexist humor, while perhaps meant in good fun, can also promote discrimination against women, separate research recently showed.

Robert and Yan published their findings as a chapter in the 2007 edition of "Research in Personnel and Human Resources Management" (Elsevier)."

Starman

I'm sitting here watching Starman, the part where she is explaining to the starman about love and how her husband is dead. How do you explain that to someone from another planet? Actually, how cool would be to have to explain anything to an alien?! I would love to meet someone from another world. That would be amazing.

I think I would be a great first contact emmisary. How hard could it be? Well, I meet people all the time and I do it with a smile and make them feel at home. The things I could do to promote us as not being savages! Of course, once any alien saw our television viewing habits they'd be outta here like a shot. I know I feel that way when I see what most people watch!

This movie is one of the best, though. When he brought that deer back to life, I cried. Joyous crying, but still! I get the hunting thing, but I wouldn't and couldn't do it. I have no idea if I could do it for survival. I really don't know what I might do for survival but I hope never to find out.

My coworker likes to put me in hideous situations to make me say that I might do something hideous to survive. I hate that. I can come home and get that kind of abuse (Luis likes to do that, too). Thinking about this makes me think of a friend of ours, David DeGil. Some old amazing history there... I met Dave at the New York Renaissance Festival a million years ago - when I was 18 or 19. He's a little old than Luis, I think, so he'd be 42 now. Maybe more, but I don't think so. He worked at the NYRF as a drink hawker, and I liked him right away - good looking and funny. We were friendly, although it never was more than that, and then at some point he moved out of Flanders and to West Caldwell with some friends (Tom, Drew and Luis) and I would call him there.

Dave would constantly be busy, so he'd put me on the phone with his friend, Luis. Luis and I became friends that way, and then when my 21st birthday came up, some friends of mine threw a party for me and a mutual friend and Luis went with me. He gave me the first gift I ever got from him - the first three books from the Incarnations of Immortality series by Piers Anthony: On a Pale Horse, Bearing an Hourglass and With a Tangled Skein.

The books were everything and more that he'd said, so I got the other two, Weilding a Red Sword and Being a Green Mother. Piers Anthony couldn't help himself and finished the series with For Love of Evil and And Eternity. The last one wasn't so good, but I loved For Love of Evil - about Satan. The books are all about the offices held by the Incarnations: Death (Thanatos), Time (Chronos), Fate (Clotho, Lachesis & Atropos), War (Mars or Aries), Nature (Gaea), Evil (Satan) and good (God). Satan and God are the eternals, but even they are offices held by mortals.

All of the offices are gained in different ways. Thanatos has to kill his predecessor, Chronos picks up the hourglass and lives backwards, Fate recruits people, Mars retires when there are no conflicts and the red sword goes to the most angry person on earth, and Gaea is chosen by her predecessor. Satan has to banish his predecessor to Hell and I'm not sure how God is normally chosen, but in this book, he is voted out by the Incarnations and the Senate, and the Incarnations vote in a new one. (Apparently God's apathy and non-involvement stemmed from his being a world-class narcissist. Doesn't sound wrong, does it?)

Luis is home and I started Starman over. I don't mind - always nice to share great movies!

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

An Evening of JoCo

I love this man's music. Well, he looks like a kid with excess hair. Luis would look like without the facial hair (although the baldness has enough aging qualities by itself...)

Jonathan Coulton, baby, the guy who wrote The Presidents (see last night's last posting). He's wonderful. Writes the most amazing songs. Right this moment, I'm listening to Soft Rocked By Me, a love song but still with that witty sense of humour that I have to adore... Intelligent humour is so hard to find. But almost all of his songs have funny lyrics. Some of my favourites are up : Code Monkey, Chiron Beta Prime, etc. There's one called W's Duty, which he doesn't sing - it is just clips of George W. Bush's voice saying, "Duty, duty, duty, do your duty." There are plenty more lines in there, but they all have the word "duty" in there... a particular favourite of this moron's.

I get to badmouth the President. I live in the free country of the United States and I voted - therefore I get to gripe about the present (and really any other) incumbent. I must say, I have a conundrum... I hate all of the new candidates... which reminds, what the heck is a Ron Paul? I've passed signs for this guy on the way into and home from work, as well as something on North Beverwyck, reading, "Google Ron Paul". Someone has WAY too much free time on their hands...

I have too much cynicism. These guys (and now gals) are all lying people who will say anything to get into office (I cannot why - HR can be a thankless job but that is ALWAYS a thankless job - someone somewhere will undoubtedly be unhappy with what you've just done!

Lately I'm making people a lot happier, but if I did this all the time and someone was always mad at me, I'd have to move on to something far more satisfying. Really. I felt that way at USI and I moved on. Glad of it, too. Who'd thought I'd be where I am now!

Now I'm listening to SkyMall. More funny stuff.

I actually have to run across the street to the squadhouse to put away the last of the meeting notes! Then I am done with that.

To show that turning 40 has its deleterious effects, how about this: last night was our monthly meeting and I TOTALLY forgot! Completely! I didn't remember until tonight, about an hour ago! How bad is that?!

Monday, 4 February 2008

The Presidents

One of the best songs by JoCo:

Washington came first and he was perfect
John Adams kept us out of war with France
Jefferson made the Louisana Purchase
In 1812 James Madison kicked the British in the pants

James Monroe told Europe they could [suck it]
John Quincy Adams looked just like his dad
Andrew Jackson got rid of all the Indians
Van Buren served one term but he wasn't bad

William Henry Harrison died early
John Tyler annexed Texas from Mexico
James K. Polk fought Mexico to keep it
Taylor was a Mexican war hero

Philmore gave a boat to Commodore Perry
Pierce repealed the Missouri Compromise
Buchanan saw the Civil War beginning
Lincoln saved the Union and then he died

Andrew Johnson just survived impeachment
General Grant enjoyed a drink or two
Rutherford B. Hayes ended reconstruction
Garfield was assassinated in 1882

Arthur suspended Chinese immigration
Cleveland made the railroad people squirm
Harrison signed the Sherman Anti-Trust Act
Grover Cleveland served another term

McKinley kicked the Spanish out of Cuba
Roosevelt was real handy with a gun
Taft was big and fat and had a moustache
Wilson kicked some ass in World War I

Harding said, 'Let's laissez-faire with business
Coolidge made the roaring twenties roar!
Hoover screwed the pooch in the great deression
Roosevelt beat the Nazis in the war

Truman dropped the bomb on Hiroshima
Eisenhower kept the Commies well in hand
Kennedy was killed by a magik bullet
Johnson murdered kids in Vietnem

Nixon was a sweaty, filthy liar
Ford gave Nixon pardon for his crimes
Gerald lusted in his heart for peanuts
Reagan won the cold war but lost his mind

Gerge Bush Sr poked at Saddam Hussein
Clinton gave an intern a cigar
Ws legacy is a work in progress
That is all the presidents so far

Year 2005 we're out of money
Somewhere, surely freedom's on the march
I don't like to make political statements..

A Follow Up to the Bizarre World of Mormonism

A friend sent me this:

"Hi Aislinge,
I was going to put this in the comment box on your blog and then thought I better not because if your new eBay friend reads it, she might be insulted.
Altho you might too.... but here it is anyway.
--------------------------------------------------------------------

I must be reading this wrong as my first thought was... wrestling... how strange a sport. Let's see, there was the Undertaker, Hulk Hogan, Papa Shango, the Boogeyman, etc. etc. and while I've never liked the sport even in the least, 2 seconds of it on t.v. and you've got to laugh. Maybe the version kids do in high school doesn't lead into a liking of the t.v. variety or vice versa but it's still at the very least about power and control over another human being and the comment 'our child kicked some serious Mormon ass' to me seems just as problematic as how some feel the Mormon lifestyle is. While I don't know much about Mormonism and would probably not find it something I would care to ever practice, to each his own. What makes one person or their beliefs that much better than anothers?If there's a predominantly large number of them in a certain area, then don't move there if you don't like their general lifestyle or beliefs. While the only Mormons I guess I know, and certainly not personally, are the Osmonds. They always seemed quite a loving, kind, hardworking family. But I can appreciate them for what they've contributed to the world and to enjoy them as entertainers without actually ever having to believe anything at all about their religion. Same with groups like the Amish. They are controversial in many ways but have contributed fine goods to the communities from their farms and handiworks, etc.
--------------------------------
That's all I had gotten to when I thought I will just send it to you in email. I already have a sort of political debate going with a couple people so I don't have the brainpower lately to bicker over this too. LOL

Have a good day!
Mary"

My response:

"Hiya, Mary,

As always, I appreciate your input; you are more fair to others than I. I've read waaaay too much on Mormonism (that was written without a slant) to believe it. And there is a large part of me that can't help but wonder how anyone buys into this!

Would you believe that Luis has on the 60 Minutes from last night and they are talking about - Mormonism! No alcohol, no coffee, no tea, no chocolate, eat meat sparingly, exercise... they live longer. Yikes. (OK, that wasn't nice...) I knew about the lack of caffeine although Ive forgotten why. I get that and I don't ingest much if any caffeine (and very little sugar now, too). But the rest of it... scares me. They are not too bad in the mainstream group although I don't like their overzealousness. But the Fundamentalist Mormons are the ones who really give me the willies.
Ah, the sacred under garments - they wear these long underwear things that they swear protect them. Steve Young, a football player, takes them off to play but otherwise wears them everywhere. Oh, the romance!

I don't know... maybe I'm worng and that is certainly possible. There is a whole lot I'm wrong about! But I find the Amish much more sincere or... what's the word i'm looking for...?... honest... no, that's not it... I can't think of it. But you know what I mean.

My friend, if she is that, is not a Mormon and would not be offended, and she had to move out there - something to do with her husband's job. I know I would not want to live there. But sometimes it is not so much your choice. She's making interesting observations and the funny thing is, I just read it to Luis and he said (with amazement), "You know, she's right... they all do look alike!" He rarely sounds amazed like that! So there must be something to what she said.

Even in the 60 Minutes footage, the former leader (he just died) said, "I look out at all of you and you may all look the same..." Wow.

You see what I mean.

Aislínge"