Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Lower Gas Prices

I'm completely skeptical about this, but I don't by Mobil or Exxon gasoline anyway. Read on!


This was sent by a retired Coca Cola executive. It came from one of his engineer buddies who retired from Halliburton. If you are tired of the gas prices going up AND they will continue to rise this summer, take time to read this please. Phillip Hollsworth offered this good idea. This makes MUCH MORE SENSE than the "don't buy gas on a certain day" campaign that was going around last April or May! It's worth your consideration. Join the resistance!

I hear we are going to hit close to $ 4.00 a gallon by next summer, and it might go higher!! Want gasoline prices to come down?

We need to take some intelligent, united action. The oil companies just laughed at that because they knew we wouldn't continue to "hurt" ourselves by refusing to buy gas. It was more of an inconvenience to us than it was a problem for them. BUT, whoever thought of this idea has come up with a plan that can really work. Please read on and join with us!

By now you're probably thinking gasoline priced at about $2.00 is super cheap. Me too! It is currently $3.19 for regular unleaded in my town. Now that the oil companies and the OPEC nations have conditioned us to think that the cost of a gallon of gas is CHEAP at $1.50 - $1.75, we need to take aggressive action to teach them that BUYERS control the marketplace..not sellers.

With the price of gasoline going up more each day, we consumers need to take action. The only way we are going to see the price of gas come down is if we hit someone in the pocketbook by not purchasing their gas! And, we can do that WITHOUT hurting ourselves.

How? Since we all rely on our cars, we can't just stop buying gas. But we CAN have an impact on gas prices if we all act together to force a price war. Here's the idea: For the rest of this year, DON'T purchase ANY gasoline from the two biggest companies (which now are one), EXXON and MOBIL.

If they are not selling any gas, they will be inclined to reduce their prices. If they reduce their prices, the other companies will have to follow suit.

But to have an impact, we need to reach literally millions of Exxon and Mobil gas buyers. It's really simple to do! Now, don't wimp out on me at this point... keep reading and I'll explain how simple it is to reach millions of people!

I am sending this note to 30 people. If each of us send it to at least ten more (30 x 10 = 300)... and those 300 send it to at least ten more (300 x10 = 3,000)... and so on, by the time the message reaches the sixth group of people, we will have reached over THREE MILLION consumers. If those three million get excited and pass this on to ten friends each, then 30 million people will have been contacted!

If it goes one level further, you guessed it..... THREE HUNDRED MILLION PEOPLE!!! Again, all you have to do is send this to 10 people. That's all! (If you don't understand how we can reach 300 million and all you have to do is send this to 10 people... Well, let's face it, you just aren't a mathematician. But I am. So trust me on this one.

How long would all that take? If each of us sends this e-mail out to ten more people within one day of receipt, all 300 MILLION people could conceivably be contacted within the next 8 days!!! I'll bet you didn't think you and I had that much potential, did you!

Acting together we can make a difference.

If this makes sense to you, please pass this message on. I suggest that we not buy from EXXON/MOBIL UNTIL THEY LOWER THEIR PRICES TO THE $2.00 RANGE AND KEEP THEM DOWN. THIS CAN REALLY WORK.

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

A young boy went up to his father and asked, "What's the difference between 'potentially' and 'realistically'?"

The father ponders for a moment and then answered "Go ask your mother if she would sleep with Robert Redford for a million quid and also ask your sister if she would sleep with Brad Pitt for a million quid, then come back and tell me what you learned.

"So the boy went to his mother and asked "Mum would you sleep with Robert Redford for a million quid?" The mother replied, "Definitely, I wouldn't pass an opportunity like that."

The boy then went to his older sister and asked "Would you sleep with Brad Pitt for a million quid?" The girl replied "Oh gosh, I would just love to do that, I would be nuts to pass up that opportunity."

The boy then thought about it for a few days, and went back to his father. His father asked him "Did you find the difference between 'potentially' and 'realistically'?"

The boy replied, "Yes, potentially we're sitting on 2 million quid, but realistically we're living with two slappers"

"That's my boy" replied the father...

The Longairc-Green Family

This is a family that was on Nanny 911, the precursor to Supernanny, which airs on Wednesday nights. While Supernanny is a better production and leaves out some of the dopey American-isms of stupidity (such as the opening scene with a much older nanny head whose television showing the family and their issues turns around into a painting on the wall), this show has its value. These families are clueless or don't bother to try and definitely need help.

This family is an exception in that the mother couldn't care less what the monsters do and will do anything to mollify them. The father is more consistent and definitely takes a much more disciplinary stance, but the mother undermines it at every step of the way. The two boys are so unbelievably rude, I'd've killed them where they stood. The little girl only wanted a moment of attention and was not doing anything negative, and the mother was awful to her.

The nanny, Nanny Stella, spent the first day observing. When she sat down with the parents, the mother said she was floored that Nanny Stella said that her kids are so rude. This is shocking? Seriously? Her older boy brags about having told the bus driver to "fuck off". The mother made it clear that she didn't see it, and wasn't interested in doing anything about this. The father is clearly the instigator of getting the nanny in their home.

It's easy to say that the kids are fucking monsters (which they are) but you know that they weren't born that way. Unless the kid is diagnosed with a mental development issue that involves bursts of violence or has Turrets or something along those lines, this is absolutely the fault of the parents.

I posted about six months ago seeing Tom get so angry with Matthew who was playing up in a restaurant. We were there. Yes, he was a little difficult and annoying and had some bad moments but not nearly to the point that Tom got to in anger. It was scary and totally unwarranted for him to be so mad. But Matthew at his absolute worst is better than these two boys at their absolute best. Tom and Alayna aren't perfect parents (who is) but they are the best I've seen so far and Matthew would never, ever be allowed to get into the behaviours that these two get into.

The mother is horrible. She won't try anything at all. She won't communicate with her kids but then when she puts one in time-out while making cupcakes, she then taunted him with the other two kids about how delicious the cupcakes are - clearly teasing him in a completely cruel fashion.

The mother doesn't do anything right in this venture. She either denies that the behaviour happened (Adam yelled "fuck!" at his sister and she denied it) or she tortures them.

The father really wants to see this happen. He wants his kids to have boundaries and grow up with respect and manners. He isn't saying anything stupid, such as "children should be seen and not heard", one of the most heinous sayings in history. He's just asking for normal family interaction. The mother seems to revel in this. In Supernanny, it is almost always both parents making mistakes and both crying out for help. This show may be a little more realistic.

Oh, I do love Nanny Stella. She recorded Adam saying the word "fucking" and played it back to Michelle (that's the mother), who insisted he said "frickin'" - not for nothing, how is that an arguement?! What makes a six or seven year old saying frickin' acceptable but the actual word is an issue? That makes no sense.

It's very obvious that Michelle is the big problem, not the monster kids or the father.

I can't imagine what people are thinking when they have two or three children in fast succession and then are shocked that this is very hard to do. The older boy, Adam, is horrible. Beating, kicking, scratching, punching, pinching, hitting and slapping and then spitting in the face of Nanny Stella. My gods. The immediate desire is to throw this disgusting kid under the bus. However, I'd throw Michelle under the bus immediately following him.

Michelle is an idiot. She said to Nanny Stella with a straight face that speaks respectfully to her children. On national television you are lying to the entire population who is watching this and I guarantee you that not a single viewer is sitting there saying, "She really isn't rude to her kids." Why would you do that? Lying to oneself is one thing, but to lie so blatantly to everyone else is staggering.

This is a one-hour programme and it is 49 minutes through. She still swears that the children aren't rude.

Here's what surprised me. She went into to talk to the five-year-old Sean, it suddenly hit home to Michelle that she did not have the relationship that she thought with her kids. My gods! Something gave her the slap in the face she so desperately needed. This is not a success story, though. The huge leaps and bounds that most parents make weren't made here as this was not embraced at all by Michelle.

One thing that Supernanny does do that is extremely good is follow up or check back in with the family months after as a wrap to the show, to showcase how the new rules have changed their household. That is great - even if things haven't all improved many things have and the parents and kids are all much happier!

Monday, 28 April 2008

I Love a Man in Uniform

This is the title of a great song.

I really need to find it online!


OK, this really is weird, freaky, bizarre...

You have to try this, it takes 2 seconds. I could not believe this! It is from an orthopedic surgeon. This will boggle your mind and you will keep you trying over and over again to see if you can outsmart your foot, but, you can't. It's pre-programmed in your brain!

1. Without anyone watching you (they will think you are GOOFY......) and while sitting at your desk in front of your computer, lift your right foot off the floor and make clockwise circles.

2. Now, while doing this, draw the number '6' in the air with your right hand.

Your foot will change direction.

I told you so! And there's nothing you can do about it! You and I both know how stupid it is, but before the day is done you are going to try it again, if you've not already done so.

Some Words of Wisdom

Tips for a better Life - 2008

1. Take a 10-30 minute walk every day. And while you walk, smile. It is the ultimate anti-depressant

2. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day. Buy a lock if you have to

3. Buy a DVR and tape your late night shows and get more sleep

4. When you wake up in the morning complete the following statement, 'My purpose is to __________ today'

5. Live with the 3 E's -- Energy, Enthusiasm,and Empathy

6. Play more games and read more books than you did in 2007

7. Make time to practice meditation, yoga, tai chi, and prayer. They provide us with daily fuel for our busy lives

8. Spend time with people over the age of 70 and under the age of 6

9. Dream more while you are awake

10. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food that is manufactured in plants

11. Drink green tea and plenty of water . Eat blueberries, wild Alaskan salmon, broccoli, almonds & walnuts

12. Try to make at least three people smile each day

13. Clear clutter from your house, your car, your desk and let new and flowing energy into your life

14. Don't waste your precious energy on gossip, energy vampires, issues of the past, negative thoughts or things you cannot control. Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment

15. Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn. Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime

16. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like acollegekid w ith a maxed out charge card

17. Smile and laugh more. It will keep the energy vampires away

18. Life isn't fair, but it's still good

19. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone

20. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does

21. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree

22. Make peace with your past so it won't spoil the present

23. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about

24. No one is in charge of your happiness except you

25. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: 'In five years, will this matter?'

26. Forgive everyone for everything

27. What other people think of you is none of your business

28. However good or bad a situation is it will change

29. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will stay in touch

30. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful

31. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need

32. The best is yet to come

33. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up

34. Do the right thing!

35. Call your family often (Or email them to death!) Hey I'm thinking of ya!

36. Each night before you go to bed complete the following statements: I am thankful for __________. Today I accomplished _________

37. Remember that you are too blessed to be stressed

38. Enjoy the ride. Remember this is not Disney World and you certainly don't want a fast pass. You only have one ride through life so make the most of it and enjoy the ride

May your troubles be less, May your blessings be more, May nothing but happiness come through your door!!!

Sunday, 27 April 2008

The Non-Medical Part of a Day in Philly

The first part of the day was amazing in one sense, but the latter part of the day was the best in terms of personal fun. I love the city of Philadelphia and my favourite part - and I go there every time I visit - is the foutain in Logan's Circle. It is a really wonderful piece of artwork. It's actual name is Swann Memorial Fountain, and there is a lot of meaning to it. It represents the meeting of the three major rivers in Philadelphia: the Delaware, the Schuykill and the Wissahickon Rivers. The artist, Alexander Stirling Calder, designed the characters representing the rivers after Native American gods.

The young girl leaning on her side against an agitated, water-spouting swan represents the Wissahickon Creek; the mature woman holding the neck of a swan stands for the Schuylkill River; and the male figure, reaching above his head to grasp his bow as a large pike sprays water over him, symbolizes the Delaware River. Sculpted frogs and turtles spout water toward the 50-foot (15 m) geyser in the center, though typically the geyser only spouts 25 ft (8 m). The use of swans is a pun on Dr. Swann's name.

We left the hospital at 1420 and it turned out that Logan's Circle was just a few blocks away. In real life, the distance is minimal. In city traffic life, there is no such as "close" when driving. It took us until 1500 to finally get there. We did get really lucky, after fighting through unbelievable traffic and weird construction, we pulled into Logan's Circle and there it was! A big, beautiful parking space for the handicapped! We pulled up; I loaded quarters into the parking meter, Ray set up my mother's scooter and we headed over to the fountain.

I immediately took off my Ren boots and put my feet into the freezing cold water (I was warned by the very sweet guy next to me, but took the plunge anyway. It was cold, but I still loved it. The fountain is populated with kids, usually, but this time of year the little buggers are in school (especially on Friday in April) so it is mine. All mine! There were a few people there sitting around on the edge but except for myself and the really pleasant fellow to my right, no one else put their feet in.

I did walk around a bit in the water (me and my hairy legs... clearly can't let the hair removal go on for seven weeks!), then finally pulled my feet out, let them dry off and put my boots back on. We then began walking to what I kept calling the Independence Hall (it was actually the City Hall - I was close) with the lovely workmanship and the quad with the astrological circle and four directions. I love seeing these two sites.

The walk, unfortunately, was way too much for Ray. My mother had the scooter and I typically push myself too far in the name of travel and seeing sights. But for Ray, this was way too much. And the 8 blocks or so did not look nearly that far at the time. But we got to another fountain (I don't remember the name of it) with the LOVE sign that is famed in Philly. It was wonderful. I took a picture of my mother under the sign but she's turned away.

We did make it to the City Hall and I got to see the astrological circle. I was very happy. We were there briefly and then began the walk back, which we made but once there, the general consencus was that it was time to head home. We made it back to the car at 1615, with 6 minutes left on the parking meter - we'd seen the meter reading guy walking away from our area and were nervous because Ray and I knew we were cutting it close.

The downside would be leaving Philadelphia at 1620 on a Friday afternoon but for all of that, we really did not have nearly the kind of trouble we were sure we'd have. (Mind boggling... how is it that we couldn't move three inches in twenty minutes at 1430 but at 1620 we managed to find our way out? It's a mystery, to quote Henslowe from Shakespeare in Love.) We managed to wend our way out of Philly, across a different bridge and headed through a very industrial area. i have to say that it is very, very impressive what the city of Philadelphia was doing to really make the city more beautiful. Everywhere we went there was artwork on walls, oil containers (the big round collapsable things in the refineries), the bridges, etc. I loved it, so did my parents.

Ray and I had a delightful time talking on the drive home, and it was fun. We really get along so well. My mother is another story. I love her but I have a lot of issues with her behaviour and how she handles her illnesses and the way she speaks to Ray. I find it hard to spend much time with her. She does not really get out and she doesn't really live. She won't manage her diabetes at all and is determined (in a totally unwitting way) to kill herself early. Her feet are so cold and her legs are turning red (soon they'll turn blue) and she insists on eating chocolate and ice cream and cookies and desserts. It would be one thing if it was just whilst traveling or once in a while, but this is a daily thing with her. ANd worse, she left it out when telling the doctor her history - of course, she says that Ray and I are beating up on her for mentioning this occasionally.

The fact is, the doctor that she'd been going to for the diabetes management has stopped taking any interest in her care because clearly my mother has no interest in managing her own care. She eats what she wants and plays fast and loose with her insulin injections. Why should this doctor have any active interest? She knows it is pointless and she is better served helping those patients who are totally committed to managing this destructive disease that once you have, it is yours until the end of your days.

But I digress.

Anyway, it took us about three hours to get home, but it was well worth it and fun. I got in to the house at 1930 and went to bed at a reasonable time and did a full day at work yesterday. Since Friday was a very exhausting day it means I had a one-day weekend this week but it was still worth it. And I really got a lot done yesterday - despite the many interruptions. The moment word gets out that I am there, suddenly every employee wants to stop in to ask me things or change things.

And I have to say that at this very moment, I feel I have worked out some of the issues with an important relationship there. This was a big thing that was pulling me down and it has been such a struggle to work with this issue. I hope this isn't just my perception that things are better or - worse yet - that it is a temporary cease-fire.

I still feel good. This weekend was magic for me.

Saturday, 26 April 2008

The Medical Day Part of the Day in Philly

Yesterday was a really big day for me. A lot happened while nothing happened. It was huge.

The whole reason to go to Philadelphia was to see Dr. Carsten Bonnemann, at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. He is a specialist in neuromuscular conditions, especially limb girdle muscular dystrophy. My aunt went there with her daughter and met with Dr. Bonnemann some time ago, maybe in the fall or summer of 2007.

We finally made an appointment about mid-February for yesterday. We had an 0830 appointment and got there about seven minutes early (the traffic in Philadelphia is absolutely horrendous). We filled out the paperwork, got Ma registered and waited in the room with a million kids. OK, not a million but way too many. You know me, no kids is perfect. One child is livable but not ideal. There were at least six or seven in there. I must say that they were more behaved than most. Maybe it is because they are there with neuromuscular issues from minor and not obvious to the patently debilitating - wheel chairs, trachestomies, the really severe issues.

The patient is my mother, and it was obvious that she was not the median age group treated there. That was amusing although I wondered how much help they'd be if they are all handling primarily pediatric patients. But I kept an open mind, since we'd heard great things about both the facility and Dr. Bonnemann. The only thing I disliked there was the freezing temperature in the waiting area. I talked with Ray while Ma napped on the chairs and Tom & Jerry played on the telly.

We were waiting for about 45 minutes and then got into a room with an examination bed and it was that much colder than the waiting room! All the employees wore long sleeved shirts and layers and it was not because the weather suddenly became freakishly warm. It was warm all week and completely known that it would be in the 80s. But that whole wing was in the low 60s if that.

When in the room, a nurse came in and got basic information and vitals and a brief history from my mother. She left and we waited longer until Dr. Lancaster, Dr. Bonnemann's colleague, came in. He took a very full history of my mother, more from me (I know her full medical history of 40 years and any information she'd told me about prior issues) and he also did a more thorough examination - pushing/pulling, balance, walking, eye tracking, muscle strenght, and (this was really entertaining) her reflexes. She has none! I'm not kidding, not a single thing reacted - feet, knees, arms, hands, not a bloody thing. Staggering! Not the tiny reaction.

He also took a large tuning fork instrument, banged it against his leg and tested her range of sensation. Unsurprisingly, she has none in her feet (they're always freezing due to neuropathy/poor circulation from diabetes. Those feet'll be coming off if she is around and continuing to abuse her diabetes that way) and diminished in extremeties. But it was fascinating to watch.

He also asked me some questions about my history, but no exam. However, my description of all my experiences and direct issues matched a fair amount of my mother's (without the element of diabetes) but with one very interesting thing. He asked my mother if she ever had trouble with her muscles tightening in the winter and not relaxing and it being very painful and without thinking I responded, "Holy shit! I have that!" I explained that when I was in my early 20s I had gotten sick for an extended period in the winter and my muscles did that - arms, legs, whatever - and it was excruciating. No one ever figured out what had made me sick (there was some weak hypothesis that I might have gotten a form of mononucleosis or possibly... you know, my mind has blanked on the illness that -- Epstein Barr syndrome. For a few years after I had the illness I slept for ten hours every day - I needed to get that much! But it did finally go away. The muscle tightness in cold, however, is still a problem.

He was with us for a long time, and then went to get Dr. Bonnemann and the geneticist. They came in shortly after and it was quite a crew - Dr. Bonnemann, a very tall German man with a very open unjudgmental face, Dr. Lancaster, the genetecist, whose name I absolutely cannot recall (assuming that she'd been introduced), the nurse from earlier, and a woman here from Latvia who is also a specialist in neuromuscular genetic diseases and this is part of her study. Dr. Bonnemann took my mother through most of the tests that Dr. Lancaster did, then took a detailed history (again, mostly from me) and then took my full history and then it was time for my examination.

I went to the other table right under the window and he went through all the muscle strength tests with me, rating my reactions from minus five to five. Minus five is no muscle strength and five is normal muscle strength. Mostly I had minus fours and minus fives. A couple of things were five minus (meaning just below five, but higher than four). But my leg, arm and neck muscles were terrible. I knew that and had pointed that out but the tests easily confirmed it. I actually worked up a sweat doing this.

He then tested my reflexes and I have excellent reflexes - super! Everything that he struck jumped immediately - all of them. No issues there!

He stated that we had DM2 - dystrophia myotonia 2, a very, very rare form of mucular dystrophy. This rules out limb girdle muscular dystrophy, which is what we thought we had. DM2 is much more unusual but much less debilitating than DM1, where most people are constantly breaking things when the muscles don't relax when told. We don't have that at all.

I was weak (ha, ha) with relief. All I wanted was to know - definitively - what is wrong with me. Now I do.

The day before, Thursday, Bush (in a freaky moment of clarity) approved the law that one cannot be discriminated against for having a genetic disease. My employer would never do that, but now EMS personnel also are protected against that. My squad has not done it that I know of, but I'm sure some do.
We both had an ultrasound test on our muscles and that also showed the obvious problem. Healthy muscles don't show up as anything - the screen is black. On my scans, my muscles showed some opacities and atrophying muscle especially near the surface. My mother's scans were almost completely opaque.

We had blood drawn around 1330 and then met once more with the crew to go through the next steps. We need two more trips to Philadelphia - one to have a nerve reaction test (my mother only) and each get a special heart monitor that we each will wear for a 24-hour period and return to them for analysis (keep in mind that the heart is a muscle, so it needs to be monitored more in patients with DM - either one). Then we have another trip down to Pennsylvania University to meet Dr. Lauren Ellman, a specialist in DM2.

We were there until 1430. Six hours. There was a lot of waiting in between, but the periods where we were involved with the medical staff were very rich, very full and extremely satisfying. I've been going to neurologists on and off for the last eight years to find someone who would take me seriously and none of them did. Now I feel like going to every one of them and telling them that listening to their patients might be in their better interests.

I will admit that when I got home yesterday the first thing I told Luis was that he owes me an apology for the other week when he basically called me a liar when I told him I could not lift the half of the television to move it. (It's 90lbs, so half of it is 45lbs and I can only - at best - lift 25lbs. And the muscle groups I need to lift something are one of my weakest sets. And Luis was pissed off at me for not doing it. He actually said it to me.

Saying "I told you so" about that was emminently satisfying.

So that was the medical side of our day in Philly.

Returning From Philly

The return trip home was a longer journey, both because we were over tired from walking around all over the place, and because leaving any place (especially a major city) at 1615 is a problem! The congestion in and around Philadelphia was staggering.

Still, with only one ten-minute pitstop, and the first ten minutes of my mother whining incessantly about the usual things, we were underway and got to my house by 1930. That is a long old trip. Still, once my mother stopped complaining and moaning and popped in another movie, it was fine, Ray and I bonding some more on the drive back as the sun played hide-and-seek with the high cirrus clouds that presage bad weather.

At least we can say that - we did indeed have truly perfect weather!

Unfortunately, the gods of technology are displeased with me once again... my laptop battery died completely. I can't even get it working plugged in. My own home unit died sometimes a few months ago. So, until then, there are no photos, and it will be harder for me to blog... this is my husband's computer and he does use it a lot.

So, today's task: Go to work, and purchase one laptop battery.

Near Extinction Threatened People 70,000 Years Ago

WASHINGTON - Human beings may have had a brush with extinction 70,000 years ago, an extensive genetic study suggests. The human population at that time was reduced to small isolated groups in Africa, apparently because of drought, according to an analysis released Thursday.

The report notes that a separate study by researchers at Stanford University estimated the number of early humans may have shrunk as low as 2,000 before numbers began to expand again in the early Stone Age. "This study illustrates the extraordinary power of genetics to reveal insights into some of the key events in our species' history," Spencer Wells, National Geographic Society explorer in residence, said in a statement. "Tiny bands of early humans, forced apart by harsh environmental conditions, coming back from the brink to reunite and populate the world. Truly an epic drama, written in our DNA."

Wells is director of the Genographic Project, launched in 2005 to study anthropology using genetics. The report was published in the American Journal of Human Genetics.

Previous studies using mitochondrial DNA — which is passed down through mothers — have traced modern humans to a single "mitochondrial Eve," who lived in Africa about 200,000 years ago.

The migrations of humans out of Africa to populate the rest of the world appear to have begun about 60,000 years ago, but little has been known about humans between Eve and that dispersal.

The new study looks at the mitochondrial DNA of the Khoi and San people in South Africa which appear to have diverged from other people between 90,000 and 150,000 years ago.

The researchers led by Doron Behar of Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, Israel and Saharon Rosset of IBM T.J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, N.Y., and Tel Aviv University concluded that humans separated into small populations prior to the Stone Age, when they came back together and began to increase in numbers and spread to other areas. Eastern Africa experienced a series of severe droughts between 135,000 and 90,000 years ago and the researchers said this climatological shift may have contributed to the population changes, dividing into small, isolated groups which developed independently.

Paleontologist Meave Leakey, a Genographic adviser, commented: "Who would have thought that as recently as 70,000 years ago, extremes of climate had reduced our population to such small numbers that we were on the very edge of extinction."

Today more than 6.6 billion people inhabit the globe, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The research was funded by the National Geographic Society, IBM, the Waitt Family Foundation, the Seaver Family Foundation, Family Tree DNA and Arizona Research Labs.

Friday, 25 April 2008

One Night in Philly

Pictures will follow tonight or tomorrow.

The dinner was phenominal! It really was delicious, and I am very, very happy that I splurged and went for the shrimp. The bed was torture, the room was FREEZING, and I turned, tossed and had a ton of weird dreams.

Not what I had in mind for a good night's sleep. And my back... is killing me!
This is the restaurant on the lobby level. The shot was taken outside of our room on the top (8th) floor.

Thursday, 24 April 2008

A Trip to Philly

We made it!

The first five minutes were definitely the hardest - I thought I might have to kill my mother: "Where is this?" Why can't I hear that?" "Can you open this?" "Can you get me that?" "Is there anything to eat? I need to eat." Ye gods. I bet you didn't know anyone other than a 2-year-old could fit that many questions into a five minute time span.

Once on the highway with the new navigator leading the way, she got into watching whatever movie she was watching (I think it was Steel Magnolias) and Ray and I could talk - the whole 2+ hours - watching the traffic (thankfully there was none until 295 South), seeing other drivers, passing places that Ray worked as an electrician.

We did stop once to get gas and thought that at $3.17 (low test) and $3.40 (high test) a gallon it was a steal - how sad is that. We got into Philly and low test gasoline was a whopping $3.50! Yowza! Good thing it's only a day trip (one night over in the Sheraton, who got me for ten bucks for the not-so-high speed Internet...)

Well, you know me. As long as I can blog, life is good. That, and bid on ebay!

OK, I'm sure that there will be more to say later, but for now, this is it.

A.W.A.D. - Verbs

It's said that in the English language every noun can be verbed, but there's nothing more grating on the ears than the gratuitous "verbification" of nouns in a modern workplace exchange.

From "productizing an idea" to "administrating the plan" and "incentivizing the workers" these verb-forms are about as graceful as a sumo wrestler performing a ballet. Don't get me wrong -- there's nothing sinful about coining new words, or using existing ones in creative ways, but these Latinate constructions just don't work. There are already countless words that can do the job very well.

This week we'll look at five verbs in the English language.

(suh-SPYR) verb tr., intr.
To breathe; to sigh

[From Latin suspirare (to breathe up), from spirare (to breathe).]

(IN-doo-rayt, -dyoo-) verb tr.
1. To make hardy, inured, accustomed
2. To make callous or unfeeling

verb intr.
1. To make hard
2. To become established

adjective (IN-doo-rit, -dyoo-)
Hardened; callous; obstinate

[From Latin indurare (to harden), from durare (to last), from durus (hard). Ultimately from the Indo-European root deru-/dreu- (to be firm) that's the source of such other words as truth, trust, betroth, tree, endure, and druid.]

(YAM-uhr) verb tr., intr.
To whine, complain, or to talk loudly and incessantly

The act of yammering

[From Middle Dutch jammeren (to lament).]

(EK-stuhr-payt) verb tr.
1. To destroy completely
2. To pull up by the roots

[From Latin extirpare (to root out), from stirps (stem, root).]

(spal) verb tr., intr.
To break into small pieces; to splinter.

A chip or splinter, especially of stone.

[Of unknown origin.]

Update to Describe Me in One Word

I got quite a few answers so far and I love them!

18 April 2008:

Trenchant (my favourite!)
Incorrigible (my 2nd favourite!)

We shall see what else I get. So far, they are all rather descriptive of me. And all kind of in the same category.

19 April 2008:
Odd (a different person)

22 April 2008

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

An Amazing Photo

Think he was just looking for a snack?

Mars Moons Doomed

15 April 2008:

One of the greatest sites on the internet today is NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day. Each day a new astronomical picture is featured, boggling the mind with the stunning beauty and scope of the universe. The photo for the 14th of April was of one of Mars’ moons, Phobos.

Named for the Greek god of fear and horror, Phobos is one of two moons that orbits Mars. So pock-marked with craters are the pair that it is almost certain that they were once caught up in an asteroid belt; possibly located between Mars and Jupiter, or even from one of the outer systems asteroid belts.

Phobos orbits so close to Mars however, that it is essentially doomed. It currently orbits about 5,800 kilometers above the surface of Mars (this compared to 400,000 kilometers that our Moon is from Earth). Subsequently, Mars’ gravitational forces are slowly pulling the moon closer and closer in.

It is predicted that in 100 million years or so, Phobos will likely shatter due to stresses caused by the relentless tidal forces being exerted upon it by its mother planet. The debris of the moon will form a decaying ring around Mars.

Make sure you head along to NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day each day; you won’t regret it.

Saturday, 19 April 2008

Gonna Be A Bear

Eating in The Sky

I would do this!

Albino Moose

Albino moose or is it meeses?

Not one, but two! Truly amazing! These animals were photographed just north of the Wisconsin border on a highway near Marenisco, MI. Once in a while there is an opportunity to take in a piece of nature that you may never see. In these days of unrest and turmoil it is great to see that Mother Nature can still produce some wondrous beauty.

The odds of seeing an albino moose are astronomical and to see this in the upper peninsula of Michigan, near Wisconsin, is even greater than astronomical. To see two of them together is nearly impossible. We wanted to share these photos with as many people as possible because you will probably never have a chance to see this rare sight again. This is a really special treat, so enjoy the shot of a life time.

Buying Barbie

One day a father gets out of work and on his way home he suddenly remembers that it's his daughter's birthday.

He pulls over to a toy Shop and asks the sales person, "How much for One of those Barbie's in the display window?"

The salesperson answers, "Which one do you mean, Sir?

We have:-

Work Out Barbie for £19.95
Shopping Barbie for £19.95
Beach Barbie for £19.95
Disco Barbie for £19.95,
Ballerina Barbie For £19.95
Astronaut Barbie for £19.95
Skater Barbie for £19.95

And Divorced Barbie for £265.95".

The amazed father asks: "It's what?! Why is the Divorced Barbie £265.95 and the others only £19.95?"

The annoyed salesperson rolls her eyes, sighs, and answers: "Sir... Divorced Barbie comes with: Ken's Car, Ken's House, Ken's Boat, Ken's Furniture, Ken's Computer, one of Ken's Friends, and a key chain made with Ken's testicles..”

A.W.A.D. - Words Made Using Combining Forms

This week's words are created using combining forms. What are combining forms? You can think of them as the Legos of language. As the name indicates, a combining form is a linguistic atom that occurs only in combination with some other form. This other form could be a word, another combining form, or an affix (a prefix or suffix). Unlike a combining form, an affix can't attach to another affix.

When coining a new word, these ready-made building blocks of the language come in handy. Let's say we need a new insult word, a fancy word to describe someone as brainless. We could start with ceno- (empty), add -cephalic (relating to the head) to it, and our new word is ready: cenocephalic.

This week we'll see words made using these combining forms: ceno- (empty), endo- (within), seti- (bristle), nocti- (night), and geo- (earth). Happy word crafting!

(SEN-uh-taf) noun
A tomb or a monument in honor of a person (or a group) whose remains are elsewhere.

[Via French and Latin, from Greek kenotaphion, from kenos (empty) +taphos (tomb).]

(en-DOG-uh-mee) noun
The practice of marriage within a specific social group

[From endo- (within), from Greek endon (within) + -gamy (marriage), from Greek gamos (marriage).]

(SEE-tuh-form) adjective
Bristle-shaped or having bristles

[From Latin seti- (bristle) + -form.]

(nok-tuh-LOO-suhnt) adjective
Shining at night

[From Latin nocti- (night) + lucent (shining).]

(jee-uh-PON-ik) adjective
Of or relating to agriculture

[From Greek geoponikos, from geo- (earth) + ponein (to toil).]

A.W.A.D. - Words to Describe People

After reading a bedtime story to my daughter, I sometimes ask her, "So, what do you think of the book?" More often than not, the answer is a simple "Good." I tell her that the word "good" is banned. The book could be funny, boring, interesting, scary, lovely, awful, awesome, delightful, ...or a combination of terms. Anything but good. It's time to give the tired words "good" and "bad" a well-deserved rest.

I think the same applies for people. People are rarely just good or bad. This week's words will show five words to describe them.

(i-BUL-yuhnt, -BOOL-) adjective
Bubbling with enthusiasm or excitement

[From Latin ebullire (to boil up), from bulla (bubble).]

(TREM-yuh-luhs) adjective
1. Trembling
2. Timid; nervous

[From Latin tremere (to tremble).]

(pyoo-suh-LAN-uh-muhs) adjective
Lacking courage; timid

[From Latin pusillus (weak, very small), diminutive of pullus (young of an animal) + animus (spirit, mind).]

(PAV-id) adjective
Timid; fearful

[From Latin pavere (to be frightened). Ultimately from the Indo-European root pau- (to cut, stroke, or stamp) that is also the source of amputate, compute, dispute, and count.]

(PY-kur) noun
A stingy person, a cautious gambler, or one who does things in a small way

[Of uncertain origin, possibly from Middle English pike (to leave).]

A Wake

Tonight (well, last night now) I went to a wake for one of my squad members.

I always liked him and we got on well. When we were alone, we had good, close conversations. When we were with my lieutenant it was the same. He could be distant and not easy to get to know, but I made it an effort and he was one of the few individuals that I never had any issues with at all. I enjoyed his company and one thing I remember really well was that he'd come out to look at the night sky with me on nights that we were on and let me prattle on about the different stars and planets.

And suddenly, he's gone. Out among the stars, I hope.

I was upset when I'd heard the news that he died but then to go to this open-casket wake and see him there, looking... looking... I don't know. I began to cry the first trip up there. When the second round came up and then there was the whole religious thing, I cried as quietly as possible through almost of all it. After that I walked over to my lieutenant and really let loose. And then I did my 15 minutes of guard duty and we had one last trip up.

When one of our own dies, we go in two by two, and go up to the casket and salute. The three processions are part of that. Also, at all times, the casket is flanked by two of us in 15 minute shifts. I was asked if I was up to it and I said I would be honoured to do so.

But I'm upset and I miss him already.

Friday, 18 April 2008

Describe Me in One Word

This was in my inbox yesterday:

Describe ME in one word.............just one single word.
Send it to me & ME only.

Then send this message to ALL of your e-friends/family & see how many strange & interesting things they have to say about you. This is really fun & don't get mad at the word they choose for you.

Here's how to PLAY:
1. Hit the reply key & send ME my one word.
2. Them return to this message & forward it to your e-friends/family (including me) & see what people say about you when limited they're limited to just ONE word!

Follow the directions people and don't mess this up............LMAO
I', terrified and curious at the same time, so let's have it. Me - in one word!

Are you a Democrat, a Republican, or a Redneck?

Are you a Democrat, a Republican, or a Redneck? Here is a little test that will help you decide.The answer can be found by posing the following question:

You're walking down a deserted street with your wife and two small children. Suddenly, an Islamic Terrorist with a huge knife comes around the corner, locks eyes with you, screams obscenities, praises Allah, raises the knife, and then charges at you.

You are carrying a Kimber 1911 cal. 45 ACP, and you are an expert shot. You have mere seconds before he reaches you and your family. What do you do?


Democrat's Answer:
Well, that's not enough information to answer the question!
Does the man look poor or oppressed?
Have I ever done anything to him that would inspire him to attack?
Could we run away?
What does my wife think?
What about the kids?
Could I possibly swing the gun like a club and knock the knife out of his hand?
What does the law say about this situation?
Does the pistol have appropriate safety built into it?
Why am I carrying a loaded gun anyway, and what kind of message does this send to society and to my children?
Is it possible he'd be happy with just killing me?
Does he definitely want to kill me, or would he be content just to wound me?
If I were to grab his knees and hold on, could my family get away while he was stabbing me?
Should I call 9-1-1?
Why is this street so deserted?
We need to raise taxes, have paint and weed day and make this happier, healthier street that would discourage such behavior.
This is all so confusing!
I need to debate this with some friends for few days and try to come to a consensus.
Republican's Answer: BANG!
Redneck's Answer: BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG!BANG!BANG!BANG!BANG!BANG! Click..... (Sounds of reloading) BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG!BANG!BANG!BANG!BANG!BANG! Click
Daughter: 'Nice grouping, Daddy! Were those the Winchester Silver Tips or the Hollow Points?!'
Son: 'Can I shoot the next one?!'

Wife: 'You ain’t taking that to the Taxidermist!

Thursday, 17 April 2008

A Whole New House!

The two rooms are complete, painted ceiling and walls. The room off the kitchen is no longer grey-blue, but a cheery pale yellow with a lovely flat, normal, white ceiling. The "sun room" is a beautiful happy and relaxed light blue, with that flawless white ceiling. Flawless. No more marks and obviously bad painting. The rooms look amazing.

I spent all last night (into this morning) putting the rooms back into the right order and cleaning out everything. I have candles in every room, and they are all neat and clean. The furniture is all in new places but it looks great! The sun room is quite a bit bigger than I realised. The couch that was in it is huge and dwarfed that room. Now it is in here (the living room) and the smaller old couch from Tom is in the sun room with one sky chair and one light green chair from a "house sale". The wooden table along two smaller ones is also in there and no, it's not a tight squeeze. It looks great!

I moved a couple of things downstairs and one chair is out on the curb. The rooms up here are clean, organised, orderly, and pleasantly decorated for anyone's taste - not too much, not too little. I won't get to enjoy it as much during the week as I do on weekends, as the week's time is more structured.

I'm not saying my taste is the only good taste or that everyone would love these rooms, but I love them and my feeling is that in a general setting, they are aesthetically pleasing. I am not one to clutter rooms (although there are times when there is a lot of clutter). I do try to practice the theory of if something doesn't get used within 6 months or 12 months (depending on the item), I throw it away. I hate when "stuff" takes over the house. Ironically when we moved in to the house in October 2002, we couldn't fill up the house. Now, five years later, the house is full to overflowing. The room downstairs is horrifying. That is a scary task to clean that up.

But the upstairs is a wholly different house. The living room used to have a small brown couch set and two mint green chairs, four tables total, and we did not really use the room much at all. It was a museum type living room. Have you ever seen movies or television shows where the woman decorates a white livingroom - white carpet *shiver*, white furniture, white walls (what the American love of white walls is, I clear don't understand. I know many Americans paint every wall in the house white, but it is boring... lifeless, not interesting - unless maybe the ceiling has some different darker colour.

I hate white walls. I have to admit that the previous owners did not have a single white wall anywhere. I fact, I can give you a picture tour of the original house. The living room walls are wallpapered with a nuetral sort of beige colour. It is not objectionable, but at some point it will be time for a change (and I know exactly what colour I want, too). My parents painted their living room/dining room a colour called thistledown beige. It is not a true beige by any means. It is a very pretty colour, nuetral to some degree but not boring nuetral. I had our rental house painted that colour and then the living room of our first house, too. Maybe next spring I will have the living room done. Or the fall - when I have the money.

The living room is the largest upstairs room and it is just over/to the left of the front door when one enters the house. The stairs and the "vestibule" (that is not the right word, but you get the idea) are completely unique. The walls are decorated with shingles. The look is very strange but yet it is interesting and not terrible. The only truly objectionable thing is the Spanish Inquisition light fixture in the high ceiling. It is quite hideous. It is a wrought iron monstrosity that looks completely out of place with the rest of the decor. It has fake candles in it with small light bulbs that seem to burn out at the speed of light. The biggest problem is the same one we usually run into - Luis likes it. I shouldn't denegrate his taste... but it is terrible! (To me, it is.)

The room is nice and once it has the fireplace it will be complete structurally. I hate this process - the plumber has been here four or five times now and it is still leaking. (Good thing there's no gas running through it. I have a million candles burning, in every room of the house. There are five burning in the living room alone. (Hey, I love candles - they are beautiful, bright, fragrant and relaxing. It's worth it to me.

The southern wall of the living room has no windows, which I hate. Older houses usually don't have many or any Southern windows, because houses without good temperature control got too hot in the summer. But I love windows and natural light. I wanted a window installed but Luis is the one with the money and he doesn't see a need for it. Now, with the fireplace going in it's a good thing that we did not put in a window. Once it is complete, we will see what to do. There is a lot of empty wall space there and we can hang a couple of good-sized pictures or many smaller ones. But until that fireplace is complete, there is no doing anything with that wall.

The bay window on the eastern side is what really makes the room so big and roomy. The room size has not changed but there is an enormous difference between the original room and the current one. The old window was a flat picture window with two small windows around it and the small windows, which were opened by pushing up (they had a pulley system, like most late 60s windows. But in the winter, the wind and cold temperatures were too easily felt. It was as if the windows were open.

So in winter of 2004 we had the windows replaced everywhere except the addition to the house (the original house was built in 1968 and the addition went on in 1986). We felt the Anderson windows in the addition were good, solid windows and we really only need the old windows to be replaced. So 22 windows later and $15,000 later, we had a much more temperature controlled house. Now it is evident that the Anderson windows are not so great. However, it can wait.

This room was really just for the cats and now we really use it. The telly is here, the window is beautiful... all I need is something amazing to put in the bay window!

I began all of this on 6 April and then life got in the way of finishing this. As it turns out, I did quite a bit of redecorating and stopped at the "bad store" - Pottery Barn! I found some really great hurricane lamps and have sand for them, and a new candle too. It looks AMAZING!

Poligamy Again... Can You Say Mormons?

I realise that these are not the normal (let me rephrase that) mainstream Mormons - not that they aren't unusual enough. But these guys are just completely misguided and not a little bit into pedaphelia...

Look at this article:

"SAN ANGELO, Texas - A court hearing to decide the fates of hundreds of children seized from a polygamist retreat was off to a chaotic start Thursday as hundreds of lawyers in two different locations demanded to study the first piece of evidence before it could be introduced.

State District Judge Barbara Walther called a recess 40 minutes after the hearing began in what could be the nation's largest child custody case. She wanted to allow the 350 lawyers spread out in two buildings to read the evidence and decide whether to object en masse or make individual objections. The hearing resumed about an hour later.

The lawyers are representing the 416 children and dozens of parents from the Yearning For Zion ranch owned by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a renegade Mormon sect accused of forcing underage girls into polygamous marriages.

The 80-year-old Tom Green County courtroom and a satellite courtroom set up in a City Hall auditorium two blocks away were jammed with dozens of mothers from the retreat, dressed in their iconic pastel prairie dresses and braided upswept hair.

In the satellite courtroom, about 175 people strained to see and hear a large projector set up on the auditorium's stage, which offered a grainy live feed of the proceedings with barely audible sound. "I'm not in a position to advocate for anything," complained Susan Hays, the appointed attorney for a 2-year-old sect member.

The mothers in the primary courtroom were sworn in as witnesses, standing and mumbling their 'I do's' in timid voices. As they sat silently, the flock of lawyers buzzed with murmurs and popped up to make motions or object as Walther tried to maintain order.

But when prosecutors tried to enter into evidence the medical records of three girls — two 17-year-olds and an 18-year-old — the lawyers jumped to their feet and crammed the aisles trying to see the papers. That's when Walther called the recess.

Outside, where satellite trucks lined the street in front of the courthouse's columned facade, a man who said he was an FLDS father waved a photo of himself surrounded by his four children, ranging in age from an infant to about 9.

"Look, look, look," the father said. "These children are all smiling, we're happy."

Walther signed an emergency order nearly two weeks ago giving the state custody of the children after a 16-year-old girl called an abuse hot line claiming her husband, a 50-year-old member of the sect, beat and raped her. The girl has yet to be identified. Authorities raided the Eldorado ranch and spent a week collecting documents and disk drives that might provide evidence of underage girls being married to adults.

The children, first taken to local shelters, were later moved to a historic fort and then to a domed coliseum on the fairgrounds in San Angelo. All but 27 adolescent boys are staying in the coliseum and a nearby building; the teenage boys are at a boys ranch near Amarillo.

If the judge gives the state permanent custody of the children, the child services agency will begin looking for foster homes in a case that has already stretched the legal resources of San Angelo and the state's child welfare system.

The custody case is one of the largest in U.S. history and involves children from 6 months to 17 years in age. Roughly 100 of the children are under age 4. State officials contend the children were being physically and sexually abused or were in imminent danger of such abuse. FLDS members say the state is persecuting them for their faith and that their 1,700-acre Yearning for Zion Ranch, with its soaring white temple and log cabin-style houses, is simply a home isolated from a hostile and sinful world.

They deny children were abused.

"It's the furthest thing away from what we do here," said Dan, a sect member who spoke at the compound Wednesday but declined to give his last name because he fears how it will affect his children in state custody. "There's nothing that's more disliked and more trained against."

A major issue will be how a home is defined — whether by the individual house each child lived in or by the larger ranch, Hays said. Under Texas law, if sexual abuse is occurring in a home and a parent does not stop it, then the parent can lose custodial rights. The judge also must decide whether it's in the best interest of children who have lived insulated lives to be suddenly placed into mainstream society, Hays said.

Typically, each child would be given a separate hearing, but given the number of cases, it's likely the judge will have the state, the children's attorneys and the parents' attorneys make consolidated presentations, at least initially, said Harper Estes, president-elect of the state bar. If the judge gives the state permanent custody, it will have an enormous challenge in finding homes for the children.

The agency has relied on volunteers to help feed the children, launder linens and provide crafts and games for them in a dorm-style setting for the past two weeks. But the agency will have to find stable homes and try to decipher sibling relationships that should be preserved if it gets permanent custody. Even identifying groups of siblings has been challenging so far.

"There's quite a lot of difficulty in identifying how many of these children are biologically related to one another. There's a large number who are half-siblings," Gonzales said. The children, who dress in pioneer-style clothes meant to emphasize modesty, have been raised in the insular FLDS community.

The sect came to West Texas in 2003, relocating some members from the church's traditional home along the Utah-Arizona state line. It traces its religious roots to the early theology of the mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which now denounces polygamy and excommunicates members found practicing it."

Oh, ye gods, yuck. Find normal, non-religious homes for the 200 kids and get all the adult males locked up and the women unprogrammed. And let's ferret out the rest of the FLDS and tell them they should feel free to move to, say, Mars. That might be far enough away.

Hot Jobs for Night Owls

This is an interesting article:

"It's easy to spot the office night owl. He rolls into the office late, bleary-eyed, with a cup of coffee in hand. These workers' internal clocks just don't match up with the typical nine-to-five workday -- but that doesn't mean they have to resign themselves to a lifetime of dozing through early-morning meetings. Check out a sampling of some of the niftiest night-shift jobs.

Emergency medical technicians are needed round the clock. However, most workers tend to prefer daytime hours, leaving lots of opportunities open for night shifts, says Connie Meyer, a full-time paramedic and member of the board of directors for the National Association of EMTs. You'll need people skills, basic first aid and emergency care knowledge, and of course, the ability to stay calm in a crisis. "Panicking is OK, but you just need to know what to do with yourself when you do it," Meyer says.

Average annual salary: $29,390; earning potential increases as you move from basic EMT certification to paramedic certification.

Casino Dealer
Casinos are little cities that never sleep, so there's always a demand for nighttime workers at the blackjack, craps and other gaming tables. Promotions are also possible. "Once you become a dealer and have a good track record, you can move up to pit manager or shift supervisor," says Carol Drea, director of corporate training at Atlantic Cape Community College's Casino Career Institute in New Jersey.

Some casinos will train dealers on the job, but most prefer to hire dealers that have had formal training on at least three games. Average annual salary: $17,010, but a sharp dealer at a busy casino can double or even triple their wages with tips.

Registered Home Health Nurse
Home health agencies often need registered nurses to visit patients' homes in the middle of the night to reset IVs, troubleshoot finicky medical equipment, and assist in emergencies. "Catheters can come out, or maybe a patient falls and you have to assess whether they have an injury," says Mary Jean Schumann, director of nursing practice and policy for the American Nurses Association.

You can become a registered nurse by completing a three- to four-year associate degree program, a four-year baccalaureate program, or a diploma program at a hospital. Average annual salary: $59,730

Newspaper Visual Journalist
A crew of designers often takes over the newsroom in the evening to place stories, along with photos and other graphic elements, on the next day's newspaper pages. Ideal candidates should have some technical savvy and a graphically-oriented eye. "You need to understand the basics of design and know a fair amount about computer programs, such as Quark XPress and CCI," says Elise Burroughs, executive director of the Society for News Design, a professional organization for visual journalists.

Most visual journalists have college degrees, usually in journalism, art or graphic design. Average annual salary (based on "editor" positions): $51,750.

Cargo Pilot
The major freight companies -- such as UPS, DHL and Airborne -- do 80 percent of their flights at night, says Kit Darby, president of, a career information service for airline pilots. "These pilots are always moving against the clock," Darby says. These shipping companies also offer some of the highest salaries for pilots.

To get a job with one of the major flying outfits, you'll need a commercial pilot's license, an airline transport pilot license, and about 5,000 hours of flying time. Average Annual Salary: $140,380

Clinical Lab Technicians
Someone has to process those lab tests for which patients so nervously await results. Since the hospital business is 24/7, many clinical lab technicians (also known as clinical laboratory scientists or medical technologists) work the night shift to ensure workflow, much of which could translate into life or death for patients. According to the BLS, clinical laboratory personnel examine and analyze body fluids, and cells for bacteria, parasites, and other microorganisms, among other duties.

An entry-level position typically requires a bachelor's degree in medical technology or one of the life sciences. Average Annual Salary: $49,700"
I hate to say this, but do you notice anything about these night time jobs (except for the cargo pilot) that is in common? The salaries. Who can live on such paltry income? And of course when it comes to the EMS/Paramedics/Nurses, who should get paid more than anyone who saves lives? I get the volunteer thing and I love it. I also firmly believe that noncompassionate people cannot be volunteers - doing it for money takes something away from it - the personal part. But people who are saving lives - this includes firemen, police, Armed Forces personnel, and anyone who is safeguarding people in some fashion - should make a decent wage. Ever talk to a nurse? $60k doesn't come close to making up for the shit they deal with!

Sex... at 0400

I suspect it was 0400 but what do I know? I had been asleep!

I love sex, I truly do, and I'm always asking Luis for a snog. But what it is with men and snogging in the wee hours of the morning? Any other time of the day is fine - well, okay, 1300 during the week I'm stuck in my place of employment and can't play, but shit, from the time he gets home until bed time and then at the time I do wake up is all kinds of fine with me!

Justify Full
Dinner (for reasons passing understanding) always is the top priority for Luis. Not fair. I can reheat pizza but an orgasm is a beautiful thing and beats pizza, hummus and any other food that I love dearly. Some day a man has to explain to me how passing up sex for dinner works; I don't get it.

Saturdays and Sundays are perfect because I can push for a fun time at any time of the day - and I actually don't mind going for the big-O at 0300 or any ungodly hour because what time do I care when I get up? I'll sleep in a little extra to make up for the lost... what? 15 - 20 minutes? (I'm 40, not 18... the days of all-nighters are over.)

Oh, hey! Luis' father is going to Colombia for a whole MONTH! OK, it isn't permanent, but I will tell you now that I'm so delighted! First thing on the agenda: swap out the winter clothes. Second thing: screw anywhere we normally can't! YAHOO!

Missed, Read, Cuffed & Back!

I've had people ask me where I've been and others asking if the rumours are true. Some are. Some, of course, are not. Here is the skinny:

I was politely but firmly requested to take out, modify or otherwise change some of my postings. I won't get into details about who asked. Apparently there are enough readers out there (which, I must admit, is rather nice!) that will have little to no trouble figuring out what august personages to which I refer. I do have high regard for the individuals who spoke with me. Never let it be said that I don't.

However, I thought this through, and over several days - eight days, to be exact. At first I acquiesed to all that was asked of me. I was contrite and said that I would abide by the requests made. I'll still keep to that but a few points came up as I mulled this over.

1. It is unreasonable to ask me to not post negatives. I will agree to keep names (especially surnames) out of it or change them to protect the guilty and the innocent. But this is my journal and for better or for worse, it can't all be roses and song.

(I will admit that it was pointed out to me that while some compliments where a little obscure as such, I did - almost entirely - say complimentary things. So there. I still stand by those positiives, even though this particular experience made me feel negative about this specific topic.)

2. I did not divulge any more information than is blared out over very public airwaves. OK, toning it down in fine. I get that. But the basics of what I wrote aren't anything that isn't known by any overzealous or paranoid person with the money (and it is not that much) to purchase the needed equipment. I will happily point out that I know others unaffiliated with this particular group who reads this, knows a lot about that ugly little five letter acronym that came up as an issue, and stated in no uncertain terms that I have not violated any of the letter of this.
I feel better knowing I'm right. Like I said, I'll be a lot more vague. But I don't have to agree with it!

3. Three people to have this conversation was overkill. I felt attacked. One or two (one serving as a witness) would be suficient.

4. One rumour is that one individual believed that I severely maligned him/her. I'd like to advise that person to reread that post but sadly I did remove them permanently and should have saved them in Word first. However, this person doesn't care for me and percieves every thing I say as an insult. Work on this - you'll be the happier for not caring what I think any more than I do.

Mary, meaning Crystal Chick, I'm back. I missed blogging as much as you missed reading my postings! I love that you sent me that message and I feel loved and appreciated. And dammit, I write really, really well! Words, usage, I can't figure out anyone's age or do the simplest math, but by the gods, I write, I write well and I suspect that for the most part, I actually can be interesting!

To the main speaker at the "please be careful" meeting, you always have my respect, and my affection. I'll get over this. I do respect the other participants, too, although I have to admit to amusement. I suspect my easy-going attitude at the time and total agreement had them a little off their game - one explanation was fine, but then it began to repeat and at that point I was wondering if all were prepared for a fight.
I know that at least one individual would be more respecting of me had I argued (I was told that when I agreed that I should wear the appropriate clothes for the job instead of telling the person to fuck off - yes, I know you were being facetious. Sometimes I do tell you to bite me, but I happened to agree. I also am a very big adherent to chain of command). I don't see the point of arguing. I feel a little uppity now, but now that I have gotten it off my chest I consider this to be a done deal.

To the readers, like it or not, remember this is just like Howard Stern. If you don't like it, don't read it or change the channel. To the missus of someone, I meant what I said: at events you shine like the sun. Always shine like that. To myself, I promise to keep blogging.

Saturday, 5 April 2008

A.W.A.D. - Words Formed By Contraction

Could the word fugetaboutit -- a contraction of "forget about it" -- find its way into dictionaries some day? It sounds unlikely, but that sort of thing happens all the time in languages.

The everyday word "goodbye" was earlier "god be with you". By association with greetings such as "good day", god morphed into good and the whole phrase became goodbye. Another such term is the informal greeting "Howdy" which in its former life was known as "How do ye?" or "How do you do?"

This week we'll look at five terms that were once longer phrases but are now condensed.

(DRUTH-uhrz) noun
One's own way; preference

[Plural of druther, contraction of "'d rather", as in "I/he/etc. would rather ..."]

(PRITH-ee) interjection
Please (used to express a request)

[Contraction of (I) pray thee.]

(WIL-ee NIL-ee) adverb, adjective
1. Whether willing or not
2. Haphazardly

[From contraction of "will ye/he/I nill ye/he/I", from will (to be willing) and nill (to be unwilling).]

(BLY-mee) interjection
An expression of surprise, dismay, etc.

[Contraction of "blind me" or "blame me", from "God blind/blame me"; sometimes heard in the form gorblimey or corblimey.]

(hi-DAL-go) noun
A member of the lower nobility in Spain.

[From Spanish, contraction of hijo de algo (son of something). A similar term of nobility in Portugal is fidalgo, from Portuguese filho de algo.]

In The Home Stretch!

Tika and Ioan are finishing up the rooms. Tika is painting the last wall in the kitchen area and Ioan has Gustavo - whom he calls "Goosey" - putting up the blinds and pictures and they attempted to put up the shelves but the shelves did not work out as planned. They were made for my office at work and fit perfectly in there but here the walls either are square or they aren't... because one side of the shelf won't touch the wall! It's hard to know where the issue lies - the golf cub building is 70 years older than my house, so I am thinking my office isn't square, but I may be completely wrong!

I need to go in there anyway, and make sure all the pictures are put up properly. And they'll move all the furniture back (which is good, since I moved all of it out of the rooms to begin with!

Friday, 4 April 2008

A Day With Luis at St. Clares

OK, I still don't like religious hospitals and this was no exception. The nursing staff, however, is top-notch and they took excellent care of Luis. None-the-less, I would not like this as a place to go with the weird religious overtones. Luis' room had a crucifix on the wall. Ugh - that gives me the willies. There were priests and nuns around. I am particularly anti-Catholic since they are anti-anyone-who-isn't, an attitude I never agree with.

We got there at 0531, and into the Same-Day-Surgery wing on the fourth floor where Luis and I found a single lone nurse. We got his room and he was instructed to divest himself of all clothes, jewelry, piercings, etc. He was out of his "casual clothing" (sweat pants that should never be worn out of the house and an old tee shirt that one of my penfriends sent him) and into the cheesy backwards gown in no time.

He laid in bed, which was clearly too short for him and I sat in the chair designed by Torquemada leaning my head against his right side. He and I chatted and laughed about different things and had fun speaking with his... wait... four different nurses (one of them has an Irish brogue that was sheer delight to listen to). The nurses were all great although I thought Linda had no sense of humour but then at the end of his stay she really lightened up and was as funny as could be. She suggested that we take the plastic urinal in case Luis needed it and if not, we could use it as a planter in the front yard to remind us of our fun time at St. Clares.

Hee hee.

The anesthesiologist came in, introduced himself and was a really nice young guy who explained everything he was going to do and use. General anesthesia is never a drug; it's a composite of several things: a sedative, a pain medication, an antibiotic, an anti-nauseal drug, and I think there was something else in there. A whole cocktail of interesting things. I really love that he was totally up front about how this whole process would work and what was going into his system. After that, his urologists showed up and explained the whole surgical process to us as well as percentages of success and failure and what would take place if there was no success this morning. I really like him: Dr. Adam Berman in Dover (out of Denville St. Clares). Very good guy!

The nurse (one of them) set up his IV and discovered that Luis is a really difficult stick. She had a hell of a time getting the IV needle in and normally these are excellent needles for the initial stick. Once in, the peice is flexible and moves with the patient, but Luis was uncomfortable. Personally, I understand that completely - I find the back of the hand IVs extremely uncomfortable. I usually push for the IV to be put in the crook of my left elbow. My right arm isn't good for intravenal sites. My left arm has a big beautiful easy vein right smack dead center.

So he was all set up and then the nurse from surgical, Nancy, came in to get him. What a pisser she was! She was really great. I wish I knew all of their names but it was still early, I was extraordinarily tired and they were all looking a bit peaked this early on.

He went in for an 0630 surgery and finally was wheeled out at 0709. He was in surgery until around 0830 and then Dr. Berman came and showed me the image of Luis' stone (a piece of it, anyway) and then explained that it all went very well, the stent is in and will keep the tubing, which is inflammed and sensitive, from closing up. He mentioned that passing some blood and pain in the kidney area would be normal for two to three days. He needs to come in on Monday, 14 April to have the stent removed.

He said Luis was in recovery and would be up in about 45 minutes but he's fine and is coming out of the anesthesia well.

Sure enough, he was up exactly 5 minutes later and totally normal. He was oriented to person, place and time and knew who I was and what had happened. Not like me, who can't remember anything after anesthesia and then I get violently ill; not like Ray, who came out of it totally paranoid and not at all oriented. He hardly knew who I was and seriously thought we were out to get him. This was much more reassuring.

I went in to be with him as soon as he was brought up and we were there until 1215. We finally got home after getting pizza and picking up prescriptions in Montville around 1300.

Now I have training across the street in ten minutes and then to bed. I will be at work tomorrow.

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

OK, My List of 100 Things

OK, my friend Mary, to whom I owe many thanks for too many good blogging ideas, has challenged me to do a list of 100 things about myself. Are you ready for this? I'm not sure I am... but here we go. It is 1940 on Wednesday, 2 April 2008. Let us see how far I can get with this before I need to throw in the towel or go to bed.

I'm hoping to put in more items. I suspect that there are 500 bullet points one should know before embarking on a good relationship with me.

1. I am have seen every single M*A*S*H episode ever made that aired to the public

2. I am an ebay junkie

3. I love my car; I think it is sexy

4. I just moved all the furniture in the house; everything hurts now!

5. I have muscular dystrophy

6. I have my menstrual cycle and severe cramps, the second time in six months after a 12 year hiatus (I hate it)

7. I burn candles all the time, one in each room upstairs

8. I love Luis more than I can imagine; we just had our 18 year anniversary

9. I've never shot a gun

10. I have done CPR five times

11. I don't mind blood but hate the smell of vomit

12. I have a massive collection of Smurfs and it is growing

13. I have an amazing collection of Old Farmers Almanacs

14. I am losing weight again (hence the menstrual cycle)

15. This episode of M*A*S*H always makes me cry - Henry Blake is killed on his flight home

16. I have SADDS in the winter

17. I take Ambien to sleep at night

18. I have an insatiable love of buying and sex (not together)

19. I never cook

20. I am a total [reformed] sugar junkie

21. If we hadn't moved because the outlaw moved in, I'd have never have become an EMT

22. I love colours on the walls (i.e. paint colours)

23. I used to do fantasy art (think Boris Vallejo)

24. I used to drink boatloads of hot tea

25. I miss drawing

26. I worked at the New York Renaissance Faire for 20 years

27. I have had sex with a total of eight men over 22 years of sexual activity (the most with Luis, obviously)

28. I fantasize about far more men than I've slept with

29. I love Hawai'ian pizza

30. I love Thai Chicken Pizza

31. I love hummus and fresh bread

32. I love pistachio nuts

33. I love my job

34. I love being in Human Resources

35. I miss the people from USII but not the company

36. I don't understand the pleasure of watching televised sports

37. I firmly believe this: he who dies with the most money is still dead

38. I think Nancy is great - a truly admirable woman

39. Sometimes I want to slap Joe (and he sometimes wants to slap me) but I am amazed at what the man can do with a calculator!

40. I don't get the whole golf thing

41. I rarely drink alcohol. I had two alcoholic beverages at my 40th birthday

42. I love being 40

43. I don't worry about aging - it is not a negative and it's pointless to do so

44. I have two lucky numbers: 4 and 9

45. I have two fathers

46. My mother makes me completely nuts

47. My maternal grandmother was a slob

48. My maternal grandfather died when Ma was 15 - I'm sorry I did not get to meet him

49. My paternal grandmother hated me for getting my period

50. My paternal grandfather was spineless but I loved him greatly

51. Both my father cook like gourmet chefs and I can barely boil water

52. I love volcanoes

53. I love plate techtonics

54. I love astronomy

55. Every time I go out on a call at night, I look for Orion, my guardian comstellation

56. Antonio Banderas used to be my favourite movie star to look at

57. Antonio has been ousted by Hugh Jackman

58. I used to dream about Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and I always love Colin Firth

59. To me, a pale yellow is the only colour for a kitchen

60. I love to sign to music

61. I have been listening to Coldplay all day, especially Sleeping Sun

62. I discovered that Trace Adkins is a truly admirable human being

63. My favourite candle fragrance is pear

64. I love driving the ambulance

65. I love taking pictures

66. I love traveling; I've been to the British Isles, Canada, California, Texas, all of New England and Florida (not that I'd brag about Florida)

67. I want to return to the British Isles as soon as possible; I was there when I was 17 years old

68. I hate camping - my idea of roughing it is a three star hotel

69. I enjoy looking at the many spheres made from (mostly) flourite, and other crystals

70. I love my cats greatly

71. I love to read and read voraciously

72. My favourite series is The Mallorean by David Eddings

73. Currently I'm reading Reading Lolita in Tehran - I highly recommend it

74. I need to straighten up the house before crashing for bed. I will resume this fun project tomorrow

75. Might as well end on thw 75; I love my hand made Ren boots (made by Catskill Mountain Moccassins). I love them

76. I own all comfortable shoes! No high heels or anything like that

77. I love Blogging, it is a release for me

78. I have a few close penfriends that I write to all the time, in the UK, New Hampshire and the Czech Republic

79. I find drunks and drivers who have no damage to their vehicles who scream blue murder that their necks hurt piss me off

80. I have no patience with alcohol consumption and people who do it all the time

81. Seeing Luis in pain upsets me more than I knew

82. My mother is a bit of a hypochondriac

83. We watch Wife Swap - my dirty secret

84. Same thing for Beauty & The Geek - I can't believe how unbelievably stupid some of the "beauties"

85. I intensey dislike children (it's tough to know the age cut-off - once they can hold an adult-level intelligent conversation and not act super-immature)

86. I would make a great geek on Beauty & the Geek

87. I would make a great grim reaper like on Dead Like Me

88. There's no place like home - one of the greatest movie lines ever

89. I always use Occam's Razor when dealing with EE issues

90. I love pistachio ice cream and have not had it in ages; I also love Peanutbutter Chocolate (specifically Baskin Robbins)

91. I used to get a hot white chocolate once a week at Dunkin' Donuts

92. Since I lost 35lbs I want to have sex 90% of the time instead of 75%

93. I love learning and have a zillion Idiot's Guide to... and ...for Dummies books

94. I have a photo image of my mother's removed huge appendix and this morning saw an image of Luis' kidney stone - it looked like a cactus

95. There is a hot guy on my squad and I spend too much time around hot cops at both of my jobs

96. I love working on jigsaw puzzles - mostly cartography, cartoons or images of a million of the same thing

97. I have so many books I will need to live to 300 years of age to read them all

98. I love Snoopy and used to carry a stuffed Snoopy toy around with me when I was a kid

99. I collect Sensa pens

100. Peel an onion and there are many different layers and you have just read 99 of them!