Saturday, 31 January 2009

Boy's Wrapped Birthday Gift is...

Dad Back from Iraq.

Tell me this isn't the coolest gift you could ever want...

DAYTON, Nev. – Gabriel Hurles' sixth birthday party wasn't a surprise, but his present sure was. The kindergartner was so engrossed in the cupcakes his mother brought to his class on Wednesday that he didn't notice the enormous wrapped box off to the side.

"That's one big, giant present," a 6-year-old classmate told him. "See what you got, Gabriel." Gabriel peeled back the wrapping paper to find the surprise of his young life — his father, an Army mechanic back in Nevada on leave from his second tour in Iraq.

"It's my dad!" he announced to his classmates at Sutro Elementary School in Dayton, a few miles northeast of Carson City. "Hi, Daddy."

Army Spc. Casey Hurles, 23, hadn't seen his son since he left in June. When he learned his leave would coincide with his son's birthday, he hatched a plan to hide out in the 4-foot-tall box. "It was such a rush of emotion," said Hurles, who said he got butterflies in his stomach while waiting in the box. After Hurles sat down and ate a cupcake with the birthday boy, teacher Dawn VanSickle presented him with a banner from the class that read, "Welcome Home. Thank you for your service."

VanSickle said she was happy to arrange the reunion in her classroom. "One of the first things (Gabriel) shared about himself was that his dad was in Iraq and that he was waiting for his dad to come home," she said. "He talks about his dad all the time." Hurles, who joined the Army four years ago, is a mechanic in the 1st Cavalry Division stationed at Fort Hood, Texas. He completed one tour in Iraq and is seven months into his second tour. He expects to finish sometime this summer.

Gabriel said he looks forward to playing with his dad over the next two weeks but understands why he has to leave again. "He has to work," Gabriel said. "He works in the war."

Saturday 9: Going to Pot

1. When was the last time you smoked pot?

The last time I smoked pot I was 19, so 22 years ago. Luis will very rarely get some and smoke it. It smells as bad now as it did then and gives me a monstrous headache. It is difficult for me to figure out what people get out of it but clearly this is just my wacky physiology and not the normal reaction to marijuana.

2. What do you think is your biggest weakness?

Oh, that is easy - money! Spending - something I do freely and all too often.

3. What is your biggest fear?

Would you believe it is of falling on ice? I'm practically incapcitated by it. I hate that.

4. Is there a particular goal that you’d like accomplish this year?

Just to be happy - that is always my goal. Being a natuarally happy person anyway, this is more easily obtainable than you would think!

5. What do you miss most from your youth?

Hmmm. My grandfather. That's it. I hated being a child and was unhappy most of the time. I love life now.

6. What is your best physical feature?

My best physical feature? In my eyes, there isn't one. But one should not look at me through my jaded eyes. People always compliment my smile (for reasons passing understanding) but that has little to do with the physical side of it.

7. Are you very confident?

Yes, extremely. That is not an issue for me.

8. Tell us about the last time you were drunk.

I wasn't. I don't see the point to it.

9. Have you ever cheated on a lover?

Yes, I have. That is all you ever need know.

Four for Friday - 30 January

Four For Friday Q1: - Drugs: Fueled primarily by Internet sales, the International Journal of Clinical Practice recently reported that the counterfeit pharmaceutical market could reach $70 billion dollars by 2010. Alarmingly, the Journal reports, these include fake drugs that could have devastating consequences, like counterfeit medication for potentially fatal conditions like cancer and high blood pressure. Have you ever--or would you consider--purchasing pharmaceutical drugs online from a foreign-based provider or company?

No. Gods know, I get tons of e-mails and such from these online out-of-the-country "pharmacies", but I don't even open them up. And this will only make my life harder as an emergency medical technician. We encounter a great many pharmaceuticals out there and sometimes they may be through questionable sources, but how do we treat for a drug that may not be what it reads? We don't administer drugs other than oxygen or epinephrine, but the medics do. And they are often acting on information that we provide them. This is just a bad idea all around.

Q2: - Rejuvenile: Rejuvenile's are what marketers are now calling people who cultivate tastes and mindsets traditionally associated with those younger than themselves. For example, the iPhone recognizes and plays to the rejuvenile trend by featuring brightly colored icons and playful features that reflect a kid-like tone, whereas the Mini Cooper lets every boy or girl live out their fantasy of driving a Matchbox/Hot Wheels-like car in real life. Do you consider yourself a rejuvenile?
No, I would not - I normally stay away from anything child-like, much as I did when I was a kid! I have an iPod, but I used it and I would not say it has anything to do with wanting to be a kid again. I would never, ever want to be a kid again. And I will tell you now that there was nothing at all like an iPod when I was a kid - not at all. I had records - vinyl - when I was a kid, something too big and delicate to lug around to a friend's house and definitely no way to play it in the car! I also would not drive a Mini Cooper. I think it is one of the more rediculous looking vehicles... and now I know why!

Q3: - Credit: The credit score--that annoying but all-important numerical expression based on a statistical analysis of a person's credit files that represents your creditworthiness--is getting a lot of play these days. With the availability of credit tightening and more people going into debt because of the state of the economy, many people stand to lose ground over the next few years--not gain it--when it comes to their credit score. How concerned are you with your credit score? Do you, for instance, use a fee-based service to monitor and check your credit score, or could you give a rats-you-know-what about your credit rating?

That's me in the I could give a rat's ass about my credit rating category. It turns out, oddly enough, that I score somewhere high - over 600 - because while I have debt, it is minimal and I always make ontime payments and so that is enough. I don't pretend to understand it. I don't even try to understand it. I know I have money when I need it and ignore everything else. That sounds a little lacksidasical and it probably is, but that is how I deal with my money. When I did check it, it was at my husband's suggestion and I did it through a once-a-year free service like Equifax, or something.

Q4: - Place: A new national survey by the Pew Research Center's Social & Demographic Trends project finds that nearly half (46%) of Americans would rather live in a different type of community from the one they're living in now. When asked about specific metropolitan areas where they would like to live, respondents rank Denver, San Diego and Seattle at the top of a list of 30 cities, and Detroit, Cleveland and Cincinnati at the bottom. Reasonably speaking, would you like to live somewhere other than where you currently reside?

No. I'm very happy with where we are (although admittedly this winter's weather is beginning to wear on me considerably) and have no intentions of living elsewhere. That will be different when we are older and want to retire. By then it had better be just the two of us (i.e. no more of Luis' father living with us) and then I know where I want to live - Palm Springs, California. We are in a good, strong financial situation where this is a completely attainable goal. But we aren't looking to retire at any time soon.

I'd hate to be a person who wanted to live somewhere else and didn't. I would never want to live in a city, and by contrast I would not want to live in the hinterlands. Where I am is ideal. Nothing is far away from me: New York City is 40 minutes away, the ocean is 90 minutes away, the country is 30 minutes away, and gambling (if I had a desire to do so) is 2 hours away. Everything is easily within reach. I could not ask for more.

Friday, 30 January 2009

Article: Astronomy in South Africa is Thriving

I love to hear that astronomy is thriving anywhere. But South Africa has become special to me, so this made it all the more worth posting!

South Africa's achievements in astronomy can help the country overcome its shortage of maths, science and technology skills, said Science Minister Mosibudi Mangena on Monday. "Our history in astronomical achievements reads like a novel. Our accomplishments in this field rank with the most glittering in the world. And our future in astronomy looks very rosy indeed," read a copy of the speech the minister delivered at South Africa's launch of the International Year of Astronomy (IYA2009), at the Astronomical Observatory in Cape Town. He said the country was suffering from a crippling shortage of maths, science and technology graduates.

One of the factors contributing to this was ignorance about the role that maths, science and technology graduates could play in society; something South Africa's long history of achievements in astronomy could help address. Mangena said South Africa's involvement in classical western astronomy formally started in 1685 - 76 years after Galileo made his first observations through a telescope - when a temporary observatory was set up in Cape Town. He said in 1751, the Abbe de Lacaille was sent by France's Royal Academy of Sciences to South Africa and set up an observatory in what is now Strand Street in Cape Town.

"From there he charted the positions of almost 10 000 stars, catalogued 42 nebulas, named a number of constellations; and is widely regarded as the person who laid the foundations for modern southern hemisphere astronomy." Mangena also said the 180th anniversary of the completion of the first stage of the South African astronomical observatory was being celebrated on Monday.

"With this story we can inspire many and fulfil the dreams of the talented. To achieve this, we must all help to spread the story of South Africa's developments in astronomy." The international celebrations for the year of astronomy - taking place in the year that was also the 400th anniversary of Galileo Galilei's first astronomical observations - were being led by Unesco.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation would support 11 cornerstone projects. Cape Town's astronomical observatory would be running one of these projects, intended to help developing countries with no observatories or astronomy departments in their universities.

Mangena said events would take place all over the country at observatories, planetariums and science centres to use astronomy to stimulate interest in maths and science. "To us IYA2009 is not just an occasion for promoting astronomy; it is also an opportunity for stimulating the imaginations of our young and old across the continent."

Mangena said South Africa was Africa's technological leader, and therefore had a responsibility to use its position to the continent's benefit.

Legislation had been passed over the last two years which preserved and protected areas which were uniquely suited for optical and radio astronomy. He also said South Africa was currently short-listed with Australia to host the Square Kilometre Array Telescope - which would be by far the biggest radio telescope in the world."We stand a good chance of winning this bid," said Mangena. "We have much to celebrate... astronomy in South Africa is thriving. Astronomy can become the catalyst by means of which more Africans can be drawn into the sciences and the maths disciplines." - Sapa

Article: Astronomers Get A Sizzling Weather Report From Distant Planet

ScienceDaily (Jan. 29, 2009) — Astronomers have observed the intense heating of a distant planet as it swung close to its parent star, providing important clues to the atmospheric properties of the planet. The observations enabled astronomers at the University of California, Santa Cruz, to generate realistic images of the planet by feeding the data into computer simulations of the planet's atmosphere.

"We can't get a direct image of the planet, but we can deduce what it would look like if you were there. The ability to go beyond an artist's interpretation and do realistic simulations of what you would actually see is very exciting," said Gregory Laughlin, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UCSC. Laughlin is lead author of a new report on the findings published this week in Nature.

The researchers used NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope to obtain infrared measurements of the heat emanating from the planet as it whipped behind and close to its star. In just six hours, the planet's temperature rose from 800 to 1,500 Kelvin (980 to 2,240 degrees Fahrenheit).

Known as HD 80606b, the planet circles a star 200 light years from Earth, is four times the mass of Jupiter, and has the most eccentric orbit of any known planet. It spends most of its 111.4-day orbit at distances that would place it between Venus and Earth in our own solar system, while the closest part of its orbit brings it within 0.03 astronomical units of its star (one astronomical unit is the distance between Earth and the Sun). The planet zips through this dramatic close encounter with its star in less than a day.

At the closest point, the sunlight beating down on the planet is 825 times stronger than the irradiation it receives at its farthest point from the star. "If you could float above the clouds of this planet, you'd see its sun growing larger and larger at faster and faster rates, increasing in brightness by almost a factor of 1,000," Laughlin said.

Spitzer observed the planet for 30 hours before, during, and just after its closest approach to the star. The planet passed behind the star (an event called a secondary eclipse) just before the moment of its closest approach. This was a lucky break for Laughlin and his colleagues, who had not known that would happen when they planned the observation. The secondary eclipse allowed them to get accurate measurements from just the star and thereby determine exact temperatures for the planet.

The extreme temperature swing observed by Spitzer indicates that the intense irradiation from the star is absorbed in a layer of the planet's upper atmosphere that absorbs and loses heat rapidly, Laughlin said.

Coauthor Jonathan Langton, a postdoctoral researcher at UCSC, fed the Spitzer data into a hydrodynamic model of the planet's atmosphere to predict its response to the intense heating. Langton's simulation shows the global storms and shockwaves unleashed in the planet's atmosphere every 111 days as it swings close to its star.

"The initial response could be described as an explosion on the side facing the star," Langton said. "As the atmosphere heats up and expands, it produces very high winds, on the order of 5 kilometers per second, flowing away from the day side toward the night side. The rotation of the planet causes these winds to curl up into large-scale storm systems that gradually die down as the planet cools over the course of its orbit."

Daniel Kasen, a Hubble postdoctoral fellow at UCSC, was able to generate photorealistic images of the planet using a program he developed to calculate radiative transfer processes in astrophysics. "It calculates the color and intensity of light coming from the glowing planet, and also how starlight would reflect off the surface of the planet," Kasen said.

The resulting images show a thin blue crescent of reflected starlight framing the night side of the planet, which glows cherry red from its own heat, like coals in a fire. "These images are far more realistic than anything that's been done before for extrasolar planets," Laughlin said. If the planet's orbit is aligned just right, it will pass in front of the star (an event known as a primary transit) on February 14. Both professional and amateur astronomers worldwide will be watching to see if this happens. The occurrence of primary transits would enable astronomers to learn more about this unusual planet by conducting spectroscopic observations.

HD 80606b was originally discovered in 2001 by a Swiss planet-hunting team led by Dominique Naef of the Geneva Observatory, Switzerland. Using a method known as the Doppler-velocity technique, they detected the tell-tale wobble in the light from the star caused by the gravitational tug of the planet.

Subsequent observations by Laughlin's colleagues on the California & Carnegie Planet Search team--Steve Vogt at UCSC and Paul Butler at the Carnegie Institute of Washington--provided precise information about the planet's orbit, which was essential for planning the Spitzer observations. Drake Deming of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center contributed his expertise to the analysis of the Spitzer data. Other coauthors of the Nature paper include UCSC postdoctoral researcher Eugenio Rivera and graduate student Stefano Meschiari.

The Spitzer Space Telescope is operated by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), California Institute of Technology (Caltech), under contract to NASA. Support for this work was provided by NASA through an award issued by JPL/Caltech.

For Luis: Would He Have Made a Good 1930s Husband?

Highly, highly doubtful, unless being a bit of a slob was acceptable then...

Check all that apply to you or that you agree with:

You neatly hang up your clothes on hooks or hangers
You would kiss your wife just after she's put her makeup on
You are interested in sports
It makes you angry when the newspaper is disorganized
X You do not use tobacco - for chewing or for smoking
You do not shower or change your socks every day
X You would give your wife real kisses, "movie kisses" - not just pecks on the cheek
You would object to your wife driving if you were in the car
You would enjoy taking your wife with you wherever you went
X You burp without apologizing
You would give your wife an allowance or turn your paychecks over to her
You read the newspaper at the dining room table

You Would Make an Okay 1930's Husband
You have some of the attributes of an ideal 1930's husband. You're well mannered, kind, and even tempered. You have a few nasty habits, but what man doesn't?

Would I Have Made a Good 1930s Wife?

Heh heh heh... I think we ALL know the answer to this! But I'll bite anyway...

Check all that apply to you or that you agree with:

You would ask your husband's opinion before making a big decision or purchase.
X You tell risque or vulgar stories.
You would often remark on your husband's strength and masculinity.
You smoke, drink, gamble, or use drugs.
You keep snacks in the refrigerator that a man would like for late night eating.
X You walk around the house in your stocking feet.
X You are not crabby first thing in the morning. You wake up with a pleasant disposition.
You wear red nail polish.
You keep yourself dainty, feminine, and smelling nice.
X You use slang or profanity.
You are a good seamstress. You can sew your own clothes and clothes for the children.
You wear your pajamas while cooking

Drum roll, please...

You Would Make an Okay 1930s Wife
You have some of the attributes of an ideal 1930s wife... but you probably didn't intend it to be that way. You don't buy into retro gender roles, though you do embrace your femininity at times. A 1930s man may find you passable, but you probably wouldn't want anything to do with him.

A.W.A.D. - Five Latin Words

By Anu Garg

The magic of technology is spreading. What we couldn't even imagine only a few years ago is now possible. With just a few clicks of a mouse, someone in one corner of the world can make contact with a fellow human being thousands of miles away and offer to sell her cheap Via gra.

In the beginning, most of the spam was in English, but now they are branching out. Can you imagine the suits in their boardrooms at Spam, Inc. plotting the strategy, "We have to diversify our offerings in local languages to broaden our reach."

There's a positive side to it though. Comparing these pieces of junk mail with the English version can improve one's knowledge of foreign languages. Example:

From: Mariam Abachha
Subject: Envie d'associé avec vous...
Translation: Nigerian loot now offered in exquisitely fractured French

So far I haven't received any spam in Latin, but the day can't be far off. Until spammers catch up on Latin, let us this week peruse a few words from that ancient language.

ex libris
1. From the library of (a phrase inscribed in a book followed by the name of the book owner)
2. A bookplate

ETYMOLOGY: From Latin ex libris (from the books), from ex- (from) + liber (book)

in medias res
PRONUNCIATION: (in MAY-dee-uhs rays, in MEE-dee-uhs REEZ, in MAY-dee-as RAYS)
MEANING: adverb: In the middle of things

ETYMOLOGY: From Latin in medias res, from in (in, into) + medius (middle) + res (thing). A related term is ab ovo (from the beginning, literally, from the egg). Both come from Horace's Ars Poetica (Art of Poetry), where the Roman poet advises that an epic poem ought to begin in the middle of the action rather than at the beginning. The story is then told by flashbacks.

dramatis personae
PRONUNCIATION: (DRAM-uh-tis puhr-SO-nee)
MEANING: noun:
1. The characters in a play or story
2. The people involved in an event

ETYMOLOGY: From Latin dramatis personae (persons of the drama), from drama (play) + persona (mask, character in a play, person)

lares and penates
PRONUNCIATION: (LAR-eez and puh-NAY-teez)
MEANING: noun:
1. Household gods: the benevolent gods in an ancient Roman household
2. Household goods: a family's treasured possessions

ETYMOLOGY: From Latin Lares et Penates, from Lares, plural of Lar (in Roman mythology, the deity or spirit who protected a household) + et (and) + Penates (deities of the household that were believed to bring wealth), from penus (provisions, interior of a house).In an ancient Roman home a shrine for the guardian spirits was called lararium.

ex parte
MEANING: adverb: Involving one side only

ETYMOLOGY: From Latin ex parte (from a side)

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Thursday Meme - 29 January

3x Thursday
01/29/y2k+9: It's Important!
List the 3 most important things in your life, and why they are important to you.

Uh, what happened to the three questions I usually answer?

Hmmm. Not necessarily in order:

My job, which I love, enjoy and take enormous pride in; my husband, who is my best friend, my lover, my guardian angel; and music, which lights the way out of the darkest nights and the longest days.

Do I pass the test?

Me and My "Cheep"

I have lots of "cheep" - Luis might even say "cheeps". But I love the sheep! They are really neat! I can't help it if I think they are neat. Not that there aren't many things I don't like. But the sheep are really soft and cute and come in great colours. And sizes... did I mention sizes?

I saw the little sheep and the midsize ones. I bought two small ones, then ordered two of the big ones online. I saw a giant one in the mall store and told Luis he has to get me one! He did not... so I went hunting on e-bay, and found the mondo-sheep along with the tiny pink one and got them from a really great seller (OKINeedThat) and got a good deal onthem. And look how gargantuan this sheep is! It is three feet long and at least two and half feet high.

I love it and while Luis doesn't get it, he gets that I like them. He finds it amusing to throw them at the cat. The cat, on the other hand, enjoys laying on them. She finds them as soft and cuddle as I do, and prefers to nap on my sheep blankets. I get that. I like napping under my sheep blankets.

If it snows again tomorrow, I think I will hibernate under them until spring!

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Happy Birthday to Me & Facebook!

Maybe I should entitle this "How the Hell Do I Know 218 People?!"...

I had an amazing birthday and Facebook is resonsible for a disproportionately large percentage of this! I had birthday wishes by BOATLOAD. I had many, many comments on my wall, maybe more than I have gotten for the (almost) whole year I have been on Facebook!

But while wall comments and messages through Facebook and my e-mail are all great, and I appreciate each and every one of them, I especially loved this:

It's a card from a guy I went to high school with, a John Tamoosh. Tell me that isn't a funny card, a really cute thing. I happen to like cows, I always thought cows are kind of neat (I suspect this particular specimen is a steer or bull, but hey, it is still in the bovine family!). But that is not what John was thinking.
He was thinking he is just doing what everyone else is doing - sending birthday greetings. I love it, though, and for whatever reason, it struck a chord with me - a really nice one.
I've been cogitating endlessly of late about the wonder of finding so many people I went to school with and discovering much to my shock that the way I saw myself is not at all what they saw. How did that happen? Why did I not know this? But it is amazing. It is also very heartening.
I don't think John and I had much if any real interaction in school. I had little interaction with anyone, and he was on the football team - probably one of the groups I had the least interaction with (wondering why? Watch any John Hughes movie - I was always in the "weird, reject" group and the "jocks" were the revered god-like choosen ones). In the adult world, it is not the end of life as we know it to be in the weird, reject group - I haven't moved out of it, it's just acceptable now! But now it is okay to cross the boundaries of the cast system that so ruled high school life.
Anyway, John, thank you for the card! It made my day!

My Birthday Personality

I got this answer by answering that my birth date is either the 8th, 17th or 26th. In any month.

"You are Number 8:

You have a very strong personality and people will find it hard to understand you. You are more likely to suffer in your younger years.

You might be also the one responsible to look out for your family. You often suffer all the way through life. You will learn life in a very practical way. You are the one who will fight for justice and may even die in the war too.

You are normally very reserved with a handful of friends and most of the time, live life alone and always prepared to help others. However, once you settle down, (which is often late), then your hard lucks will disappear. You will face unexpected problems such as encountering poisonous animals, and accidents.

You are highly- disciplined, persistence, and courageous, and it is your strength that will take you to success. You area great part of a family team. You are a fighter."

Goodness. This is as inaccurate as anyone would expect it to be. One or two things might be right, but that is it. I won't die in a war as anything other than a tertiary casualty. I don't suffer through life - I'm not a Roman Catholic. I have been "settled down" longer than most people I know but that wasn't the answer to all life's issues.

Reserved? What is that?

And the list goes on...

Wednesday Weirdness #40

Note: Posting super early as I will not have time Tuesday to get on and I wanted to make sure they did make it up. Thank you Cali Belle for the questions this week. If you want to submit questions to us, please please email me and let me know! Don't be shy! 'wink'

1.) If a natural disaster left thousands of people homeless, would you let a family of strangers stay in your house?

I suppose I would. I don't know for how long, but yes, I would at the very least consider it. I'd want someone to do that for me.

2.) How often do you watch porn?

Not very often... porn in and of itself is not exactly mind-blowing, riveting viewing. If I want to really watch something, I will watch a movie. Porn is a great way to get the ball rolling for some really amazing sex. Maybe that is not the right thing to say, but after 19 years with the same person, well... sometimes a spark to fan into a blazing conflagration is just what you need!

3.) How many people have naked or semi-naked pictures of you?

Ye gods, anyone who has worked at the New York Renaissance has them! Ha, ha, ha - it's true! I never had hang ups with nudity. And when you work the NYRF as long as I had, with my general personality, you'd understand my feeling that my breasts are public property. I know that no one has what are called "beaver shots" of me. I've never had any taken that-- hmmmm. Well... that had my face in them or could be tied to me by any birthmarks! Who has not had photos taken of themselves? Why not?

4.) When having sex with someone, have you ever fantasized about someone else? If yes, explain why you were thinking of someone else during sex.

Would you believe me if I said no? Of course not, I would not believe me either. Anyone who tells you otherwise is full of it, too. Why? Well, let's revisit that 19 years with the same partner thing (it came up in the post prior to this one).

5.) Is there ever an appropriate time to lie to someone and push yourself off as single when truthfully you're not?

Good question. The reverse is certainly easily explained. But to say you are single when not but not looking to "outsource" something or abrogate your marriage vows? I don't know. When would that be appropriate?

6.) Who is one person who has changed your life and how did they change things for you?

Many, many people have contributed to the person I am now. I don't have that kind of time on my hands to answer this in detail.

7.) How comfortable are you in bed with your current significant other? Do they know all your kinks or do you tend to hold back? Why?

Uh, you are kidding me, right? Nearly two decades together has worked out any discomfort with one another. I don't hold back, no. It is not in my nature to do so anyway.

TMI Tuesday #171 -Movie Edition

1. What was the last movie you saw in a theater?

Mmmm, it has been a while. I think we saw something more recently than-- oh, yes. The latest Bond movie. It was the most expensive nap I've ever taken... it was fast-paced, action-packed and a total yawner. If you have seen one Bond movie, you have seen them all.

2. What is your favorite movie theater snack?

I guess Twizzlers would be my favourite movie snack. I try to bring my own - not because of inability to pay, but it is just wrong to charge that kind of money for what can be bought in a grocery store for 1/3 the price. I hate that. It is a blatant rip-off and it is overlooked or considered acceptable all the time.

3. Have you ever snuck in 'outside' food into a theater?

As always, I'm jumping the gun. Yes, I bring food all the time from the outside. I used to do it back in the day when the theatres were allowed to search your bag for contraband. Now they can't do that. So I walk in with food in my bag and my typical water bottle in hand.

4. Have you ever made out in a theater?

Doesn't everyone at some point or another... usually before age 25.

5. What is the 'farthest' you have gone in a theater?

I suppose the usual groping. How much more do you think can be done in a normal public theatre? I don't go to XXX-rated theatres - this is why one has a home theatre system. And let's be honest - those movies are just a beginning... take that where you want!

Bonus (as in optional): What is one of your favorite movie sex scene?

Hmmm. I always loved the one in The Thomas Crown Affair, even though the rest of the movie was a little flakey. What's the other - oh, yes, Nine and a Half Weeks. An otherwise terrible movie turned up the heat to boiling when Mickey Rouke (yuck) was feeding what's her name, the one that married Alec Baldwin and owns (owned?) a town in Geogia. What was her name...? Sheesh. I can picture the face...

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

What Are You?

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

Here is a little test that will help you decide. 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 charges at you.

You are carrying a Glock cal 40, 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 Glock 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 a paint and weed day and make this a happier, healthier street that would discourage such behavior. This is all so confusing! I need to discuss with some friends over a latte 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 Hollow Points?'
Son: 'You got him, Pop! Can I shoot the next one?'
Wife: 'You are not taking that to the taxidermist.'

I know this is funny, but if I were an expert shot with a Glock, I'd be a Republican! One shot to the upper leg and that'd be the end of that!

Curious as a Cat Meme #153

Week Number 153
1) What is the most beautiful sound you’ve ever heard?

Music, specially the piece from The Shawshank Redemption. That with Morgan Freeman's description of the sound and the experience, made it magickal. A non-music sound that is beautiful: thunder; deep, rolling beautiful thunder.

2) If you could stop loving someone, who would it be?

My mother.

3) What is the hardest transition you’ve ever had to make in your life?

Being unemployed. That is really hard to do.

4) Show and Tell. What comes to mind first when you see this picture? Or, tell a story if it reminds you of one.

It makes me think of postcards of New Jersey.

Everytime I try to find good postcards of New Jersey, they are either postcards of New York, which is not New Jersey, or they are of these barns or bridges that look a lot like this, but those are all in southern New Jersey, no where near here. I'm insulted. Northen New Jersey has many, many gorgeous areas - it is not all dumps or roads. In fact, there are very few dumps and while there are many roads, it is not even close to being like Manhattan.

Monday, 26 January 2009

Birthday Stuff

Birthday Facts:
Birthday is the name given to the day that some people in many cultures celebrate the anniversary of the day they were born. It is often marked by a birthday party with friends and family when gifts are given to the person celebrating the birthday. It is also customary to treat people specially on their birthday, either generally acceding to their wishes, or subjecting them to a rite of transition. Birthday's are very different in some other countries.

The celebration of birthdays is not universal. Some people prefer name day celebrations, and Jehovah's Witnesses do not celebrate either, considering their origins to be pagan festivals along with Christmas and Easter. Some adults loathe celebrating it as it reminds them that they are getting progressively older.

Notable Birthdays are when the most significant digit changes, for example one's 1st, 10th, 20th, 30th, 50th, or 100th birthdays.One's champagne birthday, also called a golden birthday, is the day when the age someone turns is the same as the day in the month he or she was born. It is also common for the birthday individual to have champagne, thus champagne birthday. For example, someone born on January 31st would celebrate his or her golden birthday when he or she turns 31.

Jewish boys have a bar mitzvah on or around their 13th birthday. Jewish girls observe a bat mitzvah on or around their 12th birthday, or sometimes on or around their 13th birthday in Reform and Conservative Judaism.

In some Christian traditions, generally Catholic and Anglican, Confirmation is the ritual by which a young person receives a Sacrament thought to bestow certain gifts of the Holy Spirit. The timing of the reception of this Sacrament serves, on a sociological level, as a sort of "rite of passage" into adulthood.

In Latin America the quinceanera celebration traditionally marks a girl's 15th birthday.

Some girls and a few boys in the United States have "sweet sixteen" birthday parties.

In the United Kingdom 18th and 21st are traditional coming of age birthdays.

In many Asian countries, the 14th birthday is celebrated as the day one becomes a man, or a woman, in society.

Many Filipino girls celebrate their 18th birthdays with a cotillion and debutante ball, commonly known as a debut.

People who are born on the leap day 29 February, which only occurs during leap years, often celebrate their birthday in other years on the 28th (the last day of February), or 1 March (the first day they have, measured in whole years, a new age).

In some Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox countries such as France, Hungary, or Greece, it is common to have a 'name day'/'Saint's day'. This is celebrated in much the same way as a birthday, but is held on the official day of a saint with the same Christian name as the birthday boy/girl.

Birthday Joke:
Birthdays are good for you. Statistics show that the people who have the most live the longest.

Birth Stones:
A Birthstone is a gift of a precious material, mainly jewelry. that symbolizes the month of birth in the Gregorian Calendar. There have been many different sets of birthstones used throughout history and in different cultures.In 1912, in an effort to standardize them, the American national association of jewelers, Jewelers of America, officially adopted the above list. Gem stones make such an ideal gift as each stone is associated with various qualities and wearing these stones are commonly thought to bring good luck or health.Supernatural powers have long been attributed by astrologers to certain gemstones. These gems have always had a special place in the hearts and minds of humanity.

Monday: Pearl, the only organic gem
Tuesday: Garnet
Wednesday: Cat's eye, Chatoyant Chrysoberyl
Thursday: Emerald
Friday: Topaz
Saturday: Sapphire
Sunday: Ruby

Birth month Stone
January: Garnet
February: Amethyst
March: Aquamarine
April: Diamond
May: Emerald
June: Pearl
July: Ruby
August: Peridot
September: Sapphire
October: Opal
November: Citrine
December: Topaz

Birth Flowers:
Did you know that every month has a birth flower and that, like birthstones, each Birth Flower has it's own unique meaning.

Flowers alone have natural beauty and symbolism all of their own. Find out below which Birth Flower you fall under and what meanings thay have.

January: Carnation
February: Violet
March: Daffodil
April: Daisy
May: Lily of the Valley
June: Rose
July: Larkspur
August: Gladiolus
September: Aster
October: Calendula, Marigold
November: Chrysanthemum
December: Paperwhite, Narcissus

The carnation is the January birth flower. Carnations have been around for a few thousand years. Originated from the East, these flowers have the meaning of great pride, fascination, beauty love and and are now associated with the January birth flower.

The carnations are a pretty flower and have a nice smell unlike others. The carnation is also known by the name's maiden pink, dianthus, sweet william, pinks, and. This flower is derived from Greek words that mean "flower of the gods". The carnation has many meanings depending on it's color. White has the flower meaning of friendship; pink, romance; red, love; and a striped carnation for refusal and yellow for disdain. On Mother's Day it's traditional to wear a pink carnation to honor a living mother and white to for a mother that has passed on.

The Latin name for carnation is dianthus "divine flower". The carnation is used by some to protect them, give them strength and for their healing properties. The carnation is perfect for birthdays during this winter month.

Birth Trees:
Did you know we all have a Birth tree? Do you know your Birth tree? Seek out yours and your friends and family's to find inspiration and inner peace of mind why people have more individual personality traits than other's.

Cypress Tree These people are Faithfulness, strong, athletic and muscular, very adaptable and takes things in their stride yet does not always like it, Yearns to be content, very optimistic, someone who wants financially independene, loves to love and loves affection, hates being alone, a very passionate lover which can be hard to satisfy, very faithful, can be quick tempered at times, can be careless and unruly, they love to learn new knowledge, needs to be needed.

Jan 01 to Jan 11 Fir Tree
Jan 12 to Jan 24 Elm Tree
Jan 25 to Feb 03 Cypress Tree

Feb 04 to Feb 08 Poplar Tree
Feb 09 to Feb 18 Cedar Tree
Feb 19 to Feb 28 Pine Tree

Mar 01 to Mar 10 Weeping Willow Tree
Mar 11 to Mar 20 Lime Tree
Mar 21 Oak Tree
Mar 22 to Mar 31 Hazelnut Tree

Apr 01 to Apr 10 Rowan Tree
Apr 11 to Apr 20 Maple Tree
Apr 21 to Apr 30 Walnut Tree

May 01 to May 14 Poplar Tree
May 15 to May 24 Chestnut Tree
May 25 to Jun 03 Ash Tree

Jun 04 to Jun 13 Hornbeam Tree
Jun 14 to Jun 23 Fig Tree
Jun 25 to Jul 04 Apple Tree

Jul 05 to Jul 14 Fir Tree
Jul 15 to Jul 25 Elm Tree
Jul 26 to Aug 04 Cypress Tree

Aug 05 to Aug 13 Poplar Tree
Aug 14 to Aug 23 Cedar Tree
Aug 24 to Sep 02 Pine Tree

Sep 03 to Sep 12 Weeping Willow Tree
Sep 13 to Sep 22 Lime Tree
Sep 23 Olive Tree
Sep 24 to Oct 03 Hazelnut Tree

Oct 04 to Oct 13 Rowan Tree
Oct 14 to Oct 23 Maple Tree
Oct 24 to Nov 11 Walnut Tree

Nov 12 to Nov 21 Chestnut Tree
Nov 22 to Dec 01 Ash Tree

Dec 02 to Dec 11 Hornbeam Tree
Dec 12 to Dec 21 Fig Tree
Dec 22 Beech Tree
Dec 23 to Jan 01 Apple Tree

Birthday Meme

Birthday Meme
Hey look, internets! A meme! (I haven't done one of these in a long while, so...)

Look up your birthday in Wikipedia. Pick 4 events, 3 births, 2 deaths, and 1 holiday.

January 26 is the 26th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 339 days remaining until the end of the year (340 in leap years).

1340 - King Edward III of England is declared King of France.
1531 - Lisbon, Portugal is hit by an earthquake--thousands die.
1700 - The magnitude 9 Cascadia Earthquake takes place off the west coast of the North America, as evidenced by Japanese records.
1978 - The Great Blizzard of 1978, a rare severe blizzard with the lowest non-tropical atmospheric pressure ever recorded in the US, strikes the Ohio - Great Lakes region with heavy snow and winds up to 100 mph (161 km/h).

1925 - Paul Newman, American actor, philanthropist, race car driver and race team owner (d. 2008)
1958 - Ellen DeGeneres, American actress and comedian
1968 - Ravi Teja, Tollywood film actor

1968 - Yvor Winters, American poet (b. 1900)
2004 - Fred Haas, American golfer (b. 1916)

Roman Empire - third day of the Sementivae in honor of Ceres and Terra

Happy Birthday To ME!

It's been a great day! And it will get better!!

What Does My Birthday Say About Me?

1.When's your Birth Month?

2.What's The Date You Were Born?

3.Favourite Number?

4.What is your favourite month? [these questions are pointless, I know] (choose the month you were born please)
Note: My favourite month is October

5.What's your favourite Color?
Note: My favouirte colours are burgundy, hunter green, Dark teal, silver

Stubborn and hard-hearted. Ambitious and serious. Loves to teach and be taught. Always looking at people's flaws and weaknesses. Likes to criticize. Hardworking and productive. Smart, neat and organized. Sensitive and has deep thoughts. Knows how to make others happy. Quiet unless excited or tensed. Rather reserved. Highly attentive. Resistant to illnesses but prone to colds. Romantic but has difficulties expressing love. Loves children. Loyal. Has great social abilities yet easily jealous. Very Stubborn and money cautious.
Wow. Tells you how inacurate these things really are. I'm hard-hearted, to what my jobs need me to do. I'm ambitious and I do have a serious side, but mostly I am not that serious. Loves to teach and be taught is right on target.
I do always look at people's flaws and weaknesses. It is a large part of what I do... And I can be very critical. Mostly hardworking, productive, smart, neat and VERY organised. Sensitive and has deep thoughts, yes.
Sometimes I know how to make others happy; sometimes I know how to jump into my own mouth with both feet. I am loyal.
I'm rarely quiet and even less likely to be reserved. When tense, I might clam up. I never have trouble expressing love, ever. I can't stand kids. I'm so incautious with money, it is laughable. Not at all jealous, not one teeny bit.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Tree Dreamer Sunday Meme - Sunday Stealing, The Sassy Meme

Sunday, January 25th, 2009
New meme from this site. I know it’s not real content, but in a way, it can be. It depends on how you answer these. Some of the questions on memes can be prompts for real content, albeit short content. Anyway…
1. If you could say anything you wanted to say to George Bush, what would you say?

Thank the gods you are done in the White House, and what were you thinking? Or were you?

2. If you had to be the mother of Britney Spears or Lindsay Lohan, who would you choose and why?

Oh, ye gods. You have some really hard questions... they are both awful. I would have to disown them. OK. Seriously... I would have to pick Lindsay Lohan... for all her fuck-ups, which are considerable, she has not had any children. I'd recommend she'd get her tubes tied. I'd feel that at least while she doesn't have a good place in her life, at least she is only responsible for hers and can take the time to get it all in a better state. Britney has missed that boat and should not have those kids at all.

3. You get to be Queen for a day. The kids are all taken care of, and you can spend as much money as you want. What do you do all day?

I'm queen every day. I don't have kids and that is one of the reasons. One of the 2,894 reasons why! Now, the money thing would make it more interesting. What would I do all day with unlimited funds? Well... I'd have to get a contractor in right away for a bigger candle closet!

4. Is there a song that brings tears to your eyes every time you hear it? If so, which one?

Sure, there are - one of them that comes right to mind is Hallelujia (sp?) by Jeff Buckley. Makes me choke up everytime... but there is a posting about this in this month's list, West Wing - Posse Comitatus. If you have seen it, you'll understand why.

5. A fairy taps you on the shoulder and tells you that you can either have a perfect face or a perfect body for the rest of your life. Which do you choose?

And I get to keep my brain? How perfect a body are we talking? Perfect looking on just the outside or perfect all around - heart, cholesterol, no more muscular dystrophy? Well, either way, I would take the perfect body. I have long since come to terms with my face, but I hate my body - the flabby arms that would still be big no matter how much I worked out, the belly, the ass... I would love the fairy to show up at my house.

6. If you could live any place in the world and money was no object, where would you live and why?

Right here. I'm very happy where I am. However, I told Luis we are retiring in Palm Springs, California. The desert is perfect for me! I loved Palm Springs completely.

7. What is your biggest regret in life?

What, I only get one? There are many, but I have mostly come to terms with them and don't feel badly about them any longer. I know what I've done wrong and what I've done right.

8. If you could go back and visit one person in your life who is now dead, and ask one question, what would that question be and why would you ask it?

Oh, my grandfather. I'd ask him if I made him proud of me and if he loves me.

9. If you had the choice to age forward (like we are now) or aging backwards (think Benjamin Buttons) which would you choose and why?

I would age as I have. I hated being a kid, I'm glad I got it over with at the start!

10. What will the epitaph on your headstone say?

"She fired people well."

The Popularity of Candles

I went onto e-bay yesterday at my parents' house to check on a couple of items and then, out of sheer boredom, began looking for other good buys. I'm always on the lookout for older, outdated flavours that I would still buy from the stores if they carried them. Then I found these!

Saying I'm delighted would be an understatement. And I knew - knew - what an amazing deal 3 of these candles at 40 pus shipping was. With just 19.5 hours to go, I figured I'd put a bid in, expecially as no one had put anything in to date.

In five minutes, four more bids showed up - from the same person. One person jumped on this - either s/he had been watching it all along or s/he'd been on and found it just as I had. So that bidder missed the first two on this one - I had opened the bid at $45 - and on the third, the price showed as $46. I was looking at this when Ray asked me questions about bidding and how it works. So I showed him by putting in a bid for $47, which still showed as outbid, then $50. The other bidder showed $51 in no time. I backed off at that point and explained the concept of "sharking" to Ray.

And now it is down to 1 minute, 34 seconds.


I won! Happy Birthday to me! I bet that the other bidder wasn't online this morning - for one thing, it was 0841 EST. For another thing, it was a safe calculated guess that if the other bidder was up, s/he might be going to - or at - church. Godless creature that I am, this was not a concern for me. No matter, I lucked out. I won the three candles that retail at $36 each for $54 plus $10 shipping. YAHOO!

Whatever the other's schedule, s/he did not jack up the bid she put in to ensure that I wouldn't get it. And this morning I awoke at 0809, logged in at 0815 and had less than 26 minutes to go. AND I WON!!

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Caught Up - Saturday Six [Blazing Minds]

Saturday Six - Health & Fitness
If you're new here, you may want to subscribe to my RSS feed or subscribe via Email for future posts and more. Thanks for visiting! OK, here it is the new Saturday Six and continuing with the new themes for the Saturday Six this weeks theme is health & fitness.

As usual you can either answer the questions here or copy the questions on to your blog with a link back here (and leave a link in the comments).

Do you consider yourself healthy?

I would not have said yes, but at age 41 (in a day and a half) and 40lbs overweight, all my stats come back fine. My blood sugar, blood pressure and heart rate are all fine. Having dystrophia myotonia II does not make it better, but it won't kill me.

Do you exercise?

Yes, I do yoga. I try to get to the gym but am unsuccessful...

Are you careful in what you eat?

I'm much more careful about what I eat now. I cut back on sugar and simple carbohydrates and I use Splenda for my caffeine-free tea. I have never been a fan of caffeine, anyway, it makes me tired. Weird, yes... my flaky body chemistry.

Have you started a diet recently?

I began cutting severe amounts of sugar out of my diet in October 2007. I've lost around 45lbs since then, but I tend to fluctuate between 165 and 180, which I hate... I need to get to the gym and really get my heart rate up and work off the rest.

Do you know your BMI (Body Mass Indicator)?

I did at some point. It is certainly higher than it should be, given that I need to lose around 40lbs.

Do you know your what your calorie intake should be a day?

I believe that the daily caloric intake for a healthy adult is 1,200. I may be incorrect or it may have changed recently, but I think that is still the normal number.

Catching Up - 17 January Saturday Six [Blazing Minds]

Saturday Six - Green!
Ok it’s that time again for the Saturday Six and this week I’ve gone green, not like the Hulk, but green as in the environment. So without any further ado here’s this weeks six:

Do you recycle?
Indeed we do! Paper goods, plastics, glass - we do it all. I feel good about it, but Parsippany, New Jersey is also really into it, so we are required to as well. However, I'd still do it, required or not.

Have you fitted any energy saving light bulbs?

Yes, we have the special light bulbs. They mostly work very well, but I will say that they are not great with fixtures that have dimmer toggles. Maybe they've changed that, but the ones we have don't seem to play well with that technology. However, a big plus: they do make them in full-spectrum lighting.

If you don’t have far to go, do you walk or still use your car?

I have an 18 mile/25km commute. All highway driving and I get 35 miles to the gallon. Sure, it might be better if worked closer to home, but I love my job. Luis commutes 2.6 miles to work. He should walk!

Have you turned down your thermostats by one degree?

I have something better. We did two things - one, we got into New Jersey's solar program and got solar paneling for the hot water heater (two panels on the southern effacure of the house) and electric solar power (55 panels on the front - Eastern - effacure). The gas bill dropped $40 from the monthly bill... and the electric... went from $310 to $30 a month.

We also had a gas fireplace installed (don't say it, I wanted a REAL wood-burning fireplace, but there is a $50,000 difference in price for that), and now we don't heat the rest of the house and the living room is always nice and warm. The ony time we use the house heat is when the temperature drops into the low teens to keep the pipes from freezing.

Do you leave your TV etc on standby or turn it off at the wall?

Oh, no. We don't unplug it. Luis got a device - a power consumption meter - and the television in stanby mode uses very little power. We do maintain a UPS and that does use power. But the refrigerator uses far more energy. And no, I'm not turning it off!

Do you wash your clothes on a 30 setting or higher?

We wash our clothes in a high-energy effecient washer and dryer with the appropriate detergent. It is great. We also have a child-free house, so I only do one-two loads a week. We are a very green household.

Satruday Six - BLazing Minds

Saturday Six - Blogging
OK, here it is the new Saturday Six and continuing with the new themes for the Saturday Six this weeks theme is blogging. As usual you can either answer the questions here or copy the questions on to your blog with a link back here (and leave a link in the comments).

What blogging platform do you use? eg Wordpress, Blogger etc

I use Blogger - I have been using it since August 2005. I did sign up on LiveJournal, but I am not using it. Two blogs is pointless. And waaaay too much work!

What is your blog about?

It is about whatever I want to talk about. Sometimes it is astronomy. Sometimes I post interesting (to me) articles. Sometimes it is just jun floating around in mind that needs to come out.

When did you start your blog?

As usual, I jumped the gun. I started it in August of 2005, but I don't remember the day. Maybe late, like the 25th. I'd have to look and with over 1,300 posts, it is not an immediate jump.

How did your choose your blogging name? (The name you use to make posts)

It is my e-mail address, which I have had since 1992 or so. "Traislinge is my name with a "tr" in front of it - the short form is "trash". When I was working at Miller Harness Company, I became friends with Melissa who was hired in the Graphics Art department. She and I went out to lunch with Rio another hire there. We decided over a couple of drinks (the one and only time I ever drank during the the work day) that we needed nicknames, so:

Rio: B.O.

Melissa: Smells

Ash: Tr'ash

And when I switched from Juno e-mail to Yahoo! e-mail, I changed from to Seventeen years ago...

Do you blog for fun or work?

I blog for myself; sometimes it relates to work, sometimes it relates to my personal life.

Has blogging changed you in anyway?

Sure it has. Everything you do changes you in some way; it is the nature of life. Everything has an equal action and reaction. Blogging is not just a way to let things loose and get the cobwebs out of my head, it forces me to think about things. That can change one. Change is always good - even if it is bad, it is good. When you can't change, that is bad.

Thank You, Angel, For Another Saturday Meme!

This is the first one for January...

Saturday Six - Music
I thought I would theme this weeks Saturday Six, so this weeks theme is music. So please either answer your questions here or you can answer them on your blog with a link back here.
What was the first album you bought?

U2's Boy. It's still a top album.

What was the first concert you went to?

The Beatles cover band... oh, what were they called? I went when I was twelve - Ray took me.

Who is your favourite artist/band?

Right now my favourite band is Coldplay. That is a fluid and changing thing, although I don't switch all the time.

Have you ever bought an album just for one song on it?

Oh, sure, who hasn't? The one that stands out the most is by Modest Mouse. Ten songs, only one good. It was very disappointing.

What is your favourite genre of music?

Wow, well, I don't that this is that easy. Favourite band is one thing, but genre... well, who goes into what genre is kind of loosey-goosey. I suppose overall Alternative is my favourite, but that is not always the case.

What is your least favourite genre of music?

Easier: Rap, Country/Western.

The "Have You Ever" Meme...

I found this on Patrick's Place, who found this on Paul’s blog, Aurora Walking Vacation.

For these 100 things, put things you’ve done in bold, things you’d like to do in italics, and cross out things you wouldn’t want to do. What’s left are things you don’t have feelings about one way or the other.

1. Started your own blog
I started two, although maybe they are not my own, as they are through sites that are specifically designed for this.

2. Slept under the stars
An astronomer like me? You know it!

3. Played in a band
Uh, no. I played vinyl. Then I played cassette tapes. Then I played CDs. Now I play my iPod - very, very well!

4. Visited Hawaii
It is very high on the To Do list, I assure you.

5. Watched a meteor shower
I've seen several, I usually see one per year, if the weather allows. I love them. The Leonid shower is particularly good. I've also seen Halley's and Hale-Bopp comets. I saw a total solar eclipse when I was 9, a couple of partial solar eclipses, and mutliple lunar eclipses; umbral and penumbral. On the To Do list - the Aurora Borealis.

6. Given more than you can afford to charity
Yes, once. It felt good, but I won't do it again where I will need to worry about the next bill...

7. Been to Disneyland
Yes, when I was 16. I'd go back if they shut it down to kids for the day or whatever length of time I would be there. Something tells me I won't be returning...

8. Climbed a mountain
I went up to the peak of San Jacinto, but it was driving the first 2,000 feet in elevation and a tram for the next 4,000 and then I hiked the rest. I suspect that this does not truly count, but as it is unlikely I will be able to do this again, it works for me!

9. Held a praying mantis
Apparently I have lived a more full life than I'd thought. Yes, when I was 11 or 12 in Pennsylvania I found one in the backyard and it walked on my hand and arm. Very cool. I also held a walking stick bug... also very cool!

10. Sang a solo
Only in my car, by myself!

11. Bungee jumped
That is not my kind of thing, so no.

12. Visited Paris
It's on the To Do list.

13. Watched a lightning storm
More than you will ever imagine!

14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
Yes, one - HTML programming. My Website,, was all written by me in HTML in 1997. Some of the pages added were done in FrontPage, but the original site, the whole thing, was coded by me.

15. Adopted a child
Good gods, no.

16. Had food poisoning
It was not a pleasant experience and I would not recommend it for weightloss, although it is effective short-term that way...

17. Walked to the top of The Statue of Liberty
Many years ago, when you could do it.

18. Grown your own vegetables
No. Helped my father and my grandparents do it, but that wasn't much.

19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
Well, if I haven't been to France... but I don't think the Mona Lisa is my first choice of art to see.

20. Slept on an overnight train
No, I haven't. Is it comfortable?

21. Had a pillow fight
Can you make it to adulthood without one of those?!

22. Hitch-hiked
No, not ever.

23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
I hated school. Take your own guess...

24. Built a snow fort
Many. It seemed that there was a lot more snow when I was a kid, but in hindsight, it was my faulty perspective.

25. Held a lamb
No. Never have.

26. Gone skinny dipping
Yes, and I loved it every time! The ocean is the most fun.

27. Run a Marathon
I'm not even faintly interested.

28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
Haven't been there but I hear that the gondola rides are just a total tourist trap thing.

29. Seen a total eclipse
Yes, in 1977. We used cardboard to see it happen.

30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
All the time. I see the sun rise the most often, but I make it a point to see sunsets as well. I find them magical.

31. Hit a home run
Oh, sure... health and sports mogul that I am. I am as uncoordinated.

32. Been on a cruise
No, Luis wants to go on one, though.

33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
Yes, but the Horseshoe falls are much, much better.

34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
Uh, no.

35. Seen an Amish community
Oh, my many times. My grandparents took me to Dutch Country every summer when I was a kid. So probably ten - twelve times as a kid and three times as an adult.

36. Taught yourself a new language
Yes, remember? HTML.

37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
Is that an attainable goal?

38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
Back to the To Do list...

39. Gone rock climbing
Only if I want to die young!

40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
No. Not live.

41. Sung karaoke
I am not that cruel.

42. Seen the Old Faithful geyser erupt

43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
I bought a homeless person a sandwich and coffee. Does that count?

44. Visited Africa
No, but the appeal for that is not as high as Europe.

45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
Yes. It is lovely.

46. Been transported in an ambulance
Heh, heh, heh. On both ends!

47. Had your portrait painted
Yes, my father Harry painted me when I was four.

48. Gone deep sea fishing

49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person

50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
Haven't we been through this?

51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
No, to both.

52. Kissed in the rain
Yes. It is not easy to see the romance in it...

53. Played in the mud
When I was much, much younger. I would not consider it now.

54. Gone to a drive-in theatre.
When I was really young.

55. Been in a movie
Hmmmm. Not that I know of!

56. Visited the Great Wall of China
No again.

57. Started a business
No, and I'm not interested in doing so?

58. Taken a martial arts class
No. I did get one lesson from a girl in the eighth grade who was trying to hurt me and I ended up remaining on my feet and she was on the ground! It was GREAT! I loved it. Nicole Davidson, that was her name. I haven't seen her on Facebook, good thing. She was a wretch.

59. Visited Russia
Let's make this really EASY. Only been to Canada and the British Isles.

60. Served at a soup kitchen

61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
I am embarrassed to say I was a Brownie and did sell those stupid cookies. I hated both. (I like the cookies to eat, not to sell!)

62. Gone whale watching
I'd like to!

63. Got flowers for no reason
Yes. One boyfriend loved to send me flowers.

64. Donated blood
Oh, gods, yes. Donated platelets and also set up blood drives.

65. Gone sky diving

66. Visited a Nazi Concentration camp
Not unless there was one in the British Isles, Canada or the United States.

67. Bounced a check
I take the fifth...

68. Flown in a helicopter
Yes! This past summer at the balloon festival... I know, I know, why not a balloon, right?

69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
Um... no. I managed to find many on ebay!

70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
Yes, many times.

71. Eaten caviar
I won't even consider it.

72. Pieced a quilt

73. Stood in Times Square
Goodness, how many times?! I live less than an hour from NYC.

74. Toured the Everglades

75. Been fired from a job
It is not a nice feeling. Now I do it for a living. It is less bothersome from this side of the desk...

76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
London and Edinborough.

77. Broken a bone
I fractured a foot bone. But I never broke one.

78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
Yes, and I just LOVED it!

79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
Only the smallest end of it.

80. Published a book
No. But maybe I will someday.

81. Visited the Vatican

82. Bought a brand new car
Yes, it was a really good feeling!

83. Walked in Jerusalem
Refer back to all those other "Have you been..." questions.

84. Had your picture in the newspaper
Not mine, but my father - Ray!

85. Read the entire Bible
Ye gods, no!

86. Visited the White House
Yes. Many times.

87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
Gods, no.

88. Had chickenpox
Sure, when I was five years old. Had shingles when I was 33.

89. Saved someone’s life

90. Sat on a jury
If I hadn't been the current patient of my OB/GYN, I would have.

91. Met someone famous
Yes, I met Donald Trump.

92. Joined a book club
I did once. It won't happen again.

93. Lost a loved one
I'm 40 (41 in two days) - of course I have.

94. Had a baby
Nope. Got pregnant once, a very long time ago. Closest I got; closest I will ever get.

95. Seen the Alamo in person
No, surprisingly. Been to Texas three times, Dallas/Ft. Worth twice and Houston once.

96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
No, but much as Mormons scare me, I'd like to.

97. Been involved in a lawsuit
Yes. More than one.

98. Owned a mobile phone
Is that any different than a cell phone? Is this a trick question?

99. Been stung by a bee
Yes. Not fun.

100. Read an entire book in one day
Yes, Who Moved My Cheese, most of the Myth Inc series, and Raymond Feist's Faerie Tale.

Being a Woman is Not that Unique

I get e-mails all the time about how women are special. You notice that there are never e-mails praising men as special. When you look at pure numbers, men are special. Women comprise 2/3 of the population... not so special. I find it funny and then got an invitation to wear red on Friday, 6 February:

Cindy [Reuther] invited you to "National Wear Red Day " on Friday, February 6 at 12:00am.

Event: National Wear Red Day
"Our Hearts. Our Choice."
What: Rally
Host: Go Red For Women – Official Page
Start Time: Friday, February 6 at 12:00am
End Time: Friday, February 6 at 12:00pm
Where: National Event

So I wrote to someone else:
"Wait a minute. Wasn't that to support the troops? Last year it was blue to support them...Here it looks like I'm supporting being a woman... not for nothing, but let's look at this. I'm celebrating having an XX chromosome configuration... uh, so what? Some ⅔ of the populace has this! I'd rather celebrate being me, as that is much more unique. I should get my DNA chain sequenced and put up a Facebook Group just to see how many people would join it! Whaddya think?"

I'm thinking it would be interesting to see if that would really work. At least it would be more unique. And people can be so predictable. Someone puts something up and others will find it, join it, whatever. It really is rather amazing. And I'm no better - I fall for things, too. But I don't find it admirable or amazing to be a woman. There only two genders and let's be honest - men help to bring out the woman in us as much as we bring out the men in them.

That holds for all of us - I see coworkers bring it out in one another; lovers, spouses, friends, family... we all do it.

So that makes us all special!

Friday, 23 January 2009

Yahoo - Four for Friday!

January 23, 2009

Four For Friday
Q1 - Salary: Earlier this week, U.S. President Barack Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum revealing his intention to freeze the salaries of approximately 120 senior White House staffers who make more than $100,000 per year, saving the government about $400,000 over the next 12 months. Ironically, President Obama currently earns $400,000 per year, along with a $50,000 expense account, a $100,000 nontaxable travel account, and a $19,000 entertainment allowance (the same as President George W. Bush). Do you think the President of the United States should be paid a salary? Why or why not?

Well, that is interesting. I was still under the clearly outdated impression that the President of the United States only earned $250,000 - $300,000 a year. Nice to see they have brought it more in line with CEO type salaries. Of course he should get some kind of salary! What a bad deal that would be to do the world's most thankless job for no money!

On the other hand, if the salary freeze is good for the others, it is good for him, too. I like the idea overall. It beats not having a job. He should freeze the salaries of the Congress members, too. At least they might want to work for the money they currently earn.

I wonder about all those perks. Does the POTUS really need a $19,000 entertainment account? What for? I'm sure Netflix would send him movies. I'm sure his girls use the Internet. I wonder what happens if they were on Facebook? These poor kids won't have any normal and/or social life. But that is another subject.

Q2 - Murder: According to CBS News, 13,000 Americans are killed by drunk drivers every year. Authorities call it an epidemic. They say that despite all the publicity, all the education campaigns, and all the advertising over the past decade, the number of drunk-driving fatalities has not gone down. In New York's Nassau County, district attorney Kathleen Rice believes that if you want to stop drunk driving, you have to treat it as a serious crime with serious jail time, which in one recent case means prosecuting a drunk driver for First-Degree Murder. Related: A growing number of states and foreign countries have banned the use of cellular phones while driving automobiles. If an automobile driver kills an innocent person while talking on a cell phone while driving, do you feel they should be prosecuted for murder?

Yes, I do. Before you accuse me of being heartless, understand that you are asking a question to which I have posted the answer too many times on Blogger. As an EMT, I have seen drunk drivers, fatalities and cell phone users. When I first began riding in March 2003, that was the majority of accident calls. Now, in January 2009, all I see are cell-phone related accidents and in a state where driving while using a cell phone is illegal! And they all lie about it. But yes, I would completely stand behind that.

Q3 - Employment: If your employer told you the company was moving to a neighboring state and you had the choice to accept a 25% increase in salary and move with the company at the company's expense or take a severance package equal to 25% of your current salary with no opportunity to file for unemployment, what would you do?

Oh, boy. That is a question that I would hate to have to face in real life. Fortunately, I work for a 112-year-old establishment - it won't be moving. But I would be unfortunately jobless if that did happen. Much as I love my job, my house, my husband and his job (a small company in Montville, NJ) is here. He makes many times what I do, so the decision would be his more than mine. The ugly truth.

Q4 - Sleep: Studies show most people fall asleep within seven (7) minutes of placing their head to a bedroom pillow. Generally speaking, how long do you think it takes you to fall asleep, and, do you do anything special (e.g., take a pill, listen to the radio, watch television, read a book or magazine) to help you fall asleep?

Oh, another unfortunate question. I hate talking about this, but when has that ever stopped me?

I have a genetic ailment called myotonia dystrophia II, and one of the most common and debilitating side effects is an inability to sleep. Since I need to get my full 8 - 9 hours, I take medication on nights when I have work the next day. I try to avoid it on the nights I am not going to work the next day. It works, although it is not instant. It takes roughly 40 - 60 minutes to work its way into the system. And it is very effective for that.

Some funny things about it, though... there is a gap in time from when it begins to take effect to when it is really working where you cannot remember anything. Luis will ask me something and I give a normal complete answer but the next day I have zero recollection of the conversation.

Also, it is completely useless if you are undergoing severe emotional trauma. When both of my cats died, I was distraught to say the least. I took my meds and nothing happened. Nothing at all. Weird, isn't it?

Mostly, it does the job.

I used to read and I used to watch the telly before going to sleep, but my doctor mentioned that this is not effective for that. Books and television, no matter how bad the reading or viewing, stimulates the brain. So no more of that.

A.W.A.D. - Words Used by President Obama

Tomorrow Barack Obama will become president of the US, and not a moment too soon. This week we'll feature words from Obama, words from his books, speeches, and interviews.

Unlike most politicians, who hire ghostwriters, Obama writes his own books. He's a gifted writer. Reading his words you can see his thought process. He's not one who sees the globe in black and white. He has lived outside the US and has been exposed to other cultures. He realizes that just because someone has a different set of beliefs, just because someone looks different, doesn't mean he's wrong -- sometimes there can be two ways to do something and both can be right.

Obama is to be commended for his accomplishments. We've come a long way in this country. But we still have far to go before we can call ourselves truly unbiased. Real progress will be when any capable person can have a fair chance at winning the highest office, even someone who happens to be, say, a black gay vegan atheist woman.

Anything is possible... but don't hold your breath.

MEANING: verb intr.: To be united; to work or hold together

ETYMOLOGY: From Latin cohaerere, from co- (together) + haerere (to stick)

MEANING: adjective: Combining different forms of belief or practice

ETYMOLOGY: From Latin syncretismus, Greek synkretismos (union), from synkretizein (to unite in the manner of the Cretan cities), from syn (together) + Kret-, Kres (Cretan)

MEANING: adjective:
1. Natural to a particular people or place; always present in a particular area
2. Confined to a geographic region

ETYMOLOGY:From Greek endmos (native), from en- (in) + demos (people)

MEANING: verb tr. To put aside or treat as nonexistent, especially by an authoritative act

ETYMOLOGY: From Latin abrogatus (repealed), past participle of abrogare (to repeal a law), from ab- (away from) + rogare (to ask, propose a law). Ultimately from the Indo-European reg- (to move in a straight line, to lead or rule) that is also the source of regent, regime, direct, rectangle, erect, rectum, alert, source, and surge

sui generis
PRONUNCIATION: (soo-ee JEN-uhr-is)
MEANING: adjective: Of its own kind; unique

ETYMOLOGY:From Latin sui (of its own) + generis (kind)

Monday, 19 January 2009

A Response to "The Sugar Industry - The Next 'Big Tobacco'"

I was quite surprised - and thrilled - to see that a comment from someone arrived in my mailbox regarding the sugar post. I was thrilled for simple fact that I welcome comments and debate, but let's be honest. There are a 'ginormous' amount of Web sites, some with information and some with disinformation, so it is hard to 1. get any sort of steady readership, 2. entice people to read it when I tend to write far more than most are willing to read and c. I might write about anything under the sun - and not to everyone's liking.

I digress...

Getting any response is a plus, but this one piqued my interest:


My google alert picked up your article.

Well written and informative; however, I disagree that HFCS is nutritionally the same as table sugar. Yes they bothhave 4cal/gram and they both contain fructose and glucose, but that's where the similarities end.

I am sure you are well aware that sucrose is a disaccharide where as HFCS is just a mixture of the monosaccharides, fructose and glucose. It takes the regulatory enzyme, sucrase, to cleave the disaccharide into its component sugars. Not only does the enzyme split the molecule but it serves as a metabolic checkpoint, how fast and how much sugars enter the bloodstream. When you ingest HFCS, sucrase is not required, so there is no regulatory control.

HFCS-55 (55%fructose:45% glucose) sweetens all national brands of soda, lemondaes, flavored teas, and ironically, most sports quenchers. While the ratio appears to be similar to the 50:50 ratio of table sugar, sucrose, it is not. 55/45=1.22. That means that everytime you chug a Coke or Pepsi (bottled in the US) your liver is receiving the health "benefits" of 22% more fructose, compared to glucose.

As you have elegantly written, it is the fructose moiety that leads to long term health hazards. Ditch the HFCS, especially in sweetened beverages. Try for an extensive list of HFCS-free foods and beverages.

To your health."


Food for thought. I have to first say that as much as I appreciate the compliments to my writing skills (I'd like to think I write well, but what do I know?), this posting had about 75% Wikipedia-based information. I cut and past what was there into my blog. And yes, I left the disclaimer in... that is only fair. So thank you for the compliment, but I am only the author of a small bit of this particular post...

I did not actually say that table sugar is worse or better than HFCS - it is just not healthy either, and I found it puzzling that the corn syrup manufacturers would say that table sugar has some kind of healthy value attached to it. I don't believe that anymore than I believe that processed salt is good for one's health.

Salt, however, has not affected my life or diet. I use salt on one thing only: scrambled eggs, a meal choice that I might have 4 times a year.

High Frustose Corn Syrup, however, is much lower on my list of approved foods than salt or naturally occuring sugars, such as in fresh fruit. And I don't drink iced tea, soda (in any format: diet, not diet, zero, whatever; my parents are soda junkies, though, and my husband used to be) or sports quenchers. I do drink tons of water but I hate the taste (or is it non-taste?) of water, so I put Crystal Light in it. This contains:

Inulin (for fiber)
Citric Acid
Malic Acid
Contains less than 2% of natural flavour
Acorbic Acid (vitamin C)
Calcium Carbonate
Acesulfame Potassium
Soy Lecithin
Red 40

*Phenylkentonurics (contains phenylalanine)

The irony, of course, is that this is made by Kraft Foods, a subsidiary of the evil and heinous Philip Morris Company, maker of tobacco products. SIGH.

The sodium on this, at least, is low, but again, I don't crusade for or against salt. And let's be honest, here, if you want food to taste like anything other than cardboard, you have to have one or more of the following:

1. Sugar
2. Fats
3. Salt

Anything missing all three of these things has no hope of being anything but bland.

Back to the comment left me... I went to the Web site. I can't tell what exactly the support is - is it against HFCS or against table sugar or does the thrust of it suggest all sugar is bad? I honestly wasn't sure. I also can't tell if this is one person's site or something funded by a company, although I'm guessing it is the former...

I did see an interesting link: "Diet Soda also Makes You Gain Weight - A Lesson in Sweeteners"

Now I see that Splenda is considered bad news, too.

More Wikipedia goodies (this came up when I entered Splenda):
"Sucralose is a no-calorie artificial sweetener which does not promote tooth decay, and is sold under the brand names Splenda and SucraPlus. In the European Union, it is also known under the E number (additive code) E955. Sucralose is approximately 600 times as sweet as sucrose (table sugar), twice as sweet as saccharin, and four times as sweet as aspartame. Unlike aspartame, it is stable under heat and over a broad range of pH conditions and can be used in baking or in products that require a longer shelf life. Since its U.S. introduction in 1999, sucralose has overtaken Equal in the $1.5 billion artificial sweetener market, holding a 62% market share. According to market research firm IRI, as reported in the Wall Street Journal, Splenda sold $212 million in 2006 in the U.S. while Equal sold $48.7 million. The success of sucralose-based products stems from its favorable comparison to other low calorie sweeteners in terms of taste, stability, and safety.

Health and safety regulation
Sucralose has been accepted by several national and international food safety regulatory bodies, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Joint Food and Agriculture Organization/World Health Organization Expert Committee on Food Additives, The European Union's Scientific Committee on Food, Health Protection Branch of Health and Welfare Canada and Food Standards Australia-New Zealand (FSANZ). Sucralose is the only artificial sweetener ranked as "safe" by the consumer advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest. According to the Canadian Diabetes Association, one can consume 15 mg/kg/day of Sucralose "on a daily basis over a ... lifetime without any adverse effects". For a 150 lb person, 15 mg/kg is about 1 g, equivalent to about 75 packets of Splenda or the sweetness of 612 g or 2500 kcal of sugar.

“In determining the safety of sucralose, the FDA reviewed data from more than 110 studies in humans and animals. Many of the studies were designed to identify possible toxic effects including carcinogenic, reproductive and neurological effects. No such effects were found, and FDA's approval is based on the finding that sucralose is safe for human consumption.” For example, McNeil Nutritional LLC studies submitted as part of its U.S. FDA Food Additive Petition 7A3987, indicated that "in the 2-year rodent bioassays...there was no evidence of carcinogenic activity for either sucralose or its hydrolysis products...."

Splenda usually contains 95% dextrose (the "right-handed" isomer of glucose - see dextrorotation and chirality), which the body readily metabolizes. Splenda is recognized as safe to ingest as a diabetic sugar substitute.

Public health and safety concerns
Results from over 100 animal and clinical studies in the FDA approval process unanimously indicated a lack of risk associated with sucralose intake. However, some adverse effects were seen at doses that signficantly exceeded the estimated daily intake (EDI), which is 1.1 mg/kg/day. When the EDI is compared to the intake at which adverse effects are seen, known as the highest no adverse effects limit (HNEL), at 1500 mg/kg/day, there is a large margin of safety. The bulk of sucralose ingested does not leave the
gastrointestinal tract and is directly excreted in the feces while 11-27% of it is absorbed. The amount that is absorbed from the GI tract is largely removed from the blood stream by the kidneys and excreted in the urine with 20-30% of the absorbed sucralose being metabolized.

Some concern has been raised about the effect of sucralose on the
thymus. A report from NICNAS cites two studies on rats, both of which found "a significant decrease in mean thymus weight" at high doses. The sucralose dose which caused the effects was 3000 mg/kg/day for 28 days. For a 150 lb (68.2 kg) human, this would mean an intake of nearly 205 grams of sucralose a day, which is equivalent to more than 17,200 individual Splenda packets/day for approximately one month. The dose required to provoke any immunological response was 750 mg/kg/day, or 51 grams of sucralose per day, which is nearly 4,300 Splenda packets/day.

Environmental effects
According to one study, sucralose is digestible by a number of microorganisms and is broken down once released into the environment. However, measurements by the Swedish Environmental Research Institute have shown that
wastewater treatment has little effect on sucralose, which is present in wastewater effluents at levels of several μg/L. There are no known eco-toxicological effects at such levels, but the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency warns that there may be a continuous increase in levels if the compound is only slowly degraded in nature.

The basis for some of the concern about sucralose derives from the class of chemical to which it belongs. Sucralose is an
organochloride (or chlorocarbon), some of which are known to cause adverse health effects in extremely small concentrations. Although some chlorocarbons are toxic, sucralose is not known to be toxic in small quantities and is extremely insoluble in fat; it cannot accumulate in fat like chlorinated hydrocarbons. In addition, sucralose does not break down or dechlorinate. In contrast to these concerns, many organochlorides occur naturally in food sources such as seaweed."
Seems harmless enough - I don't come anywhere close to the daily recommended maximum. Let's see what the three listed ingredients in Splenda bring up:
Dextrose: comes up as Glucose (no health risks listed)
Maltodestrin: comes up as Dextrin (no health risks listed)
Sucrlose: See above
I realise that this is all chemicals. I'd rather that than sugar as of this posting. I'll see how it works out!
To your health, too!