Showing posts from February, 2009

March Brings Cluster of Planets Into View

Early in March, the planets Mars, Mercury, Neptune and Jupiter are clustered in the constellation Capricorn in the morning twilight. They are spread along the east-northeast horizon.
Jupiter is conspicuous at magnitude -2.0. Mercury shines at -0.1 at the beginning of March, brightening as it dips toward the horizon through the month to 0.9, then becoming lost in the glare of the sun. Mars remains at magnitude 1.2, moving along with Neptune (very hard to spot in the twilight at magnitude 8) into the constellation Aquarius by month's end.
On March 1, Mercury and Mars lie within about a half degree. About 6:30 a.m. on March 23, you may be able to spot Neptune a half degree below the slim crescent of the moon.

Saturn remains in Leo all month, at magnitude 0.5. The rings are almost edge-on from our perspective here on Earth. The rings only are about 100 to 300 yards thick and are difficult to spot now without a large telescope. This 173,000-mile-wide band of mostly ice crystals will appea…

Sunday Seven: Episode #183

It’s Oscar night. That is, if you watch the Academy Awards at all. I don’t and haven’t for a while now; I so rarely go to the movies these days that I’ve never heard of most of the films nominated, anyway, so watching just doesn’t hold much appeal to me.
But whether you’re watching or not, this week’s question is all about the Oscars.

Here is a list, arranged by decade, of the nominees and winners of the Academy Award for Best Picture.
This week’s question might require a little more honesty than you’re willing to give, but here’s the idea: scroll down that list to the decade in which you were born, and list your favorite movies from that decade only.
I realize that there are some people who might be a bit uncomfortable revealing their true age. In my case, I was born in 1969, so the 1960s would be the decade I’d use. If you aren’t comfortable admitting your true decade, then choose the one after that. It’s just a meme…no one will come after you for perjury.
Incidentally, if you were born …

I THINK This is Good...

..but I'm a little rusty on my Asian-based languages, ha, ha.
I went onto ebay, where I'm awaiting the end of a bid, and decided to take a look at my listed feedback. I had been listed as 181 and now today I'm up to 184. So why not see what glowing feedback I was listed.
Ah, ha... one of the vendors, in Hong Kong, left this message on the feedback line: 谢谢你!欢迎你下次光临。好运气!
I have no idea what that means. There's a little green plus sign next to it, indicating a positive response to me as a buyer, but they might have said I'm a one-eyed buying wonder who overpaid for the product, which I couldn't hold that against them. What do I know? I didn't pay that much, certain not anything unreasonable, but they are the ones laughing to the bank, not me. Still, I imagine I'll be happy with the product, when it finally arrives.
But I am still mildly curious as to what the above hieroglypics mean. It certainly looks pretty!

BBC Book List Meme

This was passed to me from Renee Camus. She added a few categories of her own. I added #7, there were just too many that I had to read and really couldn't stand. The original suggested tagging only read, love, and plan on reading.
Apparently the BBC reckons most people will have only read 6 of the 100 books here. Sadly, they are likely to be correct. I love to read, but there are too many people who don't.
1) Look at the list and put an 'x' after those you have read most or all of.
2) Put a 'y' after those you've read only pieces of
3) Add a '#' to those you were supposed to have read in school, but didn't
4) Add a '+' to the ones you LOVE.
5) Star (*) those you plan on reading.
6) Add '!' to those you did not read, but saw the movie!
7) Add an 'h' to those you really didn't like.
8) Tally your total at the bottom.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen !
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien X h
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte…

Aftershock of Earthquake

I bet you didn't know we had another one!

FEB 21, 2009

FEB 14
003053.1& 19.581N 66.279W 69 13 PUERTO RICO REGION. . MD 3.4 (RSPR).

010608.1& 19.115N 66.444W 113 5 PUERTO RICO REGION. . MD 3.4 (RSPR).

020654.4 21.503S 170.412E 119 5.3 A 0.8 140 69 SOUTHEAST OF LOYALTY ISLANDS

041406.2& 19.536N 65.129W 30 6 VIRGIN ISLANDS REGION. . MD 3.2 (RSPR).

052458.4 5.843S 80.763W 45 4.6 A 1.1 79 35 NEAR COAST OF NORTHERN PERU

053010.5 4.214N 126.857E 35G 4.9 A 1.1 77 62 KEPULAUAN TALAUD, INDONESIA

055302.4& 18.567N 66.872W 19 10 PUERTO RICO REGION. . MD 3.0 (RSPR).

072515.7* 3.902N 127.111E 35G 4.7 B 1.2 173 22 KEPULAUAN TALAUD, INDONESIA. Felt (II) at Melonguanne.
074838.8& 18.674N 68.919W 122 5.1 221 DOMINICAN REPUBLIC. . MD 4.8 (RSPR). Felt (III) at Higuey and …

Blazing Minds Saturday Six - Photography

It’s that time again for this weeks Saturday six and this weeks theme is photography, so without further a do let’s get on with it:
Do you use a Digital or Film camera? I used to use film, but digital is just so much more cost-efficient. I spent tons of money on film and then having it developed. I take images of everything, so one five-day trip to California resulted in 22 roles of 36-photos each of film. Even taking it to Costco still cost a mint, especially since I got doubles to send to penfriends. Now with the digital age, I have only to get batteries and carry the memory card.
Do you print the photos yourself or get them printed for you? I had to get them printed for me when I used film. Now I can print my own, although it is rare that I do.
Do you upload your photos to sites such as fickr or photobucket? No, I use my Blog or post them on Facebook.
Do you photo anything and everything or does your camera only come out on special occasions such as birthdays etc.? I take images of any…

Patrick's Place Satruday Six #254

What a ridiculous work week this has been! I don’t recall the last time I was so happy the weekend had finally arrived. And, of course, it wouldn’t be the weekend without another set of six questions!
1. When you write a note to a friend, do you tend to write in cursive or manuscript? Either. I have very neat, legible handwriting, so either form works. I suppose it is more toward manuscript, but has elements of both.
2. Think back to grade school when you learned how to write: which manuscript letter gave you the most trouble? I don't remember... that was over 30 years ago! Maybe Q?
3. Did you find cursive easier than manuscript? I enjoy writing. So both are equally easy for me. I prefer handwriting to typing.
4. How do you type on a computer: the four-fonger “professional” method, the “hunt and peck” method, or something in between? Something in between. It is rare that I use my pinkies for typing. I'm a much better typist than hunting and pecking, but by no means a good ty…

A.W.A.D. -

with Anu Garg

My iPod, their condominium, her computer... In a typical day we talk a lot about possessions: having things. The word possess is from Latin possidere, from potis (having the power) + sedere (to sit). So when you possess something, say a patch of earth, you have the power to sit upon it, literally speaking.
The English language has many terms about who has what. Enjoy this week's words that answer "Whose what?" but it's important to remember that the best things in life are not possessed: they are free. We don't say, my ocean, his stars, or their sun.
fool's gold
PRONUNCIATION: (foolz gold)
MEANING: noun: Something that appears valuable but is worthless

ETYMOLOGY: Shakespeare wrote in The Merchant of Venice, "All that glisters is not gold." Fool's gold is another name for pyrite, also known as iron pyrite or iron sulfide. Its shiny yellow luster has many fooled into believing they have struck gold while holding a mineral of little value.T…

It's Not Saturday, But This One's Up...

Saturday 9: Letting the Sparks Fly
1. Where would you go if you wanted to spark your creativity? I can do that anywhere. There is always something to write about, you know.
2. What would be one thing that would embarrass you a great deal? Um... showing up naked in a classroom? Haven't you ever had that nightmare? So weird and completely disconcerting.
3. What values did your parents instill in you? Many of them, but honesty and being true to yourself is high on the list.
4. What’s a fad of your teen years that you remember well? From the 1980s? Good gods... too many! Big hair is the worst. I did not go for that.
5. What is your favorite breakfast? Salt bagel, lightly buttered with hot Lady Grey or Ceylon tea.
6. What is the best birthday gift that you have received? Ooooohhh, I don't know... that is a tough one. Oh, wait! This laptop! This by and far gets the most use.
7. What gadget could you not live without? Well, that is too easy - my iPod!

8. Do you collect anything? Oh, way too …

This Friday's Meme

February 20, 2009
Four For Friday

Q1 - Home Remedies: If it's February and you are sick, chances are it just might be the flu. Whenever he feels like he's getting sick, a friend of mine slathers his chest and the bottom of his feet with Vicks VapoRub, and sweats it out in bed while wearing three T-shirts, sweatpants, two pairs of socks, and a hooded sweatshirt. How about you... do you have any unconventional home remedies for dealing with the flu, common cold, headache, upset stomach, etc.?

Yes, apparently I do. I just let the illness run its course for the first three days and then if I'm not improving, I will treat the symptoms empirically. This seems to be unconventional due to the fact that too many people start taking drugs immediately to dispell the discomfort. I am more of a believer that allowing your body to fight it is healthier. But after three days, it is time to call in the cavalry.
Q2 - Give it Up: I've had the same pocket wallet for nearly 25 years, and whil…

This Thursday's Meme...

3x Thursday:
Following Directions
(If you don't follow the directions, you won't be able to play along today, so pay attention!!!)
Do a Google Search on the word 'soma'.
1. List 3 at least 3 different sources that you came found when doing this search, and list the URLs. Yes, well... I haven't done it yet, but I can tell you what Soma is - both as a patient and as an EMT. It is a powerful muscle relaxant. I use it right now (when at home) thanks to a severe flare up of the muscular dystrophy which left my muscles so tight I thought I was crippled for life.
But I still want to do this... so...

Ah-ha - tripped by my own knowledge! The drug was number 4... what was first?

1. - women's intimate apparel! Oh, how funny...
2. - a premier punk club in - surprise, suprise - San Diego.
3. - fabricators of steel bikes

Wrong on all counts. Number 4 was the drug, but lower on the hit list due to its placement in the URL: w…

And Just Like That, It's Over

I was up all night, and finally fell into a very uncomfortable sleep around 0500. I slept on and off and then around noon I woke up and felt completely normal. I mean, COMPLETELY normal. As if nothing had happened. It was the freakiest thing. I couldn't believe it.
I took it easy the rest of the day (all three hours) to see if it was really okay... I just three days of sheer hell and suddenly *poof*, I'm fine? Would you believe it? I certainly don't. I still don't, but I feel fine! I'm both relieved and scared shitless.
I think we all get the "relieved" part. That makes perfect sense, no worries, no problems. The scared part is wondering if this is the normal progression of the disease. Will I have to go through this periodically? Will this become normal for me? I certainly hope not. As much as I shrug off the muscular dystrophy, this was a devastating reminder of just how debilitating an ailment this can be.
I would prefer not to be reminded - ever again.


It's That Magical Meme Time!

Promise to those who matter: no content will reflect specify work in any way, shape or form.

Monday, 16 February
Curious as a Cat
Week Number 156
1) If you could eliminate (or lessen the effect of) one emotion from your life, which would you choose? Well, I find these questions amusing. Since I firmly believe that one cannot experience the highs of good emotions without allowing themselves to feel the lows of negative emotions, then I would not give up or eliminate any of them. True joy cannot be felt unless one can feel true despair. If I could eliminate physical pain, however, other than those that come with normal trauma, I would. I would never feel as I do now again.

2) What one thing would you find the hardest about being in prison? A strange question; what wouldn't be hard? Freedom would be the hardest thing to give up. Prisons now offer books, Internet, work, three squares a day... it mirrors real life in every way except the freedom to go whenever and wherever I want.

3) Who has…

ARTICLE: Jobs That Will Need People

Within the next few years, jobs will outstrip demand in some professions. Some employers may even woo you with incentive bonuses, well-paid salaries, and good benefits packages. So, instead of preparing for a career where the job search process is long and grueling, why not find a career where prospective employers practically come knocking on the door?
With an array of new businesses and ever-changing laws, accountants will be needed to assist clients with their record keeping and tax needs. A bachelor's degree in accounting can get you started in this rapidly growing profession, which paid an annual average salary of $63,180 in 2007, according to The Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS).
Computer Software Engineer
We may not even realize it, but software plays an increasing role in our lives. Don't believe it? Your last trip to the grocery store or even the fast food joint down the street was made quicker and more efficient with computer software. If you enjoy math a…

Wide Awake in New Jersey

Wondering what I'm doing up at this perfectly hideous hour? Me, too. I'm not particularly interested in being awake now. But sleep simply was not possible.
I went to bed around 2030, my standard bedtime. It felt okay, even nice, for the first 120 seconds... then my legs began to ache. I moved around a bit and it worked for a while. By ten I realised that sleep was not going to come, at least not the way I'd like. Luis came to bed and commented that I was really hot (no, it was not meant as "baby, you are smokin'!" More's the pity...). He was very gentle with me and softly rubbed my skin and I did finally doze off for a bit.
The pain in my hips - unbelievable, burning pain - woke me up and while I tried to find a position of comfort, none was to be had. It was just criminal. I ended up getting dressed and coming out here. I don't know what the hell to do.
The doctor, with a difficult to pronounce Russian name, saw me at around 1540. She checked my history…


A professor of astronomy said Lulin Comet will take 20 million years to complete its orbit and would only enter the solar system once BY FLORA WANGSTAFF REPORTER Wednesday, Feb 18, 2009

The Lulin Comet (鹿林) co-discovered by Taiwan’s National Central University (NCU) will pass close to Earth next week, giving astronomy enthusiasts the chance to see it, the university said yesterday.
At a press conference, NCU professor of astronomy Chen Wen-ping (陳文屏) said the distance between the Earth and the comet would be at its smallest — about 61 million kilometers — next Tuesday. Stargazers will be able to locate the comet — surrounded by a green halo and traveling at 50km per second — near the constellation of Leo using a conventional telescope, Chen said. He said the approach of the comet provides a great opportunity for people to increase their knowledge of astronomy and to experience the beauty of the night sky.
“Given that comet Lulin’s orbit takes more than 20 million years to complete ... thi…

Sometimes It Is Not Good to Be Me...

I'm scheduling an appointment with the doctor.

They are not open between 1200 - 1300 so I have to call back at 1300. I should be able to get in today, they are really good about not overbooking. At first I figured this is an off-day for me, but the thing that drove the decision to stay home has gotten a lot worse and I am not interested in being out tomorrow.
One of the less pleasant side effects of distrophia myotonia II is the sleeping problems. I can't sleep. I use something to bring sleep on, and it works well usually, but I have been on it for around 5 or 6 years and it is not perfect. This week is a good example.
The problem with not sleeping is two-fold. One, of course, is that I don't function without sleep. Forget I don't function well - I just don't function at all. Most people are not at their best without some kind of sleep; but I am completely stulified by it.
The second problem is that I don't move when I lie in bed not sleeping. It tightens everythin…

A Reply to Cynical Bastard's Post

If you did not read this morning's post by Cynical Bastard, take a look at it...

But I had to respond.

"I do from time to time comment upon politics, but always preface it with "I'm politically stupid". Which is true... I am. But at least I'm making it completely clear at the outset.
This guy.. I'm with you. He's a moron. I certainly know enough of history to tell you that Millard Fillmore was indeed president and Andrew Johnson was the second president, not the one in the 60s. I must say, however, billing William Henry Harding as one of the bottom ten presidents is a tad harsh. He died something like a month into his reign. No one knows if he would have been a good or bad president.
George W. Bush has no brains and he pulled it off for two terms...!"

Well, he did rank pretty low. So it is not just me. How anyone really knows how well George Washington or Andrew Johnson did is …

Funny Names

Aislinge [Kirsten] Kellogg

2. WITNESS PROTECTION NAME: (mother and father's middle names)
Elise Gilbert Guy

3. NASCAR NAME: (first name of your mother's dad, father's dad)
Hienz James (Yikes...)

4. STAR WARS NAME: (the first 3 letters of your last name, first 2 letters of your first name)KELAI
5. DETECTIVE NAME: (favorite color, favorite animal)
Burgundy Cat

6. SOAP OPERA NAME: (middle name, town where you were born)
Kirsten Manhattan (what's worse is my middle name, which I no longer have, was for Kirsten Flagstaff, opera singer... GROAN...)
7. SUPERHERO NAME: (2nd fav color, fav drink, add "THE" to the beginning)
The Hunter Green Crystal Light (good gods...)

8. FLY NAME: (first 2 letters of 1st name, last 2 letters of your last name)

9. STREET NAME: (fav ice cream flavor, fav cookie)
Pistachio Butter

10. ROCK STAR NAME: (current pets name, current street name)
Siobhan Crescent

11. PORN NAME: (1st pet, street you grew up on)
Pussums Alps


The Wonderful (and Unbelievable) World of Advertising

You [very few] who read my blog every so often may have seen a posting I had put up last year about the adverts on Facebook. I don't think much of them. I am thinking even less of them now:

How I Reduced My Debt

Read how a busy mom
erased over $20,000 of
debt in 3 easy steps!

No, I did not keep the links active. I'm not going to contribute to the idea that cash is this easy to make without doing something illegal. The second I saw this, I thought, "By selling drugs?" How else would you make money like this, in a big wad of cash? Most of us pay taxes. If I was getting paid this way, I'd worry that something really sleazy was going on!
But look at how many "legitimate" businesses are sleazy enterprises. Amway, of course, comes screaming to mind. The group with the pink cadillac is the same. They've probably done some slight revisions to not be as obvious a pyramid scheme. But they are still the bottom of the barrel and attract all the people who ar…

The Ranking of US Presidents, Best to Worst

WASHINGTON – Just days after the nation honored the 200th anniversary of his birth, 65 historians ranked Abraham Lincoln as the nation's best president.
Former President George W. Bush, who left office last month, was ranked 36th out of the 42 men who had been chief executive by the end of 2008, according to a survey conducted by the cable channel C-SPAN. Bush scored lowest in international relations, where he was ranked 41st, and in economic management, where he was ranked 40th. His highest ranking, 24th, was in the category of pursuing equal justice for all. He was ranked 25th in crisis leadership and vision and agenda setting.
In contrast, Lincoln was ranked in the top three in each of the 10 categories evaluated by participants.
In C-SPAN's only other ranking of presidents, in 2000, former President Bill Clinton jumped six spots from No. 21 to 15. Other recent presidents moved positions as well: Ronald Reagan advanced from No. 11 to 10, George H.W. Bush rose from No. 20 to 18…

This Week in Memes in February!

Week Number 155
1) What is the cause that you believe is the most worthy of all? World peace? Oh, wait, wrong thing... I don't know. Many of them are very worthy, and who am I to say that one is more so over another?
2) How would you change the way you were disciplined as a child? I wouldn't. My parents never struck me and I didn't grow up to knock over a bank or pick up a drug habit. I also was never told, "If you do this, you will have to leave" or anything like that. My parents also told me that when I was ready to have sex to bring the man home, so that things could not get out of hand, I could just yell for them. I tell you now I had the best parents I could ask for.
3) What is your greatest virtue? Vice? I am not sure that I have any... certainly not patience... Um, honesty. I may keep to myself what I need to but I never sugarcoat or lie to the employees, the patients, my family and/or friends. I think being up front is a good quality.
Vice... whew. How much time…

Valentine's Day: Love is in the Stars, but Hold the Danish

What would Valentine's Day be without hearts and -- Shakespeare?
Yes, I said Shakespeare (although frankly, I'm crazy about Andrew Marvel's "To His Coy Mistress", too.) Over at the exceedingly creative 365 Days of Astronomy podcast, Rob Knop of The Meta Institute of Computational Astronomy focuses on the role of astronomy in Shakespeare's plays.
Shakespeare's plays are full of the occasional astronomical reference. Whether it is a reference to "the stars", a specific referenced to the number of stars in the Pleiades, or even a veiled reference to a famous historical supernova, you hear many of his characteres invoking the sky throughout his plays. In this podcast, I'll discuss several of the references that are found in Shakespeare's tragedies.

Good stuff! My favorite Shakespeare astronomy quote is this poignant plea from Hamlet:
"Doubt thou the stars are fire; Doubt that the sun doth move; Doubt truth to be a liar; But never doubt I love…

That Earthquake Really Happened!

NO. 9-041
FEB 10, 2009

000711.1 19.037S 169.465E 266 5.3 A 0.9 54 128 VANUATU

013146.4& 18.200N 68.883W 45 7 DOMINICAN REPUBLIC REGION. . MD 2.8 (RSPR).
031418.4 16.474S 71.972W 61* 4.9 B 0.4 152 48 SOUTHERN PERU

033419.1& 40.870N 74.522W 5G 30 GREATER NEW YORK AREA, NEW JERSEY. . MD 3.0 (PAL). mbLg 2.5 (GS).
093641.8 6.647S 130.655E 35G 4.7 A 1.1 99 19 BANDA SEA

102310.2 34.580N 96.369W 5G A 1.1 92 14 OKLAHOMA. mbLg 3.2 (GS).

123132.7* 12.879N 122.045E 10G 4.5 B 1.4 128 18 SIBUYAN SEA, PHILIPPINES

135725.5 6.478S 130.052E 142* 4.8 B 0.8 101 24 BANDA SEA

150600.0* 24.488S 179.698W 502 5.1 B 1.0 179 37 SOUTH OF THE FIJI ISLANDS

153725.5* 0.338S 132.515E 35G 4.6 B 0.9 144 16 NEAR N COAST PAPUA, IND.

154853.5* 3.896S 3…

A.W.A.D. - Words Derived From Birds

with Anu GargBirds don't get any respect. Beginning with "bird brain" that paints all birds with the same brush, the English language is littered with expressions that defame our feathered friends. Individual birds have their own problems in the language. If you call someone chicken, you imply he is cowardly; someone labeled a peacock is vain. Naming a person a magpie means she is talkative or a hoarder, and a jay is a gullible person. A rooster is the inspiration behind the word cocky, then there are sitting duck, dodo, dotterel... The list is endless.
Not so fast. Birds are smarter than you think. Take a look at these videos (1, 2), for example. This week we'll discuss five words derived from birds, though their avian connections are not always so obvious.
PRONUNCIATION: (kol-uhm-BAR-ee-uhm)
MEANING: noun:
1. A vault with niches for storing urns
2. A dovecote or pigeon house

ETYMOLOGY:From Latin columbarium, from columba (pigeon, dove)


Error on State Test Slips Past Everyone - Except East High Student

Geoffrey Stanford's teachers always tell him to read tests carefully. Every sentence. Every word. Slow down. Make sure you understand what's being asked, and then proceed.
So while taking his state writing test last week, the East High junior saw something that didn't make sense: The word "emission" -- as in "the emission of greenhouse gases" -- was spelled "omission."
"I thought, 'Surely they're not talking about leaving out carbon dioxide altogether.' It just didn't make sense," said Stanford, 17. "It had to be a mistake."
It was.

Stanford, a linebacker and International Baccalaureate student, alerted English teacher Jennifer Fry, who alerted the district test coordinator, who alerted state education officials, who were, as you might imagine, embarrassed. "You hate that sort of thing to happen, but it happens," said Karla Denny, spokeswoman for the State Department of Education, which created the tes…

Article: Wife Swap Snob Husband Gets the Thumbs Down

It was gratifying to find this article, as both my husband and I had watched that episode and found him to be abusive, and not merely someone defending his way of life when a stranger comes into the fold to impose their views - the more typical reaction. This man seemed to lump all middle Americans into the same mold. And of course, the producers of Wife Swap were perfectly happy to exploit that by finding the epitome of what his idea of middle America is. While normally the shows have a "all's well that ends well" mentality and the outcome generally shows the promise and adaptability to new ways of thinking, see the world, seeing your kids and how you react to situations, in this case it was an abyssmal failure. Even myself, normally quite the anglophile, found myself wanting to forcibly send Fowler back across the pond. I was moved enough to post something about this... I'll find that posting and put it in here. --Aislinge It's 2009, the end of a decade which -- w…

ARTICLE: Stamp Prices Rising in May

WASHINGTON – The post office will get an extra 2-cents worth when you mail a letter starting in May.
The U.S. Postal Service announced Tuesday that the price of a first-class stamp will rise to 44 cents on May 11.
That gives plenty of time to stock up on Forever Stamps, which will continue to sell at the current 42-cent rate until the increase occurs. They will remain valid in the future regardless of rate hikes.
"The Postal Service is not immune to rising costs which are affecting homes and businesses across America today," said Postmaster General John Potter. "Even with the increases, the Postal Service continues to offer some of the lowest postage prices in the world."
Postage rates go up annually in May, with the new prices announced in February. The overall change is tied to the rate of inflation in the year before.
While the new 44-cent rate covers the first ounce of first-class mail, the price for each additional ounce will remain unchanged at 17-cents.
Postal off…