Tuesday, 24 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 appear mainly edge-on until about March 2011.

Venus remains an evening planet at a brilliant -4.5 magnitude, slowly dropping toward the horizon through the month, eventually becoming lost in the sun's glare. The waxing crescent moon is within a degree of the Pleiades in the early morning hours March 3, and again on March 30.

The largest asteroid, Ceres, can be spotted about 20 degrees north of Saturn throughout March. If Ceres were to sit upon the United States, it would spread over 600 miles — the distance from Canton to Memphis. It is unusually bright at magnitude 6.9, and with good eyesight and clear, dark skies can be seen with the unaided eye.

When first found, Ceres was deemed a planet, until many other objects were discovered in the area between Mars and Jupiter. This area was then designated the Asteroid Belt, with Ceres as the largest asteroid. With the recent debate about the status of Pluto, Ceres almost became a planet again, but ended up with the status of ''dwarf planet.''

The spring, or vernal, equinox occurs on March 20, heralding spring. Remember to set your clocks ahead on March 8, as daylight saving time begins.

Monday, 23 February 2009

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 before 1920, then God bless you for being alive and being part of the internet!! Those who are 90 and up can pick from any decade. It’s the least I can do.

(According to the rules, “First to Play” requires you to be the first to include the link to the specific entry in which you answered the questions, not just the general link to your blog.) Here is this week’s “Sunday Seven” question. Either answer in a comment here, or put the answers in an entry on your blog…but either way, leave a link to your journal so that everyone else can visit! To be counted as “first to play,” you must be the first player to either answer the questions in a comment or to provide a complete link to the specific entry in your blog in which you answer the questions. A general link to your blog cannot count. Enjoy!

THIS WEEK’S QUESTION: Name your seven favorite Oscar nominees (or winners) from the decade in which you were born.

1. Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner
2. My Fair Lady
3. Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
4. West Side Story
5. To Kill a Mockingbird
6. The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming
7. ?

Oh, boy. I don't know if I know enough movies to answer this. Let me check the list.

Um... None! And only one for the whole decade... Now, THAT is embarrassing!

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!

Saturday, 21 February 2009

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 Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling X !
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible (total fiction and not even interesting fiction at that!)
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell X h
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens #
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare X !
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien X h
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger #
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell #
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald #
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy #
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams X h
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck #
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll X h
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis X +
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis X +
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell X h
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown X (boring)
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding X h
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert X
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens #
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck X h
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov X h (One word: SICK)
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas !
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding !
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville #
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens X h
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker X
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens X h
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White X !
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle X
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams X !
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas X !
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare X
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl X !
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Total I Read Completely: 24
Total I Read But Hated: 11
Total I Read Partially: 1
Total I was supposed to read, but didn't: 8
Total I want to Read: 0

I'm not the best audience for this, have never been a fan of the classics. I can easily list 100 books I've read and loved, but they won't include any of this list except Shakespeare, EB White, Ronald Dahl and Richard Adams (I love the book Watership Down, as well as the movie).

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 La Romana; (II) at Las Terrenas, San Pedro de Macoris and Santo Domingo. Also felt at Azua, Constanza, El Seibo, El Valle, La Vega, Otra Banda, Pedro Sanchez, Puerto Plata, Sanchez, Santiago and Sosua. Also felt at Bayamon, Gurabo, Lajas, Naranjito, Ponce and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

080336.3* 4.096N 127.026E 35G 4.6 B 1.3 139 26 KEPULAUAN TALAUD, INDONESIA. Felt (III) at Melonguanne.

082939.7 15.711S 167.470E 119 4.9 A 1.2 57 42 VANUATU

112325.5 3.894N 127.061E 35G 4.7 A 0.9 105 22 KEPULAUAN TALAUD, INDONESIA

123340.8 12.879N 88.881W 53D 4.6 A 1.1 185 74 OFFSHORE EL SALVADOR. ML 4.9 (SNET). Felt (IV) at San Salvador. Also felt at Antiguo Cuscatlan, La Libertad and Santa Ana. Felt at Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

182654.3* 3.842N 126.867E 96 4.4 B 1.0 133 25 KEPULAUAN TALAUD, INDONESIA

200546.0* 3.956N 126.655E 102* 4.3 B 1.0 113 26 KEPULAUAN TALAUD, INDONESIA

202912.8 5.484S 151.705E 64 5.2 A 0.9 33 125 NEW BRITAIN REG, P.N.G.

213147.8 5.968S 129.983E 35G 5.0 A 0.8 62 36 BANDA SEA

222222.0& 40.948N 74.392W 2 21 GREATER NEW YORK AREA, NEW JERSEY. . MD 2.4 (PAL). MD 2.4 (PAL). Felt in the Boonton-Butler-Towaco area.

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 anything all the time. If a driver is really stupid and I can do it, I will take a picture of the license plate and post it with a scathing post on their horrendous driving skills.
When was the last time you upgraded to a new camera? Luis bought me my last five or so cameras. The one I have now is two and a quarter years old. It's an excellent camera.
If you could have any camera on the market which one would you choose and why? I don't know. I'm perfectly content to have mine.

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 typist as a rule. I can't type and look at something else. I look at the screen and the keyboard. I think I can type around 35 - 45 words a minute... I have excellent spelling but since I can't touch type, I use the backspace key too much. I correct as I go...

5. Take the quiz: What Keyboard Key Are You?
1. When you're at work, you tend to:
X Do many tasks at once
Avoid doing things the traditional way
Tell people what to do
Figure out what needs to be done, and do it as fast as possible
Keep to yourself
Dream about quitting
2. How would you describe your spelling and grammar?
So what if they're not perfect? People understand what you're talking about.
Pretty good, but sometimes you don't pay attention when you're writing quickly.
X You know how to spell words people haven't ever heard of before.
They're great. If in doubt, you look something up.
You occasionally make a mistake.
They're perfect. And you can't stand other people's errors.

3. If you were a writer, you would write:
Serious magazine pieces
Experimental short stories
Prize winning science fiction
X Tell all memoirs
Minimalist poetry

4. Which of these fonts you you like the most?
Comic Sans
X Times New Roman
A calligraphy

5. Which of these overused phrases makes you cringe the most?
X "Your call is important to us..."
"I could care less"
"My bad"
"Think outside the box"
"It's not rocket science"

You Are "enter"
Some people might try to say you're impulsive and rash. You like to consider yourself decisive and committed instead. You don't have a lot of trouble making very final decisions. You trust your instincts, and you don't waver. You just go for it!

6. As a general rule, how often do you use the key mentioned in the answer to the previous question? All the time! It's hard to start a new paragraph or input information without hitting the Enter key!

Friday, 20 February 2009

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.The name pyrite is from Greek pyrites (of fire), from pyr (fire) because it produces sparks when struck against a hard surface. Some related words are fire, pyre, pyrosis (heartburn), pyromania (an irresistible impulse to set things on fire), and empyreal (relating to the sky or heaven, believed to contain pure light or fire).

sword of Damocles
PRONUNCIATION: (sord uhv DAM-uh-kleez)
MEANING: noun: An ever-present threat; an impending disaster

ETYMOLOGY: After Damocles of Greek legend. Damocles was a courtier who flattered the ruler Dionysius, tyrant of Syracuse, to excess. The fulsome praise so annoyed the king that he decided to teach him a lesson. He held a banquet in honor of Damocles but when Damocles saw the sword hanging by a single horse-hair over his head, he lost all taste for the lavish feast. He realized that even those who appear to enjoy great fortune face fears and worries. By the way, the word impending literally means hanging over.

mug's game
PRONUNCIATION: (mugz gaym)
MEANING: noun: A foolish or futile activity

ETYMOLOGY: From mug (slang for a fool), from Scandinavian word mugg/mugge (drinking cup). In earlier times drinking cups were adorned with grotesque faces, which resulted in the various senses of the word, nouns (face, dupe, thug) and verbs (to assault, to make faces, to photograph).

dog's age
MEANING: noun: A long time

ETYMOLOGY: Referring to the typical age of a dog: 10-15 years. Also see donkey's years

God's acre
MEANING: noun: A cemetery, especially one next to a church

ETYMOLOGY: Loan translation of German Gottesacker, from Gott (god) + Acker (field). The allusion is that the bodies of the dead are sown in the field in hope of resurrection.

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 many things: crystal spheres, candles (which I use all the time), Old Farmer's Almanacs, books, CDs, DVDs, Sensa pens, bank notes, Smurfs... is that enough? It's probably enough to get me committed.

9. What website (non-blog) do you regularly visit? Um, let's see. Non-blog takes a lot of options away. It's a toss up. I go to NOAA.org, Wikipedia, Facebook, Yahoo... ebay!

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 while I know I should, I absolutely refuse to give it up for a newer one. Have you owned something for far too long... something you know you should get rid of but can't?

Oh, sure. I'm sure everyone has. I had a jacket that I wore to shreds until there just wasn't any patching or resuscitating it. Same with my first pair of EMT boots. I loved them, but once there were holes in the uppers, the chance for contagion getting into the holes was too high. The last thing I want is for blood to get in to a hole in my boots and I get Hep C...

Q3 - Blood Banking: For the last 10 years or so, Florida-based Cryo-Cell International has been providing families the opportunity to cryogenically preserve their newborn's umbilical cord blood stem cells in a safe and secure environment. The service, called U-Cord, allows parents to preserve the cells for the potential future medical benefit of the family, or donate the blood for research or use by a third party. Would you consider banking your newborn's umbilical cord blood stem cells?

Hmmmm. That would be some miracle, since I plan never to reproduce. But in a "what if" scenario... I'd be fine with banking the cells. Why not? People donate blood autologously all the time, so what is the big deal about this?

Q4 - Be Careful!: When a waiter or waitress tells you to be careful because the plate they just placed in front of you is hot, do you touch the plate to see how hot it is?

Uh, no. Being an EMT has taught me that people usually mean it when they warn you about something! We've eaten at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse and you can HEAR the juices crackling and sizzling from the heat. Well, duh! I don't need to touch it.

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. www.soma.com - women's intimate apparel! Oh, how funny...
2. www.somasandiego.com - a premier punk club in - surprise, suprise - San Diego.
3. www.somafab.com - 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: www.rxlist.com/soma-drug.htm. Live and learn!

2. When you first saw the word 'soma', what did it make you think of? Normally, if I didn't do EMS and didn't actually use it (I must say it is a very strong drug... normal people shouldn't come in contact with it...) I'd think of something to do with sleep.

3. Did you learn anything? If so, what? If not, why not? Yes, I sound like a know-it-all! My worst fear... But I had to laugh, too. I learned that there are a lot of things with Soma in it. But I'd never have guessed that intimate apparel would be one - the top one, no less. You'd think that "sleep" is the last thing you'd want to think of in regards to intimate apparel!
This was particularly fun, even though this is one of the best memes I do and it is always enjoyable. This one was a departure, quite unique!

Thursday, 19 February 2009

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.

At least I feel normal now. I just hope it lasts.

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 surprised you most with their faith? I am surprised every day by people and their faith. I may not have any religious faith (I do have faith in a non-spiritual context), I admire those who do until they force their beliefs on me.

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

Healthy skin. I'm sorry, this is not my strength in writing. I will say that every EMT likes to see healthy skin.

Tuesday, 17 February
TMI Tuesday #174
1. What is your favorite charity? Do you you give your time or just money to that charity? I am a volunteer EMT. So I give my time. I used to give money to some things, but then they became so crazy for monetary donations that I completely stopped.

2. Describe your bed. What side do you sleep on? We have a beautiful waterbed that is about 34" high, has all dark wood and a high headboard that has an etched mirror, cabinets and lights; the base has six drawers to each side underneath. It is a very comfortable bed, not a free flow, but has baffles in it to more mirror a real bed. It's a California king, so it is the biggest bed we could get. It is about seven years old now. I sleep on the right side if you are standing at the foot of it.

3. How important is a partners kissing ability? Well, it doesn't keep me up nights. Luis is a good kisser.

4. Have you ever "taken advantage" of a person under the influence of alcohol? Have you ever been "taken advantage" of while under the influence of alcohol? No, and no. I don't drink.

5. Ever tried to replay the famous scene from From Here to Eternity? How was it? Uh, what is that?

Bonus (as in optional): What kind of birth control do you use? I use Depo Provera. It is a parenteral.

Wednesday Weirdness
Since most if not all of the questions are sexual in nature and by this point you probably have a pretty good idea of my views on sex, why bother?

I guess that is it. I'll see if 3 for Thursday is up yet... no, not yet. What's up with that? It is 0102!

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 and computer science, you can earn your bachelor's degree in computer science or in computer engineering and become a computer software engineer. In 2007, you would have made a yearly average wage of $85,660.
Dental Hygienist
As the need for dental care increases, dentists continue to rely heavily on their hygienists for cleaning, X-rays, and preventative care. Many dental hygienists work part-time and enjoy flexible hours. An online dental hygiene program can help prepare you for this lucrative career, which is expected to grow 30 percent by 2016. In 2007, dental hygienists made an annual average salary of $64,910.
Elementary Teacher
Want to contribute to the future? With many teachers nearing retirement, the need continues to grow for new elementary teachers who enjoy kids and want to see them reach their potential. You'll need a bachelor's degree in education or another related field. Certification requirements vary by state, but in 2007 elementary teachers earned $50,040 on average, with the added bonus of time off during the year.
Environmental Science and Protection Technician
As more companies, businesses, and governments need to go green, the number of people who can monitor pollutants and wastes will increase dramatically. As an environmental science technician, you'll help find new ways to alleviate environmental stress on the planet. An associate's degree in applied science may be all you need in some instances for this quickly growing profession, which paid an average of $42,190 in 2007.
The need for nurses is expected to grow considerably as the population continues to age. Hospitals, doctors' offices, clinics, and nursing homes will need nurses with a bachelor's degree or an associate's degree from an approved nursing program. The 2.5 million nurses in this country made, on average, $62,480 annually in 2007.
Personal Finance Advisor
If you enjoy helping others and have an interest in the world of finance, becoming a personal finance advisor may be for you. A bachelor's degree in finance will prepare you for this rapidly growing and increasingly complex profession. By helping clients make financial decisions relating to investments, personal finance advisors earned an average yearly wage of $89,220 in 2007.
Physical Therapist Assistant
The baby boomers may be aging but they still love to play. After an injury or for a complaint such as arthritis, patients need treatment, and physical therapists need qualified assistants. An online associate's degree from an accredited physical therapist assistant program can prepare you for this career. In 2007, physical therapist assistants made $44,340 a year.
Skin Care Specialist
With an increasing population that is also interested in skin care, the need for skin care specialists or estheticians is on the rise. In 2007, skin care specialists earned an average annual wage of $30,600. A program in skin care will give you the career training you need to provide facials, body treatments, and make-up advice to keep your clients looking gorgeous.
Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselor
Substance abuse and behavior disorder counselors assist clients with their recovery from addiction. Whether their clients are facing problems with alcohol, drugs, gambling, or eating disorders, counselors help them get on with their lives. A bachelor's degree in counseling and career training can prepare you for this worthwhile but emotionally demanding job, which paid an average yearly wage of $37,830 in 2007.
Veterinary Technologist and Technician
Veterinary technologists and technicians serve as nurses to pooches and felines. You may also work in an aquarium or a zoo. A two- or four-year program in veterinary technology can provide you with career training in this quickly growing profession, which paid $28,920 on average in 2007.
Online associate's degrees and bachelor's degrees have never been so accessible. With many schools and programs to choose from, you can begin the career training you need for a profession whose employer just may be looking for you.
Blogger's Note: Ten years ago, when I worked for PNY Technologies, we went through a brief period - the one and only I've ever experienced in Human Resources - where jobs far outnumbered candidates, almost all the way across the board. We had all kinds of trouble wooing people for key and non-key positions as they were all working, hot commodities and being wooed by other companies. The other companies we were up against had tons of low-cost mass-produced items that they could offer as extra inducement to candidates - so much so that candidates would ask me what peripheral goods we could offer. PNY made only computer memory at the time, and it was nowhere near the low and affordable cost that it is now. The company looking for people that I recall most easily? Nabisco. They were giving candidates flats full of food products as an inducement.
How would I deal with that now? (Not that I am honestly losing sleep over a lack of candidates right now. If anything, they are all grossly overqualified.)

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

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, had a lot of questions about the muscular dystrophy (they all do... I went to the only specialist in the country, in Philadelphia. I can't go there for a spur of the moment need, obviously. She checked some of the basic strength points, then looked me over for onset of infection, such as flu. She did not find anything to indicate that this was achiness as a result of incipient flu symptoms.
Part of the decision to check for flu symptoms was the fact that the sleep aid ceased working and when I thought about it, it has happened before. 1. It does not work if my health is compromised and I am sick. 2. It does not work under severe emotional stress. It ceased to work when my mother when she was in the hospital and when both of my kitties died. The doctor at the time confirmed it.

Her analysis: a flare-up of the muscular dystrophy. She ordered a blood analysis to see if the CPK levels are high (although this is a newer doctor for me, so I highly doubt that they have a baseline blood workup to compare it to. My CPK levels are too high all the time, that is the basis for muscular dystrophy. But blood is all to easy to give for me. The phlebotomist was wonderful.

I was supposed to give a urine sample, too. But I'd gone to the bathroom just prior to leaving the house, so short of wringing out my bladder, it was a futile effort. I did try, but it just was of no use. They gave me a sample cup to take home and drop off. Wonderful...

Anyway, I was pretty upset about this. I've never experienced a muscular dystrophy flare-up before and if this is happening, then the disease has progressed. Is this something I can look forward to? My gods... this is not how people should live. This is the first time I have seriously had to question my future and wonder how this will go.

I don't know if this is what hip arthritis feels like but if it is, then I learned that hip arthritis is much more debilitating than I ever realised. I understand my father's difficulties prior to the hip replacement surgery. Unfortunately, my hip problems, unless I have suddenly have severe arthritis (highly unlikely; for starters it runs in neither side of my family), this is muscular, and there is no surgery that will help me. Great. Fabulous.

So here I am, wide awake and in pain.


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 ... this is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see it,” Chen said.“According to the calculations [of astronomers], the comet may travel in a hyperbolic trajectory, a parabolic curve or a narrow oval-shaped orbit that will take 20 million years to complete. This means that this will be the first and last time the comet will enter the solar system,” Chen said. The comet was first spotted by Ye Quanzhi (葉泉志), a student at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China and Lin Chi-sheng (林啟生), an assistant at NCU’s Lulin Observatory in Alishan on July 11, 2007.

Chen said researchers at the observatory had discovered some 700 asteroids, but the Lulin Comet was the only comet the researchers had found so far. “Sometimes astronomy is a bit like archeology,” said former National Central University (NCU) vice president and professor of astronomy and space science Wing-huen Ip (葉永烜).

“Comets like Lulin, which are young and contain a lot of chemicals from the time it was created, provide us with a key to open the mysterious door of how our solar system was formed 4.5 billion years ago,” Wing said. “The more we learn about the structure and functions of comets, the sooner we will be able to react when we find objects that pose a threat to the Earth,” he said.

The NCU has set up a special Web site (c2007n3.astro.ncu.edu.tw) to mark the approach of the comet, Chen said. The Web site includes the latest pictures of the comet and astronomers’ predictions of its path, Chen said. A series of events will also be held around the nation starting on Saturday to help the public gain a better understanding of the comet and to help observers see it, Chen said.

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 everything up to a severe degree and makes it impossible to get out of bed and do normal things. After not sleeping right since Saturday... well... definitely not good. Saturday night I was on call and did not sleep well. Very normal. Sunday I should have fallen right to sleep, but nothing happened until 2300, so I was short a couple of hours. Monday night I could not wear myself out at all, even on a very empty stomach with stuff to do. Last night? I guess I finally fell asleep around 2130 but then was up too early, not tossing and turning (ha, ha) and my mucles were so stiff that when I bent down to give the cat her breakfast I could not rise at all. Not even a little. I called Luis and he got me up. Embarrassing to say the least.

So I called out, knowing I couldn't walk, couldn't do anything. And now, hours later, everything still tight and aching - especially my hips and buttocks, and legs. Usually when I am bothered by intense pain, it is my back. It hurts, too, but I am becoming a pro at tuning it out.

So as soon as the clock tolls one, I'll call the doctor and set up an appointment.

For whom does the clock toll? It tolls for thee.

I am afraid. I don't know what will happen. I worry sometimes that I will end up in a wheelchair, or worse. I try not to let this crop up in my mind and always remain upbeat and sunny despite this. It won't kill me. At least, it shouldn't. On the other hand, if it takes away my life one muscle at a time, it is not okay. I don't have much muscle now. I need every little bit I can get.

I wish I just had a cold or the flu. It would be better than this. For one thing, it would go away. This, well, this I will have for all my days. And usually... I can live with that.

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 slightly far-fetched. I still remember when history was watered down and rewritten when I was in school. So what do you think people wrote back nearly 240 years ago...?

Did you know... George Washington wanted to be called King? Not quite what you were thinking for the founder of American freedom, is it?

Did you know... Abraham Lincoln married Mary, who proved to be bipolar.

It's the little things that get you in the end...

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

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

12. YOUR GANGSTA NAME: (first 3 letters of real name plus izzle)

13. YOUR IRAQI NAME: (2nd letter of your first name, 3rd letter of your last name, first two letters of your middle name, last two letters of your first name then last three letters of your last name)
Islkigegg (Again, yikes...)

14. YOUR GOTH NAME: (black, and the name of one of your pets)
Black Ariel

15. STRIPPER NAME: (name of your fav perfume/cologne, fav candy)
Paris Smarties

I laughed the whole way through this one!

Monday, 16 February 2009

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 are so desperate to make money - whether it was extra income or primary. Anyone buying into this is just fooled.

Back to that advert, I'm appalled. I realise this is how Facebook stays up, but a little monitoring of the adverts being viewed by a lot of kids would not kill anyone!

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 and Jimmy Carter fell from No. 22 to 25.

This movement illustrates that presidential reputations are influenced by present-day concerns, said survey adviser and participant Edna Medford. "Today's concerns shape our views of the past, be it in the area of foreign policy, managing the economy or human rights," Medford said in a statement.

After Lincoln, the academics rated George Washington, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt and Harry Truman as the best leaders overall. The same five received top spots in the 2000 survey, although Washington and Franklin D. Roosevelt swapped spots this year.

Rated worst overall were James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, Franklin Pierce, William Henry Harrison and Warren G. Harding.

The survey was conducted in December and January. Participants ranked each president on a scale of one, "not effective" to 10, "very effective," on a list of 10 leadership qualities including relations with Congress, public persuasion and moral authority.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

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 do you have?

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

TMI Tuesday #173

1. What do you think is the un-sexiest part of the body?
Most of it. How's that? Not for nothing, but I am not a thin woman... very little of it looks as it should. And at age 40, very little of it is where it should be!

2. Toilet paper: over, under, or what the hell are you talking about?
Why would I want to consider discussing this...?

3. Have you ever called in sick to stay in bed with a sexual partner?
Uh, NO. Sometimes, as with many things, the waiting is as good as the getting.

4. Did your parents have a "birds & bees" talk with you? If so, at what age?
Goodness, yes. What responsible parent doesn't? My parents had the technical birds and bees conversation when I was maybe four or five, when I asked what they were doing in the bedroom that I wasn't allowed to be in. The more involved conversations about tidbits I'd heard on the schoolyard came later. My parents never had a moment's discomfort discussing things of this nature.

5. What is one thing a someone could do to you to rock your world?
Again, not printable.

Bonus (as in optional): What does sex mean to you?
Well, sex can mean many things and can be many things. It can mean love, it can mean the bond between two who love each other deeply. It can mean fun and laughter. It can mean raw, raunchy power over another. It can be anything you wish it to be.

Wednesday Weirdness #42
Questions by: Another Suburban Mom
1. If you were to be reincarnated as an inanimate object, what would you choose to come back as?
A hat. A crystal. A tea bag? Why agonise over being an inanimate object? It would be the pits no matter what.

2. If you were told that you would be equipped with the perfect comeback to any remark, but it would cost you five years of your life would you take it?
No. Besides, I usually am equipped with those sarcastic, dry, snappy comebacks. It is a natural ability for me.

3. What would be the most shocking thing your mom could have ever told you?
Um, I don't think there was one... oh, no, I take that back. My mother told me a lot about how cheap her mother was. She once told me how her mother would get her tax return forms, fill them out and submit them and then keep the money. Disgusting.

4. If you could spend 24 hours as the opposite gender, what would you do?
I don't know. Watch sports? Play online video games? Sit on the couch watching bad sitcoms with a beer in one hand and scratching my testicles? I don't know.

5. Describe the ugliest outfit you have ever worn in public.
Goodness, why would I want to do that? It's bad enough I wore it. I suspect there are plenty of things I wear that I shouldn't. A fashionista I am not.

6. Do you like to celebrate Valentine's Day or do you wish you could magically pouf it from the calendar? If you did, what holiday would you invent to put in its place?
I don't get the whole Valentine's thing. I've seen women get so stupid over it. I don't see many men get dopey over. I have never once told Luis to send me flowers or required that he take me to dinner. I don't like when women demand shows of love, affection or willingness to spend money on something that will die in a few days. I have sent Luis flowers at work on occasional Valentine's Days and the guys in his office love that. They are envous of Luis anyway. I don't care if he hangs out with them or goes to a nudie bar. In fact, that usually works in my favour...!

3x Thursday:
02/12/y2k+9: TV
1. Do you watch TV? If so, what kinds of things do you watch? If not, why not?
I mostly watch one hour dramas, but I do have the requirement of light moments and funny lines. I love CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Ugly Betty, Grey's Anatomy, Bones, Private Practice, Wife Swap, SuperNanny, CSI: New York, etc. I also enjoy documentaries and good movies.

2. If you watch TV, what are your favorite types of programs? Which ones do you watch? If you don't watch TV, what do you do instead?
I usually read when I don't watch the telly. When I do it is what I listed above.

3. Can you imagine a world without TV? What do you think it would be like? Do you think it would be a better place to be?
Sure, I can. I think in some ways it would better, and in some ways not. It is like anything - set up rules and regs for using it.

Four For Friday
Q1 - Stress: According to data from the American Psychological Association, the declining state of the economy is taking a physical and emotional toll on people nationwide, Last year, more people reported physical and emotional symptoms due to stress than they did in 2007, and nearly half of all adults reported that their stress has increased in the past year. Generally speaking, what would you say are the three most stressful things in life?

Well, normally I would say that money matters is one, job satisfaction is another and relationship issues the third. The things that are happening now are amplified with the issues currently taking place. Money is huge concern as the economy continues to go down the tubes. Relationship worries will suffer an increase as more and more people find themselves without a job. And job satisfaction is tough if you haven't a job. It is an ugly situation out there.

Q2 - Vitamins: The largest study ever of multivitamin use in older women found the pills did nothing to prevent common cancers or heart disease. The eight-year study in 161,808 postmenopausal women echoes recent disappointing vitamin studies involving men. Do you take vitamins on a daily basis?

I do not. I take Vitamin C once in a great while. I tried taking Calcium vitamins once a day but the damn things were huge and when I had the bone density test it was just fine, so I ceased to worry about that. With this, I don't think I will wonder any longer that I need to start taking a multi-vitamin pill.

Q3 - Trade: If you had no choice but to sell your soul to the Devil--for which you would receive any two things in return--what would take in exchange?

I don't think there is anything I want so badly as to sell my soul to get it.

Q4 - Hmm: How do you feel about Valentine's Day?

Ah, read back a bit. But here it is again: I don't get the whole Valentine's thing. I've seen women get so stupid over it. I don't see many men get dopey over. I have never once told Luis to send me flowers or required that he take me to dinner. I don't like when women demand shows of love, affection or willingness to spend money on something that will die in a few days. I have sent Luis flowers at work on occasional Valentine's Days and the guys in his office love that. They are envous of Luis anyway. I don't care if he hangs out with them or goes to a nudie bar. In fact, that usually works in my favour...!

1. Do you have Valentine’s Day plans?
No, we don't. We've been together nineteen years as of 22 March. What need have we of Valentine's Day?

2. Do you buy a Valentine’s Day gift for someone special?
I sometimes send Luis flowers. I send Valentine's cards to my penfriends.

3. What, so far, was the happiest event of your life?
Getting my EMT certification.

4. What is the best job that you ever have had?
The one I have now.

5. What would be your fantasy job?
The one I have now.

6. What would you think would be the worst job?
I think being an accountant would be the worst. Then again, being a salesman might be worse than that.

7. What foreign countries have you visited?
I have been to Canada, Wales, Ireland, Scotland and England.

8. What foreign country would be your fantasy trip?
New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. They all have such beautiful and varied landscapes!

9. Since leaving your home growing up, how many places have you lived?
Let's see... Fairfield, Lake Parsippany and now Parsippany on the Lake Hiawatha border.

Saturday Six (Blazing Minds)
It’s that time again for this weeks Saturday six and this weeks theme was suggested by Kloggers and is a little different from the usually six questions as this weeks it’s one question with six answers. The question is:

If you had been born more than 100 years ago what six things would you of liked to have done?

I'd have to really think about this one...

Saturday Six (Patrick's Place)
I got a late start today, but it was much needed. Have you ever had one of those weeks? This one was it.
In any case, it’s time for another set of questions, so here goes! Enjoy!

1. Do you usually feel as though you get more sleep than you need, less sleep than you need or just enough?
Well, during the work week I ensure that I get enough sleep. Otherwise I get very little.

2. What was the last movie you fell asleep while watching out of sheer boredom?
I remember all too well: the latest James Bond movie... most expensive nap I ever took.

3. Did you try watching a second time to make it all the way through? If so, was it worth the extra screening?
Gods, no. Why do that twice?

4. Does exercise tend to make you feel like you have more energy or less?
More energy, absolutely. Unfortunately, thinking about it makes me exhausted, so I lose interest!

5. Take the quiz: What’s Your Energy Level?
Quiz 1. In the morning, you:
Hit snooze once and then get up
Hit snooze a few times
Get up with your alarm
Sleep in as late as you can get away with
Wake up and get up before your alarm goes off

Quiz 2. How would you describe your sex drive?
A bit low
Well above average

Quiz 3. During conversations:
You listen and talk about an equal amount
You're never at a loss for something to say
You are always willing to listen lots
You don't have much to say
You do almost all of the talking
Quiz 4. When it comes to exercise, you:
Are into running, tennis, or something else that's high energy
Don't exercise
Are practically a competitive athlete
Only do yoga or walking
Hit the gym frequently or bike a lot
Quiz 5. Your career is:
Very challenging and rewarding
Boring, to be honest
Just enough work to keep you occupied
Pretty challenging - you like staying busy
Easy - not a challenge at all
Quiz 6. What philosophy are you most likely to espouse?
No guts, no glory
Seize the day
Slow and steady wins the race
Change only brings problems
Live a little

Your Energy Level is High
You are a very enthusiastic, productive person. You have no trouble getting anything done. Beyond having a lot of energy, it's likely that your energy level tends to be quite steady. Unlike people with very high energy, you don't tend to be impulsive. By keeping your energy in check, you are able to use it as productively as possible.

6. What’s the latest in the day that you can drink a caffeinated drink without it affecting your sleep?
I don't drink caffienated beverages, so I've no idea.

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."

Hamlet, Act II, scene ii

Not that it did much good overall, as Hamlet, being busy staging a play "wherein to catch the conscience of the king" and embracing alleged insanity while talking to ghosts, ignored his lady. Wherein, of course, the silly girl threw herself in the river. Note: this was pre-feminism.

Today of course, we'd say "Honey, he's not worth it. If you've gotta throw someone in the river, throw in your controlling patronizing daddy, who treats you like property, or give Hamlet a good dunking on a cold day and see if he snaps to. Meanwhile, go to school, get a good job. Maybe--astronomy? Better to be starry-eyed like that than moaning around over some foppish boy."

But, I digress. Maybe fate and romance are written in the stars. Or maybe not. At least there's this galactic heart out there, shared above by the Astronomy PIcture of the Day and described by Daniel Marquardt:

Sprawling across almost 200 light-years, emission nebula IC 1805 is a mix of glowing interstellar gas and dark dust clouds. Derived from its Valentine's-Day-approved shape, its nickname is the Heart Nebula. About 7,500 light-years away in the Perseus spiral arm of our galaxy, stars were born in IC 1805. In fact, near the cosmic heart's center are the massive hot stars of a newborn star cluster also known as Melotte 15, about 1.5 million years young. A little ironically, the Heart Nebula is located in the constellation Cassiopeia. From Greek mythology, the northern constellation is named for a vain and boastful queen. This deep view of the region around the Heart Nebula, cropped from a larger mosaic, spans about 2.5 degrees on the sky or about 5 times the diameter of the Full Moon.

Give me a side order of science, please--and hold the Danish.

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 34.875E 10A 4.9 B 1.2 58 27 LAKE VICTORIA REG, TANZANIA

223929.5 48.660N 154.342E 80 A 0.9 140 49 KURIL ISL. mb 4.8 (HDRA).

232710.3 36.992N 104.884W 5G A 1.2 79 17 NEW MEXICO. mbLg 3.0 (GS). mbLg 3.0 (GS).

golden co usa 2009

FEB 10 12:09
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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)

PRONUNCIATION: (rhymes with pride)
MEANING: adjective: Having patches of two or more colors; multicolored

ETYMOLOGY:From pie (magpie), referring to a magpie's black and white plumage, from Latin pica (jay or magpie). The Pied Piper of legend owes his moniker to his multicolored attire.

MEANING: noun: A casual or unskilled laborer, especially on an oil rig

ETYMOLOGY: From roust, perhaps an alteration of rouse (to shake feathers, as of a hawk)

MEANING: adjective: Dispirited or disappointed by having one's hopes dashed

ETYMOLOGY: From allusion to the drooping crest or comb of a bird, such as a rooster. From Latin crista (tuft)

MEANING: noun:
1. A deliberately misleading story; hoax
2. An airplane with small forward wings mounted in front of the main wings; also such a wing

ETYMOLOGY: From French, literally a duck. The term is said to have come from the French expression vendre un canard à moitié (to half-sell a duck, or to take in or swindle)

Friday, 13 February 2009

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 test. "We're human."

This week, the department e-mailed test coordinators across the state to alert them to the error and provide a corrected version of the writing prompt. Denny said the test was developed by a committee of more than 30 teachers from across the state. The five questions - writing prompts from which students must craft persuasive essays -- were written almost two years ago and tested in 50 high schools last spring. No one before Stanford had reported the error, Denny said.

"It amazes me. This went through all the channels, and the pilot project, and nobody caught it," said Denny, a former English teacher. "I think it's one of those things where the people writing the test were so close to it, they probably just read over it. It looked right."

Fry, the IB English teacher, said she was disappointed to see an error on the state test, but not surprised one of her students caught it. "They're perceptive readers," she said.

Stanford, who prefers math to literature and plans to study mechanical engineering or sports medicine, said he doesn't consider himself a fabulous proofreader. "But when I edit my own papers, I'm a stickler for grammar and vocabulary and the correct use of words," he said. "It annoys me when I see mistakes."

He and Fry shared a laugh over the test error. It reminded them of a book the class read recently -- Thomas C. Foster's "How to Read Literature Like a Professor" -- in which Foster proclaims, "Irony trumps everything."

"What is this," Stanford said, "if not ironic?"

Thursday, 12 February 2009

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.
It's 2009, the end of a decade which -- when it comes to television -- was defined in large part by reality shows. By now, most of us reality fans have become a bit jaded. Backstabbing, catfights, rants, breakdowns - there's just not much shock value left anymore. So after Valleywag ran this story about public reaction to one man's behavior on (of all shows) "Wife Swap" a few weeks ago, it got me thinking about how this particular guy had disturbed and outraged so many people.

If you've never seen the show, it's a basic enough concept. Two women, usually from very different families and very different parts of the country, trade places and move in with each other's husbands and children for two weeks. The housewife swaps with the career woman. The mom of a sports-obsessed family moves in with a brood of bookworms. The hour is often filled with plenty of head-butting, but usually everyone goes back to the farm/penthouse/commune/mansion richer for the experience.

On the January 30th episode Gayla Long, a Missouri wife and mother of four whose family loves fast food, ATVs and paintball, swapped lives with life coach and weight-loss hypnotherapist Renee Stephens who lives in a tony San Francisco neighborhood, spends $40,000 a year to send her two young children to a French bilingual private school, and, along with her husband, is die-hard about environmental issues and staying healthy. Obviously, this wasn't going to be a match made in heaven, but things took an unexpectedly bad turn when Renee's British venture capitalist husband, Stephen Fowler, began acting downright cruel to Gayla. He continually humiliated her in front of his kids, insulted everything from her hometown to her language skills, told her he earns more in a week than she does in a year and even banned her from setting foot upstairs. One of the "Wife Swap" gimmicks is letting the wives implement new rules for their new homes (Renee, for example, put a moratorium on paintball and set up family French lessons), but bratty Stephen refused everything Gayla suggested, like letting the children ride go-carts and getting the family to sing the national anthem. After launching multiple attacks of verbal abuse against Gayla, it was Stephen who called in the show's producers to try to end the swap, eventually causing his temporary wife to move to a hotel.

Guess what? Viewers didn't like it. They blasted Fowler on all kinds of web sites, message boards, and blogs. He's been labeled the worst husband in the world and someone even posted his home address on a reality TV site, prompting Fowler to threaten a lawsuit. Yet another angered viewer launched a blog called stephenfowlersucks.com, which itemizes everyone Fowler insulted during the episode. (Overweight people and military members topped the list.)

So back to that question of why this guy struck such a nerve with so many of us when we've surely seen similar or worse behavior on TV multiple times over. Maybe it's because his cruelty was so uncalled for. We reality viewers may be used to seeing people resort to bad behavior when, say, they're competing for a million-dollar prize or for the love of a big-haired '80s rocker, but just for the sheer joy of being as mean as possible and making someone feel horrible? Well, that's just taking it too far. In the end, it sounds like Stephen Fowler did indeed learn a few lessons, albeit after the cameras stopped rolling. He posted an apology on his wife's web site, she's asked him to seek professional help, and he's resigned from the boards of two environmental non-profits so, he says, his behavior won't reflect badly on them. As for Gayla, she's probably thrilled to be done with her nightmarish foray into reality TV, and I'm certain she didn't leave her heart in San Francisco.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

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 officials estimate the increase will cost the average household $3-a-year.
Buffeted by rising costs and declining mail volume, the Postal Service lost $2.8 billion last year and, unless the economy turns around, is headed toward much larger losses this year.
The agency could have cited extraordinary circumstances and asked the independent Postal Regulatory Commission for larger increases, but officials felt that would only result in a greater decline in mail volume.
The post office has been cutting costs, reducing work hours, and has asked Congress to ease requirements for advance funds for retiree benefits and to allow mail to be delivered five days a week instead of six.

Other changes taking effect May 11:
• The postcard stamp increases 1-cent to 28 cents.
• The first ounce of a large envelope increases 5 cents to 88 cents.
• The first ounce of a parcel increases 5 cents to $1.22.
• New international postcard and letter prices are, for one ounce, 75 cents to Canada; 79 cents to Mexico; and 98 cents elsewhere.

Most Postal Service shipping services prices were adjusted in January and will not change in May.