Sunday, 31 May 2009

A.W.A.D. - Words with Origins in Numbers

with Anu Garg

We may think only mathematicians or economists or auditors have to deal with numbers, but numbers are everywhere. They're in beautiful patterns, they are in the spiral of a mollusk, in the arrangement of seeds in a sunflower, and beyond.
Though it may not be obvious at first glance, all of this week's words have their origins in numbers.

PRONUNCIATION: (verb: di-KUHS-ayt, DEK-uh-sayt, adjective: di-KUHS-ayt, -it)
MEANING: verb tr.:
To intersect or to cross
1. Intersected or crossed in the form of an X
2. Arranged in pairs along the stem, each pair at a right angle to the one above or below

ETYMOLOGY: The word originated from Latin "as" (plural asses) which was a copper coin and the monetary unit in ancient Rome. The word for ten asses was decussis, from Latin decem (ten) + as (coin). Since ten is represented by X, this spawned the verb decussare, meaning to divide in the form of an X or intersect.

NOTES: Samuel Johnson, lexicographer extraordinaire, has a well-deserved reputation for his magnum opus "A Dictionary of the English Language", but as they say, even Homer nods. He violated one of the dictums of lexicography -- do not define a word using harder words than the one being defined -- when he used today's word and two other uncommon words in defining the word network:
Network: Any thing reticulated or decussated, at equal distances, with interstices between the intersections. And what is "reticulated"?

Again, according to Johnson: Reticulated: Made of network; formed with interstitial vacuities.

USAGE:"How I wished then that my body, too, if it had to droop and shrivel, for surely everyone's did, would furl and decussate with grace to sculpt the victory of my spirit."J. Nozipo Maraire; Zenzele: A Letter for My Daughter; Delta; 1997.

PRONUNCIATION: (HEK-uh-toom, -tom)
MEANING: noun: A large-scale slaughter

ETYMOLOGY: Originally a hecatomb was a public sacrifice and feast of 100 oxen or cattle to the gods in ancient Greece and Rome. The word is derived from Latin hekatombe, from Greek hekatombe, from hekaton (hundred) + bous (ox). Another word derived from bous (ox) is boustrophedon.

USAGE:"The use of high-tech weapons will result in hecatombs, smart as the US bombs may be." Lost Values; Kathimerini (Athens, Greece); Mar 17, 2003.

PRONUNCIATION: (uh-TOHN, rhymes with phone)
MEANING: verb tr., intr.: To make amends for

ETYMOLOGY: From the contraction of the phrase "at one" meaning "to be in harmony"

USAGE: "While society must be protected from those who might pose it a threat, it is vital we let people get on with their lives once they have atoned." Éamonn Mac Aodha; Minor Offenders Need More Help to Escape Spectre of Past Crime; The Irish Times (Dublin); Apr 28, 2009.

PRONUNCIATION: (TES-uhr-uh; plural tesserae: TES-uhr-ee)
MEANING: noun: A small piece of stone, glass, or tile used to make a mosaic

ETYMOLOGY: From Latin, from Greek tesseres, variant of tessares (four), from the four corners of its square shape

USAGE: "Like red-stained tessera, the remnants of lost lives come together to compose a vast and shocking mosaic of contemporary life." Art Gould; Piecing It All Together; The Anniston Star (Alabama); May 10, 2009.

MEANING: adjective: Very large

ETYMOLOGY: From Latin decumanus, variant of decimanus (of the tenth), from decimus (tenth), from decem (ten). The word was often applied to waves from the belief that every tenth wave is greater than the others. The word also referred to the main gate of a military camp in ancient Rome. This gate faced away from the enemy and the tenth cohort of the legion was stationed there. A related word is decimate and a dean is, literally speaking, a chief of ten.

"The lover whose soul shaken is
In some decuman billow of bliss."
Francis Thompson; The Way of a Maid; c. 1890.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Which Side of the Brain...

I kinda like the picture, that is neat. Of course I'm never good at stuff like that.

Here is what the "scarily accurate program said about me...

"Right brain individual:
Right brain individuals are intuitive, creative and imaginative. They are flexible and are concerned with the bigger picture rather than details. They are impulsive and spontaneous and do not like time limits. They have difficulty explaining ideas verbally and prefer illustrations to verbal instructions. Careers: Architects, Artists, Salespeople, Psychiatrists, Musicians, Politicians, Teachers. (Interpersonal, Emotional, Musical, Spiritual, Talker.)
Welcome to being completely wrong about something. I am the non-mathematical, emoting side of the brain. I am terrible with numbers, learning foriegn languages, sales, musical anything. I love music but that is as far as any musical ability goes. I think this is scarily INaccurate. But its Facebook and that is not your one-stop shopping for scarily accurate quizzes!

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Some How This is not MY Colour!

Orange personalities are the creative adventurers in the colour spectrum. They have an inner urge to be creative, active and enjoy life to its fullest. They are also individual and independent and integrate physical and mental qualities. They enjoy the challenge and excitement of forming and shaping physical reality.

Orange personalities love to imagine and plan strategies for their next adventure or project and then put those plans into action. They need to be involved in the actual working process and want to physically shape and form their own ideas.

They have difficulty sitting back and letting other people do things for them. They are always busy building, organizing and shaping their projects and physical reality. An Orange personality's motivation in life is based on how much pleasure and satisfaction they get out of their own adventures, challenges and creative projects.

They want to be adventurous, creative and live out their own ideas.

Friday, 22 May 2009

A.W.A.D. - Terms Making Use of Fabric Metaphorically

with Anu Garg
Clothing -- one of the three necessities in life. No wonder words about clothing and fabrics are woven into our language. There are numerous idioms: people are advised not to wash their dirty linen in public, even adults like to have their security blankets, though emperors often don't have clothes. The word silken can be used to describe food and voice and touch; from woolgathering to cottonpickin', the list of idiomatic use of fabric words is a long one.
This week we'll look at five terms that make use of fabrics metaphorically.

MEANING: adjective:
1. Academic or scholarly
2. Informal; casual; outdoorsy
3. Made of or resembling tweed

ETYMOLOGY: After tweed, a coarse woolen fabric made in twill weave, preferred in casual wear, for example those in academia or in the country. The origin of the word tweed is not certain. It's probably an alteration of Scots tweel, influenced by the river Tweed that flows along the border between England and Scotland.

USAGE: "Ramrod-tall, blue-eyed and aquiline, with a high forehead swept clear of thin, fair hair, [William Hurt] even looked clever, like a tweedy young professor of letters on secondment to Hollywood." Jasper Rees; William Hurt is Back on Top of His Game; The Sunday Times (London, UK); May 3, 2009.
MEANING: noun: Nonsense; evasive talk; flattery

ETYMOLOGY: Besides the fabric, the word flannel can refer to a washcloth, an undergarment, or trousers, but here we are interested in its metaphorical sense which apparently developed from the soft and smooth texture of the fabric. The origin of the word flannel remains fuzzy. Two possible derivations have been suggested: from Welsh gwlanen (woolen article) or from Old French flaine (a kind of coarse wool, blanket).
USAGE: "Commissioned by the Blair economic team, the report is just what the doctor ordered. No flannel. No spin." Peter Koenig; Honeymoon With the Economy is Over For Blair; The Independent (London, UK); Nov 16, 1997.
MEANING: adjective:
1. Fuzzy; unclear; confused; vague; disorganized; rough
2. Of or relating to wool
ETYMOLOGY: From Old English wull
USAGE: "Edward Scicluna: This woolly and opaque way of reporting and forecasting must stop."
Charlot Zahra; Is Restarting the Excessive Deficit Procedure Justified? Business Today (Malta); May 13, 2009.
MEANING: adjective:
1. Characterized by luxury, extravagance, or ease
2. Or or related to plush: soft and shaggy

ETYMOLOGY: From plush, a fabric of silk, rayon, cotton, or wool, having a long pile. From French pluche, a variant of peluche, from Latin pilus (hair)

USAGE: "The warm, dark glow and plushy tone so typical of Central European orchestras from the late 19th century on seems steeped in the Staatskapelle's bones." Wynne Delacoma; Staatskapelle Berlin at Symphony Center; Chicago Sun-Times; Dec 12, 2000.
"But since Hugo left university in June, he has not strolled into the sort of plushy job that supposedly awaits our hordes of upper-second graduates when they roar onto the job market." Rachel Johnson; Graduates Get Jobs -- But No Pay; The Daily Telegraph (London, UK); Dec 5, 2003.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

A Great Party for 2009

The best image went up a couple of days ago, so there was no reason to post it here.
Our installation dinner was a success, and I think all who went had a great time. The food was excellent, the drinks flowed, dancing was ongoing and everyone was smiling and having fun! What more can one ask for?Our youth squad, all beautifully dressed for the event and ready to show us old-timers how to really get down and party!
The conga line. Luis is sorry he missed that!

Jack from Car 69 and me having a good time!

The Macarena at full strength and me front and center. I'm not the best in show for this but I know the steps and have a lot of fun doing it. I enjoy the coreographed dances like the Macarena, Cotton-eyed Joe and others.

My five years of service award - yay! It's hanging in my office at work with my high calls plaque from 2005. Next year I hope to squeeze in another high calls one. It feels good!

I'm not exqctly sure of the signifigance of the paper bag with the smiley face but Fanco and Kelly certainly loved it! These guys are too much.

Eric Hubner, head of RACES. These are the folks that wear the highlighted yellow tee shirts to events.

Bob, me, Danny, Mar, Chris and [not pictured] Don taking our oaths for the 2009 Executive Board. It's interesting and enjoyable in its own unique way. I served on the 2007 E-board but this year I've really made the most of it.

The two cutest guys at the event!

Here's the cutest couple at the event. They danced and had a great time. I think they look very sweet in this picture!

Friday, 15 May 2009

A.W.A.D. - Verbs

with Anu Garg

"They've a temper, some of them -- particularly verbs, they're the proudest -- adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs -- however, I can manage the whole lot of them!" boasts Humpty-Dumpty in Lewis Carroll's 1872 classic, "Through the Looking Glass".

If verbs are in fact as conceited as Humpty-Dumpty claims them to be, perhaps they can be forgiven for their hoity-toity ways -- after all, they are the ones that bring a sentence to life.

How many of this week's five verbs can you manage?

PRONUNCIATION: (di-SIM-yuh-layt)
MEANING: verb tr., intr.: To disguise one's intentions, thoughts, motives, etc. by pretense

ETYMOLOGY: From Latin dis- (apart, away) + simulare (to simulate), from similis (like). Ultimately from the Indo-European root sem- (one) that is also the source of simultaneous, assemble, simple, Sanskrit sandhi (union), Russian samovar (a metal urn), and Greek hamadryad (a wood nymph).

USAGE: "Charles Clarke added: 'We need to talk straight to people, engaging the concerns and questions that they have, rather than appearing to evade and dissimulate.'"Andrew Grice; Clarke: Brown Succession Is Not A Done Deal; The Independent (London, UK); Mar 29, 2007.

MEANING: verb tr., intr.: To beg; to obtain by imposing on someone's generosity

ETYMOLOGY: Of uncertain origin

USAGE: "Sak Nana makes money the old-fashioned way. He earns it. ... He said, 'I wanted to stand on my own feet! People used to assume, incorrectly, that I could always cadge money from my parents.'"Alfred Tha Hla; Riches to Rags to Revs; Bangkok Post (Thailand); Apr 24, 2009.

MEANING: verb tr.:
1. To let pass without mention
2. To suspend or to leave undone

ETYMOLOGY: From Latin praetermittere (to let pass), from praeter (beyond, past) + mittere (to let go, send)

USAGE: "In fact, the old lady declined altogether to hear his [Rawdon Crawley's] hour's lecture of an evening; and when she came to Queen's Crawley alone, he was obliged to pretermit his usual devotional exercises."William Makepeace Thackeray; Vanity Fair; 1847.

MEANING: verb tr., intr.: To travel along a route

ETYMOLOGY: From Old English wendan

NOTES: If you've ever wondered why we have the peculiar form "went" as the past tense of the word go (go, went, gone), today's word is the culprit. "Went" is the archaic past form of "wend". In current usage, the past form of wend is wended. The word is typically used in the phrase "to wend one's way".

USAGE:"Federal stimulus dollars are starting to wend their way from Washington to Watertown and other communities nationwide."Erin Ailworth; A Slice of the Stimulus; The Boston Globe; Apr 29, 2009.

PRONUNCIATION: (verb: BRAY-kee-ayt, BRAK-ee-ayt, adjective: BRAY-kee-it, BRAK-ee-it)
verb intr.: To move by swinging from one hold to another by using arms
adjective: Having arms

ETYMOLOGY: From Latin brachiatus (having arms), from brachium (arm), from Greek brakhion (upper arm). Ultimately from the Indo-European root mregh-u- (short) that is also the source of brief, abbreviate, abridge, brassiere, and brumal.

USAGE: "Thick-furred, with a red face, the monkey moves by sprawling out and brachiating from branch to branch through the high forest canopy."Roger Rosenblatt; Earth's Green Gown; Time (New York); Jun 17, 2004.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

The Photo

of the party! The best one...

A.W.A.D. - Positive Counterparts of Negative Words

with Anu Garg

Negativeland is the title of a slim novel I came across recently that's written with a constraint. Here's how it begins:

"None of the stations played anything good, but I kept at the buttons, pushing off songs from a childhood we were all supposed to have had. Commercials bothered me more than ever, news was propaganda, and traffic reports were no more useful than the weather. It wasn't yet 1988, and I was driving home from Tacoma."

Notice anything interesting in this paragraph? Anything in common in the three sentences? Well, the title of the book gives a hint. Each sentence in this book has something negative going on. All 186 pages of it. And it's a tribute to the author that his self-imposed constraint doesn't constrain the storytelling. There's a long tradition of writing with self-imposed constraints. There's a group called Oulipo that has tried many things, often with admirable results (also see lipogram and univocalic).

To purge all the negativity, in this week's AWAD I'll feature five words that are positive counterparts of terms usually seen in negative forms.

PRONUNCIATION: (EV-i-tuh-buhl)
MEANING: adjective: Capable of being avoided or evaded

ETYMOLOGY: From Latin evitare (to avoid).

MEANING: adjective: Easily handled or managed

ETYMOLOGY: From Old English wealdan (to rule). Ultimately from the Indo-European root wal- (to be strong) that gave us the words valiant, avail, valor, and value.

PRONUNCIATION: (EK-suhr-uh-buhl)
MEANING: adjective: Capable of being persuaded or moved

ETYMOLOGY: From Latin exorare (to prevail upon), from ex- (out) + orare (to pray, beg).

MEANING: adjective: Graceful; dexterous

ETYMOLOGY: From Old Norse gegn (straight, direct)

MEANING: adjective: Capable of being corrected

ETYMOLOGY: From Latin corrigere (to correct). Ultimately from the Indo-European reg- (to move in a straight line, to lead or rule) that is also the source of regent, regime, direct, rectangle, erect, rectum, alert, source, and surge.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

It Was Time for a Change

This wasn't really a change. I had this look some time ago. Maybe four years ago. But it seems that the different options for the layout haven't changed in the years I've been blogging. What a pity. It is a wide selection - kind of - but mostly it is the same 12 or 16 templates in different colour schemes. So, not truly a huge selection.

But change the title and the image at the top, finagle the colours to work more for you and suddenly life is good!

And since that ferocious kitten Siobhan has taken over, this is a good look for it. (She is ferocious, but she loves me even if her idea of great affection is sinking her teeth into whatever available square inch of my foot is visible.)

This will be a positive thing. Sometimes you just need to change a couple of things to make life really nice. I can't change the house or renovate a room, so I change what I can.

I'll be posting about some things this weekend: the unbelievable weather; the new Star Trek movie, which is awesome!; Siobhan, of course; and the Installation dinner.

You can thank the kitty for this. I figure she should be immortalised on here.

So welcome to a new chapter in blogging for me!

Friday, 8 May 2009

Article - Top Baby Names in the US

Barack, Miley move up; baby names Emma, Jacob rule

WASHINGTON – Barack and Miley move up, but the classics still rule. Emma is the top baby name for girls, Jacob for boys. Emma's surge to the top in 2008 ended Emily's 12-year reign as the No. 1 baby name for girls, the Social Security Administration announced Friday. Jacob held onto the boy's crown for the 10th straight year.

Barack may have been the man of the year in 2008 as Obama won the White House, but the president still trails the king. Barack moved up a record 10,126 places to No. 2,409. Elvis is still in the building, though he slipped from 673 to 713. In the midst of last year's election, Isha Kallay of suburban Washington wanted to name her newborn son after the future president. But she feared that Barack would become too popular, especially if he won. "That's why I named my baby Obama because I wanted my baby to have a special name that other people don't have," Kallay said from her home in Lanham, Md.

Baby naming experts said Americans are pulled by sometimes conflicting impulses when choosing names for their children. They gravitate toward the popular, wanting their child to fit in. But many also want their child's name to be unique, so they don't have to share it with four other kids in class at school. Many turn to the Bible; others turn to TV.

Emma debuted in the top 10 in 2002, the same year that Jennifer Aniston's character on "Friends" gave the name to her TV show baby. In the latest lineup, Emma was followed by Isabella, Emily, Madison and Ava. "They might want to emulate the stars, but if they do, the name can't be too far out," said Jennifer Moss, author of "The One-in-a-Million Baby Name Book" and founder of

"You don't see many Apples," she said, referring to name actress Gwyneth Paltrow gave her daughter. There aren't many Gwyneths, either. Miley, as in popular teen singer Miley Cyrus, moved up 152 spots to No. 127. But her stage name, Hannah — as in Hannah Montana — fell from No. 9 to No. 17. Michelle continued a steady 20-year slide, falling from No. 94 to No. 103. But that could change now that Michelle Obama is first lady. The names of the Obama daughters, Sasha and Malia, were in the 300s.

The top five boys names remained unchanged from 2007. Jacob was followed by Michael, Ethan, Joshua and Daniel. Alexander joined the top 10 at No. 6 while Andrew dropped out. The Social Security Administration started compiling name lists in 1997. The agency offers lists of baby names dating to 1880. The agency's Web site includes the top baby names by state. New girl names in the national top 1,000 included Isla (623), Mareli (718), Milagros (731), Dayami (750) and Nylah (821).

Debuting among the boys were Aaden (343), Chace (655), Marley (764), Kash (779) and Kymani (836). Beckham debuted at 893, perhaps a nod to the British soccer star, David Beckham, who now plays for the Los Angeles Galaxy.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Celebrity Apprentice Coming to a Close

We are watching the most recently aired Celebrity Apprentice and how disappointing that Clint's team did not win. Their advert for Chicken of the Sea was by and far the best. Even if you take out the musical side, their advert was just so much better.

And Annie, after she won, really showed how personal and poorly she took the major snubbing she took at Joan's hands. Maybe she should feel bitter about it, but she pointed out several times that Joan was personal and she wasn't. Wrong. She clearly took it personally.

I have to say now, watching Brande meet with Piers, he went right in for the kill: he thinks what I think, that she is an idiot. She couldn't spell "crap"! She said to Piers that she was bright and I said, "Only her hair."

When he met with Joan, she was great. She stood right up for herself and remained steadfast in her summation of Annie Duke. I think Annie is a snake but calling anyone worse than Adolf Hitler is a wee strong. But Joan is amazing.

Annie is meeting with Piers. He is right out there again, being obvious. He immediately went in for the kill, saying that she's not popular. True. But he is right about one thing; she doesn't shut up.

Piers pointed out that Jesse James hasn't brought in a dime despite being married to one of the world's richest and most attractive women (Sandra Bullock). Well, he is right... but somehow, Jesse made it to the top four. I don't think he and Brande will survive this.

It's hard to blog as I'm watching this.

Donald, Ivanka and Donald Jr. all hammered Brande. It is clear that Brande has skated through this show and she did, as Ivanka pointed out, ride on Annie's coattails. And she was fired. Thank the gods... I'd be disappointed to see someone so clueless get to the top two out of three other clearly intelligent people.

Next week will really be interesting!

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Global Update For Swine Influenza

Influenza A(H1N1) - update 18
6 May 2009 -- As of 16:00 GMT, 6 May 2009, 23 countries have officially reported 1893 cases of influenza A (H1N1) infection.

Mexico has reported 942 laboratory confirmed human cases of infection, including 29 deaths. The United States has reported 642 laboratory confirmed human cases, including two deaths.

The following countries have reported laboratory confirmed cases with no deaths:
Austria (1)
Canada (165)
China, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (1)
Colombia (1)
Costa Rica (1)
Denmark (1)
El Salvador (2)
France (5)
Germany (9)
Guatemala (1)
Ireland (1)
Israel (4)
Italy (5)
Netherlands (1)
New Zealand (5)
Portugal (1)
Republic of Korea (2)
Spain (73)
Sweden (1)
Switzerland (1)
United Kingdom (28)

WHO is not recommending travel restrictions related to the outbreak of the influenza A(H1N1) virus.

Individuals who are ill should delay travel plans and returning travellers who fall ill should seek appropriate medical care. These recommendations are prudent measures which can limit the spread of many communicable diseases, including influenza.

Further information on the situation will be available on the WHO website on a regular basis.

E-mail From CDC: Swine Influenza

Update on Situation
The ongoing outbreak of novel influenza A (H1N1) continues to expand in the United States and internationally. CDC expects that more cases, more hospitalizations and more deaths from this outbreak will occur over the coming days and weeks. CDC continues to take aggressive action to respond to an expanding outbreak caused by novel H1N1 flu.

CDC’s response goals are to:
Reduce transmission and illness severity, and provide information to help health care providers, public health officials and the public address the challenges posed by this emergency.

CDC is issuing updated interim guidance daily in response to the rapidly evolving situation. This includes updated interim guidance for clinicians on how to identify and care for people who are sick with novel H1N1 flu now that more widespread illness has been detected in the United States. CDC recommends that testing and antiviral treatment be prioritized for those with severe respiratory illness and those at highest risk of complications from seasonal influenza. This includes children younger than 5 years old, pregnant women, people with chronic medical conditions and weakened immune systems, and people 65 years and older. In addition, CDC has provided information for the public on what to do if they develop flu-like symptoms.

CDC has completed deployment of 25 percent of the supplies in the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) to all states in the continental United States. These supplies and medicines will help states and U.S. territories respond to the outbreak. In addition, the Federal Government and manufacturers have begun the process of developing a vaccine against the novel H1N1 flu virus.
Response actions are aggressive, but they may vary across states and communities depending on local circumstances. Communities, businesses, places of worship, schools and individuals can all take action to slow the spread of this outbreak. People who are sick are urged to stay home from work or school and to avoid contact with others, except to seek medical care. This action can avoid spreading illness further.
U.S. Human Cases of H1N1 Flu Infection
As of 11:00 AM ET on May 5, 2009, CDC has confirmed 403 human cases and 1 death in 38 states:
Alabama: 4
Arizona: 17
California: 49
Colorado: 6
Connecticut: 2
Delaware: 20
Florida: 5
Georgia: 1
Idaho: 1
Illinois: 82
Indiana: 3
Iowa: 1
Kansas: 2
Kentucky: 1 (resident of Kentucky but currently hospitalized in Georgia)
Louisiana: 7
Maine: 1
Maryland: 4
Massachusetts: 6
Michigan: 2
Minnesota: 1
Missouri: 1
Nebraska: 1
Nevada: 1
New Hampshire: 1
New Jersey: 6
New Mexico: 1
New York: 90
North Carolina: 1
Oregon: 15
Pennsylvania: 1
Rhode Island: 1
South Carolina: 16
Tennessee: 2
Texas: 41 (and 1 death)
Utah: 1
Virginia: 3
Wisconsin: 3

What You Can Do to Stay Healthy
Stay informed. This website will be updated regularly as information becomes available. Influenza is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through coughing or sneezing of infected people.
Take everyday actions to stay healthy.
Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hands cleaners are also effective.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way.
Stay home if you get sick. CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
Follow public health advice regarding school closures, avoiding crowds and other social distancing measures.
Find healthy ways to deal with stress and anxiety.
Call 1-800-CDC-INFO for more information.

For more information on what you can do to stay safe and healthy, check the CDC H1N1 Flu website.

Update to Interim CDC Guidance for K-12 Schools and Childcare Facilities
At this time, CDC recommends the primary means to reduce spread of influenza in schools is to focus on early identification of ill students and staff, staying home when ill, and good cough and hand hygiene etiquette. Decisions about school closure should be at the discretion of local authorities based on local considerations, including public concern and the impact of school absenteeism and staffing shortages. Learn more.

How Stupid Do You Think We Are?

Just a few samples of scam e-mails from mental midgets who, instead of getting a real job like normal people are actually doing this...

(WARNING: Do NOT trust any e-mail address like this!)


This is to officially inform you that (ATM Cash Card Number 5179123456789120) has been accredited in your favor.Your Cash Card Personal Identification Number is 822. The ATM Card Value is $900,000 Thousand USD. You are advised to contact Mr. Tom Smith for delivery as soon as possible:
Mr. Tom Smith
Tel: +2340699495
with the following information
Note Carefully: Cost of delivery is $ 95 Dollars.
(Say, "Hello, Gotcha!")
At least this joker is just aiming for the $95.00 per moron. This is low-key and subtle enough to get some idiot (and gods know there are plenty) to fall for it. Keep reading for the bigger ones...
(WARNING: Do NOT trust any e-mail address like this!)

Dear Friend,

I am the manager of bill and exchange at the foreign remittance department in the BANK OF AFRICA (BOA) OF BURKINA FASO OUAGADOUGOU, WEST AFRICA.
I am writing,following the impressive information about you through one of my friend. He assured me of your capability and releability to champion this business opportunity.

In my department we discovered an abandoned sum of U.S$10.5M US dollars (TEN Million five hundred US dollars) in an account that belongs to one of our foreign customer who died along with his entire family in DECEMBER 2003 in a plane crash.

Since we got information about his death, we have been expecting his next of kin to come over and claim his money because we can not release it unless somebody applies for it as next of kin or relation to the deceased as indicated in our banking guidlines and laws but unfortunately we learnt that all his supposed next of kin or relation died alongside with him at the plane crash leaving nobody behind for the claim.
It is therefore upon this discovery that I in my department now decided to make this business proposal to you and release the money to you as the next of kin or relation to the deceased for safety and subsequent disbursement since nobody is coming for it and i don't want this money to go into the bank treasury as unclaimed bill.

The banking law and guidline here stipulates that if such money remained unclaimed after seven years,the money will be transfered into the bank treasury as unclaimed fund. The request of foreign as next of kin in this business is occassioned by the fact that the customer was a foreigner and a Burkinabe can not stand as next of kin to a foreigner.
We agree that 30% of this money will be for you as a foreign partner, in respect to the provision of a foreign account, 5% will be set aside for expenses incured during the business and 65% would befor me and my colleagues. There after I and my family will visit your country for disbursement according to the percentages indicated.

Therefore, to enable the immediate transfer of this fund to you as arranged, you must apply first to the bank as relation or next of kin to the deceased indicating your bank name, your bank account number,your private telephone and fax number for easy and effective communication and location where in the money will be remitted.

Upon receipt of your reply, I will send to you by fax or e-mail the text of the application.

I will not fail to bring to your notice that this transaction is hitch-free and that you should not entertain any atom of fear as all required arrangements have been made for the transfer. You should contact me immediately as soon as you receive this letter for more explanations.
Yours faithfully,
Bill & Exchange Manager"
It's hitch free, huh? Other than you getting all my personal information and sending some thug to come visit? What a deal...
(WARNING: Do NOT trust any e-mail address like this!)

"From Dr.James Williams.The manager of bill and exchange African Development Bank, Cotonou Benin Republic( West Africa).

Attn:Dear Friend,
I am the manager of bill and exchange at the foreign remittance department in the African Development Bank (A.D.B). In my department we discovered an abandoned sum of US$18.5m dollars (EIGHTEEN MILLION FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND US DOLLARS) in an account that belongs to one of our foreign customer (MR. ANDREAS SCHRANNER from Munich, Germany) who died along with his entire family on (Monday 31st July 2000) in a plane crash.
Since we got information about his death, we have been expecting his next of kin to come over and claim his money because we cannot release it unless some body applies for it as next of kin or relation to the deceased as indicated in our banking gildings and laws but unfortunately we learnt that all his supposed next of kin or relation died alongside with him at the plane crash leaving nobody behind for the claim.
It is therefore upon this discovery that I now decided to make this business proposal to you and release the money to you as the next of kin or relation to the deceased for safety and subsequent disbursement since nobody is coming for it and we don't want this money to go into the bank treasury as unclaimed bill. The banking law and guideline here stipulates that if such money remained unclaimed after TEN years, the money will be transferred into the bank treasury as unclaimed fund.
The request of foreigner as next of kin in this business is occasioned by the fact that the customer was a foreigner and a Benin indigene cannot stand as next of kin to a foreigner. I agree that 35% of this money will be for you as a respect to the provision of a foreign account , 5% will be set aside for expenses incurred during the business and 60% would be for me Thereafter, I will visit your country for disbursement according to the percentage indicated.
Therefore, to enable the immediate transfer of this fund to you arranged, you must apply first to the bank as relation or next of kin of the deceased indicating your bank name, your bank account number, your private telephone and fax number for easy and effective communication and location where in the money will be remitted. Upon receipt of your reply, I will send to you by fax or email the text of the application .I will not fail to bring to your notice that this transaction is hitch-free and you should not entertain any atom of fear as all required arrangements have been made for the transfer. You should contact me immediately as soon as you receive this letter.
Trusting to hear from you immediately.

Yours Faithfully,
Dr. James Williams.
+229 97 266 00"
Traislinge's note: I must've just fallen off the turnip truck yesterday. What person with the Queen's English would allow such a mismanaged letter to go out? And my, this dead body theme is getting old, indeed. Let the $10,000,000 get soaked into the government treasury. I guarantee you in West Africa that money can buy a lot of food.
From: Hyundai Auto-Mobile Company
(WARNING: Do NOT trust any e-mail address like this!)
"Your Email address have been picked as a winner of a lump sum pay out of(£750,934.00 GBP)in cash credited to file REF NO.REF:UKHY/BD-3113BD. Your Email Ref Number falls within our European booklet representative's office in United Kingdom.
Dr.Edward Phil
Tel: +447045748818

1.FULL NAMES:___________
10.TELEPHONE NUMBER:_________"
Traislinge's note: at least the other e-mails offered US dollars. These jokers are under the guise of a car company giving away a huge amount of pounds stirling... and how is that branch of Hyundai managing that when most car companies are losing money?
From: Jerry Mike
(WARNING: Do NOT trust any e-mail address like this! Sadly, this looks like anyone's address; except that of a bank!)
Its my pleasure to inform you that i have verify from the bank director regarding the transfer of your fund and it was good news because the requested fee was less expessive for you to afford.
your consignment containing your fund($800.000.00) i have deposited it with the BANK OF AFRICA so that your fund will be wired to your account immediately you contact the bank director with your banking details. However i went to BANK OF AFRICA to discuss this with the bank director as its has not been delivered to you
However he told me that your fund can be transfered to you via a direct wire transfer(KTT) into your account.He told me to instruct you to contact the bank to apply for a direct wire transfer into your account to avoid loosing your fund due to delay.Therefore you can contact the bank with below information, send to them your banking information.
Send an email to the bank with the above bank email and apply for your wire transfer as i have informed the bank about you already.On receipt of your fund into your account endeavour to inform me immediately you receive your fund in your account. the director told me that the only fee you are to pay is $195,00 usd for the opening of new international account here in there bank that will be use to transfer the fund to your destinated account in your country and it will also serve as the bank transfer charges.
Thanks Remain Bless
Traislinge's comments: If blessings rain down upon anyone's head, it shall hopefully be yours while you rot in a jail cell somewhere.
There are a smattering of other junk e-mails: selling me viagra, online pharmacies, so and so gets naked, the usual mishmash of inappropriate and mind-bogglingly stupid things. Also my gender is a total cypher to the spammers of the world so they all send me the wrong gender naked people and offer body part enlargements for parts I don't have! You'd think a modicum of sense would go into this.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Article - Mercury Much More Dynamic than Previously Thought

NASA astronomers continue to learn more about Mercury

NASA's Messenger (MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging) spacecraft has offered researchers unique glimpses into Mercury that were previously unknown. During an October 6 flyby of Mercury, Messenger learned the small rocky planet has massive impact craters, volcanoes, and magnetic tornadoes. More than 1,200 images were taken during the second Mercury fly by, with researchers getting a glimpse of another 30 percent of the planet's surface.

"This the first time we have seen terrain exposed on the floor of an impact basin on Mercury that is preserved from when it formed," Center for Earth and Planetary Studies research director Thomas Watters said in a statement. "Terrain like this is usually completely buried by volcanic flows."

This is an important find for researchers because ancient impact basins normally are flooded and filled by volcanic flows, though this one has not been the case observed by Messenger. Before the craft flew to the planet, astronomers only speculated about the possibility of craters and volcanoes on the planet's surface.

The Rembrandt crater is more than 430 miles in diameter and could have been created almost 4 billion years ago when a large space rock impacted the planet's surface. Since the crater hasn't been filled in, researchers are interested in studying the planet's volcanic and tectonic activity.

Oddly enough, researchers for a number of years considered Mercury a distant dead planet that offered very little value to the astronomy community. NASA hoped to learn more about the planet -- and change its public view -- when it launched Messenger into space.

It's unknown when NASA plans to have Messenger do another fly by in which thousands of pictures of a select area will be photographed.

All of the findings have been published in several papers published in the May 1 edition of Science.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Parrrrr-Tay Tonight!


It's that time - time for the Installation Dinner for Parsippany's Roackaway Neck First Aid Squad! It's the one night of the year that all of us are off and get to have a great time at a restaurant with dancing, music and (for most) alcohol. We all work hard when we are on, but boy can we party with the best of them!

I'm so dressed up, no one'll recognise me!

The dinner is a little later in the year than usual - this is generally a winter event, February or March. But any time of the year is fine for a good time, really, and it is rare that these dinners disappoint. There will be representatives of other squads there and all kinds of awards given and swapped - oh, hey! I may be getting one - five years of service - so I won't be left out. And the officers on the Executive Board will be sworn in to office (despite the fact that we have held them since December 2008) by... it should be the Mayor of Parsippany but I'm sure I'd heard he couldn't make it. So I don't know who'll do it this year. But that's kind of neat!

As much as I may be a non-conformist, I do enjoy the quasi-military nuances and ceremonies that we partake in and I do very much enjoy the comraderie - even if I'm not generally popular. This hardly keeps me up nights, I would mention. It is a statement of fact. I'm grating for some. But on event nights we all get on well and that sort of "I'm not crazy about you" thing doesn't matter. Well, that and enough alcohol makes even the most annoying person tolerable, ha, ha!

It'll be a great night out for us all. The only thing that makes it a bit disappointing is Luis is on an airplane somewhere and so won't be with me. Means my dancing will be limited to just those group efforts, like the Macarena and Cotton-Eyed Joe or whatever that is called. I suspect I won't get too many takers for dancing in general and I completely forgot to set up a date for myself for the dancing part.

And the Next Wife Swap...

This one, Brazenwood/Taylor, which aired on 24 April 2009, has the Taylors, the husband who is a cowboy and immersed in the cowboy culture. I had no idea that being a completely sexist pig was what it took to be a cowboy. That seems wrong. I understand it is more masculine culture to be in, but this much? And cowboys can be very intelligent; not this guy. Calvin Taylor is a mental midget.

His wife, Heather, is a homey, comfortable woman who is down to earth and pleasant. I find her very likeable. She is not an astronomy lover, but she definitely pooh-poohs astrology. I find astrology mostly amusing but not a science by any means. But I can understand her attitude when meeting the Brazenwoods.

Kelly Brazenwood is a 37-year-old husband who is really around 5-years-old. I accuse Luis of being immature, but I put him at 14-years-old because he is sexually mature and raunchy (that is not a shared quality in front of other people, just for me), but this guy is a little kid. He thinks he's bright and he might be but I just can't tell. He's married to 28-year-old Christina, who is a little out there - she talks to plants and feels that animals are equal - I love animals but we have that whole opposable thumb thing going on so I can't honestly say we're equal.

I also will tell you with absolute convinction that men and women are not the same. Equal opportunity, yes, but not equal. Men are physically bigger. Men are built differently physically from women. Women's thinking and ways of communicating and seeing the world are different from men. I hate the Equal Rights Amendment - why should it be on paper that we have equal rights? Of course we do. That should never have been up for debate. We have dropped the attitude (mostly) that women are not the level that men are. But to say that we are the same is wrong.

The guy called from Cigna and now I can't get back onto the original thought train... so it is time to end this post!

An Interesting Wife Swap...

I'm catching up on our Wife Swap recordings. I'm watching the epiode Burroughs/Padovan-Hickman one that aired on 17 April 2009. The one I watched just before was really quite satisfying - the families both learned a lot and seemed to really take it to heart. This one, however, is back to the familiar mold of putting families that are so totally diametrically opposite families together that they almost can't get along.
This is interesting, though, because the Padovan-Hickmans have electricity but don't use it, don't flush often, go for a week without showering and then the whole family uses the same bathwater... I can see where that would be hard, especially for me in that I have very oily skin and hair and would look rather wretched after the next day.
But the family themselves are very likable and fun, the father looks more like a kindly grandfather, but really is quite intelligent and pleasant. I would have trouble with the clean thing and I'd miss my iPod and laptop but I would enjoy the two weeks there. Make it interesting with good conversation and learning. The Burroughs family in New Jersey... well... yikes. The kids were spoiled rotten but that is fixable (we'll put them on Supernanny); the husband was a total doormat and the wife... holy shit.
Plastic woman. She learned absolutely nothing, came back and talked about more plastic surgery. The husband (whom I need to look up) hated the idea. And his name, by the way? Shannon Michael... I really want to know what is up with that... but they did not mention it. I have a sneaking suspicion her ego demanded he take her first name... How screwed up is that?

She looks like the victim of a surgical crime. DeLaura was a little unwashed, but a good person and normal. This woman is all about herself, so much so that she has no thought or respect for ANYone else. I hope Michael wakes up and sends her packing.

Someone else's Blog had this on:

"A family who choose to live off the grid, without modern conveniences like electricity or a refrigerator, swap lives with a wealthy, materialistic family obsessed with status, on “Wife Swap,” FRIDAY, APRIL 17 (8:00-9:00 p.m., ET) on ABC .

In a log cabin in the backwoods of Virginia, the Padovan-Hickmans are proud to be “modern pioneers.” DeLaura (46) and Steve (60) are raising their daughters, Tara (11) and Maren (8), to be self sufficient and environmentally conscious. Without electricity, the family must wear head flashlights to find their way around the dark house at night. Instead of going to the supermarket, they raise chickens, make their own cheese and eat fruit right off the vine. To conserve water, the entire family use the same tub of bath water, which they then use to flush the toilet. Even their clothes are recycled; Tara admits she has never owned a piece of brand new clothing. DeLaura doesn’t waste any time on her appearance; she gladly admits she hasn’t shaved in six years, to the delight of her husband. The Padovan-Hickmans believe they’ve cut out all the “stuff” that comes along with chasing the American Dream. For them, the American Dream is a nightmare.

Meanwhile, the materialistic Burroughs family from New Jersey say they are living the American Dream and loving it! Spoiled Shannon Nicole (33) and her husband Shannon Michael (35) believe life is about spending money and dressing to impress. Shannon Nicole loves big diamonds, big furs and big hair. She spares no expense on cosmetic procedures and, when asked if her appearance is real, she answers, “real….real expensive!” Shannon Nicole spends hours each day primping herself and her twins, Nicholas and Alexa (6). To keep the kids happy, they proudly admit that bribery is a useful parenting technique. The Burroughs designed their ornate home around a glistening, high-wattage chandelier in the hope that people driving by will be impressed by their “wow” house. In order to keep up with his wife’s expensive taste, Shannon Michael works as a technology consultant. He has passed on his love of technology to his kids, who each have their own computer and heaps of video games.

In the first week, DeLaura Padovan-Hickman leaves behind her pioneer life and enters the high-tech, modern world. In order to live as Shannon Nicole, she receives a “Jersey chic” makeover complete with teased hair, high heels and animal print clothing. After spending hours alone staring at herself in the mirror and visiting the plastic surgeon’s office, she concludes Shannon Nicole is living a self-centered and shallow life, while her husband and kids trail behind doing nothing but playing on their computers. Meanwhile in Virginia, Shannon Nicole Burroughs is shocked when she is dropped off in the woods and has to trek through mud just to get to the Padovan-Hickmans’ electricity-free, log cabin. When she sees the goats, she explains that she usually doesn’t take care of animals-she wears them. She refuses to transform into DeLaura and claims that people who shop at thrift stores are nothing but losers. After spending time with Tara and Maren, she believes Steve and DeLaura are failing as parents because they don’t pamper the girls like the princesses she believes they deserve to be.

In the second week of the swap, when the wives change the rules and turn the tables, DeLaura Padovan-Hickman strives to “unplug” the Burroughs family in hopes they’ll learn to appreciate one another. Though Shannon Michael argues he didn’t build his fancy home to have to rely on flashlights, he eventually succumbs and turns out the lights. DeLaura also asks that the kids donate some of their toys and clothes, but the usually indulged twins struggle to understand why they have to part with their prized possessions. DeLaura hopes Shannon Michael can learn to stand up and be a father instead of tuning everything out. Meanwhile in Virginia, Shannon Nicole wants to turn the Padovan-Hickman “dump” into a wow house. She attempts to bring the out of touch family into the 21st century by introducing them to technology and the thrill of spending money, but it all goes downhill after a failed trip to the mall. Steve tries to explain his family doesn’t believe more stuff will bring his family any more happiness than they already have. After two weeks in another home, can DeLaura Padovan-Hickman bring the Burroughs back to basics by cutting out the clutter and healing their disconnected lives? And can Shannon Nicole Burroughs bring the Padovan-Hickmans one step closer into the modern world?"

Saturday 9 Meme: Settling the Score

Saturday 9: Settling the Score
1. Do you feel that you have “a score to settle” with anyone?
No, I'm not one to hold a grudge. I'm a little pissed off with Governor Corzine, though. He wants to cut the EMS training budget in half, the same guy who was tooling down the highway at 90 miles an hour (speed limits apply to us, not him), wasn't wearing a seatbelt, and had an accident! Next time, he can set his own damn leg!

2. Do you own anything that you think is unbreakable?
I have discovered that anything can be broken... the cleaning people have broken things, the kitten and both of my long-gone babies broke many an item over the 18 years that I had them. On the very rare occasion there have been kids in our house, they've certainly been interested in touching everything under the sun. That is not far from breaking things, which isn't their fault. Kids are not gentle.

3. Tell us about a crazy thing you did in high school.
Ummmmm, that has to be a long list. I mean, cutting the day or class wasn't crazy - who didn't do that? Something crazy... well, I know I must've done some crazy things there but it was in middle school that I did something that created a HUGE bruhaha.

I was standing in line for the unch offerings, which were considerably different from what lunches in the Wallington school system were like. So we come to the desserts (keep in mind that this was in 1981 and sugar-loaded desserts were still okay) and a moment of not thinking, I stuck my finger into the chocolate pudding to see what I thought of it and the place went totally nuts! Oh, my gods. And it was a week-long thing. I never could believe that. But years later, I think that the adults there probably went home and laughed about it.

4. Name the one talent of yours that you think is the best.
One of my talents that is the best... hmmmm. I don't know off the top of my head. I'm told I'm good at firing people, but that is a dubious honour at best. I would say... ummmm... communicating. And caring. I definitely care about Luis, my friends, people I work with, and strangers - if I didn't care about strangers, I wouldn't be good at EMS.

5. Who wins American Idol? (if you don’t watch, tell us about a reality show that you do follow.)
I don't watch American Idol, not ever. But I grudgingly admit that I do watch a couple of reality shows. The top of the short list is Celebrity Apprentice. I blog about it constantly. The other was Beauty and the Geek, but they've taken it off the air, more's the pity. Luis loves watching Hell's Kitchen, but I hate the chef guy, what's-his-name. That's it for our reality viewing.

6. What is your favorite movie in black & white?
I'm a huge snob, so rarely am I interested in black and white telly. I believe that It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World is originally a black and white film. I love that movie. I'll stick with that.

7. What is one thing advertised too much on TV?
Is there anything that isn't? Cars, they are the largest percent of what we see. Pharmaceuticals is the second one. But what is really egregious is the advertising and branding that goes on while the shows are airing. Adverts cavort along the bottom of the screen and sometimes are shockingly large. All shows have the channel logo on throughout the show. It's rude and unforgivable that this allowed.

8. What is your current favorite TV drama?
Oh, now, that I can answer! CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Bones, Grey's Anatomy, Reaper, etc. There is a longer list than that, but those are the basics.

9. What is your current favorite TV comedy?
Uh, comedies as in situation comedies? I only watch one: Everybody Hates Chris. It's a good show although it is losing the charm as the mother gets stuck in that over-do-it, I'm stuck in a rut with behaviour. But it is still a good show. And it doesn't have a laugh-track, which I think is the worst. I sometimes hear the awful shows that Luis watches and they are so... formulaic, unfunny and that damn laugh track. I will say that the actors must have some talent to manage the timing to get around that stupid laugh track.

A.W.A.D. - Words Relating Specifically to Men/Women

with Anu Garg
As we head towards equality of the sexes, the same word works fine for both. Today one who teaches is simply a teacher, compared to earlier days when we had teachers and teacheresses, depending on their anatomy. This is a good thing: why have two separate words when a person's gender has no bearing on the job? But sometimes separate words are necessary to convey a distinction. This week we'll feature five words that relate specifically to either men or women, and we'll also include words for him or for her.

PRONUNCIATION: (ma-ri-TOR-ee-uhs)
MEANING: adjective: Excessively fond of one's husband
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin maritus (married, husband)

NOTES: The word to describe a husband who is excessively fond of a wife is uxorious. The word maritorious is rare, while uxorious is fairly well known. What does that say about the relative fondness of husbands and wives to each other?
PRONUNCIATION: (PA-truh-kli-nee)
MEANING: noun: Inheritance of traits primarily from the father
ETYMOLOGY: From Greek patro- (father) + klinein (to lean). Ultimately from the Indo-European root klei- (to lean) that is also the source of lean, incline, ladder, lid, client, climate, and climax

NOTES: The female counterpart of this term is matrocliny.
MEANING: noun: Hatred of women

NOTES: The opposite of misogyny is philogyny and its male counterpart misandry. An equal opportunity hater would be misanthrope.
PRONUNCIATION: (may-tuhr-fuh-MIL-ee-uhs)
MEANING: noun: The female head of a family, household, tribe, etc.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin materfamilias, from mater (mother) + familias, from familia (household), from famulus (servant, slave)

NOTES: Paterfamilias is the masculine equivalent of the word.
MEANING: noun: The use of a male name as a pseudonym by a woman
NOTES: Many women wrote under male pen names because in the 18th and 19th centuries it was considered scandalous for a woman to write a book. The English novelist Mary Ann Evans wrote as George Eliot. Also, in olden times, people didn't take a woman's writing seriously.
The counterpart of pseudandry is pseudogyny where a man takes a woman's name as a pseudonym. The rationale here is that people expect certain genres, such as romance, to be written by women.
ETYMOLOGY: From Greek pseudo (false) + andro (male).

A.W.A.D. - "I Didn't Know There Was a Word for That!"

with Anu Garg

There are two times in life when we are most likely to be lost for words: when we're happiest and when we're saddest. For other occasions, we can usually think of a word. With such a large wordstock in its coffers, the English language is at the ready to supply just the right word.
Stock up your verbal reserve with these week's words, words that may make you say, "I didn't know there was a word for it!"

PRONUNCIATION: (puh-REN-di-nayt)
MEANING: verb tr.: To put off until the day after tomorrow.verb intr.: To stay at a college for an extended time.

ETYMOLOGY: From Latin perendinare (to defer until the day after tomorrow), from perendie (on the day after tomorrow), from dies (day)

PRONUNCIATION: (moy-ROL-uh-jist)
MEANING: noun: A hired mourner

NOTES: There are some things in life money can't buy, for everything else, there's Mastercard. With the right credit card you could even hire mourners for your funeral or find the right sentiment.

While researching this word, I came across websites that offer "eulogy packs". One such site lists a "Mother's Eulogy pack" that includes "9 speeches, 3 poems, 3 free bonus". Only $25.95 -- have your credit card ready. Fathers go cheaper: $19.97.

Let's not be too smug and look down upon those who buy these packs. When we go to the neighborhood card store to buy a greeting card or a sympathy card, we're also hiring someone to package words to help us convey our feelings.

Professional mourners are not a new thing either -- there's a long tradition going back to ancient Greece and beyond. As late as 1908 a New York Times article reported on a professional mourners' strike in Paris. Then there is claque, a group of people hired to applaud a performer at a show.

ETYMOLOGY: From Greek moira (fate, death) + logos (word)

PRONUNCIATION: (pros-uh-pag-NO-see-uh)
MEANING: noun: Inability to recognize familiar faces.

ETYMOLOGY: From Greek prosopon (face, mask), from pros- (near) + opon (face), from ops (eye) + agnosia (ignorance). Ultimately from the Indo-European root gno- (to know) that is also the source of know, recognize, acquaint, ignore, diagnosis, notice, and normal.

NOTES: Prosopagnosia is also known as face blindness, usually a result of brain injury. People suffering from it cannot recognize familiar faces, even their own. A book on this and related topics is neurologist Oliver Sacks's "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat.
Prosopagnosiacs' motto: We don't take people at face value.
PRONUNCIATION: (zan-tho-DON-tuhs)
MEANING: adjective: Having yellow teeth

ETYMOLOGY: From Greek xanthos (yellow) + -odon (toothed)
MEANING: noun: A rumbling noise caused by the movement of gas through the intestines
ETYMOLOGY: From Greek borborygmos (intestinal rumbling), an onomatopoeiac word to describe the sound

NOTES: Borborygmi are usually harmless, they are simply a result of gas movement around the stomach. And the rumbling sound doesn't mean one is hungry either. We can't really do anything about the sound of a stomach growling, but we can take comfort in the fact that at least we know a fancy word to describe it.

Friday, 1 May 2009

"Mr. President, We have News..."

" won New Hampshire."

Ah, reruns of The West Wing never get old. I was delighted when President Bartlett won. I would vote for him in a heartbeat. I always say that, but it is worth it to say that, to even get to say that!

President Obama is better than the sound of President McCain (although it is hard to admit that an Scottish name isn't good). However, as bad as President McCain would have been, Vice President (as in if-this-guy-drops-dead,-then-I'm-Commander-in-Chief-of-the-free-world), Palin would have scared the crap out of me! I'm still hoping President Obama will do something workable, like stop giving tax rebates (the money's gotta come from somewhere), raping the wealthy (odd to think I married well, but I did), and pushing for EFCA (shiver).

On the other hand, I did not vote for an American African President. I did not vote for any colour, I voted for a person - the best person presented - for the job. And if I was American African, I'd be offended. He did not win or lose based on ethnicity and he is hardly what I'd call American African! He may sort of look swarthy, but he's the President, and that is all that is on the table.

President Bartlett could speak and speak well. And he was super-smart and I definitely voted in favour of brains! I haven't seen the brains that did the great speaking. I'm holding on to the idea that this is just the very start of four years and he may work out something really amazing. We'll see.

President Bush, on the other hand, was a complete idiot in terms of speaking. Noo-cyu-lar. Yikes. I'm sure that came out during the first four years of his predency and somehow, shockingly, he made it in for a second go-round.

This... is a mystery.

Article - Honey, I Sunk the Maldives

Environmental changes could wipe out some of the world's most well-known travel destinations
By Megan Angelo

As if an eroding worldwide economy weren’t enough to depress travel this year, some hot spots are facing even scarier scenarios: sinking, melting, or literally vanishing from the face of the earth. Thanks to global warming and tourist wear and tear, locales from the Galápagos Islands to Croatia’s Dalmatian coast are breaking down.

Maldive Islands
Country: Republic of Maldives
At stake: $490 million
On the Ground: This chain of islands in the Indian Ocean is about three feet above sea level, and scientists fear it could be submerged by 2050. A $63 million buffer built in the 1990s hasn’t solved the problem, so the government is in talks to relocate all 386,000 of its residents to either Sri Lanka, Australia, or India. That would end the Maldives’ tourism industry—more than 600,000 people visit annually—which accounts for 30 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.

By the numbers: The Maldives could be completely submerged as early as 2050.
Dalmation Coast
Country: Croatia
At stake: $9 billion
On the ground: The Dalmatian coast, with its picturesque white beaches, became a travel-media darling about a decade ago. Since 1999, the annual tourist count has shot up from 5 million to 11 million. To help boost revenue in its tiny seaside villages, Croatia initially encouraged foreign investment in the villas that dot its coast. But last year, the government reversed its position, imposing a new set of laws on villa owners that requires them to register for business as well as ­residential permits, a process that can take as long as a year. The new layer of red tape has scared away ­foreign ­investment and is threatening Croatian tourism revenue, which makes up 12 percent of the country’s GDP.

By the numbers: Since 1999, the annual tourist count has shot up from 5 million to 11 million.
Great Barrier Reef
Country: Australia
At stake: $46 million
On the ground: Because of heavy tourist traffic, ocean acidification, and rising water temperatures, the 135,000 square miles of live coral off Australia’s northeast coast are shrinking rapidly. To slow the erosion, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has imposed limits on ship passage and has blocked off some areas surrounding the reef to oversize yachts and cruise lines like Royal Caribbean. So far, these measures have had little impact: In January, the Australian Institute of Marine Science released a study stating that the coral’s natural growth has decreased by 14 percent since 1990. Experts say that by 2050, water temperatures will rise by 1.5°C and the reef will have lost about 95 percent of its living coral.

By the numbers: By 2050, the reef will have lost an estimated 95 percentof its living coral.

Mount Kilimanjaro
Country: Tanzania
At stake: $1 billion
On the ground: About 15,000 climbers tackle Kilimanjaro each year, making the mountain one of the world’s most popular climbs. But the glaciers that cover the landmark are receding rapidly. They’ve lost 84 percent of their ice since 1912 and today cover less than one square mile. Scientists believe the glaciers could be gone completely by 2020, taking with them Tanzania’s main tourist draw. As a result, travelers are flocking to the mountain in greater numbers than ever before. Some of them are combining troubleshooting with sightseeing to help alleviate the problem: Abercrombie & Kent offers expeditions in which travelers (paying $8,195 apiece) deliver weather-monitoring devices to various spots on the cliffs.

By the numbers: Mount Kilimanjaro’s glaciers have lost 84 percent of their ice since 1912.

The Alps
Country: Switzerland
At stake: $17 billion
On the ground: More than 8 million people travel to Switzerland every year, many of them to ski the country’s world-famous Alps. Because of global warming, it is estimated that about 40 percent of the mountain range’s pristine skiing areas will disappear by 2100. Low-altitude destinations are especially susceptible because of their warmer temperatures, and owners have already had to turn to artificial snow to get through the season. The owner of one ski complex in Ernen sold his property to a British businessman for one Swiss franc last year. Other spots—like the $125 million InterContinental Davos, slated to open in 2011—are scrambling to add attractions that don’t require snow, such as indoor sports facilities and spas.

By the numbers: About 40 percent of the Alps’ skiing areas will disappear by 2100.

Galápagos Islands
Country: Ecuador
At stake: $418 million
On the ground: The number of visitors to the archipelago, where Charles Darwin developed his theory of evolution, has increased from 40,000 to 180,000 since 1990; air traffic, meanwhile, has risen by 193 percent since 2001. Those trends are likely to accelerate this year, the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth. Even today, scientists consider the Galápagos to be the world’s purest biodiversity environment, so they’re especially concerned about the way the traffic surge will affect the islands’ life forms. They consider 39 percent of animal species, 50 percent of marine species, and 59 percent of plant species to be threatened. To curb the problem, Ecuador is considering setting a yearly tourist cap and imposing an entry fee of up to $300.

By the numbers: Since 1990, visitors to the Galápagos have more than quadrupled, to 180,000.

Article - Tax Payers Get Rude Surprise

I knew this was a bad idea...

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Millions of Americans enjoying their small windfall from President Barack Obama's "Making Work Pay" tax credit are in for an unpleasant surprise next spring. The government is going to want some of that money back.

The tax credit is supposed to provide up to $400 to individuals and $800 to married couples as part of the massive economic recovery package enacted in February. Most workers started receiving the credit through small increases in their paychecks in the past month. But new tax withholding tables issued by the IRS could cause millions of taxpayers to get hundreds of dollars more than they are entitled to under the credit, money that will have to be repaid at tax time.
At-risk taxpayers include a broad swath of the public: married couples in which both spouses work; workers with more than one job; retirees who have federal income taxes withheld from their pension payments and Social Security recipients with jobs that provide taxable income. The Internal Revenue Service acknowledges problems with the withholding tables but has done little to warn average taxpayers.

"They need to get the Goodyear blimp out there on this," said Tom Ochsenschlager, vice president of taxation for the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

For many, the new tax tables will simply mean smaller-than-expected tax refunds next year, IRS spokesman Terry Lemons said. The average refund was nearly $2,700 this year. But taxpayers who calculate their withholding so they get only small refunds could face an unwelcome tax bill next April, said Jackie Perlman, an analyst with the Tax Institute at H&R Block.

"They are going to get a surprise," she said.
Perlman's advice: check your federal withholding to make sure sufficient taxes are being taken out of your pay. If you are married and both spouses work, you might consider having taxes withheld at the higher rate for single filers. If you have multiple jobs, you might consider having extra taxes withheld by one of your employers. You can make that request with a Form W-4. The IRS has a calculator on its Web site to help taxpayers figure withholding. So do many private tax preparers.
Obama has touted the tax credit as one of the big achievements of his first 100 days in office, boasting that 95 percent of working families will qualify in 2009 and 2010.

The credit pays workers 6.2 percent of their earned income, up to a maximum of $400 for individuals and $800 for married couples who file jointly. Individuals making more $95,000 and couples making more than $190,000 are ineligible.

The tax credit was designed to help boost the economy by getting more money to consumers in their regular paychecks. Employers were required to start using the new withholding tables by April 1. The tables, however, don't take into account several common categories of taxpayers, experts said.

For example:
--A single worker with two jobs making $20,000 a year at each job will get a $400 boost in take-home pay at each of them, for a total of $800. That worker, however, is eligible for a maximum credit of $400, so the remaining $400 will have to be paid back at tax time -- either through a smaller refund or a payment to the IRS.

The IRS recognized there could be a similar problem for married couples if both spouses work, so it adjusted the withholding tables. The fix, however, was imperfect.

-- A married couple with a combined income of $50,000 is eligible for an $800 credit. However, if both spouses work and make more than $13,000, the new withholding tables give them each a $600 boost -- for a total of $1,200.

There were 33 million married couples in 2008 in which both spouses worked. That's 55 percent of all married couples, according to the Census Bureau.

-- A single college student with a part-time job making $10,000 would get a $400 boost in pay. However, if that student is claimed as a dependent on a parent's tax return, she doesn't qualify for the credit and would have to repay it when she files next year.

Some retirees face even bigger headaches. The Social Security Administration is sending out $250 payments to more than 50 million retirees in May as part of the economic stimulus package. The payments will go to people who receive Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, railroad retirement benefits or veteran's disability benefits. The payments are meant to provide a boost for people who don't qualify for the tax credit.

However, they will go to retirees even if they have earned income and receive the credit. Those retirees will have the $250 payment deducted from their tax credit -- but not until they file their tax returns next year, long after the money may have been spent.

Retirees who have federal income taxes withheld from pension benefits also are getting an income boost as a result of the new withholding tables. However, pension benefits are not earned income, so they don't qualify for the tax credit. That money will have to paid back next year when tax returns are filed.

More than 20 million retirees and survivors receive payments from defined benefit pension plans, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute. However, it is unclear how many have federal taxes withheld from their payments.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union raised concerns about the effect of the tax credit on pension payments in a letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner in March.

Geithner responded that Treasury and IRS understood the concerns and were "exploring ways to mitigate that effect." Rep. Dave Camp of Michigan, the top Republican on the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, said Geithner has yet to respond to concerns raised by committee members. "So far we've got the, 'If we don't address this maybe it will go away' approach," Camp said.

IRS withholding calculator:,,id96196,00.html