Showing posts from September, 2009

Take A Look at This! Tax Friendly and Unfriendly States

Federal taxes will be about the same no matter where you live, but state and local tax burdens can vary greatly, especially if you’re retired. Click on any state below to get a full lowdown on tax treatment for retirees. Or select a tax category that interests you, to see which states have the highest and lowest rates. For more, read Tax-Friendly Places to Retire. This is some really interesting stuff!

Four For Friday - 25 September

It has been an age since I've looked at my favourite memes. Good thing he's on Facebook!

Q1 - Moving: Americans have apparently tamed their wanderlust during the recession. According to the latest data released by the U.S. Census Bureau, only 2.4% of Americans moved from one state to another in 2008, down from 2.5% the previous year. Do you know anyone who recently moved from one state to another? Mmmmm... I don't believe so. But then, why move? New Jersey has its issues, but so do the other 47 contiguous states. Hawaii and Alaska likely don't even enter into the picture - Hawaii is too expensive to live in - they have to import everything except pineapples and Alaska - well, if you need me to tell you why Alaska is not on the top of many people's lists of where they'd like to live, you don't know enough about it. I imagine that moving is an expensive undertaking, so only people who could not find a job anywhere but out of state are moving.

Q2 - Vaccine: A va…

ARTICLE: Astronomy 101: Jupiter

Jupiter has been in the southern sky all night of late and will be closest to the Earth next year. This made me post this article. You know how much I love astronomy.

"Today we will be learning about the Planet Jupiter. A great sight in the sky these days, Jupiter is the largest planet in the solar system and fifth from the Sun. It was named after the king of the Roman Gods.

Jupiter is approximately 484 million miles from the Sun and takes almost 12 years to complete its orbit around it. Jupiter rotates very fast so its day is only 10 hours long. Due to this fast rotation, the planet is also not entirely spherical; it has a trivial bulge around the middle since the fastest spin occurs at the equator. Because of this, Jupiter has a slight oval profile

The planet is so big that you could fit 1,300 Earths inside of it. Jupiter has a total of 49 official moons and 14 unofficial ones that are being considered.

Of those 63 moons, there are four that are the most widely known. These four, w…

And Now Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Programming...

OK, ready for this?

Seriously, sit down. This is bizarre beyond all imagining.

I was watching "Kate & Leopold" on WEHD - I'm guessing that is the Women's channel in High Definition. And let's be honest - Hugh Jackman is not just attractive or good looking, he's a five course meal. And Meg Ryan is cute. But that is not at all the purpose of this post.

No. While skipping through the adverts (I luuuuuvvvv my TiVO) something weird showed up. It was an image of eyelashes growing in and getting bushy. If you are like me, you are thinking, "You mean 'eyebrows', don't you?" No. I mean eyelashes. Seriously.

And so I actually went back a bit to look at the whole advert.

I'm sorry to say that I have now found a whole new low for humanity. While we are a sad case of a country being owned by an industry, this will really underscore how much we are owned. A pharmaceutical manufacturer named Allergan is now making a drug called "Latisse", …

A.W.A.D. - Banning of Books Words

with Anu Garg

Librarians and booksellers are two of my favorite people. Anyone who loves books so much as to dedicate his life to them can't be all that bad.

Unfortunately there are some who feel threatened by certain books and call for them to be banned or destroyed. People have a right to be offended by any book. All they have to do is not buy or borrow it. The problem begins when they try to impose their views on others by trying to ban it.

As an antidote to banning, the last week of September is observed in the US as Banned Books Week. To celebrate it, this week we are going to feature five words relating to censorship and mutilation of books.

Even though people after whom some of these words are coined have long gone, censorship is still alive. But there's hope. I leave you with this thoughtful letter from a librarian to a patron.
PRONUNCIATION: (KOM-stok-uh-ree, KUM-)
MEANING: noun: Overzealous censorship of material considered obscene

ETYMOLOGY: After Anthony Com…

Down on Life...

I'm going through a really tough time with my (ha, ha) health.

Health is just a generic word, not implying good or bad, but let's face it, there is little to recommend me physically. I'm apparently a genetic disaster and it is hard to know where the main problem turns other things into problems, or if I'm just that physically screwed up.

Most people know I have muscular dystrophy (to be specific, I have dystrophia myotonia 2, or PROMM), but they don't realise how debilitating this can be. I smile, put a good face on it and assure people that it can't kill me. For the most part, that is true. It really won't kill me. However, it can and has already put a damper on living.

Most of the time I'm okay with it, but sometimes I get very depressed by it. Not suicidal or anything extreme, and who wouldn't get depressed with this? I have a slow-acting Sword of Damocles hanging over my head. Some times it just... gets me down.

To give a basic explanation of this, …

ARTICLE: Sandwhich Board Job Hunter

LONDON (Reuters) – In a pinstripe suit, silk tie and polished shoes, David Rowe has all the trappings of a successful London city worker, except for one stark difference -- he is wearing a sandwich board that says "JOB WANTED."
As he walked down Fleet Street, home to legal firms and investment banks, the 24-year-old history graduate showed the human face behind the "lay-offs" and "recession" headlines. "The first 20 paces are the hardest, you feel very conspicuous, but you just steel yourself to get on with it," he said, starting a slow trudge toward the Law Courts before turning toward St Paul's Cathedral.
In previous economic downturns it was manufacturing and heavy industry that were worst hit. Now in Britain, and much of the West, white collar jobs have been culled in the financial crisis -- marketing directors on six figure salaries, IT specialists with 20 years experience. That makes it especially hard for young men and women like Rowe t…

A.W.A.D. - Five Eponyms

with Anu Garg

Eponyms are little capsules of history. They capture a bundle of stories in just a word or two. These terms, derived from the names of people, summarize their characters and qualities that made them stand out.

In the five eponyms to be explored this week, we'll meet people, men and women, real and fictional, from a diverse world that includes two playboys, seven sisters, an imaginary deity, and more. Sounds like a soap opera!
Beau Brummell
MEANING: noun: A man who pays excessive attention to his clothes and appearance

ETYMOLOGY: After Beau Brummell, nickname of George Bryan Brummell (1778-1840), a British dandy. Brummell was known for his suits and elaborate neckwear and was considered an authority in matters of men's dress and etiquette. He rose in society thanks to his royal connections, but gambling debts forced him to flee to France. He died penniless in a mental institution in Caen.

USAGE: "He [father] possessed a Beau Brummell…

A.W.A.D. - Special Words Contest

with Anu Garg

This week's five words made the cut because they have a special property. What is it? Can you discover the reason these words were selected to be featured?

Email your answer to (contest at by Friday. One entry per person, please. Result will be announced in next weekend's AWADmail.

Two winners -- first reader to identify the theme, and a reader randomly selected from all correct entries -- will receive a signed copy of one of my books.
MEANING: adjective: Highly offensive; inspiring and deserving hatred

ETYMOLOGY: From Latin odium (hatred), from odisse (to hate). Ultimately from the Indo-European root od- (to hate) that is also the source of the words annoy, noisome, and ennui.

USAGE: "All over the US there are people whose lives are being destroyed for lack of proper health care provision, and there is no sight more odious than the rich, powerful, and arrogant trying to keep it that way." Simon Hoggart; Why the…

ARTICLE: Bush Tops Gobbledegook List

This was the most thoroughly amusing - and abjectly frightening - article:

'Bush tops English Gobbledegook Poll
Posted Wed Sep 9, 2009 11:45pm AEST

Former US president George W Bush topped a poll of the worst examples of mangled English, followed closely by Arnold Schwarzenegger and Donald Rumsfeld.
French footballer-cum philosopher Eric Cantona and former US president Bill Clinton also produced prime examples of gobbledegook, according to the online poll of 4,000 people inspired by the Plain English Campaign.
Notoriously language-challenged Mr Bush romped to the top accolade for his: "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."
Second came bodybuilder-turned-actor-turned-California governor Schwarzenegger, who during an election campaign in 2003 minted the puzzling: "I think that gay marriage should be between a man and a woman."
The rest of the top 10 in th…

Saturday 9: Thunking on a Saturday

Saturday 9: Thunking on a Saturday

1. You are walking down a rainy road. There is a five hundred dollar bill on the road. You look around and except for someone a half block away, you are alone. You naturally pick up the bill and put it away. That person approaching stops and says, "I saw you pick up that money. It's mine." You ask how much it was. She yells, "Are you calling me a liar?" What do you do? I'd give it to her. The United States treasure doesn't mint $500 bills.

2. If I were to inspect your guest bathroom, how would I find it? Well, other than the whole circa 1968 decore and the narrowness of it, you find it to be fine. It needs an updating. It is clean and has all the amenities.

3. You are given a state of the art bow and arrow. Who or what is your first target (after a lesson or two)? Someone's fat butt...? (Sorry - I'm listening to too much Bill Engvall.)

4. The doorbell rings. The person at the door is wearing a raincoat and you know…

The Joy of Memes: Saturday Six

Episode #282

When I was maybe 12 or so, I was at a neighbor’s house and we were hanging out. His mother was home and picked up the phone when it rang. “Hello,” she said, in a normal, polite tone. After a pause, she said, “Well, hello, you damned old witch, how are you?”

Completely surprised, I looked at my friend. He rolled his eyes and said, “It’s her sister.”

Interesting way to greet someone nonetheless. And that should give you a good idea of what this week’s edition is all about.
First to play last week: Mika of Mika Salakka. Congratulations! (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 are this week’s “Saturday Six” questions. Either answer the questions in a comment here, or put the answers in an entry on your journal…but either way, leave a link to your journal so that everyone else can visit! To be counted as “first to play,” you must…

The Return of the Sunday Seven!

Wow, look what's back!

"This week, I am reintroducing the Sunday Seven, which, for those of you who may be new to this blog, is a weekly meme with one question that has up to seven answers.

Since this is Labor Day weekend, and since Labor Day weekend isn’t complete without the Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon, here’s a question relating to that theme.

Thanks, as always, for playing along. First to play last week: Pinaymama of Garden of Moments. Congratulations! (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 (with a link here), and then comment here with a link back to your blog so that everyone else can visit! Enjoy!

You’re putting together your own telethon to raise money for a worthy cause. Name the …

Geography in America

Americans are abysmally ignorant when it comes to geography. And I'm not talking about real geography, which has a whole lot more to do with the world than just identifying countries, capitols, large-scale geological features and their placements on maps. I'd be happy if people knew what the capitol of France is!
So I'm rereading The Complete Idiot's Guide to Geography. Just to refresh my memory. And in the beginning of the book, there is a basic quiz, to get some idea of your knowledge.There is a map with countries marked by Roman numerals and then the following questions:
1. This country used to comprise the bulk of theSoviet Union: find Russia
a. ix

2. This country has the second largest population on Earth: find India

3. This country was the stomping ground for Evita PerĂ³n, the subject of a recent hit movie: find Argentina a. v

4. When a United Stgates teenager was caned for vandalising a car, this country was in hte news: find Singapore a. xviii

5. This country's i…

A.W.A.D. - Words Derived from Animals

with Anu Garg

Five years ago we adopted a dog we named Flower. At first, we were overwhelmed -- puppy training classes, cleaning, walks, vets, and so on -- but once things fell into a rhythm, it became easy.

A dog doesn't need much: a little food, a little walk, a little rub behind the ears, and a pooch is the happiest creature in the world. Keeping a dog is easy, as long as you budget to replace all your carpets every few years.

This week we'll see words derived from animals, words where dogs and cats, pets and wild animals, insects and mammals, are used metaphorically.
PRONUNCIATION: (buhrd-dog)
MEANING: noun: A talent scout, especially in sports
verb tr., intr.: To seek out or follow a subject of interest

ETYMOLOGY: After bird dogs, various breeds of dogs trained to hunt or retrieve birds.

USAGE: "Kindly Cal Murphy, evaluating talent for the Indianapolis Colts these days, has been studiously tracking Wake. Fred Fleming, a bird-dog for Denver's Broncos, too." G…

Crystal Spheres Part 1

I'm on the fence about a seller.

I had posted on 28 August that there is a Labradorite sphere that I just have to have! I really do - it is huge and gorgeous in only that way that this stone is. I think most people would find it boring but I find it fascinating. I usually gravitate to fluorite and quartz - I like the way you can see into or through it - but there are some stones I love that are much more opaque. Garnet, obsidian, hematite and of course, Labradorite. These all have their own interesting and unique looks.
Well, the spheres are wonderful, but I am torn. The seller had sold me three items and one still hasn't arrived. As far as I can tell, it did not even ship. The other two arrived on Monday, when I'd ordered them on Friday. Very fast - faster than I'd expected. And the other thing that has me a little unhappy is the seller's communication.
No communication. Most sellers have automatic e-mails that generate when you pay for something, thanking the buyer …

ARTICLE: Mosquito Bites: The Real Reason Some People are Immune

If you're one of those people whom mosquitoes tend to favor, maybe it's because you aren't sufficiently stressed-out.

Insects have very keen powers of smell that direct them to their targets. But for researchers trying to figure out what attracts or repels the pests, sorting through the 300 to 400 distinct chemical odors that the human body produces has proved daunting.

Now scientists at Rothamsted Research in the U.K. have been making headway at understanding why some people can end up with dozens of bites after a backyard barbecue, while others remain unscathed. The researchers have identified a handful of the body's chemical odors—some of which may be related to stress—that are present in significantly larger concentrations in people that the bugs are happier to leave alone. If efforts to synthesize these particular chemicals are successful, the result could be an all-natural mosquito repellent that is more effective and safer than products currently available.


An Anniversary and A Neat Experience

Today is the eight year anniversary of the car accident I was in.

Before you think this is a grisly thought, don't. I don't see it that way. I see it as I survived - that eight years after I'm still alive, walking, talking, eating (too much, but one can't have everything!), doing things I enjoy. I wasn't an EMT then, but I was in Human Resources, and still there. I had Luis, and being with him is always wonderful. Every day above ground is a good one! I'm really happy with that.
So eight years ago this wasn't the best day I ever had but it wasn't terrible. I walked out of the Emergency Room at Morristown, even though I came in on a backboard and with a collar. I was moving prior to being packaged, but that was not my fault - I was outside of my vehicle when it happened. I'm always telling patients not to move around after an accident!
This is also (to me) the start of autumn! I realise that astronomically speaking that is not the case, but it is Septem…