Friday, 30 April 2010

To Know Erma is to Love Her

When I came home from work this afternoon, there was a pile in front of my door! A huge pile - Amazon boxes galore! I love coming home and finding a pile there. A pile of any packages is great, provided they have my name on them. But Amazon is of course the guru for books, movies and music.

Today's pile included three or four books by Erma Bombeck, the woman who in the 1970s put the honest humour of child raising out there. She sees raising kids the way that most women do but won't tell you. She has no preconceptions that the kids are angels, because we all know that those moments of angelic quality are fast and fleeting.

Right now I'm reading The Grass is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank, which focusses more on the rush to the burbs in the mid- to late 1940s. I had not realised that there were no suburbs until the 1940s. Did you know that? Why would you? Suburbs and developements have been around all of my life. I live in the proof of this. This house we live in know has the original house, which was just the basic box. Here it is: a livingroom, a dining room, a kitchen, then the hallway that lead to the only full bath in the house and further to our master bedroom with it's ensuite bathroom, that has a mall standing shower that really, truly is not my speed. Anyway, the point is that in 1968 there were plenty of houses in the 'burbs and many built the year I was. Even better, the extension to the house was built in 1986, the year I graduated high school, which turned the house from a basic box to an "L" shaped house - and gave us heaps more room. 3200 liveable square feet is nice.

Reading about thei trials and tribulations in dealing with the suburbs, which have so clearly come a looooong way from what they were in those days. I don't worry about phone service, EMS or fire. I'm falling asleep right now, slowly falling over the chair, drooling down the front of my big green Snuggle. That is my cue to drool elsewjere;;;

These Are Not Articles, They are Scams

For reasons passing understanding, these all end up coming through a blind-e-mail address I have set up for something else. But these scam e-mails show up all the time telling me I can have half of an outrageous sum of money (like $23,000,000) and all this money is in some gods-forsaken country in Africa, where there is not that much income to be found in it and five surrounding nations.

My favourite is the one that swears me to secrecy, let's see if it is here... Of course it is:

I am an investment consultant working with International Commercial Bank Accra Ghana. I will be happy to work this deal out with you if you have a corporate or personal Bank Account and if you are capable to keep TOP SECRET. I need strong Assurance that you will never let me down, as I can arrange and provide you details/documentatal proof so that funds ($8.5million) will be transferred into your account as the next of kin to the late depositor whom you share same last name with. During one of our periodic auditing I discovered a dormant accounts with the said balance {Eight million Five Hundred Dollars only} this account has not been operated for the past years. As at this moment I am constrained to issue more details about this business until your response is received.

If you are not familiar with my Bank profile, please take a moment of your very busy schedules to read about my Bank. I look forward to hearing from you as soon as possible. If you are interested kindly revert back with your C.V (Curriculum Vitae) contact me only at

Thank you for your time and attention.
Warmest Regards,

Mr.Dajaa Fidele
Investment Consultant.
International Commercial Bank
Accra Ghana
Tel: +233 521589454"

I'm confident that plastering this all over the Internet is not only fun but possibly effective! Well, and this:


What can I say? I never could keep a secret...

There have been more, so let's see...

"From: WESTERN UNION [mailto:salt@iaana.or]
Sent: Thursday, April 29, 2010 6:19 AM
To: undisclosed-recipients:
Subject: Claims

Dear Western Union Customer,

You have been awarded with the sum of $750,000USD by our office, as one of our customers who use Western Union in their daily business transaction.

This award has been selected through the internet, your e-mail address was indicated and notified. Please provide Mr.David Green with the following details listed below so that your fund will be remited to you through Western Union.

1. Name:______
2. Address________
3. Country:_______
4. Phone Number____
5. Occupation:________
6. Sex:_________________
7. Age___________________

Mr. David Green
Tel: +234 705191 8825

As soon as these details are received and verified, your fund will be transferred to you. Thank you, for using western union"

The weird e-mail addresses are one tip off that this is totally made up; it went out to undisclosed receipients; and of course, I never use Western Union.

Personally, I get these for much higher amounts than $750,000, so this low-ball offer simply won't do... But there are always more:

PHONE NUMBER +22674122225

Dear Friend,

I know that this mail will come to you as a surprise as we never meet before. I am the FOREIGN REMITTANCE MANAGER of B.O.A Bank of Africa, I Hoped that you will not expose or betray this trust and confident that I am about to repose on you for the mutual benefit of our both families.

I need your urgent assistance in transferring the sum of ($18.4M) Eighteen Million Four Hundred Thousand United States Dollars immediately to your account. The money has been dormant (in-active) for Nine years in our Bank here without any body coming for it.

I want the Bank to release the money to you as the nearest person to our deceased customer MR. RICHARD BURSON FROM USA the owner of the account who died a long with his supposed next of kin in plane crash since 2000. I don't want the money to go into our Bank treasury as an abandoned fund, so this is the reason why I contacted you, so that my Bank will release the money to you as the nearest person to the deceased customer.

Please I would like you to keep this proposal as a top secret and delete it if you are not interested.

Upon receipt of your reply I will send you full details on how the business will be executed and also note that you will have 40% of the above mentioned amount if you agree to help me execute this business.

Thanks and waiting for your urgent response

Best Regards
Mr. Tertius Omar"

I'm sure he is waiting with baited breath...

Dear Friend

I am Mr Ail musa banker with this bank (BANK OF AFRICA).Burkina Faso.

I am in search of a reliable partner that will assist me with a bank account as to transfer the sum of USA$17,700,000 Million Dollars into and subsequent use the money for investment in properties in your country.

You will be required to:-
(1) Assist in the transfer of the said sum
(2) Advise on lucrative areas for investment
(3) Assist me in purchase of properties.

If you are willing to assist me in this transaction, your share will be 30% of the total amount transfer. We shall be considering several sectors with our main focus on Government Bonds, Property Development, Loan and Equity Financing for small and medium sized companies.

Upon your reply I will send you full details on how the business will be executed. If you are interested and in position to guide me towards this noble and sensitive project, I will appreciate to have you as my trusted partner to invest and manage this fund. Send me your contact information as follow

1) Name.....................
2) Nationality........................
3) Occupations ............................
4) Residential addresses ........................
5) Ages...........................
6) private telephone numbers. .....................

This information's will be use to write a letter of claim and send to you as to forward it to the bank for the released of this money.

Waiting to hear from you soonest.

Mr Ail musa"

You know what a militant nut I am about people not spelling words correctly? This loser lost me the moment I saw "Ur" instead of "your". LEARN TO SPELL. Better yet, go out and get a job! What the hell is wrong with you?

Another one, and who is this slimeball calling me "my dear"?

"To: undisclosed recipients:
Subject: Hello My Dear.

Hello My Dear,

My name is Madam Mulic, i came from the Republic of Burkina Faso.I have a proposal for you,i know that this mail will come to you as a surprise as we never met before, this however is not mandatory nor will I in any manner compel you to honor it against your WILL. It's just my urgent need for foreign business associate that made me to contact you for this transaction.

There is this huge amount of Six million five hundred thousand United States dollars which my late husband deposited, awaiting for claim before he was assassinated by unknown gunmen.

My main purpose of sending you this message is because of the way I found you and perhaps trustworthy to give you this priority of shipping this consignment to any address that you think is very secure and safe in your country. It will interest you to note that you stand to receive 40% of the money that's inside the consignment after successful conclusion of the transaction.

Please i will like you to contact the Security and Finance Firm, indicating to the Firm that you are authorize by me,to call as the foreign business Associate of my late husband to make inquires on how the consignment could be shipped to your destination.

I thank you immensely for your co-operation and understanding.

Yours Sincerely
Madam Mulic."

Unbelievable... This one is another nut and you might have noticed that they all cite the same city and country. I'm mystified by the information that they asked for. No bank account, but the religion and cell phone number?

"To: undisclosed recipients:
Subject: MONEY TRANSFER OF ($15,000,000.00)

MONEY TRANSFER OF ($15,000,000.00)

Dear Partner,

I presumed that all is well with you and your family, Please let this do not be a surprise proposal to you because i got your contact information from the international directory in few weeks ago before i decided to contact you on this magnitude and lucrative transaction for our future survival in life. Moreover, i have laid all the solemn trust in you before i decided to disclose this successful & confidential transaction to you.

I, Mr. ABU NASSAR THE FOREIGN ACCOUNT MANAGER of our bank and i have had the intent to contact you over this financial transaction worth the sum of FIFTEEN MILLION, UNITED STATES DOLLARS($15,000,000.00) for our success. This is an abandoned sum that belongs to one of our bank foreign customers who died along with his entire family through plane crash disaster since few years ago. Meanwhile i was very fortune to came across the deceased file when i was arranging the old and abandoned customers files in other to sign and submit to the entire bank management for an official re-documentation
and audit of the year against 2009.

Be informed clearly that it was stated in our banking rules and regulations which was signed lawfully that if such fund remains unclaimed till the period of 6years started from the date when the beneficiary died, the money will be transferred into the treasury as an unclaimed fund. As an honor and advantage bestowed to our foreign customers base on the rules guiding our bank, it was stated obviously that if you are not a Burkina Faso citizen, you have the absolute authority to claim the fund hence you are a foreigner despite your differences from the country of origin of the deceased. So the request of you as a foreigner is necessary to apply for the claim and transfer of the fund smoothly into your reliable bank account as the NEXT OF KIN OR EXTENDED RELATIVE to the deceased.

On the transfer of this fund into your account, { 40% } will be your share in respect of the account provision and your assistance rendered during the transfer of the fund into your bank account,{ 50%} will be my share being the coordinator of the transaction while the rest { 10% } being will be shared to the respectable Organizations Centers such as Charity Organization, Motherless Babies homes, and helpless disabled people in the World.

If you are really sure of your trustworthy, accountability and confidentiality on his transaction, contact me and agree that you will not change your mind to cheat or disappoint me when the fund have getting into your account. Besides you should not entertain any fear because i am sure of the success as an insider in the bank ok. Please reply with the assurance, include your private telephone and fax numbers necessary for facilitate an easy communication in this transaction. As soon as you reply, so that i will let you know the next step to follow in order to finalize this project me on +22565917861


1) Your Full Name:-.................................
2) Your Age:-............................................
3) Marital Status:-.....................................
4) Your Cell Phone Number:-..................
5) Your Fax Number:-................... ...........
6) Your Country:-......................................
7) Your Occupation:-.............. ..................
8) Sex:-.....................................................
9) Your Religion:-.....................................
10) Your Private E-mail Adress:...............
Yours sincerely
Mr. Abu Nassar."

So I shouldn't cheat him when so clearly he is hoping to swindle me!

"To: undisclosed recipients:

REF. NUMBER: NL/BC7756468/WW15








PHONE NUMBER: +44-7105-9241-33





Why so many? These are all the ones that came in this week!

A Quick Note

The sun is rising off to the northeast and in the clouds are streaks of blood red. A testament to man's determination to pollute aimlessly in the pursuit of money, but at the same time a stunningly gorgeous site.

I'm up. It's all of 05:50 and after a night of riding the ambulance I realised that if I'm up, why not stay up? Why go in at 10:00 when I could go in at 07:00 and be out - presumably - at 15:00 or so? It's Friday, might as well get some hammock time this afternoon and relax before I call it a night. At least this weekend is mine and doesn't belong to the squad. Next weekend will come all too soon, and I will be doing this again!

So... high-ho, high-ho, it's off to fun I go!

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Another CO Alarm

Carbon monoxide alarm activation.


This one belongs to Car 65 (we're Car 66) and District 2 (we work with Districts 4, 5 and a small portion of 6 - their territory covers a sliver of ours), so I am not going out for this one. That's fine. CO calls are usually short, but as tonight at 19:40 proved, not short enough. At least this one wasn't.

We rarely see patients with CO poisoning. Anyone who has inhaled too much carbon monoxide will have a cherry red colour and while the person's blood saturation level will show 99 - 100%, the pulse oximeter cannot tell the difference between oxygen and carbon monoxide atoms - it just can read if the cell is carrying the amount of atoms it should be. (I bet you didn't know that...)

EMTs are a special sort of weird. We know that this is something we shouldn't see but on the other hand, we want to see this stuff! We train for it and we are interested in it and sometimes you think it would be cool to see a gun shot wound or a CO patient. Bad news for the patient... but interesting to us. We've mostly been there in some fashion - gone to the hospital, been in an accident, whatever - so we know or at least have some idea what it is like to be on the other side of the stretcher. Still, we want to see stuff.

We do see a lot, though. And I have a rotational weekend coming up soon, so I will soon see more!

The Beauty of the Full Moon

That's right. Just when you thought I might shut up about astronomy and the Moon, you're wrong!

The Moon is the only satellite we've got. Jupiter has 63 known satellites. Saturn is up to ummm... 54 moons? Hold on... No, 62. Damn... just one less than Jupiter and it has those gorgeous rings. Now, that is saying something! But if you lived there, which would be no small feat, most of those moons would be invisible. Actually, all of them would be, since the atmosphere is not clear like Terra or Mars. Here, we just have this big silvery Moon that fills the sky with her brilliance and is 400 times smaller than the Sun but allows for solar eclipses - because it is a distance of 400 times closer to us. The weird little coincedences that give us the magic of the solar elcipse... that is never more than seven minutes of totality and always happens in some gods-forsaken place that is nowhere near northern New Jersey. The closest I can expect to see this happen is Christian County, Kentucky on 21 August 2017. This means hiking my cookies to Kentucky to see an event that will be 2 minutes 14 seconds long and absolutely needs to be sunny outside.

I'm betting I don't want to be in Kentucky in August for any reason. But it is this or wait until 14 October 2023, when I am 55 years old and it shoots across the southwestern United States. Actually, that sounds a lot more appealing than Kentucky in August - any August. I love all months and I do enjoy summer, but that far south in the brutally hottest month seems like a bad idea no matter what.
In case you are wondering, I took that image last night. Pretty cool, isn't it? Can't do that on Saturn!

I must be Crazy...

Remember this morning's lofty goals? Not happening. There is no way to find enough topics - and the time - to put up as many meaningful posts as I'd like. The days are too long and tonight has proven to be the standard in full-moon fare. Don't misunderstand; you don't need just crazy people to make the full moon nights what they are. Sometimes it is all medical, sometimes it is all substance abuse, most of the time it is a mix. It's just more.

So tonight we had one medical call and one CO alarm, which undoubtedly the fire district at the scene is still playing with - people do the strangest things. I'll just leave it there. CO alarms are normally a show-up-and-get-dismissed-immediately kind of thing, but tonight we were standing there talking and talking while the firemen were in and out and doing things. This is a standard stanby at a scene where the firefighters have the work.

Still, that is about 90 minutes of my life that I will never get back. Guess that beats the last fire call where it was a balmy 9°F and windy as all get-out. BBBBBR-R-R-R-R-R!

So what will I talk about tonight? More brain emptying stuff... back to People Magezine (I got this week's installment today but I'm still getting plenty of juice out of last week's). Let me see... this never gets old. Sure, I read mostly books and I always get Discover and National Geographic - egghead science geek that I am - but I still like the "dirt" side of People and while a good portion is just dishin' on the rich and famous, they are not blatantly lying like the rag magazines which I have never read and never will.

Ah, yes. This one has Prince William and his long-time girlfriend Kate Middleton. Apparently if you are royalty and make a comment when you're 22 that you at least want to be 28 before you get married, this will come back to haunt you - about two months before you turn 28. I feel bad for that whole family. Prince William and Prince Harry had to watch their parents go through a messy divorce and deal with their mother's early death being plastered all the over the world. True, they would not be the good looking kids that they are if Camilla Parker-Bowles had married Prince Charles back in the day, but it certainly would have had a better outcome had he been able to married as he wished, not as his family wished.

Kate seems like a wonderful person and they've been together a long time. But no one needs to push them. When they are ready to get married, they'll get married. They probably wouldn't be allowed to elope, more's the pity. I hate big overdone weddings and I watched Diana wed Prince Charles - it doesn't get more overdone than that! Fairy tale wedding? More like Nightmare on High Street or Buckingham Palace Nightmare - it was hours long and so overdone, it was really rather torturous. Opulence is not my style. I'd love to have the royal purse to shop with, but they'd not care for me. I would not be able to layout a thousand bucks for one outfit. I don't see the point.

Anyway, everyone should leave Prince William and Kate alone.

There is an article called "My Life in Pictures - Michael Caine". Now, what is not to love about Michael Caine? He's wonderful fun, he's funny, been in a great selection of films and has a face that could melt butter. He's older now (or just old) but why should that be the end of anything? (This is clearly a concept not understood by Heidi Montag or any of her ilk - they'll just melt like butter not too long from now from all the surgical altering they've had.) Michael has been married 37 years to his wife, so already this is a man way ahead of others - most famous people play musical spouses and move onto women or men who are entirely too young for them.

I loved Edicating Rita, Dressed to Kill (not his normal role, I grant you) and Miss Congeniality. He has played a broad spectrum of roles. His accent is wonderful. And he is still doing what he loves.

Kate Walsh has finalised her divorce. Did you know that she played an M to F in one of the old CSI: Crime Scene Investigation episodes? Yes - she was in the one I posted about way back when (hold on, I'll find it). She was playing a man who surgically became a woman and was helping Grissom to find the killer. Let me see... ah, yes, Thinking About Gender from 19 February 2006! That's it. (This will be the true test of how much I recall from my HTML writing days...)

(In case you are curious, I originally coded my Web site, Aislinge's Home on the Web myself - the whole thing! I wrote all of that coding. HTML is the only language I can program in, it's just English in brackets. I have books on it and I looked up everything and I also worked at the time for Meta4 Digital Design, which did that. We all knew at least some HTML - they did CGI scripts and JavaScript, too, but I never got into those.)

Now I'm getting into the part of People (still the 3 May issue) that I haven't read in advance and ye gods! Remember the younger, hot-hot-hot Antonio Banderas? Not so much now. He's buried under a mountain of beard! Yikes. On the one hand it is nice that he and Melanie Griffith have a successful marriage, but she's another one that will melt if she is exposed to any elements for five minutes... The lip injections were really a bad idea. Voice lessons or something would have been a better idea.

Someone named Niki Taylor had a baby (the third one) and dropped 59lbs and looks amazing. At the end, she stated that the weight training is just a part of motherhood. "I'm lifting a 25lb baby, her stroller and a diaper bag," she says. "That's a workout!" Well, I can't argue that this is a workout, but most women of small fries that I see are quite overweight and now - shockingly - so are the kids. The world is not that simple. Most mothers are fat and most kids are fat. Something that was a freaky thing when I was a kid is now common - children should not be fat. Niki, you are one fortunate woman. And you should tell yourself that every night.

I am not a fan of my face, but suddenly I'm grateful to have it. There is a woman in here with a really long face, a super-long nose and a very high forehead. I just have the Jay Leno chin... I'll be happy with my face, thanks!

And that concludes last week's People Magazine!

The END is Near...

Yes, I'm up too late. And I'm shakey, so I'm bolting some food down so I can be unshakey enough to get in the shower...

In the month of April, I have posted 25 separate posts. Of those 25, eight of them are articles. So the question before me is this: can I put up a minimum of 5 original posts for the rest of April? Or can I pull the rabbit out of my hat and put up 13 original posts so that the eight articles are just interesting extras and truly on average I will have posted 1 posting a day?

I like the latter myself.

Rules: no posts about work; no posts that are less than a goodly length paragraph. I have a post from Boston that was a little short... but maybe I can (or already have and forgotten) beef it up a bit; no posts comprised solely of images - the images must fit with enough text that they are not touching.

If you, my crazy and dedicated readers feel there should be more rules or something I have not covered yet, you can e-mail me at Thanks!

This will run from when I get home tonight until midnight. It will resume from the time I get home on Friday until I can't stay awake anymore or midnight, which makes it 1 May, so the post-craze has to end. Anything created after midnight will be a May post.

(I may be able to ace May as well. I have one rotational 24-shift weekend (the second weekend in May) and won't be sleeping for a large portion of it. But as much as those weekend rotations can bite, there are usually some pockets of time that allow for major writing. So... may this blogger win and show to herself that she can in fact finish what she starts!

The shaking has finally reached a manageable range, so off to the shower I go!

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Emptying The Mind of STUFF

If you like mindless rambling and aimless writing, this is the post for you.

I received my Stash Tea catalogue. Every time I look through it I want to buy everything in it. For reasons passing understanding, I never do. It has all kinds of lovely tea pots, loose tea, bagged tea, mugs... all things I enjoy, but I never buy anything. Doesn't sound like me. At some point I'll break down and buy something... maybe...

I received my 3 May 2010 issue of People Magazine, and I dog eared all the items I want to post about. This is not a two or three item list... so be prepared.

In mailbag, there was this letter under the heading same-sex marriage:

"This controversy over who is entitled to get married is becoming ridiculous. Face history and face facts. Homosexuality has been around for centuries and will be around for centuries to come. There are so many other needs to be addressed in this country. Why not let gays commit to each legally and get on with their lives." Leslie Paradise via e-mail. I wanted to cheer when I read this! So RIGHT! Why does anyone have an issue with something that simply does not concern them? Yay, Leslie - you are wonderful!

Under Star Tracks, there is a photo of some kid who is famous entitled LOCAL HERO. The photo shows this kid with two Canadians Mounties and the caption reads "St. John's Newfoundland, 18 April Justin Bieber draws his own guns posing with canadian Mounties at the Juno Awards." I was thinking who cares about this kid? Put the Mounties' names in here and let me talk to them - I'd love to hear about them and their jobs and lives!

In People's Scoop section, they wrote about Mel Gibson's breakup with his girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva. They have a 5-month-old daughter. I'm not sure if anyone's surprised. Mr. Good Christian bailed on his wife and their seven kids for this woman... and now he's bailing on this woman and his eighth child. Somehow I don't find this shocking. I find the behaviour irresponsible, but since when is that new - famous or not? Interesting side note: The family law attorney is predicting sizable child support payments - between $12,000 and $20,000 a MONTH - is this kid autistic? On a ventilator? Why the hell does anyone need that amount of money to raise one kid?! And what kind of sleazy lawyer discusses this? This makes me sick. People raise kids very successfully on much, much less. The lesson here: get knocked up by someone with a boatload of money, split up and start looking for the money to roll in...

Under People Poll, there are images of five actors who People readers voted on to play Kurt Cobain in an upcoming film about him:

Ryan Gosling - 54%
James McAvoy - 23%
Emile Hirsch - 17%
Sam Worthington - 6%

The original casting: Robert Pattinson. He looks like a deadringer for Kurt but apparently Courtney Love, the worst kind of slime, tromped all over the idea of casting this guy. I have no idea why. Sam Worthington is good looking, but looks nothing like Kurt, so I can see why he got a 6%. But what is wrong with Pattinson?

I have to admit that the only guy here I have heard of it Sam Worthington, and that is from Clash of the Titans - turns out he was the lead guy in Avatar, which I was the only person who apparently did not think that movie was all that and a bag of chips. Call me fussy, but a plotline that is worthwhile is a requirement!

Also there is a small piece on Elin Nordegren maybe leaving Tiger Woods. For gods' sake, just leave him or don't. Don't be such a doormat. Talk about child support payments. Personally? Staying together with that sort of bitterness floating about is a really bad idea.

A small bit on Heidi Montag, the freak of the century: "Hills of the Dolls - The final season of MTV's cheap, petty bungle of a reality series starts April 27, as Heidi Montag unviels her retooled face to her family. She's not an endearing personality, but the shallow brittleness under all that surgical enhancement makes you worry she'll collapse into a heap synthestic parts."

Thank you! Why on earth (or any other planet) would you think this nut would have an "endearing personality"? She probably doesn't have a personality. Anyone this shallow wouldn't come with one. She was a pretty woman and then she turned into a surgical hit and run. Pretty ugly!

Under Music, there is a picture of (shiver) Courtney Love. The band featured is Hole. Only this woman would be in a bvand called Hole. The image makes her look not only normal, it almost makes her look - dare I say it? - pretty. Instead of bright red lipstick loosely based on where her mouth should be, she has on subtle, natural colours, which is much better for someone with her colouring. The hair is still hydorgen peroxide-based, but with the right make-up, she doesn't appear washed out and half-dead. Considering this woman's drug history... well... she cleans up much better than I'd've ever guessed.

Under People's Books section, the headliner is a book called Stuff by Randy O. Frost and Gail Steketee. It is about those strangest of people who cannot throw anything out. Broken, worthless, junk, not junk - it all stays. Having been in patients' homes where I've actually had to wend my way through 12" wide paths through junk piles. This book has picked my interest. This and Carol Burnett's autobiography.

I'm fading fast this TIME. I have to log out right away....

ARTICLE: Jellyfish Survival Story

In December, a ten-year-old Australian girl named Rachel Shardlow was attacked by one of the most venomous creatures in the world, the deadly box jellyfish. And, Rachel wasn't just stung. According to CNN, the box jellyfish completely enveloped her until she lost consciousness.

Normally, when a person meets a box jellyfish, the result is near instant death for the human. But Rachel not only survived her encounter; several months later, she's doing reasonably well. Her surprising story of survival has led at least one professor to credit her with being a medical marvel.

In an interview with Australia's ABC news, zoology professor Jamie Seymour said that Ms. Shardlow's injuries were "horrific." The doctor added, "Usually when you see people who have been stung by box jellyfish with that number of the tentacle contacts on their body, it's usually in a morgue."

Just how unlikely was Ms. Shardlow's survival? Again, according to the professor, "I don't know of anybody in the entire literature where we've studied this where someone has had such an extensive sting that has survived.”

The young survivor isn't 100% herself after being attacked. She has suffered some memory loss and has scarring on her legs where the jellyfish wrapped itself. Still, the father reports that Rachel's "cognitive skills and memory tests were all fine."

The recent interview has led to a lot of searches on "pictures of box jellyfish" and "box jellyfish map." National Geographic writes that the creatures "live primarily in coastal waters off Northern Australia and throughout the Indo-Pacific." And as for how they got their name? Some think their bell looks a bit like a cube.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

ARTICLE: Habits that Can Age You by Twelve Years

Bad habits can age you by 12 years, study suggests By LINDSEY TANNER, AP Medical Writer - Mon Apr 26, 6:26 PM PDTCHICAGO - Four common bad habits combined — smoking, drinking too much, inactivity and poor diet — can age you by 12 years, sobering new research suggests.

In this Tuesday, June 3, 2008 file photo, an employee takes a drag on a cigarette at Morgan's Place bar and restaurant in Harrisburg, Pa. Four common bad habits combined — smoking, drinking too much, inactivity and poor diet — can age you by 12 years, sobering new research suggests. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File) The findings are from a study that tracked nearly 5,000 British adults for 20 years, and they highlight yet another reason to adopt a healthier lifestyle.

Overall, 314 people studied had all four unhealthy behaviors. Among them, 91 died during the study, or 29 percent. Among the 387 healthiest people with none of the four habits, only 32 died, or about 8 percent.

The risky behaviors were: smoking tobacco; downing more than three alcoholic drinks per day for men and more than two daily for women; getting less than two hours of physical activity per week; and eating fruits and vegetables fewer than three times daily.

These habits combined substantially increased the risk of death and made people who engaged in them seem 12 years older than people in the healthiest group, said lead researcher Elisabeth Kvaavik of the University of Oslo.

The study appears in Monday's Archives of Internal Medicine.

The healthiest group included never-smokers and those who had quit; teetotalers, women who had fewer than two drinks daily and men who had fewer than three; those who got at least two hours of physical activity weekly; and those who ate fruits and vegetables at least three times daily.

"You don't need to be extreme" to be in the healthy category, Kvaavik said. "These behaviors add up, so together it's quite good. It should be possible for most people to manage to do it."

For example, one carrot, one apple and a glass of orange juice would suffice for the fruit and vegetable cutoffs in the study, Kvaavik said, noting that the amounts are pretty modest and less strict than many guidelines.

The U.S. government generally recommends at least 4 cups of fruits or vegetables daily for adults, depending on age and activity level; and about 2 1/2 hours of exercise weekly.

Study participants were 4,886 British adults aged 18 and older, or 44 years old on average. They were randomly selected from participants in a separate nationwide British health survey. Study subjects were asked about various lifestyle habits only once, a potential limitation, but Kvaavik said those habits tend to be fairly stable in adulthood.

Death certificates were checked for the next 20 years. The most common causes of death included heart disease and cancer, both related to unhealthy lifestyles. Kvaavik said her results are applicable to other westernized nations including the United States.

June Stevens, a University of North Carolina public health researcher, said the results are in line with previous studies that examined the combined effects of health-related habits on longevity. The findings don't mean that everyone who maintains a healthy lifestyle will live longer than those who don't, but it will increase the odds, Stevens said.

Monday, 26 April 2010

So Much To Say, So Little Time...

...before I go to bed.

What were you thinking?

Celebrity Apprentice aired last night. I have to say the end was satisfying (no one was fired) but I really had to say that I've reached the conclusion that two hours is too long. It could be pared to an hour and a half and be fine. I know there is a lot to show, but some of it is minutia and too much at that.

Also, after how many seasons of both The Apprentice and Celebrity Apprentice, is the mystery there? True, the winner - or the departed - is the unknown, but the behaviour in the end is always the same. Usually there is one good person who is really great throughout and then the rest are howling, bloodthirsty mobsters. The last time - no, the season before - there was Trace Atkins, a sweetheart of a man, who lost to some schmuck who would sell his family to win. I can't remember the schmuck's name and he is not worth the space in mine or anyone else's brain, but Trace was a great guy and should have won. Sometimes selling your soul to get the job done is just that... selling your soul.

The weather today and yesterday was rainy and cold. I hate to say it, but temperature-wise, it has been the same all week... but there is a difference between a gorgeous sunny day at 55F and a rainy dark day at 55F. Oh, the irony.

I think it will get better tomorrow. We shall see.

In the meantime, it really is time for me to pack it in and go to bed. Goodnight!

Wrap Your Arms Around Me

I concede that you were right about this place
I can make a perfect likeness of your body if I trace
I can hold you until you turn out the light
and I can't see

Do you believe that we are all innately good
Do you think that you would love me until tomorrow if you could
Would you please turn down the radio
so we can speak

I put my hands around your neck
You wrap your arms around me
Put my hands around your neck
You wrap your arms around me
I put my hands around your neck
And you wrap your arms around me

I regret every time I raised my voice
And it wouldn't be that bright of me to say I had no choice.
I can kiss your eyes your hair your neck
until we forget

I concede that you were right about this place
I can make a perfect likeness of your body if I trace
I can hold you until we turn out the light
and I can't see
I can't see.

Memory and Music

After I finished listening to Bill Engvall this morning, I put on Barenaked Ladies (yes, that is the name of a musical group). I love Barenaked Ladies and I haven't really listened to them in some time.

I'm happy I did. I know the lyrics to a huge percentage of their songs, and I remembered them all. It's amazing what the brain holds on to. What is more amazing is how memories are evoked by certain songs or odors or visuals - although more often than not visuals do not actually stir memories.

The song that really got me today was When I Fall. I was listening to that song when I pulled up to this house around 0700 the morning of 1 October 2002 with my parents van loaded with two cats, their things, and all the kitchen stuff. Talk about a big moment. We had sold our house on the other side of town and bought this one. I sat in the van with this song playing and cried... not sad crying, just a strong emotional response to this. I know, we moved four miles away but it is still a big change. I love this house and I loved it then. It was just such a huge thing.

And the lyrics to this song are particularly emotional:

I look straight in the window, try not to look below
Pretend I'm not up here, try counting sheep
But the sheep seem to shower off this office tower
Nine-point-eight straight down I can't stop my knees

I wish I could fly
From this building
From this wall
And if I should try
Would you catch me if I fall?

My hands clench the squeegee, my secular rosary
Hang on to your wallet, hang on to your rings
Can't look below me, or something might throw me
Curse at the windstorms that October brings

I look in the boardroom; a modern pharaoh's tomb
I'd gladly swap places, if they care to dive
They're lined up at the window, peer down into limbo
They're frightened of jumping, in case they survive

I wish I could step from this scaffold
Onto soft green pastures, shopping malls, or bed
With my family and my pastor and my grandfather who's Dead

Look straight in the mirror, watch it come clearer
I look like a painter, behind all the grease
But paintings creating, and I'm just erasing
A crystal-clear canvas is my masterpiece

I wish I could fly
From this building
From this wall
And if I should try
Would you catch me if I fall?

There a lot of songs that mean a lot to me, but this is a strong song. The whole package, lyrics, music, everything.

ARTICLE: America's Most Stressful Jobs 2010

"With unemployment high, many people with jobs are grateful to get their weekly paychecks, but that feeling alone doesn't take the stress out of the daily grind.

To get a sense of the most stressful jobs in America, looked at 21 different factors that can cause stress on the job, and ranked 200 professions by how significantly these demands factor into the average workday. Factors that weighed into stress levels included work environment, job competitiveness, opportunity for advancement and even perceived risk of unemployment. CareerCast has also included a range of unemployment each profession faces around the country, a number which contributes to perceived risk of unemployment.

Here are the most stressful jobs in America:

1. Firefighter
Stress Rank: 200
Stress Score: 110.936
Unemployment: 0%-4%
Hours Per Day: 11
Time Pressure: Very High
Competition: Low

"Firefighters frequently work irregular or unusual hours, or remain on call throughout the night. They risk heat exhaustion, smoke inhalation, and serious injury while on the job, and even the state of anticipation preceding a major threat can be highly stressful in itself. Firefighters are also sometimes required to spend long hours outdoors in bad weather," says

2. Corporate Executive
Stress Rank: 199
Stress Score: 108.625
Unemployment: 0%-4%
Hours Per Day: 11
Time Pressure: High
Competition: High

"This highly competitive field requires detailed knowledge of the financial community, economic trends as well as technological developments and implications. Senior executives are expected to excel in many different fields at once, and face daily pressure to make far-reaching decisions that can affect numerous employees and their company’s bottom line," says
3. Taxi Driver
Stress Rank: 198
Stress Score: 100.491
Unemployment: 14%+
Hours Per Day: 9.5
Time Pressure: Moderate
Competition: Moderate

"Taxi drivers generally work erratic hours, including late nights and weekends. High speed driving in traffic, especially in major cities, is quite dangerous, and they frequently drive in bad weather conditions as well. In addition, taxi drivers are confined to their vehicle all day with a supply of cash, making them vulnerable to criminals," says

4. Surgeon
Stress Rank: 197
Stress Score: 99.463
Unemployment: 0%-4%
Hours Per Day: 11
Time Pressure: Moderate
Competition: High

"Surgeons can be required to work at odd hours, and many operations take hours to complete. Operating calls for extreme precision and attention to detail, and can require quick decision making with life or death consequences. In addition, rising malpractice insurance costs are a major cause of stress for many surgeons," says

5. Police Officer
Stress Rank: 196
Stress Score: 93.893
Unemployment: 0%-4%
Hours Per Day: 9.5
Time Pressure: Moderate
Competition: Low

"Police officers face potentially life-threatening situations daily. Shifts can be long and strenuous, especially in emergencies, and work requires both physical and emotional strength.

Other possible stress factors include interacting with the public and providing medical attention to injured parties," says

6. Commercial Pilot
Stress Rank: 195
Stress Score: 85.350
Unemployment: 7%-10%
Hours Per Day: 9
Time Pressure: Moderate
Competition: Low

"Commercial Pilots are under pressure to guarantee the comfort and safety of passengers while staying within flight schedules, even when flying in inclement weather. Working irregular hours and on varying routes forces pilots to layover in other cities, leading to frequent jet lag," says

7. Highway Patrol Officer
Stress Rank: 194
Stress Score: 80.651
Unemployment: 0%-4%
Hours Per Day: 9.5
Time Pressure: Moderate
Competition: Low

"Highway patrol officers often work late nights, and on weekends and holidays. They face many hazards, such as high-speed chases and gun-toting citizens. Work requires physical stamina and close attention to detail, and officers have the added stresses of handling life-threatening situations and being in the public eye,' says

8. Public Relations Officer
Stress Rank: 193
Stress Score: 78.523
Unemployment: 4%-7%
Hours Per Day: 9
Time Pressure: High
Competition: Very High

"Public relations specialists make speeches and give presentations, often in front of large crowds. Because it is a highly competitive field, specialists must work quickly and creatively to meet deadlines. In addition, some PR officers are required to interact with potentially hostile members of the media," says

9. Advertising Executive
Stress Rank: 192
Stress Score: 74.555
Unemployment: 14%+
Hours Per Day: 9.5
Time Pressure: Moderate
Competition: Very High

"Although not physically demanding, work in advertising is emotionally and mentally stressful. Competition and the pressure of acquiring and maintaining major accounts forces executives in this field to work long and irregular hours. The work requires a high level of creativity, meeting deadlines, close attention to detail and self-motivation," says

10. Real Estate Agent
Stress Rank: 191
Stress Score: 73.063
Unemployment: 4%-7%
Hours Per Day: 9.5
Time Pressure: High
Competition: Very High

"Real estate agents and brokers work long, erratic hours, spending much of their showing properties to clients. They must be extremely independent, and able to handle sales quotas and deadline pressures. Because they work in an extremely competitive field, successful agents and brokers are expert salespersons," says"

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Bret Michaels in Trouble

I saw something in my People Magazine that Bret Michaels had emergency appendix surgery, just around the time he was supposed to go onstage. Good thing he did not and it hadn't ruptured in a huge arena. He was hospitalised and was in good condition. Now I found this on Yahoo! News:

"Bret Michaels Remains in Critical Condition

LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- Rocker and reality star Bret Michaels is still in critical condition after suffering a massive brain hemorrhage, according to the star's Facebook page. "There are several incorrect reports on Bret's condition," said a note posted to the star's official page. "Bret remains in critical condition at an undisclosed location. Further tests are being ran and information will be updated in the coming days. Thank you for your support, thoughts & concern."

On Friday evening, some online reports stated that Bret had stabilized and regained consciousness - and was even talking. Radar Online reportedly spoke to Bret's father, Wally Sychak, who told the site that he had spoken to his son. "I talked to him this morning. He sounded upbeat and positive but they had him sedated," Sychak reportedly told Radar Online. "But he's doing good. He sounded like my son."

Bret, a contestant on the current season of NBC's "Celebrity Apprentice," had been blogging for Fancast and sent his latest entry to the site on Wednesday, which was posted on Friday night. In his blog, the singer said he was mid-way on his way to recovery after a serious surgery.

"Hey guys. I wanted to check in again to let you know how things are," he said, referring to his recovery from an emergency appendectomy two weeks earlier. "I'm feeling right about in the middle right now on a scale of 1 to 10. I'm not 100% yet, but I'm sure as hell not where I was when it happened. When your appendix ruptures if feels like what it would feel if you're on the losing end of a knife fight, so it takes a bit to recover from that," he continued.

The Poison frontman also addressed how his type-1 diabetes, a condition he was diagnosed with at age 6, mixes with his rock star lifestyle. "When I say 'party' and 'let's have fun,' I'm one of those guys that just likes to have a great time," Bret blogged. "I'm not a belligerent drunk. I don't need to drink. But, there's a big misconception about drinking and diabetes, and honestly, drinking an immense amount of alcohol for anybody is bad. Let's get clear about that. But, for a diabetic, it just doesn't work in your diet. It's got so much sugar content."

He added that problems stem from confusion about intoxication vs. blood sugar levels, and not eating right after. "I pick and choose my times when I'm going to have fun," he wrote. "This was a wake up call to be a little bit more diligent on keeping control of my health... It's tricky for me. I need to find something healthier to do on my day off then going out and finding a club to hang out at."

As previously reported on, two weeks removed from an emergency appendectomy, Bret Michaels was rushed to the hospital on Thursday night where it was discovered the rocker had suffered a massive brain hemorrhage, a rep for the rocker confirmed to Access.

Following the news of Bret's hospitalization on Friday, his "Celebrity Apprentice" boss Donald Trump offered his well wishes. "I am deeply saddened to hear about Bret Michaels and my thoughts and prayers are with him and his family at this time. He's a great competitor and champion and I hope he will be fine.""

Friday, 23 April 2010

Awake But Not for Long!

Friday, 23 April - I was up at 07:19, now it is 22:37. This habitual lateness thing would really be awful if I wasn't having so much fun at dinner. It's easier for me, I guess, since Luis is the one who has to get his butt out of bed in time for the conference to begin tomorrow at 08:30. I can sleep in, but I doubt I will. As mediocre as the free breakfast can be it is a complete breakfast and I don't mind the offerings. (This morning I went for the omelet with ham, tomato and green and red sweet peppers, a banana and some tea. Nothing like all protein to start the day.) Then I'll return to here, straighten everything up and then sneak into Faneuil Hall again... to Gems & Minerals by Geoclassics. Got to get more!

Today I bought two necklace earring sets, one with mother-of-pearl leaves and one with silver outline and gold-coloured leaves. While I never wear gold, the plating is accent to the silver, the main colour of the set. I also got a pair of silver square earrings with gorgeous deep green stones as leaves... No matching necklace, but I will figure something out. A rarity, also - moonstone necklace and matching earrings - love the rainbows inside moonstones!

I also picked up lovely snowflake Obsidian and a wonderful Malachite spheres... but there was a gorgeous smokey quartz sphere that is $150. I'm thinking strongly of getting it. I think this will be a must.

I was so disappointed to find out that the place that imported and sold Aran-knit sweaters was gone - they went out of business or moved away a couple of years ago. I love those sweaters and did not care the cost. Aran sweaters are made in Ireland and are wonderful. Thick, heavy and warm, these are the best that any sheep can give. I love wool. I don't find it itchy and the warmth is delightful. Those sheep are the best. I still have two Aran sweaters, but I wanted more. And (not to be weird or fussy) I wanted my Aran sweaters to come from Boston, the heart of Irish settlers.

Before I went shopping, I went on the Duck Tour out of the Science Museum. I asked for a kid-free tour. I got the closest thing - one without an entire class on it. There were about ten kids on it, but when two kids go out with two or three adults, then the kids are not all over the place misbehaving. On a ship with classes of kids and no visible chaperones, it is time to dump the little knits over the side!

I was surprised - this was a different tour than the one I took last time, when we stayed at the Pru Center (the Prudential Complex). The driver gave us some different information from the first tour, but the same stuff was good and correct; and he was funny. The different drivers dress as different people or characters or interests, so this driver had on a green Celtics suit. (Why they pronounce that with a soft "c" is a total mystery to me.) He razzed the kid who likes the Lakers. I have no interest in sports but he was funny.

We headed through downtown Boston, on Boylston, through the Charles River, but not over the new bridge (hold on... need to look up the name...), the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge. Good gods, no wonder I can't remember that name. It's too long. I love the bridge - it is gorgeous and moves nicely along - a rarity in Beantown. We did get some opinion on The Big Dig - but I agree that this is a stupidly long project - it's been going on 27 years. Yikes!

This is where I found out that Boston has 98 Dunkin' Donuts, 31 Starbucks, 2 Krispy Kremes that came and went (funny, that), and some kind of seafood place that is just south of Providence. (Why that last one, I don't know.) Ninety-eight Dunkin' Donuts. It's like the spread of the plague. Of course, it could be envy. Dunkin' Donuts always gives me the worst agita (spelling?).

I took a couple of videos of the tour, mostly on the water. It was so much fun. The driver, called the conDUCKtor, also let the kids who wanted to do some of the driving on the river. That's kind of neat. I thought about trying it, but it was more for the kids, so I just went for the ride.

We got back to the Science Museum around 13:15. I would have loved to peruse the museum, but another day of kid-packed something just was not something I could do. Not again. I survived the nightmare of a kid-packed whale watch and even made my way through some of the NEAQ Aquarium, but Day 2 needed to have a lot fewer unmonitored or over-active bored kids with their wussy parents.

I stopped in the museum gift shop which they'd never have in the members only section and got a sweatshirt that reads "Pluto: Revolve in Peace 1930 - 2008", another sweatshirt that reads "Science Museum - Boston" and a poster of the Moon. Then it was time to find my way back to the Green Line to get to Faneuil Hall.

What a city this is! How could anyone leave the greater Boston area and come to New Jersey? Not that I don't love New Jersey, but New England is so clean, and has better preserved history. The underground is awesome. (It's the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority and has big signs with a "T" to mark where it is, but I don't know if the nick name is the Underground, Metro, subway, train, etc.) Everything looks great. I love that the history is all over, even right in the midst of all the beautiful modern office buildings. Like the burial ground that is in the heart of Boston. It is an open area filled with graves and head- (and some foot-) stones that has been around since 1660; around it are all these tall buildings that clearly did not see the light of day until the 20th century. It's amazing. You would be hard pressed to find anything like that in New York City.

We went to a restaurant called Jacob Wirth Co. Restaurant, established in 1868. It is a German restaurant with a lager list that is longer than the menu. They have wines and harder liquor too, but the real draw was the beer (well, it would be tough to call most of the items on that list "beer", which would be insulting anyway. They offered mostly lagers). The place also had sing along with the piano guy. I had been told it was karioke, but was relieved to see it wasn't. You never really want to hear people who have been drinking copiously sing. Personally, you never want to see or hear Luis sing with or without the alcohol. He sounds completely nasal when he sings. Apparently he was a good singer when he was a kid. This ended when he became an adult (physically; mentally he has not reached adulthood).

The song book was a tome. Huge. The piano guy raced along (Yesterday by the Beatles is not supposed to go at that tempo) but it worked. The whole place was roaring along with him... proof that no matter how many bad singers there are, as long as the group has lyrics and keeps the timing right, it sounds pretty good. I took images and a fairly long video of everyone howling along. It's really funny. Dave was having a good old time with soda and water, which I understand completely. I did not have a drop of alcohol the whole trip, not that I ever do drink, and had a great time. If you need to drink to have fun, there is a much bigger issue...

We left in groups after this dinner. Last night we all left as one pack. Tonight there were some wanting to keep the party going and some of us were feeling our 40 plus years and really weren't into doing a late night. I'm never into doing a late night, but I'm not the norm and wouldn't think I was.

When Luis, the Long Island guy and I left, it was just the three of us (I have to get his name again from Luis or Susan - I'm not good with names and I had met over a dozen people in two nights). The Theatre District is interesting... I suppose they are all like this but the hookers and the teenagers traveling in packs and the not-so-warm-and-fuzzy people did not make me feel good about walking around at 22:00. (I was amused at the drug-dealer looking guy in the hopped up car with the bad music booming... and a little Chihuahua barking away!) Anyway, we caught the Green Line at the Commons and while waiting there for the train, there was an older man playing his banjo and singing... I loved it! He had CDs for $15 so I gave him $20 and grabbed one. I have to burn it to the server but since Luis had his server upgraded and fixed I can't locate it. Luis has to fix this. The Dixieland music was great and I'm eager to hear this.

When we got to the Blue Line to get to Airport, we found some of our group. That was nice! We caught the train and got our bus to the Embassy Suites. The group started chatting but I hiked it out of there and this time Luis followed along - it was 22:00 and I did not want to be up much longer.

The big question? What did I spend...? Ah... I did spend a bit, but I still have more than a week's salary left in card format and $400 in cash. Do I really want to bring home cash? No. I wanna get stuff!

(Saturday, 24 April - Side note: I went back to GeoClassics and found a good match to the green stone leaf earrings that I got yesterday. The stones are a lighter colour and more blue, and the shape of the pendant is round, but the format of the settings is the same and they match nicely. I love sets. I didn't find any rings that would be delicate and small enough for my tiny fingers, but I can get rings somewhere else. And yes, I did get the Smokey quartz sphere. It is striking!)

Awake at 07:19

I guess I should map out my day, since I'd like to do the Duck Tour first, soak up as much as I can from that, plus see many great parts of Boston. I did enjoy the duck tours the first time I did it - they imparted to us so many interesting factoids, such as in Boston alone (in 2005) there were over 200 Starbucks and over 200 Dunkin' Donuts, almost all of them in really close proximity (not really 200, but you get the idea). A little scary.

I guess this qualifies as sleeping in late. For me, by definition, it does. I rarely get up this late. Funny what late means to different people. All programmers appear to have the same setting - wake up at noon, program and play all day, until bleary-eyed, they see it is 05:00 - time for bed.

It seems most people I know, from the squad and other walks of life are as much diurnal as the majority of this group. Up at nine if they REALLY need to be up then, but still feeling energetic at midnight, which is now 2.5 hours after my bedtime instead of four hours, but still too late. So I guess two completely different groups can be very similar.

Back to today's special brand of fun...

I should throw on human clothes and partake of the free breakfast. They do have it and at least I can get my day started that way, I'm sure I will see some children (shiver) but how many will be in the Duck Tour (cringe) or Faneuil Hall? The Science Center does sound interesting, but I've just got today to do it all!

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Now I Understand...

Some concepts are tough to get until the right event happens.

I actually have a fan. She's a really great person, and one day, home not feeling well, she read my blog - the whole thing up to 2008 - that is a LOT of reading. Now I get it! People really do read my blog! Who knew? I was told that over and over again, but thinking, "no, who would be able to get through it?"

Well, how cool is that? Someone does get through it!

This is wonderful and weird at the same time, but more wonderful. All those thoughts thrown out into the void that is the Internet have been read! How is that not neat? How can you not like that? There are many reasons for writing a blog and it is not just to empty my head of all those stray thoughts that clutter it up, but to know that someone out there (besides your spouse or friends or family - or coworkers) get it. Get what is running through your head!

I had a wonderful night. I met not just the person who reads my blog but 12 or 13 other completely fun, wonderful... programmers! Not that I thought all programmers were dull, by any means - I've thrown my lot in with one for just over 20 years now - but they all talk in code and get excited about their jobs the way I do about both of mine. That is the best - anyone who loves their job is someone I can talk to. I always say that people should only do jobs they love - not that we all get that luxury - and here they were. All ages, mostly both genders (I made the comment that I like these odds; two women and 12 men), all types, heights, interests, etc. And great dinner company. I love meeting people and discovering things about them... maybe because they help me to discover things about myself. Things I would not have been able to stumble onto myself in a month of Sundays.

It's 22:02, and I am tired. But I plan to sleep in (if I can, the bed is becoming more like a board each day), and then SHOP til I DROP in Faneuil Hall and look for my favourite old coin and bank notes dealer. (I still want a pre-1921 United States bank note - they were totally different plates and nearly half again as large as the currency we use now. Can you believe it? We have not changed our currency in nearly a bloody century!

Boston Trip & Day One (Seriously Condensed)

Hard to believe that this time yesterday we were happily driving along Route 84. It was a good trip up, with Luis asking me every 20 minutes, "Are we there yet?" Mostly he sat in the back watching Castle and I sat in front with the music on and singing with it. I mostly drove around 70 miles an hour, so it wasn't an endlessly long journey. We did hit some rush hour traffic on Route 90 but it was minor and did not last long.

Driving in Boston proper is a wholly different animal and I won't bore you with the details and multitudinous four-letter words over that, but 20 minutes to get to a place that should have been five minutes away is just nuts.

We got to our room around 1944 and that was that. No socialising (not that I'd have been good company after touring the inroads of the city), partying, no going out. We wandered downstairs, ate dinner there and then changed to go for a swim. We spent about an hour in the pool and then another half hour in the hot tub (not running all the time) before finally returning to our room.

I was ticked off that there were two kids splashing in the hot tub. They'd clear been in the pool already - other than them and the (I assume) father who wasn't swimming, there was no one else there, but the floor was covered in water. I'm not kidding. Looked like responsible parenting here...

While we were in the pool, which is a good length and width but no more than 3' deep, the kids got bored with the hot tub (or decided to torture me, take your pick) and jumped into the pool. Splashing, yelling - all the attributes one must love in children... not really. It was a horror show. Maybe it was the opening act for today...

I'll fill in a lot more details later, because now that I've emptied my bladder, eaten something and taken what I need - a hot bath, I want to go back and see the aquarium side of the area. But here is food for thought: I went out on the ocean for four hours with 200 kids - 200 incredibly compelling reasons for always using birth control - I didn't actually kill any of them. Don't think it didn't cross my mind. I begged someone on the crew to make a kid-free zone.

We came here for spring break. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

I can see why - the seasons are longer in coming, certainly. At home, the foliage is fully grown in on 95% of the trees, even though the leaves have not deepened their colour to the summer darkness. Here, the trees are just budding. I was surprised on the ride up. I know Boston is north quite a difference and the spring arrives later and autumn earlier, but I never saw it so well illustrated as when we drove up yesterday. It really was quite nice!

Well, it is 15:40, so I can be heading to the T (tube? underground? train? subway? metro?) and take the two exits back to the aquarium by 16:00.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

This Week's Celebrity Apprentice


When these people fight, they don't kid around. I should really say "when these women" fight. The men were all working together really well, but the women did nothing but bicker. Pick, pick, pick. Every conversation started out well but deteriorated quickly. Holly Robinson Peete is pushy, pushy, pushy and even suggested that Donald Trump is favouring Sharon Osbourne by not giving her the axe for being sick. I really don't care for this woman.

Now, personal feelings aside, let's look at this carefully. I have a sneaking suspicion that Cyndi and Bret were brought in as the extreme ADD, bouncing off the walls people and then Curtis and Sharon for the sharp, hard-driving focus. But Holly and Bill and a lot of the various contenders really have no idea how to deal with other personalities. I'm one of those ADD, gets excited fast and cuts off everyone. Snap your fingers and tell me to focus! If someone tells me I'm doing it, I'll make a better effort to stop yakking and listen. But when I get excited - good or bad - I drive everyone crazy! So does Cyndi.

You could say she'd benefit from Concerta (and there is no doubt she would) but at this point the show is nearly over and either they've all killed each other or they've all gone their separate directions. There had been the usual 14 contestants; now, they have been whittled down eight people - Bret Michaels, Curtis Stone are now down Bill Goldberg, who turned out at the end to be a better team player than when he began. For the women, who amazingly won, that leaves them with five contestants: Cyndi Lauper, Holly Robinson Peete, Maria Kanellis, Sharon Osbourne and Summer Sanders.

Next week they are putting Holly and Sharon with the two remaining guys which will leave Cyndi alone with Maria. Summer seems to be alright. But as you get to the end, it is easy to see the cutthroat demon in everyone.

I wonder what they've learned - I'm learning a helluva a lot because my personality is very much like Bret's and Cyndi's. One difference - if Trump asked me the questions that made them so uncomfortable, I'd have no trouble giving my view.

I'm sure next week will be even better.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

ARTICLE: 9 Ingredients to Avoid in Processed Foods

"If you know me at all, you know that I’m an advocate for whole, unprocessed foods. However, many of us inevitably turn to packaged or processed foods when we are short on time. Maybe we grab a frozen dinner or pizza for a quick dinner for our family. Maybe we grab a quick nutrition bar to satiate our hunger until we can sit down for a real meal. Or maybe, we just don’t like to cook. Whether we like it or not, packaged and processed food has become a huge part of our food industry and, as a result, a part of many of our diets.

Although there are some brands that I hugely advocate for, there are many more that border on outright unhealthy and “scary.” Many packaged foods that seem healthy often contain fillers, preservatives and other ingredients you don’t want in your diet. It is always preferable to choose products that have only a handful of ingredients, all of which should be recognizable. One test to know whether an ingredient is healthy is to ask yourself whether your grandmother would recognize it. If not, there is a good chance the ingredient is less natural food and more man-made chemical. Another good test is whether or not you can easily pronounce the ingredient. If you feel like you need a science degree to pronounce it properly, chances are the ingredient is worth avoiding.

If you do have to resort to a processed food for a snack or dinner (anything canned, packaged, etc.), try to avoid those that contain the ingredients listed in the following chart. Although this isn’t an exhaustive list, these ingredients are some of the most highly processed and least healthy of all:

Ingredient Why it is Used Why it is Bad
Artificial Colors Chemical compounds made from coal-tar derivatives to enhance color.
Linked to allergic reactions, fatigue, asthma, skin rashes, hyperactivity and headaches.

Artificial Flavorings Cheap chemical mixtures that mimic natural flavors.
Linked to allergic reactions, dermatitis, eczema, hyperactivity and asthma
Can affect enzymes, RNA and thyroid.

Artificial Sweeteners
(Acesulfame-K, Aspartame, Equal®, NutraSweet®, Saccharin, Sweet’n Low®, Sucralose, Splenda® & Sorbitol) Highly-processed, chemically-derived, zero-calorie sweeteners found in diet foods and diet products to reduce calories per serving.
Can negatively impact metabolism
Some have been linked to cancer, dizziness hallucinations and headaches.

Benzoate Preservatives
Compounds that preserve fats and prevent them from becoming rancid.
May result in hyperactivity, angiodema, asthma, rhinitis, dermatitis, tumors and urticaria
Can affect estrogen balance and levels.

Brominated Vegetable Oil
Chemical that boosts flavor in many citric-based fruit and soft drinks.
Increases triglycerides and cholesterol
Can damage liver, testicles, thyroid, heart and kidneys.

High Fructose Corn Syrup
(HFCS) Cheap alternative to cane and beet sugar
Sustains freshness in baked goods
Blends easily in beverages to maintain sweetness.
May predispose the body to turn fructose into fat
Increases risk for Type-2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke and cancer
Isn’t easily metabolized by the liver.

(Monosodium Glutamate)
Flavor enhancer in restaurant food, salad dressing, chips, frozen entrees, soups and other foods.
May stimulate appetite and cause headaches, nausea, weakness, wheezing, edema, change in heart rate, burning sensations and difficulty in breathing.

Olestra An indigestible fat substitute used primarily in foods that are fried and baked.
Inhibits absorption of some nutrients
Linked to gastrointestinal disease, diarrhea, gas, cramps, bleeding and incontinence.

Shortening, Hydrogenated and Partially Hydrogenated Oils
(Palm, Soybean and others) Industrially created fats used in more than 40,000 food products in the U.S.
Cheaper than most other oils.
Contain high levels of trans fats, which raise bad cholesterol and lower good cholesterol, contributing to risk of heart disease.

Have you checked your ingredient lists recently? Do they contain any of the above? Have you tried cutting some of these ingredients out?"

National Geographic ARTICLE: Pop Cultures

This just supports my argument:

"Refrescos in Spanish, mashroob ghazi in Arabic, kele in Chinese: The world has many words, and an unslakable thirst, for carbonated soft drinks. Since 1997 per capita consumption has nearly doubled in eastern Europe. In 2008 Coca-Cola tallied soda sales in some 200 countries. Even the global recession, says industry monitor Zenith International, has merely caused manufacturers to lean on promotional offers and try cheap social networking ads.

But some are sour on all this sweetness. U.S. obesity expert David Ludwig calls aggressive marketing in emerging nations-where people tend to eat more and move less as they prosper-'deeply irresponsible. That's the time of greatest risk for heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.'

As that thinking catches on, places including New York and Romania are mulling levies on sugared drinks. Others are arguing that taxing a single product isn't the fix; promoting healthy lifestyles and zero-calorie drinks is. Fizz for thought?" -Jeremy Berlin

Go, Jeremy!

There is just one issue; the diet soft drinks are all chemicals, nothing healthy there, either. Let's tax all soft drinks, or steer people away from them. Personally, I view soda much as I do tobacco - purely unhealthy.

There's Always Stuff... blog about.

We went to the mall today. I really needed to have my eyebrows waxed (hey, if you did not want to know, why are you reading this?), stop in at Yankee Candle Company and get my eyeglasses adjusted. The wonderful guy at Lens Crafters told me I need new glasses, so I will do that after Boston. He's right. It's been about three years, so I am overdue for them.

While in the mall, we saw closed stores (including a wonderful jewelry place - very disappointing) and school displays. And fat people. If you want to see what a fat nation we are, spend ten minutes in any food court of any mall.

There were also a million and one teenagers. Ugh.

You know I think kids are best when sautéed and I stand by that assertion. Crying kids, whining kids, stubborn kids, pissy looking kids, kids running loose down the hallways, kids yakking away - it was sensory kid overload. There were even two little monsters running loose in the place where I was getting my eyebrows waxed! Who goes for a manucure and brings their not-well-trained kids to do this? File your nails at home and wait until you get a babysitter to do this.

For those of you curling your upper lip at the idea of getting your eyebrows waxed, don't knock it if you haven't had it done. It beats the hell out of plucking, an ongoing form of torture. I don't shave anything any more. I go to Lucy to have my armpits and legs waxed, which is about 45 minutes in exchange for several weeks of hair-free body parts; and every six weeks to the place in the mall which makes my eyebrows no longer resemble caterpillars in under five minutes. And waxing hurts for maybe 5 seconds, then it's done. It is easy and long-lasting.

We went to Yankee Candle Company next. I love scented candles. I have this delightfully big house with lots of rooms and I burn a different candle in each room and then have that ambiance that makes any regular room smell like magic! Today I'm only burning two - one in my office, where I am blogging my butt off (Fireside) and one in the eating area off the kitchen (Mountain Pine). Those are not typical April fragrances, but I haven't gotten around to swapping out the winter fragrances for the spring ones.

While there I gave each new fragrance a wiff. You really have to wonder about some of this stuff and what the marketing people are thinking... Okay, for example: Black Cherry, Honeysuckle, Pineapple Cilantro - these are all pretty easy to imagine, if you know what they smell like. Right? That's easy. How about Beautiful Day? What does that smell like? Or Early Sunrise? Drift Away? There is one called Storm Watch but I don't really know what that smells like either. Maybe they should develop Severe Thunderstorm, which would smell like ozone - you know, that sharp ozone smell that you get while or right after a real screamer of a storm takes all the humidity out of the air. That would be a really cool candle.

Some where better than others, which is always the case. Sun & Sand doesn't smell that amazing but Early Sunrise (very similar to Island Spa) has a lovely, tangy fragrance. You just don't know until you smell them. Years ago, a good friend bought me Key Lime Pie. It smelled like Windex. Yikes.

Yankee Candle Company undoubtedly got a wake up call when it realised that all those big-hot fragrances they retired are showing up on e-bay and selling for huge sums of money. I know, as I do some candle buying on e-bay (thank you, Barbara!). I will ocassionally lay out $75.00 or more for fragrance that absolutely cannot be found anywhere else. With 40 hours of burning time (or more, if you know how to keep the wick trimmed and such) it is well worth it to me. And some fragrances are too good to let go. So now in the stores there is one section devoted to "left over" fragrances that one could not find at all but suddenly are showing up.

Green Grass, Sandalwood and Eucalyptus are there. Today, however, my heart nearly stopped when I saw Garden Cucumber! I rushed to the counter, put down the items I had in my hands and went back to pick one up. I slowly took the lid off and brought it to my nose...

... and wrinkled my nose in horror.

I tried smelling the candle, too. I picked all five of the jars and tried first the lid, which is what you are supposed to smell, then the candle. It was awful. Awful! It smelled like noxious chemicals, not Garden Cucumber. It was vile. I was crushed. Here I thought they'd brought back a 20-year-old best selling fragrance but instead either lost the original formula or are pulling a fast one. It was terrible.

I'm going to write to Yankee Candle about that. If you can't do it right, don't do it.

And I will have buy it on e-bay as I have done in the past. I know who to go to and what to look for to ensure I have the original and not this terrible remake.

I went to the fragrance place and picked up three bottles of eau de parfum and that has a funny story, too, but I'm ready for dinner and tired of typing!

Celebrity Apprenitce Continues...

Every week another one bites the dust.

The first week it was Carol Leifer. The teams had to develop a menu and serve people in a diner-setting and make as much money for their charities as possible. This also meant that someone had to be the server and/or busser. Cindy Lauper was a terrible server, but she worked her butt off to do it and really gave it her best effort. Carol was useless. She proved right off the bat that she was there to put in the least amount of effort and had no drive whatsoever. I would imagine that being waitstaff was also not a task she relished. I'd never heard of her to begin with, but they said she was a comedienne. Probably someone who is not accustomed to doing the hard work that bussing tables and serving customers really is.

The second week it was Sinbad's turn. This has to be the fourth or fifth season that Donald Trump's Celebrity Apprentice has aired and I don't know if he never actually saw this show, or what the deal is, but his management style was a sure loser. He had a full team and he did not dole out any tasks or use anyone else in his team effectively. The task was to build a Kodak storefront. Sinbad tool over everything and on top of not really using his team, he made it painfully clear that he did not like Bret Michaels. Bret is very ADD and there is a way to get him to be of great value, but Sinbad did not make the effort to try. He's too much of a control freak to pull this off. So another one bites the dust...

The third week was creating a leaflet for a bundled product from Norton and Lifelock. (Are you starting to see a pattern? I am. Both Kodak and LifeLock showed up in Season 8's Celebrity Apprentice to have their product plugged.) So the teams had to each develop a branding and storyline to create the leaflet, then shoot the images and put it together. There is a lot of ego power and infighting that is generated in this kind of show, but some of it got really out of hand. Rod Blagojevich actually said (on air!) that 'the guys are making the same mistake they did on the last task. They are "prematurely ejaculating" and they "need more foreplay."'

When did that become okay to say on public television?!

Anyway, the women won that task despite all the infighting and after all the arguing in the boardroom, it is Darryl Strawberry who gets the boot. Maybe he watched the episodes; he must have known that quitters never make it out of the boardroom alive. The third one bites the dust.

Episode four brings Selita and Rod, the most useless man in the world, to the leaders of the packs. The packs are being whittled away, one episode at a time. This time, the two team leaders are spirited away on a private jet (how I'd like to travel!) to Universal Studios Orlando. (Orlando would be just another central Florida hole if not for Disney and now, Universal.) The idea was that the team leaders would work with their teams only through technology. This is when we were talking about Rod the Loser Governor going down in flames. This guy makes my mother - in her current condition - look like a technology wiz! He can't even use his own cell phone. He must have had the staff doing everything. (Suddenly it becomes feasible that maybe he didn't swindle all those people in Illinois because he is lacking the basic skills to do it...)

So Selita is sending drawings and ideas through her cell phone and Rod can't even call. Forget the laptop. This guy would not know where to plug it in or turn it on, let alone actually navigate it. It is painfully obvious that the mens' team is working at a huge disadvantage.

Well, Rod did one thing right - he delegated the whole task to Bret Michaels, which gave Michael Jordan and Bill Goldberg kittens but turns out he's the right choice. A little reading will tell you how to deal with the ADD personality (I'm one of them, so I know). Anyway, Bret did a great job - and might have won - until Rod returned and screwed it up, as only a politician can.

The women won. Rod was fired. We all cheered!

Which brings us to Episode 5, all about a viral advert (why this is okay to use as a description, I just don't know) for Right Guard deodorant. Again, seeing the theme. Trump gives all his big supporters all kinds of time on the air - about one hour and 45 minutes - and they get all this advertising just from watching all these famous people stab each other in the back (and some in the front) to win creating an advert for this or that product.

The teams each got a basketball star I'd never heard of, both of whom looking a little, uh, long in the tooth for this, and had to make a 30-second spot and a 10-second grabber. Holly Peete Robinson - no, Robinson Peete - was the women's team leader and Curtis Stone was the mens' team leader. Holly already has openly maligned Cyndi Lauper on other episodes and clearly was not happy but in this episode, Cyndi was not around for all of it - she flew down to Washington, D.C that day to meet with President Obama. And the women were short Sharon Osbourne, who had gotten sick at the beginning of the show and was hacking up a lung. This actually made the teams even since the men's team lost the last three episodes.

So the men did a short with these two kids that won a meeting with their famous basketballer (hold on, I'll look up the name...), Clyde Drexler. The 30-second advert was quite funny and an attention grabber (coming from me this is high praise - I hate adverts); the 10-second one was good, too. And it was completely different and did the right thing, getting the attention of the target audience to get them to see the 30-second run.

The women had a unique idea - a boy's first "funk", but the execution was so-so. And Holly, who knows everything, did not listen to the executives, who made it abundantly clear that the target audience is 14 - 18 year old boys. She went for her ideal target audience, mothers of 14 - 18 year old boys. Bad idea. No one could have been anymore plain about it and she had even asked about it! But she just had to do it from hte mother's point of view. Their basketball guy was Scottie Pippin, who was really cute in the advert. However, Holly took a ten second piece from the 30-second clip to use as the viral grabber.


While Holly should have taken the hit for being a poor teamplayer and a sore manager, the final choice was the right one. But getting there made Holly less and less popular and I suspect she will be finished off before we are down to the final four. She tried to throw Cyndi under the bus and failed spectacularly - Cyndi was away for the first day passing a law and returned to sing the jingle for the advert. Holly didn't like that Cyndi sang over her recording but let's face it, Cyndi is a helluva better singer. So the ego was mad at being upstaged.

She briefly tried to bring Cyndi back to the boardroom to fire her, but Donald told her she could not bring Cyndi or Sharon, who gets a pass for being sick. That left Summer, Maria and Selita. Holly brought back Maria and Selita. Maria stuck to her guns for something that Holly hadn't done and Selita did nothing - much as she had on the task. Selita got fired. Another one down.

And that brings us to Episode 6... which airs tonight at 21:00. We shall see what happens tomorrow, for I'll be going to bed around the time this will air.

High Marks for "Clash of the Titans"

Anyone in my age group is likely to recall the 1981 movie Clash of the Titans, which was campy but had Harry Hamlin running about in a teeny loincloth with thick hair, that determined strong jaw and looking quite fit.

This is much better.

The cast was excellent: Sam Worthinton, who was much more interesting in this role than the avatar roll; Ralph Fiennes as Hades; Liam Neeson as Zeus and a host of others. They all looked the part, where dressed right for everything and Sam looked preat as Perseus in those little Roman skirts...

There was one scene early on where Perseus with his family rounds a bend of an island in their fishing boat and looks up at the panoramic blue sky... where a boom is visible for the length of the scene, just hanging a little right of the center. Oops.

The movie was a good pace, mostly true to the original film and to mythology although where the blue-eyed tree-like creature came into it I'll never know. I can't place that creature at all. Calibos was all he should be, ugly and scarred and the tool of Hades. And he did spawn from his amputated left wrist drops of acidic blood that spawned humungous scorpions. The scorpions were very well done.

The music, by Ramin Djawadi, who also did the soundtrack to 2008's Iron Man, some of the best movie music it has been my pleasure to hear. The soundtrack to Clash of the Titans is definitely a must-have.

The thing that made this so enjoyable for me aside from the interest in seeing what they did with this movie was - believe it or not - earplugs. I had grabbed a couple of pairs and took one pair with me to this showing. I made the unbelievable mistake of seeing Avatar without earplugs and ended up keeping my fingers in my ears for most of it. I have no idea why, but the movie was played at megadecibels. It is really criminal that theatres do this. Someday theatres will get sued by someone who saw one movie after the next and then starts to lose their hearing at age 30. And I hate to say it but I did not miss so much as a whisper in that movie.

The other saving grace was the decision not to see it in 3D. I'd read that it is an engaging enough movie without having things pop out at you. I also felt completely miserable after making the monumental mistake of seeing Avatar in 3D and on the IMAX screen. When Clash of the Titans began, they started it by panning across the ocean. Ugh. In 3D that would have made my stomach unhappy. And the fighting was filmed in a way to make it seem a lot more frenetic, mostly by making the actors look rather jerky in their movements, which was not enjoyable in the regular format but would have been sickening in the 3D format.

Except for that, I really found this movie to be very enjoyable. The gods were great, the mortals were great, Perseus and his group were interesting, and the special effects were tremendous. I loved this movie. I personally found this to be much more worthwhile than Avatar was and now even less see what the fuss was about. Were the special effects in Avatar amazing? Yes. But the plot was so weak, it made a huge and negative impact on the movie. Clash of the Titans had everything, interesting plot, an engaging story and people and the amazing special effects. What more could you want?