Wednesday, 26 January 2011

New Zodiac sign Ophiucus

No change in horoscope

By Sarah Black

Clock in Prague/13th Zodiac Sign

Prof. Parke Kunkle shocked many people Jan. 10 by saying the zodiac actually has 13 signs. A professor from a community college is out to set the record straight, calling out 3,000 years of popular belief and Babylonian tradition and telling the world they've got their zodiac signs wrong.

Professor Parke Kunkle, an astronomer teaching at Minneapolis Community and Technical College and board member of the Minnesota Planetarium Society, has made clear that the current zodiac calendar is wrong, and has added a 13th sign, Ophiucus (ooh-FEE-yew-kus).

"In astronomy we look at the motion of the stars and the planets and what the background stars are," said Kunkle in a radio broadcast with NPR. "But the Earth has wobbled a bit in its spin, and that wobble has changed where the sun is located on a given date."

This means that when astrologers say the sun is in Pisces, it is now in Aquarius, et cetera, Kunkle said. Ophiucus is situated between Nov. 30 to Dec. 17, and is referred to as "The Serpent Bearer." In mythology, Ophiuchus, also known as Aesculapius to the Greeks, was the son of Apollo and a healer. He was later struck down by Zeus for bringing a man back to life. The snake is held as his sacred servant.

Kirra Kudla, 18, fashion design, and a Pisces, noticed those of her friends who faithfully followed their horoscopes were unhappy with their changed zodiac signs.

"They're unhappy about it until they read it and they like [their new sign], then they're okay," said Kudla.

Chris Howard, 24, criminal justice, and a Cancer, said regardless if his sign has changed, he still considers himself a Cancer.

"It's not true," said Caitlyn Tirella, 19, criminal justice, and a Scorpio, when she heard the news of the adjusted calendar. "I'm a Scorpio and you can't change me."

"Nineteen years into life, you can't change someone's sign," said Kristine Cincotta, 19, undeclared, and a Pisces.

Ophiuchus has always been part of the constellations, said Mitch Haeri, an astronomy instructor at Saddleback, but the Babylonians took 13 signs as bad luck, and disregarded one sign.

"On paper, I am a Virgo," Haeri said. "However the current position of the sun says I am a Leo."

However, Ophiuchus as a zodiac sign only applies to those born after 2009. So most people seem to be safe from this new constellation. Additionally, horoscopes won't change. Scientists have known about this extra sign since 130 B.C., said Kunkle, clarifying his earlier statements in a later report to the Associated Press.

"I've been teaching this in my class for years," said James Repka, who is an instructor for Astronomy 20 as well as geology and earth science courses at Saddleback. "The axis makes a full circle (think of the ‘wobble' of a top) in about 26,000 years or about one degree every 72 years."

Therefore from the time 2,200 years ago, the earth was 30 degrees off from where it is now, he said. Western horoscopes are based on the equinox and not star constellations, and therefore remain unaffected. Those following Eastern astrology traditions aren't so unaffected, but the change in the zodiac is still under debate. As to why an astronomer is being taken so seriously concerning an astrological subject, it's probably because, "scientists know what they're talking about," Repka said.

"Astronomy is a science that studies they evolution and structure of the universe, while astrology is a belief system," he said. "Astrologers define the parameters of their field in whatever way they choose but it has nothing to do with the field of astronomy, except that they use some of the same terminology."

But for anyone still suspicious, http://www.livescience.com/widgets/birthday.html can help determine the true position of the constellations during your birth in order to identify your true sign.

Astronomy is science; the rest is gravy and mostly someone just not taking responsibility for their bad habits or bad luck or whatever.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Another Scum With a Scam

It really is hard to imagine and it boggles the mind that anyone falls for this crap. It is staggering to me that anyone regardless of social or fiduciary circles reads these and thinks, "Wow! I can really get rich fast!"

Especially in countries where you know that kind of capital (in this case a whopping U.S.$12.5 million) doesn't exist anywhere in it, and may not exist if you took the surround six countries and cobbled all of their money as well.

But people do shockingly fall for these get-rich-quick-easy scams.

Of course if you take the Girl Scouts and Band kids and regular school kids the adults running those shows are relentlessly trying to turn your sweet little pigtailed girl or sweet little dirt-covered boy into Amway people. This goes on all the time, especially in seasonal droves.

please read and reply

Dear Partner,

I am the Director in charge of Auditing section Bank of Africa(B.o a.)Ouagadougou Burkina-Faso in West Africa. Forgive my indignation if this message comes to you as a surprise. AS IT MAY INTEREST YOU TO KNOW, I GOT YOUR IMPRESSIVE INFORMATION THROUGH THE INTERNET SEARCH HERE IN OUAGADOUGOU BURKINA-FASO. I FASTED AND PRAYED BEFORE I CONTACT YOU TO BE MY

PARTNER. I have decided to contact you on a project that will be very beneficial to both of us. During our auditing in this Bank,I came across some amount of money belonging to a deceased foreigner Mr.Patrick Lokesh who died with his wife and their only daughter on 7th of Novermber 2002 in a plane crash.The fund has been dormant in his account with this Bank without any claim of the fund in our custody from his relation before my discovery to this development. He was a contractor here in my country burkinafaso as road builder but his nationality is Germany.

The said amount is U.S $12.5 million(TWELVE MILLION FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND UNITED STATES DOLLARS). FOR YOUR INFORMATION BEEN YOU NOT A German WILL NOT POSE ANY PROBLEM FOR THE SUCCESSFUL TRANSFER ON THIS FUND INTO YOUR ACCOUNT. All the whole arrangement to put claim over this fund as the Bonafide next of kin to the deceased has been put in place and directives will be relayed to you as soon as you indicate your interest and willingness to assist me in this great

business opportunity. the actual reason why i contacted you is because it required a second party or fellow who will forward claims as the next of kin to the Bank and also present a foreign account where he will need the

money to be re-transferred into on his request. The request of foreigner as next of kin in this business is occasioned by the fact that the customer was a foreigner and a Burkinabe cannot stand as next of kin. I dont want this money to go into the Bank treasury as unclaimed Bill. Be assured this transaction is 100% risk free.

On conclusion of this Project, you will be entitled to 40% of the total sum as gratification,while 60% will be for me.Please you have been adviced to keep top secret" as I am still in service and intend to retire from service after I conclude this deal with you. Please keep this proposal secret, even if you dont want to assist

I look forward to receive your urgent reply

Yours faithfully,

BEN ALI

Saturday, 22 January 2011

More Winter

I normally like the fact that there are four separate and distinct seasons where I live. But I have to admit that while winter is my least favourite, this one is getting particularly old...

The first snow storm came on 26 December.

It has been all downhill - on a sled out of control - from there.

I can still appreciate the beauty of the snow, but quite frankly, enough is enough. The first snow storm brought just about 30" of fluffy white snow. Fortuitously, we shut down for the Monday. I certainly wasn't going to attempt that mess.

The next one followed on 5 January, but not at the staggering amount the first one brought. Even so, I am not a fan of driving in snow. Let's just say I've seen far too many accidents to have any confidence. I know how to drive in snow (very slowly) but most of the drivers in New Jersey - especially those with SUVs - think they somehow get a pass on having to drive with any care or regard for others and completely turn into maniacs. Let them die on the road if they want. Not me. I want to see my 44th year.

The following storm was at the end of that week, followed by an ice storm on Tuesday. No, thanks! If snow makes the playing field more level, then ice makes it all bad. I didn't go anywhere for that one, either. And I will tell you something, I feel perfectly good about it. No regrets. I hate being stuck in the house, but stuck in the house beats stuck anywhere else. Like on the road, in the morgue - whatever.

Yesterday I braved the roads, sat on Routes 287 and 24 - took me 50 minutes to haul my bloody behind into work - and left at 1530. It was sunny in Springfield and snowing hard in Whippany and Parsippany. Groan.

And this week coming there is snow forecasted for Tuesday, Tuesday night and Wednesday. How AWEsome. More work missed. I don't care if it is only 6", I am not spending an hour trying to go to work. No one will miss me for one day. And no one is shy about reaching me at home if need be.

What does it tell you when I have given names to the icicles? The one on the corner of the house is Merve; the one outside my office window at work - which had become a stalactite - is Harvey. That's a sad state when I'm naming the icicles... And they had disappeared yesterday, but now they are back - last night it was 14 degrees; tonight it will be 7 degrees and 1 degree - that's right, one whole degree - tomorrow night. GROAN!

Still... I'm ready to skip the rest of winter, forego spring and skip straight to summer - no passing Go, no collecting $200 - just give me 90 degrees!

Slow Jam

As I look at the morning sky
Today the wind is blowing hard
See that bird is floating high
Pretty soon it will be tired
I spent a day all by myself
A rich man without his wealth
Sometimes I get it wrong
But I'm not the only one

The afternoon was very clear
The sun was beating down on me
I got thirsty for a beer
That I had to go to sea
The sea was very rough
It made me feel sick
But I like that kind of stuff
It beats arithmetic

I don't want the world to change
I like the way it is
Just give me one more wish
I can't get enough of this
When it gets to be alive
And not just still survive
To hit and not to miss
I can't get enough of this

The early evening mists
Look beautiful to me
Was sweeter than a kiss
I wish you all could see
I'm a long long way from home
But this photograph of you
Even though it's monochrome
Tells me what I should do
So I got up on my feet
I knew it would be alright
For my clothes were looking beat
In the middle of the night

I don't want the world to change
I like the way it is
Just give me one more wish
I can't get enough of this
When it gets to be alive
And not just still survive
To hit and not to miss
I can't get enough of this

I don't want the world to change
I like the way it is
Just give me one more wish
I can't get enough of this
When it gets to be alive
And not just still survive
To hit and not to miss
I can't get enough of this

I can't get enough of this
I can't get enough of this
I can't get enough of this
I can't get enough of this
I can't get enough of this
I can't get enough of this
I can't get enough of this
I can't get enough of this

Someone Like You

This can't be real
My heart is burning
How does it feel
Well, let's say I'm learning
It had to come
The ship has landed
It's time to run
The crew are stranded

We're having the time of our lives
We're lost in a cruel paradise

Someone like you
can make me feel like I used to do
Return my heart, yeah,
make it feel like it does at the start
Someone like you,
Someone like you, yeah

You're everything to me
The sweetest symphony
All that I try to be
You are my harmony
I guess what I mean to say
Is you keep the walls at bay
We're children on holiday
Here comes the crowd

We're having the time of our lives
We're lost in a cruel paradise

Someone like you
can make me feel like I used to do
Return my heart, yeah,
make it feel like it does at the start
Someone like you, yeah,
Someone like you, yeah

Crystal

We're like crystal, we break easy
I'm a poor man, if you leave me
I'm applauded, then forgotten
It was summer, now it's autumn

I don't know what to say,
you don't care anyway
I'm a man in a rage (just tell me what I've got to do),
with a girl I betrayed
Here comes love, it's like honey
You can't buy it with money,
you're not alone anymore,
(whenever you're here with me),
You shock me to the core,
you shock me to the core

We're like crystal, it's not easy
With your love, you could feed me
Every man, and every woman
Needs someone, So keep it coming
Keep it coming, keep it coming, keep it coming
Keep it coming, keep it coming, keep it coming
Keep it coming

I don't know what to say,
you don't care anyway
I'm a man in a rage (just tell me what I've got to do),
with a girl I betrayed
Here comes love, it's like honey
You can't buy it with money,
you're not alone anymore,
(whenever you're here with me),
You shock me to the core,
you shock me to the core

Keep it coming, keep it coming, keep it coming
Keep it coming, keep it coming, keep it coming
Keep it coming, keep it coming, keep it coming

Friday, 21 January 2011

60 Miles An Hour

I don't know if I told you, but I'm seeking Santeria
You'll never guess the things that I do
I'll have the devil round for tea
Don't you know that I'm here beside you
Can't you see that I can't relax
When I saw you in my rearview
You could've stopped me in my tracks

I'll be there for you when you want me to
I'll stand by your side like I always do
In the dead of night it'll be alright
'Cause I'll be there for you when you want me to

You can take me to an island, ride across the stormy sea
We can worship pagan idols, there together you and me
Why don't you run over here and rescue me?
You can drive down in your car
Why don't we both take a ride and turn that key
We'll drive at 60 miles an hour

I'll be there for you when you want me to
I'll stand by your side like I always do
In the dead of night it'll be alright
'Cause I'll be there for you when you want me to

I'll be there for you when you want me to
I'll stand by your side like I always do
In the dead of night it'll be alright
'Cause I'll be there for you when you want me to

I'll be there for you when you want me to
I'll stand by your side like I always do
In the dead of night it'll be alright
'Cause I'll be there for you when you want me to

I'll be there for you when you want me to
I'll stand by your side like I always do
In the dead of night it'll be alright
'Cause I'll be there for you when you want me to

New Order

Turn My Way

Take my hand
And don't let go
Trust this man
And let it flow

Don't take me down
Cause I'm not done
Don't steal my crown
Before it's won

The wide expanse
The wheel of chance
Will turn my way
The sky will not be gray

I don't wanna be like other people are
Don't wanna own a key, don't wanna wash my car
Don't wanna have to work like other people do
I want it to be free, I want it to be true

Take my hand
And don't let go
Trust this man
And let it flow

I drank in every bar in town
I filled my cup when I was down
I saw the things I wanted to see
Became the man I wanted to be

But then somehow I lost my way
I've got to get back there today

I don't wanna be like other people are
Don't wanna own a key, don't wanna wash my car
Don't wanna have to work like other people do
I want it to be free, I want it to be true

I don't wanna be like other people are
Don't wanna own a key, don't wanna wash my car
Don't wanna have to work like other people do
I want it to be free, I want it to be true

I don't wanna be like other people are
Don't wanna own a key, don't wanna wash my car
Don't wanna have to earn like other people do
I want it to be free, I want it to be true

I don't wanna be like other people are
Don't wanna own a key, Don't wanna wash my car
I lie awake at night, or wait until it's light
I want it to be free, I thought that I was right

Thought that I was right
Thought that I was right
Thought that I was right
Thought that I was right
Thought that I was right
Thought that I was right

New Order

ARTICLE: Change at Netflix Enrages Some Customers

Company announced earlier this week that they will be relying more on its streaming service, which caused user uproar.

Netflix is slowly phasing out its DVD mailing system, and its subscribers aren’t too happy about it. The company has predicted that in two years, they will be relying more on its “Watch Instantly” service instead of actual DVDs, Yahoo! Movies reports.

Earlier this week, Netflix’s director of product management Jamie Odell announced that the company would be “removing the ‘Add to DVD Queue’ option from streaming devices.” This was an indication that Netflix could “concentrate on offering you the titles that are available to watch instantly.” After the announcement was made, many users were angry about the sudden change.

One commenter wrote, “Clearly Netflix wants to send less discs through the mail, and therefore wants us to make it more difficult for the user to add their queue in furtherance of that.”

Another said, “Horrible idea! Especially when there are still few titles available for streaming and the titles that you do have, seem to have very narrow license windows.”

The most common reasons why users were upset were that they liked having access to physical discs and the lack of movies on “Watch Instantly.”

Though the company did not issue a formal response to users’ complaints, Netflix foresees that instant access is the direction the future is going, though it is mentioned in this report that if the new business model is successful, it could affect the country’s broadband.

According to Yahoo! Movies, the company announced in November that they would be offering a lower subscription rate for those who chose to purchase the streaming-only option.

Article: 18 Common Work E-mail Mistakes

Most of us rely on e-mail as one of our primary communication tools. And given the number of messages we send and receive, we do it with remarkable success.

But as with anything, the more e-mails we send, the more likely we are to screw one up. And simple e-mail mistakes can be disastrous. They can cost us a raise, promotion--even a job.

With a new year upon us, this is the perfect time to go through some of the worst e-mail mistakes employees make and how to avoid them.

1. Sending before you mean to. Enter the recipient's e-mail address only when your e-mail is ready to be sent. This helps reduce the risk of an embarrassing misfire, such as sending an important e-mail to the wrong person or e-mailing a half-written note.

2. Forgetting the attachment. If your e-mail includes an attachment, upload the file to the e-mail before composing it. This eliminates the embarrassing mistake of forgetting it before hitting "send," and having to send another e-mail saying you forgot to attach the document.

3. Expecting an instant response. Don't send an e-mail and show up at the recipient's desk 30 seconds later asking if they've received it. They did, and they'll answer at their convenience. That's the point of e-mail.

4. Forwarding useless e-mails. I've never seen a single e-mail forward at work that was beneficial. Whether it's a silly joke or a heartwarming charity, there's never a time to share an e-mail forward using your work e-mail.

5. Not reviewing all new messages before replying. When you return to the office after a week or more away, review all new e-mails before firing off responses. It might be hard to accept, but odds are, things did march on without you. Replying to something that was already handled by a co-worker creates extra communication, which can lead to confusion, errors, and at the very least, wasted time for everyone involved.

6. Omitting recipients when you "reply all." Unless there's an important reason to omit someone, don't arbitrarily leave people off the response if they were included on the original message.

7. Including your e-mail signature again and again. Nor do you need to include it at the end of an e-mail you send to your long-time co-worker who sits six feet away. If you have your e-mail program set to automatically generate a signature with each new message, take a second to delete it when communicating with someone who knows who you are. It's always wise to include your phone number, but the entire blurb with your title and mailing address is often nothing but clutter.

8. Composing the note too quickly. Don't be careless; write every e-mail as if it will be read at Saint Peter's Square during the blessing of a new Pope. Be respectful with your words and take pride in every communication.

9. Violating your company's e-mail policy. Many companies have aggressive spam filters in place that monitor "blue" language. From that famous four-letter word to simple terms, such as "job search," don't end up tripping the system by letting your guard down.

10. Failing to include basic greetings. Simple pleasantries do the trick. Say "hi" at the start of the message and "thanks" at the end. Be sure to use the recipient's name. Be polite yet brief with your courtesy.

11. E-mailing when you're angry. Don't do it. Ever. Recall buttons are far from a perfect science, and sending a business e-mail tainted by emotion is often a catastrophic mistake. It sounds cliche, but sleep on it. Save the message as a draft and see if you still want to send it the next morning.

12. Underestimating the importance of the subject line. The subject line is your headline. Make it interesting, and you'll increase the odds of getting the recipient's attention. Our inboxes are cluttered; you need to be creative and direct to help the recipient cut through the noise. You should consistently use meaningful and descriptive subject lines. This will help your colleagues determine what you're writing about and build your "inbox street cred," which means important messages are more likely to be read.

13. Using incorrect subject lines. Change the subject line if you're changing the topic of conversation. Better yet, start a new e-mail thread.

14. Sending the wrong attachment. If you double-check an attachment immediately before sending and decide that you need to make changes, don't forget to update the source file. Making corrections to the version that's attached to the e-mail does not often work, and it can lead to different versions of the same doc floating around.

15. Not putting an e-mail in context. Even if you were talking to someone an hour ago about something, remind them in the e-mail why you're writing. In this multi-tasking world of ours, it's easy for even the sharpest minds to forget what's going on.

16. Using BCC too often. Use BCC (blind carbon copy) sparingly. Even though it's supposed to be a secret, it rarely is. Burn someone once, and they'll never trust you again. Likewise, forwarding e-mail is a great way to destroy your credibility. When people send you something, they aren't expecting you to pass it on to your co-workers. The e-mail might make its way back to the sender, who will see that their original message was shared. They might not call you out on it, but they'll make a mental note that you can't be trusted.

17. Relying too much on e-mail. News flash! No one is sitting around staring at their Inbox waiting for your e-mail. If something is urgent, use another means of communication. A red "rush" exclamation point doesn't compare to getting up from your desk and conducting business in person.

18. Hitting "reply all" unintentionally. This is a biggie. And it's not just embarrassing; depending on what you wrote in that e-mail, it can ruin your relationship with a co-worker or even your boss. Take extra care whenever you respond so you don't hit this fatal button.

Now it's time to fess up: Are you guilty of any of these common work e-mail mistakes? Any you'd like to add to the list?

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

New Alabama Governor is NUTS!

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley told a church crowd just moments into his new administration that those who have not accepted Jesus as their savior are not his brothers and sisters, shocking some critics who questioned Tuesday whether he can be fair to non-Christians.

"Anybody here today who has not accepted Jesus as their savior, I'm telling you, you're not my brother and you're not my sister, and I want to be your brother," Bentley said Monday, his inauguration day, according to The Birmingham News.

The Anti-Defamation League on Tuesday called Bentley's remarks shocking. "His comments are not only offensive, but also raise serious questions as to whether non-Christians can expect to receive equal treatment during his tenure as governor," said Bill Nigut, the ADL's regional director.

Speaking at Dexter Avenue King Memorial Church after the official inaugural ceremony, Bentley told the crowd that he considered anyone who believed in Jesus to be his brothers and sisters regardless of color, but anyone who isn't a Christian doesn't have that same relationship to him. "If the Holy Spirit lives in you that makes you my brothers and sisters. Anyone who has not accepted Jesus, I want to be your brothers and sisters, too," Bentley said.

After his speech, Bentley said he did not mean to insult anyone. Responding to questions about it, Bentley's office released a statement Tuesday saying he believes "he is the governor of all of Alabama."

"The governor clearly stated that he will be the governor of all Alabamians — Democrat, Republican and Independent, young, old, black and white, rich and poor. As stated in his (inaugural) address, Gov. Bentley believes his job is to make everyone's lives better," the statement said.

Ashfaq Taufique, president of the Birmingham Islamic Society, told The Birmingham News he wasn't sure how Bentley's remarks were intended. "Does it mean that those who according to him are not saved are less important than those who are saved?" Taufique said. "Does he want those of us who do not belong to the Christian faith to adopt his faith? That should be toned down. That's not what we need. If he means that, I hope he changes it. We don't want evangelical politicians. They can be whatever in their private life."

The official with the Anti-Defamation League, which fights discrimination against Jewish people, said it sounded like Bentley was using the office of governor to advocate for Christian conversion. "If he does so, he is dancing dangerously close to a violation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which forbids government from promoting the establishment of any religion," Nigut said.

End Article

Wow. Lock up your daughters - this guy is completely crazy. And he was voted in! Did he manage to keep the fact that he is a religious fanatic under wraps throughout an entire campaign? Or did Alabamans vote for him anyway? Remember the beautiful laws of this land that state quite clearly the ideal of separation of church and state? Let's keep it that way, please. I would really hate to see extremists of any kind in a position to potentially wield a little too much power. I find the people on the Supreme Court a little frightening - I'm always nervous that some nut will get an inspiration and try to overturn Roe v. Wade, a wonderful and landmark decision that was the right decision.

Keep you rosary off my ovaries!

This guy would make me lose sleep at night. I would consider moving out of any state with a loser like this at the helm. This guy will not be fair or unbiased where those of other or no religion are concerned. Shame on him for not keeping religion out of his office. Shame on Alabamans for voting this tyrant in. Who knows, maybe you will get lucky and he will be run over by a #7 bus.

We can only hope.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

This Whole Astrology Thing: "Ophiuchus"

MINNEAPOLIS - It's a new year, and there's new Zodiac signs for many in 2011. Professor Parke Kunkle of the Minnesota Planetarium Society says the Zodiac has a date problem. If you imagine the Earth as a spinning top, the axis changes as it wobbles. 5,000 years later, it means the stars are not aligned, so those with a Libra horoscope are really a Virgo, and many others have a new Zodiac sign too.

“Right now its pointing this way, the North Star, but 3000 BC it was pointing differently,” Kunkle said. “Now things have moved and the sun is in a different constellation. We're about a whole constellation off." And don’t forget Ophiuchus, astrology’s orphan. "Ophiuchus has been a constellation for years and it just gets left out,” Kunkle said.

NEW ZODIAC SIGN CHART

Capricorn

January 20- to February 16

Aquarius
February 16 to March 11

Pisces
March 11 to April 18.

Aries
April 18 to May 13

Taurus
May 13 to June 21.

Gemini
June 21 to July 20

Cancer
July 20 to August 10

Leo
August 10 to September 16

Virgo
September 16 to October 30

Libra
October 30 to November 23

Scorpio
November 23 to November 29

Ophiuchus
November 29 to December 17

Sagittarius

December 17 to January 20 Betsy Blumenfeld of Mendota Heights, Minn. has been studying astrology for 30 years, and says most of the charting these days is done by computer. She also says most Western astrologers look not to the stars, but to the Earth.

For the astrologer and the astronomer, it seems the stars will never align -- the age-old battle between science and mysticism, and yet both keep looking. "I'm having a blast,” Kunkle said. “among other things it calls attention to astronomy."

Statement from Prof. Parke Kunkle, Minneapolis Community and Technical College and Minnesota Planetarium Society board member:

”In science we deal with a long tradition of fact based investigation. We are not in the business of interpreting the purported relation between the positions of planets and human affairs. The Earth spins and, like a toy top, the spin axis moves around, pointing in different directions. Today, Earth's spin axis points toward the pole star, Polaris. Around 3000 BC Earth's spin axis pointed toward Thuban. Wait 26,000 years and the north star will again be Thuban. Astronomers call this motion of the spin axis precession. About 130 BC, Hipparchus noticed that the Earth's spin axis had changed directions, so astronomers and astrologers have known about the Earth's precession for over 2000 years.

“But this means that if the sun was "in" a certain constellation on a particular date, it is in a different constellation on that date today. For example, the sun was in Pisces on March 1, 2000 BC but it is in Aquarius on March 1, 2011 AD."

I really have to laugh at this whole thing. I saw all kinds of crazed threads on Facebook the end of last week about the signs of the Zodiac and how they've all changed (I guess they have, but leaving out this one guy, Ophiuchus, is likely the big error. Astronomy knows that there are inconsistencies in planetary, stars and other space objects orbits and trajectories. Astrology, which as I keep saying is not a science, does not take this into account.

I love that the scientist who announced this, Dr. Kunkle, is having fun with this. He sounds like a really cool guy. My hat is off to him for looking the public right in the eye and telling us what the real story is with the heavens.

ARTICLE: Scientists warn California Could be Struck by Winter Super-storm

A group of more than 100 scientists and experts say in a new report that California faces the risk of a massive "superstorm" that could flood a quarter of the state's homes and cause $300 billion to $400 billion in damage. Researchers point out that the potential scale of destruction in this storm scenario is four or five times the amount of damage that could be wrought by a major earthquake.

It sounds like the plot of an apocalyptic action movie, but scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey warned federal and state emergency officials that California's geological history shows such "superstorms" have happened in the past, and should be added to the long list of natural disasters to worry about in the Golden State.

The threat of a cataclysmic California storm has been dormant for the past 150 years. Geological Survey director Marcia K. McNutt told the New York Times that a 300-mile stretch of the Central Valley was inundated from 1861-62. The floods were so bad that the state capital had to be moved to San Francisco, and Governor Leland Stanford had to take a rowboat to his own inauguration, the report notes. Even larger storms happened in past centuries, over the dates 212, 440, 603, 1029, 1418, and 1605, according to geological evidence.

The risk is gathering momentum now, scientists say, due to rising temperatures in the atmosphere, which has generally made weather patterns more volatile.

The scientists built a model that showed a storm could last for more than 40 days and dump 10 feet of water on the state. The storm would be goaded on by an "atmospheric river" that would move water "at the same rate as 50 Mississippi Rivers discharging water into the Gulf of Mexico," according to the AP. Winds could reach 125 miles per hour, and landslides could compound the damage, the report notes.

Such a superstorm is hypothetical but not improbable, climate researchers warn. "We think this event happens once every 100 or 200 years or so, which puts it in the same category as our big San Andreas earthquakes," Geological Survey scientist Lucy Jones said in a press release.

Federal and state emergency management officials convened a conference about emergency preparations for possible superstorms last week. You can read the whole report here.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Stars

I always find that when life is hard or I'm over-thinking things, I go outside and look at the night sky. You who have been a reader know this. It is grounding and beautiful. It gives me balance when I need it the most. And I need the grounding now as much as ever.

Last night I commented to Luis that the Moon was beautiful and was presaging bad weather. It had a halo around it. The halo is created by moisture in the air, high enough in the atmosphere to create a small rainbow surrounding the Moon. It's gorgeous but also explains why the Moon is invisible tonight, hidden by clouds. Luis was surprised - first he couldn't find it (I always know exactly where it is every day - a little scary. I also told everyone at the table on Friday night their hire dates... they were a little freaked out. Heh, heh, heh...); then he saw it and said, "Wow, there's a halo!"

I also told him when you see a crescent Moon hanging high in the night sky, it is fiction. The crescent Moon is a daytime phenomenon. The new Moon is a completely daytime creature. The waning Moon is an early morning creature that disappears quite fast. The waxing Moon is a nighttime creature and is only seen for the first couple days of reappearing low in the West as it sets. The new Moon is four or five days invisible and I hate it (although the saving grace is the rest of the sky is incredibly, delightfully visible).

I love seeing Orion in the night sky in the winter. He begins to appear low on the horizon in mid- to late autumn and he rises through the winter and then begins to wane as the Moon does in the early spring. Orion is a summer creature for the Southern hemisphere.

When I saw this, I thought this is perfect for this bit of writing:

Stars
How countlessly they congregate
O'er our tumultuous snow,
Which flows in shapes as tall as trees
When wintry winds do blow!--

As if with keenness for our fate,
Our faltering few steps on
To white rest, and a place of rest
Invisible at dawn,--

And yet with neither love nor hate,
Those stars like some snow-white
Minerva's snow-white marble eyes
Without the gift of sight.

Robert Frost

Saving Lives

When one saves a life, the last thing one wants to find themselves asking is, "Was this worth it?"

I find I ask more often than I like. It is one thing to bring back someone who had a heart attack that was a freaky thing. It is entirely another to bring back people who are 20-something or 30-something who helped themselves to get to this point with drugs. (Sadly, the drug of choice in Parsippany is heroin. This is a bigger death sentence than the usual drug choices.)

When you walk into a room to find a young person receiving CPR, it is shocking. When I did CPR on people who were in their 50s and up, it is fairly cut and dry. Overexertion leads to too much stress on the heart and someone who has been ignoring their health goes down. When we have a positive outcome, that person almost always goes on to use that second chance to really turn their lives into healthy, active living. It's amazing. And if you run into them on the street, you see a wholly different person.

The dead person we saw did end up having a positive outcome. I have mixed feelings, however. I know I should be feeling positive about it. Statistically, however, most people who ended up clinically dead from drugs (especially heroin) do it again. Usually they come up on the radar immediately after the first trip down Death Row. I've lived this already. And every time I go through this, I find myself asking again if we did something meaningful.

I will always do everything to in my power to save someone - we all do. If I become blase to this, it is time to quit. If I stop questioning things, well, then I'll be dead. So I guess this is normal. Which begs the question, "What is normal?" I can't be the only one who wonders if this was worthwhile. Right?

Here's looking at the positive outcome and hoping this person and everyone else uses that second chance to really grab life by the reigns and do everything to keep it.

I hope so.

Sea Fever

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
And a gray mist on the sea's face, and a gray dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way, where the wind's like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.

John Masefield

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

A World in White/Diet Stuff

I'm guilty.

I gripe and complain and say that now the snow has gotten old. But then in the midst of our third snowstorm in as many weeks, I'm caught up in and blown away by how lovely and quiet it all is. In the midst of life and insanity is a ghostly but lovely world blanketed in cold fluffy snow. It is staggeringly lovely.

All of the South Africans have bailed out of New Jersey to explore warmer climes; two are on a cruise ship through the Caribbean Seas, two re hiking through Arizona and the American Southwest and enjoying the desert views there. One has gone to Las Vegas and I don't recall what else is on the agenda. And my beloved friend, who loves to give me hugs, he is in either Las Vegas or has moved on to San Francisco (I did warn him that the Golden Gate Bridge is orange, not gold, in colour.)

It's undoubtedly nice to be out in warmer climates when the area you live in gets nailed with snowstorms on a regular basis. But still, I can't help but appreciate the beauty of the landscape outside.

The next morning:

Well, it is a winter wonderland. There is close to ten inches of snow, and the snow blower stopped working briefly. Not my kind of thing... I can't push the blower very hard and shoveling is - for me - quite out of the question. So I will be home and bored once again. I'm a big chicken, too lily-livered for driving on unsafe roads. (As far as I'm concerned, this makes me safe and alive, not terrified and slipping and sliding into work. I'm okay with that. I spoke to Joe this morning and he agreed that there is not much going on so stay home and safe. Good man!)

I did finally reach someone at work and she said she came from Summit (which is literally just down the road from work) and the roads were very slippery. That's good enough for me. I have a sports car and it will slide all over if on not completely clear roads. (The roads that I can see from the house, mine and behind us, the main drag (North Beverwyck Road) are messy and have very few people on it. Maybe it will clear up later...) But there is nothing I need to do that cannot wait until tomorrow.

Groan.

I have laundry to put away and I need to finish changing the drawer structure around in the bedroom. The way things are set up now, Luis has to walk to my side of the bed to get his clothes and I have to walk to the opposite side to get mine. It's weird. So I changed his underwear and socks to the smaller cabinet and took my underthings to the three smaller drawers on the low cabinet next to my side. His pants are still in the low piece on my side and my Under Armour, pajamas and pants are in his. So I will switch them today.

Luis also ordered $300 worth of (ugh) NutriSystem food. Considering there is a whole shelf in the back cabinet dedicated to the tons of MediFast (the more expensive, doctor-pushed form of SlimFast). Comes in vanilla, chocolate and strawberry sludge and could not be more disgusting if they put mud in it.

Then again...

I suppose if they made a concerted effort, they could conceivably make it worse. I should never doubt the human ability to screw things up. However, they have really made an effort with that band food that offers no meal of any size. And to add insult to injury, you still have supplement the crap you buy from them with plenty of from the grocery store - vegetables and fruit and maybe water.... it seems everything is in the format astronauts get their food. Solid, but no water. That would explain the box Luis handed me last night and said, "Shake this." I rattled it and very loosely inside has to be the teeniest dried up "hamburger" in the world. I rolled my eyes. GOOD LUCK WITH THAT!

So I need to clear a book shelf now to accommodate this. He - like every dopey fad dieter in the world who would seek the quick fix - has a gazillion excuses for why these things don't work. I find it amusing at this point, because I am not stopping his efforts. I may snicker to myself over this ridiculousness but it is the money he is spending on stuff I wouldn't call feed. I wouldn't feed it ta a dog and when's the last time anyone noted a dog for fussiness?

But I'll do it, and I will try be supportive, but I haven't the slightest doubt that he will leave it by the wayside and there will be $300 of tiny colour-coded boxes, bags, packets, tubs, etc. My comment?

Whatever....

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Another Long Night...

It isn't as bad as all that. Car 65 had their installation dinner tonight. I suspect all have left the actual event place by now (it is 01h10, quite late) but many times people love to keep a party going and go out somewhere after the formal event is over and party some more. So there may well be people out still having a fun time.

It was quite unusual. One call went out around 19h00 and one just went out about 15 - 20 minutes ago. Usually they have the luck of picking a night where the weather is terrible and sometimes crews have had to stay at the buildings to get out. We normally hold our dinners later in the season and don't get snowstorms, but as I recall, last year there was a horrendous rain storm complete with high winds and other insanity on our dinner night.

I love the installation parties, although I never partake in the drinking portion (I really hate the taste of alcohol). I kind of understand drinking, but I never understand drinking to the point of vomiting and feeling "under the weather" the following day. That seems... counter intuitive.

Oh, come on... doesn't it?

In the middle of this post at 01:15 we were called out. It was not a critical patient, so we went to the right address, waited semi-impatiently for the police to bring our person out to us (admittedly we love ambulatory patients - they are the best. And this patient was completely compliant, totally willing to cooperate, no worries. A very pleasant patient.

James is driving and I thought for one freaky moment I though I heard James say< "What! Divert?!" but I shook my head and went back to talking to the patient. The patient had the most amazing anti-smoking toy I have ever seen. It looks a lot my roller-ball pens that I use; it is slender, all black with a small silver band around the later 2/3 of the device. Apparently, those teeny cartridges carry the equivalent of a carton of cigarettes, not a pack. It still has nicotine, the main ingredient with the addictive quality, but it does not have the carcinogens that would eventually speed up one's demise.

We ended up going with the lesser of the two evils: he did not know St. Barnabas and after painting a rather grim picture of how bad it can be there, Claire's was fine and we were relived. Especially, the patient. He would have gotten whatever immediate care he needed, but not gotten a bed in Psych until 30 hour had elapsed.

Happy Holidays!

Two Tramps in Mud Time

By Robert Frost

TWO TRAMPS IN MUD TIME

Out of the mud two strangers came
And caught me splitting wood in the yard,
And one of them put me off my aim
By hailing cheerily "Hit them hard!"
I knew pretty well why he had dropped behind
And let the other go on a way.
I knew pretty well what he had in mind:
He wanted to take my job for pay.

Good blocks of oak it was I split,
As large around as the chopping block;
And every piece I squarely hit
Fell splinterless as a cloven rock.
The blows that a life of self-control
Spares to strike for the common good,
That day, giving a loose my soul,
I spent on the unimportant wood.

The sun was warm but the wind was chill.
You know how it is with an April day
When the sun is out and the wind is still,
You're one month on in the middle of May.
But if you so much as dare to speak,
A cloud comes over the sunlit arch,
A wind comes off a frozen peak,
And you're two months back in the middle of March.

A bluebird comes tenderly up to alight
And turns to the wind to unruffle a plume,
His song so pitched as not to excite
A single flower as yet to bloom.
It is snowing a flake; and he half knew
Winter was only playing possum.
Except in color he isn't blue,
But he wouldn't advise a thing to blossom.

The water for which we may have to look
In summertime with a witching wand,
In every wheelrut's now a brook,
In every print of a hoof a pond.
Be glad of water, but don't forget
The lurking frost in the earth beneath
That will steal forth after the sun is set
And show on the water its crystal teeth.

The time when most I loved my task
The two must make me love it more
By coming with what they came to ask.
You'd think I never had felt before
The weight of an ax-head poised aloft,
The grip of earth on outspread feet,
The life of muscles rocking soft
And smooth and moist in vernal heat.

Out of the wood two hulking tramps
(From sleeping God knows where last night,
But not long since in the lumber camps).
They thought all chopping was theirs of right.
Men of the woods and lumberjacks,
The judged me by their appropriate tool.
Except as a fellow handled an ax
They had no way of knowing a fool.

Nothing on either side was said.
They knew they had but to stay their stay
And all their logic would fill my head:
As that I had no right to play
With what was another man's work for gain.
My right might be love but theirs was need.
And where the two exist in twain
Theirs was the better right--agreed.

But yield who will to their separation,
My object in living is to unite
My avocation and my vocation
As my two eyes make one in sight.
Only where love and need are one,
And the work is play for mortal stakes,
Is the deed ever really done
For Heaven and the future's sakes.

Friday, 7 January 2011

Eat Pray Love

I'm not sure I don't have a post called this already, but Luis (quite surprisingly) added the movie Eat Pray Love to the NetFlix lit. While I give Luis credit for being able to sit through some "chick flicks" (he may even sit through more than I can - I find too many of them insipid and terribly uninspiring), this proved to be too much - i.e. too slow - even for him. But I was not unhappy with the movie.

This is a surprise for me, as normally I am quite the purist when it comes to movies based on books. I realise it is rather impossible to put an entire book into a movie format unless the books are the size of C.S. Lewis' Narnian Chronicles, which even then was screwed up completely by the incompetent who did The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, which I had looked forward to in a big way and was so disappointed by the finished product. It is the best book in the series and the company that bought the rights from Disney Films did not follow the book in any fashion and did it on a cut budget. (I will give credit however to the actors and actresses and of course the wonderful voice talents of Liam Neeson as Aslan for an excellent performance. They were great.)

Eat pray Love was an incredible book and to put the true anguish of the ending of a marriage and a poor following relationship would have alone been impossible - this was the first full chapter of the book and to go through it with the author was a different experience - as only personal despair can be - from the scenes included in the movie. Her journey through the eating in Italy, the true finding of God and self in India and the experience of love and fulfillment in Indonesia, however, were done rather well, given the limitations of transferring a book to a film format. I have to give credit where it is due - it was very well done.

I have no doubt that the second book, Commitment, will also be put to film... and in some ways it will translate well but in many ways it will not. A large part of this book is history of love and marriage and varies facets of those topics. It will not make it into a movie format and it is key to the book. The understanding of marriage is far more than just the fluff that one can put into a film.

Not all movies are disappointing although admittedly I am a more harsh critic than most.

I was extremely happy with the remake of The Clash of the Titans. Not only did they follow well the original more campy film from 1981 with Harry Hamlin as Perseus, but Sam Worthington (of Avatar fame) was an excellent choice for the new Perseus. And I do think very highly of Ramin Djawadi's music skills. He also did the music for Iron Man, another excellent remake. Even Iron Man II was very well done. When's the last time a second movie to anything was good?

Luis sat through the new Tron movie. I'm not sure how, although I never could get through the first film from the 1970s. And except for flashy technology, the movie had nothing to offer. It was given a half a star out of a possible four-star rating - the poorest rating I have ever seen. The movie's only appeal was to former Tron fans and the technology. That wasn't enough to pass muster for me when it came to Avatar, which had an annoyingly preachy story that was underdeveloped and acceptable acting and rested solely on its technological merits. Had the story been better developed, it would have been a top movie.

He wants to go see the Jack Black movie based on Gulliver's Travels, which is neither my kind of book nor my kind of movie. Jack Black is infamous for playing the fool and I hate movies like that. I'd rather not see that. I don't know that there are any movies coming out that I'd want to see... maybe The King's Speech with Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush, two of my favourite British actors. A well-done historical movie is a delight.

There are movies I want on my Amazon list: Despicable Me, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian and whenever it comes out, Tangled (always a fan of Pixar films). There are also plenty of soundtracks as well. Always give me music!

From Barter to Money to Credit

Stop it! I'm not having monetary problems - outside my normal mode of spending, which is inordinate but not crazy. No. I was in the shower, doing my normal ruminant type thinking and I was thinking about addictions, then an e-mail from Senator Menendez about a tax credit (which is a bad idea) and then got to thinking about money and how it all began.

In the simplest terms, it began as theft, then barter, then money and then credit. I would have to say that the invention of credit is where we really went wrong as a race, but that is another topic.

In more detail, which is the only kind of thinking for me, theft had to be first. It just makes sense. If one tribe had something your tribe didn't, you'd pick a fight and procure it. So in actual fact, procurement came first. Whether it was theft-related procurement or legal or polite procurement, it was still procurement.

Then we moved up to barter - at least that way, you weren't picking off the members of your group, because you want to have numbers. So bartering became a better means of doing business. It cut down on deaths and kept everyone happy. And then at some point, someone came up with money.

I'd have to look up the history of money. OK, here it is. Money first came up as a term in Mesopotamia on 3,000 BCE (BCE is before common era - none of that Before Christ and Ano Domini crap for me, thank you). Here's what Wikipedia has:

"The use of barter-like methods may date back to at least 100,000 years ago, though there is no evidence of a society or economy that relied primarily on barter. Instead, non-monetary societies operated largely along the principles of gift economics. When barter did occur, it was usually between either complete strangers or potential enemies.

Many cultures around the world eventually developed the use of commodity money. The shekel was originally a unit of weight, and referred to a specific weight of barley, which was used as currency. The first usage of the term came from Mesopotamia circa 3000 BC. Societies in the Americas, Asia, Africa and Australia used shell money – often, the shells of the money cowry (Cypraea moneta L. or C. annulus L.). According to Herodotus, the Lydians were the first people to introduce the use of gold and silver coins. It is thought by modern scholars that these first stamped coins were minted around 650–600 BC.

The system of commodity money eventually evolved into a system of representative money.[citation needed] This occurred because gold and silver merchants or banks would issue receipts to their depositors – redeemable for the commodity money deposited. Eventually, these receipts became generally accepted as a means of payment and were used as money. Paper money or banknotes were first used in China during the Song Dynasty. These banknotes, known as "jiaozi" evolved from promissory notes that had been used since the 7th century. However, they did not displace commodity money, and were used alongside coins. Banknotes were first issued in Europe by Stockholms Banco in 1661, and were again also used alongside coins. The gold standard, a monetary system where the medium of exchange are paper notes that are convertible into pre-set, fixed quantities of gold, replaced the use of gold coins as currency in the 17th-19th centuries in Europe. These gold standard notes were made legal tender, and redemption into gold coins was discouraged. By the beginning of the 20th century almost all countries had adopted the gold standard, backing their legal tender notes with fixed amounts of gold.

After World War II, at the Bretton Woods Conference, most countries adopted fiat currencies that were fixed to the US dollar. The US dollar was in turn fixed to gold. In 1971 the US government suspended the convertibility of the US dollar to gold. After this many countries de-pegged their currencies from the US dollar, and most of the world's currencies became unbacked by anything except the governments' fiat of legal tender and the ability to convert the money into goods via payment."

So there it is. What I do know is that money was not "unionised" until the early 1900s. In the early part of the 1700s each colony had its own form of legal tender. Up until we took in California, each state had its own bank notes. During the Civil War, the southern states had their own form of money, and the northern states had theirs. In the early 1900s, money did become unionised to the nation but the bank notes were huge. In 1921, they changed the plates to the money we had until the mid-1990s, when we began to add colour to our legal tender.

Unfortunately, we also no longer have our money backed up. Until recently, within my lifetime, gold backed up the U.S. monetary system. Fort Knox had the gold that gave United States money its value. That is no longer the case. And we keep printing valueless money. Welcome to the United States, land of the free, home of the brave and soon to be totally destitute country - because of morons like Menendez.

There is no cure for this kind of recession. There is no stop-gap fix for this. And tax is another word for income - this is how the government earns money. The term may be different but the result is not - this is income. And if the government is cutting its income, this will not help. And besides, I know - personally - all the people who will pay for this. My husband, my coworkers and the people we cater to. Why do that? Why nail the high-income workers? Why do they bear the onus of paying for everyone else's lives?

I'm incensed.

Ten years ago if you had asked me about this, I would have been one of those truly ignorant people who said that the rich should pay for the poor. And maybe there is some truth to that. Not that they should pay completely for anyone's lives, but that when it comes to the truly needy and those under the poverty level, there is an onus on the rest of us - all of us - to help. But this loser (who as a Senator, will never pay anything for his or his family's healthcare and hardly works full time and is getting tax breaks written into law) wants to have the wealthy pay for middle-income people. Is it their faults that we are having a world-class recession? I think not. I will be the first to tell you that they pay - greatly - for taxes. More than most people earn. You don't really think that this has no effect, do you? That wealthy people aren't appalled when they see what happens to their pay checks? Why should they and they alone carry the weight?

What you don't know is that the wealthy get that way because they work their asses off! Granted, the news only shows the sleazy people of the world in it. But 95% of them are just good people, who know their shit and are really, really good at what they do. They shouldn't have to pay for the rest of us. And Menendez, your meddling with the taxes will NOT help this. Just leave it alone.

Now.