Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
comic strip overdue media

Saturday, August 29, 2009

I should never do that again

After work I went to Kroger's to pick up a few things for a friend and for myself. I brought two canvas totes. Normally I just get one of those little baskets when I'm going to be walking home, but no, I got a cart. The good news is that everything fit in those two totes. The bad news is they were about 25-30 lbs each and I was walking about 1/4 of a mile across three roads, inching my way a little at a time. I have tendonitis in both ankles and in my right elbow, so this made for painful and slow going, but I was determined. It took me the better part of a half an hour, but now I'm home and I'm eating some of the bounty. Next time I decide to do this, I need to bring the granny cart with me. That would have made things so much easier. Fortunately there's not much to take to my friend tomorrow on the bus. I was able to get some Thai and Indian packages of food, something a little different from my norm, plus I found a big bag of soft pretzels (my current favourite snack food. And no, I didn't get ice cream. I debated on getting some no sugar added/low-fat ice cream, but most of it looked freezer burnt so I just gave up on the idea, and decided I didn't need it anyway. The only sweet thing I got was orange juice. Go, me!

Look to the stars

Cory Gross at Voyages Extraordinaires has an excellent post on the 400th anniversary of Galileo's demonstration of the telescope, just past. Check it out (it has several links to follow), along with this video 'Ginga' ('Galaxy') by Misia, the official theme song for the Japanese International Year of Astronomy committee, for the magic we have when looking at the stars. Thanks, Cory.

Good - more states should do this

Driven to Distraction: Utah Gets Tough With Texting Drivers
The new law, which took effect in May, penalizes a texting driver who causes a fatality as harshly as a drunken driver who kills someone. In effect, a crash caused by such a multitasking motorist is no longer considered an “accident” like one caused by a driver who, say, runs into another car because he nodded off at the wheel. Instead, such a crash would now be considered inherently reckless.

“It’s a willful act,” said Lyle Hillyard, a Republican state senator and a big supporter of the new measure. “If you choose to drink and drive or if you choose to text and drive, you’re assuming the same risk.”

Studies show that talking on a cellphone while driving is as risky as driving with a .08 blood alcohol level — generally the standard for drunken driving — and that the risk of driving while texting is at least twice that dangerous. Research also shows that many people are aware that the behavior is risky, but they assume others are the problem.

There's a lot of uncertainty of how to prove a person was texting (there's no simple test like a Breathalyser for alcohol, and privacy issues come into play when you start subpoenaing cell phone records, and you may not be able to determine the difference between a call and a text, which at the moment is being treated differently in Utah.) The young man whose case prompted the law, who did take responsibility for his actions but was sentenced before the law went into effect, plead 'guilty to two counts of negligent homicide, but his record will be cleared if he fulfills the sentence imposed by the judge. It included 30 days in jail, 200 hours of community service, and a requirement that he read “Les Misérables” to learn, like the book’s character Jean Valjean, how to make a contribution to society.' The new law calls for a punishment for texting and driving of up to three months in jail and up to a $750 fine, a misdemeanor. But if texting causes an injury or death, the punishment can grow to a felony and up to a $10,000 fine and 15 years in prison.

It's a step in the right direction. Maybe it will make people think.

Oh :(

'Reading Rainbow' Reaches Its Final Chapter
Even if you can't remember a specific Reading Rainbow episode, chances are, the theme song is still lodged somewhere in your head:

Butterfly in the sky, I can go twice as high,
Take a look, it's in a book — Reading Rainbow ...

Remember now?

Reading Rainbow comes to the end of its 26-year run on Friday; it has won more than two-dozen Emmys, and is the third longest-running children's show in PBS history — outlasted only by Sesame Street and Mister Rogers.

The show, hosted by LeVar Burton has become a victim not only to the recession--several hundreds of thousands of dollars were needed to renew its broadcast rights, and no one ponied up the money--but also a change of philosophy that started under the Bush administration for focusing on the nuts-and-bolts of reading, how to read, rather than developing a love of reading, which is what 'Reading Rainbow' was all about. As the content director for the series' home station put it '"Reading Rainbow" taught kids why to read.'

LeVar Burton once said, 'I think reading is part of the birthright of the human being. It's just such an integral part of the human experience — that connection with the written word.' I agree. And I'm saddened that teaching children to love reading is no longer part of the focus for public television, because even though you can give a child phonics and spelling and all the rest, it's what they do with it that matters, and some will never care, but for others, reading will be a lifelong joy.

Thoughts for Teressa

who's 20 year-old son Robert is deploying to Afghanistan as I write. May he come back to her, to his little girl, and do some good along the way. You are all in my prayers.

Breathtaking walls of greenery

A French botanist, Patrick Blanc, designs beautiful landscapes that climb building walls. See his work at:

8-Story Antigravity Forest Facade Takes Root
Blanc's recently completed facade for the Athenaeum hotel in London...could be his most high-profile project yet. Looming over Green Park, it's an eight-story antigravity forest composed of 12,000 plants.

Okay, so the writer doesn't really understand the word antigravity, but the pictures are beautiful and the varied microclimates are challenging. Blanc seems a master in his chosen area, uninterested in normal garden plots. As he puts it, 'I leave horizontal gardens to others. I only think vertically.'

Lift off!!!

Patch for STS-128
I just watched the liftoff of Discovery for STS-128, the 128th shuttle mission. It was beautiful, seemingly flawless. There are just six more space shuttle missions left, according to a commenter at spacevidcast.com. Discovery is celebrating 25 years in space. I have only seen the shuttle once in person--when Enterprise, the prototype, was on Boeing 747s and a scaffolding out at Edwards Air Force Base in the late 70s. I always wanted to see a fully-functional shuttle land or lift-off, but I had moved by the time the space shuttles got into space, and oddly enough the only southern state I've never set foot into is Florida. Still, I'm glad that NASA shows the video on the their website.

For more on the mission, check out the NASA page for the Space Shuttle. You can also check out the Wikipedia page.

Here's wishing the crew good luck and safe flying for the rest of the mission.

PS Check out Wired.com's look at the weirdest NASA mission patches.

A good visual

concerning special interests and their myths of rationed health care, from the AARP.

For more information, check out Health Action Now!

Friday, August 28, 2009

What a day

Today I watched the following with a friend, being off both jobs:

The Prophecy
The Prophecy II
The Prophecy III: The Ascent
The Prophecy IV: Uprising
The Prophecy V: Forsaken
'Doctor Who: The Girl in the Fireplace'

Whew! All were fun, even excellent. The Prophecy movies are actually true to Christian theology in terms of what angels are like, rather than the cutesy things people seem to think they are today. I love how technology thwarted them. The third movie had the best line of the series: 'You're keeping me alive because you don't know DOS?' Push was remarkably good, complex, and exciting. And I cried over the Doctor's lost love.

I thought the cabbie would never find me and I believe he was texting as he drove, but I'm not sure. It's good to be home now, however. I'm pretty sleepy after the marathon, and all my joints are aching a bit, so I think it's ibuprofen to the rescue and then a good night's sleep.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Okay, a revision

Sometime while I'm off:

  • Straighten up the house a bit.
  • Take out the trash.
  • Clean out the refrigerator.
  • Do some dishes.
  • Go to the library--one of my books is due.
  • Get laundry money.

I slept, got my credit score, blogged, read, went to work, but never got around to doing anything useful. But today was day 1, and that's always the catch-up day. Tomorrow's the marathon but I might be able to get up early and do some of it, especially as the exterminator is coming.

Good night.

Wonder what it was?

(Chongqing Evening Photo)
UFO hovers over Chongqing for half an hour

There's got to be some explanation: balloon, experimental aircraft, extraterrestrial ship, whatever. But Sunday night hundreds of people watched the silent object for a half hour, comparing its altitude with a commercial jet and discovering it to be much higher.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Oh, I so hope everything works out alright for this family

Baby's survival being called a miracle

Campbell Brielle Anglin, although very tiny and only a couple of days old, has already defeated some pretty amazing odds. Her parents have been trying to have a child for several years, suffered a miscarriage 6 months before this pregnancy, only to be told that the pregnancy was a twin molar one and likely to terminate on its own. The mother's complications were so great that Monday they took the baby by caesarean at 27 weeks gestation (that's 9 weeks early), but she was thought to be dead. Only once she was held by her parent did she start crying and they realised that she was alive. It was truly a miracle.

She still has an uphill battle, of course, and she's so tiny her father's wedding ring fits around her leg, but she's already been through a lot. I wish her and her family well.

Yay, vacation, sort of!

Today starts my vacation from the hospital, although I have to work at the store at 3 pm. I slept in and then went online, checked my automatic deposit from the store, and got my credit report, which was grim but nowhere near as bad as I thought it would be. So I have a starting point for paying off my debt. Then I had to fix my cell phone, which didn't go off this morning to wake me up. Turns out I'd accidentally put the electrical plug into the ear phone jack briefly yesterday and it somehow got it stuck so the speaker wouldn't work, meaning that the alarm did try to go off but the phone must have just vibrated. I'm glad it was fixable. Must watch that in the future. Now I'm eating some tuna and applesauce, which is practically the only food in the house. It's a good thing that I'm getting paid today and tomorrow at both jobs.

On the agenda for today:

  • Straighten up the house a bit.
  • Take out the trash.
  • Clean out the refrigerator.
  • Do some dishes.
  • Read.
  • Go to the library--one of my books is due.
  • Get laundry money.
  • Go to work.


  • Go to Kroger, get snacks.
  • Go to friend's house on the bus so I'm there by 10 am.
  • Have a Prophecy movie marathon (five movies).
  • Come back on bus or by cab if the bus isn't running that late.

Friday I need to do some laundry and possibly get with someone I haven't seen in a couple of months. Then I work Friday night. Saturday I work 2-10. Sunday's the game. Monday is wonderful Indian food for a friend's birthday.

That's pretty much my vacation. Improving my life, spending time with friends, that's what it's all about.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I don't know if it will make it on American TV, but it should

A Welsh public service announcement is controversial due to the graphic nature of the video, but it's absolutely the best way to impress upon teens and others the dangers of texting whilst driving.

For information about the controversy:

Is PSA about texting while driving too graphic?: New spot aimed at teens portrays a bloody automobile accident in detail

To view the entire video [warning it is both graphic and realistic, and it's meant to be]

Bravo to the Gwent police of Wales for having this video made, and to Peter Watkins-Hughes who directed it. As you may recall, I related an incident where a boy was killed in Glasgow (here in Kentucky) when his friend was texting on her cell phone, ran a stop sign, and a semi truck hit the car. This is a growing problem. Apparently texting and e-mailing on a phone or other device makes it 23 times more likely that there will be an accident, according to the Today show video above.

Every teen should be shown this video.

Please think before you text.

Haven't done one of these in a while

A Wordle cloud:


People who have backgrounds in classical and ancient history (well, any kind of historical studies) should probably not watch television. (Of course, then they'd miss things like 'Heroes'.) The History Channel itself is egregious in 1) promoting shows that have nothing to do with history [like 'Monster Quest] or 2) presenting bad or dumbed-down history. Which is why I thought I'd give Discovery a whirl tonight.

Tonight I was watching Discovery's 'Cleopatra: Portrait of a Killer', which was overall very entertaining and interesting, but then at the end they wrapped it all up neatly by indicating that Cleopatra had eliminated her siblings and then herself, in essence ending the Ptolemaic line.

They totally ignored her children. One, which she purportedly had with Caesar, was co-ruler for awhile and after her death was proclaimed pharaoh. He was captured and executed on orders of Octavian (later known as Augustus Caesar). That is the true end of the Ptolemaic dynasty in Aegypt, and Pharaonic Aegypt in general. But there may be descendants of Cleopatra out there, for she had three other children with Mark Antony, who were given into the care of Antony's former wife (and Octavian's sister) after the deaths of their parents. It is unknown whether the boys survived to adulthood; it is thought they died of illness prior to their sister's marriage. But the sister settled with her husband in Mauretania and ruled there. She in turn had two children, a boy and a girl, although I think after that the descendants become difficult to trace. Her son ruled Mauretania after his father's death and was murdered on orders of Caligula, after producing a daughter.

I guess that's the appeal of true history--it's never something you can really wrap up in an hour and there's lots of loose ends that can be fascinating.

Still, the show was very interesting, talking about the life and death of Cleopatra's younger sister, Arsinoë, who had been held hostage by Caesar, escaped, and then led a rebellion that routed the Romans from the Pharos of Alexandria and nearly cost Caesar his life. She was later captured, paraded in shame in Rome, and exiled to the Temple of Artemis in Ephesos, an ancient place of sacrosanct sanctuary which was violated when she was dragged from the Artemisium and murdered. At the time Mark Antony was in charge of the province that included Ephesos. The show follows an investigation into a tomb that was situated inside the city limits (rare in ancient times) of a woman (rare still), found in the 1920s and studied further with forensic techniques. The belief is that this woman was Arsinoë, whose tomb was shaped in a way reminiscent of the Pharos. The bones matched the gender and age. A skull model was reconstructed from photos taken at the time of the first excavation (the original was lost during World War II) and using computers a face was put onto it to give a sense of what Arsinoë, and perhaps to some degree, Cleopatra, looked like.

They also included a small shot of a horned viper, one of several snakes sometimes called an asp, which is supposed to be the manner of Cleopatra's suicide. (Personally I vote for the Aegpytian cobra as the manner of her demise; it is fitting given its link to the royal family and is also sometimes called an asp, which simply means poisonous snake anyway.) This was timely as in the game yesterday (we're set in the Sudan, which was Upper Aegypt in ancient times, at the moment), we were attacked by magical asps that managed to bite my character as she fought the evil cultists, leaving her pretty close to death until she put herself into a stasis-like trance. I came across a video of a Field's Horned Viper which pretty much reminded me of what I was visualising at the time, although this particular snake is not native to Africa (but then do magical venomous snakes HAVE to be???) It is a Pseudocerastes; the African ones are the Cerastes themselves. The embedding is disabled, but the video's interesting, if for no other reason than the man doing closeups on a venomous snake with the cage open. Don't watch if you're ophidiophobic.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Okay, the calendar's really a little different

(there being a few days discrepancy between Julian and Gregorian calendars), but let's say for simplicity's sake that today, August 24th, is the anniversary of the eruption of Mt Vesuvius that buried Pompeii and Herculaneum [see below for more on that]. Pliny the Elder died during the eruption (although it may have been a stroke or heart attack, rather than directly caused by the volcano), and his nephew Pliny the Younger was an eye-witness to the eruption from some distance away.

One strange thing, an historical puzzle:
Date of the eruption
The eruption of AD 79 was documented by contemporary historians and is universally accepted as having started on 24 August. However the archeological excavations of Pompeii suggest that the town was buried a couple of months later. For example, people buried in the ash appear to be wearing warmer clothing than the light summer clothes that would be expected in August. The fresh fruit and vegetables in the shops are typical of October, and conversely the summer fruit that would have been typical of August was already being sold in dried, or conserved form. Wine fermenting jars had been sealed over, and this would have happened around the end of October. The coins found in the purse of a woman buried in the ash include a commemorative coin that should have been minted at the end of September. So far there is no definitive theory as to why there should be such an apparent discrepancy.

The source listed for the above is:
Grete Stefani (October 2006). "La vera data dell'eruzione" Archeo (260): 10–14.


Oh, dear, I wonder how that will pan out

Shifting the Right of Way to the Left Leaves Some Samoans Feeling Wronged - Government Calls Traffic-Rule Switch 'Common Sense,' but It Sparks Road Rage

What to do when your leader decides to switch what side of the road you drive on in your country? For some, protests are in order. The pros and cons: By switching to the left, Samoa (not American Samoa, but just plain Samoa) aligns itself with Australia and New Zealand driving practices and makes it easier to acquire vehicles from relatives overseas. But that also means that demand for vehicles designed for driving on the right will plummet, making owners of those cars--often shipped to the island nation at great expense--unable to sell them. But the biggest con of all is that people are simply not going to follow the new rules consistently, and Samoa's already dangerous roads are going to turn deadly.
One recent Sunday morning, a bus was seen barreling down the right side of the road in the training area, the driver apparently oblivious to the fact that it was the wrong side. After nearly running head-on into a sport-utility vehicle, the bus driver swerved then returned to the wrong side of the road and chugged on.

Signs will only go so far, I'm guessing. I wish them luck in the change. They're going to need it.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Guild is at it again, and they're having a lot of fun

I'd heard about this on Twitter, but had not seen it until YKWIA showed us today at the game. Music and direction by Jed Whedon (Joss' brother), lyrics by Felicia Day, and a host of great talent. One of the dancers was a groupie and lyricist for Dr Horrible, too. And I must say, Felicia Day is hot in that outfit.... :)

Feeling much better

I know I sounded morose and well, rather pathetic yesterday, when I didn't feel well and was sitting around moping. A friend rightly pointed out that since I've been on the bus, I've had more time at home (since I can't be out at all hours anymore), and so I have more time to think about my life and situation. He also pointed out that I probably had PMS, which is dead on. But I feel much better today.

Today started out rough, though. I missed the bus by about 2 minutes, watching it go down the street while I was still a few hundred yards away from the bus stop (and I had not crossed the street yet, so there was no chance to flag it down). Then as I sat for an hour waiting for the next bus and watching the sun come up, I got really nauseous. One of my medicines can really upset your stomach, but I'd eaten so I thought that was enough. No such luck. I wound up vomiting up some clear liquid twice at the stop. At least I didn't lose the whole contents of my stomach, but I felt pretty ill. After a little while, though, it settled down. The stomach issues are definitely on the agenda when I go to Dr Nesbitt next month, along with my blood sugar. One really shouldn't have morning sickness without being pregnant, and I know that's not the case--I haven't experienced any showers of gold, strange animals, or other signs of divine intervention at all.

I didn't get all the game preparations done, but I did have a good visit with the game master before the others arrived. We played late tonight, and it was a good game, although my character was bitten by asps three times during an action scene in which she killed the cultists summoning the magical snakes, and had to go into a sort of stasis to save herself, so for all intents and purposes she is dead to the world and out of the adventure for now.

After the game, we did a amazingly quick grocery run courtesy of Brenda and her truck, and then she brought me home. Now I'm all comfy, eating a couple of soft pretzels and listening to meditative music on cable.

I'm taking some time off from the hospital this week, and I'm looking forward to both spending some time on my own and with friends. I'm having such a hard time getting up in the morning lately and have just been dragging. That may be partly blood sugar, but I think I need a break as well. I'm still working at the store, though. Plans include a Prophecy movie marathon and taking a friend and his husband out for Indian food. So that should be fun.

I also need to read a book that I have out that's due the 26th. It's one of the Sookie Stackhouse books and they're hard to renew because people put them on hold (that's what I do, for that matter). I accidentally ordered two at the same time, but received them out of order, and I haven't had a chance to read them yet. I haven't been taking a lunch at work (my main reading time) to make up for having to catch the bus early. I had to turn the latter of the two in today, but still have time to read the other one. I wish I could read on the bus, but it makes me motion sick.

Okay, that's all for now. I'm going to go catch up on my subscriptions on YouTube.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

This is where

my grandfather kept trying to get me to apply for librarian positions that came up over the years.

Rioting inmates set Kentucky prison ablaze: Flames, smoke visible for miles as several buildings are damaged

Danville is my hometown; Northpoint Training Centre is just a few miles outside of town near Burgin. My grandfather wanted me to live with them and work out at the prison. He never understood my reluctance. Hmpf. I'm not tough enough to be a prison librarian.

I'm feeling sad and lonely tonight

and more than a little psycho and yet not up to connecting with the people I do have in my life tonight.

I have a very small social circle within which I operate. As far as family, I have my mother and grandmother, although there's baggage there. My father and I haven't spoken with one another since 1993. My aunts, uncles, and cousins live elsewhere. My family was never really large, but consisted of great-grandparents and grandparents now gone, so in terms of a family connexion things are getting a little slim, and it's not like I went out and started a family of my own for any continuity, like most people do.

I do have two very good friends, one of whom I've known for over twenty years, and some really decent acquaintances. I wouldn't trade my friendships for the world.

I guess what's bothering me is that I don't have anyone in my life that I'm in love with, that I share my life with, that I live with and all that. If it weren't for my ill-fated brief marriage, I'd be an old maid, and I'm feeling very much like one, which is a little odd, since I'm normally fairly content about the situation, or at least thought I was. But I must admit that maybe I've been ignoring the loneliness instead, and it's been eating away at me for some time.

Of course, I'd rather be in no relationship rather than a dysfunctional one, but I'm at a point now where feel I deserve some happiness after all and really want to share my life with someone, but it's not really happening yet.

Oddly enough, this has meant that my tolerance for people has been almost nil today, which is bad, as I was at the store. That, along with very painful tendonitis in both feet and pain to the point where one foot could not touch another sidelined me for the evening as I decided it would be better to just stay home and be grumpy on my own. The feet finally eased up to the point where I can touch them. But the loneliness feels, well, like a hole in my chest, and I'm thinking it's definitely time to go back into therapy.

Sorry, I know this is somewhat disconnected; I'm trying to sort out the feelings that are right below the surface and put them in some coherent sense.

Maybe I should just go back to bed and think for awhile.

Proof there are good people in the world

A shout out to Alice, a neighbour with whom I was not acquainted who, upon arriving home from her job at Wal-Mart and ready to enter her home and rest, saw me walking in my store uniform and offered to take me there, even though it would delay her relaxation. I had taken a nap between jobs and had overslept; I'd have been a couple minutes' late otherwise, and I decided to trust this stranger. Thank you, Alice, for your kindness, and for showing that there are good people in the world. You are a blessing.

Random sonnet

Not that it matters, not that my heart's cry
Is potent to deflect our common doom,
Or bind to truce in this ambiguous room
The planets of the atom as they ply;
But only to record that you and I,
Like thieves that scratch the jewels from a tomb,
Have gathered delicate love in hardy bloom
Close under Chaos,--I rise to testify.
This is my testament: that we are taken;
Our colours are as clouds before the wind;
Yet for a moment stood the foe forsaken,
Eyeing Love's favour to our helmet pinned;
Death is our master,--but his seat is shaken;
He rides victorious,--but his ranks are thinned.

--Edna St. Vincent Millay, orginally from The Buck in the Snow, appearing in Collected Sonnets

I checked out a volume of Edna St. Vincent Millay's sonnets, mainly because she was my mother's favourite poet and I wanted in some way to understand my mother's hopes, dreams, and emotions, especially as a young woman--the things that had drawn her to this poetess. I'm finding it an interesting endeavour.

A laugh

Shared by gjergji gjini in Google Reader:

This guy's wife asks, "Honey if I died would you remarry?"

He replies, "Well, after a considerable period of grieving, we all
need companionship, I guess I would."

She says, "If I died and you remarried, would she live in this

He replies, "We've spent a lot of time and money getting this
house just the way we want it. I'm not going to get rid of my
house, I guess she would."

So she asks, "If I died and you remarried, and she lived in this
house, would she sleep in our bed?" and he says, "That bed is
brand new, we just paid two thousand dollars for it, it's going to
last a long time, I guess she would."

So she asks, "If I died and you remarried, and she lived in this
house, and slept in our bed, would she use my golf clubs?"
and he says, "Oh no, she's left handed."

Thanks, I needed a laugh.

Friday, August 21, 2009

One day late, but I must acknowledge an anniversary (and not my parents', which it would have been their 43rd)

HP Lovecraft
Happy birthday, HP Lovecraft
(August 20, 1890-March 15, 1937)!

I have enjoyed your wonderful stories and those based upon them for 18 years now. You were only four years older than I am now when you died of intestinal cancer. I wish you had lived to write more, but also to see your creations' effects on other writers and in other media.

Let's hope it's a peaceful one around the world

Muslims prepare for holy month of Ramadan

Okay, I just ate, but the description of the Pakistani food in this article makes me salivate. Pakoras, samosas, paratha, and dates, oh, my! I'm thinking it's time for a trip to Masala (which yes, is Indian, but we don't have specifically Pakistani restaurants in Lexington and at least they serve halal, so I suspect business may be up after dark starting Saturday). And if I can't make it on the bus to Masala, Tandoor delivers to my house. :)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I had the Tonight Show on in the background, a rerun

and then this came on...and I laughed, and I laughed, as William Shatner takes on the poetic resignation speech of Sarah Palin.


Personals Characterisation
(click to enlarge and read)
I'm not sure where the sports section came from; maybe another Elisabeth or Eilir Rowan. Go to MIT's Personas | Metropath(ologies) site to put your own name in.

But wait!

One more thing to report. Okay, two. Yesterday, I got a package in the mail from Amazon. It was my 16 GB USB drive that turned out to be $5 between the discount from the store and my $25 gift certificate. I spent a good part of last evening putting stuff on it. It uses a U3 system like my current one (they're both Sandisk Cruzer Micros). Along with the data, I downloaded some useful utilities, although it's not as user-friendly as it used to be. Sandisk has apparently gone with a hosting/download service that if you pay lets you immediately download at high speeds, but if you are a free customer it queues you into a holding pattern and then gives you the programs slowly, making you wait between downloads. They didn't used to do that, and it was pretty easy to set up my last one in just a few minutes. This took a couple of hours, and I still don't have OpenOffice on it yet. So that was a bit annoying, but given the great price, I was willing to forgive a little.

Today I got the second part of the order--the DVD of Dr Horrible's Sing-along-Blog, which includes another block of additional music (the commentary on the show) and video auditions for the Evil League of Evil. Ah, I love this show. That means I have the soundtrack and the DVD, so I'm set if they take it offline.


Okay, good night (for real).

How to surprise a customer - read Hebrew

I was at work today and a young woman came in talking on a cell phone. Her shirt was in Hebrew. I looked at it for a moment and asked her, 'Ramah?' She was startled and told me yes, then told her friend that someone had just read her Ramah shirt. Now mind you, I could read the sounds, but I didn't recall right off the top of my head what Ramah meant. I'd guessed at the vowels because in modern Hebrew they're not written. What I studied was Biblical Hebrew. She didn't have time to explain, paying for her gas and then walking on out. I guess she just assumed I was Jewish, too. No. Just a pagan who happens to have a Judaic Studies minor. So I had to look it up. Turns out:
Camp Ramah (Hebrew: מחנה רמה) is a network of Jewish summer camps operating in the United States, Canada, and Israel. The first camp opened in Conover, Wisconsin, in 1947, under the aegis of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, the academic hub of Conservative Judaism. The program was drawn up by Moshe Davis and Sylvia Ettenberg of the JTS Teachers' Institute.

: (ramah) רמה
nf. level, standard, degree, echelon
nf. height; highland, high place, upland, elevation, eminence; plateau, tableland

So her shirt tells me she's probably a member or has been a member of the Ohavay Zion congregation here in Lexington, which is the Conservative synagogue here. (Temple Adath Israel is the Reform one. We don't have an Orthodox synagogue in Lexington.)

Nice to know my Hebrew, whilst terribly lacking, is not completely out of my head, plus I learnt something today. :) Hopefully my teacher, who was a Conservative rabbi, would be amused.

Actually, hers is not the first Hebrew-containing shirt I've seen at the store. There's a dojo somewhere here that teaches Krav Maga, an Israeli form of martial art, so I've seen a couple of people who had that on and were surprised that I 1) could read it and 2) knew what it was. It helps to have a friend to serve as a guide to all things Jewish. :)

Okay, I have actually been watching 'The Universe' on the History Channel, but it's 2 am and time to go to bed. (I did nod off somewhere when they were talking about black holes...that's a bad time to nod off--you might be sucked up unawares.) Good night.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

It's time again

for the Beloit College Mindset List, the list of things that the entering freshman class has not experienced.

Here were the ones that got me. This is for the class of 2013 (assuming we make it through the hoopla of 2012), for those born in 1991:

Dr. Seuss, Miles Davis, Gene Roddenberry, and Freddie Mercury have been dead their entire lives. They've probably never seen a card catalogue, much less used it to find a book. The KGB didn't exist at any time in their lives, and (this is for YKWIA), state abbreviations have never had periods during their lifetimes.

Check out the list for more things to make you feel old (like the fact that 'Saved By the Bell' was already off the air....)

Another attempt to apply medicine to history

What killed Mozart? Study suggests strep infection

The Annals of Internal Medicine has published a report linking Mozart's death with kidney disease brought on by a streptococcal infection. Although such attempts to practice medicine retroactively are fraught with uncertainty, I always find the attempts to diagnose symptoms from the descriptions left behind interesting. I'll have to look this one up.

How horrific

Ga. animal lovers killed by pack of wild dogs

Coroner: Dogs killed woman, then husband -- Pack of wild canines fatally maul couple near their rural Georgia home

I first heard the story a couple of days ago, before they released the cause of death, because the wife was a humanities bibliographer at the University of Georgia library, so it made it onto LISNews. Her husband was a retired professor of German and philosophy. According to the MSNBC article the two had divorced and the husband had moved to Kansas, where among other things he ran a prison library. So there are library connexions on both sides. After he retired, he returned to Georgia and wooed his ex-wife back.

Authorities believe that Sherry Schweder went out for a walk on Friday. One of their own dogs had disappeared about a month ago and she may have been looking for it. There's evidence that her husband, Lothar, went looking for her in their car. Both were found dead, mauled by a feral dog pack that was still on the scene when paramedics were called Saturday morning by those discovering the bodies. Authorities have rounded up 16 dogs they think may have been involved.

Wild dogs are a dangerous part of rural life, but an attack like this is so rare. I feel so sorry for this couple, and their sons. By all accounts Sherry Schweder in particular was a great animal lover; the couple had several pets (okay, more than several--20 cats and seven dogs) of their own, and she had apparently expressed concern over the strays in the area. It's especially sad that the very animals she was concerned about were involved in her death. But it is also a reminder that animals, even domesticated ones, are not without dangers, especially when turned loose out in the wild. This is just another reason for spaying/neutering and caring for dogs rather than allowing them to become feral. As it is, the eleven dogs and five puppies rounded up as being feral are being euthanised by court order. They're still looking for two dogs out there. They're also trying to find homes for the couple's animals.

My thoughts are with the Schweder family and the couple's colleagues in the aftermath of this tragic happening.

PS: To the Associated Press--Lightning and lightening are two different words. Please learn to use/edit them correctly. The error has been perpetuated on many sites, including both of the above.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Weird Al is the grammar police. Really.

I'm so following him on Twitter now.

So glad to be home

away from the blitz of Powerball seekers, a place where I can take off my shoes and massage my red and swollen feet, somewhere where there's a Healthy Choice meal waiting for me, somewhere that's green. (Well, no picket fence like in 'Little Shop of Horrors', but no man-eating plants, either, thankfully.) Plus, I'm off from the store for the next couple of days. I was really tempted to take Monday off from the hospital, too, and maybe I should have. I feel like I need a vacation--like a whole week of days off, at both jobs (but of course I wouldn't get paid at the gas station).

This morning was the first time I'd read at home in ages (I finished An Ice Cold Grave by Charlaine Harris.) Don't get me wrong, with the lack of car, I'm actually getting a little more time to myself, but I still pretty much just come home and collapse rather than doing anything particularly useful. I just never really seem to have much energy. Maybe the walking will help, or I could start back doing yoga. And getting a handle on my blood sugar would go far in that department, I think. It couldn't hurt, anyway. But in the meantime I feel like there just isn't enough time in the day to get what I want to do done. I guess most of us feel that way these days, though.

Oh, I feel better already. Yay.

I have to admit, I was disappointed, too

To protest Archie’s wedding, issue No. 1 for sale: ‘Betty is it. Not Veronica,’ said comic book store owner David Luebke
When comic book store owner Dave Luebke heard that after 67 years, the carrot-topped everyman of the comic world, Archie, was proposing to va-va-voomy rich girl Veronica instead of girl-next-door Betty, he decided to protest by selling his copy of the series' rare first issue.

Ah, a great chance at exploration!

Cave complex may lie beneath Giza Pyramids: British explorer claims to have found the lost underworld of the pharaohs
'In his memoirs, British consul general Henry Salt recounts how he investigated an underground system of "catacombs" at Giza in 1817 in the company of Italian explorer Giovanni Caviglia,' [Andrew] Collins said.

The document records that the two explored the caves for a distance of 'several hundred yards,' coming upon four large chambers from which stretched further cave passageways.

With the help of British Egyptologist Nigel Skinner-Simpson, Collins reconstructed Salt's exploration on the plateau, eventually locating the entrance to the lost catacombs in an apparently unrecorded tomb west of the Great Pyramid.

Zahi Hawass, chief of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, has dismissed the discovery.

'There are no new discoveries to be made at Giza. We know everything about the plateau,' he stated.

Those are just the sorts of words scientists should never utter, for no matter if it's biolgoy, history, or archaeology--someone's going to come along to prove you wrong. I'd be interested if Collins' claims will be borne out. If so, it's a significant discovery. If not, it will be yet another spurious claim about the mysteries of Aegypt.

Oh, this is great!

If you've been paying attention to the health care debate, you know that the Republicans and right-wingers have been attacking the British National Health Service, causing a backlash from the British, who like their health system, by large. #ILovetheNHS is a topic on Twitter, for example.

But this took the cake, as reported by Joe. My. God.:

Stephen Hawking On Health Care Reform

Seems someone over at Investor's Business Daily wrote that Stephen Hawking wouldn't have a chance in the UK with the National Health System. One problem: Hawking is British and has lived there his entire life.

Says Hawking, as quoted in The Guardian:
I wouldn't be here today if it were not for the NHS. I have received a large amount of high-quality treatment without which I would not have survived.

Thanks to Occasion2B for sharing the story on Google Reader.

Take that, you wingnuts!

Only Chaosium

would have a contest of 'name this tasty dish' and have it be fried calamari.

I've seen better calamari, but it was fun. Sorry I didn't see it before the contest ended. Sorry, for those not gamers--Chaosium produces 'Call of Cthulhu'; Cthulhu is a giant squid-headed god...you can figure out the rest.

Here's a nifty little resource for sci fi geeks (and others who just like it)

100+ Amazing Science Fiction Stickers To Put On Your Laptop

There are the normal Star Trek, Star Wars, and comics-related stickers, but also Cthulhu, Harry Potter, even a 'Merlotte's Bar and Grill' for Sookie Stackhouse fans. There are even some Steampunk ones. I particularly like Edvard Munch's 'Scream' with a Cthulhu head. :)

Thanks Jedi Librarian for the link.

By the way, I read somewhere (sorry, didn't save the link), that a 'Battlestar Galactica' movie is in the works and, dum, dum, dum, it's not based on the new series at all but is by the original creator, Gary Larson, and will be more in style of the old series. Yay! I never watched the new series (didn't have cable while it was on). I might rent the DVDs at the library at some point. But I loved the old series as a kid.

Okay, geek rant finished.

Dragonflies, thistledown, hummingbirds, and bats

One of the nice things about having to schlepp around without a car is that I notice more along the roadside to do with nature. Yesterday there was the green hummingbird buzzing about a crabapple looking for nectar before deciding that it was going to come up empty (the trees having bloomed in the spring and now are forming fruit). Today there was a blue dragonfly on the way down to the bus stop, plus thistledown everywhere, both blowing from across the road and on the ground. When I was a child, we pretended these were fairies, and if you caught one before it hit the ground you could make a wish and release it to let it fly. Tonight on my way home from the gas station I saw a bat flying purposefully across the sky above the car lot. If I'd been in a car, I'd have missed all these things.

There's a downside, though. My knees and ankles are unused to doing the amount of walking that I'm doing, and so at the end of the night I'm hobbling about, especially after standing at work. But that's okay; it'll get better with some conditioning.

Speaking of being uncomfortable, I've been nauseous a good bit of the day. I thought I was getting motion sick from the bus the last few days; today I felt that way before riding, and I realised that I was having issues on an empty stomach. About every 3-5 years I have a flareup of gastritis where I come close to getting an ulcer. That may be happening here. I'll discuss it with my doctor when I see him at the beginning of September. So far it's been pretty mild. But there have been times I've had to go on medication to get it under control. This has been a chronic issue since I was in my early 20s. Still, it's annoying. I'm trying to eat a little fairly often to keep something on my stomach and avoid greasy foods. Fortunately lunch at work was penne pasta with marinara sauce and a vegetable medley, so that wasn't too bad.

Well, that's all for now. Hope your week went well. Good night.


I have spent the last two hours trying to get the settings right in Internet Explorer to watch videos on YouTube. Everything is correct according to the YouTube help files. I have the latest Flash player, javascripts are enabled, yada yada. Just one day they stopped working. I can watch embedded videos on other sites, including this one, just not on the YouTube page itself. Plus I can watch them with no trouble in both Firefox and Chrome. I even changed firewall programs since this had been an issue for a friend at one point.


Chrome freezes a lot, although I like it otherwise, but I've decided to just stick with Firefox. It seems to be the faster, less buggy, browser that lets me actually do what I want to.

Okay, frustration mollified somewhat.

Friday, August 14, 2009

You think?

Stress of war takes mental toll on military kids: Children of deployed service members at risk of psychological problems
The years-long U.S. commitment in Iraq and Afghanistan is taking a significant toll on the children of service members, who are 2½ times more likely to develop psychological problems than American children in general, new research indicates.

The study, published this week in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, found that deployment of a parent was correlated to high stress levels in the parent who remains at home, which it said was linked to greater psychological impact on children.

I was a child of Vietnam. At an age when most American children didn't even know what it was, I knew that I might never see my father again. I knew that my mother was terribly stressed and yet I didn't quite understand that there was really little I could do to alleviate the situation. But even then I tended to comfort my mother in the same way a parent comforts a child, and the closeness we developed whilst waiting for my father to return from war was not a healthy one, but one where boundaries were lost. It defined our relationship for many years later.

Meanwhile, I idealised the father I knew from brief assignments home. In all he spent nearly the first six years of my life in and out of Southeast Asia. Having him home full-time, the real father, rather than the daddy I thought was perfect, was a terrible shock. And this was a father who himself was haunted by his experiences, whom we all knew shouldn't be woken suddenly or he may think he was back in combat, that sort of thing. I wish I had known him before that time. Maybe I would still have a relationship with him if that were the case; I don't know.

Back then they gave precious little counseling to soldiers, much less the children of soldiers. I grew up on Air Force bases where Vietnam was rarely if ever mentioned. None of us talked about our fathers (or I suppose in rarer cases, mothers) being in the war and how it affected our home life.

But at least I was raised in the military culture (for good or bad). Many of the soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan are National Guard. Their children live in nice, normal neighbourhoods where other kids' dads and moms don't necessarily deploy. Other children might not understand. Other adults certainly don't. In many ways, it is even more crucial that children raised off base be given the support needed to deal with a parent at war. Moreover, it is absolutely essential that the remaining parent be given counseling and support to help her or him deal with the added responsibilities, the not knowing, the challenges of raising children alone for awhile, etc.

Maybe my mother would have done better on base. But she always returned home to Kentucky to be with her family when he was away, except for brief TDYs (oops, temporary duty, that is).

Regardless of which service, every person I have known who was a military brat was marked by the experience in some way. In my case I was socially awkward, had no sense of continuity, and was way too close to my mom. There's a reason I have been here in Lexington for 25 years now, a reason I chose to do all my higher education here. I'd been through two kindergartens, two elementary schools, three junior highs, and two high schools before I landed here, all followed by a messy divorce. I had no support system at any point in my life, and I lived in a disconnected family where we shared a roof and little else, with the exception of the emotional connexion I had with my mom. We ate together, but after that, I would read, my mom would do ceramics and other crafts, and my dad would go to his radio room. We never took vacations together. In fact, we never took anything resembling a vacation separately--if anything it was visiting relatives. I lived in all these places (unfortunately no foreign ones; I guess his service in Southeast Asia made it unlikely that he be based in someplace outside the US), but never saw the sights. I never even went to a circus or state fair. (I still have never been to the latter, and at one point in 4-H I had ribbon-winning entries in one.) The dynamics of my family seemed utterly normal to me; I've since come to realise how dysfunctional we were, and how we each had issues that really would have improved with some targeted counseling and possibly medication.

I can't change any of that; I can just deal with my issues as best I can with help. But if there's anything we as a country can do to help children like I was, it is to give aid and support to families of war: support soldiers and give them the best tools to do their jobs; make sure they have good health care (including mental health care) both away and when they return; make sure spouses have a support system and are not isolated, and that they have access to careers rather than temporary jobs that change from post to post; and lastly, but just as important, make sure children of soldiers are supported in the family, at school, through counseling and other activities, so that they may deal with what is very, very frightening as a child. I'm sure it is far worse to lose a parent in the military (I have a friend whose father died in a military plane crash, something that happens both in and out of war), but the fear of losing a parent is almost as bad. Personally, too, I don't believe in giving platitudes and telling children everything will be fine. Isn't it better to address their fears and explain what will happen if the unthinkable does become reality--who will care for them, where they will live, things that children obsess on out of fear. If I were being deployed, too, I'd do whatever I could to encourage my children to express themselves, and create memories, through activities, videos, pictures, etc. Despite the fact that my father and I broke contact years ago, I still have the audio taped letters home he made (except for one my mother erased, the one with shrapnel hitting nearby), the ones that remind me he was 19 and scared and tired and half a world away. They give me a picture of my father I wouldn't have otherwise. Someday I hope they'll help me make sense of him.

Just my two cents' worth.

Interesting study

Is HIV progression sex-linked?

German researchers have identified a single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) on the X chromosome that appears to be connected to a slower development of AIDS after HIV infection in women with the characteristic compared to men (with or without the SNP) or women who lack it. The study was done with data from American women of European descent; when scientists searched for the prevalence of the SNP in other ethnicities, they found that Asian women of Japanese and Chinese descent had it in much higher numbers than those of European descent, but it is very rare amongst women of African descent, which could help explain some of the differences in how different races respond to the disease. Perhaps in the future, scientists can find a way to use this information to boost the chances for those who lack this polymorphism.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

In praise of granny carts

Granny Cart

You know what I'm talking about, surely? The carts that are about the size of strollers that are perfect for laundry hampers or short trips to the grocery? I got mine (it's white) years ago and it's served me well, but I've had it in a closet for some time and now I've taken it out and used it for my laundry. It's my best bet for runs to Kroger, too. I can even take it on the bus if I keep it out of the aisle.

I'm so glad I didn't get rid of it.

Good (riddance)

Man gets 120 years in child porn case: Ex-girlfriend is already in prison for filming man's attempted rape of infant

They don't mention the possibility of parole, something I hope he never gets. He had over a million child pornography images on his computer and molested who knows how many children. More than one girlfriend helped him in this. The man is sick and deserves to be put away far from children for the rest of his life. Kudos to the young woman who came forward as a teenager and who is now a 21-year-old wife and expectant mother. She approached authorities after seeing an episode of Law & Order regarding child sexual abuse.

My hope is that the children and their families are able to get the counseling they need to soften the effects of the abuse (I don't know if you ever really overcome it, to be honest, but you can come close).

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Feeling like I'm rambling in my head

Forgive me; this isn't coming out with much coherency in terms of linear time.

When I got home from work today, I took a short nap and then listened to some meditative music on cable. Now I'm catching up on news and doing my laundry, even though it's midnight. Earlier today I went by the library, turned in the books that were due (on time, mind you), and picked up some others. Work was quiet at both places, so it was a decent day. Plus, I just ordered a 32 GB flash drive for a grand total of about $5 (it was $40.00 off at Amazon, plus I had a $25 gift card from my points that I get from my bank account). The idea is to use my old 4 GB drive to backup a friend's documents, since the two 512 MB ones we're using are bursting at the seams, and I almost have the 4 GB drive filled up with my stuff, so I need a bigger one.

Tomorrow's agenda includes paying rent, so I'll have to catch the bus back to the shopping centre where I work is (there's a bank there), get a money order, and bring it over to the leasing office. I only have to work at the hospital, where I plan to mostly do cataloguing (I really have to get the book truck that's partly blocking my cubicle and a computer station out of the way...I'm feeling claustrophobic.) After that I'll probably go over to a friend's house, again on the bus. I purchased a 30-day unlimited pass the other day (it's $30, which isn't too bad, much better than gas for a month). I also plan to clean out the refrigerator and do some dishes later that night. Oh, and notes. :)

Well, that's enough for now. The dryer should be finished in about 20 minutes, so I'm going to check the news. Good night.

This would be me in judo class

None of the videos on YouTube give the complete sketch, although this includes the main part (the sound is crappy, but it's mostly a laugh track and the instructor saying 'one big bow, and then I take hold of you'. One version on the service has the sound cut out entirely towards the end. The ones with better sound cut off the best part, the end. But the sketch is very funny, so here you go...

It begins with the instructor telling his students that in order to learn judo, they need to learn how to fall properly. Each student scoots down to the end of the bench as the one gets up to encounter the instructor. One student walks right past him out the door. The others take their turns eating the mat. Then there's Mr Bean...

I am such a wuss. I'd have trouble learning to fall because I have a fear of getting hurt, so I wouldn't do well in martial arts classes. A friend has tried to teach me to block for years, and I don't know if it's the fear or just bad coordination, but I cannot 'wax on, wax off' or even more importantly, deflect up and down, without getting hurt.

The only trouble with finally having access to music ringtones

is that every time I hear Nickelback's 'If Today Was Your Last Day' I reach for my phone. :)

A happy but bizarre happening in Paraguay

‘Dead’ baby wakes up for his funeral wake: Boy born 16 weeks premature taken home after being declared dead
The family was given a death certificate and a cardboard box with the baby's name scribbled on the outside which served as a makeshift coffin.

But when the family took him from the hospital to prepare him for his funeral, the unbelievable happened.

"I opened the box and took the baby out and he cried. I got scared and I said "the baby's crying" ... and then he started moving his arms, his legs and I got scared, we got very scared," said one member of the family, Liliana Alvarenga.

My own grandmother was thought to be stillborn when she was born, being blue and lifeless, but when someone moved her, she started breathing on her own. If that had not happened, I wouldn't exist. Life can be odd, and babies are remarkable creatures, aren't they? Anyway, I'm glad for this family--their sorrow turned to joy (with some fright in the interim).


Listening to: '3 AM' by Matchbox Twenty from Exile on Mainstream

After work I went to Kroger and then walked home and just crashed, even though I planned to do laundry. (Hey, I did at least wake up early this morning and took the trash out.) So now I'm up and it's storming, so it's not the best time to wash clothes. I'll try to get up early again tomorrow and do it; if not, then tomorrow night will have to suffice. I need to stop by the library tomorrow, too, and turn in some books and a CD.

In an attempt to eat a little better, everything I got at the grocery store was healthy--mostly frozen vegetables, soy burgers and herbed soy chicken, and a frozen fish, rice, and broccoli dinner--things I can take to work since our choice of vegetables is, well, awful in the cafeteria and most of what's there is starchy. (Fresh vegetables tend to spoil in my house; I'm often not at home, hence the frozen steamers.) I also got some fruit and grain bars to replace my normal Pop Tarts. I didn't get any fruit only because I've got some fruit flies that I'm trying to destroy (yes, all life is sacred, but I have to draw the line somewhere) and I don't want to encourage them, although I've discovered fruit flies love bread, so I'm keeping mine in the refrigerator. I do have a little canned fruit, though.

My blood sugar's been high and I really don't want to go on insulin, although I have an appointment on September 1st, so I guess we'll discuss options then. I've cut back on sweets, but I've still been eating starches, which are really worse in some ways; at least a candy bar has fat to help keep the body from processing the sugar so quickly. Potatoes go straight to sugar pretty quickly, from what I've gleaned from a dietitian and reading. The dietitian is also diabetic; she said for her she had to go very low-carb, something she'd always discouraged clients to do, but even brown rice really did a number on her. Everyone's a little different. But diet, while important, isn't the only determining factor in diabetes, so she urged me to speak with my doctor.

I think I'll check the news, drink some water, feed the fish, and head to bed so I can get up early. I might post again if I see anything really good in my reader. Good night.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Testing 1...2...3...

This is a test to see if I can blog by texting from my phone.

PS Success!


Orangutans make musical instrument: Finding marks first time animal is known to use tool to help communicate

Orangutans in Borneo strip leaves off of trees and use them to alter a call they make, making it deeper to seem bigger and badder to ward off predators. I really wouldn't call it evidence of culture, as some have characterised it, since they're not making music for sheer enjoyment, as far as scientists can tell. However, I have no doubt that some other primates have the capacity for culture. Still, it's a very interesting finding.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

I always liked Kids in the Hall

(which proved Canadian humour is just as funny as British humour)

Here is my favourite sketch:

Turns out the troupe is reuniting to film a non-sketch eight-part series called 'Death Comes to Town', where the entire populace is played by the members. I definitely must stay on the lookout for this.


Empty stomach + Bus riding + Looking for items that breached a purse pocket into the inner lining = Motion sickness.

I'm eating a little to see if it will settle my stomach. This is why I don't read whilst riding, either, although I never had trouble as a child--I've lost the knack, apparently.

Today's funny story

World's biggest matzo ball unveiled in NYC: 267-pound ball gobbled up by hungry lower East Siders

It was created to raise awareness of a charity basketball game between the New York Knicks and the Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv, playing to raise money for the Migdal Or orphanage in northern Israel. Among those who got to taste the mighty matzo ball soup were those at a senior centre who are served kosher meals six days a week. Go to the link above to see a picture of it.

Only in New York, I'd say.

Isn't it sad

that someone could have survived the horrors of Auschwitz--allegedly having been in line for the gas chambers four times, gone to a new country and achieved success as a discotheque owner, and then be beaten and strangled to death at the age of 89 by apparently stupid [in terms of how easily they were traced] robbers motivated by greed?

A Murder Victim Found in His Bed Had a Colorful Past
Bronx woman arrested in murder of high-profile Holocaust survivor Guido Felix Brinkmann
Two brothers arrested in murder of Holocaust survivor Felix Brinkmann

Friday, August 07, 2009

Also hard hit by flooding

--the Kentucky Derby Museum at Churchill Downs in Louisville:

Derby Museum damage could total in millions
'The curator is going through it now as much as she can in the dark,' Treinen said. 'We are seeing things that have water damage but nothing so far that we don't think can be conserved if necessary.'

'Really we're playing a race against the clock. Because all of those things haven't suffered massive water damage, at least things of real high value, the time is now to save it. If it got damp at all, it is going to be sent to cold storage and frozen for the next couple of months. That prevents the mold from setting in. It's really the paper that's the first concern, before the mold starts.'

For updates, see the Kentucky Derby Museum Flood Blog.

Right now the damage is estimated at around 4 million dollars. Tours of the Downs and museum gifts will relocate to the racetrack's gift shop starting tomorrow. The grave of Eight Belles was undisturbed--even the begonias were in place, although the track itself required more dirt and they brought sand into the barns to help. But the museum itself is particularly hard hit, and they continue to be closed to evaluate the collection and prepare it for conservation. I didn't find any information on the blog for flood relief donations, but here is the address/contact info for the museum:

The Kentucky Derby Museum
704 Central Avenue
Louisville, KY 40208

(502) 637-7097 Info
(502) 637-1111 Office
Tour reservations: (502) 637-1111 ext 220
Front desk: (502) 637-1111 ext 242

Their website is up and running so I'm assuming the e-mail is currently valid. I'm not sure about the phone infrastructure.

Whew! It's been a rough week for Louisville!

A great little animated short about digital preservation and metadata :) [and preventing nuclear holocaust, too]

by Digital Preservation Europe.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Something that made me cry (I know, I cry at the drop of a hat, but...)

Iconic koala that survived fires dies in surgery: ‘Sam,’ who was captured on film during Australia blazes, loses fight for life

Sam the Koala had cysts associated with urogenital chlamydiosis, which affects up to 50 percent of Australia's koala population, and went through surgery to correct the problem, but the disease was so advanced and would have continued to have been very painful, so she was euthanised. Sam became a symbol of hope during the horrible Australian bush fires when a photo was taken of her taking water from a bottle. She was treated for severe burns at a wildlife centre.

I had seen a news story where they said they were going to do the surgery, and had a feeling it would not come out okay. I'm sorry I was right.

Some humour on an otherwise somewhat dismal day

Things not to do with a book
Great Western Dragon from LISNews posted the this, and it's absolutely hilarious [click the picture to enlarge and read the print]. I'm not sure if the credit goes to GWD or to someone else; no other one was given, and I couldn't find it anywhere else that wasn't derived from that post. If anyone knows otherwise, let me know.

As a special bonus prize, Great Western Dragon also led me to a great little comic called Sinfest by Tatsuya Ishida. Check out the oh-I'm-so-glad-cultists-in-Call-of-Cthulhu-haven't-figured-out-this-one comic, when a young boy teaches a book to speak. I also love today's, where an advertisement asks, 'Do you enjoy power? Do you like to crush people and laugh at their pain? Then you have what it takes to be an Illuminati! Call now! Be part of the shadowy action!'

Oh, and the dismal day part? It's actually been a lovely day to a point--I took off from work to take a friend to an appointment and do some much-needed errands, and he in turn bought me lunch, then I took another friend to work. Fortunately I got everyone shuttled about and was on my way home when my transmission went out. Again, no power at 25 mph and 4000 rpm. Again, smoke coming from under the hood--but in greater amounts. People on Alumni Drive were quite wroth with me and I pulled over and let them pass since they were honking, then slowly made my way to over by the synagogue so I'd be safely off the road. At that point, when I made the turn, the car went backwards in drive, so there's really no doubt that it's the transmission. I had it towed the last few blocks home and informed my friend that I can't pick him up tonight. So now I get to weigh my options. The car isn't really worth rebuilding the transmission, although I will go ahead and call the owner of the tow company--who apparently does them--just to get a price. I haven't heard back from the car lot, which could mean that there was no instant rejection or it could mean they haven't heard yet if financing will be available, or it could just mean that they're ignoring me. I have a call in to the sales rep. I guess for now there's nothing to do but go ahead and pay my electric bill, which I'd been saving in case I needed more money for a smaller auto repair (I was, ironically, heading home to double-check a few things (like bank balances) and then was going to head to the shop to have them do a test-drive and tell me the problem) and put the rest of what I don't need immediately into savings, then put more in at the end of the month. I believe 'bummer' doesn't quite cover it. :(

A funny Thai commercial

...and here's a hint--it's not for yoghurt. :)

Before the current game adventure, which is partially set there,

I couldn't have told you where Tonga is. Now I keep finding it in the news. This is particularly sad news regarding the island nation:

Dozens missing after Tonga ferry sinks

Women, children 'trapped' as ferry sank

Some fundraisng for a library in need

Louisville Free Public Library needs your help

Or donate to:

The Library Foundation
ATTN: Flood Relief
301 York Street
Louisville, KY 40203
(502) 574-1709

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Should I be concerned

that a fire truck or two and an ambulance came up with lights flashing (but no sirens) in front of my apartment building, stayed awhile, and then eventually left? Hopefully nothing was truly wrong. One of my gaming buddies got a scare Saturday night when part of her complex caught fire and burnt down. She and her things were alright, although she and her neighbours were evacuated until 4 am and the smoke detectors didn't go off--they were roused by people banging on doors. The apartment her sister occupied until recently was gutted, having been close to where the fire began. Scary.

It's been a weird day in that we had a huge storm with lots of lightning, car accidents all over the place (including a very bad tractor trailer accident that closed the Interstate), and flash flooding (although I don't think it was on Louisville's scale). Fortunately I got from one workplace to another right before the storm hit.

Oh, no....

Flash Flood Drowns Lousiville Free Public Library (Thanks to Libraryman for the information.)

One more image for you on Twitpic

[Image by Greg Schwartz, Library Systems Manager of the Louisville Free Public Library (the library's website is down as I write this, but I'm sure they'll get it going as soon as possible.)]

According to LISNews and the story at the Louisville Courier-Journal, damage is estimated as of now in the range of $1,000,000 to the main branch, which has three feet of water in the basement and has sustained quite a lot of damage to the lower level, used for much of the operations such as tech services, judging by the statement than thousands of books have been destroyed, including news ones being processed. The main branch is closed until the damage can be fully assessed. Two other branches are also closed due to flooding. In the meantime, donations can be sent to:

The Library Foundation
301 York Street
Louisville, KY 40203

Well, the answer wasn't 'no'--yet

Today I exchanged several e-mails with a sales rep at the car lot. She said the business office thought a car to trade in and $500 down would be helpful in getting a new (used) car. But she had an appointment and I talked to another sales rep she set me up with. Given the oeconomic environment, my poor credit score, and the tiny trade-in value of my Taurus, he thinks it likely that I would need a bigger down payment, such as $1500. That's doable soon, but not this month. He did, however, agree to put a request through with the $500 figure, just to see if the finance company would allow it. If no, I should know sometime tomorrow. If yes, it may not be until Thursday.

I'm not eligible for the Cash for Clunkers programme, because my current car gets over 18 miles per gallon and even though the car has been in my possession for four or five years, it was not in my name until this spring. Oh, well--it was worth a try.

So the strategy is to start saving, something I've never gotten into the habit of doing.

In the meantime, in order to attempt a trade-in, I had to drive my car home and then to the lot, and it did pretty well, so then I went grocery shopping (about a block or two) and over to my friends' house (a few miles away). So far no total lack of power or anything. I think I may take off Thursday and take it into Mitch's Auto Repair to get some idea if this is just from the speed sensor working intermittently or if it's something worse like the transmission or fuel pump. Then I'll decide from there if it's worth fixing. I'll have enough (if I get an extension on my electric bill) to pay for the speed sensor, but if it's going to cost more, I think I'll just drive the car as long as I can and put the money towards another car.

Um...scary Orwellian tactics

The Children’s Secretary set out £400 million plans to put 20,000 problem families under 24-hour CCTV super-vision in their own homes.

They will be monitored to ensure that children attend school, go to bed on time and eat proper meals.

Private security guards will also be sent round to carry out home checks, while parents will be given help to combat drug and alcohol addiction.

Around 2,000 families have gone through these Family Intervention Projects so far.

Britain To Put CCTV Cameras Inside Private Homes

Why would anyone think this is a GOOD IDEA????

How awful

Israelis rally after 2 murdered at gay center: Masked shooter opened fire in Tel Aviv, killing 2 and injuring 11

The centre was set up as a safe place for gay and lesbian youth--many still struggling with whether to come out to parents, families, and friends--could meet and receive counseling. An unknown gunman entered the centre on Saturday night and began firing, then escaped, leaving the normally vibrant Tel Aviv gay community concerned for further attacks. A counselor and a 17-year-old girl died; several others were wounded, some critically. Some parents of the wounded did not know the sexual orientation of their children until called to attend them in hospital.

What a horrible, hateful thing for someone to do. I hope they find the culprit soon, before there is other violence. I'm thinking it might be someone religiously ultra-conservative, but I may be wrong. It could just be a bigoted wingnut. But one thing's for sure--that person has to be stopped.

Even rabbis-to-be blog and tweet

For more on the men, look at The Road Sage website
'By traveling across America,' Levi explains, 'we have the opportunity to involve as many different types of Jews as possible to join in this cause.' 'We will be traveling in a Mitzvah mobile,' say Levi, 'a van fully-loaded with everything Jewish - books, videos, and paraphernalia; it’s like a traveling educational center.' 'Our goal is to help at least one-thousand Jewish men and women to perform a Mitzvah-a good deed by the end of our trip.'

They reached California in time for Sabbath. The trip was dedicated to the late Gabi & Rivkah Holtzberg, the Jewish couple murdered in Mumbai a few months ago (but whose son thankfully survived).

Thanks to Steven for the head's up.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Maybe it's time things went my way a little

Today at work two salesmen from the car dealership came in. I explained that I'd filled out an application online. They said to come to see them and one gave me his card. Also, there's the renewal of the 'Cash for Clunkers' programme to consider, as one friend made sure to call me today and remind me about. The dealership was running their special through Friday but with the extension it looks like they're continuing it. If I can get financing, it would be better to use the rebate for a new car. There's a Hyundai Sonata in with the qualifying vehicles, and I've been impressed with Margaret's Sonata.

Gee, you'd think I was dreaming of the lottery. It may be just as unobtainable, but worth a little fantasy, don't you think?

Yay, cat herding!

These Cardigan Welsh Corgi puppies (and the long-suffering cat) are adorable. Fortunately corgis don't seem to climb. Thank goodness for short little legs and microwave stands. :)

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Well, it couldn't hurt, the worse they can say is 'no'

The car is dying, I believe. I couldn't get it above 25 mph Thursday on the way to work, the engine was revving to 4000 rpms, and smoke or steam was coming out from under the hood.

Needless to say, it's sitting at work until I can take it in Monday to get the verdict, but most of what I'm seeing and hearing about it is that it is possibly a fuel pump but more likely the transmission, and the transmission fluid is dark, rather than red, so that increases the chances of a need for a rebuild. Thing is, the transmission was rebuilt a couple of years ago, and it is too expensive to do again for a car worth at most $300-600. A fuel pump isn't much better.

So. That means either saving up for a car that's, say $2000, or doing the unthinkable (with my credit) and trying to actually get a car financed. Ha! you say. But you know, the worse they can say is no.

I looked around and found a vehicle I liked from Glenn Auto Mall, the car lot that is within walking distance. It's a 2002 Honda Odyssey, 98,380 miles (that's 150,000 or so less than my current car), Taffeta White, and running $9,477. Yes, for those uninitiated, it's a small van. But I figure I schlepp five animals about occasionally; it might be nice to have some room, plus the ability to haul things [at least sub-pickup truck things] back and forth can be useful. The car payment would be less than $150-$175, if the credit thing works out alright, and I could do that. When I crunched the numbers, I was surprised that if I take my average paycheque from the store and put it with the hospital's, it comes out to about $6,000 more per year than last year, but then I had more than $1/hour raise at the hospital earlier in the year due to a market adjustment. So I'm hoping that will work in my favour.

Like I said, it's worth a try. I don't fancy a lot of bus travel, and there are others who depend on me for a ride. So it would be good all around to have a car of some type, especially one that has some life in it yet. So wish me luck.