Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
comic strip overdue media

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Oh, by the way

I got my Tamiflu today. That was really quick. I still don't know how they manage to do it without me seeing a doctor face-to-face, but at least if I get sick, I have it on hand.

Helping the Greatest Generation (and some Boomers, too) connect

Helping Grandpa Get His Tech On
A few days before my 100-year-old mother’s death this summer, she said she had only one regret: not being able to see her family in California again.

But then I realized that I had my MacBook (with its built-in webcam) in my briefcase. A few phone calls later and my mother was using iChat to speak with and see her great-grandchildren for the first time in years.
There are challenges to older people in using technology, such as visual and auditory issues, but it's quickly becoming essential to the elderly, especially to keep in touch in an era where families are far-flung. I mean think about it...I started as a teenager with an Atari computer, and I'm 42. My parents, who are Baby Boomers, are in their 60s, and both my father and stepfather have programmed for a living. There are a lot of tech savvy people in those generations--maybe not having breathed it from day one like a Gen-Y, but still. But the ones older than that are getting into the technology pool in greater numbers than ever before, and there are websites out there who market aids to help them overcome both expense and declining senses. The article lists some of those. If you have an older person whom you'd like see more connected, check it out.

Well, I just spent an hour or two on planning

my advance directives, memorial request, and will. The living will is to replace one I had that had fallen apart that I did back in 2000 when my grandfather died, but is pretty much the same. I'm going to have it signed tomorrow at the game, since I'll have witnesses available. The will is finished but has to be witnessed and notarised. The memorial planning isn't legally binding, but it's my chance to make my wishes known. The upshot is I want to be cremated, not buried (and certainly not embalmed--I think that's ghoulish). I would like an informal memorial service but no funeral, but I don't want Christian trappings as I am not Christian. Also, I made provision for someone to make a last entry on this blog in the event of my death, giving instructions for logging in.

Okay, I'm kind of wiped. I think I'll take a short nap and then work on the house for awhile before I celebrate Samhain (the Celtic new year, when the dead are acknowledged, the basis of Halloween).


I got a lot accomplished in four hours, always got the bus within five minutes, and never had to go downtown to the transit centre. I got the meds, gave a Mississipi State fan directions to the stadium for the game with Kentucky today, ate (apparently you can do a combo with the tortellini, a salad, and drink, so since that's what I had planned on getting, it was nice to get it cheaper). I got the office supplies I needed. While I was waiting at the stop to get back a 27-year-old guy really hit on me. I don't know if he's just oversexed or really likes older women like he claimed, but it was a bit flattering, although I did turn him down. I caught the bus back to Richmond Road, then caught the Richmond Road bus over to Gabriel Brothers for more underwear (my size is listed by Lane Bryant's web page as 'hard to find'. I decided to get more; I mean, really, can you have too much underwear? I also got a sleep shirt and a couple of sweaters. Then I walked to Liquor Barn for the wine. I walked over to the gas station from there because I really, really, really needed to use the restroom. They were busy and I was happy not to be working. Then I went to Kroger for a couple of things. I had thought they'd had some Henry Clay High School shirts; I planned on getting one for A since it's his alma mater and he follows their football programme. But I couldn't find one. I may have to get him a gift card for somewhere. I didn't see any when I was out that really grabbed me. Office Depot had evil gift card holders where you had to solve a maze first to get the card. I thought of doing that to A, but that would just be cruel. Of course, it would also be fun.:)

Anyway, I caught the bus at Kroger and came on home. I didn't get my hair cut, and I forgot to get change for laundry, and I'm not going back out at this point. I'll have to do laundry on Monday. But at least I've got plenty of underwear and some clean clothes left. :)

A rare Saturday off

I took today off from the store because tonight is a religious holiday. It's the first time I've been off on a Saturday since March or April. My plans are to:
  1. I need to pick up some medicine. I can take the bus to Walgreens, eat at Fazoli's (they have a decent tortellini with artichoke hearts and sundried tomatoes, and it's not as messy), and then catch the Woodhill bus so that I can...
  2. pick up a couple of small things at Office Depot.
  3. I think I may get my hair cut, since it's getting longer. There's a salon near the office supply store.
  4. Then I need to get what I need for tonight's sacrifice/libation. That includes burgundy wine and honey. I already have a pomegranate.
  5. Pick up candy just in case any children come by tonight, since I'll be home for the first time in something like 20 years. If all else fails I can take it to the game tomorrow, although we've been doing healthy snacking of late--but A would enjoy it.
  6. Then it's back home to do some laundry and straighten up the house. I may have someone coming over this evening.
Well, if I'm going to do all this, I need to get started--the bus comes in an hour. Wish me luck. It looks very gloomy outside (there's a 70% chance of rain, which I hope will hold off, especially for trick-or-treating). Oh, and for your pleasure and to get me going for the day...

Let's do the time warp again

Okay, if you live in the US then you probably know that we 'fall back' tonight from Daylight Savings Time to Standard Time. The thing is, all sorts of electronic gizmos are now set to automatically change, but Congress has been mucking about the last few years with the dates, and so sometimes you get unexpected results.

Take my new alarm clock. It suddenly, without warning, set itself back last weekend. It's been an hour behind all week--until this morning, when it's with the rest of the clocks (well, except the radio-controlled clock I got for my tenth anniversary at the hospital; it is supposed to automatically go forward for Daylight Savings, but doesn't, so it's always an hour behind during those months. I just deal.) What gives? I think I have the option of turning DST off on the clock, and I think that's what I'm going to have to do, so no more 'updates' happen unexpectedly. I don't want to be late for work because of a machine.

Anyway, don't forget to set your time back. And if you're not working, enjoy an extra hour of sleep tonight.

Friday, October 30, 2009

I didn't miss the talent show after all

They moved it up a half hour and I have to admit, it was fun. One group did a version of 'You're the One That I Want' from Grease with a man as Sandy and a woman as Danny. One group danced to Springsteen's 'Dancing in the Dark' with UV lights in otherwise darkness and white gloves and tape that glowed bright orange in the shape of stick people. Covers of Miley Cyrus, Johnny and June Cash, and Elvis all made the cut as well. Our motion lab director did a superb job singing and playing the keyboard to 'The Flower that Shattered the Stone', and I must say it was better than the John Denver version. I must say, I wasn't familiar with this particular song prior to the show, which given my pagan-hippie leanings at times, I'm surprised. But the lyrics and music are lovely:

The Flower That Shattered the Stone (Words and Music by Joe Henry and John Jarvis)

The Earth is our mother just turning around
With her trees in the forest and roots underground
Our father above us whose sigh is the wind
Paint us a rainbow without any end

As the river runs freely the mountain does rise
Let me touch with my fingers and see with my eyes
In the hearts of the children of pure love still roams
Like a bright star in heaven that lights our way home
Like the flower that shattered the stone

Sparrows find freedom beholding the sun
In the engine and beauty were all joined in one
I reach out before me and look to the sky
Then I hear someone whisper its something pass by

As the river runs freely the mountain does rise
Let me touch with my fingers and see with my eyes
In the hearts of the children of pure love still roams
Like a bright star in heaven that lights our way home
Like the flower that shattered the stone
Like a bright star in heaven that lights our way home
Like the flower that shattered the stone

Here is the John Denver version, just in case you're not familiar with the tune:

It was also our day to celebrate Halloween at the hospital. I didn't dress up, of course, but I did give out candy when the kids came trick-or-treating. The best costumes as far as the staff went had to be information services, which dressed as Tetris tetrads--the coloured blocks that fit together to make a line disappear. :) And here's my favourite Halloween decoration in the recreation therapy area:

It's Mike from Monsters, Inc., of course. :)

I'm off tomorrow, and although I have a lot of errands to run and stuff to do at home, I'm sure I'll blog. But Happy Halloween anyway! Good night.

PS Happy Birthday, A! He's finally caught up with me in age. :)

PPS Speaking of Tetris, here's a short bit from the Wikipedia article on the effect of Tetris on the brain:
According to intensive research from Dr. Michael Crane and Dr. Richard Haier, et al. prolonged Tetris activity can also lead to more efficient brain activity during play.[41] When first playing Tetris, brain function and activity increases, along with greater cerebral energy consumption, measured by glucose metabolic rate. As Tetris players become more proficient, their brains show a reduced consumption of glucose, indicating more efficient brain activity for this task.[42] Even moderate playing of tetris (half-an-hour a day for three months) boosts general cognitve functions such as "critical thinking, reasoning, language and processing" and increase cerebral cortex thickness.[43]

In January 2009, an Oxford University research group headed by Dr. Emily Holmes reported in PLoS ONE that for healthy volunteers, playing ‘Tetris’ soon after viewing traumatic material in the laboratory reduced the number of flashbacks to those scenes in the following week. They believe that the computer game may disrupt the memories that are retained of the sights and sounds witnessed at the time, and which are later re-experienced through involuntary, distressing flashbacks of that moment. The group hope to develop this approach further as a potential intervention to reduce the flashbacks experienced in PTSD, but emphasized that these are only preliminary results.[44]

The game can also cause a repetitive stress symptom in that the brain will involuntarily picture tetris combinations even when the player is not playing the game (the Tetris effect; for citations see the references in the article Tetris Effect), although this can occur with any computer game or situation showcasing repeated images or scenarios, such as a jigsaw puzzle.

I like the idea that it could help reduce the flashbacks of PTSD. I hope they research more on that subject. As far as the Tetris Effect goes, I have that problem, usually when I'm trying to go to sleep. I also have the same effect in terms of the monitor on my cash register, going through repetitive steps mimicking what I did that day, which is a bit annoying. But I find mental Tetris rather relaxing, and it doesn't use electricity. :)

PPPS: The videos for the Grease sketch and The Flower that Shattered the Stone were up on YouTube briefly, but were removed by the user. It would have been nice to link to them here, but I suspect people didn't want to be spotlighted on a site with millions of viewers.

Despite getting up at my normal time

I've missed my bus, so I thought I'd make a brief entry here. Today is dress-up day at the hospital as we celebrate Halloween. The kids trick-or-treat from office to office. I hate to say it, but creativity abandoned me even more than last year, when I wore my other work shirt, put on grey makeup and covered myself with fake spiderwebs, and went as an undead gas station attendant. For the first time in 12 years at the hospital, I'm not dressing up. I don't even have Halloween themed shirts, which is peculiar in a sense because it's my favourite holiday. I'm in jeans and my Starkweather-Moore T-shirt. That's it. Nothing scary. The only thing I have that is remotely Halloween-like on me is my jewelry. My earrings are glass balls surrounded by snakes (I wear those year-round, often) and I have a silver spiderweb with spider around my neck. With the new uniform rules, I can't wear jeans at the gas station so I have to take another outfit with me. I am not missing a rare jeans day at the hospital.

I will be missing the talent show, though. It's at 2:30, when I have to leave for work at the gas station. They're recording it though, so hopefully I'll get to see that. Anyway, I'm a little frustrated this morning between the bus and my lack of ideas.

Hope you have a good day.

RIP GeoCities

End of an era for early websites

Back in the mid-90s, when I first started playing with this thing called the Internet, there was a free service called GeoCities that allowed you to build your own web pages. I came to it fairly early in its existence, having a web page dealing with humanities in the Athens neighbourhood [from the Wayback Machine; links no longer work] (the site was set up with thematic neighbourhood, such as West Hollywood for gay-related sites, Silicon Valley for tech, and Area 51 for science fiction). I never fully developed my page (fairly common, I suppose, but I was in grad school and never seemed to have as much time as I needed), but it's where I deciphered HTML and CSS and the principles of web design. Once Yahoo! acquired it, my Yahoo! ID would never let me get to the site to update it. I began to get annoyed with the GeoCities sites because of the stupid sidebar the company required. Yahoo! warned people some time ago that GeoCities would go offline October 26th; they pulled the plug on Tuesday. As many have pointed out, GeoCities had become passé. But I'll miss it all the same.

The rights of the patron outweigh the librarian's personal ideals

From my own backyard--I even was offered a job there, once, but it fell through:

Librarians Won't Give Child 'Porn' Book

I wouldn't call The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen porn. I'm not sure I would want my 12-year-old reading it, but on the other hand, isn't that the parent's decision? Seems the library thinks so. These women went against policy to keep what is in their opinion a 'filthy' book out of the hands of a patron. But that's rather subjective and emotional.

Granted, I don't know the context of the supposedly lewd material. I have read the original comic books but not this particular book. But I know there are always people willing to decide what others should read or do. I remember a child of friends getting into trouble at school because she drew stallions as they really are, anatomically correct. We tend to 'protect' children from reality sometimes to the point where it is either detrimental, in terms of them not knowing about life and being ready for what it grants them, or sometimes it turns out to be ludicrous because kids today know a lot more about sex than many stuffy adults. Once we as librarians take the role of the obscenity police we cross a line. Kids mature at different rates, and a 12-year-old is on the cusp of being a teenager. The best judge of what she can handle would most likely be the parents, not two busybodies who censored a book in the name of protecting someone from what they saw as pornography.

I will point out that comic books (and presumably the graphic novels which collect the story into one book) are rated much like movies. Mature comics usually are labelled such for people 13 and over. I don't know if this was rated mature, or how the library deals with the different ratings. But the point is these women should not have taken it upon themselves to cancel the girl's hold on the book simply because of their own opinions, so I think the case was handled correctly. I wouldn't be surprised if a case for wrongful termination will be tried, but I doubt they'll get a lot of support from the library community, as the profession as a whole subscribes to ethics that support the rights of the reader/patron over our own personal beliefs as to suitability. When I was the same age a librarian refused to let me read a John Jakes novel, The Bastard, I believe it was called, upon which a popular television miniseries at the time had been based, even though I was reading at a college level and was fairly mature for my age. Apparently I could watch the stuff on TV but not read about it. It incensed me then, and it still stings today.

Thanks to Blake from LISNews for the head's up.

PS Do TV news websites even have editors? The story used 'lye' for 'lie', for example. I know it's easy to make typos (I do them myself, but I just have myself to rely upon), but it used to be there were people to catch such errors. I constantly find spelling and grammar errors on professional websites, advertising, even published books. Is editing a dying vocation? Just wondering.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Suspects arraigned in alleged gang rape of teen: As many as 10 believed involved in attack outside homecoming dance
Police believe as many as 10 people ranging in age from 15 to mid-20s attacked the girl for more than two hours in a dimly lit area. As many as two dozen people witnessed the rape without notifying police....

Reports have indicated onlookers laughed and joked during the attack. Police would not comment on rumors the episode had been recorded on cell phones.

The girl is only 15 years old. Police found her semi-conscious after a former student heard two males bragging about the rape. I hope the girl will be okay and get the counseling she will need. This is going to change her life forever. I hope they get the rapists and the bystanders, too. Surely it is also a crime to stand by and do nothing? If they were joking and laughing, then it sounds like they were complicit accessories.

So sad.

Hmm...I wonder what that means for all those book- and movie-tie-in parties libraries and bookstores do?

Harry Potter themed dinner banned for 'infringing copyright'
The not-for-profit event, which has been renamed "Generic Wizard Night", was to have a menu of dandelion wine, pumpkin soup and Dumbledore's favourite - mint humbugs. Guests would have been led down 'Diagon Alley' by the side of the house and been met by a portrait of the "Fat Lady" who would have demanded a password before they could be let in.....

Other companies have welcomed their brands being used in Ms Marmite's themed evenings. When she hosted a Marmite-themed dinner, rather than sending her a warning letter, Marmite made sure she was fully stocked up with plenty of Marmite - all for free.

(Marmite, incidentally, is the yeasty spread of goodness (at least to consumers in Britain--I've never personally partaken) that is similar to Australia's Vegemite.)

Thanks, Steven, for the link.

I signed up for an unexpected benefit yesterday

of working at the gas station--Tamiflu. In an effort to help curtail pandemic flu, our company is offering Tamiflu to employees so that they have it on hand when needed. (They are, of course, also advocating both seasonal and H1N1 flu vaccination as a preventative). But since Tamiflu works best by being used within the first 48 hours to help mitigate the course of the disease, they wanted us to have access to it in case we get sick. Since it's fairly expensive (and let's face it, gas station clerks don't get paid much, and part-timers don't get health care), they decided to make it available at no cost to the employee. There was a distribution back in the spring that I missed entirely, but they decided to offer it again, so I signed up for it. I had to fill out a questionnaire on my health, list medications, etc., and provide information so a doctor can contact me should he or she need additional information.

I've already had my seasonal flu shot. They have some of the live, attenuated nasal mist H1N1 vaccine at the hospital where I work, but I'm not a candidate because of the underlying conditions of asthma and diabetes. So the first clinic for the H1N1 shots that I'll be able to get to that's run by the health department is November 21st. I hope there will still be plenty of vaccine at that point.

I guess it is a first step

but I for one would not trust the government, and I don't see how any count they try for will be accurate given the criminialisation of homosexuality, which is punishable by up to 14 years in prison in Kenya. The idea is to reach out and educate the gay community as part of Kenya's efforts to reduce its HIV/AIDS transmission rates:

Kenya to launch homosexual census

[Nicholas Muraguri, head of Kenya's Aids prevention programme Nascop] said the survey would involve gay men identifying each other, and officials carrying out HIV tests and providing along with information on safe sexual practice.

'Kenyans cannot actually afford to say that the gay community are isolated somewhere in the corner - they are part of our lives," he said.

'This group must be reached with information and services so they know how to protect themselves from getting infected.'
There's something a little uncomfortable about basically having people rat out on each other, even if it's for a good cause. And as we know from history, the first step in eliminating a 'problem' element is quantifying it. Without registration, the Final Solution would have been much harder, for example. I'm not saying Kenya is planning on eliminating gays, I'm just saying I can understand fears of such. Still, for an African government to come out and say, yes, we acknowledge you exist and we want to help you, is amazing, given the cultural bias against homosexuality. Kenya has reduced its HIV rate by 4% in the last decade in a concerted effort to educate the populace. I wish them well at the endeavour.

Yes, elections do have consequences, yay!

Today President Obama signed legislation that for the first time includes sexual orientation and gender identity (as well as gender and disability) as targeting factors to define a hate crime. Appropriately, it is named for Matthew Shepard, a gay young man tortured and killed eleven years ago this month, as well as James Byrd, Jr., the black man who in that same year was dragged alive behind a truck in Jasper, Texas by three white men, until his limbs and head were severed. Here's a clip from The Rachel Maddow show:

All I can say is, it's about time. Here's what the President said (he is much more eloquent than I):
You understood that we must stand against crimes that are meant not only to break bones, but to break spirits -- not only to inflict harm, but to instill fear. You understand that the rights afforded every citizen under our Constitution mean nothing if we do not protect those rights -- both from unjust laws and violent acts. And you understand how necessary this law continues to be.

In the most recent year for which we have data, the FBI reported roughly 7,600 hate crimes in this country. Over the past 10 years, there were more than 12,000 reported hate crimes based on sexual orientation alone. And we will never know how many incidents were never reported at all.

And that's why, through this law, we will strengthen the protections against crimes based on the color of your skin, the faith in your heart, or the place of your birth. We will finally add federal protections against crimes based on gender, disability, gender identity, or sexual orientation. (Applause.) And prosecutors will have new tools to work with states in order to prosecute to the fullest those who would perpetrate such crimes. Because no one in America should ever be afraid to walk down the street holding the hands of the person they love. No one in America should be forced to look over their shoulder because of who they are or because they live with a disability.

At root, this isn't just about our laws; this is about who we are as a people. This is about whether we value one another -- whether we embrace our differences, rather than allowing them to become a source of animus. It's hard for any of us to imagine the mind-set of someone who would kidnap a young man and beat him to within an inch of his life, tie him to a fence, and leave him for dead. It's hard for any of us to imagine the twisted mentality of those who'd offer a neighbor a ride home, attack him, chain him to the back of a truck, and drag him for miles until he finally died.

But we sense where such cruelty begins: the moment we fail to see in another our common humanity -- the very moment when we fail to recognize in a person the same fears and hopes, the same passions and imperfections, the same dreams that we all share.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

So I can't afford it (at least not yet), but...

I saw this the other day on a Barnes & Noble daily special, for $69.95. I so should have jumped at it, then. But no, I told myself--I'm saving for a car.

M*A*S*H: The Martinis and Medicine Collection (Complete Series, Seasons 1-11, along with the original movie and bonus material, for a total of 36 discs, and including the special feature-length finale). With my membership it would be about $144, much cheaper than at Amazon, but the $70 sounds a lot better!

M*A*S*H was THE show of my childhood. It debuted when I was five and went off the air when I was in high school. It took on all sorts of serious themes even though it was a sitcom. It was just as much about the Vietnam war as the Korean one, and as a child growing up in a military household with a father who was a Vietnam vet, it really resonated with me. It taught me about war--and about peace, and helped shaped my outlook on many things. For what you get it is definitely worth the price. I really would like to get it while it's available at some point--but not today.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Every girl should have a literary heroine to make a difference in her life

Thank You, Nancy Drew and Judy Blume by Carole Baron
But get this. When I was reading the Nancy Drew books, you couldn't get them in the libraries at all. Not in Detroit, Michigan. My beloved Nancy Drew books were given to me by my parents, my relatives, my parents' friends. Reading in the dark nights under the covers with a flashlight, I devoured these "unsuitable" books, having given up on reading books for my recommended level as too boring. I remember being fascinated by Nancy and her independent ways; her boyfriend, Ned Nickerson; her father, Carson Drew, a criminal lawyer, just like my father and that made this perfect for me. I didn't know anyone like Nancy Drew but I wanted to be Nancy Drew. . Other heroines I was supposed to read about were sweet and adorable, and liked to cook and help their mother, had dreams of faraway places. Nancy was always in the middle of the action and always got her way. She was curious, smart, feisty and independent, but always a good girl. She was all girl who lived in a Boy's World. And she solved crimes (and could fix her own car).
:) Nancy Drew was great. Trixie Belden I loved as well, but Nancy did it all and was a lady, not a tomboy. I remember how disappointed I was in the 70s TV show that Nancy was suddenly not titian-haired. :) It's like they thought girls couldn't tell the difference. Really?

Quote of the Day

'There is no religion without love, and people may talk as much as they like about their religion, but if it does not teach them to be good and kind to man and beast it is all a sham--all a sham, James, and it won't stand when things come to be turned inside out and put down for what they are.'--Anna Sewell, Black Beauty, 1st edition
I loved Black Beauty as a child, and although I devoured horse books during my horsey-girly phase (the most notable being those of Marguerite Henry [my favourite of hers being Black Gold]), it all began with Anna Sewell's remarkable book. It was my first glimpse into the cruetly of men towards animals, and of course it has a lesson to teach in terms of animal welfare that was quite blatantly meant by Sewell, who didn't really set out to write a children's book, but rather one for those working with horses.

I came across this quote again through the What Book Got You Hooked?, where Morgan Freeman brought up the quote (changed in later versions apparently to 'other animals as well as humans', which seems to be a little politically correct for me). But whatever the wording, the sentiment is dead on. All in all, Black Beauty came out as #9 in the voting. Kentucky was the #3 state in voting, which I was glad to see. Dr Seuss books were #1 and Hawaii was the state with the most votes, and they'll be receiving 50,000 new books for children in need, so that's great.

I really like working with one of my new co-workers

but he's done a couple of things I've had to smack him gently down on. One was calling me 'Liz'. My first name is Elisabeth (Eilir is a middle name); shortened it is Lisa. No offence to those of you named Liz out in the world but every one I've known has been utterly insane, and the name has bad associations (I feel the same about Mary and Chris [of either gender]). The second thing he did was tonight he kicked me several times in my right ankle. I explained to him that he should stop and that he was kicking me on the ankle that's hurting so much right now. He apologised for both; turns out his daughter's middle name is 'Elisabeth' with an 's', and he thought my knees were bad and didn't realise he'd cause me pain, he was just joking around. So everything's fine, except my foot really hurts, but I think ibuprofen's the best response to being kicked in an inflamed tendon.


I hunted. I caught. I brought back home and set up.

Today I took off from work (and wasn't scheduled at the store), so I had a day to run errands. I didn't get everything I wanted accomplished but I did get quite a bit. I got a late start; I never heard my alarm and didn't wake up till 11 am (I was at a friend's house till 2 am last night, and had taken a cab home, then tried to go through my news reader for awhile because over 700 entries had built up over a couple of days, but finally I had to go to bed, so I was pretty tired.) I knew I'd have lots to carry, so I brought a backpack.

At the bus stop I met a young man who was obviously reading a roleplaying game book (trust me, you get to recognise the format after dealing with as many as I have over the years). I asked him about it, and it turned out to be one of the editions of Dungeons & Dragons, a book on the various planes of existence. We got to talking. I told him I played in a Call of Cthulhu game and had done so since 1991. Turns out he's been playing one campaign of D&D for ten years, so he understood ongoing games. He enjoys Lovecraft ('my favourite person who's dead', as he put it) but had never even come across anyone else who knew about or played the roleplaying game. He'd had a hard time even finding the books. I pointed him to the Rusty Scabbard and Chaosium.com. I happened to be wearing my 'Starkweather-Moore Antarctic Expedition' T-shirt, which refers to the long campaign we had set in Antarctica. He was familiar with the story that it was based upon. So we had a good chat. On the way in to the transit centre his fiancée got on and he was telling her about what we'd been talking about. It was refreshing to talk to someone about roleplaying without totally sounding geeklike. I was waiting for him to ask to play (our gamemaster is very choosy, and I don't think we're looking for another player right now, so I emphasised that we were in our 40s and even one is in her early 50s.) He never asked, but he was happy to talk to someone who had read and understood Lovecraft.

First I went to a store I had not heard of prior to a recommendation from Sqecial Media. It's out on Winchester and Liberty Road and it is called Botany Bay, which entailed getting on a bus with which I was unfamiliar and totally different from the one route I'd pulled up on the computer had been (the bus driver for Eastland suggested the Hamburg one instead, and he was right, it was much easier). There was some confusion as to whether I'd pulled the cord at the right stop (I was right, but got confused when one of the signs said 7th Street and asked the bus driver if we were at Liberty, but she didn't understand, and then once we turned onto Liberty right after that she realised what I said and let me off at the next stop).

Winchester Road (or at least that area) is a collection of automobile garages, home improvement stores, clubs, tattoo parlours, etc. It's kind of run-down looking. But the store was easy to find. It was full of herbs, incenses, jewelry (including body piercing), T-shirts, and a few books. They were friendly and helpful. I found everything I needed except for one thing, which I managed to find in my house way in the back of a cupboard later (I was certain I had some somewhere in the house). So I'm good to go on that project, yay.

Then I went back to the transit centre and onto Richmond Road's bus and went to Walgreen's. I got the hygiene items and contact lens cleaner that I needed, but realised that the one thing I'd forgotten was a new prescription, so I decided to fill the three I need tomorrow and just take the earlier bus. Then I walked over to the transfer point to the Woodhill route (it's just across the street and down a bit, in front of the fire station). I got on the Woodhill bus and got off at the next stop (which is quite a way aways, and on New Circle), and then I went to Office Depot in search of a printer. I am tired of not having a working printer, and had a project I needed to print. I could have gone elsewhere and just printed the character sheets for the game that we'd been working on, but those often get tweaked and I always seem to have to make a special trip to get them printed. So I wanted a fairly inexpensive all-in-one.

I found a Hewlett-Packard Officejet 6500 that was only $100. It prints, copies, scans, and faxes. The salesman was quite helpful (and not my ex, who also works there and was somewhere in the background). He went and got the printer and a cable for it (why is it that printers that use USB cables never come with them? You should have everything you need in the box, period.) I went ahead and got some replacement ink since it comes with starter cartridges that only contain about half the ink. I also got some paper. All of the small stuff went into the backpack, along with the health and beauty aids and the stuff from Botany Bay. Then the fun began--getting everything home on the bus.

Now, in order to get home I had to take the Woodhill bus back to the transit station, catch the Richmond Road one, and then walk home from the library while lugging a large (1 ft x 2 ft x 2 1/2 ft) box, which took up a seat and a bit more, and then although it wasn't hugely heavy, it was fun lugging it the two blocks home. It took awhile to set up (especially the software, which I thought took a rather long time), but everything is working, it wasn't hard to assemble (you have to put the print head in and the cartridges, and of course there's the various packing materials to disengage beforehand). The character sheets look lovely. For another $100 I could have gotten one that duplexed and was wireless, but I don't have a wi-fi network and let's face it, you can re-feed the sheets fairly easily without having to double the price of a printer. I was happy to succeed in figuring out the orientation for printing on two sides the first try. It does have an automatic document feeder, which is nice. The ink dries quickly and is crisp. You can print photos from memory cards straight from the printer. All in all I'm pretty happy. It's also less than half the size of my old printer (an Officejet PSC 500, which was pretty ancient and had stopped working a long time ago). And no, no one paid me to say anything about the printer.

I was supposed to go to the game master's house with sheets in hand and help him with his computer, but he called just as I was going out of the door and told me not to. It was pretty late, and dark, so that was fine with me. I'll go over Thursday, when I'm off next from the store, and we can go over the sheets then.

After that, I just crashed. That was a little before 9 pm and I woke up a little after 2 am and thought I'd write a little.

It was a long day. I wasn't able to go to Gall's for pepper spray (I just ordered it online) or junk the car officially. That will have to wait until maybe Thursday. I'd hate to wait until next Monday because the lines will be long due to people renewing their registration in a new month. Thursday at least might not be so bad as Friday.

Well, that was everything that happened today. I did a good job at hunting quickly; it just takes awhile to get anywhere on the bus, although at least they run every half-hour during the day.

I think I'm too wiped out to go back to the news reader and pare things down. Good night.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Oh, I didn't realise she had died

Service for last Titanic survivor
The ashes of a woman who became the last survivor of the Titanic have been scattered following a memorial service.

Millvina Dean was nine weeks old when the liner sank after hitting an iceberg in the Atlantic on its maiden voyage from Southampton on 15 April 1912.

Miss Dean died in a care home in Hampshire on 31 May at the age of 97.
I've written before about Miss Dean. I'm saddened to hear about her death. With her passing, so goes an era.

A sad case of environmental loss

'Freezer plan' bid to save coral
The prospects of saving the world's coral reefs now appear so bleak that plans are being made to freeze samples to preserve them for the future.

A little scary

Can you catch Alzheimer’s disease?: Controversial theory links the memory-erasing condition to herpes virus

By that they mean the Herpes Simplex I virus, the one that causes fever blisters. I have it (thanks to my mom when I was little). Alzheimer's is a fear of mine; I live in a state with a high rate for it and my own great-grandmother had it for years before she died; I watched her deteriorate for much of my life, and it was heart-breaking. The idea that a virus that lurks in your system could also rob you of your memory, change your personality, and slowly make you lose everything that is special in life is horrific.

Making a difference

Billionaire Aids Charity That Aided Him
Were it not for the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, there might be no Google.

Thirty years ago today, Sergey Brin, a 6-year-old Soviet boy facing an uncertain future, arrived in the United States with the help of the society.

Now Mr. Brin, the billionaire co-founder of Google, is giving $1 million to the society, widely known as HIAS, which helped his family escape anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union and establish itself here.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Gee, they're a little harsh about royalties in Britain, aren't they?

Apology for singing shop worker
"I would start to sing to myself when I was stacking the shelves just to keep me happy because it was very quiet without the radio.

"When I heard that the PRS said I would be prosecuted for not having a performance licence, I thought it was a joke and started laughing.

"I was then told I could be fined thousands of pounds. But I couldn't stop myself singing.

"They would need to put a plaster over my mouth to get me to stop, I can't help it."
The Performing Right Society has since offered her an apology and send her a bouquet of flowers--and complimented her singing voice. :)

Imagine this happening in the US. Free speech vs. intellectual property rights--I would have once said it would never be an issue, but in these days, who knows?

Good Lord, where do they find these people?

Well, in this case, in Duluth, Minnesota.

Man pleads guilty to DWI in La-Z-Boy: Driver rode motorized chair away from bar and hit parked car
Police said the chair was powered by a converted lawnmower and had a stereo and cup holders.

I came across and ad for something called


It's a search engine that you download and then use to search out your actual information infrastructure, or at least that's what the technobabble says. What attracted me to actually click on the ad?

'Get Splunk>
Take the sh out of IT.'

Very catchy, you have to admit. :) Anyway, I'm not endorsing it. I'm not entirely sure I understand what it does for that matter, but I can admire a good tagline and doff a hat to the genius who came up with it.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


One of the things I was going to do today was go to the library before work and give back the DVD of Pan's Labyrinth (which, like three episodes of 'Heroes', I have yet to find time to watch) and pick up a book on hold called Rutka's Notebook: A Voice from the Holocaust.

Here's a description of the book that appears on Amazon.com:
Rutka Laskier, a 14-year-old Jewish girl in the town of Bedzin in Poland, died in Auschwitz in 1943. But she left behind a notebook in which she recorded her thoughts, fears and dreams. Some are the musings of any adolescent girl; others are the despairing cries of an individual caught in history's vortex. Now, after 60 years in the keeping of a friend, that notebook has been recovered - and it opens a unique, moving window into the everyday life of Polish Jews caught in the throes of Adolf Hitler's Final Solution. Hailed as the "Polish Anne Frank," Rutka Laskier now speaks to us across the decades: a witness to evil, a voice for the silent, and a timeless symbol of resolve. The editors of TIME add annotations, photos, maps, and quotations that help bring this tragic era into compelling focus for today's readers.
A note about this book has been pinned to my bulletin board since it came out in April of last year. I think I heard about it on NPR. I'd meant to get it but hadn't, and then I noticed the library had it and requested a hold.

One of my favourite things about our library system is that you can place a hold on a book--even if it is not currently checked out--and it will be delivered to your home branch when available. Since I no longer have a car, this makes it immensely easier for me to get books. I really appreciate this service, Lexington Public Library!

I guess I'll have to stop by tomorrow though and make the exchange. Still wish I'd been able to watch the DVD (it's a 7-day one, but I just haven't had the time--I may see about renewing it.) [Actually, I looked down and it was 11:58--I still had time until it would be considered overdue and wouldn't have to be renewed at the library, and I'd get away without a fine, so I went to another browser window, went to the website, signed into my account (which has an automatic sign-in on my Chrome browser), clicked a box, and hit renew, and voilà! I have it for 7 more days. It took less time than explaining it. Yay! This is another reason I like LPL.]

Here's what else I have out from the library right now. As you can see, I'm kind of musing on the Holocaust right now...

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
Damsel Under Stress by Shanna Swendson
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith
Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire

So glad that's over

I started my morning earlier than usual, having an 8:45 am ophthalmology appointment that got off to a rocky start. The automatic check-in machine insisted I did not have any appointments at Lexington Clinic East. I checked my voice mail, which verified that I did. I went looking for the office to check with them, but it wasn't on the Eagle Creek side, so I went back down to registration and waited through the regular checkout to find out that yes, I did have an appointment, paid my co-pay, got my sheet for the doctor's office, and headed up on the other side of the building, which meant that I finally got checked in a half-hour later than I normally would have.

I then had a little paperwork to fill out, followed by a short look at my visual acuity and prescription. I met my doctor (all the staff were very cordial and I'm pleased with the office; I was just frustrated to near-tears (I hate when I do that) because I was so late). And then the fun began.

The main reason for the appointment, which you may remember, is because my optometrist was concerned with my eye pressure. In the course of the appointment I was:
  1. given numbing drops
  2. examined with a machine that touches the eye and checks the pressure
  3. had my eyes dilated
  4. was examined by the doctor who had some steampunk gizmo that fit over his head (I'm assuming that was a look at the retina/optic nerve)
  5. was examined using an ultrasonic pachymeter to measure the the thickness of my corneas (which can contribute to pressure issues) and
  6. scans were taken of my optic nerve and eye tissues, which involved a staring contest with a little blue dot so that the scan could be made before I blinked.

The whole process (since the dilation took a few minutes and there were a couple of waits) took quite a while. I got out of there around noon, my eyes feeling very puffy and of course totally blind in the sun; thankfully they'd provided those little plastic sun glasses, because even though I have Transitions lenses and was walking and not sitting behind automobile glass, I needed even more protection.

The upshot is yes, my pressure is a little high in both eyes, and they are reasonably equal. It is not so bad as to put me on medication yet, and the nerve does not seem damaged, either. Everything we did today will be used as a baseline. I go back in three weeks to have the pressure tests again and a field-of-vision test (where they put you in a kind of satellite thing and lights appear here and there to test whether you can see peripherally, etc.) I'll have to go back at some frequency to be determined to monitor things to see if I'm actually developing glaucoma.

This was not what I really wanted to hear, but I did expect it.

There were some upsides to the visit. The doctor was thorough and impressed with my medical knowledge (well, I am a medical librarian--I recognised one syndrome he asked about because I'd run a search for someone once). There was a lovely lady who was 90 years old but looked about 65 who was very personable, and a gentleman who'd been in a wheelchair for 50 years but who'd had an exciting career in computer programming back in the 60s and 70s, who'd gone from a kid in a rural area of Lincoln county where he'd have to bike in 10 miles to read every book in their small library to college, which he finished despite being paralysed in a car crash, to calculating Moon and Mars launches. It was fascinating to hear them talk of their lives. I also saw a regular from the store who was on the phone at another office window.

After the appointment I went over to the podiatrist's office and told them that I couldn't afford the custom orthotics until January but had once bought a type of orthopaedic insole there and wondered if they had any more. So I got those and they seem to be helping somewhat.

When I got home I was famished and had nothing in the house to eat, so I ordered pizza. Yay for payday (the 1st of two this week)! After eating I laid down (yes I know, I shouldn't have) and woke up in time to put clothes on and head to work. Unfortunately it did not occur to me that after three hours my eyes would still be dilated. I was okay up near the buildings with just the regular tint on my glasses, but once I got out in the open the sun really hurt and I could barely see. It was too late to go back and get the sunglasses, or I'd have been late. So I navigated the best I could with watery eyes, and made sure to cross Richmond and Man O'War at the crosswalks and with the lights, rather than cutting across at some point. Even so, I almost got run over and someone honked even though I did have the right of way--I double checked that the light was green.

Tonight was fairly uneventful except that we have a nice young lady as a new employee whom I got to train, who also gave me a ride home, for which I'm thankful, because even though everything eventually wore off, there's always the getting home in the dark fun. There was one absolutely hilarious thing. One of my co-workers was on the phone with store support while I was on break. Apparently he put down the phone to wait on customers and forgot about it. Then his register started having buttons randomly going on and off. It lasted a couple of minutes. I told him maybe I should wait on people--it didn't seem to be happening to mine. Then it did. Some paper was printing at the printer. I thought nothing of it at first--our new employee was doing her computer-based education modules. Then I realised that the one she was working on didn't have a printout. I went over the the printer and it said: '(Co-worker's name) store support is still on the phone'. At which point I saw the phone, picked it up, and we worked out what was needed. He'd been manipulating the buttons from his end to clue us in. He heard me say my register wasn't affected and then played with mine. I'm afraid we were being somewhat dense, although in my defence I didn't realise anyone had been on the phone, and I did figure out what was happening eventually. :) It was hilarious. I went out to check the pumps that were being worked on remotely and we ended the call, and I was laughing so hard outside and continued all the way into the store. It was great. I'm not sure my co-worker found it quite so funny. :)

So now I'm home and have eaten a little and it's nice to not be at work. I thought I'd get a lot done today, but didn't plan on the doctor's visit being quite so long and tiring. My eyes were poofy for a long time and it feels like every bit of their surface has been touched and they had a real work out. It's an odd sort of feeling. But at least it's over--at least for three weeks. I made that appointment for the afternoon when I wouldn't be working afterwards, though.

I guess that's all for now. How was your day?

More backwards idiocy

Village 'witches' beaten in India
Five women were paraded naked, beaten and forced to eat human excrement by villagers after being branded as witches in India's Jharkhand state.

Local police said the victims were Muslim widows who had been labelled as witches by a local cleric.
I know there are real witches out there, and not just the happy-bunny-Wiccans who call themselves such. But I also know that historically, the majority of people labelled witches are often blameless and are simply those on the fringe of society (such, for example, older women or widows, as seen during the Early Modern Age in Europe, where they were targeted for their property, which was forfeit, due to their lack of male protection).

These punishments are apparently not uncommon in India, but there was footage shot in this case (there is a video embedded in the article), which of course takes the act out of a small village and into a global world where there's no doubt plenty of outrage, or at least there should be.

The women who were beaten and degraded by the mob are under police protection. Others, including female witch finders, are under arrest.

I really don't see how India can attain first world status so long as this sort of thing happens. All countries have their backwaters, and all have poverty (trust me, I live very close to Appalachia, which is one of our most impoverished areas), but India--despite great technological know-how and the atom bomb--has endemic cultural hurdles to surmount. I hope it will, actually--and sooner than later, but it will take a great deal of work.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

What is lost when a language dies?

The death of language?
As globalisation sweeps around the world, it is perhaps natural that small communities come out of their isolation and seek interaction with the wider world. The number of languages may be an unhappy casualty, but why fight the tide?

"What we lose is essentially an enormous cultural heritage, the way of expressing the relationship with nature, with the world, between themselves in the framework of their families, their kin people," says Mr Hagege.

"It's also the way they express their humour, their love, their life. It is a testimony of human communities which is extremely precious, because it expresses what other communities than ours in the modern industrialized world are able to express."
This statistic saddens me: 133 languages are spoken by fewer than 10 people.

In some cases, a language may be spoken by a single person. With that person's death, the language dies. Just as our environment's loss of heterogeneity is a threat, so is the loss of unique languages, which should be studied and conserved before it is too late.

An exhilarating read

I won't call it charming, although it is, because authoress Gail Carriger is used to that term being applied to her book, Soulless, a romp through an alternate Victorian London where vampires and werewolves are accepted and a certain soulless spinster becomes entangled in the mysterious disappearances (and appearances) of supernaturals.

An interesting premiss in the book is that people have varying amounts of soul. Those who have an abundance may be turned into a vampire or werewolf. The vast majority of humans have an amount somewhat in the middle, and if bitten by a vampire, for example, do not turn but die. There is presently no way to tell exactly how much soul a person has before such a transformation is attempted--except for the rare preternatural, the soulless, also known as a soul-sucker.

That is the lot of our heroine, Alexi Tarabotti, a spinster with an acerbic tongue, quick wit, and utterly without soul. Her touch makes supernaturals revert to mere mortal guise--vampires lose their fangs, werewolves change to human form. She is incapable of being turned. In the old days before a more enlightened age, the soulless made excellent hunters of supernaturals.

The book quickly captivates the reader through a wonderful snapshot of the heroine's strong personality in the face of danger. The main characters and their relationships are developed quickly and well, and as the reader is drawn into the increasingly complex mystery, he or she comes to appreciate the humour of the narratrix, who bemoans the loss of a sweet treat due to a clumsy vampire attack in the very first scene and only gets better from there.

Alexia reminds me a bit of Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody, ever ready with parasol in hand to ward off evil.  Like Amelia, she both possesses a matronly view of etiquette and yet knows when to break the rules.  Also, she is terribly passionate, but with a harder edge.  Her intelligence and tongue often brings her trouble; she speaks her mind with absolute candor.

In all, this is a delightful read.  I picked it up at the library the day after it was put upon the shelf and was hooked almost immediately.  I'm happy to say there is a sequel coming out next year, whereupon we will no doubt become privy to Alexia's further adventures.  I highly recommend the novel for its quick pace, great character development, and wonderful sense of humour.  I will definitely be adding it to my own collection.

PS Given the new FTC rules, I should mention that although I received no renumeration for this review, there was a contest I entered that could include a few items, including a signed copy of the book and a parasol pin. But it didn't influence the outcome; I simply enjoyed the book immensely.

Irrational and sad

African churches denounce children as ‘witches’: Pastors accuse thousands of children, leading to torture or death

The caption to a photo is horrific:
Accused child witches Jane, left, and Mary, right, stand with other children accused of witchcraft at the Children's Rights and Rehabilitation Network in Eket, Nigeria, on Aug. 18, 2009. Jane's mother tried to saw off the top of her skull after a pastor denounced her and Mary, 15, is just beginning to think about boys and how they will look at the scar tissue on her face caused when her mother doused her in caustic soda.
[Emphasis mine]

What a horrible thing to do in the name of religion to defenceless children!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Really nice video

about sharing experiences in observing the moon and the Geminid meteor shower by tweeting about them.

Excellent (non-banal) use of Twitter. :)

MOONWATCH: October 26th and 27th, 2009
METEORWATCH: December 12th, 2009

Use #MoonWatch and #MeteorWatch hash tags (or some version of them, alphabetisation doesn't really matter) when talking about your experiences. :) Gee, I wish I had a telescope and could drive far enough out of town to really see lots of meteors. I remember watching one shower back in the Mojave desert that was breathtaking. We stretched out on the hood of a car for hours.

I suppose it's interesting

that both Bill and I came out as the following on a Facebook quiz on occult knowledge:
IPSISSIMUS: Your knowledge of the occult is comprehensive... scarily so. Frankly one wonders what you are doing taking internet quizzes at all, when you could be traversing the depths of the Astral Plane, communing with the angels of the spheres, or calling spirits from the vasty deep (and maybe even having them come when you call)! Please telepathically contact the author of this quiz, as he has a big pile of lead that could use some transmuting into gold.
What can I say, both Guild and a good guide to the occult gave us some insights. I can think of one person who would blow us away, though, because I know that I have a bad memory, and probably missed a lot more than I should have.


Curator makes a case for Helen the hero: Helen's face launched a spirit of community among the Greeks
"You have to remember that she was half-divine," Schulz says. "Zeus was her father. There were temples dedicated to Helen. Girls and young women worshipped her, and the cult of Helen lasted for quite a long time."

There also was lots and lots of artwork, including some masterpieces, made of the woman held up as the epitome of female beauty.

It's easy to think of other ancient Greek women whose personal accomplishments might be more palatable to a modern, post-feminist audience. There's Hippolyta, queen of the Amazons, that fierce race of warrior women. The princess Antigone was put to death for defying what she felt to be an immoral law that forbade her from burying the brother who'd been slain in war. And the resourceful Penelope kept together a small kingdom and held hostile forces at bay for 20 years while her husband was lost at sea.

Not a weakling among them.

The problem, Schulz says, is that there also isn't a lot of absolutely first-rate artwork among them - at least not in a form that the Walters could get its hands on for the exhibit.
I'm not sure about art availability as the reason for conferring upon Helen the 'hero' accolade (or in her case, it really should be heroine--really, why has our society decided to replace perfectly good feminine forms with the masculine in the name of feminism??? An female poet, editor, author, etc. is a poetess, editrix, and authoress, regardless of modern convention. Otherwise it's the equivalent of emasculating a male in language, in my view, but then I'm rather conservative on this point.) Her aspect as a demigoddess, however, I can see as putting her firmly in the league of someone like Achilles. It sounds like an interesting exhibit; too bad I live nowhere near.

Shubh Diwali!

For those who celebrate it, have a wonderful Diwali full of light and prosperity!

Friday, October 16, 2009

An Autumn round

from Libana's A Circle is Cast album from 1986, which I have as a tape but is now available as a CD. I think I may order it soon; the whole album was haunting and wonderful for pagan ritual and meditation.

Autumn time, red leaves fall
While the weeping sky looks over all.
Demeter sadly walks the land,
the dying grasses in Her hand.


YKWIA shared a video with me tonight of Indri lemur calls from Madagascar, which sound somewhat like whales. This isn't the video he showed me, but it will give you the idea:

The lemur, also called a Babakoto ('baba-koot') is endangered due to loss of habitat and hunting, the latter despite cultural taboos and legends of a common ancestry. According to the Wikipedia article on the Indri:
Most legends establish a closer relationship between the Indri and humans. In some regions it is believed that there were two brothers who lived together in the forest until one of them decided to leave and cultivate the land. That brother became the first human, and the brother who stayed in the forest became the first Indri. The Indri cries in mourning for his brother who went astray.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I reactivated my savings account today

With $150 put towards the car. I might be able to put away as much as $350 next week, bringing it up to $500, which would be a quarter of the way to how much I want to save. I may have to call the bank tomorrow, though, because although it's showing the savings account online and the amount as pending, a corresponding amount is not showing as being deducted from my checking account. Since I wrote the withdrawal on a slip where she looked up my account based on my Social Security number rather than an actual cheque, I'm wondering if she put the wrong account down and I got someone else's money instead, because the combined total for the two accounts is $150 more than there should be. It might just be how it displays and tomorrow everything will be in its place. If not, however, I want to make sure there was no mistake.

Anyway, go me, I'm finally on the road to saving, and I have reminded myself, as others have, that I can't drive a Kindle around town. :)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Where are the Oompa-Loompas when you need them? :)

Sweet sorrow for German boy thief
An eight-year-old German boy who stole his parents' savings to go on a confectionary binge has been turned over to police in a sweet shop.

When he tried to buy 15 euros (£14) of treats in the western town of Viersen, he was asked if he had enough money.

The shop owner's suspicions were aroused by the sweet-toothed boy's 1,680-euro wad of bills and instead of a sugar rush, he got the bum's rush.
Okay, why on earth did his parents keep €1,600 in a drawer, of all things?

But it does bring up visions of Augustus Gloop from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, doesn't it?

In my head...

Joan Baez, 'John Riley'

That's a relief

Today a couple of contractors came to fix my bathtub faucet and I have to admit, I was a little anxious about letting complete strangers have the run of my apartment without supervision. Fortunately I found nothing out of place when I returned 13 hours later, which is good, because the one oops they did was that they forgot to lock my door. :) It's good to live with a police cruiser parked outside.

The new bath fixture looks wonderful. They left a note that I can't take a shower until 9 pm (since they had to pry out tile and then retile afterwards to get the new one in), but I take mine in the morning and wasn't even home till 10:40 so that was fine. Hopefully this will fix the chronic issue of hot water running at the faucet. Yay.

Walking on water...not so hard when you're a reptile

Lizards filmed 'walking on water'

Apparently basilisk lizards create a bubble when they run that helps them 'walk on water'. Another reptile, a tiny gecko, is so small it doesn't break the surface tension of the water. I couldn't find a video of 'Life', the British series referred to in the article, but here is a National Geographic video of a basilisk lizard running on the water:


5 charged with setting Fla. teen on fire: Victim hospitalized with severe burns after attack at apartment complex
Five teenagers were charged with aggravated battery Tuesday for allegedly dousing a 15-year-old with rubbing alcohol and setting him on fire because he stopped someone from stealing his father's bicycle.
The 15-year-old who flicked the lighter is being charged with attempted murder. The boy who was burned is expected to be in the hospital for 5 months.

It makes you wonder what the world is coming to. Really.

'I am not a victim. I am victorious.'

Man arrested in 1990 rape of 8-year-old: Victim says she never gave up hope that attacker would be caught

In 1990 Jennifer Schuett, an 8-year-old girl in Dickinson, Texas, was kidnapped from her room, choked, raped, her throat slashed, and left for dead. She miraculously held on and was found 14 hours later lying naked in a field by a group of children.

It took 19 years, but they have arrested a man for the attack. 40-year-old Dennis Earl Bradford has been connected to the near-deadly assault through DNA evidence.

For more on the case, check out Schuett's website, Justice for Jennifer. I am glad to see she if finally finding justice. And may her attacker get the justice he deserves.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

I put two holds on books at the library today

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne (I've seen the movie; I'm betting the book is even better)


Damsel Under Stress by Shanna Swendson (the 3rd book of the series begun with Enchanted, Inc., which was a really fun read--unfortunately the library has the 2nd book on order, but doesn't have it available yet)

I'm currently reading The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. I really like his use of language, and that the narrator is Death himself. There is excellent imagery and character development so far.

Totally unsolicited and uncompensated product plug

One of the reasons I don't tend to fool with makeup is that often claims of lasting all day are often just that, claims. Yesterday I broke down and decided I no longer had any basic makeup that would be good for a job interview, a nice night out, or just to pull myself together professionally. So I went to the pharmacy and bought the following products from Almay®:


I put it all together this morning, along with my existing mascara, Cover Girl Natural Lash Darkener. I didn't do eyeliner or lipliner, but as a result of the makeup I had a very nice, natural and fresh look. It all lasted throughout the day. One of the women I work with noticed mainly due to the lip colour, which was about a shade darker than my own--everything blended with my natural complexion, but evened it out. The eyeshadow really brought out the hazel in my eyes and made them seem even more expressive without looking huge or made-up. The lip wand is double ended, with a sponge applicator in the colour and a brush in the clear gloss. It can be worn with or without the gloss. I applied the latter a couple of times today, but the colour stayed without having to be re-applied. The eye shadow did seem to fade a bit (as all shadow does, in my experience), but enough stayed to accentuate my eyes throughout the day. I was really happy with it. I may start doing this every day. It was really simple to get a nice, polished yet natural look. I chose Almay because it tends to be hypo-allergenic. It would be nice if the eye shadow had a two-ended, two-sided applicator, instead of the double one, since it has three colours--but that was minor. ($31.47 isn't bad for that much makeup, either).

I didn't try the other eye shadow for hazel eyes (it has pink as its main colour), because although it would have brought out the hazel, it would have made my eyes look redder. I already have trouble with ruddiness. If I cry or get very angry, my whole face reddens and my eyes get very red, and I look like I have positively green eyes, as opposed to a greenish hazel/light brown mix.

It's a little weird, both the foundation and blush look a little grey when they come out of the tube, but then they blend in wonderfully. I'd need a better understanding of chemistry to know how.

Anyway, that was today's adventure in makeup. :)

I'm up before dawn

Althought that's not saying a lot, I suppose, since the sun's coming up so much later. But it's an hour and a half before normal. My blood sugar's 200, which is better than when I take it at 10, even though I ate late last night, but I had salmon and rice for dinner, so that probably helped. Plus I got 8 1/2 hours of sleep last night, and 14 the night before (making up for 1 hour Saturday night).

I celebrated being up early with coffee, something I almost never drink. If I make a habit of it, I'll have to get some half-and-half. I have those little Mini Moos liquid creamers that supposedly need no refrigeration, but one was curdled this morning and I had to throw away a whole cup. I settled on some powdered creamer I had in the cabinet, but it's not the same, and milk just doesn't do it. I like about 1/2 to 3/4 coffee and the rest creamer--I guess more of a latte. I have a friend who mocks me because I once said coffee made me sleepy. In retrospect, it was the sugar in the coffee interacting with my (undiagnosed) insulin resistance. Now I use Splenda, which is a perfectly good substitute.

So anyway, I'm up early, drinking coffee and getting a bite to eat (although there's little in the house to make, and I really wish I had some eggs). I'm listening the Black-Eyed Peas on the radio. I have to admit, I'm not all that impressed by their music. I actually got up so that I would do laundry, which I'll start in a few minutes.

Maybe I'll actually do some yoga. Oops, you shouldn't do that on a full stomach. Oh, well. Maybe tomorrow.

Monday, October 12, 2009

According to my podiatrist

My tendonitis is actually secondary to a heel spur and plantar fascitis. I'm to do stretches throughout the day, ice them especially at night (including rolling an icy 20 oz. water bottle under my feet to massage them (it may be as effective on the pain as ibuprofen, which helps but can't be used long-term). I am not to go barefoot even inside my apartment, but wear shoes, even if they're my Birkenstock knock-offs, something with support. My doctor wears crocs, for example. Just socks or houseshoes are also verboten. We're going to check if my insurance will pay for orthotic inserts, as my feet suffer from pronation, where the foot tends to rock to the outside. It's one of the reasons I tend to have ankle sprains, apparently. Then there's the heel spur issue. In other words, my feet's structure is such that I'm a prime candidate for these problems. Age affects the tendons as they become more brittle, so that is part of it. My weight and standing so long at work have aggravated the problem. But happily, there is no boot or crutches in my immediate future. If this does not help, cortisone shots into the tendon may relieve the pain. I'd rather not do that, though, so I'm going to try everything else first.

Okay, I'm geeking out

Twitter + Neil Gaiman + 1000 contributions = a BBC Audiobook!

From Twitter an Audio Story with Neil Gaiman
How Does it Work?
Read the opening line of the story tweeted by Neil (or catch up with it in progress by visiting #bbcawdio) and then follow us at http://www.twitter.com/BBCAA to post the next sentence of the story (tweets must be 140 characters or less) like this:
@BBCAA Your Tweet Here #bbcawdio
(Please use both the @BBCAA and the #bbcawdio tags to be sure we see your contribution!)

By the way, if you go to Neil Gaiman's website, he has a Cthulhu hand puppet on his head in the photo. :) The fun starts at noon (EDT) on Tuesday, October 13th. :)

Yay for languages

If you notice to the left of the blog are many little flags of different countries, representing the languages you can translate this blog into. You have to have the correct fonts in place on your computer (I don't have any of the Asian ones, so they come out as little boxes), but it's great fun. It uses Google's translation system. I don't know how well it works (having a smattering of German, French, and Spanish, but not being fluent, and my knowledge of Greek and Hebrew is limited to the ancient forms), but would love feedback concerning the translations' validity.

Funny, I also only caught that I'd mistyped 'Alan' for 'Allan' for Edgar Allan Poe below when it was translated into German. I guess the name stood out that time.

Thanks to NiteCruzr of the Real Blogger Status blog for the code.

Heroic, but tragic

Band teacher who died in crash called heroine
Heather Christensen, 33, a woodwind instructor at American Fork High School...left her seat to grab the steering wheel after seeing the bus driver slump over, students and colleagues said. She was partially ejected in the rollover, and relatives said her effort to correct the course of the bus probably kept the crash from being worse.
No one else was killed, most likely due to her efforts. Christensen exemplifies many of the good human qualities such as bravery, altruism, and a devotion to others. My thoughts are with her family, her friends, and her students in this time of grief. I'm glad the band will be going on with a planned concert--I'm sure she would have wanted that.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

How to recreate a disputed relic

Italian professor reproduces the Shroud of Turin
Garlaschelli reproduced the full-sized shroud using materials and techniques that were available in the middle ages.

They placed a linen sheet flat over a volunteer and then rubbed it with a pigment containing traces of acid. A mask was used for the face.

The pigment was then artificially aged by heating the cloth in an oven and washing it, a process which removed it from the surface but left a fuzzy, half-tone image similar to that on the Shroud. He believes the pigment on the original Shroud faded naturally over the centuries.

They then added blood stains, burn holes, scorches and water stains to achieve the final effect.


'Funeral' honours Edgar Allan Poe
So many Poe fans are expected to attend that the service will be repeated, after an all-night vigil at his graveside in the eastern US port city [of his native Baltimore].

Virtually no-one turned up for his original funeral in 1849.

Edgar Allan Poe - the inventor of the detective story and creator of horror writing - is one of the most influential American writers ever.

But he died an impoverished lunatic at the age of 40.

His tombstone was destroyed. An enemy wrote his obituary and damaged his reputation for decades.

As if to make up for all these disasters, Poe is being royally treated this year.
YKWIA told me about this one. It's a pity I can't attend.

Me, too

Even the Maya are getting sick of 2012 hype: Apocalypse Next? Experts trace fears to modern, not ancient source
But most archaeologists, astronomers and Maya Indians say the only thing likely to hit Earth is a meteor shower of New Age philosophy, pop astronomy, Internet doomsday rumors and TV specials — such as one on the History Channel that mixes predictions from Nostradamus and the Maya and asks: "Is 2012 the year the cosmic clock finally winds down to zero days, zero hope?"
Please. As a history student whose major professor was an expert in Apocalyticism, I've studied all sorts of Apocalypse rumours going back millennia. None of them have happened so far. It amazes me how people really get caught up in this stuff. As to the Mayan inscriptions, dates after 2012 are found, as referenced in the article. And mixing the Mayan question and Nostradamus is just plain stupid. I mentioned in a past post that I find the History Channel disappointing because its programmes are either extremely dumbed-down and unsatisfying, or simply have nothing to do with history at all.

Altruism at its finest

Man donates rape reward to victim
"It was a difficult decision to make because it is a lot of money and it would have been very helpful but I didn't feel like a deserved it at all.

"With the state that the girl was in after the incident, I really felt that it would go towards making her life a lot better over the next couple of years."

The 48-year-old woman who was attacked in July 2006 was found naked and unconscious in Exeter.

She had suffered a skull fracture and brain damage in the attack and her injuries were so severe she was left with no memory of what had happened and now uses a wheelchair.

Lloyd Gardner, a waiter, gave up a £10,000 reward, feeling that the victim whose rapist he helped catch deserved the money more. He did not feel right about spending the money on an expensive car or something similar.

Most people would have taken the money for themselves. This young man demonstrates one of the best qualities humans possess--altruism. I applaud him for his action.

Anything but sweet

Bitter lives of Bolivia's child workers
Child labour is illegal in Bolivia, but it is estimated that almost a third of the country's children and adolescents (320,000) work in extreme conditions; in the mines, Brazil nut plantations and the sugar cane fields.

Boys like Fiser earn less than $5 a day during the six months or so that they work harvesting sugar cane, often from sunrise to sunset.

Such work is considered one of the worst forms of child labour by international bodies such as the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the UN children's agency (Unicef).

I wish it was easier to tell what products come from what conditions of employment. I would hate to think that a product I bought was from child labour. On the other hand, families need sustainable work and without the paltry wages earned by the children, they would slide even further into poverty. If we don't buy such goods, then how will they support themselves? We need to work for solutions.

A tragic suicide--was it preventable?

Self-help course may have led to her suicide: Some say the seminar Rebekah Lawrence attended led to her death

Saturday, October 10, 2009

A fairly uneventful day

Things went well at work tonight. My feet/ankles hurt (don't they always these days) from the tendonitis and standing so long. I go Monday to the podiatrist to see what can be done about them. I did remember both yesterday and today to take some ibuprofen, so it was a little better than normal, at least.

I'm looking forward to the game tomorrow, although I have to go in very early to help get the house in order. But it's my own fault. :(

Monday is the doctor's appointment. I'm off at both jobs. I'm also going to try to go to Gall's and get pepper spray and junk the car officially downtown. I also need to get a new bus pass. Monday is also 'Heroes' night. I haven't watched the last episode yet (it's on my DVR), so maybe I can do that tomorrow night if I don't just crash.

Tuesday and Wednesday I work both jobs. On Wednesday, a contractor is coming to work on my bathtub faucet. It has chronically run hot water. They fix it with a new washer, it gets better, but eventually it starts again. So they're going to rip it out entirely, change the faucet out, and re-tile the area, meaning I have to wait until the next day to take a shower. But I'll be happy to see it fixed. I don't pay for my water, but since it's hot water it is probably affecting my electric bill. Plus, it's wasteful and environmentally bad.

I've put in a request at the store to be off for Halloween since it is a religious holiday. We'll see if they can manage it. One of my co-workers just moved to Florida. Another is moving to Michigan in two weeks, so we may be short-staffed. But a guy is starting on Monday, so maybe that will help.

Okay, I need to go work on notes still for the game (I procrastinated again, of course). :( Good night.

Now that I've got rest I'm a little disturbed

There was an assault near my workplace the other night.  A woman was attacked and robbed, and she has apparently suffered brain damage.  I've only heard bits and pieces and can't find anything about it on the news for the area, but it sounds awful. I don't know when it happened, only that it was at night. It was on a night that I worked.  When I heard it, naturally, I was concerned for the woman and hoped she'd recover fully.

But then I got some rest.  This morning I woke up with the sudden (although obvious) realisation that I walk home almost every night that I work, fairly late each night in the very area where she was hurt.  When the nice police officer took me home in the rain that one night, he stressed how dangerous it was, but I thought, well, it's not that bad of a neighbourhood, and the worst part is crossing two major roads in the dark.  It's not like I have much of a choice; I can't work at the gas station in the daytime during the week.  Then a few days later I met a man who had been drinking asking me for directions to Hooters and Richmond.  He was a little disconcerting.

Given that I've had someone in my life recently assaulted, and now this, it's giving me pause.  My friend was lucky.  This woman has been hurt badly.  I have a much better chance of a random assault than of being robbed at the gas station, I'm betting (although, granted, I probably am more likely to be hit by a car than either).  And between the chance of robbery, the late hours, and the things standing for so long are doing for my feet, I should probably quit.  But I can't really afford to.  This little part-time job is keeping me afloat, and while my life is certainly worth more than $9,000 a year, this works with my hours, is about as near to my house as possible, and has served me well.  So I'm torn.  In the meantime I'm applying for full-time library positions when they come up, just as I have been.  If you hear of any, let me know. This job was always meant as a band-aid, really, and never a permanent solution to a problem.

I have decided that I will go ahead and get that pepper spray, though.  Monday I'm off for a doctor's appointment and can go out to Gall's on the bus.  I need to go downtown, too, and officially junk the car with the county.  And no more cutting across Richmond Road and walking behind Zaxby's, which is shorter.  Although it is fairly well-lit, it's a little too far from the beaten path, too easy to be followed surreptitiously.  I'll just have to stay in the bike lane up Richmond and cross at Eagle Creek, even though there's no sidewalk, and try to wear something light.

Wish me luck--and keep the woman who was hurt in your thoughts, too.