Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
comic strip overdue media

Friday, December 31, 2010

A nice way to end the year

Tomorrow the buses do not run, so I will spend it alone at my house. So it seemed a good idea to go out with friends and have fun today.

We made plans for the 3:05 showing of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I at Fayette Mall. I went over to my friends' house a couple hours early and wound up watching the University of Kentucky vs. University of Louisville basketball game, which turned out to be quite good. There's a big rivalry between the two schools, and U of L's couch used to be UK's, so there's that drama. But UK played quite well. One player, Josh Harrellson, was having a really great day and you could just tell he was enjoying himself immensely.

We took the bus to the mall and then made a crazy dash for the cinema, which is way on the other side of the mall from the bus stop and outside. We got there just in time to get tickets, get food, and see the preview of Green Lantern (Hal Jordan is played by someone very cute; I'll have to look him up) before the show began. I must say the movie dragged quite a bit, but then so did the book (I thought they'd never get out of the damn woods). One friend was disappointed that we didn't see more deaths; there should have been quite a few more in there by that point of the movie. My other friend, who is terribly afraid of snakes, nearly burrowed his way into his seat at one point. Thank goodness the 3D version has not come out--I hate to think what he would have done with it in 3D.

After the movie we went to Carinos for dinner. I'd never been. It was pretty reasonable, actually. I didn't get appetizers or dessert, but I really enjoyed the angel hair pasta with artichokes, olives, and tomatoes, along with a house salad.

Then we went a more leisurely way around the mall this time (many of the stores were already closed for the holiday) and waited for the bus. We said our goodbyes at the bus station and I came on home.

I'm already sleepy. I hope I can stay up till midnight. Someone's already shooting fireworks, I do have some sparklers left over from July 4th. Hmmmm....

I think I'm going to set my phone for 11:30 and chill out in the comfy chair for awhile. If for some reason I don't write before then, I hope you all have a really happy and safe New Year.

Another nifty thing for the Kindle

From Amazon:
Today, we're pleased to launch Kindle Book Lending, a new feature that lets you loan Kindle books to anyone you choose. The borrower does not need to own a Kindle. Kindle books can be read on Kindle or using our free Kindle reading applications for PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, BlackBerry, and Android devices. Each eligible book can be lent once for a period of 14 days. Not all e-books are lendable - the publisher or rights holder determines which titles are enabled for lending. For more information on how to loan Kindle books, please visit www.amazon.com/kindle-lending.
Via Bibliofuture of LISNews.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Yum!

1/4 cup orange juice + 3 pieces pineapple + 3 strawberries + 1 small banana + single serving blender I got for the holidays = yummy smoothie! And it comes with five total of the large portion cups and one of the small (the latter good for chopping salsa). :)

Oh, Gods, why did I do that?

I left work today and got a ride to Kroger so I could get a new bus pass (my expires tonight) and some groceries. My co-worker offered to give me her number so I could call her when I was done, since she was headed to Meijer for awhile, but I said, no, I was just going to get a few things.

'A few things' involved three full canvas reusable bags and a couple more regular ones. I managed to take the cart to the bus stop (sorry Kroger cart guys!) much as I hate it when people leave them there. Then on the bus I had to ask for my stop rather than pull the cord because I was busy corralling the bags. Once I got off the bus, I rebagged them (the young lady was very nice but is used to bagging for people who only have to put them in a car). I tied one light bag to a reusable one. I took the bag with the paper towels and toilet paper and threaded it through my satchel strap. Then I started the schlep home. Normally this is a 15 minute walk. From the time I got on the bus till the time I made it into the house it was about 45 minutes. There were many rests, especially after making across the road. I guess I was carrying about the equivalent of two of those big dog food bags' worth of stuff.

The cupboards were pretty bare, and with snow, that's not a good thing. Plus I got some fresh fruits and veggies for playing with the new blender. No dacquiri mix--too much high fructose corn syrup and besides I don't have anything to put in it. So I'll toast the new year with a smoothie. That's just as well--I don't really care for alcohol that much--I like them just as well 'virgin'.

Okay, so today I got paid. I went ahead and got my money order for my rent. I got my bus pass. I also got groceries. that leaves me about $50 for the next two weeks, but the big stuff is taken care of. I'll try to be frugal with what I have, but I can maybe get a drink and some popcorn with the movie tomorrow (I have two free tickets to get in).

Oy. I am tired. I must go recuperate and must eat something substantial, as all I had for lunch was some nachos, a banana, and some broccoli.

I should have done a similiar video

Sarah, the Librarian in Black, recently got a Kindle [Why I am a library traitor and love the Kindle] and this is the unveiling, with commentary on the simplicity of Amazon's packaging and instructions:



Sarah's is the latest Kindle (the 'Kindle 3'). As she points out, the only thing that might be confusing to someone who has not charged things via USB is that the USB cord and the plug are connected and the plug simple comes off for charging on a computer instead of at the wall. This was a problem for me, I must admit. I even e-mailed the company thinking I had not received a USB cord, but one of my co-workers set me straight and Amazon quickly sent something back explaining the configuration.

As a contrast, here is an unboxing for the same type of Kindle I have (2nd generation, 3G wireless--which is from AT&T, and free). The guy did a pretty decent job (although I thought he'd never take the plastic off):



Both videos obviously capture a bit of the wonder of unboxing your Kindle. :) I think the comparison is interesting--the newest Kindle (the black one of Sarah's) is smaller. The buttons are different (apparently the power switch on the new one is on the bottom, for example). The five-way button looks like it's less likely to go to the left (this is how you delete and archive content, but thankfully there's always an ask. I've never actually deleted something without meaning to. It's not so much a problem with books, which are archived, but PDFs, when deleted, are removed entirely. To be honest, I'm not sure about active content, like games.)

The device is incredibly simple, and this makes it simple to use. The newest version holds more books, has greater contrast, and a longer battery life. If you have the 3G wireless, it's usually best to turn it off when not in use so that you keep the battery longer. In the new form, that can be up to a month--even I go about two to three weeks without charging mine. Also, you don't actually have to turn off the device. Leaving it on with the screensaver going is fine. From what I can tell from advice on the web, keeping the battery somewhere in the 20% to 80% of charge is fine for the battery. I would only turn mine off if I were not going to use it for awhile, and that's not something that's come up yet. :)

Someone asked about the DX on a list yesterday for a patron with macular degneration. They were interested in how big the print can be, the brightness, etc. This is what I told the person. The DX has a 9" screen rather than a 6" screen. Like the 'Kindle 3' it has the greater contrast and battery along with the refinements of the latest generation. There is no backlighting--eInk is meant to be read just like paper and therefore if you have visual issues you may want to make sure the light you're reading by is relatively bright. The text on my Kindle 2 can go to 3/4" tall (I measured with a ruler), and I presume the DX is has at least this size. It is particularly nice for newspapers and magazines, although I have had the New York Times on the Kindle 2 and enjoyed it thoroughly. There is also the text-to-speech factor, that is available as long as the publisher allows it (I don't buy ones that don't as a general rule, and all of mine, even the free ones, have it.) My understanding is that Amazon added audible menus in the latest device as well. Don't quote me on that, but it was a move to appease those with visual issues. My mom is considering getting a wi-fi regular Kindle having seen how big the print will go, since she has similar issues.

What I forgot to tell them is that the Kindle also supports audiobooks from Audible.

Of course, the DX is much more expensive, but I really think it's a good buy for someone with visual issues, and it's a lot less expensive than an iPad.

Of course, as Sarah points out, the only real drawback of the Kindle is that it does not allow the download of library books. This does not bother me too much as a patron. I still continue to use my library to get 'real books', but as a consumer, I love my Kindle. And I must admit, I enjoy the portability and ease of reading on a Kindle, so that it is actually almost easier to read on one than an actual book. I still love the feel and smell of books, but my Kindle is fun, too. And as a librarian, I know we tend to try to jump on the latest technology, but really, this is how we wind up as repositories for obsolete technology as well. :)

Anyway, congratulations, Library in Black, on your Kindle, and I wish you good reading. You might want to check out some of the addictive games like Scrabble and Monopoly as well--they're great when waiting at a doctor's office. But primarily it is very much an e-book reader, and it does that very, very well.

A blessing

that they (and their beer vats, which are their livelihood) escaped:

Fire damages Rochefort Trappist beer abbey in Belgium
Archives show the abbey has been producing beer since 1595 and it is known today for producing one of the strongest brews, with 12% alcohol.

The abbey has been destroyed on two previous occasions: by the troops of Lorraine in 1650 and again during the French revolution.

Egad....

Kentucky Creationist Museum to Feature Dragons, Unicorns

Here is the full quote from Kentucky blog Barefoot and Progressive, which was partially quoted in the story:

Thanks to Steve Beshear, Kentucky is no longer just known as the state whose governor endorsed and gave $40 million in tax breaks to people who want to tell children that science and history explain that a 600 year old man herded dinosaurs onto a big boat 4,000 years ago.

No, Kentucky will now be known as the state whose governor endorsed and gave $40 million in tax breaks to people who want to tell children that science and history explain that a 600 year old man herded dinosaurs, fire-breathing dragons and unicorns onto a big boat 4,000 years ago.

Via @almightygod.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Nice piece on those we lost in 2010



Via Joe.My.God.

A somewhat materialist post-holiday post


These came for me today from Barnes & Noble.

Yeah, I know, I'm an Amazon girl, but I had a gift card. The one on the right is my present from Brenda--Stephen R Donaldson's Against All Things Ending. The one on the left is a book I really like that I'm reading on the Kindle, but I decided I wanted a hard copy of it as well, and since I needed to round out the order to get free shipping, I decided I'd get that. It's Gary Corby's The Pericles Commission. The purple thing, by the way, is my Kindle in its cover. The dog is Tugger, the DOCLINE mascot. I got that for being one of the first to apply for a grant. :)

All in all it's been a very satisfying gift-receiving season. I got:

  • Walden and Other Writings, by Henry David Thoreau (in actual book form)
  • Against All Endings, by Stephen R Donaldson (also in actual book form)
  • A personal-sized blender that does smoothies, salsa, etc. and comes with two sizes of tops, two blades, and some cups for drinking the smoothies out of. Since I do not own a blender, this could be very useful. Hmmm...dacquris...
  • A (purple) velvet pant and jacket set

That's it. And for once I was able to give people a little better presents than, say, the pretty rocks I did one year. I'm happy.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Wow, this is excellent

Train of Thought from Leo Bridle on Vimeo.


It is all done with cardboard, paper, and drawings--and took nine months to complete. Kudos to the creators for a lovely piece.

Small crisis of stupidity

So it's been over a week since I bought the Norfolk Virginia pine, so I thought I should water it. It never occurred to me (and as a gardener I am ashamed to admit it) that it might come in a pot with a drain hole in it. So I never put a plate or anything under it.

So you can see what's coming next--I take a full glass of water, put it in the pot, and water goes everywhere. The table it's on is an old potting table; It has boards with spaces between it, so of course the water went down--onto my printer and some books, as well as dangerously close to the power strip the tree was plugged into.

I quickly got a towel and a plate before the rest could drain down, hit the printer first, then the books. The plate and the pot don't exactly fit--I'll have to find something else in the long run, which I think I have an idea of--so the tree tried to lean over a couple of times. In the midst of taking things off, I took the flameless candles with their little zen bed of rocks and put it on the closest thing at hand--the open recliner, and then knocked into it when the tree fell over, scattering pebbles everywhere. At this moment a friend called, but I let it ring, picking up pebbles from the carpet.

So now I think I have everything dry, everything set. The candles are out of harm's way in case the tree falls over again, and everything's unplugged.

I am such a klutz, both physically and sometimes mentally. Sigh. Let's see if I can make it to the bus stop without too much trouble.

I didn't post how Christmas went

Christmas Eve I went to stay overnight at my grandmother's. She's doing rather poorly and I fixed something for us to eat and helped her get back and forth from the couch to the bathroom and bedroom. I did some laundry and my mother visited with us. We exchanged gifts. I gave my mom a candle and a gift certificate to Amazon and she's thinking of applying it to a wi-fi Kindle. She likes how big you can make the print (she's having some trouble reading now that she's older.) I got a nice pair of pants and jacket from my grandmother and a personal-sized blender/chopper from my mom and stepdad that looks really cool. I gave my grandmother some photo frames (she has five grandchildren, three of whom have reproduced, so she has plenty of pictures of the great-grandchildren). My stepfather, who's a computer geek, got a card to Best Buy. I think I killed my grandmother's dryer, because after two loads it wouldn't go anymore. My mom took the last load home and dried it. (It smells vaguely of cigarette smoke, but is mostly underwear). After Ma went to bed I read the rest of 'A Christmas Carol' on my Kindle. I went onto the wireless on the Kindle and found an application for Monopoly and played that for awhile. Then I went to bed myself.

On Christmas Day, I came out and my grandmother was on the couch. We visited for awhile. I made some oatmeal for breakfast, but I couldn't get her to eat any. We were going over to my mother's for lunch, though. Ma was saying she really didn't feel like going, and seemed a little confused in general, but when my stepfather arrived, she decided to go, and I helped her get dressed. You know those walkers that roll with little seats on them? She has one, so we put her on the seat and rolled her to the car, with me lifting her over the small steps. Their car's a little hard to get in for anyone, but we finally got her in. We also had his mother, who's a couple of years older than my grandmother in the car.

Once we got to my mother's, we got the grandmothers out one by one and up the steps. Ma ate from the moment food was put in front of her until the time we left. :) The food was great. The broccoli casserole went quickly. We never got to the fruit salads or pies. I had a bit of my stepdad's mother's jam cake. Then we loaded the grandmothers back into the car, took them home, and were pretty exhausted, but John and my mom took me back to Lexington, where I had a quiet night at home except for a couple of phone calls.

It was a nice visit, but it is somewhat depressing to see my grandmother going downhill like she is. She's worse than at Thanksgiving, and that's just been a few weeks. I really think they need someone to come in more often and take care of her. I know someone who does that and talked with her a long time on Christmas night.

My grandmother helped raise me, taking care of me when my mom was going to work when I was little. She opened her home to us when we went through my parent's divorce. Of all the grandchildren, I'm probably closest to her because I spent so much time with her growing up. She's like a second mother to me (my grandfather, in many ways, was closer to me than my own father). She's 86 years old, having outlived my grandfather for almost eleven years. I know that it's inevitable, that we all die, but I want her to be as comfortable and happy as she can. Unfortunately I have no way to get down there on my own, really know nothing of caregiving myself, and really don't have the wherewithal to hire someone, so I need to talk to my relatives and see what we can come up with. My grandmother lives alone and has poor health and a tendency to fall. I'm really worried about her.

Beautiful--and alive

Ancient rock art's colours come from microbes
A particular type of ancient rock art in Western Australia maintains its vivid colours because it is alive, researchers have found.

While some rock art fades in hundreds of years, the "Bradshaw art" remains colourful after at least 40,000 years.

Jack Pettigrew of the University of Queensland in Australia has shown that the paintings have been colonised by colourful bacteria and fungi.

These "biofilms" may explain previous difficulties in dating such rock art.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Word of the Day

Borborygmus

This is great--and so true

A Very Special Message: David Mamet Draws a Cartoon, a link I got from Joe.My.God, is wonderful. Click on the link to see the actual cartoon, which says (in case you have trouble reading) [spelling is exactly as it is on the image]:

The Chinese Restaurateurs' Assn.
of the United States
would like to extend our thanks
TO THE JEWISH PEOPLE.
We do not completely understand
your dietary customs
but we are proud and grateful
that your God
insists you eat our food
on Christmas


I think it's hilarious. (It works for Pagans, too. However, I've noticed as time goes by that more Chinese restaurants in this area seem to close for Christmas, including my favourite, The Great Wall.)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Word of the Day

I thought I'd share it--it was quite appropriate for the day:
eleemosynary \ el-uh-MOS-uh-ner-ee \, adjective;
1. Of or for charity; charitable; as, "an eleemosynary institution."
2. Given in charity; having the nature of alms; as, "eleemosynary assistance."
3. Supported by or dependent on charity; as, "the eleemosynary poor."

:)

Balloon takes Santa on wild Utah ride: Pilot falls out during hard landing and Santa flies off alone

No Santas, elves, or reindeer were hurt in this story. :)

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Nice


Cherokee, Apple partner to put language on iPhones

According to Wikipedia, 'since 2002, all Apple computers come with a Cherokee font installed.' Also, 'Cherokee Nation members Joseph L. Erb and Roy Boney, Jr. developed an iPhone application for Cherokee language text messaging and are in the process of developing Cherokee language social network and video games.' The Cherokee language, Tsalagi, has a written syllabary invented by Sequoyah in the early 19th century--which was particularly interesting as Sequoyah did not read any other script prior to his work on the syllabary.

It looks weird, let's shoot it!

Video: Legendary chupacabra found in Kentucky?

I think not, but you decide:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


Seems wrong to shoot something just because it's an oddity.

You've got to love this headline

Never bring an iPhone to a knife fight: Cops: Man says he has gun in eatery stick-up, changes mind when cooks whip out blades

Personally if it came to needing money for my child I would probably sell my iPhone rather than use it in lieu of a gun, but that's me. Moral of the story: Don't mess with cooks at Indian restaurants.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A very powerful slideshow

The photo that brought AIDS home

Making a difference, repaying a debt--a life lived giving back

WWII pilot who forever repaid rescuers dies at 94: Islanders healed Fred Hargesheimer who returned to Ea Ea to build schools

Fred Hargesheimer got a second chance at life after being rescued by villagers of New Britain in Papua New Guinea. He'd been shot down by a Japanese fighter in World War II and was nursed back to health and hidden by the villagers until his returning to the US. The story could have ended there, a story of adventure to tell the grandkids. But Hargeshiemer did something far better--he returned to the village and spent decades building schools, libraries, helping create jobs, and even teaching the children there. He involved his family throughout that time, and tried to give back to the community as much as he could.
On his last visit, in 2006, Hargesheimer was helicoptered into the jungle and carried in a chair by Nakanai men to view the newly found wreckage of his World War II plane. Six years earlier, on another visit, he was proclaimed "Suara Auru," "Chief Warrior" of the Nakanai.

"The people were very happy. They'll always remember what Mr. Fred Hargesheimer has done for our people," said Ismael Saua, 69, a former teacher at the Nantabu school.

"These people were responsible for saving my life," Hargesheimer told The Associated Press in a 2008 interview. "How could I ever repay it?"

A shame

Young Wife, Mother Of 2 Killed By A Simple Pothole

Amazingly enough, the chunk of concrete that sailed through the pickup truck and struck Jo Fisher somehow managed to miss her two children, flying between them to exit through the back window. The stretch of I-20 was riddled with potholes. A temporary patch had been put into place hours before the accident, and it was fixed a couple of weeks later--but that was too late to save a life. I feel bad for everyone involved--the family that lost a loved one, and the woman whose car kicked up the concrete, through no fault of her own. It seems like things are improving, at least, there in the state of Alabama, where they've been laying down smooth pavement in a bid to fight the potholes.

It's a shame that the tax dollars are not there to keep up the infrastructure, and in cash-strapped times such as these, it's probably worse.

I came home early today because I finished all my work


and was lucky enough to get a ride from a co-worker, plus she gave me a pair of gloves that were too big for her. Since mine are unraveling, this was great. There are a lot of good people in this world. Thanks so for the ride and for the gloves!

The beautiful, large wreath I hung on the door last night is quietly filling the hallway with lovely evergreen fragrance. I hope that doesn't bother anyone. I find it very nice. I sent a thank you note for it today (it was given to me), as well as a sympathy card for someone I know who lost her husband yesterday to a long illness, which I know is bad at any time, but must be especially painful before the holiday.

It was a nice day. I was pretty productive despite my blood sugar being so high this morning. I had a very light lunch (cheese sandwich and tomato basil soup) and didn't get foggy at all afterwards. Yesterday they came and changed out the computers in the library for new leased ones, and I've been tweaking things a bit to try to get my settings back how I had them. The sad thing is apparently the DVD drive doesn't play CDs. Fortunately I have music and a radio on my phone for when it's very, very quiet in the late evenings. But no more singing along out loud with Rob Thomas once my co-workers have vacated the library. :)

Next week I have several books to catalogue. I'm lucky we had a grant this year (and it's been renewed for next year, yay!) for books and electronic subscriptions, as my entire book/journal budget is taken by the print journals.

I washed dishes and took out the trash this morning, but the apartment is a wreck and I'd like to do some straightening up and also take out the recyclables. Laundry is still an issue as well, and there's wrapping presents and doing game notes.

I've been re-reading A Christmas Carol and I've gotten almost through the Ghost of Christmas Present. I forgot how much I enjoy Dickens. I got a complete set of his works for the Kindle for about a dollar. I particularly like this quote, at the very beginning of the story:
I don't mean to say that I know, of my own knowledge, what there is particularly dead about a door-nail. I might have been inclined, myself, to regard a coffin-nail as the deadest piece of ironmongery in the trade. But the wisdom of our ancestors is in the simile; and my unhallowed hands shall not disturb it, or the Country's done for. You will therefore permit me to repeat, emphatically, that Marley was as dead as a door-nail.
:)

I must confess that at lunch (everyone I eat with seemed to be gone today) and while waiting for the bus I did not so much read the Kindle as play Mah Jongg on it. It's addictive, although a little challenging to navigate with the five-way button.

Okay, I'm going to do a quick check on the news, and then do something about the house.

There was this story on the news about how the bus system

was providing a free ride day before yesterday to see the Southern Lights display at the Kentucky Horse Park and then today and tomorrow if 'Santa' is driving the bus, the fare is free. The comments were mostly by grumpy Scrooges who can't stand to pay any tax, and they own their own homes and cars and can't be bothered to support mass transit. Here's my comment:
I happen to be one of those people who rides LexTran nearly everyday and relies upon it to get to work so that I can pay my city/county taxes. Granted, I also can't afford to own my own home, so I don't pay the tax for LexTran, but I also don't have children, and yet I pay for our schools, and I don't complain, so I really wish others wouldn't complain about supporting a mass transit system for the city. I do pay $360 or more a year to ride LexTran, so I am supporting it. People get so bent out of shape about the slightest tax, and yet without taxes we would have to cancel services that would get people in an uproar. A little holiday cheer isn't going to make or break the system, or any of us, for that matter.

Lextran Spreading Some Christmas Cheer

I'm so groggy. Pizza is not our friend.

I had a some pizza last night (four slices, not the whole thing or anything, but I did have some bread sticks), and woke up this morning feeling really wonky. I just checked my blood sugar and it's 395. That's without missing any medicine or anything.

Must stop doing that. A fasting blood sugar of nearly 400 is insane. I want to make it to 2012 and watch the world end. :) But seriously....

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Cool graphs of verbal vs. mathematical aptitude in various academic majors

Verbal vs. mathematical aptitude in academics

Worst verbal? Accounting and social work majors
Worst math/quantitative? Social work majors
Worst reading? Social work majors

Doesn't sound great for that profession. Philosophy majors do well in all three categories.

I was a history and sociology major with the honours programme (which was essentially a 'Great Books' curriculum that was in addition to other classes--I added a classical civilisation with a Judaic studies minor after I actually received my BA. Sadly, I was one class short of a linguistics major. (Damn phonological analysis, which was never taught when I could take it.) So I was an social sciences/humanities geek. When I took the GRE my intended major was history.)) Like the analysis for history, my quantitative was about average (somewhere in the upper 500s--that was 21 years ago and I have no idea where my original scores are) and my verbal high (somewhere in the upper 600s or lower 700s, I think). What I sucked majorly in was the special subject test for history of all things, because it had a lot of art history. I have since rectified that deficit. I wonder how'd I do these days? I think my brain is turning somewhat to mush. I need to exercise it more.

Maybe that's why I finally seem to be getting a clue

Brain is not fully mature until 30s and 40s
(PhysOrg.com) -- New research from the UK shows the brain continues to develop after childhood and puberty, and is not fully developed until people are well into their 30s and 40s. The findings contradict current theories that the brain matures much earlier.

What a really great idea

For microphilanthropist, donations are a part of daily life
It’s been more than 230 days since Carlo Garcia bought a cup of coffee.

That’s because in April, the Chicago resident realized that he could change lives and inspire others to do the same — all for the price of his morning joe.

“One day this idea popped into my head: How hard would it be to give back to charity every day? What’s stopping us from doing that?” said Garcia, who catalogs his daily donations on his blog, Living Philanthropic.
My favourite quote? 'You don't have to be rich and famous to make a little bit of good.'

Way to go!

Now that's a science project

8-Year-Olds Publish Scientific Bee Study
A group of British schoolchildren may be the youngest scientists ever to have their work published in a peer-reviewed journal. In a new paper in Biology Letters, 25 8- to 10-year-old children from Blackawton Primary School report that buff-tailed bumblebees can learn to recognize nourishing flowers based on colors and patterns.

“We discovered that bumblebees can use a combination of colour and spatial relationships in deciding which colour of flower to forage from,” the students wrote in the paper’s abstract. “We also discovered that science is cool and fun because you get to do stuff that no one has ever done before.”

Every wonder how to determine the correct maturity rating on video games?

This picture does it: An Illustrated Guide To ESRB

E=Everyone-A woman's face
T=Teens-A woman's partially covered cleavage
M=Mature-A pixelated look at a woman's nether regions
A=Adult-Tentacles and legs

Funny take on the Christmas story

An Interview With the Nativity Innkeeper
Because how unsanitary is that? Do you know what a manger is?

As far as I know, it’s the place you put infant messiahs.

It’s a food trough for animals.

Oh. Interesting.

“Oh, interesting” is right. Let me ask you. So your baby is born, and the first thing you do is put him in an open container filled with grain and covered in oxen drool? Does this seem reasonable to you?

You did have them out with the animals. Their options were limited.


I rented cribs. I asked Joseph, do you want a crib. And he said, no, we’re fine, and then sets the kid in the food box. And I say to him, you’re new at this, aren’t you.

For those of us who missed it

Winter Solstice Lunar Eclipse from William Castleman on Vimeo.


Absolutely beautiful, and a wonderful choice of music (Claude Debussy's Nocturnes: Sirènes). Thanks, Jody!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sobering

As someone with a lot of debt way beyond what she'll ever be paid, I can sympathise:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


We now owe more in student loans as a country than we do on credit cards.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


The report is on now, but of course I've missed the first 45 minutes. I hope they'll re-run it.

I love the bit about the elevator...

A British journalist reflects on his time in the US after 3 years and 46 states:

Kevin Connolly's guide to American culture
But there are, of course, irritations to living anywhere, and it is the job of the irritable to find them.

Americans could make their public spaces a little quieter, for example, if they all took one step closer to the person they are talking to.

And they could speed up their journeys to work by not insisting on holding every elevator for everyone who wants to catch it as though it was one of the last helicopters leaving the roof of the Saigon embassy in 1975. There will be another lift along in a minute.

And after three years of eating steaks the size of elephant's ears off plates bigger than satellite dishes, all of our crockery back in Europe now looks like it was borrowed from a doll's house. They may take some getting used to.

But America in one sense was exactly as I expected it to be: a place of gripping public theatre at election times, and a place of great private virtue nearly all the time.

I found that private virtue on the night I arrived three years ago on a much-delayed New Year's Eve flight, which slipped and stumbled through the icy skies over the choppy darkness of the cold prairies.

I chatted sporadically to the grandmotherly woman beside me about home, and family, although I cannot in truth remember much of what was said.

But I do remember what happened once we landed.

There were no taxis and my fellow passenger insisted, without checking with him, that her husband would happily drive me to my hotel.

It was a round trip for him in the Arctic midnight of a public holiday of perhaps two or three hours.

I expected to detect at least a flicker of surprise on his face when this was first put to him, but there was none.

"This is America son," he told me, "We help each other out."

Nothing that happened in the three years that followed was to undermine that first impression of friendliness and hospitality.

I loved Carl Sagan

Obviously missed this in the reader yesterday. But it's hard to believe it's been fourteen years since his death.

Dec. 20, 1996: Science Loses Its Most Visible Public Champion
Calling Carl Sagan a scientist is a little like calling the Beatles a rock band. Sagan was certainly a scientist (an astronomer, biologist and astrophysicist, to be precise). But he was also science’s most visible public advocate, a secular humanist, a fervent believer in extraterrestrial life, a teacher, an author, a television host and a political activist.

While accurately fixing the surface temperature of Venus and positing the presence of seas on Jovian and Saturnian moons are among his practical contributions to the field of astronomy, his lasting contribution to humanity was to popularize the natural sciences for hundreds of millions of people.

Sagan was an agnostic and secular humanist. I love this quote from his widow, from the Skeptical Inquirer:
When my husband died, because he was so famous and known for not being a believer, many people would come up to me—it still sometimes happens—and ask me if Carl changed at the end and converted to a belief in an afterlife. They also frequently ask me if I think I will see him again. Carl faced his death with unflagging courage and never sought refuge in illusions. The tragedy was that we knew we would never see each other again. I don't ever expect to be reunited with Carl.

I don't know if there's an afterlife, if we reincarnate, or if there's just the shadowy existence favoured by the Greeks. As I've gotten older, I've decided I don't so much care...what matters is what we do with our lives, whether that be one or plural. But some of the things I learned from Carl Sagan were that the universe is full of all sorts of things to try to understand, and our lives should be spent in this wondrous playground learning and growing, being responsible for how we affect our environment and understanding how it affects us, and keeping an open mind yet meeting the world with scientific enquiry.

The truth of the matter is no matter what happened with his death, like the Greeks, Sagan's immortality comes from the way he touched others, influenced their thoughts and beliefs, inspired their lives, and helped them understand the universe a little better. He lives on in their memories, including mine.

:) Glad I (mostly) got through my holiday shopping sin-free

7 deadly sins of holiday shopping: A tongue-in-cheek look at keeping us on the straight and narrow this time of year

I admit to a little anger when trying to shop for me with my gift, but really, everyone else was a piece of cake (and I am not too proud to bargain-shop). Gluttony is always an issue this time of year, though, so I cannot cast stones.

A little political laughter

The folks at JibJab have the president and vice-president say 'so long' to 2010:



Via Joe.My.God.

I think everyone's ready to say good riddance to this year.

Hmmm....

Girl Chimpanzees May Use Sticks as Dolls
Kibale’s chimps used sticks to probe holes containing water and honey. They used sticks to hit and threaten each other. They played with them. And, finally, they carried sticks — holding them under their arms or in their laps, for hours at a time, even while walking and climbing and feeding and resting.

“Regular stick-carrying has no discernible function,” wrote Wrangham and Kahlenberg, yet it accounted for more than one-third of all stick use.

Carried sticks were shaped differently than sticks used as weapons or probes, and “unlike other types of stick use, carried sticks were regularly taken into day-nests … where individuals rested and were sometimes seen to play casually with the stick in a manner that evoked maternal play,” wrote the researchers.

Stick-carrying was also most frequent in juveniles, particularly juvenile females. With parenthood it invariably ceased.

This is adorable



I had to tell YKWIA about it. One of the ladies at work mentioned it to me. They're so fluffy!

I guess they nearly brought the house down

Flash-mob singers spark California mall evacuation
A spontaneous musical concert at a California shopping mall ended with the entire complex being evacuated after some 5,000 people turned up to sing.

The incident happened at the Roseville Galleria shopping mall, which is reported to have started shaking due to the volume of people inside.

Fire and safety officials struggled not to spoil the festive mood as they evacuated the mall.

One warden said: "You can keep singing, but please walk".

The music? Handel's 'Hallelujah Chorus' from The Messiah. :)

Ever dealt with an institutional review board (IRB)?

Then follow this link:

http://depts.washington.edu/ccph/pdf_files/IRB_Letter-Christmas%5B1%5D%5B1%5D.pdf
(you'll need a PDF reader such as Adobe Acrobat Reader)

It is hilarious. I shared it with some of our researchers. I think YKWIA would be an excellent member/chairman of an IRB. Thanks to Marie Kennedy for the link!

He also told me about this

Lexington Papa John's driver is robbed

It happened 5 minutes before and one block away from where I came out of the hospital last night. As I went down the drive, a police cruiser pulled up with its lights on, and then moved when I went to go onto the sidewalk, since it was in the way. It was there the entire time I was out waiting for the bus. I generally consider that a safe area, but on the other hand no neighbourhood is 100% safe, and since it was dark and something had obviously happened, it was reassuring to have a cruiser there as part of the perimeter.

I hope the driver is okay. I know several of them, since I order from the same Papa John's and used to work near it and they'd come in for gas.

YKWIA told me about this last night

New Library Chief Makes Use of Her Varied Interests

I don't know how long the link will work; the Herald-Leader usually lets them expire in 7 days, but they've changed their website around, so I don't know if that's changed.
Virginia Ann Hammond moved through several careers, including Navy officer, stay-at-home mom and forensic scientist, before becoming a librarian at age 41.

Now she thinks she's found a perfect job — running the Lexington Public Library, where she began in September as executive director.

"It's a way to make use of everything you've ever learned in your life," said Hammond, 56, who previously was deputy county librarian in Fremont, Calif. "Nothing is wasted when you're a librarian. Every bit of information that you accumulate is going to be useful to someone at some point."

Someone sent me this cute video set in a library



Just 'cause I navigate the media
And use encyclopedias
It doesn't mean that I don't need
A boy just like you to talk to

It's pretty catchy. It's by Reina del Cid. Thanks to Walker for sharing this.

Remember the Kick Ass Librarian video? Sometimes that's not enough to save your library. But people working together can.

From birdie of LISNews:
One week ago we posted this funny video, The Kick Ass Librarian. It's worth a second watch.

Particularly now that we've learned from the scriptwriter, Jason Wilkins, that the library where it was filmed, the Reiche Branch of the Portland, ME Public Library is now CLOSED.

The video is very amusing, but the situation of libraries today IS NOT. Want to join our grassroots facebook campaign to get Oprah to help Libraries? Please visit & join our group Oprah, Libraries Need You! and get in on the ground-floor of our postcard campaign. We're inundating Oprah with 5,000 identical postcards calling on her to publicize the drastic situation of our libraries!

:) It's amazing what they can do

Hollywood-style special effects give girl new ear: 14-year-old North Carolina girl suffered severe burn as a toddler
Elise Lutz never let her friends see what was left of her ear.

She'd carefully style her long hair into a one-sided ponytail, or swelter under a swim cap for hours at meets, to cover the molten lump from a severe burn as a toddler in her native China.

But as a teenager, the North Carolina girl expressed her desire to be whole again with a simple request: She really wanted pierced earrings. Thus began a months-long quest for a new right ear, one made of silicone but so lifelike that it even glows a bit in the sun like real skin.

Elise benefited from a little known field called anaplastology, where medical artists make Hollywood-like special effects come alive to fix disfigurements that standard plastic surgery cannot.

For those, like, me whose weather didn't cooperate

Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Here are some other great pictures.

Happy Solstice! Yay for the turning of the year back to longer days and shorter nights!

Blech

I'm up. It's almost 7 am. No lunar eclipse for me last night--it was cloudy and snowing. This morning it's supposed to change over to rain. I need to do laundry, and it's not too slick despite a half inch of snow and some possible freezing drizzle. But I'm also very groggy and not really feeling like doing laundry right now. I'm going to check for one more outfit. In the meantime I have the tree lit up and everything. :)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Success!

Yesterday, Brenda gave me a gift card to Barnes & Noble for the holidays. She said in retrospect it should have been to Amazon since I have the Kindle, but I'm on the same side of town as Barnes & Noble and she thought I could stop by. I was quite happy with it. Books are books, no matter where they come from, and there are occasionally books I can find there but not at Amazon (such as the HP Lovecraft collections I got everyone in the game one year, that were actually put out by B&N.) So I started thinking, what book would I like? I had been on the PaperBackSwap site the other day because I'd sent off a book and when that person gets it, they're supposed to mark it as received so I have a credit. There were two books I was interested in, and one was available, Patrick O'Leary's The Gift, which in paperback is still $18, and I dearly loved it when I read it from the library. So I'll order that through the reciprocal book club if it's still up for grabs.

What they didn't have available was the third book of The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, called Against All Things Ending, by Stephen R Donaldson. I have the first two, one of which I got through the paperback club even though it's hardcover, and I've wanted to have all three before I read them. So, that was a great thing to get with Brenda's gift certificate.

Of course, that was $20, and if you pay $25, shipping is free. Plus, Barnes & Noble was running a coupon special today that if you put in a code, you got 25% off one item. This was tempting. So I thought, what would be a second book to get? I decided, oddly enough, on one that I have on the Kindle, but I'd really like to help encourage the writer to write more books, and I love the colour of the US cover. This would be the Pericles Commission by Gary Corby. I decided I wanted to get the hardcover anyway, even though I'm reading it on the Kindle.

That, with tax and shipping, would originally have been about $45 for the two books. But with the deal and the gift card, I'd be able to get it for less than either book by itself.

That was the idea. But this morning I spent over an hour being frustrated by a checkout process that involved odd hoops and dead ends. I couldn't remember my password, so I asked for a reset, but the e-mail never came (it wasn't in my spam blocker, it just didn't happen.) I went ahead and checked out without signing in, so I had to type in everything again. I tried to use the code, but it kept saying it was invalid. I finally gave up and just closed the browser and got ready for work, thinking it would have been easier to schlep through the snow and ice to Hamburg rather than get through their system. I don't handle frustration wonderfully, although I am much less likely to become frustrated than I once was. The is the first time I've been so annoyed in a good long while. But I forced myself to calm down and go out into the world and try to enjoy my Monday.

When I got home, I decided it might be worth trying again. Again, I tried to reset the password, with no luck. But it let me re-create an account. And this time the coupon code worked, so maybe they were having issues this morning. All in all my order came to $15.01, much better than the $45 it would have been originally.

I was determined I was going to get it to work this time. I must say, Amazon seems to have a much easier process, but I could just be biased because I use it so much. But I'm glad I finally got it to work and didn't have to schlep off in the weather. Yay! And thanks, Brenda!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

PS

You know, I can't really think of anything I particularly need for Yule, which is pretty decent, as winter is usually a tough time for me. Maybe a new computer chair--it's on its last legs, but that is something I can take care at some point and I have folding metal chairs if it loses cohesion entirely.

I guess I'd like my friends and family to be happy this winter. That's enough. I've already gotten a present from my best friend--the writings of Henry David Thoreau, and I'm enjoying that. Anything that encourages thought is a good thing for me; I'm a bit lazy in that department sometimes.

There are a lot of people who need basic items this year, especially with the oeconomy being what it is. And there are a lot of people who frankly don't need the latest got-to-have item. Think about what we would be like if we were all content with what we had, and had what we needed. The world would be a better place, wouldn't it?

I'm pooped

I have done notes, procured a tree, decorated the tree, wrapped presents for tomorrow (I'll save my family's till later, it'll be Friday before I see them) and now I'm tired. I got a prismatic film wrapping paper from Kroger yesterday and it's challenging to wrap with. And of course, Norfolk Virginia pines, with their multiple crowns, are a little harder to decorate than a standard fir, so I feel like I've been wrangling things all day. But I'm happy. So far I've kept to a budget and no one's getting anything huge for Christmas, but I think they'll be pleased. I only had to get five Christmas presents and one Hanukkah one (that was earlier this month), so I lucked out. Plus I sent out cards (they were mailed yesterday, but would have gone out today). So I think I'm doing pretty well for the season. Yay, I'm finished (beyond wrapping three gifts) and it's now time to relax.

I'm going to take a nap, but I need to get up later and feed the fish. I'm not going to tackle the aquarium tonight.

Some creativity is going on at YouTube in the name of charity

Here's my favourite (hey, it has Doctors Without Borders and Doctor Who, how can you go wrong? Go, Heather!):



Then there's the guy giving away 150 Star Wars books to people who donate to Make-a-Wish.

Look on YouTube. Surely one of the Project for Awesome videos (and their charities) will appeal to you.

:) While I was out, news happened, and good news at that

President Obama's statement regarding the repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell':
Today, the Senate has taken an historic step toward ending a policy that undermines our national security while violating the very ideals that our brave men and women in uniform risk their lives to defend. By ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” no longer will our nation be denied the service of thousands of patriotic Americans forced to leave the military, despite years of exemplary performance, because they happen to be gay. And no longer will many thousands more be asked to live a lie in order to serve the country they love.

As Commander-in-Chief, I am also absolutely convinced that making this change will only underscore the professionalism of our troops as the best led and best trained fighting force the world has ever known. And I join the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as well as the overwhelming majority of service members asked by the Pentagon, in knowing that we can responsibly transition to a new policy while ensuring our military strength and readiness.

I want to thank Majority Leader Reid, Senators Lieberman and Collins and the countless others who have worked so hard to get this done. It is time to close this chapter in our history. It is time to recognize that sacrifice, valor and integrity are no more defined by sexual orientation than they are by race or gender, religion or creed. It is time to allow gay and lesbian Americans to serve their country openly. I urge the Senate to send this bill to my desk so that I can sign it into law.

(From the White House blog.)

Shouldn't truth outweigh relations?

U.S. may vote on Armenian genocide measure: Measure could damage relations with critical ally Turkey
Historians estimate that up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks around the time of World War I, an event widely viewed by scholars as the first genocide of the 20th century. Turkey denies that the deaths constituted genocide, saying the toll has been inflated and those killed were victims of civil war and unrest.

Success!

I left about 2 pm to go take a CD to the library that's due Monday and pick up a hold, Running the Books (yeah, it finally came back to me again, quicker than I thought it would). At 2:40 I took the bus to Lowe's, taking the granny cart with me. I found this lovely tree and it was only a little over $6 since it's a week till Christmas (and than goodness I got it, as it's only three days till solstice). I also got some small LED lights to go on it. I think they're bright and happy. Then began the trek home in the cold and ice. Mind you, I hope the tree survives; they're not hardy at all, and it was out in the cold for a good long time, although I covered it as best as I could with my scarf. I stopped by Subway, which was about halfway home and got a free footlong tuna sandwich with my points. Then I went across the street near Kroger and waited for the bus. There were quite a few people waiting and we chatted. I carried the tree onto the bus with the cart folded up so it wouldn't be in the way. I think people were amused in a good way and maybe got into the holiday spirit watching me go by or sitting on the bus with a giant evergreen. (Okay, it's maybe three feet tall, but that's fairly big when you're carrying it.) I got off at the library bus stop, put the tree back in the cart and headed across the street since the hospital had shoveled their walk and it's easier to cross on that side of the street anyway (There's no one turning right to run you down.) I walked very carefully down a very icy walk and once I reached the car lot one of the ladies came out and offered to take me the rest of the way home. Mind you, I was almost home by that point, but it still would have taken about 15 or 20 minutes with the ice and it had gotten much colder. So I accepted, she brought me the rest of the way, and I got into the house sometime after five, so it took about 3 hours to hunt down and bring back a tree, even with help there at the end. Then I decorated the tree and this is the result. I'm going to rest a bit and then wrap presents.

All in all, it was fun, though it took some determination. Now I'm going to check my e-mail and call the game master to see if we're gaming tomorrow, as it was his house that was so icy the other day, and Brenda may have called if she's stuck out in the country. But the notes were finished early this afternoon. I went ahead and put in on my USB drive rather than the Kindle this time since I'm leaving the Kindle home during the ice issue. Monday and Tuesday it's supposed to be warmer; I may take it with me then, since I am working on several books right now and I'm at the climax of White Night by Jim Butcher. My shoes performed admirably. I think I slipped a tiny bit maybe twice, and never to the point where I was in danger of falling. Go, purple shoes! (I also got asked by one person I met along the way where I got them, and I've gotten compliments on them by several people at work, so all around I think they're a success.)

Well, I'm up, and it's barely light outside, even though it's almost 8 am

But that's pretty good for a Saturday for me. I'm going to do the game notes, and I plugged in the batteries to charge for the recorder for tomorrow, and had to unplug the water filter on the aquarium briefly to get the battery charger plugged up. The water filter's been clogged with algae the last few days, so I cleaned it out when I plugged it back, sticking my hand down in the water and pulling the intake tube apart, splattering algae water on the wall (I cleaned that up quickly). I primed the pump, then, since I was at it, I skimmed a great deal of the duckweed off the top of the water so the fish could actually breathe and get to their food better. Duckweed has become somewhat of a bane. It's almost impossible to eradicate. I don't mind a little, but there's seldom a little, and it can multiply from one little leaf cluster, as it did when Brenda gave me a swordtail. The duckweed outlasted that fish by years. :)

Anyway, I broke open some new fish food and they were appreciative. I need to siphon out some water and make a change. That may be on the docket for later. Now to those notes.

I've had conversations like this

Thanks to David Rothman for sharing.



YKWIA: This isn't a YouTube video, so you may be able to view it, but just in case you can't, here is the link: http://www.xtranormal.com/watch/7752769/

Such wonderful creatures, and a woman who's devoted her life to them

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


There's more information of what they do at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust web page.

One person can make a huge difference

A man's legacy shocks and brings out the best in his small community.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Just in time for Yule

The night before the solstice the sky will be a little spectacular as there will be a total eclipse of the moon.


Amazing spectacle: Total lunar eclipse Monday night: You may be able to see it from your backyard, if weather is favorable


For those of us in Eastern time, it will be most noticeable from about 1:30 to 4:30 in the morning. It will be totally covered in Earth's shadow at around 2:40 am on the 21st.

Meanwhile, the actual solstice will be right before midnight (universal time), or about 6:38 pm our time on Tuesday night, making Monday the longest night of the year. After the solstice, the nights will start to get shorter again and the days longer. The solstice, which for Pagans is called Yule (among others), is my winter holiday. If I don't get a tree tomorrow I'll light lots of candles as a way of having my own festival of lights, although that's really an Imbolc (February 2nd) sort of thing, too.

Anyway, the eclipse should be fun. I hope the sky is clear.

Okay, the resting phase took awhile

I went to bed about oh, 7 pm or so and just woke up at nearly midnight. I guess that foray took a lot out of me. I was out in the snow and ice from about noon till after four.

My shoes came in (as you can tell from the last post), so I went to work first. I mailed the various things from there; it was just easier, especially as my packing tape was at work for fixing the book wrapper. I ate some vegetable lasagna from the cafeteria and then headed back towards Kroger. There I got gifts and gift wrap, basically everything but a gift card for my mother that I can print out here, to go with a small wrapped gift.

I did not go to Lowe's with the granny cart for a tree. I decided that was too much to do in one day, and I walked out of the apartment without the cart anyway and decided not to go back. In truth the conditions were worse today--the slush had frozen, and I'm not sure about how well the cart would do. I may try tomorrow, we'll see. Or I may just forgo a tree this year; it's just so difficult to deal with without a car, and artificial trees seem, well, to miss the point. I need a tabletop size anyway, something maybe three or four feet tall that can go on the table in front of my living room window. So I'd rather get a potted pine of some sort. I think I'll call tomorrow to check and see if they have them, and decide from there. I'll also wrap the presents tomorrow.

I don't know what set if off, maybe a candle I burned earlier, but my nose is just going. I think I'll check the news.

They arrived, and they fit!


They're so purple!  They will also be easy to clean.  And you can really feel the ice under your feet well, and that helps keep a good footing, despite having a nice tread. They worked better than my athletic shoes, which I left at work.  I wouldn't want to stand for hours in them, but since I bring my Birkenstocks with me when I'm going to be somewhere for hours inside, that's no problem. :)

Friday, December 17, 2010

I wonder what that means for Pagans, since there's nothing inherently Christian about the use of natural trees and lights and many Pagans (and some Christians) believe it to be a Pagan influence on Christmas?

Christmas trees bum non-Christians out, study shows: Even an unspoken reminder of the holiday made some feel subtly excluded
Here's a new twist to the annual "War on Christmas" debate: Reminders of Christmas can make religious minorities feel ill at ease — even if they don't realize it.

When people who did not celebrate Christmas or who did not identify as Christian filled out surveys about their moods while in the same room as a small Christmas tree, they reported less self-assurance and fewer positive feelings than if they hadn't been reminded of the holiday, according to a new study.
Also...
In both versions of the study, the Christmas tree failed to spread holiday cheer equally. Non-celebrators reported fewer positive feelings and less self-assurance in the Christmas room. Christians and celebrators, on the other hand, were mostly cheered by the tree, with one exception: Celebrators reported feeling more guilt when they were in the Christmas room. That finding suggests that even for Christmas-lovers, the holiday can be stressful, Schmitt said.

The religious minorities and non-celebrators weren't looking to be offended by reminders of Christmas, the study found. After the surveys, the researchers explained the goal of the experiment to the volunteers and asked each of them how they thought the presence of the tree might affect their mood. There was no difference between the responses of Christians and non-Christians or celebrators and non-celebrators. All thought Christmas decorations would make them happier.

I slept in this morning

It's 10 am. Not bad, considering I went to bed at 2ish, although I slept for about two hours in the evening, too.

My, I have a busy day planned.
  1. Make out the holiday cards
  2. Stamp them.
  3. Prepare the PaperBackSwap book for mailing.
  4. Mail said items.
  5. Go to Kroger and holiday shop. Yes, Kroger. It occurred to me that they have gift cards and it's a super Kroger that even sells furniture. There's lots of stuff they have, and it's better than running around the mall or all over Lexington considering I only know of one present for sure that I'd like to get and the rest are up in the air.
  6. Check with work to see if my shoes have come in. If so, swing by there on the bus and pick them up.
  7. See about getting a Norfolk Virginia pine or other live tree, some lights, etc.
  8. Trundle it all home (bring granny cart, since I don't think I'll be able to take the tree on the bus without getting needles everywhere).
  9. Rest from my excursion (hey there's a new layer of frozen drizzle out there, it'll take awhile and I'll be quite tired).
  10. Put up the decorations, tree, etc.
  11. Do game notes if possible. Otherwise, tomorrow.
I think it's doable, although I definitely need to bring that cart with me, which might make things fun with slush and ice still on the sidewalks. But I am determined to get this done this weekend, and the temps aren't supposed to be any better tomorrow.

'That's not mine, that's hired!'



Sometimes those great BBC videographers have problems with their subjects. Here a couple of bear cubs cause a bit of havoc.

I am so afraid

Heavenly Grease--a Pork Nativity Scene

You have to see it to believe it. Click on the link for the picture.

"Away in an oven just kraut for his bed, the little Lord Jesus lay down his meat head."

Yes, folks, the traditional manger's in danger with this meaty makeover on the classic crèche. Mary and Joseph are made of sausages and cloaked in bacon, while the Three Weiner Wise Guys sport tin-foil crowns. Christ himself is a mini chipolata, and he ain't gonna freeze this year -- his new Bethle-HAM is set to 350 degrees.

Somehow that idea that the 'holy family' was, in fact, Jewish makes this even monstrous. And I'm sure there's some sort of blasphemy going on, but maybe that's because I just eat fish, eggs, milk, and veggies.

My favourite part of the movie :)



It's so fluffy I'm going to die! Although the whole movie is quite fun. :)

Sadly, I didn't see anything in Google Reader or on Twitter or Facebook to post here. I did enter a contest to win a 42" HD big screen television, which if I win will make an awesome present for a friend (but I'm not holding my breath).

Well at least I wasn't the only one

My friend, who doesn't drive, went to go to work tonight and barely got to the edge of his yard and back. He had to call work and they sent someone to get him. Like me, he didn't fall, but it was a near thing, and I think he windmilled a bit.

Someone out front is scraping their car right now. It sounds like they're having to chisel. Don't you just love ice?

The worst thing about it today was the ice was on top of about 2 inches of snow and slush, so if you didn't slide completely, it broke and you slid in different directions. Plus, the slush of the road was bad enough that I think I went completely down into dirty slush of about 6 inches or so in places.

Ah, they got their car scraped off. As much as it sucks to be a pedestrian right now, at least I'm not having to deal with that.

Okay, let's see if there's any news.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

PS

I just checked the tracking for my purple boots and they've arrived in Lexington, so I may be swinging by the hospital tomorrow for those. I will say they looked like they had good treads on them, which will be very good. I also need to send off holiday cards and a PaperBackSwap book that was requested. That's nice, as that means that when it is received, I'll get a credit for a book, too. I love that service.

Yay, back at last

What started out as a quick hunt for toilet paper became a much more involved sort of thing. A friend called me as I was walking through the slush at the car lot (normally I don't take that short cut, but seeing as they hadn't shoveled their sidewalk, I felt entitled) and I decided to go over there and visit. I went to Walgreens, picked up my medication and toilet paper along with one of those tins of popcorn, forgot to get stamps for holiday cards so I went to Kroger and picked up those and the DVD of Despicable Me. My friend liked it a lot. I was going to take the bus home about dusk, but their neighbourhood was worse in terms of ice and things were freezing back up (it took nearly 10 minutes to walk down his front yard, but I didn't fall, just came close). He convinced me to call a cab, which came remarkably quickly considering the weather, pulled into the driveway, and started inching backwards. I only managed to get in by holding onto the cab. I tipped the driver $5 for getting me in the ice.

All in all, though, the storm could have been worse. I'd say we had just over a quarter of an inch of ice on top of a couple inches of snow. The forecast was for as much as 6 inches of snow and a half inch of ice, depending on which way it tended to go towards (more ice, less snow; more snow, less ice). Instead we wound up kind of in the middle, and no widespread power outages as far as I know. In an area prone to week-long ice storms every few years, that's a good thing. And I managed to get through the day without falling. I didn't take the Kindle or my glasses with me today just in case I fell--I didn't want to break anything expensive.

I hope it's better tomorrow. I need to do some holiday shopping. Really, in the middle of the day most of the places I went, commercial areas, were slushy (it was only when I got into my friend's suburban neighbourhood that I had much trouble). So maybe tomorrow will be better. At least it's not supposed to have any precipitation. We're going to wait to hang a wallpaper border till after Christmas, so I'm not sure what I'm doing Saturday yet. I do need to work on notes. And there's still a couple of episodes of Tower Prep I haven't seen (I saw one today, which was pretty good. The mystery thickens.)

Okay, I think I'll get something to eat, take out my contacts, and maybe do some reading, then start on notes. Either tomorrow or Saturday--during the full 'heat' of the day--I need to do some laundry and take out the recylables (I have two laundry hampers full of the latter), plus wash dishes and take out the trash. Hopefully the weather will be fine for the game on Sunday as well. Brenda lives out in the boonies on a small farm and when ice and snow come, sometimes she has trouble getting out of her driveway, much less down the back roads.

Hope your day was fun.

Okay, they've cleared my sidewalk

And my prescription will be ready at 10 am. The toilet paper is no more. Time to get ready to go out into this mess. :(

Oh, those wily folks at Google

Google hides mathematical puzzle in Cr-48 video, rewards its solver with a laptop

I love toasting marshmallows over a flaming laptop (except for the poisonous gases). They were very creative in destroying them, but personally I'd start whacking the men in haz mat suits after awhile. Congratulations to Sylvain Zimmer and his buddies, who figured it all out. Now that's true geekiness in motion.

The formula is found at 2:26 in the following video:

Interesting

Brain Oddities: Spelling is Irrelevant to Comprehension

Can you read the note on at that link? I don't have any trouble. The words have the first and last letters intact but the rest of each word is a jumble. But still, I would have to say spelling does matter, as does grammar, for it helps communicate easier. Yes, I can read, and my comprehension didn't suffer, but the speed did. Still, it's an interesting exercise.

Want to be an elf?

Kids write Santa this year for basic needs instead of toys

Kudos to the folks at the post office who sort through the letters, identify the needy cases, and put into motion Operation Santa, where people get letters with the personal info removed and act as Santa's helpers to get the items for the children. There is a list of participating post offices at the Operation Santa blog. (The closest on the list to me is in Cincinnati, but I think I'll check with our post office to see if there might be something like it. It's hard for me to get to the post office, but I can do so on the bus.) Anyway, it's a chance to make a difference in the life of a child this year.

Via The DCist.

Plus, there's this I saw on the news:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

My plan to stay in has run into a snag

I had a 'borrowed' roll of toilet paper that has lasted four days but it on its last legs (and no, I didn't have the money for more until today because of the thing with the shoes). So I will have to venture out, soon. If I do so, the aim is to go one place and come back. I'm going to check and see if any of my meds need to be refilled (I think one is) and call it in to Walgreens. I can get that and the toilet paper there.

We are in the transition area in terms of the snow and ice. North of us people got something like 6 inches of snow. We didn't get much snow but have more ice, about 1/4 to 1/2 inches. The maintenance men have been out with their little snowplough working like mad on the parking lot (I think that's what woke me up this morning, which is fine).

What a slap to the face to a young woman's memory and more pain for her family

Huguely lawyers mounting alternative death explanation

A young woman is badly beaten and dies of blunt force trauma. Now the defence team for the young man accused of killing her wants her medical records because they say her Adderall, an amphetamine prescribed to her and which is normally prescribed for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, killed her.

That's pretty low. Blame the victim. Oh, and she'd been drinking, too. So it was all her fault someone beat her to death, even though she was apparently home not bothering anyone. Right. And this is a case where the defendant 'waived his Miranda rights and narrated graphic details of his assaulting Love, stating that he kicked open Love's locked bedroom door and "shook Love, and her head repeatedly hit the wall"'.

Things like this make me more than a little mad.