Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
comic strip overdue media

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Today I have:

  1. Eaten breakfast.
  2. Planned my itinerary.
  3. Discarded the idea of getting printer ink and checking with the optometrist about my contacts.
  4. Taken the bus to Lowe's, picked up some things for my friends' house, and three cheap but nice plastic terracotta-coloured pots, one big, two small, for my herbs. That took my large tote bag and a Kroger reusable tote.
  5. Gone into a Speedway for the first time since Thanksgiving and gotten a frozen drink, the first time I've done that in a good couple of years. It's so weird to go into one when I used to work in one.
  6. Walked over to Liquor Barn. I picked up some pinot grigio for a friend and two pinot noir bottles for me. The pinot noir is for libations, one tonight in thanksgiving for prayers answered, and one for my monthly libations at menstruation. Those went into my backpack.
  7. Gotten just a few things at Kroger; I'll do more shopping tomorrow morning. As it was, I could barely carry everything, as I added a second Kroger reusable tote and there was a box to carry as well. Fortunately everything except the backpack and box were light.
  8. Taken off a home screen shell program from my phone that was freezing the whole thing up (and has been on and off, especially when time was of the essence), because it prevented me from returning a call when someone was waiting for me and there was a short timeframe involved. At least it was a free application. And it made the phone screens look really nice and allowed me to put things into folders nicely. A shame it wouldn't work when I needed it to.
  9. Gone by bus with all this stuff and dropped off what belonged to my friends at their place and visited for a bit.
  10. Managed to dodge the rainstorm by being on the bus for the majority on the way home, getting sprinkled just a bit.
  11. Eaten dinner.
  12. Vacuumed the apartment.
  13. Transplanted the herbs--the lavender, thyme, and rosemary getting their own pots, and the sage, tarragon, and Italian oregano in one large one. I also rescued an amaryllis bulb and planted it. Then I put three avocado pits suspended in water in my bedroom window. Soon I may have an avocado plant or three. :)
  14. Cleaned up the leavings from doing all that potting.

Pretty productive for a Saturday. Now it's time to do notes. (Yes, I waited till the last minute, again.)

Tweeted about this yesterday but forgot to post here

9-year-old girl’s clean water wish takes off after her death: Moved by Rachel Beckwith’s story, donors from across the world open their wallets to charity
Rachel Beckwith wanted to raise $300 by her ninth birthday to help bring clean water to people in poor countries. Donors from across the world are making sure her wish is realized after her death, perhaps a thousand times over.

Rachel was about $80 short of her goal when she turned 9 in June, and then a horrific highway traffic accident took her life away last week. But news of the Bellevue, Wash., girl’s pluck and selflessness emerged after the tragedy, and it is inspiring thousands of people — most of them strangers — to push her dream along.

By Tuesday afternoon, her webpage that was set up to take contributions for charity:water, a nonprofit organization that brings clean drinking water to people in developing nations, had attracted more than $200,000 in pledges.

Here is a video from charity:water:

Water Changes Everything. from charity: water on Vimeo.


Rachel's page shows that although her goal was $300, she has now raised $711,825, serving 35,591 people's water needs in places like sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, and Central America.

One life. One death. 20,367 people coming together to make Rachel's dream come true. And yes, one of those was me. $20 is apparently the amount that it takes to provide water for one person. It seemed a good number, and about what I'd spend on a book or a meal at a restaurant. So sometime in the next few months, a lot of wells are going to be dug in Rachel's name.

Whenever, as in the previous story, I really wonder about the depravities of humanity, a child's innocent wish, and the people who make it happen, inspires me.

How horrible a life to lead, abandoned by a mother and abused by the ones who should have cared for her

Four arrested over death of Phoenix girl locked inside box as punishment, say cops
Police said Thursday that Ame Deal had been abused for a long time, and had been locked in a chest as punishment, reports CBS affiliate KPHO.

Authorities say before being locked in, the girl was forced to run and do other exercises in the backyard, despite nearly triple-digit heat.

Police investigators said the girl apparently had been put in the box at least five times in recent months for misbehaving, and had been beaten with a wooden paddle, forced to swallow hot sauce and to eat dog feces.

Police said the girl slept on the floor of a stall shower in the home with no blanket or pillow as a disciplinary measure for bed wetting.

Relatives charged in murder of 10-year-old found locked in box
When first questioned, the family members told police that Deal had climbed into the box and suffocated while playing hide-and-seek, police said.

Kansas woman says she found out about death of 10-year-old daughter in Phoenix via online
A Kansas woman who found out about the death of her 10-year-old daughter in Phoenix by reading about it online said she hasn't stopped crying since.

Shirley Deal fled from what she described as an abusive household several years ago. The child she left behind perished in the same household.

I am horrified that anyone would treat a child this way. I also do not have fond thoughts of a mother who leaves her child with people she believes to be abusive, the family of an ex-husband she says she is not even sure is the father of the child. And the child's supposed father was there, and although he has not been charged, you have to wonder if he simply did not know that four people were abusing his daughter, or if he knew and did nothing.

The very people who should have cared for and loved that girl failed her at best and allegedly murdered her at worst. How terrible that she was surrounded by these types of people. I am also interested if there were any suspicions of abuse that were reported to the authorities, and if they, too, failed this child.

So sad. Oh, and the offence for which she was locked in the box? She apparently stole a Popsicle from the freezer. For that she suffocated and died. I hope these people get exactly what they deserve.

Okay, I really doubt this was a quality study, but it made my little Firefox-using self smile

Internet Explorer Users Are Dumber, Study Shows

Of course, it also came from Fox News. I think a similar study would find some interesting things about their viewers compared to say, the New York Times readers, but that's just my terribly liberal opinion. :)

A company called AptiQuant, a self-proclaimed "world leader in the field of online psychometric testing," published the results of an online study that tested the IQs of users and grouped the results according to which browser respondents used.

The study found that users of Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Opera were all slightly above average in IQ test results, but Microsoft Internet Explorer users tended to be lower on the IQ scale.

IQ testing is very problematic in person, much less online, so I don't think we can really state the results as being all that great in terms of validity. But it did give me a little wakeup laugh this morning.

PS Laugh not withstanding, my doubts as to the study were indeed confirmed, as it appears to have been a hoax.

Internet Explorer story was bogus


Fox News was just one of the first media giants to jump on the story. Even the BBC and CNN got caught in it. But it still gave me a laugh, this time for two reasons. :)

Friday, July 29, 2011

I actually watched a bit of TV tonight

YKWIA called me to let me know that the new ThunderCats television series was premiering on Cartoon Network at 8 pm. Now, I was never all that in to ThunderCats (to be honest, I always thought it was a bit silly, but I didn't really follow it enough to know that or not). But I decided to give it a go, and found myself interested in the story. I may even watch it each week; it'll be on at 8:30 on Friday evenings. I thought they did a good job, and the animation was very good. I liked seeing the 'backstory' as to how things came to be, although this seems quite different from the original (I read Wikipedia, which is the only reason I know it's ThunderCats with a capital C.) I still think Mumm-Ra is a bit, well, lame as a bad guy, but not as silly as I'd originally seen him. And Lion-O does still have a silly name, but what's a person to do, change it and make it not ThunderCats? :) I wonder what ThunderCats devotees think of it?

PS Small bit of trivia: according to the Wikipedia article for the original ThunderCats series, the original voice actor for Lion-O in that series is voicing the character of Claudus, his father in the new one. Which might explain why it sounded so darn familiar. I did see the original, but just in piecemeal.

I got an annual statement from the IRS

today, detailing my payments through May. I've made three since then (including the infamous double payment in June). The upshot is that I'm more than halfway to paying them off, and my last payment should be December (or at least if there is one in January, it will be a few dollars for interest). This is rather heartening, as it has been a hardship. This year I paid my taxes on time, and next year I may actually get a refund, as I will (hopefully) have only one job to deal with this year and everything should be paid off by then. So, the end is in sight. Hurrah. Of course, after that, I need to start paying on my student loans which are currently in forbearance since there was no way I could do both. So I'm not sure there is a car fund in my future, but maybe if I could put a little from each paycheque in, it might take awhile, but it would get there. Still, I may not be able to start until the beginning of the year (see below for why).

The end is in sight for physical therapy, as well. It looks like I need to go maybe two more weeks. The pain's been gone for awhile and I can actually feel my fingers again. I've checked with the optometrist to see how much my contacts will be, but they couldn't find my file earlier, so I'll have to check back tomorrow. I'd like to get them before my flexible spending account goes empty, but still have enough to fund the PT sessions. I think my vision plan will pay most of it. I only have about $350 left, so it will drain quickly, plus I have two specialist appointments and my regular doctor next month. The specialists and the PT sessions are $40 a pop. That's $300 by the end of August. Then there's my medicine and diabetic supplies, which runs about $275 a month after insurance, and that I'll have to pay out of pocket, so things are going to be very tight for the rest of the year. Some are more vital than others; I'm tempted to go off my medicine for the triglycerides and ADD. That would be $100 in savings right there. But I'll try to keep them. It's a shame when you have insurance--decent insurance, mind you, that pays for a lot others won't, but you still are trying to decide what you can get to keep you healthy.

I did eventually succumb

First to the comfy chair, then to bed. I'm up briefly to take my insulin and set my alarm for tomorrow.

The Gentle Alarm thing worked really well this morning, despite my lack of sleep. I woke up right before the main alarm, so apparently the 'pre-alarm' brought me out of a deeper sleep enough to surface on my own.

I'm glad tomorrow is Friday. There's PT, of course, and then I'll probably go in a little early, like I did this morning. Tomorrow is jeans day. We're supposed to wear green or red if possible because its the annual Hillbilly Christmas in July, but I don't think I have anything cool enough in either colour, so I may just wear my Starkweather-Moore Antarctic Expedition shirt (it's a Cthulhu Game reference).

My co-workers have been watching out for me with the heat. This afternoon my boss' boss called me. Not only did she offer me a ride home tonight, but she'd asked someone else who sometimes gives me rides about Friday, so that's covered. I really appreciate it. Although it's been hot in the morning, it's nothing compared to waiting for a bus in the afternoon during a heat advisory/warning.

Okay, I'm going to go back to bed. Have a good night.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

A veritable garden

I brought home some of my plants from work today: four African violets, one spider plant, a jade plant, and two orchids. My violets have not bloomed in awhile and I thought a sunnier location might help. Anyway that brings the total to eighteen plants in the house, the aforementioned plus a hoya, and umbrella plant, a lemon balm, two types of thyme, oregano, sage, rosemary, and lavender. That leaves a purple shamrock, zygocactus, and a ruffled-leaved African violet given to me by a co-worker which has recently doubled in size at the office. I also have three avocado pits I'm considering suspending in water; I have the jars and toothpicks, and the pits. I also moved my lighted ionising fountain to the living room, took the stand that has drawers and was in front of the bedroom window and put in by the bed, and put several of the plants on two wire racks next to the window. While I was at it, I cleaned up around the computer. I'm running the fountain (with a little lavender oil in the water) right now. It's next to the comfy chair for when I need a little relaxation.

For now, though, I have no intention of going to the comfy chair, or to bed for that matter. Despite my lack of sleep last night, I'm not particularly tired or sleepy. I guess the caffeine last night, coupled by a bit today, has kept me going. Getting 12 hours of sleep on Monday and Tuesday night probably didn't hurt, either.

I will probably go to bed early tonight, though, because I have physical therapy at 7:30 in the morning. For now, I've eaten, and I'm considering starting the game notes early. Saturday I have several errands to run. But for now I'm going to check the news for just a moment and my e-mail. I'll probably write a bit before heading to bed.

That was a mistake

The last two nights, I have slept between 12-13 hours. This is in large part due to the lack of any caffeine.

Guess what? Tonight I had WAY too much, had a caffeine high that I think rather alarmed YKWIA (I may have even had push of speech), and now, I can't sleep whatsoever.

I want to get up and do things. If I had a car, I'd go shopping for some things I need around here, now that I've gotten paid. But I don't really feel like tackling the closets and drawers tonight, even with the caffeine rush, and I've fiddled with my phone while lying in bed for as long as I could stand. (I even finally got a paid application from the Android store tonight--ironically, it's an alarm feature that allows you to gently wake up with a pre-alarm that is designed to only awake you from a light sleep cycle, followed by a ramp in to a louder alarm 30 minutes later after you've been nudged from deep sleep by the previous alarm. It was €1.99 (about $2.88). I checked my bank account to make sure something odd didn't happen due to the currency exchange between the dollar and Euro. Apparently Google gets a $1 fee on top of that. I'm not sure why, if that's for all of them or not. But that's substantial given that most applications are $0.99-2.99.)

Okay, it's 3:40 am. I'm going to try to go back to sleep. Wish me luck, but of course, it's my own fault. :|

Man, caffeine makes me manic in large quantities. I wonder if there's a link to mania and caffeine for people with bipolar disorder or if everyone juiced up on the stuff does this? So glad I don't do energy drinks. :)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

This is one reason I'm not an advocate for the death penalty

Oh, there are many people who need to be gaoled for life, without ever having the possibility of parole. They need to be removed from society, and never interact with it again. Punishment? My idea of punishment requires Star Trek-level technology, where you record the relevant parts of the victim's experience and then force the perpetrator to relive it every day for the rest of his or her life, in full experience as if he or she was the victim. But we're not there yet. I think putting people on Death Row is expensive and does nothing to really punish, nor does it really bring closure. And of course, Death Row inmates are by definition not going to be rehabilitated, which is the stated reason some people use concerning prisons, those who prefer to not focus on the punishment factor.

Then there are those who may be innocent. There are cases of men (usually) and women who have been incarcerated for years, sometimes on Death Row, for crimes they did not commit. This appears to be one of those cases.

Fresh DNA evidence boosts defense in 1993 Arkansas slayings
Newly tested DNA evidence in the 1993 killings of three 8-year-old Cub Scouts in Arkansas has failed to link the crimes to the men convicted in the murders, including one on Death Row, advocates for the men said on Wednesday.

The DNA, including materials from the crime scene, instead matched three unidentified people, furthering supporters' claims that the so-called West Memphis Three are innocent, the advocates told Reuters.
This is one of the reasons I will probably never serve on a jury where the death penalty is on the table. I realise (and have told the court in the past, when I have been selected for jury duty), that I do not think I could sentence someone to death. Give me a throw-them-in-gaol-and-throw-away-the-key option, and I'm fine. Some people have to be put away for the safety of everyone else, either because they're deranged, or because they're just plain evil, and are not likely to rehabilitate. But for others, I think the punishment should fit the crime, that it can be a turning point in their lives from which they can choose a different path when they get out, and that there should be ways to integrate them back into society.

If these men are innocent, it would have meant that they were teenagers when arrested for a crime 18 years ago--meaning they've lost a great deal of their lives. If true, they should be freed and compensated, although nothing can replace nearly two decades of lost freedom. Also, I hope the DNA evidence helps find those who were responsible for the murders of these children. For more on the West Memphis Three, and the mess the case was, see the Wikipedia article.

This is a really exciting use of technology

Digital Maps Are Giving Scholars the Historical Lay of the Land
Few battles in history have been more scrutinized than Gettysburg’s three blood-soaked days in July 1863, the turning point in the Civil War. Still, there were questions that all the diaries, official reports and correspondence couldn’t answer precisely. What, for example, could Gen. Robert E. Lee actually see when he issued a series of fateful orders that turned the tide against the Confederate Army nearly 150 years ago?

Now historians have a new tool that can help. Advanced technology similar to Google Earth, MapQuest and the GPS systems used in millions of cars has made it possible to recreate a vanished landscape. This new generation of digital maps has given rise to an academic field known as spatial humanities. Historians, literary theorists, archaeologists and others are using Geographic Information Systems — software that displays and analyzes information related to a physical location — to re-examine real and fictional places like the villages around Salem, Mass., at the time of the witch trials; the Dust Bowl region devastated during the Great Depression; and the Eastcheap taverns where Shakespeare’s Falstaff and Prince Hal caroused.

The software allows scholars to view things without the intervening topographical changes that have been made. For example Gettyburg would seem fairly unchanged, one might think, given the fact that there was no city buildings built upon the field. However, in the intervening years, a 'quarry, a reservoir, different plants and trees have been added, and elevations have changed as a result of mechanical plowing and erosion'. So visitors to the site today don't actually see what the soldiers then did. The mapping software helps rollback the changes and provides a better glimpse of the conditions during an historical event.

I'm so glad that the same tools that help scientists in biology and the physical sciences are also helping historians and other humanities and social science scholars.

We have a tag-along

Trojan asteroid tags along on Earth's orbit: The asteroid in the Earth's orbit around the sun has been hiding from view, mostly overhead during daylight, study finds
Turns out the moon's not the Earth's only traveling companion. Space scientists have discovered an asteroid that's been following our fair planet for thousands of years, at least — and there may be many more where it came from, according to a recent study.
This one is at too eccentric an orbit to visit properly, but if others are found, they may be candidates for a NASA probe or mission.

Listening to:

The Capitol Steps, I'm So Indicted 'On the Metro'



I've never been on a subway/train line, but I feel a bit like this on the bus sometimes. :)

The Capitol Steps are a wonderful satire group (their motto is 'We put the mock in Democracy'). YKWIA introduced me to them years ago.

'Course, there's the other side of the public transportation issue, they also have this:



Have I ever mentioned how much I dislike SUVs on principle? Oh, sure, you can get the whole soccer team inside and they're cooler looking than a minivan, but still....Remember MAD TV's take on the SUV--the 2003 Earth Destroyer?:

A concerning trend

Suicide spikes among middle-aged women: Experts speculate that depression, substance abuse and sleep issues may all play a part
At 23, Julie Boledovich Farhat decided to leave her boyfriend, three siblings and beloved hometown in Michigan to focus on saving her mother.

After watching her mom, Gail Boledovich, battle schizophrenia for three years and suffer from hallucinations and delusions, Julie resolved to take an engineering job in Bowling Green, Ky., and buy a house where her mom could live with her and have a beautiful garden and even an art studio to create her mosaics. Gail would be spared the stress of having to work or pay bills. Everything would work out, Julie thought.

But Gail Boledovich never made it to Kentucky. She took her own life on May 1, 2005, two days before her 49th birthday. She died from an overdose of prescription-strength Benadryl pills that doctors had prescribed to her to help her sleep at night. Boledovich took the lethal dose in the middle of the day.

Farhat’s mom could have been anyone’s mom, or aunt — or wife.

The article goes into statistics, about reasons, etc., but what I found interesting was when they went back to Farhat:
“Mental illness is a real debilitating illness,” Farhat says. “But unlike someone who is physically disabled, no one holds the door open for a person on the street having hallucinations.”

In honor of her mother, Farhat, now 30, and her three siblings started Mind Over Matter (MOM), a small nonprofit aimed at promoting mental health awareness and raising money for research and suicide prevention in Michigan.

“Society puts so much emphasis on how these people die, but I loved my mom — the way she died had nothing to do with the person she was.”
I wish every person realised this. Mental illness is real, it is devastating. I'm glad she and her siblings took their pain public and did something to change how people are perceived and how to keep others from dying.

There are some times, like lately

when I've been hungry, or poor, but I've been fortunate to have very temporary periods of want, and have at least had the minimum of life's needs and usually much more. Even at the worst, I have had clean water to drink and a roof over my head.

Some people don't have that luxury, and are so poor that in order to save their lives, and make the drugs that they need continue to work, they eat whatever they can, even dung. Such is life in an impoverished nation in Africa; this is so sad.

Swaziland: HIV patients 'eat dung to make drugs work'
Some HIV-positive patients in Swaziland are so poor they have resorted to eating cow dung before taking anti-retroviral drugs, Aids activists say.

The drugs do not work on an empty stomach, so patients have to use the dung - mixed with water - instead of food, the activists say.

Several hundred people protested in the capital, Mbabane, on Wednesday against the economic crisis in the kingdom.

King Mswati III's government has admitted it is running out of cash.

It has asked neighbouring South Africa for a bailout.

That's interesting

Working mom guilt, be gone! Your kids fare better, study finds
Working moms are always fending off guilt. Are we spending enough time with our tots? Is day care screwing them up? Will they be complaining someday to a therapist about how mommy didn’t pay enough attention?

Scientists now say we can hang up the guilt. Our jobs, as it turns out, might be the best thing in the world for our kids – especially the girls.

A new study that tracked nearly 19,000 British children found that little girls with stay-at-home mothers were twice as likely to develop emotional or behavioral problems by age 5 as girls with working moms.
They're not quite sure why, yet, though.

Bird or dino?

Feathers fly in first bird debate
A chicken-sized dinosaur fossil found in China may have overturned a long-held theory about the origin of birds.

For 150 years, a species called Archaeopteryx has been regarded as the first true bird, representing a major evolutionary step away from dinosaurs.

But the new fossil suggests this creature was just another feathery dinosaur and not the significant link that palaeontologists had believed.

Its discovery and features are reported in the journal Nature.

How to rig an election--and get away with it (?)

Forget Anonymous: Evidence Suggests GOP Hacked, Stole 2004 Election
Three generations from now, when our great-grandchildren are sitting barefoot in their shanties and wondering how in the hell America turned from the high-point of civilization to a third-world banana republic, they will shake their fists and mutter one name: George Effin' Bush.

Ironically, it won't be for any of the things that liberals have been harping on the Bush Administration, either during or after his term in office. Sure, misguided tax cuts that destroyed the surplus, and lax regulations that doomed the economy, and two amazingly awful wars in deserts half a world away are all terrible, empire-sapping events. But they pale in comparison to what it appears the Republican Party did to get President Bush re-elected in 2004.

Read more: http://www.benzinga.com/news/11/07/1789905/forget-anonymous-evidence-suggests-gop-hacked-stole-2004-election#ixzz1TLSROecF

Okay, I'm not familiar with the news source, so I'm not saying I'm swallowing this hook, line, and sinker. But like a lot a liberals I've thought something screwy went on. Apparently there are a couple of books alleging IT companies with Rupublican ties really did change the course of history in 2004. Go read for yourself and see what you think.

At the very least, it gives food to thought for the vulnerabilities in the system, both in terms of people and technology.

I'm baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaacccccccccccccckkkkkk!

Yay! My window to the universe (also known as Insight Communications) is now up and running again. There is much happiness in the Rowan household. Although I have kept up with the news on my phone for the really big stuff, I want to see what else is out there. So I have The Eagles: Their Greatest Hits in my CD player and will now to commence to see what I've been missing.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I like this idea, but then I'm a geekazoid

QR Codes of the Dead

The story is about putting QR (Quick Response) codes on gravestones to direct people with smartphones to websites with obituaries and other information about the deceased. Thanks to Jenny Pierce, a librarian on one of my lists, for the link.

[I've altered this post slightly, including its title, because I originally made it from my phone and wanted to move the link to the body rather than the title. Hope that doesn't mess anyone up. I really must learn how to select text on my phone and paste it elsewhere. Or, rather, I know how to do that, but seem physically incapable of the feat.) :)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Another mystery apparently solved by DNA

Neanderthals had sex with humans, says DNA: Nine percent of humans everywhere except Africa may be part Neanderthal

Let me just say, by the way

that I'd like to offer my deepest condolences to the victims and families of the horrible mass murder in Norway.

Norway survivor: 'I heard people begging for their lives': Norwegian arrested in killings of 92 people; 85 of which were slain on island, police say



Norway suspect Anders Behring Breivik 'admits attacks'

Oooohhhh!

Ancient dino-eating croc had huge teeth and a dog's face: These 'crocodilian' monsters had longer legs for galloping after prey
A crocodilian fossil with big teeth and a doglike skull is now shedding light on the anatomy of a strange group of predators, scientists have revealed.

The fossil was unearthed by a municipal worker in a small town in Minas Gerais, Brazil. It dates back 70 million years, near the end of the Age of Dinosaurs.

Galloping. Crocodiles. Gulp. :)

Cool

Carving found in Gower cave could be oldest rock art
Wall carving in Gower cave The location of the wall carving is being kept secret for the time being.

The faint scratchings of a speared reindeer are believed to have been carved by a hunter-gatherer in the Ice Age more than 14,000 years ago.

Something I should consider with my sleep in the evening-get up-sleep some more schedule

Fragmented sleep 'harms memory'
Broken sleep affects the ability to build memories, a study of mice suggests.

The Proceedings of the National Academy of Science findings could help explain memory problems linked to conditions including Alzheimer's and sleep apnoea.

The Stanford University found disrupting sleep made it harder for the animals to recognise familiar objects.

A UK sleep expert said the brain used deep sleep to evaluate the day's events and decide what to keep.

This study looked at sleep that was fragmented, but not shorter or less intense than normal for the mice.

It used a technique called optogenetics, where specific cells are genetically engineered so they can be controlled by light.

They targeted a type of brain cell that plays a key role in switching between the states of being asleep and being awake.

Optogenetics sounds very interesting.

I like

how Amazon tells you you've already bought a Kindle book. I was looking at the works of H. Rider Haggard with some consideration, then noticed that yes, I'd already gotten the collection, which is nice, because even at $2.99 I can't afford it just now. :)

This time I'm blogging from the library

I'm also picking up a book I'd had on hold; I had a sneaking suspicion that it might be in (they call my home line, which piggybacks off the cable, so no phone service at home, either). It's called The Map of Time by Félix J. Palma. It looked interesting. I'm also looking forward to a book that I saw advertised with the Science Fiction Book Club called Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. Three branches of the library at least are acquiring it, so I may wait till then. The Kindle edition is less than a dollar less than the hardcover at Amazon, which seems a bit wrong.

Right now I'm reading Grave Secret by Charlaine Harris. I have her Sookie Stackhouse books, but not the Harper Connelly ones. I've had that book out of the library I don't know how many times, but never seem to really get into it, even though I enjoyed the series. I don't think it's the book, it's just a time thing. But I have a little more time now than I would if I were hanging around on the Internet, so I figured I'd get some reading in.

The plan tonight is to go home, eat a little bit, and read for awhile. I'll also wash what few dishes I've got in the sink (mainly three salad bowls, since Brenda had brought some wonderful veggies and they've been very welcome. I think I'll check the news and weather (I forgot my umbrella at work, so hopefully we don't have more rain in the forecast, although I think I have a golf-sized one at home), see if anything is blogworthy and write that, and then make one pass at the library to see if anything strikes my fancy.

Hope you're having a good start to the week.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

I want arrow keys on my keyboard

Apparently you can't easily scroll on my phone within a text box. This means I can't correct a couple of mistakes toward the bottom of that last post. Bear with me. I'll fix them when I have access to a computer, either my own or the library's. :)

So I am blogging from my phone

Which isn't as bad as you might think since I have a web browser, but it's a little weird to be doing so using the Swype keyboard, where you slide your finger over the keyboard and it (mostly) figures out what you have to say. Plus, there's the tiny screen (and mine is smaller than most Android phones), so there's a good bit of moving the screen around to make sure the correct word made it in the text box.

Harry Potter was fun. I so appreciate that my friends took me to see it. I cried three times and cheered four times, only one of which was due to Harry's actions.

*spoilers ahead*

I cried during Snape's death and the Pensieve scene, the former because I knew the second was coming from having read the book. I also cried over Tonks and Remus, who would never see their baby grow up.

I cheered when Draco's mother lied to Voldemort, when Mrs Weasley killed Bellatrix, when Neville took out Nagini, and of course, when Harry killed Voldemort. Ah, fun times.

Neville, I thought, did quite a good job, coming into his own.

There were some things I don't remember from the books and I Think they took some liberties, but overall I was quite pleased. Now if only JK Rowling would write a sequel or prequel, I'd be quite happy.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Okay, signing off for now

But I have the public library and my smartphone to fall back on, so I will still be blogging. So stay tuned. Internet service should be back up by the 27th or 28th. Good night.

Please let's end the deportations of same-sex spouses

For some gay couples, fight goes on to marry — and stay in the US: For binational gay couples, New York's same-sex marriage law doesn't help
While many gay couples in New York tie the knot on Sunday, when same-sex marriage becomes legal in the state, Ashley Abraham-Hughes and her wife, Corinne, will be watching the festivities from the other side of the Atlantic.

That’s because since U.S. federal law still does not recognize same-sex marriage, and since Corinne is British, the couple was forced to move to Britain, where their union — they wed in Connecticut in 2009 — is legal.

“While I do still love the U.S. and I always will, I am very resentful of the fact that I was effectively forced to become an expat,” said Abraham-Hughes, a 27-year-old who grew up in Pittsford in western New York and now lives in Manchester. “It’s absolutely ridiculous, and I just think the thinking on this whole issue is completely wrong.”

The couple’s plight is one likely facing many of the estimated 36,000 binational gay couples in the U.S., where the foreign partner in the relationship can face deportation and a 10-year ban from returning to America if they don’t already have or find a legal way to stay in the country.

Witch hunt

Paul Evans Aidoo's Ghana gay spy call 'promotes hatred'
Mr Aidoo said he wanted to rid society of gay people and take them to court.

Homosexual acts are illegal in Ghana but someone would have to be caught having sex to be prosecuted.

Mr Aidoo was reacting to reports that 8,000 gay people in the Western Region had registered with Aids charities.

"I don't believe it; nobody believes it," the Western Region minister told Ghana's Joy FM radio station earlier this week.

He urged people - "landlords and tenants" - to come forward if they suspected someone was gay.

The suspects would be taken to court to see if they could be charged, Mr Aidoo said.

"All efforts are being made to get rid of these people in the society," he said.

That sounds ominous. And you don't have to actually be gay to be taken away and charged--suspicion is enough for this minister at least. Whether or not it will be put into action--in Ghana you're really supposed to be caught having homosexual sex in order to be charged--it promotes hate and ostracisation of those without proof or vindication in the courts.

A viscious cycle that's keeping the oeconomy stalled

A boom in corporate profits, a bust in jobs, wages: 'I've never seen labor markets this weak in 35 years of research'
Strong second-quarter earnings from McDonald's, General Electric and Caterpillar on Friday are just the latest proof that booming profits have allowed Corporate America to leave the Great Recession far behind.

But millions of ordinary Americans are stranded in a labor market that looks like it's still in recession. Unemployment is stuck at 9.2 percent, two years into what economists call a recovery. Job growth has been slow and wages stagnant.

Corporations don't want to hire until they see consumer spending go up, but consumers are still paying off debts and trying to make it in what remains of the Great Recession, and it seems to me that until employees start getting raises and jobs again, they're not going to spend, so there's a conundrum there. Meanwhile

  • U.S. corporations are expanding overseas, not so much at home. McDonalds and Caterpillar said overseas sales growth outperformed the U.S. in the April-June quarter. U.S.-based multinational companies have been focused overseas for years: In the 2000s, they added 2.4 million jobs in foreign countries and cut 2.9 million jobs in the United States, according to the Commerce Department.
  • Back in the U.S., companies are squeezing more productivity out of staffs thinned out by layoffs during Great Recession. They don't need to hire. And they don't need to be generous with pay raises; they know their employees have nowhere else to go.
  • Companies remain reluctant to spend the $1.9 trillion in cash they've accumulated, especially in the United States. They're unconvinced that consumers are ready to spend again with the vigor they showed before the recession, and they are worried about uncertainty in U.S. government policies.
The article has some interesting statistics regarding the balance between corporate profits and wages and salaries in previous recessions vs. this one. Come on Corporate America. Share the wealth a little.

I spoke to a young woman today who was excited to get a job from the University of Kentucky's job fair (UK being one of our biggest employers). She currently has a job with a business that does a lot of call centre customer service and insurance work, a business I've heard many people talk about that tends to hire and then lay off workers. But she has benefits now, although she didn't say how decent they were. The UK job is a temporary position in food service, without benefits, but might lead to a regular one with them. It's a foot in the door, she believes. But in the meantime, she'll be without any sort of health insurance, although her daughter at least has Medicaid.

This is a snapshot of the kind of working poor I've gotten to know very well between working at a gas station for five years and riding the bus. They want something better, but often do not have the education or skills to get out of low-paying jobs. If she can get on at UK long-term, she'll have retirement, health care, and tuition reimbursement. She could get an education. So I see where she's coming from, especially with her company not providing the stability of UK. Still, it's a gamble.

But it's kind of disheartening when you go to a job fair where the place is proclaiming 'we're hiring' and they offer you temporary positions. And that's a university. Corporations that are hiring are hiring temporary workers to save on benefites. Half of the people I've known who have worked at Toyota, a nearby plant, for example, have been temporary workers, and the ones who were regular were hired years and years ago and have recently retired. That says something, I think.

No one seems to have real job security anymore. Even though I'm doing better on the job front, and have good benefits, there's real concern over the future of our jobs say, five years from now, due to a variety of factors I won't go into here.

I'm so ready to see this recession go. Aren't we all?

Yay!

Getting "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Done

As of September 20th, 'Don't Ask Don't Tell' is history.
The President sent the email below to individuals and organizations who worked hard to make this victory possible.

Last year, I visited Afghanistan. I was there to thank our men and women in uniform, the brave Americans who have given so much on behalf of this country and who make me so proud to be Commander-in-Chief. At one of America’s bases there, I was shaking hands and taking pictures, walking along a pretty tight crowd of service members. A young woman in uniform pulled me into a hug. She leaned in close so I could hear her over the noise and whispered, “Get ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ done.”

I said to her, “I promise you I will.”

A few weeks later, after a struggle that lasted almost two decades, I signed a law to repeal this policy. I signed it with absolute confidence in our men and women in uniform, in their professionalism and in their capacity to adapt to this change, just as they have adapted and grown stronger with other changes throughout our history. And I signed this repeal knowing that our military would be stronger – and our nation safer – for the service of patriotic gay men and women who would no longer have to live a lie in order to defend the country they love.

Today, in accordance with this law, I signed the certification that will end “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” once and for all. The Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff also have certified that the military is ready for the repeal. Sixty days from now, on September 20th, the repeal will be complete and gay men and women will be able to serve their country openly.

On that day, I’ll be thinking of the young woman I met in Afghanistan. And I’ll be thinking of the countless others like her, straight and gay alike, who love this nation and the ideals for which it was founded, and who have signed up to serve so that we might all live in freedom and uphold this simple creed: we are all created equal.

Thank you for helping to make this victory for our country possible.

Sincerely,

Barack Obama

Fabio? Really? Give me back the real Old Spice Guy

Fabio makes his pitch as 'new Old Spice Guy': Long-tressed model gets his moment in the sun, but Isaiah Mustafa will be back

Sorry, Proctor & Gamble, the long blond tresses don't impress me. They don't do it for me. Of course, I don't read romance novels, so maybe I haven't been conditioned to drool over Fabio.

Isaiah Mustafa, on the other hand, has a wonderful voice, nice body, and seems more genuine. I'm glad he'll be back.

The original commercials were incredibly clever, and took off through the Internet as well as television. But since the eventual goal is to get guys to buy Old Spice, I'm not sure they can as easily identify with an Italian model as an American football player. The second seems, well, more manly in straight-guy-mindset, I think. We'll see. Maybe ladies will swoon and really get their man to smell like Fabio.

I almost slept the night away

I got in and sat in the comfy chair for a bit, basking in the sunlight while being still being comfortable in the air conditioning, but moved to the bed after a little while. I woke up at one point feeling rested, but a thunderstorm had moved in and I quickly fell back to sleep (which is an accomplishment, considering for years I had a terrible phobia of them). I just woke up. I've got probably two hours of Internet access left (I'm assuming it will go out at midnight), so I wanted to post.

Today was another hot one, although I think parts of the northeast were worse. It was 99 according to the co-worker's car outside when she brought me home, although I doubt the official temperature was quite that high. The heat index, I'm sure, was much worse.

Tomorrow I am going to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2. A friend is paying for me to go because I've been doing something for him every week on the computer for awhile. Yay! I'm not sure yet when we're going exactly. I'm supposed to meet them at the cinema. :)

Okay, enough about that for now. Let me see if there's anything interesting out there to post about.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Yay, got to the bottom of my Google Reader

Some of those posts were from the end of June. That's it for tonight. Hope I have Internet tomorrow night. If not, thank goodness for smart plans and an unlimited data plan (on special, no less). Good night.

PS I am on Google+ (+Elisabeth Eilir Rowan) but so far haven't really done anything with it. Who do you follow? How do you use it? Just wondering.

Sobering experience someone apparently had with Amazon

Who Ate My Amazon Account?
The only problem, is that losing your amazon account after 8 years of purchases is not that simple, not only I have I permanently lost all my order history, shipping address for tons of friends and family and my 5 page wish list neither of which I have a record of anywhere else, but I soon discovered that it also meant losing hundreds of dollars of Kindle books I have purchased from them. Amazon's solution to that is just to offer me a gift card for the amount I spent on Kindle books so I can repurchase them all individually on the new account I'm supposed to open with them.

But as I have the nasty habit of heavily highlighting, bookmarking and annotating all the books I read, it means that they just trashed the countless hours I spent reading and taking notes in my books!
This was in response to Amazon having supposedly closed an account due to unauthorised access. Can't verify the actual authenticity, to be honest, it's just someone's account of what they say happened to them. The company has the right to shut down the account, and they offered a gift card in the amount necessary to re-purchase his Kindle books, but he was upset because of losing his annotations. Seems to me there ought to be a better process for transferring account information, but on the other hand they did try to rectify the situation to give him back what he lost. I think the wish list and shipping addresses lost is really incidental.

The University of Kentucky is being somewhat plagued at the moment

Faulty urinal damages 3 floors of University of Kentucky office tower

So glad the history department is on the 17th floor. :)

Bed bugs found in two areas of Student Center

They were alerted to the situation by a graduate student, who discovered the bugs.

YKWIA showed me this the other day

I think it's a hilarious parody of Harry Potter. Some fans may disagree.

Neat-o, says the archaeology/Aegyptology buff

Arts Workshop Brings King Tut’s Tomb Back to Life
The burial chamber of King Tutankhamen is currently in Madrid. OK, it’s a re-creation. But it’s a near-perfect re-creation, down to the paint on his sarcophagus. Made by arts workshop Factum Arte, the copy is awaiting transport to Egypt, as soon as the political situation there calms down.
Since Tut's tomb is expected to close to the public soon to preserve it, this will be the best chance to see what it was like.

Interesting graphic regarding HIV/AIDS

Here's a link to the zoomable graphic. And the post it goes with: Infographic: The Successes and Failures of the Fight Against AIDS

Via Joe.My.God.

I think primates are much smarter than people give them credit for

I don't think we're on the verge of Planet of the Apes, mind you, but still. The evidence of various monkeys and non-human apes using tools is one example. And of course there are the various language skills that have been taught in captivity, although those can sometimes be controversial.

I do have a problem with keeping apes and other primates in captivity, I have to admit. I'm not saying we should go liberating them from zoos. I do have particular issues with some medical experiments and the psychological and physical indignities that the animals endure. That can be said of any lab animal, of course, but given that we are close cousins to other primates, it seems worse.

Mandrill monkey makes 'pedicuring' tool

A crude "pedicure" carried out by a mandrill at Chester Zoo suggests the monkeys are capable of more advanced tool use than previously thought.

Scientists from Durham University, UK, filmed the mandrill stripping a twig and using the resulting tool to clean under its toenails.

They published the findings in the journal Behavioural Processes.

Mandrills are the fifth species of Old World monkey seen deliberately modifying tools.

Non-human apes, including chimpanzees and orangutans, can adapt basic tools for specific jobs.
On a lighter note, one person I know on Facebook posted the following to his status: "When the space shuttle gets back from its last mission, it would be hilarious if we were all dressed as apes."

It's a little sad to see the space shuttle programme wind down. I feel sorry for those who gave their all and are now getting pink slips, although of course they have known it was coming and at least were able to hopefully prepare. One of my friends works for NASA, but she is in the division that studies Mars.

The first time I saw a space shuttle, it was the prototype Enterprise, which was being moved back and forth at Edwards Air Force Base on Boeings when I was a kid there. A couple of years later, the first of the working shuttles launched after I'd already moved, so I didn't get to see it land firsthand. That would have been great.

Later, there were the setbacks of Challenger and Columbia. Challenger was especially a shock. Up to 9/11, I would say it was the the most intense tragic nation-wide event I'd experienced. At the time, my ex-husband, whom I was dating, had planned to go into NASA. He was devastated, and we sat and watched the news for hours.

But there was so much success as well. I hope NASA continues to get funding so that we can reach beyond Earth's orbit and take the necessary steps to get us out into space. It feels odd to not have a hand in getting people and supplies to the International Space Station, too, after being a frontrunner in space for so long.

I wish the astronauts and support crews well as they transition to other things. It was a great run. Hopefully private enterprise can take up the mantle, and NASA can concentrate on 'infinity and beyond'.

So hot

We're not the worst in the country, of course, but our heat indices have been above 105 degrees and it's just miserable, even early in the morning or late at night. I didn't go to physical therapy this morning because of the weather. Yesterday I had a mild asthma attack when I got to Richmond Road. I guess the heavy air was trapping the car exhaust, because I was crossing briskly and suddenly couldn't breathe. Fortunately I keep an inhaler on me at all times, even though I use it maybe once a year. I didn't want a repeat today, given I was running behind and would have had to push it to be on time. So I called instead and set up my appointments for next week. They were very nice about it, which I appreciate.

I did have to pick up medicine and go to the bank, so by the time I got to work, even though I wore the lightest clothing I had, I felt sticky and icky. Since it was far worse this evening, I asked one of my co-workers for a ride home. Both yesterday and today I have fallen asleep by 7 pm, to get up later in the night. Yesterday YKWIA called at about 11:30 and we talked till 2 am. Tonight I feel rested, not groggy or anything, but it's just like I needed a boost. I know sleeping in split shifts is probably not great (I felt crappy this morning, although that was partly due to my blood sugar, which has been running high ever since my oral meds were dropped).

I may be somewhat spotty in posting this coming week. I'm going to have an outage of my home Internet connexion from sometime the 22nd until the 27th or 28th. It can't be helped; the IRS fiasco from earlier this month left me unable to pay that bill, and they only offer extensions every six months and I had one five months ago. So.... Still, there's the library, and for that matter my phone. So I'll post some. I did get a very nice letter from the IRS the other day saying my overpayment had been applied to my remaining tax bill. I actually have money in my account right now, but all of it will go to this month's payment, since I still have to do that. So I'm going to spend a very lean week as well. Fortunately I have my unlimited bus pass, so I can get to work and back, and I have two dollars in quarters for a load of laundry. Um...that's about it, but things will look up next week, and it will be here before you know it. I think I should be able to catch up completely by mid-August.

On the positive side, this week has been very good for several of my friends, for which I'm very glad. I plan on giving a whole bottle of wine at dark of the moon as a libation in return for answered prayers.

Okay, I'm going to check and see if there's anything out there that is blogworthy. In case there isn't, have a good night.

:(

Polar bear cubs die as ice melts, swims get longer: 5 of 11 moms that swam long distances lost cubs, study finds
Polar bear cubs forced to swim long distances with their mothers as their icy Arctic habitat melts appear to have a higher mortality rate than cubs that didn't have to swim as far, a new study reports.

Polar bears hunt, feed and give birth on ice or on land, and are not naturally aquatic creatures. Previous reports have noted individual animals swimming hundreds of miles to reach ice platforms or land, but this is one of the first to show these swims pose a greater risk to polar bear young.

Have you seen this?

Loch Ness monster-like beast filmed in Alaska: Cryptozoologists think mysterious marine animal in video is a Cadborosaurus
Alaska may have its own version of the Loch Ness monster, according to prominent cryptozoologists who say a video shows a mysterious marine animal, which they believe is a Cadborosaurus.

Meaning "reptile" or "lizard" from Cadboro Bay, Cadborosaurus willsi is an alleged sea serpent from the North Pacific and possibly other regions. Accounts generally describe it as having a long neck, a horse-like head, large eyes, and back bumps that stick out of the water.

Monday, July 18, 2011

One last post for the night--this is a great mix of art and science



The sculptures are compellingly realistic, but will change as natural corals, algaes, and other marine life adheres to them. They will provide a haven for fish and other fauna, attract tourists, and give some relief to the natural reef system.

Oh, good grief



Because it's those pagans out there keeping us from winning wars and bugging us with things like environmentalism. Ah, the evil pluralism.

Via Joe.My.God.

I so wanted that rapture thing to take these people away so the rest of us could make the world a better place. Oh, yeah, wait: same 'loving God' of the rapture kills the rest of us horribly and throws us into a pit of fire, or some such nonsense.

Evolution is crucial in today's bookselling

And Borders never really managed to evolve with the changes well.

Closing the Borders: End of an Era in Bookselling

I must admit, I never actually had a Borders in my town, although I think Waldenbooks was owned by them, and those closed a year or more ago here. As much as I like independent bookstores (and Borders was not one), I also love Amazon (Barnes and Noble I'm fairly tepid about), and I say that without remorse. They have a great selection, have quite possibly the best customer service I have ever encountered in a company, make it ridiculously simple to get what I want, and it's shipped straight to me, which is a boon if you don't have a car and can't afford to spend a day or two riding a bus around to different places. Plus, there is an Amazon warehouse in my town, so I'm actually supporting jobs here.

And I think that independent bookstores can still make it, if they find their niche and promote themselves effectively.

But the type of store that Borders represented never really appealed to me--they strike me as a bit generic, the type you find in malls and not in quaint buildings. Now for years I loved Joseph-Beth, our large bookstore at Lexington Green, because for years it was wonderful, but I think it made a lot of mistakes in recent years, their selection became very pedestrian, and they expanded into a chain when they probably should have stayed in place. It just wasn't the store it once was--and it was not Amazon's fault, although I'm sure some people would blame it. It had gotten to the point that if I wanted anything I had to special order it--assuming they would, as I once had an unfortunate run in with the worst customer service when someone sent me a condescending letter from that store about an apparently esoteric title I'd ordered for my thesis work. I used that as an example later when I was interviewed for a job there, actually. I don't think they were amused. Of course, from what I can tell, the majority of the people who they had working for them didn't know books (despite an extensive test as part of the application), didn't know where the books were in their store, didn't know how to find them on the computer, and in the case of women, almost all had the same physical type (thin to the point of anorexic, dark-framed glasses, etc.). (I don't fit that type). The customer service had gone way down. A few months ago the business was sold at auction. I don't know what its future will be. Sadly, I don't particularly care--they ceased to be particularly useful or special to me years ago, after I had been fond of the place for nearly two decades.

So I think the whole demise of the bookseller is more complex than people think. It's not just big vs. small, online vs. brick, etc. It's about taking the right course to navigate the choppy waters of the business, but in order to do that you have got to have excellent customer service, great selection, and a knowledge of what your customers are looking for.

Hope that all will be well

Fire forces evacuation of Israel's Yad Vashem: Yad Vashem is one of Israel's national treasures, home to a museum and memorials for the victims of the Holocaust
Yad Vashem is one of Israel's national treasures, home to a museum and memorials for the victims of the Holocaust. Foreign dignitaries routinely stop at Yad Vashem when visiting the country.

The memorial holds some 140 million pages of Holocaust documentation, the world's largest such collection. It also exhibits artifacts, such as shoes, photographs, suitcases and recorded testimonies of Holocaust victims and survivors.

It also has an eternal flame in its "Hall of Remembrance," as well as the "Hall of Names," where it is collecting the identities of the 6 million Jews who perished at the hands of the Nazis and their sympathizers during World War II.

Horrific rapes and murders perpetrated against girls and women in India

Rape and murder in Uttar Pradesh
SR Darapuri, vice-president of the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) in Uttar Pradesh, says most of the rape victims are poor women and girls in remote villages. Many, he says, are low-caste Dalits (formerly known as "untouchables").

"I analysed the rape figures for 2007 and I found that 90% of victims were Dalits and 85% of Dalit rape victims were underage girls," he says.

"It is well known that until not very long ago, in certain areas of the state's southern Bundelkhand region, new brides of Dalit farmhands had to sleep with their rich, high-caste landowners on their wedding night."

Mr Darapuri says the practice no longer exists - but Dalit women and girls remain vulnerable to predators.

Despite caste discrimination being illegal, it is still rampant in many areas of India, and girls themselves are considered social liabilities in some as well, regardless of caste. Dalits of both genders have endured terrible crimes such as acid being thrown upon them. So this violence against Dalit girls is not surprising, but very sad. I hope that Indians can fight this sort of violence, both legally and socially. Until attitudes change, men will continue to get away with these crimes, and women and girls will continue to die or live with terrifying memories and horrible scars.

Oh, my

I have an interest in aegyptology, so for years I've read news stories quoting Zahi Hawass, sometimes driving me crazy with some of his pronouncements. That's not going to be the case anymore, apparently.

Egypt's iconic antiquities chief fired: Critics said longtime leader was too close to former Mubarak regime
Egypt's antiquities minister, whose trademark Indiana Jones hat made him one the country's best known figures around the world, was fired Sunday after months of pressure from critics who attacked his credibility and accused him of having been too close to the regime of ousted President Hosni Mubarak.

Zahi Hawass, long chided as publicity loving and short on scientific knowledge, lost his job along with about a dozen other ministers in a Cabinet reshuffle meant to ease pressure from protesters seeking to purge remnants of Mubarak's regime.

"He was the Mubarak of antiquities," said Nora Shalaby, an activist and archaeologist. "He acted as if he owned Egypt's antiquities, and not that they belonged to the people of Egypt."

Here's hoping his successor will continue to campaign for the exploration of Aegypt's past, as well as the preservation of its antiquities.

Amazing she survived, and with humour intact

Meet grandma who was stuck in swamp mud for 4 days: After surviving ordeal, she jokes that a mud spa is ‘not what it’s cracked up to be’

For all those parents of aspiring wizards and witches--the bill of a Hogwarts education

How Much Does it Cost to go to Hogwarts?

Hey, oeconomists have fun in their spare time, too. :)

I think people are forgetting about Haiti

Haiti still under rubble 18 months after quake

According to an interview with anthropologist, physician, and author Dr Paul Farmer, 600-700,000 people are still living in settlement camps, rubble still needs to be removed, rebuilding is a long way from happening, and cholera is taking an awful toll on the country.

A remarkable young man

18-year-old gives his $40,000 scholarship to other teens: Compton High basketball player Allan Guei felt his classmates needed the money more
In the weeks following the March free-throw competition, Guei learned that he’d scored a full-ride basketball scholarship to California State University-Northridge. NCAA rules allowed Guei to accept the athletic scholarship and also keep most of the $40,000 he had won.

But Guei couldn’t stop thinking about the seven talented runners-up from the free-throw contest. They, too, had dreams — and very real needs. So, he asked Principal Jesse Jones to make a surprise announcement at Compton High’s graduation ceremony: Guei wanted to donate the $40,000 to the other seven students.

“I’ve already been blessed so much and I know we're living with a bad economy, so I know this money can really help my classmates,” Guei said in a statement. “It was the right decision.”
I hope this young man goes far in the world, and that his generosity inspires others. Because of him, seven other students will be able to have their undergraduate expenses mostly paid, whereas in the original competition they'd have had about a year, so this takes away the worry of completing their undergraduate education, and they won't have to take out debts to pay. This one person's generosity can touch many lives. I wish them all well.

Our kids shouldn't be a cash crop for school districts

to the point where cheating on standardised tests is seen as acceptable in order to keep federal funding under No Child Left Behind--a law that sounds good on the surface till you realise real learning gets shoved out the window for teaching the test, homogenisation, and money. The idea that teachers erased and corrected bubble sheets on their students test is horrible. The allegation that they purposefully placed students that did not have good skills next to high achievers so they could copy answers, thereby teaching the children to cheat, and then advancing them time after time through the system without having the skills necessary to achieve at the next level is far worse. Those involved had a choice, no matter their cries of pressure and fear. If found to be complicit, they shouldn't be allowed to retire out of the system, they should lose all certification, the cheating should be noted on their record should they try to get a job elsewhere, and their names should be publicly published, as the majority were being paid by tax dollars. Period.

2 Atlanta educators step down; 176 others also face ultimatum

Thanks to YKWIA for making me aware of the story.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Long day

I had trouble getting up this morning for the 5:40 bus and instead wound up getting one two hours later. In retrospect, I realised that while I got up last night especially to take my Lantus, I forgot to actually do it, and my blood sugar this morning, fasting, was 357. So that explains that. As I got up and moving, though, I felt better, and took my Novolog when I was supposed to. I got the cleaning done, and then we did a quick trip to the store before gaming. We had an adventure that wasn't actually Cthulhoid, but rather involved vampires, where a Globe of Daylight spell worked wonders for saving the innocents. We played until 11 pm, so I just got home a bit ago.

Brenda brought some vegetables from her garden and a couple of plants for me, lemon balm and a thyme, I think the latter is. I've put a couple of saucers under them, gotten some cool water for myself, collected the trash to go out tomorrow morning, and I am seriously considering going to bed as I have a 7:30 physical therapy appointment, followed by a need to go to the bank and pick up some prescriptions before work.

Okay, sorry, I should try blogging something interesting, but I'm too tired. I'll try to catch up on some of the library news tomorrow. Good night.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

I picked up a book at the library today that I'm enjoying quite a bit


It's a murder mystery called Oscar Wilde and a Death of No Importance, by Gyles Brandreth. Its main character is Oscar Wilde, but it also features Arthur Conan Doyle and is told from the point of view of his friend and biographer, Robert Sherard. There are two other books--Oscar Wilde and a Game Called Murder (also at the branch today), and Oscar Wilde and the Dead Man's Smile (which is available at other branches). They are all three available on the Kindle as well.

Okay, I have some things to do before bed. Good night. Hope you're enjoying the weekend. :)

I love my birthday present

Okay, yes, my birthday was in April, but my present didn't come out until July:


It's a parody of Clifford the Big Red Dog based on the HP Lovecraft tale, 'The Dunwich Horror', which is one of my favourites, as a librarian, Dr Armitage of Miskatonic Library, figures prominently. One of my Cthulhu characters is even related to the Whateleys (which is not a particularly good thing). Librarians figure well in "Cliffourd the Big Red God (the title name being a nod to Lovecraft, who like me, favoured old spellings and the ever-present British 'u'). There is one page where Wilbur is listing Cliffourd's bad points and he points out that librarians don't like him.


And there's the end, of course, but if you haven't read 'The Dunwich Horror' I won't spoil it for you.

Anyway, thank you to YKWIA! Thanks to him this is the latest in my Mini Mythos collection. There's also Where the Deep Ones Are, based on 'The Shadow over Innsmouth' and a parody of Where the Wild Things Are and The Antarctic Express, based on 'At the Mountains of Madness' and a parody of The Polar Express. If you are familiar with Lovecraft, I highly recommend them. If you aren't, quite frankly you won't get it.

Great opportunity for science

NASA probe arrives at ancient asteroid
The probe is the Dawn probe, which is set to go into orbit around the asteroid Vesta, named after the Roman Goddess of the hearth (from where we got vestal virgins.) Apparently the asteroid, the size of Arizona, is the source of 5% of meteorites that are found on Earth.

Word of the day

Which reminds me of YKWIA, who is about as imminently logical as a Vulcan:

Apodictic (\ap-uh-DIK-tik\ , adjective;):
1. Necessarily true or logically certain.
2. Incontestable because of having been demonstrated or proved to be demonstrable.

Apodictic evolves from the Greek apodeiktikós, "proving fully."
(From Dictionary.com's Word of the Day on my Android phone. You can also find it on the web, or have it delivered in an e-mail or via RSS.)

Nifty

Google: 6 billion installed apps on Android

At 550,000 devices activated per day and one billion application downloads per month at Google's Android Market (not counting places like Amazon, which also offer them), and accelerating, Google is set to outpace Apple in the smartphone market.

This morning

I had a very intensive physical therapy session, with lots of exercises, longer and heavier traction, and the hand bike. I came out of it feeling great, and have for the most part just had a bit of numbness in my hand all day. Now, however, my neck and shoulder is starting to hurt a bit, so I broke down and took some ibuprofen for the first time today. Not bad, given it's the end of the day.

Today the cicadas were in full swing when I walked into work this morning. I also saw a June bug for the first time this year. One good thing about not having a car (there are a few) is that you tend to notice things close up that you'd never even see if you were driving, things like meadow flowers, bugs, fish, and birds. Of course, you also see unpleasant things like trash and roadkill.

I forgot to mention something that happened yesterday. Some time ago some friends decided they should be able to choose their own ringtone on my phone (it had been Nickelback's 'If Today Was Your Last Day'). I promised they he could--big mistake. Anyway, one chose a bloodcurdling scream--even sent me the sound file. If I keep it low, he talks to me in a whisper. If I keep it up, it rings at inopportune times, startling the people around me. Even so, I often do not hear it if it's in a bag or on the bus, because it gets muffled or lost in the ambient noise.

Anyway, I was at the bank yesterday getting my rent money and had handed the teller my wallet, which happens to have a pocket for my phone on the side, so she could check my ID. She was passing it back to me when it proceeded to scream, causing her to drop it into my hand and for everyone in the bank to stop and look in confusion and alarm. I quickly said, 'It's okay, it's my phone,' and explained, as I didn't want anyone pressing any alarm buttons. They were all good-natured about it, and she declared she was utterly awake now. I called my friends back and explained what had happened. They thought it was hilarious. I was not as amused, but since it ended well, I guess I can't complain.

I really need to get a picture of Munch's 'The Scream' and put it on there so it pops up whenever the phone rings, don't you think?

Sad that such a close-knit community must become wary of their own

Leiby Kletzky Killing Brings Doubt and Unrest to Local Community
Ben Herb, a Borough Park resident tells the New York Times, “Here in the center of Borough Park is where you have to be very careful. Most of your neighbors are Orthodox Jews with which children are comfortable. That, in itself, is a risk.

Parents like Herb feel that now more than ever, they must emphasize to their children how to react to an unfamiliar person regardless of their racial or religious background.

“My children don’t talk to strangers whether they wear a yarmulke or a do-rag,” Herb said.
In case you had not heard, 8-year old Leiby Kletzky, who had become lost coming back from a day camp, was caught on video getting into the car of Levy Aron, who later confessed to his killing after the boy's dismembered body was found in his freezer and in a dumped suitcase some miles away.

So sad. This child's life was ended in a most horrific way. Children are so easy to trust, so innocent, although in general less so in New York. But this was one of their own, and someone within the community, no drifter or such. I think those are the hardest predators to guard against, because they blend in better, no matter the community itself.

Friday, July 15, 2011

How to create a beautiful illuminated manuscript



The video is on ArtBabble. Thanks to Maria Popova for the link--it made my mediaeval geekiness come out (I studied a lot of mediaeval history in grad school and used to be part of the Society for Creative Anachronism, so although I knew the steps, it still was nice to watch. It's very clear and entertaining).

I woke up to this today

I'd never heard all of it before. It's such a simple yet powerful song. It could have been written for me, except thank the Gods mine was a fairly clean break, with almost no contact after I left (although we did have to call the police that once).



Here are the lyrics, in case you're interested.

I have winnowed

My Google Reader feeds from 1000+ to 186, leaving mediaeval and library-related posts till last, so you may see some of them tomorrow. Every dish in the house is now clean. For now, I'm taking my insulin and heading to bed, as I have physical therapy at 8 in the morning and have to get up early. Good night.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A different tack

Scientist: Treat Alzheimer's 20 years before symptoms: 'Prevention is better than cure,' according to new report
One camp among Alzheimer’s researchers believes this shows that amyloid is simply not the cause. But the majority of researchers, like Gandy, believe that once the plaque appears the damage to the brain is too great to undo and the only hope is to prevent it. Recent studies using brain scans, spinal fluid and blood samples have been searching for signs that appear before the psychological tests reveal the onset of dementia. Much of this work is centered on the handful of families where some members carry a dominant gene variation that causes them to get Alzheimer’s in their 30s, 40s or 50s, but that type of screening is expected to become more common.

It is increasingly apparent from these studies that many of these changes occur as much as 20 years before the symptoms of the disease. Alzheimer's can progress at different rates but typically develops through different stages, beginning with mild cognitive impairment — forgetting familiar words or losing common objects — to difficulty performing tasks to severe dementia and the inability to carry on a conversation or control movements.

:D The next step

Amazon tablets expected by October: Wall Street Journal sources: 1.5 million 9-inch screen tablets to run on Android

I wonder what the starting price will be?

A great cause

TEDGlobal 2011: Social media game aims to end extremism
Mr Bakhit, who comes from Jordan, was a student at the US University of Minnesota when the 9/11 attacks took place. Shortly afterwards he was attacked by four men because he was an Arab....

Instead of feeling bitter, Mr Bakhit decided to engage in an education campaign.

"I realised that you fight extremism by starting with the young. The message was simple - 'We are not all terrorists'," he told the BBC.

Armed with a not-so-magic carpet, he began telling Aladdin-style stories in local schools.

"One day a child asked me if there was an Arab superman and I realised that there wasn't," he said.

So began his comic-book project which aimed to create a range of positive Arab role-models, including a female James Bond and a Jordanian special agent who fights extremists.

Fitting that it be acquired by the Bodelian in Britain

Jane Austen manuscript sells for more than £990,000

It was acquired by the Bodelian Libraries in Oxford, having been sold at auction by a private collector. It is an unfinished working draft, which is one of the few surviving such manuscripts by Austen.

Wow

The hospital I work out treats scoliosis (and dystonia, for that matter) in children and teens, but I've never heard of a case so severe, and I didn't know they did it with adults. It must be remarkable to stand tall for the first time in her life.

Once literally 'bent in half,' she now stands tall: Remarkable spinal surgery corrects severe scoliosis in California woman

The secret seems to be to come in and immediately start working

on the house. I spent a brief time finishing something on the computer for a friend, then started on the kitchen. I've got a load in the dishwasher now, a sink full of non-dishwasher safe dishes to do, but the counters, kitchen island, and stove are all clean. That leaves the sink of dishes to do, cabinets to clean out, and the refrigerator clean out. Not bad for about forty minutes' work.

More importantly, I've been doing a good job of keeping the areas I have finished clean, immediately recycling junk mail, putting the other mail in the bill organiser, that sort of thing. I still need to do a once over of the living room for random things on bookshelves that aren't books, clean the aquarium, clean the bathroom, and work on the bedroom, so I'm by no means finished, but it's a much more inviting environment. It's a struggle when you tend to hoard (and I'm speaking pathologically, not like how some people just tend to have a bit of clutter).

I got my rent today and will drop it off at the office (which was already closed when I got home) in a bit. The retaining wall work is finally finished and the parking lot is clear, meaning I can use my own steps and not walk through wet grass in the morning (and tiny doggie bombs) to get to the others.

I got a ride home from one of our doctors today. It was a very productive day overall. I'm trying to see if I can wrangle access to the Kentucky Virtual Library, because it has CINAHL (Cumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Health Literature) with full text articles, and I think that would be used. I put in an enquiry and the director is going to give me a quote. We're such a small hospital (only 50 beds), I'm hoping it will be something that will fit into my budget. I also did some interlibrary loans and helped patrons find what they need. With the data entry, I got yesterday and today's sheets in, and I just need to verify them tomorrow, which should be fine, as it's a lighter clinic, so I should get caught up. It's nice to be staying the whole time now. I actually got some shift differential on my paycheque this time. :)

I came across this on Facebook, thanks to another librarian. It's really funny:
1 - Open Google Maps and choose 'Get Directions'.
2 - Type China as your starting point.
3 - Type Taiwan as your destination and hit the 'Get Directions' button.
4 - Read Step #48.

Hee hee. Someone at Google has a sense of humour. :)

Also on Facebook, apparently WLEX TV (Channel 18) [which I follow] interviewed the last remaining witness to the 1976 Stanford Kentucky UFO Abductions. I didn't catch the interview, but went online to find out more. My mom lives in Stanford; it's one county over from where I was born, so I was interested.

I'm up in the middle of the night again

Feeling wonky. My blood sugar is high, I just took my long-acting insulin (Lantus), that I take nightly, and I'm contemplating calling my doctor's office tomorrow. I'm pretty sure the last appointment he said to come back in one month, but they set it for three, and my blood sugar has consistently been over 200 fasting since he took me off my oral meds. Right now it's 330 and it's been over three hours since I ate anything. I think we need to be more aggressive about adjusting my Lantus and Novolog.

Today I was drowning in paperwork, but I managed to get almost caught up on my data entry, which is good, as there's a time limit for it.

Tomorrow I can finally pay my rent. I've checked my balance (it goes in late the night before payday) and I have enough to pay rent, pay the IRS, pay my phone bill, and have about $75 for two weeks for food. I tried to get a forbearance on my student loans tonight until I'm finished paying the IRS, since it's eating up such a big part of my pay, but their website was being odd and timing out, so I'm not sure if it went through. I'll try again tomorrow.

I'm going to try to get up early tomorrow. Not only do I have to go to the bank and get a money order for my rent, but I still had a couple of things to do for a friend on the computer, although I got stuff done for another friend tonight before I faded out. At one point I just had to get away from the computer (I've been trapped in front of one all day) and lit some lavender incense, turned on music of Hildegarde of Bingen, and relaxed in the comfy chair until a friend called. But after awhile, I kind of faded and after we hung up I headed into the bedroom because I wanted the fan for circulating air and my neck was bothering me, so I laid down and that was it--gone for three hours. But I got up, drank some water, took my insulin, did a bit on the computer, and now I'm contemplating going back to bed. My neck is still hurting a bit, so I'm going to take some ibuprofen. I saw the neck specialist today. It's not bad enough for surgery, but as he put it I'm still fairly young and it is degenerative, so I can expect problems in the future. He ordered more physical therapy to get me over the acute issues. I need to check my flexible spending account--he's ordered PT 3 times a week for four weeks. That's $40 a shot. I'm not sure I can afford that and still be able to pay for medicine till the end of the year. I'll see.

Okay, going to bed now. Have a good night.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

PS :)

Of course, I post that, and then promptly feed the fish, grab my phone and cord, and head back to the bedroom, where I suddenly remember I haven't taken my Lantus (which is a long-acting insulin I take nightly). So I came back out and did so. And yes, I have an alarm to tell me to, but that went off two hours ago at midnight.

I will get the hang of this. Good night, for real this time.

I've been checking out what others think

about testing blood and using insulin in public. I'm still trying to get a good balance of discretion and health in terms of going out to eat or like today, when I was in a professional meeting that involved food.

I do not feel comfortable breaking the skin in a bathroom. So I've been discreetly doing the test/injecting once I have the food at the table. You can do a lot under the table itself, without spreading things all over. This seems to be the best way to do it, and others be damned in terms of any problems with it. Doing so before going to the restaurant is out--sometimes you wait a long time for food or to sit. A test involves very little blood and is not unsanitary. A pen needle is tiny and should not make people faint, and quite frankly if they do, they're weenies.

I have only had one incident, at work, and not in a public place, where I tested my blood sugar and got a deeper stick than normal, and someone I knew who was very sensitive to a lot of things got grossed out, although not upset or anything. But in retrospect, that had more to do with her being weird than what I was doing.

Sometimes, because I'm new to this, I actually forget to take it, and if I'm lucky I'll remember in time to take it after eating. But today I remembered, once I started, but was in a room full of other librarians, very close to one another, and should have just excused myself to another room, but I let it go instead. Later that day, when I tested my blood sugar, it was something like 357. Definitely the wrong call. Now that I am solely on insulin, I need to be vigilant about taking it. Hence the search to see what others think of the proper etiquette for this.

I found one very good blog post on testing that can also be adapted to insulin injection. The author had linked to it on a forum where a woman was very frustrated because her own family treated her like she was injecting heroin if she did it publicly. I think he is the voice of sanity, by an Australian named Alan Shanley, who has written a book called What on Earth Can I Eat: Food, Type II Diabetes, and YOU:

Testing Etiquette

Okay, heading to bed. Good night.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Bolstering the meteorite extinction theory

Triceratops Was Last Dinosaur Standing: The 65 million-year-old find suggests a meteor may have wiped out the dinosaurs in a sudden catastrophic event
The Triceratops, described in the latest Royal Society Biology Letters, dates to 65 million years ago, the critical period of time associated with the Cretaceous-Tertiary (K-T) extinction event that wiped out all non-avian dinosaurs and many other animals and plants.

Since this rhinoceros-looking, three-horned dinosaur lived so close to the mass extinction moment, it could negate an earlier theory that dinosaurs gradually died out before 65 million years ago.

"Our paper suggests that dinosaurs did not go extinct prior to the impact," lead author Tyler Lyson told Discovery News. "The fact that this dinosaur is so close to the K-T boundary lends support to the idea that they went extinct as a result of a meteorite impact."