Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
comic strip overdue media

Monday, March 31, 2003

Monday Fun

I have no idea if this is a real news story...it was on an e-mail that has bounced around awhile; it sounds like a typical urban myth, but it's funny as anything...Enjoy.


Linda Burnett, 23, a resident of San Diego, was visiting her in-laws and went to a nearby supermarket to pick up some groceries. Several people noticed her sitting in her car with the windows rolled up and with her eyes closed, both hands behind the back of her head. One customer who had been at the store for awhile became concerned and walked over to the car. He noticed Linda's eyes were now open, and she looked very strange. He asked her if she was okay, and Linda replied that she'd been shot in the back of the head, and had been holding her brains in for over an hour.

The man called the paramedics, who broke into the car because the doors were locked and Linda refused to remove her hands from her head. When they finally got in, they found that Linda had a wad of bread dough on the back of her head. A Pillsbury biscuit canister had exploded from the heat, making a loud noise that sounded like a gunshot, and the wad of dough hit her in the back of the head. When she reached back to find out what it was, she felt the dough and though it was her brains. She initially passed out, but quickly recovered and tried to hold her brains in for over an hour until someone noticed and came to her aid. And yes, Linda is a blonde.

Time to take a quick break

I'm waiting on someone from our serials jobber (librarianese for a corporation that orders all our magazines for us in one fell swoop so I don't have to chase errant subscriptions) to call me back, so I thought I'd update.

Friday I went to Zabet's for dinner, laundry, and Josie and the Pussycats. The movie was better than I thought it would be, although I was a big fan of the cartoon (I never kept up with the comic), and I was sort of disappointed with Alex & Alexandra's roles.

Saturday it was off to the Heart Walk at 8:30 am on a blustery, freezing, rainy morning--basically the worst weather we could have had, short of ice. It was very disorganised. If I had driven myself I think I would have turned around and gone home when those of us who arrived early (we were told to get there at 9, but since most of us had pre-registered, we wound up waiting around for an hour) who were trying to stay warm inside were told that this was a "VIP-only" area for people who had raised over $250 each. I understand that they were worried about running out of food, but it was also the only place to stay warm at the baseball park. We finally wound up huddling in the women's room (all except for the one poor guy with us), which was still open air but at least sheltered from the wind. When we finally did get to line up for the walk, they spent several minutes giving away prizes, etc. It seemed overly-commercial/merchandised. I know they need corporate sponsors, and I guess prizes encourage people to go out and get more donations, but it really turned me off. I prefer the laid-back nature of the AIDS walk. Don't get me wrong, the American Heart Association is a wonderful charity, but I was less than impressed with the local effort. Still, I think they met the goal.

The high point of the walk for me? Getting to pet an English mastiff. I've always wanted to see one up close. It was such a big baby. :)

I filed my taxes and it turns out I'm getting about $350 back, which is nice. I also sent a third-and-hopefully-last application for a consolidation loan for my student loans. I have had terrible luck with this--in the year-and-a-half the Department of Education and I have been playing this back-and-forth game where I do the application, and loans get transferred to another agency, or signed papers to allow interaction with the IRS get lost in the black hole of bureaucracy, only to be replaced with another about the time the whole thing expires. And my signature is only good for a short period of time, so by the time I realise there's a problem I have to send another. This time I'm sending it all at once, all in paper form (I had done one on the web thinking that would help, and that made things worse). So, at least they should get it all or none. Unfortunately certified mail doesn't do well since there's no person it's going to. But that may be just as well, since I've talked to one person on the phone only to find out when I called the next week that that person no longer works there. There has got to be an easier way to do this. Still, keep your fingers crossed for me. A consolidation loan would save me mega-amounts of money on a day-to-day basis, anyway and allow for a longer repayment. That would take care of the majority of my debt--taking twenty-eight small loans down to two larger ones (at a ridiculously low interest rate), ergo get everything in place to help revitalise my credit. After all, someday I really do want a house of my own (although I'd settle for a dependable car).

Friday, March 28, 2003

Concerned about the risk to Iraq's cultural treasures?

Check out the H-Museum's new Current Focus: Iraq - The cradle of civilisation at risk.

Those of you who have studied the world civilisations know that the area surrounding the Tigris and Euphrates is often known as a cradle of civilisation. Archaeological sites include the Biblical cities of Ninevah and Ur, Uruk, the setting of the Epic of Gilgamesh, as well as the capitals of the Sumerian, Assyrian, and Babylonian empires. Baghdad and surrounding areas were also very important in the flowering of Jewish and Islamic culture which took place during the Middle Ages.

Happy Friday

1. What was your most memorable moment from the last week?
Watching the beginning of bombing in Baghdad.

2. What one person touched your life this week?
In his death, the story of Jose Gutierezz, a young Marine who journeyed from Guatemala to the US as a teenager, who died in the early days of the war, brought me to tears. In terms of people I know--I've had two people help with reality checks this week; one was a co-worker who made me realise that my relationship problems with my boss really are primarily her fault, and one that helped me see my need to concentrate on my spiritual growth despite all the anxiety I've had related to the material world lately.

3. How have you helped someone this week?
I helped a woman find her grand-daughter. I've helped people with various projects at work. I've guided nursing students to information they needed to care for their patients. I've been a listener for several people who needed to vent. I've sent notes to two women I know fighting breast cancer and one who suffered a miscarriage. I've spoken with the women who are dealing with cancer and checked up on them. Tomorrow I'm walking in our local Heart Walk.

4. What one thing do you need to get done by this time next week?
I really need to thrash out some issues with my student loans so I can go ahead and file my taxes.

5. What one thing will you do over the next seven days to make your world a better place?
Live each day as it comes.

Thursday, March 27, 2003

Time to take a break from anti-war rants and blog about what's going on at home...

Last week Earthlink ran seven additional automatic bank drafts (for other subscribers) through my bank account, causing a major headache in terms of money they took out of my account and subsequent overdraft fees. The bank and Earthlink worked to resolve this issue and the charges were reversed. The same thing has happened again this week. Again. Sigh. Fortunately, this time I was prepared, and not trying to pay a major bill before the cut-off date. Yesterday when I got the overdraft notices in the mail, I calmly opened them, looked at the clock, realised it was too late to do anything about it that day, and put them aside for later. This morning I contacted the representative at my bank who'd been so helpful last week. Turns out someone had caught at least part of the error and refunded about $85 to my account, and she'll get the rest taken care of. In the meantime, we have put a stop onto automatic drafts from Earthlink. After next week's payday we'll probably close down my bank account and open another one just to be on the safe side. I've never had this such a ludicrous problem with automatic bank drafts before. If you're an Earthlink subscriber, you may want to check your bank or credit card statements to see if you're having any problems. My attempts to contact the company and tell the of the problem resulted in canned replies. It's a shame--I've had good service from them in the past. But frankly between the problems I had and the ones the bank had in sorting out what I happened, I went ahead and closed my Earthlink account today, even though I could have gone for monthly-send-in-a-cheque-billing. It's just not worth this amount of trouble. I'll probably go through one of the local providers eventually.

The weather here in Lexington has been beautiful this week--up in the 70s, sunny, with trees budding and grass nearly jumping inches before your eyes. This weekend it's supposed to turn cold (which figures, since we're scheduled for the Heart Walk), but hopefully we won't lose the flower buds.

To followup to the main blogging subject of February, namely Lexington's ice storm, we did have two more casualties. Two men were electrocuted the other day while working on a damaged tree. The wind may have blown their ladder into a powerline nearby. With so many limbs down or threatening to come down, people have been scrambling with the good weather to get what they can cleaned up. The city has been picking up trash in the first part of the week and tree limbs in the second, and the cleanup is far from over. Our apartments have limbs stacked up higher than me all along our right of way. A lot of trees still need to be trimmed or cut down. It's amazing how many are trying to bud out or flower even as they hang by a thread. The same day the men were killed a big limb that remained in my backyard came on down. I'm surprised they hadn't gone ahead and taken it when they cleaned up the rest--they'd trimmed it. But I guess they were hoping that one might recover. So a couple of people are partially blocked at their patios. Our apartments did go ahead and plant twelve street trees right after the storm.

I have my own trees growing in my office. A coworker had one of the flower arrangements that are sometimes donated by funerals (yes, a little creepy, but...) and these twigs had rooted in the florist's foam. So we put them in a big pot I have in front of my window. They now have sprouts several inches long on them. We think it's corkscrew willow, which would explain how well it grows.

Well, that's all I have for now. Hope your day is going well.

Tuesday, March 25, 2003


I will give Tom Brokaw of NBC credit. Last night, after running a story on Jose Gutierrez, a young man who was one of the first Americans to die in the war who at age 14 left his native Guatamala hopped on a train and made his way (illegally) into California, who was later adopted and became a legal immigrant, who was only 22, who dreamed of being an architect, but decided he "wanted to give something back" to this country before going on to school, Tom Brokaw told viewers to think about this young man the next time they rail about illegal immigrants crashing our borders.

I hope the let his sister and her husband come and settle if they want.

How do you put a value on someone's life? The same as a visa? Do we set up funds for soldiers' families like we did for the families of 9/11? Do we pay for each Iraqi killed? What about the Jordanian students who were just trying to get out of the country and get home? In a global society, these questions get asked. I don't have answers. But I want to know how it will play out.

Pray for Iraq. Pray for America. Pray for the world. Pray for the future. Pray for peace.

James Carroll says it so much better than I do.

"If Washington were the target of a ''shock and awe'' campaign, the US Capitol would now be rubble, along with that entire parade of becolumned federal buildings astride seven blocks of Pennsylvania Avenue. The White House a smoldering ruin (like Camp David -- and the Bush ranch house in Crawford, Texas). The Pentagon a fetid sinkhole, in-rushing waters of the adjacent Potomac River having snuffed the burning abyss....Such is a ''limited'' campaign, targets chosen ''humanely'' according to a strategy of ''decapitation.'' We can leave until later the question of who and how many are dead and wounded.

And what, exactly, would justify such destruction? What would make it an act of virtue? And is it possible to imagine that such violence could be wreaked in a spirit of cold detachment, by controllers sitting at screens dozens, hundreds, even thousands of miles distant? And in what way would such ''decapitation'' spark in the American people anything but a horror to make memories of 9/11 seem a pleasant dream? If our nation, in other words, were on its receiving end, illusions would lift and we would see ''shock and awe'' for exactly what it is -- terrorism pure and simple."

The talking heads can call it what they will. The analysts, the military jargon...it all amounts to one thing. We are destroying, and through these steps, unsanctioned, unsought, we may be destroying ourselves. Even those countries that blocked the war are ready to take advantage of it--Turks on the border, French afraid they'll be shut out of lucrative "rebuilding" contracts.

Did anyone bother to ask the people of Iraq what they wanted?

Oh, that's right, they're "barbarians" who have been brainwashed by Saddam Hussein's regime.

Americans call foul because al-Jazeera dares to show pictures of our dead. Arabs say Americans are too isolated from violence of this nature. Peace supporters e-mail out appeals for as graphic of photos as possible (yes, I got one of those) to show the American people what they haven't seen in an effort to spur a collective conscience.

And in the end, what's left are families left to mourn fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, friends. When all is said and done, that's what's real. Not the rhetoric of celebrities, or the demands of presidents. There is blood, and sand, and weeping. There may be victory, liberation, jubilation--but let's hope that peace endures longer than all the rest.

Monday, March 24, 2003

Well, that's a relief...

Salam Pax is alive and well and blogging. Seems his internet connexion went out for a few days, which makes a lot of sense all things considered. If you haven't checked out his blog yet you should (and apparently Blogger and the other sites associated with his blog have been very helpful in all the increased bandwidth. It's also nice to see he's a blog of note.)

It was from his site that I first got word that Blogger had been bought by Google. Hope that works out okay. I'll reserve judgement, although I wasn't impressed with my main foray into Googledom, namely an attempt to sign on as an information professional for GoogleAnswers. I'm still not sure what ever happened to that. At least the guys at Blogger seem geared up for it. And what's this about audio blogging? Hmmm....

Yesterday I was back in action and able to go "try to save the world" in the fictional sense, anyway, during our Cthulhu game. The good news is our band triumphed. We kept a pseudopod-gooey bit of highly concentrated thoughtwaves from hatching from the moon and enveloping the earth, which would have caused massive lunacy (pun intended). The bad news is two non-player characters were killed. When you play a game and take on the role of various characters every week for several years, you tend to bond a bit. One in particular was about as close as I've had to a boyfriend in a long time. God, that sounds kind of sick, I know. Trust me, I'm not one of those gamers that can't distinguish reality from phantasy. Still...the game's going to be very different without them.

On a busride yesterday I found myself thinking how the people of Lexington would react if they suddenly had bombs falling on their neighbourhood. We still have a lot of damage left from the ice storm last month, but it is nothing compared to what's going on in Iraq. And I remembered the Friday Five question about where else you might want to live. (I had thought about that afterwords, about how Britain was really my main alternative because at least I have ancestors in Britain and America and I really don't want to trespass on land that is rightfully another people's, really. And I was sort of surprised I didn't say Ireland. Ireland would be nice, but there's some censorship issues I have problems with.)

But when all is said and done, I guess where I live right now is fine, because even though I don't agree with my government leaders at the moment, I have a right to dissent, and even though I think the US is often arrogant as hell simply because it is so isolated from the rest of the world, I have to admit I'd rather raise children in isolated middle America than in a war zone. War, violence, terrorism, anarchy--they can happen anywhere. That's always been a factor even when people tried to ignore it. September 11th didn't change our world--it simply changed our perception of it. As much as I'd love to travel and experience different cultures and even live in other countries, though, I'll always be an American in my outlook--someone who believes in the inherent worth of all human beings, the right of everyone to pursue what's often called the "American dream", that who you are is more important than what you are.

The thing is, even when I don't like things done in the name of America, I know that I can help change what is done. I do have a voice--so do thousands of others who I quite frankly think are morons, but regardless of whether we are liberal or conservative, logical, irrational, regardless of our colour, religions, whatever--together we make up a whole. Our system may be flawed, but at least it seems to be one worth fighting for. So I'd rather vote my conscience and convince others to do the same and maybe we'll get leaders we can say truly represent us.

Peacemongering and patriotism are not exclusive things. I had members of my family fight in Vietnam, WWII, World War I, the Spanish-American War, the Civil War (or War Between the States, depending on which family member you mean), and the American Revolution (I'm not sure how we missed Korea). I have a picture of me at age 2 with my finger pointing to my father's induction photo as if asking "is my daddy coming home?" I know that war is sometimes necessary and always devastating. I do not believe that this war was necessary. While I believe it may very well accomplish many things, I do not think it is the only way things could have played out. That said, I have to admit I'm impressed with how the coalition forces have been operating so far. I'm not sure war is a good thing ever. But it is certainly a crucible that brings out the best and worst in humanity. I hope this one brings out only the best.

Okay, enough of war and politics. You don't really want to hear me rant, do you?

As it turns out, I was coming down with something Saturday. I promptly threw up an hour later and then rushed home (as much as you can rush anywhere on public transportation) to do it some more. I went on to bed and my fever broke about sunset. I finally started feeling myself again about 2 am. I've taken it easy in terms of eating since then. I've heard of 12-hour bugs but I think that's the first time I've had one. I lost 5 lbs, though I'm sure that's mostly water, although for once I managed to drink every couple of hours while sick.

I'm not going to write much else, since I'm at work and it's almost time to go home. Oh, happy spring/fall out there--I forgot to mention it last week. Until next time...

Saturday, March 22, 2003

Oh, good grief...

Apparently one of our local country music stations is no longer going to play music by the Dixie Chicks because one of the women said she was ashamed that President Bush was a Texan. It's that sort of response that really makes me question some of my fellow citizens' intelligence.

I'm a little concerned that Salam Pax hasn't blogged since before the bombing yesterday. I hope he and his family are okay.

I'm feeling a little under the weather today. My medicine's messing up my stomach, for one, and I'm a little achy. Hope I'm not coming down with anything. Anyway, I'm going to keep it this short and go try to get some rest. Later.

Friday, March 21, 2003

Okay, people, that's just crass...

I tend to believe that no matter how much you may dislike another country's policies (or your own country's for that matter), you should still respect a national anthem/flag. Hence, I wasn't too disappointed to hear that a New York team beat Montreal at hockey after many fans booed the Star-Spangled Banner. Serves you right. On the other hand, I also don't get the anti-France sentiment I've seen in some Americans. Just because we're not all playing nicely with one another doesn't mean we need to be sticking our tongues out, either. French fries being renamed "Freedom fries"? Hello, people, I have news for you. There's nothing French about french fries--every trivia bit I've ever heard says that they're American in origin--and German chocolate is actually named after a guy, not a country. And while I'm at it, where do people get off saying that Tom Daschle is "unAmerican" because he said President Bush's team had so failed at diplomacy that we were now going to war? I mean, that's pretty much a statement of fact, you know.

I'm beginning to see the wisdom in the button slogan of "it's a nice little planet if you know the right people". Arrgghh!!! Children, behave! Play nicely, or you'll be sent to your rooms!

Pray for Peace

And you can listen to a prayer for peace in many different languages here.

I spent my lunch with some coworkers who were watching the Kentucky/IUPUI basketball game when CBS broke in with footage of the begin of the "all out" air attacks on Baghdad. It makes me sick, because I know people are dying.

I still don't see how you can justify this much destruction, in terms of innocent lives, cultural treasures, etc., all in the name of creating stability and taking out a dictator's regime. I agree that Hussein may be on the same level as, say, Stalin. But I still think diplomacy, assassination, even revolution could be the answer, rather than a large country with most of the world's firepower traipsing in under the label of liberators.

Great power brings great responsibility. I feel like our leaders are a bunch of boys with plastic soldiers. Only these soldiers bleed, die. And somehow those toy kits never include civilians to mow down, do they?

Despite war, it's still Friday

1. If you had the chance to meet someone you've never met, from the past or present, who would it be?
Socrates. I want to know how much of what Plato wrote was his, and how much of it was Plato's spin on things. We have some writings with which to compare it, but still....

2. If you had to live in a different century, past or future, which would it be?
As a woman or as a man? Most past centuries pretty much suck if you're female. There are some exceptions--Roman women could own property, divorce, etc., but you had to be pretty wealthy and educated to really do it right. I'm fascinated by the Victorian era, with its blend of gentility and teeming underworld, but it really was a man's world, with a few shining exceptions. While I like the Middle Ages in theory, it pretty much sucks regardless of your gender--you either get to have babies and die or fight wars and die or work until you fall over and die. Not to mention plague rats, etc. If I'd lived in the Middle Ages I think I'd have wound up in a convent. I can't really comment on the future, but it would be interesting to go a century or two ahead and see where we'll be.

3. If you had to move anywhere else on Earth, where would it be?
Britain. Although New Zealand is looking pretty cool right now (because I've been looking at Zabet and her Hubby's plans, not to mention all those Lord of the Rings vistas). I've thought about moving to Canada, especially Nova Scotia, but I'm not sure I'd do well with winters. Perhaps if Canada had a tropical island somewhere?

4. If you had to be a fictional character, who would it be?
Amelia Peabody, without question. Every year a dead body, and digging in Aegypt! Intelligent, forthright, bossy, rich enough to pursue her interests, able to survive two of the most precocious, strong-willed children ever to be born, to patch up another shirt ruined, to doctor the ills of the populace, to inspire the love of two rascally brothers, and to wield a parasol with great skill (or at least gusto). Oh, Amelia, definitely.

5. If you had to live with having someone else's face as your own for the rest of your life, whose would it be?
I always wanted to have red hair and green eyes. The closest person I can think that matches that would be Tori Amos. But that would be a little freaky, if you didn't start out with it.

Want to really know what's going on in Baghdad?

Check out the blog by Salam Pax (obviously a pseudonym), a surreptitious blogger from within the city.

For other blog perspectives on the war, check out MSNBC's list of blogs. It seems pretty balanced.

Thursday, March 20, 2003

I agree with this comment posted on the BBCforum on the war in Iraq:

"May God forgive America for the crimes of its demented rulers."--Dr. Zeljko Cipris, United States

I keep hearing in the news how peace proponents could not possibly understand the complexities of this situation. I point you to the resignation letter of John Brady Kiesling, who was a senior US diplomat with twenty years' service. I think it should be safe to say that Mr Kiesling has a better understanding than most.

I have to admit, I did feel the president set a somber tone last night in his speech, and the start of the war as a very targeted attack rather than some form of blitzkrieg was a little hopeful. But I think that was just due to opportunity. The war in all its fury will bloom soon, I'm sure.

I hope this time they really do "take out" Saddam Hussein. I always felt that the Gulf War should have done so, although I realise the objective at the time was to push Iraq back from Kuwait. And certainly, we helped build up Saddam Hussein, so it's only right that we help "take him down". But I still believe that we should have the rest of the world behind us before we go violating someone else's sovereignty. This cowboy justice thing has a big potential for destablising the world peace effort and sets some very disturbing precedents. I know it's sneakier, but I always rather thought that taking down dictators was one of the things the CIA has traditionally been there for. Maybe that's just as arrogant, but it means a lot less casualties, too, and less innocent blood.

Only time will tell how things will go. But I know one thing--I'm going to look very hard at the votes for and against this war when election time comes, and I really hope we can get another leader in the White House in 2004.

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

On a lighter note...

Why Stick People Became Extinct

Warning: People with low tolerance for sexual humour (stick genitalia and sexual situations) or on workstations where bosses may not appreciate such may want to skip this one. No actual sticks were harmed in the making of this website, I believe. But it's absolutely hilarious.

Written last night at the bus stop on my Visor...

I watched the news tonight with a sick feeling in my stomach. I do not agree with this war that our president and his supporters seem so hell-bent on. But I also realise that it is inevitable. I thought so from the moment Bush was declared the winner in the election-long before the attacks of September 11th. I only hope that it may be accomplished without the loss of innocent lives. I rather think that is a faint hope--so the people of the Middle East and our soldiers and those of our allies are very much in my thoughts and prayers tonight.

As much as I am against this war (for I do not believe it is a just one, or one that must be fought to avert an imminent threat to my country), I don't agree with those who would protest by disrupting daily life. After all, that seems to be more a tactic that terrorists would approve. I guess I'm more of the candlelight vigil-type peacenik than the sign-waving type. Or maybe the pick-up-the-pieces-do-what-you-can-in-the-aftermath sort. And as a child of the Vietnam Era, I can't support verbal or other attacks on our soldiers, even though we have an all-volunteer military these days. After all, many of them joined up to see if they could get money for school or otherwise better life for themselves and their families. Most gung-ho idiots I've ever known who really wanted to go to war were singularly unsuited for military life and were drummed out or never accepted in the first place.

I did not agree with the Gulf War, but at least in that case Iraq had invaded a neighbouring country; and I was frustrated that to have started everything in motion they didn't "finish" it by removing Hussein. I felt that we (and by we, I mean the UN, rather than the US alone) should have intervened in Bosnia long before we did). I am not a pacifist. I would cheer the Iraqis if they rose up against Saddam Hussein. But I'm not sure the US has a right to go barrelling into another country virtually unilaterally. I mean, how would we feel if someone did that to us? I'm sure we'd cry foul. I hate to see the US government play up world unity and the UN when it suits its purpose, but then pretend that it doesn't have to play by anyone else's rules. And I certainly don't think it's honourable to do so.

So for now, the world waits. I'm still not convinced that it will be quick like the supposed authorities say. Certainly if Iraq uses any type of weapon it wasn't supposed to have a lot of other countries will join in. I can see where the war of worlds and dares and all the buildup can go far before the first bullet is fired. If the intent is to occupy Baghdad, though, it may be another matter. Big countries with lots of power often run afoul of things when they think they can go traipsing into that area (think of Russia in Afghanistan as the most recent example). We have the might, but they have the turf.

I just don't know where this will lead. I'm almost numb with the possibilities--and I'm not even directly affected. I think our world needs a bit of luck and perhaps divine intervention to make it through this new century, though.

Friday, March 14, 2003


Do you like talking on the phone? Why or why not?
Not particularly. I generally sound like an idiot without a script.

2. Who is the last person you talked to on the phone?
A woman who had offered me a job interview. I was cancelling our appointment. (More on that later).

About how many telephones do you have at home?
One. Why bother with more?

Have you encountered anyone who has really bad phone manners? What happened?
Oh, yes. I did telephone survey research for the university for several years. Most people were okay, if sometimes evasive. The worst were people who swore or were generally abusive but never actually said 'no'. They got the earliest/latest/dinner hour callbacks. :)

5. Would you rather pick up the phone and call someone or write them an e-mail or a letter? Why or why not?
It depends on the person. Generally I prefer to e-mail because I express myself better in writing, I can send it easily without procrastinating, and I get to keep a copy. Sometimes, though, I need to hear another voice on the other line. For example, I invariably call my mom when I'm sick because it somehow makes it better. If I'm feeling trapped in the house (say, like during the ice storm), I call people. Otherwise I try to keep things short. Basically, with a couple of exceptions, if I call just to "chat" I'm feeling lonely and maybe anxious. Which is another reason I try not to call too much. Besides, I tend to call people when they're in the middle of having sex. :)

Sometimes the way someone lives outweighs the tragedy of death

A Scottish woman, Bridget Riedl-Laing, on an adventure from Canada down through South America has drowned in Peru. She saved all three of her children before being swept away. She and her Austrian husband kept an online diary of their trip. (Some of the entries are in English, some in German. There are wonderful pictures. Oh, and the most recent dates should read '2003'.)

I have to admire the spirit of taking such a remarkable trip. So far they seemed to have had a pretty wonderful adventure, aside from her breaking her arm in the van door back in December. Most people would never actually follow such a dream. I'm sure there are some who would pooh-pooh taking small children on such a long trip, but I think it was a wonderful opportunity. Unfortunately, now it will be marred by a mother's death.

My heart goes out to the family.

Thursday, March 13, 2003

Sometimes news CAN be good :)

Teen Elizabeth Smart is back home with her family nearly nine months after being taken from her bedroom.

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

And lo, if you want an answer, ask a librarian...

Our solo librarian list was discussing British terminology (namely the difference between 'roundabouts' and 'traffic gyratory systems') so I chimed in finally with my question on green goddesses. (At some point I mentioned on this blog that I had found a reference to "red engines and green goddesses". Well, this article does a very nice job of explaining what a green goddess is, and how it compares to the modern fire engine. Nice to know that my normally Angloscient brain was failing me partly because not only have I not lived in Britain, they're mostly before my time as well. Enjoy!

Monday, March 10, 2003

A different type of "Quiz Monday"

Check out these. The first is, of course, tongue-in-cheek, an opinion page column. The second is a quiz posted by Community for Peace. I don't know much about this group (and yes, everyone has an agenda) but it's thought-provoking. Finally, here's a good general-don't-you-think-we-should-know-more-about-the-country-we're-talking-about-blowing-to-smithereens quiz as a chaser. Maybe our leaders need to read these.

Sunday, March 09, 2003

So, what did I actually do this weekend?

Well, I did do laundry. And rather than playing Scrabble Zabet, her Hubby, and I went out to Krishna's (an Indian restaurant, obviously) and then sat around and talked most of the evening, which was nice. I'd never been to Krishna's, and it was very yummy. I brought home plenty of food for lunch tomorrow. I especially liked the naan I got with nuts, raisins, and coconut stuffed inside.

Saturday was BEAUTIFUL. Breezy, warm (60s!), and sunny--very spring-like. I flung all the windows open. Later, I went visiting some other friends. Then I went to pay a bill and realised that I did not have my ATM card with me. Turns out it wound up in Zabet's dryer and had gone through two cycles. They brought it over today. Fortunately, it still works, which is amazing, especially given the fact that I seem to demagnetise the things all the time.

Today we didn't have the game after all. I didn't clean the bathroom (but then, it's basically okay--just a few toothpaste spatters), but I did some dusting and a load of dishes. It started out very cloudy and was much colder, but at least the sun did come out. The cats kept trying to pile up in the sunbeams and at one point the sun hit a line of little mirrors I have on a suncatcher and Spock went wild (he plays with flashlights, too). Then they all piled on me while I took a nap on the couch, since the sun had settled about where I was sleeping.

I went over to Walgreen's tonight (after using the prodigal bank card) and got some peanut butter and Diet Pepsi. I couldn't resist getting a kite that looks like a monarch butterfly. I am SO ready for spring. Tomorrow's still supposed to be cold, but then Tuesday it goes back into the 50s (yea!)

I'm reading Patricia Cornwell's Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper--Case Closed, in which she asserts and presents a rather impressive amount of evidence that Jack the Ripper was an English artist named Walter Richard Sickert. I must admit, I was not convinced when I watched a news programme devoted to it some time ago. But in print, the evidence is quite convincing. Cornwell believes that Sickert was a sociopath who had issues due to a series of medical procedures to fix a fistula of the penis which quite probably mutilated him and left him incapable of errection.

I have to admit, one of the reasons it's an uncomfortable read for me is that in terms of psychology Sickert reminds me very much of someone I was with a long time ago. Oh, I'm not saying he's up there with a Jack the Ripper, but I've often wondered if he really has any form of conscience or real emotions--most everything he did or said was a matter of manipulation. He could be very charming, but...well, so could Ted Bundy. And I was extremely naive and wanted someone to love me, so I let myself fall into the trap, whereas a person more self-esteem would have dismissed him as a childish coward. I know some things about his childhood that I'm sure most others have no idea about. As a child he met two of the three "warning signs" of a future serial killer--enuresis (bedwetting) and mutilation of animals (he once confessed cutting off the genitalia of a dead dog to me)--as far as I know, he never set fires. Certainly with the amount of cruising that he did, often out all night, one sort of wonders, in retrospect. But I don't know anything for sure. I can't imagine him being violent with a stranger, anyway. His modus operandi was always a form of emotional abuse and manipulation. I'm no expert in psychology, but I can read the DSM-IV. I really have come to think he was a borderline too (not a good combination given my own diagnosis), and maybe narcissistic. I can only hope that in the years since I left he's gotten some help--but I'm glad it's not my problem anymore.

Anyway, the Cornwell book is quite good. If you have any interest in the subject, I highly recommend it.

Friday, March 07, 2003


1. What was the last song you heard?
"Strange Thing Mystifying ", a song from Jesus Christ, Superstar (I was listening to a tape while I got ready)

2. What were the last two movies you saw?
In the theatre: The Two Towers, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (yes, I'm behind)
On video: The Mummy, and The Mummy Returns (My favourite sit-back-and-enjoy movies at home)

3. What were the last three things you purchased?
Bread, Edy's Girl Scout Samoas ice cream, and a Victoria magazine.

4. What four things do you need to do this weekend?
Do laundry, clean my bathroom, play Cthulhu, and go over to a friend's.

5. Who are the last five people you talked to?
A woman in the library (about the wounding of two of Osama bin Laden's sons, which had just popped up on Yahoo! News), one of our care-coordinators (about the stupidity of the impending war with Iraq and our leaders in general), a secretary (about problems with a divided community over a traditional magnet school, which her daughter attends), a nurse who needed help with a search, and a social work student (about the war). In other words, typical Friday.

Thursday, March 06, 2003

Bubbly excitement...

I got a call this morning regarding a job interview for next Friday. Yea!

Okay, boys, do we need to send you to kindergarten?

Officials from Iraq and Kuwait got into a row a conference that has left many in the Islamic world embarrassed. It's okay; we know they're not representative of Islam or Arab culture (well, I do, anyway). Still, I'm thinking a "time out" is in order. (And I know a few of our own politicans who could join in). For those of you who may not be familiar with this American phase, a time out is a method of disciplining young children who are having temper tantrums or other ill behaviour that basically removes them from the situation until they can calm down and behave.

You go, sister!

An older English widow has made her wishes regarding a "do not rescuitate order" clear by tatooing it on her chest. (Of course, I'm not sure it's legally binding. Maybe if you also tatoo a signature and a notary seal???)

Wednesday, March 05, 2003

DES revisited...

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) announced today that it was making an effort to educate Americans about potential harmful side effects from DES ( diethylstilbestrol), a drug given to women during pregnancy from the 1930s to the 70s in an effort to preven miscarriage. DES is a synthetic estrogen. Between 5 and 10 million people were exposed to this drug during its period of use. I was one of them. My mother began bleeding five months into her pregnancy and may have miscarried my twin. In an era before sonograms, we only know that there were two distinct fetal heartbeats before her illness and only one after. She continued to go into contractions throughout the last months of her pregnancy and could not do anything that would put strain on her. They were so worried she would lose me that she was not allowed to return to her own family (she was with my father's while he was away at Air Force training) because they did not think she could make the trip through the winding backroads.

DES, unlike the more famous tetrogen, thalidomide, causes more subtle problems. Women who were exposed to it may have a higher risk for breast cancer. Daughters may have a higher risk for a form of vaginal cancer and reproductive malformations or infertility issures. Boys may genital malformations. No one really knows just how widespread the effects may be--how it will affect the third generation or how it will affect menopause for women and daughters. You can find more information at DES Action, an excellent organisation which has been advocating research and education for many years.

Because the drug was prescribed so long ago, many people have no idea of their exposure status and even many health providers don't know about the special measures needed for those exposed. I was in my 30s before I had a special type of Pap smear that was supposed to screen for that rare vaginal cancer. There's a lot of misinformation out there, like that the vaginal cancer will only strike you in your teens and afterwards you're safe (there are some who have gotten it when older). Exposure to DES is very difficult to verify--many records have either been destroyed or providers fearing a suit may be reluctant to admit it. But even if you can't be sure--if you had a child or were born during that period and there is reason to believe you may have been exposed, please educate yourself and take the steps necessary to check your health.

Tuesday, March 04, 2003

Shameless plug...for a good cause

Everyone knows someone who has been affected by heart disease or stroke. This year I will be walking in our local American Heart Walk. I have set a goal to raise funds for the American Heart Association. We are raising critical dollars for heart disease and stroke research and education.

You can help me reach this goal by making a donation online. Click on the link below and you will be taken to my personal donation page where you can make a secure online credit card donation. If you would prefer not to make an online donation, e-mail me for other ways you can make a donation.

Your donation will help the No. 1 and No. 3 killers in our nation—heart disease and stroke. You are making a difference. I know, you're probably poor. If you're a friend of mine, or a fellow librarian, it's nearly a given. I don't have much to spare, either. But $5 or $10, when put with the donations of others, can go a long way. I know there are people I love who have gone through heart surgery, heart attacks, stroke, or angioplasties. Given the number of diabetics in my family, most of us are at a high risk for both heart disease and stroke ourselves. Maybe the money I give today will help later on. I'm sure you know people who could benefit, too. So if you can, please give, and thank you for your support.

CLICK HERE to visit my personal web page and help me in my efforts to support AHA - Lexington.

And even if you can't donate, you may want to visit the site. There's a quiz and some educational information that might help you fight heart disease and stroke.

Elisabeth Eilir Rowan
aka The Rabid Librarian

Happy Mardi Gras!

(And for those of us who aren't fortunate to have a chance to dance in the streets, a quiz). I got a 10! At work I've sampled two King Cakes but so far nothing inside but cake. :( Still, on the plus side, I can celebrate Mardi Gras without the accompanying Lent, so :).

Monday, March 03, 2003

Blessed sunshine--Khaire Helio!

(Homeric Hymn XXXI, To Helios, ll. 17-19, as translated by H. G. Evelyn-White) "Hail to you, Lord! Freely bestow on me substance that cheers the heart!"

For some of us remember Your magic and wonder. And indeed I am cheered. It's beautiful outside, bright and shining for the first time in a long while. I am so glad it is almost spring.

PS Another thing to bring a smile (on my face, at least) is the fact that today is 03.03.03! :) Happy threes!

Something I'd like to read...

Red Flower

According to a Women's Studies list I'm on:

"The book "Red Flower: Rethinking Menstruation" by Dena Taylor remains a
valuable part of the literature on menstruation. In it, Taylor debunks the
myths and prejudices surrounding this natural process, through carefully
documented research, cross-cultural perspectives, and insight from women of
all ages.

The Blackburn Press has just reprinted the book, making it available to a
new generation of students in Women's Studies.

No other single book includes all that this one does: Worldwide practices,
menarche, menstrual physiology and products, the power of menstruation, men'
s relationship to women's bleeding, sexuality, and menopause, as well as
contributions from women across the country in the form of poetry, stories,
and responses to a questionnaire."


Perhaps I'm being unfair, but there are days I begin to think that the Bush spawn are dismantling a great deal of what I hold dear. This time it's Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida...

Here's the Florida Library Association's take on things...

Here's an editorial illustrating the problem. I hope Mr. Denham will forgive my posting it here, as new archives tend to change rapidly, and it give a link to a petition to appeal this plan. Unfortunately I'm posting this after the end of the petition, but you may want to look at it. This plan could seriously impact those within Florida and also those outside Florida who do genealogy and otherwise use the services of the Florida State Library. With the current oeconomy putting a strain on state budgets, please keep an eye out for what sort of cuts may be coming in your area as well. It could happen anywhere. (Here in Kentucky, we're looking at cuts in some vital services for elderly, children, and disabled. I'm unhappy about that as well.)

Gov. Bush Shows Contempt for Library
Published Friday, February 21, 2003--Lakeland Ledger

Gov. Jeb Bush plans to shut down the state library. He plans to pack up
and scatter the library's books, microfilms, maps, government documents
and archival records accumulated since 1845 -- a move that undermines
years of careful work by professionals dedicated to preserving these
treasures for future generations.

His idea is bad for Florida and shows his total disdain for our state's
rich history.

Bush claims that Florida will save $5.4 million by cutting 55 state
jobs. He has not said how much it will cost to pack up, transfer and
house the millions of items that for so long have been professionally
managed under one roof. Nor has he stated how long this transferal will
take, or if, when or where these materials will be available to the
general public. (Bush's
original plan to ship the library's collection to FSUs Strozier Library
went nowhere.)

It is critical that the state library's priceless collection remain
intact, and that its librarians continue to provide for the orderly
acquisition, classification, organization, retrieval and preservation of
its important resources.

The state library manages archival and records services all across the
state. It also serves county library systems by coordinating the Florida
Interlibrary Loan Network. The proposed closure also threatens the
Florida Memory Project, an online database that makes available many of
the state's historical and genealogical records, tens of thousands of
photographs and manuscripts critical to an understanding of our state's

This source is indispensable to educators and the state's many new
residents desiring to learn about their new home's history.

Also at risk in the bureaucratic reshuffling is the Bureau of Historic
Preservation that encourages, promotes and assists historic-preservation
activities in every community in this state. Its regional offices are to
be closed, leaving a skeleton staff in Tallahassee to do the work of
hundreds of dedicated professionals who soon may join library and
archive professionals in the ranks of the unemployed.

Bush's scheme seems based on the mistaken premise that disbanding the
state library and archives will only inconvenience a few Florida
scholars -- that it will affect so few that no one will even notice. The
threat of this move to the few remaining Florida history scholars is
real enough. But the real losers from Bush's plan will be genealogists,
children and the thousands of other Floridians who visit the R. A. Gray
building that houses the library, archives and museum collections.

Ironically, the nucleus of the state archives might have been lost in
the first place if state librarian Dorothy Dodd had not rescued the
cache of governors' papers and other precious state documents from the
trash bins when they were nearly thrown away by careless workers during
the state capital's remodeling in the 1950s.

Now, nearly 50 years of careful work by professionals who have built up
the collection is threatened by this reckless scheme. Also during that
time, citizens from across the nation have donated precious family
heirlooms such as letters, diaries and photographs so that they can
enrich the lives of future generations. These donations were always made
under the expectation that these items would be profess
ionally cared-for
and preserved. Bush's plan threatens this public trust.

Bush's plan at first glance may seem easy to pull off in a state with
so many newcomers. A newcomer himself, Bush has shown time and again an
astonishing disregard for the state's cultural heritage. But this latest
display of contempt has drawn a loud outcry from state, national and
even international sources. One might well wonder what that reaction
would be if his brother proposed abolishing the Library of Congress and
the National Archives.

It is time for thoughtful Floridians of all political persuasions to
join historical societies, genealogical groups, educators and hundreds
of others who oppose the careless dismantling of our state's historical
and cultural agencies. This ill-conceived attempt to address budget
shortfalls by attacking Florida's historical resources will do little to
address our state's revenue needs. Only careful reform of our tax
structure can do that.

Concerned citizens should voice their concerns directly to the governor
or to their state legislators. One easy way to do this is by logging on
to a Web site created by the Florida Historical Society to collect
signatures on a petition to be sent to the governor and legislature

James M. Denham teaches Florida and other history, and directs the
Center for Florida History at Florida Southern College in Lakeland.