Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
comic strip overdue media

Saturday, July 31, 2004

Question for the day

Leaving aside why anyone would create a stretch Hummer, why on earth would you park it at Kroger's on a Saturday night?

Eyes Burn! Aggghhh!

Bush/Kerry Pals Classic Thong

And you know what's worse? The fact that I could imagine Bill Clinton in it (yes I know, it's women's underwear...the image is still burnt into my brain).

And what do I use my new-found audio for?

JibJab's 'This Land'...I saw it without sound earlier today, a pale shade of its glorious self. (Although I'm still scarred by the image of Kerry in S&M gear being whipped by the UN.)

I do love equal-opportunity parody. :)

And there was much rejoicing

listening to: Happy Windows Sounds
feeling: Groovy

  1. I got my state pay today, so Cerys and the cats have food, the car has gas, and I might be able to swing some of my medicine, although not all.
  2. After an hour of tinkering, downloading a new driver, etc., I finally got the sound back on my computer. Haven't any idea why it suddenly dropped away, although the only software I'd added was Microsoft Reader, which has a speech component, so that might have contributed to the glitch, though it was working fine at first. I put it down to gremlins.

It is quite muggy, and it's hard to believe that just a couple of days ago it was 73°F as a high! If anything, the rain seems to have made it more muggy than less.

On the flip side, I came across a couple of...well, disturbing things today, which I won't explain fully due to privacy issues--and no, neither really have to do with work or with friends, so any of you reading this, don't get paranoid. It has to do with people on the periphery of my acquaintance. One involves a document I stumbled over that had some surprising, public information about someone, and I'm not exactly sure how to take it, or whether to share that information with another person who knows him better. In the past, I'd just disseminate information (look what I found!) without considering the consequences. I'm not sure that's necessary in this case. However, I respect both enough to think the truth wouldn't damage the relationship. The other issue has to do with a business that, in the name of reorganisation, seems to be using tactics worthy of Ashcroft or even Torquemada. I don't know the whole story--it was based on hearsay, after all, and those in the know seem to have been gagged. I can see why things are being shaken up so thoroughly, but at the same time, it's putting a lot of good people who have devoted years of service under stress and the stability they were promised may have just flown out the window. As you can imagine, I can relate. And for now anyway--given my lack of knowledge--I'm going to watch and wait, and see how it goes, no matter how much I could see it as a cause to rally around. Ironically enough, it could cause job openings in a market that's almost impossible to gain entry into, hopefully without anyone actually losing a job but perhaps new positions could be created as sometimes happens with 'retoolling'--but then there are questions over whether to take advantage of the chaos others are undergoing or, for that matter, whether to become part of such a system at all. I don't know; maybe I'm thinking too much, but the ethics of the situation seem sticky.

Friday, July 30, 2004


I was getting ready to leave my conference and head over to the station to pick up my paycheque when I decided, hey, I'm at a major research library, let's look up one troublesome question I've received.

Well, I'm a little closer to the solution, but even more importantly, about the time I sidled into the movable shelving stacks, a thunderstorm alert came out over the security guard's radio, followed almost immediately by the unmistakable sounds of a deluge beginning.

So, it did save me a drenching. Since my umbrella is in the car, and since it's coming down so quickly that the umbrella wouldn't help, anyway, I think I'll park myself here for a few minutes more.

Oh, by the way, my favourite thing about the University now that I'm not here regularly? The fact that they have free feminine napkins in the ladies' bathrooms. Sometimes being caught without one of those is as bad as being caught without an umbrella. :)

The thunder's still going, but it sounds like the rain has let up...I'm going to go take a closer look, then hopefully be on my way.

Welcome to ToxTown

The National Library of Medicine has this nifty site: ToxTown

Think you know your portions?

Came across this via a colleague whilst going over consumer health info at a seminar.

Take the portion distortion quiz.

Who knew?

especially for someone whose animaga form would be a chubby pink piglet. :)

Which HP Kid Are You?

The Colourful Plate

that my doctor recommended :)


Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Got my blood tests back

and pardon me for posting them here (as if any of you care), but it'll be good to be able to search them out if I need to later.

They were pretty decent...triglycerides 119 (<150 is good), total cholesterol 181, good cholesterol (HDL) is 53 (should be over 40), with the LDL at 104, well under 130. That wasn't fasting, so they're actually probably even better than that, the doctor's assistant said. I came out negative for H. pylori, so I don't have that bacterium underlying occasional gastric issues. My thyroid is good, too, at 2.76, which is good from a metabolic standpoint. I do need to drink a little more water judging from the renal measures, but that's not unexpected and actually I've been doing that already, and not hitting so much in diet colas.

The only concern is my HbA1c, which measures my blood sugar over three months...my score is 6.8. Last October it was 6.0, and the year before that, it was 5.0. But, on the other hand, it isn't bad for someone with diabetes...it means my blood sugar's been up into the 135-160 range on average--decent for diabetes, but still something to watch. I have noticed a difference in ups and downs, but hadn't been able to test regularly. I'm hoping now that I have a reliable glucometre, that I can increase my glucose control.

I forgot to ask about the liver enzymes (my mom and I both tend to run a little high, they don't know why) or the metabolic panel, but they'll be sending those results soon anyway, and I'm sure the endocrinologist I'll be seeing in August will discuss those.

I feel like I'm taking some steps forward in feeling more healthy, anyway. My blood pressure stays somewhere about 120-128/65-78, and my resting pulse is usually under 70, so all in all I feel good about going back to an exercise programme. We are going to check next month to see if my blood pressure changes when I'm tilted into different positions, to see if that explains some of the dizziness and the amount of falls I've had lately. Apparently that's something that can happen in diabetes, too. They're also going to check me over to see what's causing the numbness in my hands. So, wish me luck.

Rabid Reference Question #7

Dear Rabid Librarian:

What is a mâche plant? Where is it from?

Dear Curious,

Mâche is a salad green from France. It is also known as lamb's lettuce. It is one of the mildest-tasting and softest-tasting greens out there. Like most greens, it does well in cool weather, but mâche also tolerates heat, and so does well in northern or southern gardens. Hope that helps. :)

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

I like to think I'm not incredibly fat phobic

Yes, I'd like to weigh less. Yes, I'd like to have better health and more energy. But this month's Fat @ National Geographic Magazine was enough to make anyone phobic. I didn't learn anything new, really, since I'm pretty up on why we as a culture are getting fatter. But the illustrations were very useful. Unfortunately, the most compelling weren't on the website. Scariest? The centerfold full body scan MRI of a 40-year-old woman weighing, 5'6", 250 lbs with a BMI of 40.3--less than me, mind you, as compared to an inset of a 36-year-old, 5'5", 120 lbs, BMI of 20. But there is also a great illustration of using common items to depict proper portion sizes (potato=light bulb, fruit=baseball, cheese=domino, steak=playing card, burrito=bar of soap, butter=die, pasta=computer mouse) and the growth of portions in the past decades. I plan on showing our dietician, who has long argued that portion-sizes are the number one issue in the supersizing of America.

Nice thing? I'm not dieting per se, and I haven't actually made it back to the gym yet, although Dr N did give me the okay to, but I have been eating more aware, trying the Carb Smart ice cream he suggested (it's made by Breyers/Good Humour, and it's actually quite good), drinking more water, and just trying to eat a variety of foods, and I've lost almost 10 pounds since Wednesday. I know it's likely water, but the odd thing is that I hadn't started the dieuretic yet, I'd already by last Wednesday receded to my norm rather than the swelling up at the ankles that spurred the consult, and I just started my period (as a surprise, a week earlier, but so did another co-worker, and we seem to have been magnetically drawn to Dwana's cycle). But I should still be dealing with PMS bloating, unless it just took my body by surprise.

Anyway, weird.

Viruses are learning to search and grab

Welcome to the Tucson Citizen
The latest version of the MyDoom e-mail virus, MyDoom.M, fooled tens of thousands of computer-savvy workers into triggering a disruption that knocked Internet search sites Google, Yahoo, Lycos and AltaVista off line for several hours yesterday.

Well, I wouldn't call them computer-savvy if they're opening unknown folders or attachments. This is certainly an interesting method of exploitation, but also find it interesting that although this article lists the other three search engines hit (Yahoo!, AltaVista, and Lycos), most only mention Google. Sure, it's getting ready to go public, but still...it says a lot about Google that it got all the attention, as well as the fact it's actually entered our language (we google something). I have to admit, I am somewhat in awe of the phenomenon that is Google.

That said, it's reassuring that librarians, who do use Google, of course, also have a plethora of other resources for finding information, some of it online, some of it in databases, but some of it in collections of (gasp!) books. I sometimes amaze people when I reach for a particularly useful reference text because I retrieved the same information in a couple of seconds that they spent 2 hours looking online for. And although viruses hit both computers and people, no one's developed one for books yet. Well, unless you count budget cuts. :)

Monday, July 26, 2004

I missed this, having not read the paper regularly as of late

Tolerance.org: Lost History in Lexington?

The Herald-Leader dropped this bombshell in the July 4th issue:

It has come to the editor's attention that the Herald-Leader neglected to cover the Civil Rights Movement. We regret the omission.

This understatement was the beginning of a series of articles hoping to rectify that somewhat. I did see a few of the articles, though, and people's remembrances that were published. I thought it odd timing (usually they do something like that in February, and it was nice to see stories written the 'rest' of the year, and the 50th anniversary of Brown vs. The Board of Education passed in May, so I wasn't sure what prompted it. Apparently a speech given by a former editor on journalism ethics sparked today's editor to start the ball rolling. Now I know--the local paper was coming clean, decades late, but clean nonetheless. Way to go...even though I'm sure some may think it too little, too late, it's at least an acknowledgement, and a start in the right direction.

Back then, of course, it was two papers, the Herald and the Leader. They were both put out by the same publisher even then. And news of the civil rights protests was downplayed as a matter of course, out of fears of inciting violence and a belief that it might all blow over. But in doing so, those editorial decisions excised an important part of Lexington's history, a part has been slowly making its way back to light because scholars and others refused to let it lie dormant. Now, at least the archives of the paper will contain some of those stories, too.

Anyway, this is part of an ongong effort. The paper has set up an e-mail address and has invited people to share their stories. In the meantime, it's getting some national recognition, as evidenced by this story.

A Pagan translation of the Iliad

by Troy Caperton

The Iliad, of course, is the Homerian epic describing the battles between the Achaeans and the people of Troy, a war in which Gods played as much a part in as men. Western scholars have, of course, revered the text, but often translations have shown the bias of Christian scholars or Victorian prudishness. Having never mastered ancient Greek beyond the aorist case, I'm not expert enough to review its scholarly adherence to the original, but...

It is a fact that many people study Greek texts totally without regard for the cultural and religious context within which they were created, and this seems to be an attempt to restore the text to that context. Although a prose translation, the epic elements seem, from the sample I read, to be firmly intact. I'd like to see a complete copy.

Neo-Pagan scholarship has, for many years, been quite abysmal. It used to be that no one would crack open a classic work but just quote something someone else concocted five years before. But there are plenty of Pagans trained in academic research and writing who, I think, will bring a fresh perspective to ancient topics. Even Llewellyn, which used to have a reputation (at least among most of the people I knew) as a crack-pot, we'll-publish-anything-new-agey, seems to be improving, although they still run the gamut. Anyway, it's nice to see a version where they won't gloss over the relationship between Achilles and Patroklos, for example, or treat the Gods as Deities rather than merely meddlesome manipulators.

It finally happened

listening to: 'Bonny Swans' by Loreena McKinnitt
Immeasurably Better

Okay, I know this shouldn't be funny, but...

Spock the catDwana stopped by to drop something off and Spock (my beautiful, yet unaware


(as I was saying before the big lunk stepped on my keyboard)

and stupid cat wanted to be near her so much he blithely swatted his tail into the candle before I could intercept him. There was a bit of a popping sound like when a fuse lights and a bit of singed-hair smell but I scooped him up and patted down his tail before he had a chance to get hurt, so no harm done. What did he do? Press into me and purr really loudly, oblivious to how close he came to being chat flambeau.

For the record, I don't leave candles burning unattended, and Spock rarely will do much more than sniff one. He just lost his head in the presence of the Dwana. And almost his tail. :) Now he is on the comic box at my feet, happily snoozing. Sixteen years old, but he's still just a great big kitten. Have I mentioned he really is a special needs kitty? But I do love him so. Even if he does have awful messy reactions to worming medicine.

And one that I came up with


Just for fun


Welcome to the world, Seth

Dwana had left a message on my machine yesterday that our co-worker Becky had gone into labour Friday (apparently those weren't false pains, because she'd been feeling what she thought were Braxton-Hicks contractions at work, then went home, and her water broke). Five hours later (and only 9 minutes of real pushing) her son Seth was born. Apparently the baby started coming before the doctor could get there, and the nurse kind of panicked, and Becky actually wound up calming her. :) Anyway, one of us guessed the day, but he's smaller than any of us thought, being in the 7lb-something arena rather than the 9 lb one we thought he'd be, given his brother's size at birth. Anyway, congratulations to them. If all deliveries went so smoothly!

My friends, I give you, Kombucha

I was looking up stuff on mushroom identification (seeing as we have such a wonderful crop this year with all the rain) and stumbled upon Fungi Perfecti:the manchurian mushroom (aka: the Blob). :)

And before you go running out to get your own, keep in mind that it's an inexact science with potential for contamination, as shown in this report from the CDC.

Things I've learnt today

1) The Roman emperor Hadrian (one of my favourites, along with Marcus Aurelius and Julian II) never put his name on anything he built.

2) Do not give cats worming medicine without confining them to a non-carpeted surface.

The first was because I was researching the Pantheon for work. The second way, unfortunately, pure experience.

By the way, I also found this site (not related to the building, but rather the grouping of the Gods of a particular religion)--Pantheon: Encyclopedia Mythica.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Once again, we save the world

I got a lot done today. I stopped by Dwana's and picked up their paper and turned out the outside light, because I realised I'd left it on and didn't want anyone thinking they were gone. The boys (read, kitties) seemed to be doing well, and Lily, the outside cat, came running up to me. I'd fed her the evening before but hadn't actually seen her. So I got her some fresh water and more food and then headed on, happy that I'd avoided anything such as Simba pulling a quick getaway that he sometimes does at the door.

I'd started out giving my own dog a bath today, then went on to wash three more! I really need to do my cats, too, but that will have to wait for another day, because I'd rather wash an entire pack of dogs over one cat. Whew!

We played a marathon session today of the Cthulhu game, which ran for about 8 1/2 hours. Short version (I'm to tired to emote, and you probably don't care), we averted Armageddon (we think), we saved Brenda's character, his wife, and all the kids, and managed to write a program to siphon off funds from the big evil mult-national company of doom so that we could continue our fight against Cthulhu and his minions (think of Ghostbusters...how many paying customers do you think they have?) :) Dee was able to come for awhile and Brenda was able to play later than normal, so we went ahead and finished everything up. Then I did some typing on our gaming project. Now I'm home but I will not...repeat...will not play on the computer but will just go on to bed because I have a library committee meeting in the morning.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Sleep = Energy to enjoy the weekend

Last night I slept for 12 hours straight. Then it was off to a lesson--it's a study day, after a hiatus, and my tutor was not particularly pleased by my lack of recall, so we're going back over some of it again.

This was followed by a visit with friends culminating in the Great Pepper Mill and Cuisinart Hunt which was actually the most fun I've had at Fayette Mall. In my life. (The Paxil must be working). :)

Later I went over to Dwana's to cat sit and do my laundry (isn't it great when doing something for someone actually helps the other person, too?) Doing the laundry gave me about 4 hours with the cats, who were doing pretty well in their people's absence, but I think they appreciated some companionship. Simba and Baby Kitty (he really doesn't answer to his name, Midnight) curled up with me pretty well. At one point I got something out of the refrigerator and Midnight pawed in the air madly, trying to catch the door. He's quite silly, but he let me hold him a couple of times, and purred. Simba is a very big boy, over 20 lbs, and likes his comfort (he looks like he needs a remote control and beer and he'd be right at home). He seemed annoyed at me for taking his spot, but eventually shared. Armed with a remote control and cable after having none since April, I wound up watching Court TV and A&E's City Confidential. Suffice to say that once I made it home, I was feeling lucky not to have been raped and murdered on the way. Maybe forensics shows aren't the best late-night fare, after all. But the kitties saw me through.

There's a lot I should be doing. I cleaned the catbox and at least I have clean laundry, but I feel I should be doing some unpacking, etc. But you know what? It's the weekend, my day off, and maybe it's just good to get a little rest.

Friday, July 23, 2004

So sleepy must head to bed

It's been a long, long week, so I'm heading on to sleep after a very nice visit with friends and reading the first chapter of Jean Lorrah's Savage Empire. I'll catch up with you all later.

Ooh, very nice

Tile Catalogue Contents

They have custom-made tiles in Arts & Crafts, Birds, Sacred Trees, and Narrative Murals based on Tolkien.

You knever know what you'll get when you choose a random Wikipedia page

Vaginal photoplethysmography - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Harrowing bit from the 9/11 report

CNN.com - Flight 93 hijacker: 'Shall we finish it off?' - Jul 22, 2004

Another librarian against Bush

Librarians Against Bush - Guestbook

Well, finally, at least my fantasy net worth is up

When I collated all the alternative links for this blog under BlogShares, it skewed the results badly for a few days, leading the price to bottom out temporarily, then skyrocket once it was finally re-indexed. Unfortunately I didn't get a chance to put a lot into it, since I didn't have many B$ and had reached my transaction limit at the point I needed to really buy, and then, since I'm a dabbler at best, got involved in real-world projects and didn't come back and cash in on the deal. Still, it was a great opportunity. Now, if I could just figure out how to take advantage of that sort of thing in the real world. In the meantime, I'm ranked 5032 overall in the game, have had my worth grow over 400% this month, and have a total worth (in BlogShares dollars) of over B$178,000. Not bad, even if it is just a game.

BlogShares - The Rabid Librarian's Ravings in the Wind

It was a good run, though

Dennis Kucinich, the long-shot candidate whose views most mirrored mine, has endorsed the Kerry/Edwards ticket in a bid for Democratic Party unity.

I can only hope that Kucinich's voice for change will be heard by the party in general, and that some of the ideas that I support are embraced by the Kerry/Edwards campaign. Although I didn't agree with everything, I agreed with most of it, and I have a lot of respect for the Congressman, particularly because he never once tried to make the election Naderesque, but rather just ran a decent campaign that appealed to progressive Democrats.

Rabid Reference Question #6

I hope that this question fits within your guide lines. And thanks for the offer of assistance!

Many -- a great many -- of Wal-Mart's employees make around $7.00 an hour. Also many of the Wal-Mart employees do not have health insurance. It would be great if Wal-Mart could pay at least $10/hr. and give health benefits.

How much would Wal-Mart's prices rise if they were to institute such a policy?

Many thanks in advance for any assistance

Bill McGown
On a bayou in Mississippi where it is VERY hot and muggy but otherwise wonderful

"Laws are like sausages. You sleep far better the less you know about how they are made."--Otto Von Bismarck

Dear Bill:

I'm sorry it's taken me a little while to get back to you (you should have been question #2, but it was a little more involved than most. I'm not sure this has been a total success, because I don't have a direct answer, really. I must say I now have learned a lot about Wal-Mart that I did not know before, beyond the usual concerns of giant retailers driving out the 'little guys', so thank you for your question. I had no idea just how many controversies Wal-Mart was involved in, from child labour violations to gender discrimination, to sweatshops and overseas exploitation.

I cannot give you a definite answer per se but below please find some sites that relate to your question. Specifically, I haven't found in any of my sources (and I'm sure they're out there, I just don't have access to them, but your local public or academic library probably does--I don't subscribe to business indices, unfortunately) what Wal-Mart pays per employee for its health plan or what specific percentage of employees take advantage of the plan. If you look through the sites below, you can tell how many employees there are (over 1.3 million associates) and the average pay ($8.23/hr). Also, the Workers World link below does indicate that a majority of employees do not participate in the plan, and that it would cost about 20% of their wages to do so, whereas Responsible Wealth reports that

Wal-Mart workers pay double the share of health costs as the average Fortune 500 company (40% compared with 20%), according to the Institute for Southern Studies, who also found that taxpayers spend an average of $420,750 to subsidize the average Wal-Mart store through welfare programs used by employees.

At 3,200 stores in the US, that's $1,346,400,000 in welfare subsidies.

Wal-Mart Statistics
Wal-Mart Benefits
Everyday Low Wages: The Hidden Price We All Pay for Wal-Mart
Wal-Mart's Magic Numbers
Wal-Mart Profits While We Pay the Bill
Wal-Mart foes detail costs to community
UFCW 770
Case Watch
Workers World
Responsible Wealth

However, the question as stated is how much prices would rise if they were to be paid $10 an hour and received full benefits. I'm afraid that would be very much up to how Wal-Mart implemented such an increase. At this point--and let me make this clear--we leave the territory where I'm a reference librarian, and go into speculative blogging. Now, I'm not an oeconomist, and I'm not that great at math, either, so take what follows with a heap of salt, because it's not taking into account all the variables an expert would. In the fiscal year ending in 2003, worldwide sales were (as reported on their website $244.5 billion. If you raise average to $10/hr (not everyone, but at least a start), that's an average $1.27 increase. For 1.3 million people, if you assumed 40 hours per week (which, admittedly many associates do not receive), that would be an extra $31.43 billion per year. Without the concrete numbers on benefits, you could estimate by adding in the money listed above as welfare subsidies, since if the company were taking care of its workers, they would be paying instead of the taxpayer. That brings the total to $3.278 billion dollars. I don't know Wal-Mart's margin of profit, but it's got to be better than, say, the 50% I've received as a small business retailer ordering goods. The increase in outlay is about 1.34% of total sales, anyway. Some retailers could probably do that without actually raising prices. But whether Wal-Mart would is anybody's guess, although I think many would express doubt.

A little bit of irony, by the way...I received this question a little after talking to an aunt and uncle whose town is eagerly awaiting the opening of a store because they really don't have much else in terms of employment (small town, deep South). My uncle is hoping to get on as a greeter. Of course, he's retired, and maybe doesn't need the same benefits as a young mother with children, for example. Also, that same day I was in Wal-Mart (I live a block or two away from one) and overheard associates discussing the fact that they were not signed up for health plan. Now, I think I understand why. Also, I find it interesting that back when I could afford to contribute to my retirement, the main fund I had was specifically supposed to be a 'socially responsible and aware', and it included Wal-Mart. I wonder if that is still the case? I had to cash that out last year, at a loss, actually, so I guess I can at least say I didn't profit from my time as a shareholder. :) But I think I'll have to rethink shopping there.

I also have a better appreciation for where I work. Sure, the pay is substandard compared to other libraries, but I could have a baby for a total of $10, any hospitalisation is covered 100%, medicines and exams have relatively small co-pays, and I pay something like $20/month for my medical and dental combined.

PS I grew up in Louisiana, so I understand the appeal of bayou country. I saw something the other day here which looked like a very spindly cypress and had a pang of memory, of the good old days of popping water hyacinth, mosquitoes the size of birds, avoiding 'stickers' (Bermuda grass), playing with crawdads, running from bobcats, pretending to fish with coke can tabs, and falling off a cypress ledge and fortunately not into a nest of cottonmouths (I don't know how we survived childhood before they started putting safety everything on kids). Oh, and then there was an alligator (Old George, I think they called him) who would be taken to the south of the state and let loose and then slowly walk himself back up to his lake until they decided to move him again. We were outside Shreveport, at Barksdale, so not quite the same as the lower part of the state, although I went to summer camps down near Baton Rouge. An odd environment, but I have to admit, sometimes, I miss the swamps. :)

Hmmm...an interesting artefact in Bolivia appearing to have proto-Sumerian text

As a post-script to the last post, the same site that reprinted the entire Economist article, naturally, given its name, explores other mysterious artefacts. So I stumbled on this Fuente Magna - Rosetta Stone of Americas

I haven't seen much online in terms of verifying or decrying the authenticity of the piece, although it was apparently originally dismissed as a fake.

I'm one of those people who walk a middle road on such matters--on the one hand, I believe it's easy to jump to conclusions, to put imagination over evidence, etc. There are a lot of crackpots out there, after all. But skepticism isn't necessarily based on truth, either, because in some ways 'science' is taken as much on faith as any other belief system. That which can be measured does not preclude the idea that there are things we do not have the capability or understanding to quantify. I was always taught that a true scientist does not become hidebound in her theories, but searches for new methods of discovery. I also believe that academia's penchant for specialities sometimes precludes a search for truth. After all, if something is true, then archaeology, history, and geology should agree, although admittedly it is usually our interpretations, subject to human failings, that cloud our understanding.

So, these things interest me--both sides of the debate do, in fact. I thought you might want to take a look, too.

Rabid Reference Question #5

Dear Rabid Librarian:

What is the Antikythera Mechanism?

--A Reader

Dear Reader:

The Antikythera Mechanism is a device found in the early part of the last century off the coast of the island of Antikythera. Its bronze gears indicate that it may have been used as an astronomical calculating device. Others suggest that it may have been a model for the epicyclic motion of planets. It appears to date from around 80 BCE. Its existence has caused scientists to re-think ancient technology.

Here are some links about the device:

A history of the device
Pictures of the assembly
The Economist
Animations of the Mechanism
A Longer Version of The Economist Article as it Appeared in Print

There are some books you might want to check at your local library or order through stores. Among them:

  1. James, Peter and Nick Thorpe. Ancient Inventions, 1995. (This is an excellent book which I used to have, until I loaned it to a classmate. Must re-order at some point!)
  2. Price, Derek. Gears from the Greeks: the Antikythera mechanism--a calendar computer from ca. 80 BC, 1975.
  3. Murray, Charles. Human accomplishment: the pursuit of excellence in the arts and sciences, 800 BC to 1950, 2003.


Two things happened on Wednesday afternoon that were just wonderful.

1) I went to the doctor. Now, you're probably thinking, 'and this is good...why?' Well, Dr N is the first doctor I've ever had who

  • Is very much a plus size himself--although he's lost 60 lbs since March on South Beach, had the notches on the belt to prove it.
  • Put me immediately at ease with his manner and his Canadian accent.
  • Never had me even sit on the damn table and instead used it to draw on when explaining stuff.
  • Who did the entire exam without having me take my clothes off, because he has a nifty stethescope that has a battery that can pick up the sounds through clothing.
  • Who, upon hearing that my last doctor had declared that 'we treat ulcers and heartburn the same way' (thereby ignoring the 80% of people who have H. pylori infections that cause ulcers) guffawed and then wrote the order to have my tested.
  • Who took the time to explain the difference between good and bad cholesterol, and was so on top of it he included an explanation of the brand-spanking-new recommendations that came out this week.
  • Who immediately set up neurology and gynoecology appointments for me--in essence, really coordinating my care, which is what I really need.
  • Who gave me a sheet with everything clearly printed out, with prescriptions to help with the swelling and also with the hirsutism caused by the polycystic (what, you mean I don't have to shave?)
  • But most importantly...looked me straight in the eye, treated me as a person rather than a number and said, 'The first thing we need to work on is a change of how you think about yourself. No one can tell you what weight you should be at, what your numbers should be. What matters is getting you to a point where you feel healthy, where you have the energy to do what you want in life.'

And that, folks, is truly priceless. Want a great physician who treats the whole person and live in the Lexington area? Dr N is your man. Feel free to drop me a line for specific glowing recommendation. He's also the only one in the practice, and his staff were quite nice, too. And thanks, D for referring me.

The second great thing was I went with five friends to see Auntie Mame at the Kentucky Theatre summer classics series. Cheap fun, but also one of my all-time favourite movies (as opposed to the dreadful remake, Mame). Rosalind Russell was even more vivacious on the big screen, and I noticed details I'd never seen in video (like the sheer amount of garden gnomes at Upson Downs). It was really quite magical. Four of us had seen the movie before, although never in the theatre. Two were complete Auntie Mame virgins. I enjoyed every minute of it, and I'm not afraid to admit it...I was once so Agnes Gooch (but I think I am finally discovering my bust!) It left me wanting to 'Live! Live! Live!' to the fullest. They just don't make films like that anymore.

A quiz related to one of my favourite book series

And you know, somehow I knew I would be Barney.

Results...: You are Barney!

Which 'The Dark Is Rising' Sequence Main Character Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Okay, I don't get it...

What's with all the 'remakes' of movies or series where the lead is played by a minority? I'm thinking things like 'Walking Tall' or 'The Manchurian Candidate' or even 'Wild, Wild West'. Now Kojak? These are immensely talented actors in their own right, and I'd hate to think that things in Hollywood were so bad that they could not get good movie deals on their own without some sort of 'revisioning' of something that's already been done. What's next? A black 'Man of Steel'? I'm not saying it's wrong, per se, and it wouldn't preclude me from watching, but it's almost like some sort of blaxploitation trend. For the record, I'd love to see Ving Rhames or Will Smith or Denzel Washington or Dwayne Johnson or a score of other entertainers in their own movies. Or, for that matter, more original material in movies in general, as I'm really getting tired of all the remakes of things from my childhood, whether it be the Brady Bunch, Starsky & Hutch, Scooby-Doo, or Charlies Angels. Can't anyone come up with anything new these days?

Ananova - Ving Rhames to be the new Kojak

Things you never expect zoos to have to do

Ananova - Shy moose given assertiveness training

Upright walking a sign of brain changes?

Ananova - Monkey starts walking like a human

Of course, this will probably set off a flurry of studies where scientists try to replicate the brain damage in Natasha, and I don't think that's really necessary.

Oh, yay

This is going to make life a lot easier for people with food allergies.

Food labels to list allergens

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Sometimes taking things from the library gets you more than just fined

Former Security Advior under Clinton Sandy Berger is being investigated for taking classified documents from the National Archives (and in some cases destroying them). The investigation has apparently been going on for awhile, but it has only been recently leaked to the press, causing hoopla on both sides of the political fence.
CNN.com - Berger says he made 'honest mistake' - Jul 21, 2004

I can see taking something out in a briefcase, or even a pocket. But if it turns out he did stuff things into his socks and in a variety of different hiding spots, that's going to be very, very bad for Berger, and I'd say rightly so, if the allegations are proven. (Hey, just because I'm a Democrat doesn't mean I'm slavish about it. Politicians acting badly should get their comeuppance regardless of party.)

Interesting, but after seeing the movie yesterday, a little creepy :)

BBC NEWS | Technology | Robots get bookish in libraries

Little worker drones busily reshelving books, shelf-reading, detecting missing books, even digitising books...hmmm; fortunately the true worth of librarians is very hard to build into a machine, so I don't think we have to worry about replacement. But visions of killer robots trying to make the library absolutely efficient do spring to mind. :)

Meanwhile, I'm not sure how I feel about the comment about the library being a 'perfect environment' for robots. How does that reflect on us? :)

People are silly

IMDb :: Boards :: I, Robot (2004) Take special note of the grammar discussion, which ensues ad nauseum despite the fact that you can't reason with the irrational. Also, it amazes me how many people comment about what they think a movie is going to be like based on very short trailers, and often have no intention of seeing the movie before making up their minds. Reminds me of all those silly parents convinced Harry Potter will lead their precious little ones into witchcraft who never crack open a page.

By the way, I saw I, Robot, and I enjoyed it immensely (okay, the surfing away from the explosion with cat firmly under arm was a bit much, but otherwise....) I won't get into any disputes about how closely the movie follows the book, because frankly I cannot remember anything beyond the Three Laws, or for that matter, whether I read the stories in the first place or not. It was a long, long time ago, if at all. Besides, it isn't really meant to be a faithful adaptation, but rather is 'inspired' by Asimov's work.

Favourite quotes: 'You just have to die!'; 'Don't make me call your grandmother.' I have also decided that if we are ever presented with something like the freeway scene in our Cthulhu game, it's time to just piss our pants and run.

What I did like about the movie...it deals with prejudice, and how that prejudice was used (banked on, actually) to bring about the events of the movie. The fact that the prejudiced character is played by Will Smith, who is black, helps underscore the issues playing out in the background, such as slavery, revolution, dismissive trust, and sentience--things that all played into the racial history of our culture, but applied to a new form of life. It also examines the problems when life is so unbalanced as to be strictly logical or strictly emotional, and how some prefer the logical, less-human messiness because it is somehow safer, while others fear that the logic lacks a soul. True life, true art, I think the movie is saying, requires an infusion of both, plus a little faith. I saw the movie surrounded by a lot of pre-teen or early teen boys, and although they probably came for the special effects (which use CGI without being so blatantly CGI, for which I'm grateful), I heard them passing plot points and motives around, and they 'got' the full ramifications of what was going on, so even though there's quite a good jumping point in terms of philosophy and what makes us human and sentient, it wasn't lost on them.

I rather like how Will Smith has taken roles and 'made' them his own, infusing his personality and humour without it grating. In Wild, Wild, West it was totally anachronistic, but it was also campy 'Steam Punk' style alternative history, and wasn't meant to be taken seriously. In this, it's a much more serious film, albeit science fiction (although his manner does help keep the tension from building too quickly to climax.) But you could see a man with his beliefs and incredibly weird luck bucking the system everyone else believes in. He also seems to be able to get naked in his movies and make it work. :) In this one, there is a rather...breath-taking shower scene, completely non-sexual, but I do admire the man's physique.

And although it was slightly tangential and could easily have been left out, I rather like his interchanges with the adoring white kid who goes into the hip-hop mode and just gets told to stop cussing, because he isn't good at it, and go on home where it's safe. :) If a kid is actually raised in a neighbourhood where everyone talks that way, it's one thing. When nice little surburbanites start wearing their pants down to their knees, gesticulating all over the place, and using 'yos' and 'homies' a lot, it's silly, and a bit pathetic. Oh, and I wouldn't take on the grandmother for anything. That lady would whip them all into shape.

One last thing, before going to bed. The CGI was lovely, but because my brain works in sloppy, bizarre ways, I had for a moment an image after coming out of the movie of what a 'Sonny'/'Gollum' hybrid would be like, and it was really quite disturbing--really. Shiver.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

And more on the trilogy

Thunder in the Roots: A Trilogy

I definitely want to read this.

Okay, I hadn't forgotten, this was the last 'to post'

on the list.

But then I read Aaron's blog and my exasperation came back to the forefront.

I regularly donate blood about twice a year. I've always considered it a public duty (the only time I every forged my mom's signature was to donate when I was 17; I had her oral permission and was away at college, forgetting I needed it in writing), especially as I have O+ blood (almost universal donor, except for the Rh factor) and somehow managed to avoid anything that would defer me permanently from donating. I am also, by the way, on the National Marrow Donor Registry. I believe that it's important to donate, because you very well could save lives.

Now here's the hard part. I, like several other family members, am
latex allergic. This means that I am allergic to materials made from the rubber tree, including natural latex gloves and a whole plethora of equipment in the medical world. Latex allergy can range from eczema and hives to full blown anaphylaxis and death. Exposure to latex can increase your chances of adverse reactions. In terms of allergy, it tends to be on the severe side, say, along with peanut and shellfish or beesting allergies. Many people with latex allergy carry epinepherine with them in case they have a life-threatening reaction. No one can predict whether or not someone having relatively 'mild' reactions will one day go into shock. For that reason, people with latex allergy are told to avoid it as much as possible, to alert medical personnel, and educate themselves. Websites like the one above and various groups have spent the last few years educating people and companies about latex allergy. The incidence of latex allergy blossomed quickly after medical personnel started using latex gloves to help protect against HIV and other blood-borne diseases. Latex allergy is most prevalent among healthcare workers, plant workers where latex products are made, people with certain urinary or spinal disorders (especially spina bifida), people with multiple surgeries, or people (like my family) with multiple allergies. In addition, certain foods can cross-react with latex allergies (it's one of the reasons I can't eat melons anymore, although I'm okay with bananas, which are probably the number one fruit that's an issue).

It used to be there was just not much info out there to protect us. But OSHA issued warnings about this several years ago, and theoretically, most workplaces (at least in healthcare) should have a clue by now. In fact, ignoring it could bring about legal liability for anyone not treating their workers right.

Which is where I get to this rant. Aaron works for the same organisation where I give blood. When I gave a few weeks ago, they, as usual, were woefully unprepared for a latex-allergic donor on the bloodmobile. They sometimes have a few small gloves, but very rarely. So, I had picked up a tourniquet and gloves from our lab in the hospital (since we treat spina bifida, we are very cognisant about latex and even ban latex balloons in the hospital). I always forget, though, that there are two people who have to use the gloves...the person who checks my iron level and the actual phlebotomist.

Well, I have actually had the finger-stick people forgo gloves before, in order to protect me, although technically they could be risking themselves. This time I pointed out that I take my blood sugar for my diabetes anyway, so I'm used to sticking myself, and we worked out something where I did the fingerstick and filled up the tube, and then the person donned latex gloves to handle the tube and lancet, but didn't touch me. However, it is a somewhat different fingerstick, requiring more blood than a glucometre, so she had to talk me through it.

Then, when I got to the actual blood draw, I saw a woman putting on gloves and told her I was latex allergic and it turns out she is too. The gloves she was putting on weren't latex, or nitrile. They were COTTON. They went down to her knuckles and were worn under LATEX gloves to help protect her skin...but it really wasn't proper protection. The idea of a latex allergic person being required to handle latex materials every day as part of his or her job when the organisation should certainly be aware of the health risks and liability of such is mind-boggling. I don't think they were given much (if any) training on handling latex allergy at all. Theoretically, I take a chance going into a bloodmobile (which is a closed environment with iffy air circulation) because the latex proteins can become airbourne. But I do it only a couple of times a year. If I could feel more comfortable giving blood in a latex-free environment, I'd probably do it every couple of months. It should not be a matter of taking your life into your own hands to help others, when it is much easier today to avoid latex in terms of medical supplies. However, latex-free materials are generally more expensive, or at least have been. Perhaps a higher demand will drive the priced down. And when it comes to it, I think money is the issue with the organisation.

Our lab supervisor had suggested I use a comment card, but I didn't see any. I think an actual letter may be in order instead.

In the meantime, if any of you are latex allergic, please educate yourself on the dangers of this allergy and the ways you can protect yourself. And keep in mind, latex isn't just found in the medical field. It's all around us. One special area for which there isn't a lot of research is practising safer sex for the latex allergic. I've written an article [.pdf file!] addressing that elsewhere.

Rabid Reference Question #4

Dear Rabid Librarian:

There was a book I read when I was younger, a children's book that I seem to recall was green and may have won a children's book award. There was a map inside, and illustrations, but it was a chapter book. It involved a girl who shrinks down to the size of ants. There are some ants that smell like cinnamon, and some that smell like vanilla. I seem to think there was also a beetle, or perhaps a dragonfly (the dragonfly is iffy). The ants were black and red. The girl has to find an opal that figures in the plot. I never got to finish the book. Can you find it for me?--Desperately Seeking This Bit from My Childhood

Dear Desperately Seeking:

These are the questions that you'd think would be easy to answer (because of all those nice keywords) but in fact can thwart the librarian. However, in this case, I think the book to which you are referring is:

Knee-Deep in Thunder by Sheila Moon

There are two related books, Hunt Down the Prize and Deepest Roots. A girl named Maris travels to the Great Land where she rides on a dog-sized beetle in an underground land in search of a mysterious stone. The books incorporate Navajo mythology. It's never stated that she's shrunk but the insects are in proportion to her size. She befriends a red ant and also encounters a catepillar and a tutelary spirit called the Mantid. In the later books she returns to the Great Land with a companion, Zeke, and her dog. Does this sound right?

By the way, after I found this, I came across a wonderful site with a 'Stump the Bookseller' form for just such questions, and the solutions. (I'll keep that handy for future reference.) Also, another great place to look is the Novelist database, if you have access to it through your local public library (ours has it, for example, and if you put in your library card # and PIN, you can search as if you were at the library).

It sounds like an enchanting series, akin to one of my favourites, Susan Cooper's Dark is Rising, in terms of weaving mythology into the story.

I'm curious if the immunity is wearing off

or if this is the result of all those years where parents, concerned about immunisation hysteria--particularly having to do with the pertussis vaccine, which can cause physical reactions--might have found loopholes in school requirements for immunisation records, etc. Remember, it wasn't so long that parents ago that parents were holding 'chicken pox' parties to expose their kids rather than take what was a feared immunisation, even though the complications (including death) for the disease far outweighed any from the shot.

Whooping Cough concerns prompt the FDA to consider a teen booster

I don't normally condone bombing

But this could have saved so many lives

60 years ago, Count Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg and others attempted to assassinate Adolf Hitler in a coup attempt to oust the dictator. Stauffenberg and several other army officers were shot within hours. Hundreds of other men and women linked to the plot were later executed or sent to concentration camps.
For more on the plot, including comments a survivor of the plot, check out Expatica.

From another area of the world where coal is a hard, dangerous job

my condolences and prayers.

Death toll rises to 31 in Ukraine mine blast; fire hampers rescue efforts

I'm waiting for cries of the 'mark of the beast'

But I think the idea that every person on the planet could have his or her own domain address to be, well, neat-o.

New Technology Heralds Unlimited Web Sites

Ever wanted to study Sumerian?

ETCSL: The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature

This is quite nifty

Colophon Blog 1976design.com

The panorama at the top changes with the time of day, weather, and moon phase to mimic the actual view from the author's parents' home. This includes sheep milling about. The page explains how the panorama was made. As Random mentions in his blog, 'Only in England.'

Though I must say, I rather miss the sheep on the family farm. Well, and the farm, since it was sold over 10 years ago. :( So virtual farm panoramas are actually a bit intriguing.

Monday, July 19, 2004

You've got to love someone who considers himself an expert on Modesty Blaise. :)

Random, a member of Twenty Questions.

His website is called Random Incident and will go onto the sidebar under 'nifty blogs'.

This is new

Ask me a question. Really.

Hmpf, okay, maybe I'm just feeling a little testy...

Apparently, they've instituted a policy where you can search inside the book at Amazon--but only if you provide verifiable credit card info. They say you won't be charged, but I don't really see much reason in giving my credit card info--on top of my normal account info--just to view a quote. I've ordered from Amazon, proven I'm a real person (since I paid them), but they need extra proof to keep publisher's happy? Hmpf. I don't know if it's a general thing or just for the book I was looking in (some reference books obviously won't let you search, since they were meant to be bought to look up quick bits of info, but this was a book where I was trying to determine how well a diet would work for a vegetarian, came up with only one mention of the word within it, so I was wondering how it dealt with vegetarianims. Ironically, I'm trying to compare various vegetarian-friendly, diabetes-friendly diets, and my friend Brenda has had very good success on Sugar Busters!, the book I was looking in. :)

For now, Ithink I'll stick with my Dean Ornish book and I've read enough about nutrition and the glycaemic index to work things out. As one reviewer put it, just about any diet works on keeping down portions, keeping down empty calories, and getting a decent amount of exercise, anyway. :)

Just one more reason why television is silly

ABC, NBC accuse Fox of stealing ideas for shows

The sad thing is the 'reality' show concept--or unreality, as the case may be, usually means lame shows anyway, but they're cheaper to produce (and copy) then coming up with an original dramatic series. Also, women are portrayed and minorities are portrayed pretty well on scripted series, but not in reality shows. Maybe the executives should wake up and realise that the truly innovative shows are mostly on cable, or in syndication.

Give me cable, or give me nothing.

It's not just gross, it's unhygenic

Squashing Mosquitoes Could Make You Ill


I woke up this morning dreaming about waking up next to someone and caressing his nipple with my tongue.  Which  in and of itself is not so bad, except it happened to be one of those 'kind of like X, but not X' things you find in dreams and in this case X was someone I consider to be a brother.

And I say ew again.  The sad thing is that this is someone I once fell very hard for, then kind of went crazy because not only was it unrequited, but never possible at all (and here I always thought that only happened in fiction), and I have been quite comfortably thinking of him as a platonic family member for quite some time.  Never mind that the attraction was more an emotional bond rather than a sexual one (yes, there was a bit of that early on, but it was a very fleeting bit of infatuation.)  I suspect that when he reads this, it'll quite creep him out.  Sorry, I really don't think of you that way, but I think I have such a dearth of available males about (um...none, actually) that I had to put someone's face in.  Sigh.  Maybe I should tap into the regional collective infatuation network and work Orlando Bloom's face in instead. :)

'Twas the night before the workweek and all through the house...

it has gotten very, very quiet. Spock is asleep under a chair behind me. Darius is in my laundry basket. Cerys is tucked into a blanket near her food dish that is serving as a sleeping annex in case the cats might want to steal her food. It's before 1 am and I'm poised for going to bed at what is actually a reasonable hour. Life is good. Now, just one game of Freecell before retiring...really, just one. ;) Well, I do feel a bit peckish, and my sugar seems low, so perhaps I should eat something beyond the carrots I had, what, 3 hours ago?

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Politics of Language

Via: Immutably Me (who was not amused).

What do you think about this ad? (it's a video clip).

I actually have to admit, I laughed. Yes, it's a bunch of stereotypes strung together...akin to saying that the French are xenophobic shits (which isn't true, I'm just saying, stereotypes work both ways.) But it was well-done. Also, keep in mind, I'm a 'stupid American', and here it's all based on colour, with very little on nationality per se, so I don't think we quite grasp the gravity of Phonic, Cultural, and Nationalistic Protectionalism. Well, unless we're on the lunatic fringe who want all the immigrants--illegal and legal--thrown out and practically want to cut Spanish from the air before it can sully our Anglophone ears (despite the fact that the USA as a whole has no 'official' language, although not for lack of trying).

I think it would make a lovely college classroom exercise in fallatious arguments or how statistics can be used to make anything SOUND true (or yes, even how advertisers can use words to make the customer think whatever they like).

I also think it also says more about Anglophobes than anything else. ;)  Of course, I've always been more interested in descriptive rather than proscriptive linguistics, and think that anyone who takes language too seriously needs to lighten up (but at the same time, spelling and grammar is important in business, education, and, well, just making sure people don't laugh at you).

Of course, I'm not sure this was meant for wide-distribution (one commentor said that it was a demo), but I do know it would never be shown in the US because we're so terribly prudish in terms of suggested sexual content (a bed! shaking! with a shoe! off!) but kids can watch things get blown away without anyone batting an eye.   Ah the joys of living in a multicultural world--and I wouldn't have it any other way, although maybe I should be boning up on my French (I can read it, for the most part, due to my Latin, but my pronunciation sucks because I'm thwarted by nasals, just like when I took Sanskrit)--Canada is looking like a nice place to live.  I wonder how they are on librarians?
Also, I think it's interesting that the same person offended by the ad seems to have no compunction about equating the USA and the actions of our addle-pated politicians with the people of the country.  Don't blame me, I voted for the winner of the popular vote...it's all the electoral system's fault.

This is sort of like the Reach Out and Read project in which I participate

Give a child that magical First Book.


I just came in from letting Cerys out, and a question hit me (yes, it has before, but I forget to write it down)...

If aliens came to earth, what would they make of the loud, unnerving (for many) sound made by cicadas or the phosphorescence of lightning bugs?

Even as a child I loved these two insects, collecting cast-off cicada exoskeletons or catching and releasing fireflies. But you have to admit, they're rather odd.

Anyway, I was basking in the glow and the sound tonight. I find it hilarious that people were acting like Martians were invading when the first cicadas of the year starting arriving in droves. I was pretty sure they didn't eat crops, etc. and indeed, adults, like mayflies, are all about mating rather than eating. For more on cicadas, try the Cicada FAQ.

PS I know I write about bugs a lot. I like bugs...always have. I wanted to be an entomologist (although I also love entymology) when I grew up, and did a 4-H project (modified, as I didn't want to actually kill the critters) on insects when I was about 9 or 10. I've always been fascinated with the world they encounter (which must be very different from ours, where a pebble is a hill and a rock is a mountain...it's like Flatland in action. I was the only kid in the neighbourhood who would calmly let a mud dauber fly onto her and walk around (because I knew that they were unlikely to sting, and even less likely if you just stayed still rather than flap around). This, along with punching the nose of a particularly annoying bully who was picking on a 4-year-old and getting banned from one yard for pretending to be pregnant with a doll up my shirt (I was 9, how was I to know the other kids didn't know where babies came from?), were my main claims to fame with the neighbourhood kids.

What happened to the moon?

(Appropriately enough under dark of the moon...)

I used to have the following module on the sidebar: Moon Phases :: Calendars

but I've repalced in in favour of the Navy's because I've noticed discrepancy with the former and my own observation; I don't know if it's a calculation glitch or what, but I found the new link, and as a Pagan, the correct phase of the moon is important for me to know...I use it as a reminder, even though I'm pretty aware as to where it is when I'm out, too. By the way, you can also follow that link and plug in any date from 1800-2199 and get the moon phase, so say, you want to know the moon phase for a birth or event (great for those of you who play Werewolf and need to know an auspice).

The Brunching Shuttlecocks have technically moved on to other things

but it's still really, really fun to play with the archive.  Perhaps someday Hell will freeze over, and we'll get a return of the 'Weather in Hell', which is currently stuck on raining eyeballs.

The Weather in Hell

  In the meantime. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you...

Gaydar the Magnificent
PS Speaking of Hell, I was talking with a friend the other day, and we decided that every couple should celebrate a 'Mark of the Beast' Anniversary (the gift is Meat).  That is the sixth year, six month, sixth day.  I had been listening to the radio about how the days of each month that match the month's number 1/1, 2/2, 3/3, etc. had a certain name that escapes me now, and then we were talking about his next anniversary and somehow the 666 anniversary came up.  Mind you, this is what happens when you get a Pagan and a Jew with odd senses of humour together. :)  I never made it to mine, which would have been April 25, 1992 (I left with four months to go, and the divorce was final less than a month before that date.)  But then, there was something hellish about that whole thing, for all involved.
Anyway, my theory is that if you can get past that, you're doing pretty darn well as a couple, and should applaud yourselves and go out for a nice anniversary dinner.  And if meat isn't your thing, try some of that canned vegetable-protein substitute, which is unholy in and of itself (and that's from a vegetarian)!

By the way, another fun site that isn't updated but is still up is More Weather in Hell from the movie Little Nicky.

Thank goodness I don't have these problems in real life

listening to: 'One Thing' by Finger Eleven
feeling: Productive 
One of the special things about our Cthulhu game is that it has depth, ethics, and a sense of sacrifice to it.  This goes way beyond chopping up tentacled things in the sewers (yes, Hellboy was an excellent movie for gamers).
No...every week we deal with trying to protect humans from eldritch horrors (and sometimes, themselves) with very little thanks from the world (who, after all, is not supposed to know about what we do, in order to protect their sanity).  But I can live with that.  We, all, so to speak, 'signed up for the Corps'.
No, the complicated thing is to minimise collateral damage to the innocents.  Our characters are not allowed to kill humans--or at least humans who have not given themselves over to the 'Dark side except in self-defence, and only if it can't be avoided.  We can't kill with our enchanted mystical blades at all, without having a feedback that literally will enforce those vows.
Unfortunately the bad guys have no such code.  So whilst we were slowing trying to gain information to prevent one of our own who had been taken over as an avatar of the Haunter in the Dark form of Nyarlothotep, we got an unexpected twist.  The character's wife, who was caring for her own children and some of the rest of our character's, was kidnapped, along with all but one of the children.  They are meant to be sacrifices for the Starry Widom cult within a couple of weeks, when 'the stars are right' and a comet hangs in the sky.  So, we know where Ash is, and therefore where the children will most likely be taken,  but we can't move because with his powers he could literally make us stop breathing before we could even get near him.  Also, if saving the world wasn't enough incentive, there are now six children's lives hanging in the balance, including two of my characters'.  Sigh.  The only good news?  A wraith whose entire existence is to preserve the Trevanian family line is inside the evil's headquarters and she has two of her descendants and one cousin on the way there, because the kids are related to her.  Go, Rowan!
Stepping outside of the game, I know most of this won't make sense to some of you, although those who have gamed and those familiar with HP Lovecraft will get it.  And so will the other three in our game.  As an aside, Dee was able to come back and play (she's been on hiatus for school) just in time to put her science character to work coming up with astronomical alignments.  Much better than answering the phone in the background for several months. :)
Anyway, I'm home now.  I've fed the animals, cleaned the cat boxes, taken out the trash, swept the floors, and put cleaner in the toilet bowl.  In other words, weekend chores.  I'll mop in a little while, but for now I think I'm going to go look at a book of artwork that one of the hospital volunteers brought in because she knew I liked ancient Aegypt.  It's a collection done by David Roberts, a Scottish artist, and has delicately coloured lithographs painted before much of the Aegyptian artefacts were plundered by the West.  She belongs to a book club and got a very nice deal.  I'll have to ask her if she can still order one, because it would literally save $100 and it's a lovely book for anyone interested in the subject.  (It's also in a Harrods Knightsbridge bag, which thrills the Anglophile who never has escaped the former Colonies). :)  She included a photo album of her own trip to Cairo and the surrounding area and the captions show quite a puckish humour, including a comment on infidel tourists getting in the way of Muslim worship (they also got in the way of several otherwise splendid shots, particularly of mosques).
Oh...one last thing.  It's hard to believe, but Brenda was dropped off by her 17-year-old today, who was the first child (outside my family) where I knew the mom whilst in the baby was in the womb and kept contact with the family over time--he was born in 1987.  I was 20 years old and starting my junior year of college.  I was up during the summer for the first time and going to SCA events with friends.  I remember how uncomfortably pregnant Brenda was for Border Wars that year.  That wasn't too long ago.  Really.   Was it? This bothers me a bit.  Where did the years go, anyway? 

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Every just don't have time to actually read?

Try Book-A-Minute!

13 Essential Songs for Driving

listening to: Relaxed
feeling: Once More, With Feeling (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the Musical)

The following are things I love to crank up and sing my heart to during driving. Oddly enough, most people probably wouldn't identify them with me--but they strike a chord with me (pun not intended) anyway.

13. Another Brick in the Wall by Pink Floyd
12. New Year's Day by U2
11. Cecelia by Simon & Garfunkel
10. Something in the Air Tonight by Phil Collins (yeah, I confess, I own the 'Miami Vice' soundtrack)
9. Unforgiven by Metallica
8. Enemy Within by Rush (my Cthulhu character Rosalind's song)
7. Enjoy the Silence by Depeche Mode
6. Jack and Diane by John Cougar Mellencamp
5. Under the Bridge by the Red Hot Chili Peppers (hey, it's about heroin and LA, but I love it)
4. Relax by Frankie Goes to Hollywood (pure sex, pure dance)
3. Play That Funky Music, White Boy by Wild Cherry (David Duchovny and Orlando Jones, 'nough said)
2. Paint it Black by The Rolling Stones

and most importantly...

1. American Pie by Doug McLean

For Brenda

What if the Tolkien classic had been written by someone else?

Alternative Lord of the Rings
The Ernest Hemingway version truly sent me back to my most hated book ever, The Old Man and the Sea.  Okay, maybe I was young and couldn't really appreciate it.  But then, I never could abide Tolkien's prose either, although I love his stories and the genre that owes so much from them.

Speaking of Battlestar Galactica

What happened to the black people?

They've 're-envisioned' the series. I'll try not to judge it before I see it, but BG was my favourite childhood TV series, and we've already gone through the travesty that was 'Galatica 1980'.

So I'm looking at the new 'Galactica'. Adama is played by excellent actor Edward James Olmos (whose voice might actually make-up for a lack of Lorne Greene). Baltazar --> Baltar who looks like he'll make a good evil guy who maybe has more depth than in the original series. Starbuck's a woman...okay, I can deal with that...no one short of a young Dirk Benedict was truly going to be Starbuck for me, so it's good to have a different kind of character entirely. Boomer is an Asian woman. The original names have become nicknames. Okay. Tigh is a white guy...wait, actually, it took some digging, but I finally found a petty officer who will be on the bridge. I do believe casting should be fairly colour-blind, but one of the things I liked about Battlestar Galactica (and the British shows from the seventies I loved--Space: 1999 and The Tomorrow People) was an attempt to give a truly multicultural feel. I think if I were casting a show that represented humanity, I'd put in a good mix of actors from all sorts of backgrounds--including indigenous Americans, Indians, and others you don't see as much, in a non-caracatured way. But, hey, I'm not a casting director, so more good actors and actresses will have to claw their way up the top without my help. :)

Area hospitals brace for mass swooning

As filming for Cameron Crowe's Elizabethtown (2005) has begun in nearby Versailles (for those of you unintiated to the weirdness that is Kentucky, it's pronounced...and yes...I cringe...'Ver-SALES'). The movie stars Orlando Bloom, Kirsten Dunst, and Susan Sarandon, so you can imagine that fans are swooning, or at least appreciating a little glow from Hollywood (the last movie that drew this much attention was Seabiscuit, filmed in part at Keeneland Race Track, starring Tobey Maguire. The cast and crew are staying here in Lexington, so there's been a bit of celebrity-spotting (especially regarding Orlando Bloom, as you can imagine, who has literally set young friends into oohs of excitement with his looks, his accent, and apparently, his politeness (setting aside his lunch tray to shake hands and introduce himself, etc.)

Sigh. Okay, most of the swooning is for the 9-12-year-old set, but I understand--I don't go wild for Orlando Bloom, but I do quite 'get' his appeal. And I don't have the least attraction to Ashton Kutcher, who was originally slated to be in the movie.

Give me a man with a British, Irish, or Virginia Tidewater accent any time, and like so many other American women, I turn to jelly. I was watching the premiere of Stargate: Atlantis last night and although I do quite like the lead male actor Joe Flanigan, the one that I just clicked with immediately was the Scottish Dr Carson Beckett (Paul McGillion).

Incidentally, I was immediately hooked by this show. I loved the movie Stargate, and have enjoyed what episodes of SG1 I've managed to watch (oh, to not have cable!), but this one made me want to truly be a part of the team. It has a lot of potential, all the good aspects of, say, Space: 1999 and ST: Voyager (marooned in another galaxy, encountering new friends and foes).   Unlike SG1's stark military-mission style, this is about scientific and diplomatic exploration, with a very organic feel.
I'm hoping to be able to watch it regularly (and get cable before the new Battlestar Galactica series comes out). Now that SciFi is on our basic cable system, it's well worth getting.

Friday, July 16, 2004

A joke from Dwana

A woman gets home, screeches her car into the driveway, runs into the house, slams the door and shouts at the top of her lungs: "Honey, pack your bags. I won the lottery!"
The husband says: "Oh my! What should I pack, beach stuff or mountain stuff?"
"Doesn't matter," she says. "Just get the hell out."
Okay, back to report writing.

Freak Out!

I'm sure my arachnophobic friends will grin at the payback of my going the bathroom this morning, changing the toilet paper, doing my business, and then noticing the smushed spider (I presume, from the legs, as it was no longer in any coherent articulation) in the bit of tissue I'd just used.  I like spiders.  I don't particularly like spiders ON me, and there were a few moments whilst I calculated whether the creature had been on the toilet paper or on me, and whether I'd killed it in using the paper (it's something I'm not supposed to do, at least on purpose, religion-wise, sort of like Jews not eating pork).
And before they say, 'I'm never coming into your house again!', it's an aberration, and for all I know it was in the roll from the store.
Second bit of freak-out:
So, I'm on my way to work, tooling down Beaver Creek Drive, and there is a pickup truck with a full-blown, stuffed DEER in the back, missing an ear, and without any sort of rack, so it may have been a doe.  Besides the mind-boggling cost of taxidermy, it just was too surreal.  Granted, I live in a state where many small newspapers print photos of the latest 'catch', with a proper record of points, but...this was just weird.  Not to mention, if the deer were taxidermied, I don't think anyone actually ate it, and that is a waste.  Even though I'm a vegetarian, I'm not entirely opposed to hunting--I just believe that if you kill it, you should be willing to eat it, and vice versa.  I'm surprised they didn't just tie it to the hood as some sort of ornament. Sheesh. 
PS I've been told by some acquaintances who are more familiar with deer hunting that it might be a target used for practice, since they can be very lifelike.  On the other hand, it seemed to have the fur of an actual deer, and it didn't seem to have holes or anything in it.  Any ideas? 
PPS It is indeed a deer target; I drove by on the way home and it's modular foam from the back, and less life-like.  Also I was informed that deer, like horses, have hair, not fur (although I thought technically people were the only ones who had hair; there's a question to research for myself). Still, it's probably like the difference between fruit and vegetables...tomatoes are technically fruit in the botanical sense, but they're recognised as a vegetable by most, that sort of thing.

And the 'reinventing the wheel' prize goes to?

Health Information - National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Some librarians are questioning why this was made on top of MedlinePlus at the National Library of Medicine (which is part of The National Institutes of Health. I figure someone decided the more ways you can get the information out there, the more likely somebody will stumble over it. But the new site describes MedlinePlus as a health database (which it does contain, but it really is a lot more), and doesn't mention that it is specifically geared towards consumers.

Granted, NIH did roll out PubMed after realising that the Entrez system that another department had come up with for searching for genetic research had better end-user capabilities than the old Grateful Med for searching MEDLINE, and the rest was history.
PS According to subsequent discussion, the mission of each page is different.  The NIH page exists to show the public the results of public funding for research, on a site clearly within the NIH, whereas MedlinePlus is for broader health information.
I think we as librarians are sometimes a little super-sensitive to anything where the library--a wonderful reference--might be looked over in favour of other depositories of information, especially given that we know the efforts put into our cataloguing, indexing, etc., and sometimes we assume that we do it best.  In truth, we probably do it better than most, and certainly the web's chaos would be easier to navigate with more librarians to whip it into shape, but we don't have a corner on the market. :)

Who would guess

That my blog would pop up with the following search?
Poor horny bastards...trust me, it's been waaay too long; I doubt you'll find anything of what you're looking for.  (But feel free to look around anyway.)
Okay, my feet are swollen again, and I think I have a chance of going to sleep relatively early tonigh, so I'm going to head on to bed. 'Night.


I love this song

And thanks to Kimsiz?, I know the band's actual name. Whenever I heard it on the radio, I thought they said, 'Finger Loving', which is a whole different visual. :)

It figures that the licence plate we love to hate

actually won Best License Plate Award for 2003.

WKYT 27 NEWSFIRST & WYMT Mountain News - Kentucky license plate wins top honors from national group

Mind you, it is a particularly customisable licence plate. I've seen stickers put over the smiley face to look like bullet holes or sunglasses (and that was a suggestion from the clerk's office!) I've tinkered with the notion of printing up some magnets to decorate it for holidays.

I used to have a licence plate that was one of the pay-more-for-charity ones that had a 'I care about kids' logo with...yes, a sun, as if drawn by a little kid. It helped fund child abuse prevention programmes. When I got this car, it already had the new plate. Somehow, the sun on my other plate didn't bother me. I think it's the Toontown (for those who remember Roger Rabbit) or breakfast cereal qualities that just make me want to gag. Well, that and the 'It's that friendly' logo. Fortunately, I don't really have to look at the one on my car that much, and they're now so ubiquitous that I ignore them on others.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Ooh, Blogger just keeps getting better, easier

New features include a compose-vs.-code screen with word processor-like formatting, and blogging via e-mail. Thanks, guys...I like. :)


I made an appointment with a new doctor today. He comes highly recommended by Dwana, who has known him personally and professionally for years. Among other things, he is very thorough and treats the whole person. Given my health issues (diabetes, acid reflux, polycystic ovarian syndrome, insulin resistance/metabolic syndrome, fibromyalgia, asthma, sleep apnea, allergies, and anxiety issues), I think it's important to have someone who will take time to deal with all of the issues and recognise that they interact. He also has specialties in family practice, general practice, emergency medicine, and neurology, so that's a pretty impressive background.

The last time I went for a checkup at the practice I normally go to, in October, I felt that it was rather cursory and aimed at just the basics--pap, bloodwork, and writing a prescription for any drugs I've been on. They seem rather symptom based rather than cause-based. For example, I was treated for an ulcer with Nexium with no mention of testing for H. pylori, which is now recognised to be the culprit in about 80% of cases. While it did improve for awhile, I think it was just a temporary fix. I'd rather go for the underlying problems. Also, since most of my issues are actually inter-related, I really feel they need to be treated that way.

Normally I have to be dragged to the doctor. But the last few days I've been having edema (swelling) in my joints, especially my ankles. For a fat woman, I normally have nicely shaped ankles, but they're bulging by midday up to 2 inches more in diametre, and are painful and make it difficult to walk. I've been soaking them in cool water and trying to elevate them. This has been going on for about four days now. Today, for example, I had to take my shoes off right after lunch, then came home, got in bed, elevated my feet and lost a good three hours or so that I could have been unpacking or doing housework. Sitting at the computer or driving around makes it worse. It only seems to be relieved if I can prop a pillow under my knees. Even once the swelling went down, the pain stayed. I have to admit, I just feel blah. I do occasionally have trouble with swelling, especially in the summer, but not usually this bad. My diet really hasn't changed in terms of salt, etc., but I have been eating more wheat, dairy, and eggs--foods I'm allergic to but can usually tolerate. My blood pressure has been checked recently and it's been normal. Given the hormonal issues I have and the fact that I should be ovulating, I rather wonder if I didn't this month, leading to Progesterone Low or Estrogen Dominance, which can cause edema, osteoporosis, and irregular periods. If that's the case, it might be alleived with progesterone, or at least another diuretic. I'd like to get back into a regular routine at the gym, too, but the pain in my ankles and knees have made me less inclined to go. I suspect it would actually help, since sitting makes it worse, but I want to check with the doctor first.

In the meantime, I've taken a cool bath that seems to have helped and I've got my feet propped up on a comic book box. My appointment is next Wednesday.

How to wow everyone around you

feeling: Kind of surprised
Yesterday afternoon I took the plunge and had my hair cut short.  I had been thinking about it for awhile, but decided to go ahead and do it to express some solidarity with a friend who was going quite short after years of luxuriously long hair that others would kill for. I had been quite hot, which led to my hair just getting stringy (I have baby fine hair, so it doesn't take much for that to happen).  It also had gotten quite flyaway and generally a nuisance.  I wasn't sure, given how full my face is, how well a short cut would do (you know, little tiny head on great big body looks like a Weeble). 
The new lookWell, the lady who cut my hair had a round face as well, and took her time to shape and layer a lot.  And now...it's perfect.  It's poufy up on top,  where it normally just hangs.  I have a rather flat head, so I can't hope that the shape of my head really would help achieve height.  Granted, she put a lot of putty in my hair that kind of gave me helmet hair (and later, anime hair), but after washing it and playing with it, it comes out soft, with my natural wave put to good use rather than putting up a fight.  I saw my three dearest friends yesterday, and it passed muster.  One has been trying to get me to do this for years, but at the same time recognised that if I went too short it would be a disaster, having seen me do that once.
At work, I had people not recognise me, or just stop and go 'wow!'  Our resident dedicated-to-long-hair guy who mourns when women crop their hair had to admit that it was just what I needed, and that it worked for me.  So, apparently it was a hit all around. 
It's easier to take care of and takes a lot less work and product, which is great because I really hate to spend time on my hair. The biggest challenge, actually, is to do whatever I'm going to do to it quickly, because it dries so fast.

The other nice thing is that rather than accentuating my double chin(s), it draws attention to my eyes, which are a much better feature.  I look thinner, and apparently younger, which is nice,  as associate short hair with older women and was afraid I'd start looking my age. :)
So, I'm happy with the results.  I have to admit I was nervous when I realised how much was falling to the floor during the cut, but it came out quite nicely. 

I hadn't checked on this in awhile...

BlogShares - The Rabid Librarian's Ravings in the Wind

Current valuation=B$5,935.99
Analysis: This is a growing blog (BUY). This stock is underpriced (BUY).

An outgoing link is worth: B$65.61.
The highest anticipated future value of an incoming link is B$992.93 (from London Underground). John's various blogs are also nicely valued. :)

BlogShares is fun, because it gives a look at the interaction between blogs, and makes the stock market almost comprehensible for those of us who are business-challenged.

We all make mistakes

But it's really bad when basic spelling and grammar mistakes makes your readers come crashing to a halt. Hopefully the errors in the The Washington Dispatch will be changed; the comments tell the tale, though.

Rabid Reference Question # 3

I'm counting this, even though it wasn't submitted to Rabid Reference per se. A fellow librarian was looking for the average reading level for a county in North Carolina, and neither she nor the public library were having any luck. I came across this, which listed mean literacy levels, in a way that should be able to be converted to reading level. It was an interesting document (it's in .pdf form) Literacy in North Carolina. An HTML version can be read here.

The great things about librarians is that although individually we are usually information dynamos, each of us has various areas of esperience or speciality, and so if there's something we can't find, we can solicit help from others, either by calling colleagues or placing requests on lists. When you ask a librarian a question, you aren't just getting his or her expertise, but tapping into the collective ability of thousands of information professionals. So, if you're ever in a library and feeling reluctant to 'bother' the librarian, go for it. We like it. It's one reason we go into the field. Random bits of info to be found like a needle in a haystack gets our juices going. And trust me, contrary to media portrayals, librarians are juicy.
PS This also demonstrates the need for reference interviews, because sometimes even when librarians ask their question, it's not what they're actually looking for.  In this instance, the person was actually looking for what grade level patient information guides should be written in (a common request in the health field), which really had nothing to do with the question asked.  This would explain why they 'weren't having any luck'--I'm sure they found what I did, and dismissed it as not being exactly what they wanted.  I just wish that when requests are put out on lists, they were as specific as possible.  We sort of expect that of other librarians, because unlike patrons, we know how the system works.  But, hey, it happens.