Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
comic strip overdue media

Monday, December 31, 2007

I've toyed with this idea

but someone actually did it, and got to be a Blog of Note with Blogger...

Tacky Christmas Yards

Okay, I've eaten and I need to get up in 6 hours. 'Night.

A two-part personality quiz

Your Score: Crystal and Light

Your attributions are: 0 Fire and 4 Light and you scored 7 Void.

You are attributed to Crystal and Light, the elements of order and directness. You uphold the system because you are certain that the system is right; you obey the law in spirit as well as letter, confident that the truth will come out and that everything is being done as it should be. You doubt others' claims that the system is prone to abuse, but when you do find corruption in your society, you strive to root it out without harming the infrastructure it was sheltered in. You could be anything from a heroic policeman to an intolerant Catholic schoolteacher who indoctrinates children into not questioning their teachings. To continue this test, please go to: http://www.okcupid.com/tests/14473806150065667330/Spiritual-Personality-Elements-(pt.-2) You will need to note your exact Void score and remember this category.

Link: The Spiritual Personality Elements (pt. 1) Test written by Thoughtmaster on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test
View My Profile(Thoughtmaster)

Your Score: CLWS - The Visionary

Pay no attention to the numbers; it is the meaning behind them which matters...

Your elements are Crystal, Lightning, Water and Spirit. Believing that beauty should be preserved forever and that people deserve truth and justice, you work to achieve a measure of elevation for society, using your sensitivity to the needs and pains of others to become a consummate healer, whether in a physical, psychological, social, or even financial sense. You are one of the rare few who is interested in building a better world for tomorrow, but you may not be the best person for making hard decisions and dealing with reality's frequent setbacks. . Note: Your Void value is not figured into the categories as OKCupid will not allow enough categories for that. However, Void serves as a measure of neutrality or complexity; the more ambivalent answers you gave, or the more questions you were unable to satisfactorily answer and thus skipped, the more Voidly you are. Persons with low Void scores answered very decisively and thus tend to cleave closer to the stereotype of their category, while a person who is strong with Void understands that life is too complex to divide among eight influences, and either is aloof from all of the elemental stereotypes, or combines many opposing aspects. In general, the lower your Void score, the more accurate my assessment of your persona ought to be. If this is not the case, let me know and I'll revise the test in hopes of more accurate answers. If you scored high on Void, your categorization will probably seem simplistic, but that's okay; a strong command of the Void will take you farther in life than any amount of advice from me anyway.

Link: The Spiritual Personality Elements (pt. 2) Test written by Thoughtmaster on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test
View My Profile(Thoughtmaster)

Saturday, December 29, 2007

The only reason I came out organised

is because they asked me where my keys were (the one thing in my house that has a place, on a hook next to the door) and how organised my desk was in elementary school (manageable, as there wasn't much to mess). :)

Your Score: Guy Smiley

You scored 66% Organization, 60% abstract, and 23% extroverted!

This test measured 3 variables.

First, this test measured how organized you are. Some muppets like Cookie Monster make big messes, while others like Bert are quite anal about things being clean.

Second, this test measured if you prefer a concrete or an abstract viewpoint. For the purposes of this test, concrete people are considered to gravitate more to mathematical and logical approaches, whereas abstract people are more the dreamers and artistic type.

Third, this test measured if you are more of an introvert or an extrovert. By definition, an introvert concentrates more on herself and an extrovert focuses more on others. In this test an introvert was somebody that either tends to spend more time alone or thinks more about herself.

You are mostly organized, both concrete and abstract, and more introverted.

Here is why are you Guy Smiley.

You are both mostly organized. You have a good idea where you put things and you probably keep your place reasonably clean. You aren't totally obsessed with neatness though. Guy Smiley is your average Joe. He'll dress up and look nice for his game show, but he's not a neat freak.

You are both a concrete and abstract thinker. Guy Smiley uses his imagination to come up with ridiculous game shows. However he's concrete enough to stick by his rules and perform his role as host. You know when to be logical at times, but you also aren't afraid to explore your dreams and desires... within limits of course.

You are both introverted. At first glance Guy Smiley may appear to be an extrovert given he hosts a popular show. But in reality he struggles to relate with other people. His prizes tend to just be Guy Smiley merchandise. For whatever reason you are a bit uncomfortable in social settings. You may have one or two people that you are close with. You'd rather do things by yourself and you dislike working in groups where things are always so inefficient.

The other possible characters are
Oscar the Grouch
Kermit the Frog
Cookie Monster
Big Bird
The Count

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I have written many many tests for fun on this site. Feel free to choose another one from my handy categories. If you liked a test, please rate it before continuing.

Intelligence tests (all with answer keys)

The are you Smarter Than a 1st Grader Test Test your school smarts against my 1st graders.
The Proper Urinal Etiquette Test
The State Locator Challenge I'll show you a picture of a state, you tell me which one it is.
The 10 Tricky Anagram Puzzles Test A fun quirky IQ test.
The Following Directions IQ Test The name says it all. Perhaps my trickiest IQ test.
The Take the Jeopardy Challenge Test A great tests for fans of jeopardy. Somewhat lengthy.

"Which character am I" tests

The Your Sesame Street Persona test By far, my most popular test.
The Smurf Personality Test 16 smurfy possibilities. Smurf facts included.
The Your Seinfeld Identity Test Surely the only test here that uses "Kavorka" as a variable.
The Life in Hell Test Which rabbit are you in this Matt Groening (The Simpsons) strip?.

Tests that are actually games

The Real Choose Your Own Adventure Test 29 possible endings. Uses internal links to navigate.
The Survivor Game Great fun for fans of the T.V. show. Complex scoring algorithm.
What will you do for a Klondike Bar? Life and death hangs on each choice you make.
The Morphed Faces (with a reward) test Quick. Kind of dumb but fun.
Let's Play Rocks Paper Scissors Takes less than a minute. Bet you can't win.?
The Murder Mystery Flash Game A dumb addictive flash game I did not create.

Death related test

The Wecome To Your Funeral Test Tells you who attends your funeral and when you'll die.
The Who's Dying First Test See if you are likely to outlast me on this planet.
Would Jesus Die For Your Sins? Short and sarcastic (like me!)

Bizarre compatability tests

The Choose Your Next Planet Test When ours becomes inhabitable, where should you go?
The Would Judge Judy Yell at YOU test? Can you escape her wrath? Probably not.
The If We Were Both Lesbians... Sure you dig my tests. But would you dig me...as a woman?
The Would Zeppo Sleep with you test My very 1st test. Would my cat date you or more?
The Yankees or Red Sox fan test Which team SHOULD you root for. Fun questions.

The rest (or the "Could be deleted any day tests...")

The Do You Know the Muffin Man Test No clue how to describe this test.
The Let is snow? Let it snow test This test will tell you if you like snow. Seriously.
You too can get 10,000 takers The author reveals his secrets to creating popular tests.

The Smokey the Bear Forest Fire Test This test is really pathetic. Don't take it.

Link: The Your SESAME STREET Persona Test written by greencowsgomoo on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test
View My Profile(greencowsgomoo)

I love the description for this one

'Braveheart meets Care Bears in psychedelic battle with peace as final winner.'

'The Masks'

I think I watched someone destroy their axle tonight

About 50 yards ahead of me, a car went up onto the median bouncing and creating sparks underneath. It then went back off the median, drove for a few more yards, then came to a dead stop, looking decidedly, well, dead in the water so to speak. I didn't catch if they turned onto the median from New Circle onto Tates Creek or just ran up on it from our lane. My passenger and I thought they may have been drunk. I didn't stop to help--there was no indication of any injuries and the person was either drunk or stupid, and in either case I can't feel particularly sorry for them, and really, who knows who you might wind up coming into contact with in the middle of the night? (I've stopped for others, but this just seemed off. It's a heavily patrolled area. I guess if they were drunk, the police most likely found them, because I don't think they were going to go anywhere.)


Man, that's cold

Police: 2 confess to killing 6 near Seattle

Prosecutor Outlines Gruesome Details of Washington Family Slaying

Carnation suspects tell officers of victims' frantic, final moments

Neighbors remember couple as paranoid and withdrawn

'Unloved' daughter held after Christmas Eve family massacre

Now only the memories of Carnation victims are left

A 29-year-old woman and her boyfriend (same age) have confessed to killing her parents on Christmas eve supposedly over money issues and feeling like she wasn't appreciated. After hiding her parents' bodies, the couple allegedly waited for her brother and his family to arrive, shooting first her brother, then his wife, and finally their children, ages 5 or 6 (accounts vary) and 3, so there would be no witnesses.

The sister-in-law managed to make a 911 call before the guy supposedly crushed the phone, and deputies were dispatched to what sounded like people arguing at a party. By the time deputies arrived, the woman had supposedly locked the gate to the property, and they did not investigate further. It isn't known whether they could have saved any of the family's lives, but the suspects might have been caught at the scene. Instead, the couple apparently fled from Washington towards Canada, then turned back towards Oregon, finally returning to the parents' property, where they lived in a trailer 200 yards away from the home. At that point it was a homicide crime scene, as a co-worker of the mother came by when she did not show up at work and saw the bodies through a window.

Okay, I understand being angry at your parents. We are all at one time or another, and some people have very good reasons to be. I can even almost make the leap of being so angry you want to kill someone over it. But what about those children? How did killing those children really do anything to make things better for the suspects, really?

The couple may be facing aggravated murder charges, the only crime in Washington State punishable by the death penalty, and at a minimum of life without parole. I'm not a proponent of the death penalty, but I'm thinking if this couple turns out to be proven guilty, then they are two selfish twits who are child-killers, and I'm not so concerned with what happens to them, so long as they never have a free moment again. It sounds like mental illness may play a role in this--others described the couple as paranoid and reclusive. The family itself is described as tight-knit but also intensely private; who knows what went on in this family dynamic? Now six members are dead and another is jailed, and this is a tragedy that's going to affect the family for years to come.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Another Stephen Lynch fun song

--thanks to YKWIA finding it for me (do you get the idea that he finds the most odd and random things, and maybe spends way too much time on YouTube?)

'Peanuts'--Warning, as always, with Stephen Lynch--if you can't handle profanity, don't listen (especially if you have trouble with profanity in juxtaposition with beloved cartoon characters).

'Life's not always a bowl of candy...sometimes you just get a bag of rocks...'

Listening to

'Because the Night' by 10,000 Maniacs

I love Natalie Merchant...here's my favourite of her solo songs, 'Life is Sweet'

The last song is from Ophelia, which I have at work. I'll throw in the title track because I love it, too, and the video is very good.

Like Rob Thomas, I have never heard anything that I did not like that Natalie Merchant has done, either with 10,000 Maniacs, or solo. She has a wonderful, yet distinct voice, and seems to be very good live--something that can't be said of every performer.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

So I've been off from the hospital for a few days

What have I been doing?

Saturday--worked at the store
Sunday--had the afternoon off because the game was cancelled
Monday--finished my holiday shopping
Tuesday--went to Danville for Christmas dinner (I ate well and got to play with my step-father's iPhone. I got an outfit, a teddy bear, a gift card to the gas station, and they'll be delivering a mattress in a few days).
Wednesday--mostly did errands and notes
Thursday--found out I was supposed to work at the store for three hours yesterday. My boss called and was afraid something had happened to me. I apologised. She's not pissed, really. I'm going in tomorrow during the day for four hours by way of apology, then coming back to check in the truck and teach someone else how to do it. I went out to get a new cell phone battery ($35!) because every time someone calls me it dies, distilled water from the grocery, and some gas with the gift card. I also have an appointment at the podiatrist this afternoon.

On the agenda for the rest of the vacation:
Friday--working at the store 12-4. 6-7
Saturday--working at the store 12-5 (better than what I was supposed to do originally; we re-did my schedule)
Monday--painting a kitchen
Tuesday--painting a kitchen

Then it's back to work on Wednesday at both places.

This may shed some light on what happened

Report: S.F. Tiger May Have Been Taunted

Questions raised about victims' role in tiger attack

PS Later reports refuted the belief that there was a shoe in the tiger enclosure, but there was a shoeprint on the fence, which is being compared to the victims. Also, the wall is only 12 feet 5 inches rather than the substantially higher mark originally quoted. It does seem that Tatiana leapt or climbed the wall rather than any other egress, such as through the back. One article I read questioned whether water in the moat would help. My understanding is that tigers are good swimmers, much better at that than climbing.

By the way, I came across an interesting group of statistics when looking at the Wikipedia article for tigers.

The American Zoo and Aquarium Association estimates that up to 12,000 tigers are being kept as private pets in the USA, which is significantly more than the world's entire wild population. 4000 are believed to be in captivity in Texas alone...The SPCA estimate there are now 500 lions, tigers and other big cats in private ownership just in the Houston area.

Much of this has to do with legislation in various states, many of which have no regualations on owning big cats and several require only a licence.

Also, white tigers (a popular exhibit at the Cincinnati Zoo (the second oldest in the country and one of the top zoos, especially in breeding)--we go to both that one and the Louisville Zoo (which is actually larger--I didn't know that)) are controversial because you get them through inbreeding, which can lead to birth defects.


Pakistan's Bhutto Killed in Attack

Benazir Bhutto, 54, Lived in Eye of Pakistan Storm

This puts the January 8th elections into uncertainty in a country with nuclear capability. That's troubling, especially as Bhutto was a strong supporter for democracy. But her record wasn't perfect, as the second article explains. Still, she was the first female prime minister of a Muslim country and had a remarkable career. It's sad to see anyone killed by extremists, and this will throw the elections into chaos, especially with accusations against President Pervez Musharraf for not providing adequate security or even that he could be behind it. Emotions are riding high with demonstrations and disturbances in the streets.

This is nicely done

YKWIA found this on a website whilst surfing this afternoon.

''Twas the Dark Knight Before Christmas'

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

This seems pretty accurate

YKWIA found this and his was very, very right on target. I think mine is as well. How about you?

Your Score: Solitary Trickster

You scored -14 Extroversion, 14 Sensitivity, and 8 Openness!

You are shy and a little reclusive. Big crowds and new social situations make you feel uncomfortable and nervous. You prefer to stick with your close friends and family. You have a large personal space and you hate to feel crowded or overwhelmed. If you have been dragged out to a party, or have had a stressful day at work, you need to retreat to your own private place for a while afterwards to recharge.

You are very sensitive, and easily hurt. You tend to worry about what other people are thinking about you. Often, the offhand comments that people make hurt your feelings. You tend to hide your feelings from people whom you are not comfortable with, like strangers, acquaintances or coworkers. You may brush things off with a joke or hide your pain behind a toss of the head. You try not to overreact to things, and you avoid conflict, especially with strangers. However, if you are pushed too far, you can defend yourself with a vengeance.

With your loved ones you are quite different. You trust them with your feelings and with them you tend to be more open and sincere. You are loyal and clannish, and while you hide yourself from strangers and acquaintances, you come out of hiding when your close friends and family are around. Or at least, you do for a while, before you need to retreat back into your private place to re-charge.

Your daemon would represent your secretive, shy nature, your dislike of conflict, and your ready ability to defend yourself or your friends, should the need arise. He or she would probably stick close to you when you felt nervous or uncomfortable, and provide you with humorous commentaries to keep you smiling.

Suggested forms: Coyote, Fox, Raccoon.

Link: The Golden Compass Daemon Test written by wolfcaroling on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test
View My Profile(wolfcaroling)

What if you were given one more day?

Brain-injured firefighter's brief awakening recounted

In 1995 Donny Herbert, a firefighter, was injured when a roof collapsed during a fire, robbing his brain of oxygen. For a decade he lay in a bed with minimal brain function. And then, one day, he woke up, talking non-stop. His doctor had used a combination of drugs used to treat Parkinson's, depression, and ADHD to try to stimulate his brain. His three oldest boys had grown to adulthood in his absence. His youngest had grown from toddler to teenager and could sit down and talk to his father in-depth for the first time.

The following days were nowhere near as prolific, but were full of hope. And then Herbert fell and his brain suffered bleeding, and he lapsed back into the state he had been in, finally succumbing to pneumonia and high fever in 2006.

Now a book chronicles their story. It is a bittersweet story, of course. But that one day gave them closure and hope. What would you do if you were given one more day with a loved one you'd thought you'd lost forever?

A wonderful trip ends in tragedy

for American businessman Michael Klein (who had been CEO of eGroups back when it was acquired by Yahoo!) and his 13-year-old daughter, Talia, as they flew to photograph a Panamanian volcano. Also killed was the pilot, Edwin Lasso. A fourth passenger, Talia's friend, 13-year-old Francesca Lewis, was found injured and suffering from hypothermia--but alive.

Father, daughter killed in plane crash; teen survives

Scary and sad--captivity doesn't take the wild out of animals per se

Escaped tiger kills man at S.F. Zoo

Tatiana, a Siberian tiger, somehow got out of her enclosure, mauled a man to death and injured two others before being shot as she charged police officers. The same tiger injured a zookeeper last year. This time those mauled were not zoo employees, although details of their identities were withheld at the time of the story.

We sometimes like to think we tame nature, but that's not really true, is it?

PS I read one of the follow-up stories and the comments were, well, just plain stupid for the most part. They were very anti-zoo. They go on about how this animal should be out running free. Well, yes, in an ideal world, it should. But people don't get that tigers in the wild are quickly becoming extinct. There are more tigers in captivity--many of them bred there--than in the wild, by a factor of 2:1 by some reports. In the wild their environment is shrinking and they are being poached. To properly educate people about this crisis, zoos help people see the beauty and majesty of these creatures. Animals are housed in very different conditions than they once were, providing for better mental and physical health. One woman (I presume it was a woman from the screen name and frankly, the sentimentality) wrote that the animal was obviously unhappy with 'his' living conditions (a lot of the commentators totally missed that Tatiana was a female) and that's why the man was killed and the others mauled. No, Tatiana was a wild animal who saw an opportunity to range further than the confines of her traditional environment. She was already both desensitised to humans (having been around them so much) yet aggressive with them (the mauling last year proves that). Every tiger, like other animals, has his or her own personality. History is full of regular tigers and mankillers, even in their native habitat. Some turn on humans rather than other prey (and those in the wild are usually hunted down and killed, as there is a belief--rather true or not--that once a tiger kills, he or she will continue to do so.)

I love animals, but if I found a tiger mauling a person to death, you better believe I'd shoot it dead, if I had no tranquilizer gun--and I'm not sure a tranq gun would work during a mauling anyway, as it takes some time to have an effect on a 350-lb beast--a lot can happen in even a few seconds. The police acted as they did to save a life, but they're coming under fire by these people who are like 'why did you have to kill it?' Because she was charging them, for one.

I absolutely agree with the comments that Jack Hanna made in the article/video that I linked to in this post-script. Zoos are some of the safest places in the world; he said he'd worry about getting in a car long before worrying about something like this happening in a zoo. He also pointed out that a wild animal is like a loaded gun--it's dangerous and could just go off.

There will be an investigation to see what failures happened in this case, and hopefully improvements can be made. I'm sorry Tatiana is dead, but I think it is for the best. My thoughts are also with the victims in this, who were enjoying a holiday outing at the zoo. But this story also tells me that there are people out there who are out of touch with reality, preferring to think of tigers as some cute cuddly thing than the dangerous, powerful animals they are. Maybe zoos do tend to make us think that captive animals are docile, and these sorts of things help underscore the stupidity in that thought. Any wild animal is dangerous (I learnt that when I tried to help an injured squirrel--can't imagine that incident magnified by several hundred pounds). People need to respect them as well as work for their continued existence.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

So, on my way home and back I listened to Christmas music

because there isn't much else to listen to on the radio and my tape player doesn't work in the car, so tapes and CDs are out.

My votes for:

Sappiest (but it still makes me cry, because I'm a sucker for this stuff)

'The Christmas Shoes' by Newsong, from the CBS movie of the same name:

In the 'WTF?' category, there's this. (Sting sings it beautifully, but last I checked, Bethelem was landlocked and they can't sail into it. I can suspend a lot of disbelief, but...)

'I Saw Three Ships'

Funny, Sting does one of my favourite modern Christmas songs (well, okay, it's really an Annunciation song), 'Gabriel's Message'

Okay, so I'm not British, although I'm obviously an Anglophile

so when YKWIA told me about this, of course I subscribed to the channel...

A Queen for the Internet Generation: She Uses a BlackBerry, Plays With an iPod, and Now Has Her Own YouTube Channel

You can subscribe to The Royal Channel.

Not bad seeing as just a few days ago she became the longest-living monarch in the history of Britain, surpassing Victoria.

Interesting that the Queen, despite having been to 129 countries, has never been to Greece (where her husband's royal line was overthrown), the Republic of Ireland (once held by Britain) and Israel (also once held by Britain as Palestine).

Monday, December 24, 2007

Beautiful, I'm sure; I'm looking forward to it

Red Planet Outshines Red Nose: Mars Shines Its Brightest Around Midnight

The moon is a bright orb above us in a clear sky

It's colder today than yesterday, which was sunny and practically balmy. But whereas yesterday I worked 10 hours at the store, today I had the surprise of having the afternoon off, as the game was cancelled (which is sad, but on the other hand, it's nice to have some time off occasionally). So after I did notes and laundry, I came on home and went to bed for about 3 hours (I'd been up at 7 and as you know, rarely get enough sleep). Then I went out to conquer the rest of the Christmas presents I needed, which I'm happy to say was accomplished with little problem (although I thought I was going to have to rip the happy credit card reader off the register, as it kept running away with numbers on the PIN--I just hope I haven't locked myself out of my card).

It's a simple holiday season this year. I was late on Hanukah and everyone else got rather small gifts--I spent a total of $60 for 9 people--but hopefully it is the thought that counts and they all know that it wasn't that long ago since I was almost evicted. Fortunately January seems a little brighter financially. I might even be able to get that recorder then. No can do for this month. I still have a few bills to go through and I have some medicine that has to be refilled before the end of the month.

I think I'm going to close for now. I have to get up early tomorrow (although I am off from the 24th through the 1st, at least at the hospital, yipee!) and I need to get some real sleep. Good night.

Hard to believe it's been so long

Okay, so I'm not Christian, but I was raised one, and my family still is. So in addition to my holiday (Solstice/Yule) and YKWIA's (Hanukah), I celebrate Christmas with my family. There's a universal spirit of banishing darkness from our lives and reaching out to others regardless of what holiday you celebrate. Here is a sample of Christmas songs that mean something to me.

Band Aid 'Do They Know It's Christmas?' from 1984 (during my impressionable teens--I was 17 when this was made)

And the newer version from Band Aid 20

It's still needed more than ever.

And just to throw another in, here's John Lennon's 'Happy Christmas (War is Over)'

Sunday, December 23, 2007

I don't really think this will fly

but the I can't feel sorry for the bad press that Cigna's getting.

Attorney Wants Criminal Charges Against Insurer (If you go to Cigna's website, it's slogan is 'A Business of Caring'. Hmpf.

He would have fit right in with the Bush Administration

Hoover Planned Mass Jailing in 1950

They both seem to think the concept of habeas corpus should be thrown out in the name of whatever menace to national security they can think up.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Happy Solstice!

Listening to:

'Mummer's Dance' by Loreena McKennitt

'The Bonny Swans'

And a heart-wrenching one

Teen dies hours after insurance company reverses denial of liver transplant payment

No one really knows if a liver transplant would have saved Nataline Sarkisyan. Her liver failed two weeks ago after a three year battle with leukemia. But at least one set of doctors said that the procedure, deemed uninsurable and experimental by Cigna, had a survival rate at six months of 65%. A hundred and fifty nurses rallied outside of the company's building. Then the decision was reversed--but by that time Nataline was in a vegetative state. She was taken off life support just hours after the decision was made. Her family is understandably devastated. A lawsuit is planned, but it will be difficult to prove wrong-doing.

Still, red tape and hurdles are the last things anyone needs in such dire circumstances. Our health care system should be based on the idea that a person should be able to get the care needed to maintain and improve his or her health. It shouldn't matter how much the person makes, who their carrier is, etc. The challenge is providing universal health care without causing even more red tape though, isn't it?

A feel-good story

Family Adopts Slain Marine's Dog Partner

Lex, a German Shepherd, was injured in the same mortar attack that took the life of his handler, Dustin Lee. Now Lee's family has been granted a first-time waiver to allow them to adopt the 8-year-old dog, releasing him from service two years ahead of schedule.

It can't bring their son and brother back, but I think it helps them deal with their grief to know his companion is with them.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The last privately-held copy stays in America

at the National Archives, but may tour internationally

Magna Carta fetches $21.3 million at Sotheby's auction

One of 17 copies, this is the only one left in private hands, but the former owner, a foundation established by Ross Perot, had mostly loaned it to the National Archives. The new owner, David Rubenstein, a lawyer and founder of The Carlyle Group, a private equities firm, intends to keep it there.

Can you imagine owning such a rare and old piece of history, a document of such importance? Normally I would say I'd prefer it in a museum's hands, but this seems to be the best of both worlds.

I guess this proves that 'routine' procedures do not equal 'safe'

Patient dies during root canal

Speculation is that she may have had an underlying medical issue and was under twilight sedation at the time, which may have contributed. Twilight sedation relaxes the patient, they can speak and are aware, etc., but are between consciousness and unconsciousness. A death during such a procedure is exceedingly rare. It's kind of scary that you could go in for such a routine procedure and never come out. The only blessing is she probably wasn't in much distress since she was already sedated. She was a beloved school principal who had 25 years' experience in the field. It sounds like she made an impact on a lot of lives in that time.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

One last post

I got a little rest last night, in fact I overslept and was a half hour late for work today. I'm up late again, having helped a friend with a home project until 4 am. Unfortunately he doesn't get off work until midnight most nights, so we tend to do these sorts of things late (same goes for large grocery runs). But we got a lot accomplished. There's still more to do, though. Otherwise the day was uneventful. Now it's time to get some decent sleep packed into four hours. Gah.

In remembrance

Dan Fogelberg, August 13, 1951 – December 16, 2007, died of advanced prostate cancer on Sunday in Maine, with his wife Jean at his side. He was only 56.

This was a beautiful tribute, and 'Leader of the Band' is especially appropriate. It's my favourite of his songs, although being a Kentuckian, 'Run for the Roses' is a close second.

Thanks YKWIA for letting me know.

This child has more spirit than most people have their entire lifetimes

Child Shot Protecting Mom Hailed a Hero

Okay, it should be 'heroine', but the sentiment is true. A former boyfriend of her mother's forced his way into the back seat of the car where she was sitting. When he went to fire at her mother, who was in the front passenger seat, Alexis Goggins, who is only 7 years old and has epilepsy and a learning disability after suffering a stroke at age one, threw herself in front of the bullets, screaming for him not to hurt her mommy.

Her mother was shot twice including once in the chest that nearly hit an artery, but survived and has been released. Two weeks later, though, Alexis is still in the hospital. Six slugs hit her, including one in her right eye that will leave her blind on that side. Others hit her face and jaw. She's had three surgeries so far according to an article a friend saw (YKWIA pointed this out to me.)

Fortunately, the driver of the car had convinced the gunman she needed gas and had gotten a gas station attendant to call 911 at the time of the shooting. Police arrived almost immediately, and the man was arrested at the scene. He was already an ex-con on parole. Let's hope this time he's in for a very, very long time.

My best wishes to Alexis and her family. They might want to check out the Shriners Hospital in Minneapolis-St Paul (they are in Michigan). It sounds like she could benefit from care there. She certainly sounds like a fighter who hasn't had it very easy in life. But one thing's for certain, she gets the real meaning of love, something this man and others like him will never understand.

Monday, December 17, 2007


It's bad enough that the door panel on the inside of my driver side front door of my car has come off and is only hanging by the window controls, so that I have to reach in and adjust it any time I get into the car. Tonight I couldn't get the door to shut because the hinge was frozen. I had that trouble a couple of times last year. Usually I can run the car for a little while and it thaws. No such luck. So I buckled myself in, held the door closed by the top, and drove home (with the dome light on, of course). At one point I had a cop behind me and I was afraid I'd be pulled over for the dome light. I got home safely, and after a few tries, the door finally shut enough that the dome light went out, although I think it's still not quite shut. I hope it doesn't do this tomorrow.

On the good side, one of my co-workers has said he'd put the panel on if I buy the clips. He fixed my tail ligth the other night. It's funny, he's 25 years old and his hobbies are fixing cars, especially Chevettes (which haven't been made since 1987) and playing with an old Commodore 64 computer. He so missed his decade. Since I came of age during that decade, and I even had a Chevette (I had an Atari 800XL computer rather than a Commodore), we have several topics we can talk about, although I start glazing after about 10 minutes of car speak.

On the down side, we played the game today and my character who betrayed a creature who was an ally, half human and half daemonspawn, has now had a second family member killed (her father). The creatures plan to wipe out her entire family in retaliation, but they're doing it in sneaky ways that make it look like accidents or natural causes. Meanwhile on the ship to Antarctica a saboteur has destroyed about a quarter of the food and poisoned the sled dogs with strychnine. So, it's been a particularly disheartening game today.

Speaking of Antarctica--here's a beautiful video of time-lapse photography spanning a year in Antarctica.

Well, I guess that's all--I have to go to bed so that I can get some actual sleep (this is earlier than most of the week has been).

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Holiday cheer

Today was:
  1. Our company holiday potluck, where they provide the entree and sides, and we provide the desserts.
  2. Santa's annual visit to the company, complete with draught horses
  3. The party for our lunch bunch this evening

I always leave Santa to the kids and go pet the horses instead, even though I'm quite allergic. They're beautiful. I'm assuming they're Clydesdales--they have the same long hair on their legs like others I've seen. This one had an abcess and they'd duct taped his hoof around. Poor thing.


My Amaryllis is blooming at the office. Of course, what's generally known as Amaryllis is really Hippeastrum. Amaryllis actually refers to something we call around here a Resurrection Lily.

The Hippeastrum has large flowers that are very cheery. I have another plant that has never produced a bloom (this one I purchased with the flower stalks already up). Some young bulbs take a couple of years before they'll bloom, so I'm hoping for next year. In the meantime, I've enjoyed this plant immensely.

Friday, December 14, 2007

So sore

They always say the best friends are the ones who are willing to hide the bodies for you.

I feel like that a bit tonight. No, I haven't gone and become accessory to murder. But I have been toting (along with someone else) an 80-lb weight, and my neck, shoulders, back, and arms are sore. I won't go into the details, as it would impinge upon someone's privacy, but I received an emergency call and had to rearrange my schedule at both jobs (well, okay, rescheduled the first and was just late by an hour to the second...but I'm going to work for the lady who stayed an hour next week so she doesn't go into overtime, so I rescheduled after the fact). Sometimes bad things happen, and that's when friendship matters most. The outcome is still very much up in the air; I hope it improves. More than that, I hope it goes back to the way things were before that call. In the meantime, I'll just keep toting as long as it takes. But ibuprofen wouldn't be a bad idea.

Okay, I'm going to bed. I need to be at work two hours' early to make up for some apointments I've had to go to this pay period. Tomorrow is the potluck, Santa, and the party with the girls from work. I suspect I will be very tired tomorrow. Wish me luck.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Ooh, I found my favourite Kate Bush song/video

No, it's not her best song. Yes, it's from the 80s. Yes, I was a sci-fi geek then, so even though I like the rest of her work, this really appealed to me, especially in my late teens, early 20s. And the video is so, well, something we'd see in Cthulhu. This all came to mind because one of my fellow players mentioned that Kate Bush had recorded a song, 'Lyra' for the movie version of The Golden Compass (that one follows as well).

'Experiment IV'


I meant to post about this earlier

I'm at odds with at least one friend of mine. I heard this story whilst he was watching TV on Tuesday. There are some mitigating circumstances that are in this article that I didn't hear then, but on the other hand, I still believe this was murder--cold-blooded, possibly racially-motivated, murder. It reads like a 'bubba' bagging him some (fill in whatever racial epithet bubbas might use here).

Shootings Test Limits of New Self-Defense Law

And I quote the 911 operator in the case: 'Ain’t no property worth shooting somebody over, O.K.?'

Okay, so the two men were illegal immigrants from Colombia here under forged documents. They were certainly burglars--they had a pillowcase full of over $2,000 in Mr Horn's neighbours' property. These were obviously not 'Good Men'. But they were also apparently shot in the back running away from him--and were unarmed. In any other state in the Union I suspect that it's considered murder once no one is in imminent danger. But this happened to be Texas, and that's a whole other ballgame.

A grand jury's going to have to sort out, for example, whether you can act with deadly force to protect a neighbour's property like you can your own. And then there's the race issue.

Mr Horn identified them on the line as black. He offered to get his shotgun and then told the operator, who was trying to convince him to stay in his house, that he was going out there and kill them--not stop them: kill them.

In another twist, a plainclothes detective had just arrived on the scene and witnessed the shooting but did not have enough time to announced his position and in fact may have ducked to avoid Mr Horn, thinking he might think he was their driver.

Because of this there have been protests both for and against, and at least one death threat. The city is moving to ban protests in the residential area, which may be for the best, since I'm sure it's causing havoc--and certainly the death threat is wrong and should be pursued. But there's lots of other ways to express First Amendment rights, and people are entitled to their opinions. Many hail Mr Horn as a hero. I'm not one of them. I think there's something wrong with eagerly grabbing your firearm to 'help out' the police and shooting people in the back. I think anyone in a moment of adrenaline can think they're in danger, but he was safe in his house and made that clear to the operator. It didn't sound like he thought his neighbours were in danger--just their property. Property can be replaced--lives can't. And vigilantes don't make us any safer--especially 'helpful' vigilantes with guns.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A couple of other interesting historical stories from the Times

The thriving Roman town that slipped into oblivion

I find it interesting that they know the structures of the town, right at the heart of Boadicea's Inceni tribe--'by using a high-resolution geophysical survey and a caesium vapour magnetometer, which measures the changes caused by human activity in the magnetic field of the Earth, they can see beneath the soil without having to excavate.' That's astounding.

Then there's this:

Did Unity Mitford have Adolf Hitler’s love child?

It's mostly a retelling of some rumours that would be difficult to prove, since most everyone who could verify it is dead at this point. But it is an intriguing thought. What would you do if you'd let a quiet life and when you were elderly discovered you were Hitler's son or daughter? It would be stunning. And of course, there's no reason to believe that a child of Hitler's would be evil incarnate, although it would be interesting to see what genetic proclivities might be seen.

The Mitfords themselves were varied in their tastes. Two (including Unity) were connected to fascism. One was a proponent of communism who married Winston Churchill's nephew. One married a man who later became a duke. Another was related to John F Kennedy by marriage. They definitely come across as having strong intellectual passions. Unity Mitford was so overwrought by word of her homeland declaring war on Hitler that she shot herself in the head (she survived as an invalid).

This so appalls me

Appeal lodged over 'lenient' Aboriginal rape sentences

A 10-year-old girl is gang-raped by 9 men who confess to the crime and the judge lets them off without prison time saying (and I quote) she 'was not forced and she probably agreed to have sex with all of you'.

Since when is a 10-year-old girl able to give consent to sex? In Australia, the legally-defined age of consent is 16. This apparently gets thrown out if you are not a white, middle-class Australian. The truly sad thing about this? This was the second assault on this child. She was removed from the town when she was sexually assaulted at the age of 7 by several juveniles who never even made it to court. She was sent back by the welfare agencies and almost immediately gang-raped. Several in the welfare agency have faced enquiry/loss of jobs. But the actual perpetrators in both cases have received almost encouragement for their deeds.

It has many in Australia up in arms over the sentence and particularly the judge's remarks. A full review of rape cases in the area has been ordered to see if there is a trend to go lenient in cases involving Aborigines and this case has been appealed by the attorney representing the state of Queensland.

I hope the judge in the case gets reviewed as well and if she was appointed, that appointment be revoked. In the meantime I hope this child is finally where she can be both safe and receive counseling. She's now 12, I think, and has already had her childhood yanked from her by both groups of thugs and now the supposed justice system.

Speaking of health care and its cost

There's this editorial from the NY Times:

The High Cost of Health Care

and one's man simple innovation proves to save dollars and lives

The Checklist

Listening to

Men at Work, 'Down Under'

Man, it's catchy. :) Takes me right back to the 80s. And it's the entire reason I know about Vegemite.

PS Yesterday we hit a record high of 70 degrees here in Lexington. Today it's much cooler, and it's heading for the 40s. :( Oh, well, I can't really complain--it is almost winter. Still, it might be nice to be in Australia right now. :)

Interesting, ethically and medically

Face-Transplant Patient 'Satisfied': Some Who Criticized Procedure Are Impressed With Results

One of the US centres that is mentioned in the story as being interested in doing face transplants is Kleinert Kutz and Associates, who did the first US hand transplant. The Lexington office branch of that practice did my carpal tunnel surgery. I feel a bit like I'm playing six degrees of separation. My surgeon's in a different practice now, but I'd recommend either Kleinert Kutz or Dr William O'Neill of Bluegrass Orthopaedics if you ever need hand surgery.

It's funny, I'm very lucky that I live in a very medically- and specialist-dense town, and since I live within a couple of blocks of a major hospital (St Joseph East), there are a plethora of physicians and specialists whose offices are nearly in my backyard. Not to mention the fact that I have top-notch insurance through UnitedHealthcare. They paid every penny of my surgery, which ran about $10,000 altogether. I had no idea how crippled I'd become. Now I can use my hands freely. I've heard horrible stories of how much nerve conduction studies hurt since I had mine. I had no idea. My carpal tunnel was so bad I didn't really feel any of it. So I'm glad to have my mobility back, to be able to feel my hands, and to have them not draw up in pain at night. Plus, if I were ever to have children (let's face it, it's not bloody likely), it would cost me $10. Period--just the co-payment of the first office visit. Wow.

Of course, I went for years without insurance, so I really appreciate it more. I probably had a broken foot years ago, for example, when Bill fell on me. I just hobbled around in pain for months. Not to mention the various blows to the head I've had that I never went to see about. Hmm...maybe that really is part of my problem.

I'm not out of the woods in terms of medical expenditures, though. I have a flexible account that helps with any of my co-payments. But I'm on a slew of medications that are in the upper tier of what the insurance will pay for, so my co-payments are mostly $45 a pop. My flexible spending account ran out at the end of November (so at least I used it all--you lose the money if you don't--and it was much better than last year, when it lasted until May); but for December I really am struggling with enough bills that I simply can't get all my medicines. There are 2-3 absolutely vital ones; the rest I'm not filling until January. I normally take 7-9 depending on time of year (I take Lasix and potassium in the summer, when my ankles swell). I'm taking the opportunity to chuck Avandia entirely. I haven't felt any difference than when I took it, and there are just too many studies stacked against it. If my blood sugar tests show my sugar still up, I'll see about going on Actos. Otherwise I'll keep with just the Janumet, if Dr Nesbitt concurs. I found some samples of one of my drugs 'my smart medicine' as one friend puts it, so I'm using those for now. And of course, there's one I take that can cause a horrible skin-sloughing rash if you stop and go back on it, so I'm staying on that one as a priority. :) Plus I have plenty of metformin, so I'm temporarily on that instead of the combined Januvia/metformin Janumet. And I found some extra strips so I can check my sugar levels.

I know, it's not ideal, but it means $45 in drug costs this month rather than the normal $277 I'd spend a month out of pocket (with insurance!) ($291 in summer), with the occasional albuterol ($7) and then any over-the-counter medicines I get. (I'm off the aspirin, for example, now that I'm out of the boot). That flexible spending account is a lifesaver. I opted for the same amount next year since part of the expense this year was my glasses, which I shouldn't need again. That should get me through the year okay. I do have one doctor's appointment this month, too, but I've budgeted for that.

Okay, didn't mean to make this all about me, but I guess the article was just a jumping point for my thoughts. Hopefully January will bring a new debit card (we're going with a new provider this year--I hope they're as good as the last one) and I'll get back on track again.

Here's a picture of my cubicle

with the amaryllis flower stalks and orchid plants in the foreground.

I downloaded some pictures off my camera

and came across this one of Cerys and Darius, inseparable except by death.

I miss my babies, including Spock and Buns.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

My mother scared the daylights out of me yesterday

I'd gone out briefly and taken the chain off my door, because my mom comes over on Sunday mornings to crash at my place before heading home in an hour-long drive. She works 16-hour shifts over the weekend, so she's usually pretty tired. Normally I'm up and gone before she comes over, but yesterday I'd been up to take a friend home from work at 7 am and didn't have to be anywhere until 9, so I'd gone back to sleep. At 8:10 my second alarm went off and I'd just put it on snooze when I heard, 'Lisa' at the door to my bedroom. I never heard the front door open, and I nearly jumped out of bed.

We talked for a little while (I was a little late for that 9 o'clock deadline) and it was good to hear from her. I'm getting a mattress for Christmas, which is great and benefits us both. My current mattress, which is 20 years old, has bedsprings peeking through it in places. :) So here's to no more little scratches on my body. Yay!

PS I found the camera I'd been looking for (don't know if I mentioned it, but I wanted to take some pictures and was looking for it like crazy. It turned out to be on my kitchen table under some hotel lotions someone had given me. I'd looked in the same spot a dozen times and missed it because it's in a black case, I guess. Anyway, you might actually get some pictures on here as a result.

Also, I'm having great luck with clocks. I think I mentioned that I received a large, square, mantle-style clock for my 10th anniversary at the hospital. It sets its time by longwave radio and it couldn't pick up the signal in the hospital, so now it's in my living room working fine. Well, my family clock, a pendulum clock from Japan with a horse on top that we always had when I was growing up, is on my dining room wall and I was having trouble getting it to continue running. I got out my level for the umpteenth time (my mom and I had talked about it) and it's working now. I've put pencil marks underneath so I can be sure and keep it in position should I knock into it, etc. That leaves the large old-fashioned alarm clock and my mother's small travel clock in my bedroom, the computer clock, the stove, the microwave (rarely set), and the phone. So, I think I'm good on being able to tell time at the house.

I guess that's all for now. I was in a really great mood today because I actually got to be early last night. I'm up later tonight but had some down time this evening.

Oh, and I HAVE THE BOOT OFF!!!! Yay! I'll probably wear it at the store for another week or so, but the doctor said I could transition off of it now. Yipee!!! My foot feels much better, just twinges a bit. I need to ask Dr Rooney when I can go to the gym and start a walking routine. I figure if I'm paying for it, I might as well use it, right?

Well of course we're still evolving

but scientists are realising we're evolving much quicker than pre-agrarian humans--partly in response to diseases that hit large groups of people who are living in close quarters. But pale skin and blue eyes are relatively recent mutations, for example.

Study finds humans still evolving, and quickly

Culture Speeds Up Human Evolution

Also on the scientific front, Voyager 2 has discovered a dent in our solar system due to magnetic forces.

Voyager 2 finds solar system's shape is 'dented'

I was 10 years old when the Voyager probes were launched, along with their Golden Records. An excerpt from the Voyager 1 greeting by Jimmy Carter (given in the Wikipedia article) goes like this:

We cast this message into the cosmos… Of the 200 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy, some — perhaps many — may have inhabited planets and space faring civilizations. If one such civilization intercepts Voyager and can understand these recorded contents, here is our message: We are trying to survive our time so we may live into yours. We hope some day, having solved the problems we face, to join a community of Galactic Civilizations. This record represents our hope and our determination and our goodwill in a vast and awesome universe.

The 70s were in some ways a very hopeful time, weren't they?

Sunday, December 09, 2007

This is hilarious

and it has beautiful costuming to boot.

'OK2BGay' by Tomboy

And of course, I'd like to thank YKWIA for finding it.

And Tomboy, who is from Denmark, has a pretty nifty website, in which you can gauge your gay potential. I don't know if his album has been released in the States yet, but it contains such tracks as 'Gay Guys Arise,' 'Who’s the Man,' 'Sucker for You' and 'Gays in Space.' QueerVerve lists OK2BGay as the Gayest Music Video Ever Made.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Happy Hanukkah!

I received my 10th anniversary gift from work today

It's a clock, 9 or 10 inches square with a maple finish, that sets itself by long-wave radio from an atomic clock in Colorado. The only drawback is that I wasn't getting a good signal at my desk, even near a window. When I took it home, however, it worked fine. Guess there was too much interference from the structure and the computers at work. Still, it looks nice at home, and I need another clock there anyway.

It's hard to believe I've been there 10 years. Actually, it's almost 11; it will be come March.

Anyway, it's a nice gizmo. I'm glad it's working okay now.

Friday, December 07, 2007


Scientists dig up secrets from dinosaur mummy

Among the details of the mineralised body of a duck-billed dinosaur find were scales that showed possible camoflague patterns, heavier musculature than once thought, and a possible death scene--as an early crocodile-like thing apparently died trying to eat it.

I love science. And this was also a neat story because not only is it the most complete fossil of its type, its founder was a teen who stumbled across it in 1999 and came back five years later whilst leading researchers to spots that would be good to excavate in his native North Dakota. Now in his second year of graduate study in paleontology at Yale, he caught the fossil-hunting bug at 6 and made a career out of it. He certainly has a good dissertation topic well in hand. :)


Scientists Cure Mice Of Sickle Cell Using Stem Cell Technique: New Approach Is From Skin, Not Embryos

Making stem cells from skin cells from diseased mice, the researchers used viruses to change the cell and replace the sickle-cell DNA with healthy DNA, then transplanted the cells back into the mouse, curing the disease. This could mean amazing things in the future.

How would you feel if you found out your dad

missing for five years and declared dead, was really alive and he and your mom cashed in on the insurance money and hooked back up in Central America?

Canoe Man's Story Keeps Sinking

I don't blame the sons for washing their hands of their parents.

Thursday, December 06, 2007


The Future of Reading

I don't think that books are in imminent peril, especially given reader reaction to Newsweek's story on Amazon.com's new Kindle e-book reader, but I for one would like to try it out. I think how we read is evolving, and this might just be the model needed for e-book readers to really catch on.

Monday, December 03, 2007

So another woman was also involved in the Megan Meier case

Prosecutor won't bring charges in MySpace suicide

That's two adults who acted immaturely when they conversed with the depressed 13-year-old over MySpace, leading to Megan Meier's suicide, saying something to the effect of the world being a better place without her. The second woman hasn't been named. The prosecutor would obviously like to bring some justice into this case, but harassment statutes for the area don't include online harassment and the stalking statute would require repeated negative contact. Apparently the account used purported to be a 16-year-old boy named Josh, being homeschooled in a nearby town, but was used by a former friend's mother and this 18-year-old to determine if Megan had gossiped about the daughter. Megan was confused by the sudden change from flirting, good interaction to 'Josh' turning on her and saying he'd heard she was mean and didn't want to be her friend.

There's no way to prove that the adults involved intended for the girl to kill herself, even if they knew she was severely depressed. Name-calling isn't really illegal, and there's really no way to prosecute it, authorities said. It just wasn't feasible to try to prove to a jury that there was malicious intent to the degree believed by the parents.

I believe that what the women did was wrong. It was terribly petty and immature and they should have been above taunting a 13-year-old girl with mental problems. I mean, what kind of person does that? There should be a small circle in hell for such people. But I agree that there's really no case and so there's no real justice either. On the other hand, I don't think you can blame Megan's suicide squarely on these women. There were a lot of factors, mainly her own brain chemistry and the tendency for teenagers to magnify any slight. She's not at fault for her suicide--she was far too young and too sick to truly be accountable, but she's certainly a victim of her illness, and that's very sad. The women involved, however, triggered it, as did no doubt her mother, who when shown the exchange berated her daughter for using bad language rather than taking her side, at which point Megan stormed off unbelieving and then she was found hanged a little while later. It must have seemed like a betrayal in her mind. That's the sad thing about depression--no matter how much you watch what you say, you know that at any time something might percolate through the depressed person's mind to make them give up entirely. By all accounts the parents were trying to do the best for their daughter. Perhaps given time she could have blossomed. But she didn't have that time.

This whole story underscores the toll mental illness--particularly mental illness in children--can take on people and their families. And vindictive, petty neighbours certainly don't help.

Oh, my!

The Heroes finale tonight was superb. Two heroes have apparently met their deaths--both heroically. Armageddon was averted but an old enemy returns. The information about the heroes and the Company is simmering like a pot, ready to explode into the mainstream, only to be contained on several fronts. This is great stuff--and we've seen a glimpse into the next story arc. Now if only there are writers to cover it. :)

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Who in their right mind would do this as a vacation in this day and age?

Older white women join Kenya's sex tourists

Yes, let's go to Africa, the epicentre of the world's AIDS epidemic, and have as much sex as we can, trolling down the beaches for studly young men. It doesn't have to be Africa, of course--Asia's sex trade is also very dangerous, as it is pretty much everywhere these days in terms of HIV and Hepatitis, plus a whole host of other sexually transmitted diseases. But going to a country with a 6.9% AIDS rate to go have unprotected sex (condoms seem too 'businesslike' for some women's fantasies, according to the article) with strangers?

Or am I being a prude? It just seems, well, stupid, and it doesn't matter if the people doing it are young, old, white, black, whatever--HIV doesn't discriminate.

Speaking of the sex trade, I also came across this:

Teen suicide spurs war on child prostitution

Authorities are cracking down in Atlanta, which has become a hub for child prostitutes, many lured into sex with men in other towns and then brought against their will to work for pimps. Girls (and I'm sure, boys, too) are bought and sold from pimp to pimp, and the men having sex with them (perhaps from layovers at the busy international airport) aren't having a normal money-for-sex relationship with women who are consenting--they're having sex with 12-year-olds, making them predators and paediphiles.

The only facility in the country for rehabilitating former child prostitutes is near Atlanta. The city is seeking to open another, especially in the wake of Samantha Walker's suicide. Walker, from Toledo, OH, was lured into prostitution in Toledo at 15 and taken against her will to Atlanta. She testified against a man who forced her to have sex at a rest stop and then took her back to his hotel, from which she escaped. He was convicted of forced imprisonment and solicting sex with a minor. A few weeks after the trial, unable to get a placement at the rehabilitation centre, she had returned to Toledo and facing the shame of being a child prostitute, killed herself at the age of 18. The courts aren't set up for dealing with the Samantha Walkers of the world, and the system therefore fails to keep these young girls from continuing as prostitutes into adulthood, or worse, succumbing to drugs and sexually-transmitted diseases. The shady world of prostitution is bad enough as it is--but it shouldn't involve children. These kids deserve to keep their childhoods and not be jaded before they can drive. I'm sure just about any relatively large city has some experience with this issue. Keep your eyes and mind open to the fact that sexual slavery exists in all sorts of places--because we refuse to see it. Sometimes it is young foreign women who are lured to private homes or brothels. Sometimes, as in Samantha's case, it is home-grown. Sex can be a wonderful thing--it shouldn't be the chain by which someone is bound and gagged.

And remember, today is World AIDS Day. Do something proactive--get a test, wear a condom, raise awareness with a ribbon, or donate to a charity. Educate yourself about safer sex and about the disease. Protect yourself--and have sympathy for others who have been exposed and ire for those who aid its spread, often by misinformation or actions such as drug dealing or pimping.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Interesting--and bad for my mother, who works overnight

Overnight shift to be classified as 'probable' cancer cause

My mom is a nurse who works sixteen-hour night shifts. According to several studies, higher incidences of breast and prostate cancer are found in night workers. This may be due to the disruption of the circadian rhythm, as well as the production of melatonin, a chemical produced overnight while we sleep that helps keep cancer at bay. Light impedes melatonin synthesis; on the other hand, while melatonin is available as a supplement, it's not recommended to take it for long periods because doing so may interfere with the body's natural production of it. Those who do swing shift may be at even higher risk, since the body doesn't really get to adjust to a schedule one way or the other. Insomniacs and others who do not work but may not get enough sleep may also be at risk.

Speaking of not enough sleep, I'm operating on five hours from last night and I'll have four tonight. Argh.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

I stayed up late watching

the 'Mindgame' pilot mentioned in the last post and 'Ben 10: Race Against Time'. It was interesting to see a cartoon (I like very much) translated into live action. They did an excellent job with casting.

Okay, let's all sing along--

Rather well done

Mindgame (part 1 of 5), a TV pilot from Verge Entertainment.
Crystal Carter, agent of The Psychic Surveillance Initiative (PSI), is assigned to hunt down and capture rogue agent John Cortez, PSI's first tracker. However, Section Ten (S10), a counter-psychic group, wants Cortez dead, and the old psychic won't be taken without a fight.

And yes, this was another of YKWIA's finds.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

What would Aristotle do?

The lines are blurring between animal, vegetable, and mineral with transgenic creations. Witness the latest, poplars with rabbit genes to help pull poisons for the environment. It's a good cause of course, and years from field testing, but what happens when these products make it out into the world? How will they affect wild and cultivated varieties? Do you really want to eat food that's been tinkered with?

Mutants or saviors? Rabbit genes create trees that eat poisons

And let's not forget spider goats and glowing bunnies (the latter of which died young and never really glowed with the colour or intensity of published photographs, which were enhanced by an artist--and only the body would have glowed, not the hair, which is dead tissue).

Thanks to YKWIA, who over the years has regaled me with stories of spider goats, glowing bunnies, and now bunny trees.

Mary as you've never seen her before

Listening to: Daughtry, 'Over You' (sorry, can't embed, but he's got a shaved head, YKWIA)

THE ORIGINAL Scary 'Mary Poppins' Recut Trailer

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Words fail me to comment fully on this story and what should happen to those involved.

Mom Describes Killing Girl, 2

I cannot understand how anyone could beat a two year old severely, plunge her in water repeatedly, throw her across the room to impact tile, cause three skull fractures, and then put her body in a plastic container for a couple of months before finally disposing of it in Galveston Bay. Texas authorities had been looking for the identity of the child since her body washed ashore last month. The mother and her companion, who have been arrested (the father lives in Ohio and was not involved), met online through World of Warcraft. Seems to me they could't tell the difference between an innocent child and a monster to be hacked apart. Their mug shots are a little chilling in terms of expression--it's like there's no soul there.

Riley Ann Sawyers' life and potential were taken away from her by sick acts of violence. I can only hope she is at peace and that when she is reborn, it will be to loving parents who will cherish the precious life of a child.

Sunday, November 25, 2007


Surgeons Remove Ten-Pound Hairball From Teen Girl's Stomach

A teen with trichophagia, compulsive eating of hair, lost forty pounds in five months and had stomach pain that sent her to the doctor. Since the removal of the hair, she has since received psychiatric help and has returned to good health.

For the morbidly curious, pictures of human trichobezoars (hairballs) can be seen at Hairballs: Myths and Realities behind some Medical Curiosities from the National Museum of Health and Medicine. Then there's a picture of this particular trichobezoar. The article detailing it was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Okay, you know you're meant to be a medical librarian when you find this sort of stuff interesting, right?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Something to keep in mind as we go on this Antarctic adventure in the game

The seas around Antarctic can be uncertain, even for veterans.

Icy rescue as seas claim a cruise ship

The Explorer spent 40 years in the Antarctic. Another article described it as the first passenger ship to offer cruises to the region. But, like other ships before her, she quietly struck ice and was left stranded in the water, sinking. All the passengers and crew were evacuated, but even in the Antarctic spring water and air temperatures were very cool and hypothermia a real danger. So these tourists got a little more adventure than they probably bargained on.

I'm glad everyone is alright, at least. It's sad to think of such a veteran ship as meeting its end. I'm sure those who have worked and sailed on her will remember her tonight.

Friday, November 23, 2007

A pleasant holiday

I went to Danville for the day and enjoyed a feast over at my stepfather's mom's house. My mom cooked most of it (my grandmother cooked fish and green beans/potatoes without meat in it for me), but my mom and John have been renovating their kitchen and had sold their table and chairs, so needed a place to host it.

John's mother is a wonderful old lady who pulls no punches when talking about anything, including family. Her home is beautiful, and she has a lovely large tortoise-shell tabby who she's adopted to keep her company. He was very friendly and snuggled right up with me. I'm getting to enjoy cats vicariously a lot lately, as a friend has recently acquired a kitten. I also got much loving from my grandmother's dog.

The main thing on everyone's mind was apparently my stepbrother, who is in jail for his second DUI, running a red light, hit and run, and marijuana and alcohol in the car. I don't know if that's the end of it. Apparently visitation is very complicated, requiring much red tape a day in advance, so John hasn't really gotten to see him but once and doesn't even know if he was injured in the accident. I also don't know if he injured anyone else.

Robert is 23 years old and I would hope that he can turn his life around but I'm really not sure if he will. I know John doesn't want to cut him off (he's living with them and they help him with money), but I think he's enabling him, too. A few years ago he had a spinal accident and it's limited the work he can do; he's not really got the education or propensity for a clerical position, and little experience in anything other than dead-end, low-paying jobs, so he doesn't have a lot of prospects. But instead of playing up his to his strengths he seems to be hanging with the wrong people and using far too much alcohol and pot. I just don't know what will become of him. I know 23 is still in the young-and-stupid age range. I just hope he grows up without hurting himself or anyone else any more than he already has in the process.

On a brighter note, I came home while it was still light (deer are pretty bad on US 27, so I avoid it at night if at all possible, especially this time of year) and there was this dichotomy of dark storm clouds and sun, which set up the most beautiful double rainbows I have ever seen. The main one was particularly bright, not diffused at all. People were pulling off the road to take pictures. I really wish I knew where my camera was. It was just gorgeous and made my day.

Well, that's all for now. Hope you had a good day as well.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

A town responds to a sad event

MySpace suicide town outlaws online bullying

Town Will Punish Cyberbullies: Officials Respond to Young Girl's Suicide

My understanding from one of the comments by 'LiquidBlue2' on the ABC News article is that there is already federal legislation in place that deals with online harassment. It is section 113 of the latest Violence Against Women Act, signed in 2006. For a discussion of the act and controversies regarding this provision and its free speech issues, see: Does New Cyberstalking Law Criminalize Free Expression?

Anyway, after Megan Meier's suicide the town, not finding a law under which to prosecute the adult (identified in police records and on the Internet as Lori Drew, according to the Wikipedia article and a police report you can find at The Smoking Gun)--who apparently pretended to be a 16-year-old boy to gain Megan's trust, flirting with her and then abruptly turning on her with vicious comments that led to the suicide--created their own against cyberbullying, although it wouldn't be used in this case, of course. The woman is the mother of a former friend of Megan's and has stated that she was just trying to see what things Megan might be saying about her daughter and that it was a joke and the Meiers should 'give it a rest'. The Meiers commented in one of the articles that the friends and parents of friends who knew Megan knew she was suffering from suicidal depression and that it was 'no different than somebody handing her a loaded gun'.

It's very sad that a vivacious 13-year-old would hang herself because of some petty comments put on a MySpace page. But as those of us who have been both 13 and depressed know, things that might inspire resiliency in some can seem very large indeed when you're in that mindset. What boggles my mind is that any adult in their right mind would act this way over a falling out amongst children. It's possible she has had remorse over her actions, but I couldn't find any evidence of it online. Of course, many of the news sources refuse to identify her supposedly to protect her child. I wouldn't want to live down that sort of thing if I were her daughter, but I don't think it should be hushed up, either. Drew was 'outed' by bloggers--here's one's description as to why, which I agree with--and there have been several unpleasant 'hoaxes' played on her that I suspect she does not find a joke at all (and in some cases, she's blamed the girl's father for them in the police reports). (Read the Wikipedia article for more information). Certainly I'm sure everyone in town knows who did what. I would not in any way condone actions against her (other than prosecution under the VAWA Act), but this story bothered me enough to do a little research and find out more. It's sad that it's so petty, and that a young girl with her whole life ahead of her died because of such pettiness. At least in this Missouri town, maybe they can make cyberbullying a little less likely.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I didn't post on Sunday

because I spent all day helping someone prepare for a major renovation project, mostly involving moving things like furniture, a refrigerator, and lots of other stuff. I also saw my mom briefly when she came to crash at my place after working all night so she could drive the 45-minute to an hour drive fresh. Because of the moving stuff, there was no game that day.

I think I have solved the problem of how to play adequately in the game and still get things down for the notes, namely via the Olympus WS-300M 256 MB Digital Voice Recorder and Music Player.

A quick view of the specs:

Compact, high-quality digital voice recorder with 256 MB internal flash memory; records up to 68 hours of WMA audio; built-in music player stores up to 66 WMA or MP3 files; USB Direct design plugs directly into PC USB port; 4 recording modes (HQ, LP, SP, and HQ Stereo); 5 separate file folders with 199 files each; voice activation mode enables hands-free recording; runs for roughly 15 hours on 1 AAA battery; 1.5 x 3.73 x 0.43 inches (W x H x D); 1-year warranty

I do not have an .mp3 player, so that is a nice bonus feature. But I'm more interested in capturing the audio and then transcribing from that. It's very small and also doubles as a memory stick for storing files. Current price from Amazon.com is $79.99, down from a suggested retail price of $129.99. I think I can swing it next month, so it'll be my holiday present to myself. I wish I would be able to go ahead and get that $100 gift card through the points rewards programme with my bank; I'm about $400 and 8,000 points short. But I'll eventually get it. Although today I got to drive a teller nuts by depositing $3.41, all but a dollar in change. He made me roll the change, but 41 cents wouldn't roll, and apparently they don't have a nifty change counting machine and he had to count the rest of the pennies by hand. Which, given his attitude about the change, the sighing, and general put-upon reaction, I was happy to have him do. Hey, it's legal tender. It was at the Euclid branch of National City, not my normal Richmond Road one.

Tomorrow I have a teleconference on public access of scholarly research over at UK that runs from 2-4, later than I'm regularly at work, so I'm going in from 11 to 1, which is good, considering it is almost 4 in the morning. I've been doing lots of work at the two jobs, notes, and 'swampa' (indentured servitude--it's a long story) activities and really not getting much sleep. I also need to call around to see if there's a snowball's chance in hell that I can get an appointment for an oil appointment on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. :) I'm at about 5,000 miles since the last one and will be going to Danville on Thursday, so that would be really, really good.

Tonight I had to work, so I wasn't able to watch Heroes. I'm hoping someone or perhaps several someones update the Wikipedia guide for the episode. I've garnered a few other bits from other Heroes' entries. Last week's episode is already up on the official site, so maybe this week's will be up in a few days.

Well, that's what I've been up to. Goodnight.