Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
comic strip overdue media

Sunday, January 31, 2010

It was the graphics card

somehow interfering with the integrated Ethernet connexion. So I took out the card and was able to get back online. The card worked great, but I'm going to take it back since frankly, having access to the Internet is more important than the screen being pretty.

I think I'll give up on trying to upgrade this computer. Granted, I need some more speed (the graphics aren't really that important; the memory is). But memory and a card that works with my system would be about $200. A new computer that has 2 GB memory and comes with a flat-screen monitor is about $350. As long as I can still put money towards the car, I'll think about it. In the meantime, I can live with what I have.

Oh, well, it was worth a try, I suppose.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

At work but off the clock waiting for a ride in 2 hours. But it's safer than walking in this snow.

I'm at the library

hoping I just downloaded the driver my Ethernet adapter needs to work so I can get back online at home. The snow was treacherous getting over here; the main roads look okay, but the secondary roads haven't been touched and the sidewalks--well, almost no one's even walked on them. I'm going to go up Eagle Creek View Lane and see if I can get to work easier than going down Richmond Road.

I've had very little pain since the first day of surgery; I haven't even had to take ibuprofen, so that's great. I got the game notes finished last night. Once I get home tonight I'm going to tackle the aquarium (but I have to go to Kroger and get more pasta, Indian food, and soup first). The graphics card is working well. I don't know if that started the issue with the connexion or not; I went to sleep for a couple of hours and came back and suddenly it wasn't connecting. I've also done some cleaning around the house.

Anyway, wish me luck on getting things back online. Have a great day. And if you're getting this snow, stay where you are if you can. At least we just got snow; a lot of people also got ice.
The game notes are finished. The snow is finally falling that was predicted earlier.

Friday, January 29, 2010

My network driver has gone south & I can't get online. :(

Something to watch locally

KET to air new video on historic archaeology over several nights beginning Monday
Upcoming KET air dates for the video (all Eastern Standard Time) are:

9 p.m. Monday, Feb. 1
5 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 2
8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 5
2 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 6
3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 7
10 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 13
6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 20

KET2: 10 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 17

KET1: 4 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 20

Historic Archaeology: Beneath Kentucky’s Fields and Streets is presented in four segments based on the archaeological periods of Frontier, 1770s to 1820s; Antebellum, 1820s to 1860s; Civil War, 1861-65; and Industrialization, 1860s through 1910s. Each segment features key scientific discoveries made by some of the state’s top archaeologists over the past decade.

In the video, archaeologists working in the Frontier period describe the role of archival research in efforts to locate hundreds of frontier forts in the Inner Bluegrass region. Fort Boonesborough, Mammoth Cave and the Arnold Farmstead are featured.

From the Antebellum period, viewers learn about the discovery of a ceramics-filled privy at Ashland, the Henry Clay Estate in Lexington, as well as reconstruction of a slave cabin at Farmington Historic Plantation in Louisville, and how x-marked objects are providing insights into slave culture at Riverside, the Farnsley-Moremen Landing along the Ohio River in southwest Jefferson County. Also, physical anthropologists report surprising conclusions from the accidental discovery of a pauper’s graveyard in downtown Frankfort, and Shaker Village is highlighted.

Archaeologists exploring the Civil War period show how field surveys may be used to compare historic plans of camp fortifications to actual evidence in the ground. Investigations include Camp Wildcat and the Battle of Richmond, and work at the refugee encampment site in Camp Nelson confirms the location of a Civil War tragedy.

For the Industrialization period, archaeologists focus on the lives of immigrant families at Portland Wharf Park in Louisville. Once a major steamboat port, Portland Wharf vanished due to floods, the expansion of the Louisville-Portland canal and construction of a floodwall. Today, archaeology is being used to preserve the park and reconnect the community of Portland with its past. Also featured are the U.S. Marine Hospital, the Old State Capitol in Frankfort and the Covington Riverfront.

KET is Kentucky Educational Television, our public broadcasting station and one of the largest in the country. People tend to think of archaeological digs at ancient sites, but more recent history is also discovered through archaeology. This really sounds interesting.

Well, I had to do some finagling on the layout

because the 'Unshelved' people make beautiful LARGE strips once a week, but everything should be displaying correctly now. The folks at 'Unshelved' told me what to change in my code ('http://www.unshelved.com' rather than 'http://www.overduemedia.com', in case you're having issues), and voilà!--the new strips display. I had to tweak the size of the sidebar (and the tweet badge) as well as the main body of the page, since the comic was too big to display otherwise. In theory when it's normal size it should do fine, too. I'll keep an eye on it. Meanwhile, if you have trouble displaying this blog, please let me know, and what browser you're using. Oh, and the comic runs five days a week now, just so you know. Thanks to the people at 'Unshelved' for helping and for producing such a great strip.

I feel pretty good

I had a nice long rest, and I didn't have to get up and take any pain pills. In fact, I'm not really in enough pain to warrant them at this point. Yesterday I wasn't really hungry (I guess that meal at Long John Silver's stayed with me), so I just had a few bites of ice cream to settle my stomach for the medicine. It did hurt to eat a little then. Today I am hungry, so I've graduated up to soup, some minestrone. I'm chewing the pasta and vegetables on my other side, but my jaw isn't hurting at all like it was yesterday, at least while chewing (there's a faint pain afterwards, and of course, if I accidentally brush against the outside of my jaw, that hurts). But generally, I feel great, just still kind of tired, even with all the sleep, like my energy's being sapped; no doubt it's all going into healing. And I haven't really tried talking yet. I'm tired enough that I will stay home from the hospital; it was kind of conditional depending on how I feel. But I definitely feel I'm on the mend.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Now that's a feel-good story

Teacher, 100, gets degree a day before dying: N.H. woman was pleased that she had accomplished her goal, daughter says
Paula Finnegan Dickinson of Gilford, who was Ames' student back in 1956 and became an educator herself, regarded her as a mentor and dear friend.

"Mrs. Ames, along with Dick, Jane, Sally, Spot and Puff, became our friend," Dickinson said, recalling the "Dick and Jane" series that was used in class reading groups. "With her enthusiasm, these characters came to life. ... Mrs. Ames showed us how reading opened the doors to other experiences we in Pittsfield might never have known."

More on the uphill battle amputees will face in Haiti--and the people who are trying to help them

Haiti amputees face dire quest for prosthetics: Prosthetics groups promise help in a land where disability can mean death

I'm intrigued by this:
An engineering professor, Gonzalez has created a durable, easy-to-make artificial leg that is fashioned of hard plastic and can be repaired with nuts and bolts from a hardware store. It costs about $15 to make, compared to about $2,000 for the cheapest leg in the U.S., and it can withstand the rugged geography and the dirt, heat and humidity of a place like Haiti.

“You have to have a knee that’s pretty robust,” says Gonzalez, who already operates programs in Sierra Leone, Bangladesh and Senegal.

Prosthetic legs in America can cost upwards to $4,000. For a child, legs must be made over time as he or she grows. I read somewhere that the average wage for a Haitian is about $1 per day. They will need these groups to help the estimated 4,000 amputees who were fortunate not to lose their lives, but face the possibility of being abandoned as pariahs or burdens in their community.

A literary icon is dead

JD Salinger, author of Catcher in the Rye, dies at 91

J.D. Salinger, enigmatic author, dies at 91: Legendary author of ‘Catcher in the Rye’ died in his isolated home in N.H.

Believe it or not, I have never read The Catcher in the Rye, although I have read Franny and Zooey, a novel about the remarkable Glass family, with whom Salinger is said to have been obsessed. A recluse for many years, his death was announced by his literary agent and privacy has been requested for his family. There will be no service.

Something to know if you're prone to seizures

Ginkgo biloba's epilepsy seizures warning

Ginkgo biloba is a common herbal remedy for memory and mental focus, among other things. It comes from the same tree that is very popular here in Lexington thanks to the great statesman Henry Clay, who had them imported from China.

I once had a woman tell a group I was in that herbal remedies were natural, and therefore safe. That is, of course, hogwash. A tincture of aconite would kill a person. Belladonna, too. Even beneficial herbs have contraindications, just like pharmaceutical medicines, because they have compounds in them, some of which can work very well, and some of which may have side effects. Apparently the evidence indicates that ginkgo may increase the risk for seizures in those with epilepsy or other seizure disorders.

You should always take care to research herbal medicines if you have health conditions. The Germans in particular have codified a lot of information on herbal remedies. There are guides in English as well. Please be careful about information you find on the Internet though, and learn to evaluate websites carefully. Finally, be sure to ask your doctor about them and list them as a medicine you take. Ginkgo, for example, can increase bleeding in surgery, according to what I've read. It's important they know that as much as whether you're taking aspirin.


I know the 'Unshelved' comic isn't showing up correctly. They just changed their website around and I assume that is the problem. I've e-mailed the authors to see if there's anything I can do. In the meantime, if you click on the comic or go to http://www.overduemedia.com, you can read the current ones. Sorry about that.

I had oral surgery today to take a broken tooth out

and it went well. I guess I was in the office a total of 40 minutes and the procedure took 15. They thought they might have to cut it out in pieces because it had had a root canal, but they just had to drill a bit and make a couple of incisions and it came right out. I paid out of pocket for nitrous oxide (my insurance doesn't cover it) because I was nervous and it really helped me relax. The local anaesthetic has worn off and my jaw on the right side is just a little swollen. They have me on Percocet 5 for pain (I can't take Lortab; it makes me itch and a little manic) and a Z-pack of antibiotics. The latter is a little iffy. It contains azithromycin, a drug related to eurythromicin, which I can take, and clindomycin, which I'm allergic to. I've never had it before. So we'll see. In the meantime, I stocked up on soft foods (I have ice cream in my house for the first time since August of last year). Tomorrow we're supposed to get a snowstorm so I didn't want to get caught without food. I got some soup and pasta to get me through.

I didn't think to ask about using my CPAP after the oral surgery until after their office had closed, but I found a page online that were surgical directions from another practice that said that it was fine. I hope so, as I don't want a dry socket. I'm pretty sure that I used my CPAP right after my wisdom teeth were pulled, and that was a more serious surgery, as I had sedation and five teeth were extracted (I had another tooth that had issues at the time.)

I got up early and went out to Best Buy, which is near the oral surgeon, and returned the graphics card and got another one that was better and fits in the AGP slot. I figure since the current card is in that slot, I may have better luck. This card supports not only Windows 7 but also dual displays and HD. So it should work for awhile, assuming I get it going. I looked at memory but I wasn't sure if they would work because they were rated by speed of the processor and I couldn't remember what I have. I checked although the computer has a speed of 2.67 gigahertz, the memory speed is 533 megahertz. I'll have to do a little research and see what's available for that. Some geeky guy came up to me (not an employee) bragging about how he had 4 GB of memory in his computer and that he loved this stuff. I'm not sure but I think he was hitting on me. He definitely didn't attract me, and I kept the conversation short and decided to go before I missed my bus.

I then took the bus (to the next stop, but it kept me from having to walk over the New Circle bridge) and had Long John Silver's fish and chips with cheese curds and a milkshake. I figured if I was going to be on soft food for awhile, I'd live it up beforehand, and I had to make sure I ate before surgery (that's a switch, I know, but I wasn't being sedated and they didn't want my blood sugar to drop). The guy who made my milkshake made too much so he brought not only the mug (with whipped cream and cherry on top) but the rest of the cup that goes in the mixer. All in all it made two and a three quarters mugs of milkshake. :) Okay, I know, I didn't really need a milkshake, but it helped settle my nerves a little.

I still had about an hour before the procedure and so I went to K-mart, which is just a couple of buildings away from the surgery centre. There I used some of the money I'd gotten from the return of the graphics card to buy three towel sets (my friends will rejoice; they've kidded me for years for owning pretty much one towel), a screwdriver set (mine have evaporated, and I don't want to use a multi-tool on the new graphics card), and a new shower liner (mine is five or six years old and needs to go on to shower liner heaven). Oh, and I bought a dispenser for hand soap. The towels were just $2.99 and then $2.49 for the hand towels and washcloths, all in all I spent $43. I did look at bedding but I didn't see any I liked. (Although I see Martha Stewart was replaced by Jaclyn Smith). So I had a huge bag to carry around. I went ahead and put the graphics card in there, too. By the end of the day I had my gauze/post-surgery kit in there, and a library book they'd put on hold for me (one of the Dresden Files books by Jim Butcher). Then of course I also had my medicine and then in separate bags the food and drinks I'd purchased at the pharmacy.

By the time I got home I was ready to take some Percocet (before the numbing wore off completely) and sleep a bit. I got into the comfy chair and had a massage (there's a massaging cushion I keep on it) and fell asleep for a couple of hours. Then some friends called to check up on me and afterwards I moved to the bed and the CPAP machine. So I've had a four-hour nap. But I feel refreshed.

I have several things to work on (notes, the fish tank, and the house) and I've taken off tomorrow from both jobs in case I have much swelling or any aftereffects. If I'm doing okay I'll try to get that stuff done. I'd love to go see The Lovely Bones but I'm not sure I want to get out in the snow tomorrow, and it's not like I can eat popcorn or anything. :) I may just hole up here and do what I can, whatever I feel up to. I might even get to read a little. I've not completed one book since the beginning of the year, and January is almost gone. I have a Charlaine Harris book out from the library that needs to go back next Monday and it's very popular so I can't just renew it. I need to read that before the Jim Butcher one.

Okay, this has been a very long post. I'm going to see what I want to do now. I'm not used to having an evening to myself. I don't feel like doing much physical (and I took another Percocet because the first wore off), so I'm a little relaxed and sleepy (even my feet feel better), so it might mean watching TV (which I never do) and then later working on the game notes for awhile. Oh, and I should check my RSS reader; it's probably got a lot of news in it. But just in case I don't blog anymore tonight, have a great night. And there's that graphics card....

Ten years gone

since my grandfather, Edgar Craig, died. I can't believe it's been so long. He'd had emphysema for years (he smoked) and his blood oxygen levels were going very low. At one point he'd coded and been put on a ventilator at the VA hospital, but he'd been sent home and died there, as he wanted.

He was a Marine in World War II, and he was at Iwo Jima during the famous battle there. He raised three children with his wife Marjorie, and they also had foster children along the way. He broke his back falling onto a jackhammer sometime in the 50s, but managed to have surgery that kept him from being paralysed. After that he managed a store in Danville, Kentucky, where they lived. He later sold Suburus and car batteries.

He was bright, engaging, and a wonderful role-model. He had a gentleness about him, but could stand up for himself as well. I sorely miss him. He was the main father figure in my life, more so than my own father.

I remember driving home in an ice storm to be with my family after his death. For the actual funeral, the roads had gotten bad enough that my family came and got me in a four-wheel drive (Danville is only 35 miles from Lexington, and at the time I had my dog and didn't stay over.) All in all, it was a good death...he'd gone home from the hospital, gotten up in the middle of the night, fallen, and my grandmother couldn't get him back up. He told her to let him be, and then quietly died. At the funeral, one of my cousins was pregnant with her daughter, who sadly never knew him. But children born before and after his death continued the family, and he would have loved to see them all. At the funeral there was a gun salute at the graveside. The only glitch in the whole thing was that he wanted 'Amazing Grace' played during the funeral on the bagpipes; the funeral home played it will some sort of bells--not the same for a Scots family. But I guess they tried their best.

Anyway, I'm remembering him today. My grandmother is still living, although battling renal cancer. I suppose today is weighing heavily on her as well. I know she misses him every day.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Remember forever

Survivors mark liberation of Auschwitz: Prisoners at the Nazi death camp were freed by the Red Army in 1945
"We have a sacred duty to remember the twisted thinking that led here — how a great society of culture and science succumbed to the worst instincts of man and rationalized mass murder and one of the most barbaric acts in history," [President Barack] Obama said
Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, set on this date because 65 years ago the infamous Auschwitz and Birkenau concentration camps were liberated by the Russians.

All of us--Jews, non-Jews, people of whatever colour, religion, and nationality, should remember the genocide that took place there. As Obama said, this great crime was perpetrated by one of the most cultured societies at the time. Genocide can develop anywhere that there is intolerance, distrust, and hatred for a group based on some innate characteristic. The dehumanisation of Jews, Romany, and other groups was a horrific stain on the human collective soul. Those who deny that it happened are blind to history, to memory, to the existence of these very survivors who bear testament to what happened during that very dark time. Please, teach your children tolerance, treat your fellows humanely, and remember that even in the evil that was perpetrated those decades ago, there were people who sought to save the Jews, who risked their lives to stand up to the Nazi ideology, and who did what was right and good. These righteous Gentiles, as they are known in Israel, remind us that even when evil seems to reign, good is not extinguished. Someday you may have the choice between defiance and complicity--please choose wisely.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

He's serious, you know

about using the dippy bird (or lots of dippy birds) to solve the energy problems of the world, but he is an excellent harpist as well.

Thanks to YKWIA for showing me it. He also showed me a video of two Welsh guys doing the balloon dance, but I couldn't find it again. However, this one is rather funny as well...[may not be exactly work safe, but then why would you have YouTube at work and how can I get it too?]

Sunday, January 24, 2010

I work for a non-profit

that gives free orthopaedic care to children, sometimes as far away as Guatamala or the Pacific. I wonder if children can be sponsored to the US for health care, depending on what would work best in their culture, cooperation among aid organisations, and our own resources?

Haiti: as gangrene sets in, the amputations begin
The earthquake did not kill Youseline Paupilaire, but gangrene nearly did. She was brought to Haiti’s only functioning children’s hospital early yesterday with a festering double fracture to her lower left leg, and anaesthetised at 10.40am.

The first smell of amputation was that of burning flesh, as an Italian surgeon cauterised the blood vessels that he had severed with a neat incision around the leg. Then he pulled back the muscle and asked a colleague to hold it steady. At 11am he cut off Youseline’s foot with a hacksaw blade.

Youseline is 11, without parents or any known relatives. She is permanently disabled in a country that can barely look after the fully fit, yet she is alive. Stefano Calderali has lost count of how many amputations he has performed since landing in Port-au- Prince last Wednesday. “Thirty-five, maybe forty,” he said. “My own saw broke after the first ten.”
The scope is so large. But perhaps some children can find the care they need. I'm sure people are working on it; we're based in Florida, where many Haitian-Americans live. I think I'll ask a few questions up the ladder.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Oh, how awful

Police Investigate Break-Ins In Which Dogs Found Strangled
It has happened twice in Richmond, not far from Lexington. I was always a little worried that a burglar might hit my home and my cats or dog might get out through an open door or window--but I never really thought about someone doing this. It's such a victimisation; it's one thing to lose things, but a family pet is much more than that, and for someone to kill a pet to get to material stuff is truly loathsome.

Some tragedies are personal, but every bit as devastating

Apparent suicide of 9-year-old boy in The Colony raises questions
A misperception is that young children do not experience depression. About 5 percent of children and adolescents suffer from it, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Children who are under stress or have attention, learning or anxiety disorders are at higher risk of depression. It also runs in families.

Symptoms are often mistaken for adolescent moodiness, Berman said. Unlike in older people, depression in children is usually expressed in actions, rather than feelings.

"In general, it may be hard for the layperson to understand that a child can be clinically depressed," he said. "The bottom line is there are children as young as 4 or 5 who are diagnosed with depression."

It is important to remember, however, that in 40 percent of suicides, the victims do not exhibit symptoms of depression, he said.

To the family of Montana Lance, my deepest condolences. To lose a child at such a young age is devastating. That it was apparently by his own hand only makes his death harder to understand.

At the end of the article is an excellent list of signs of depression in children. There's also a list of resources, including the national suicide prevention hotline, which I'll duplicate here. Please call if you have thoughts of suicide.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255

The Haitian chaos continues, but there is hope

A Haitian's Quest to Save His Family

Man Rescued Alive After Haiti Calls Off Searches

More on Haiti:

Friday, January 22, 2010

The good, the bad, and the just plain weird

The bad:

1) I spent 3 hours last night trying to upgrade my computer's memory and graphics card to no avail. I did what I was supposed to do, was careful, etc., but the BIOS didn't recognise the memory and the although the computer recognised the graphics card and the drivers were installed, the monitor remained blank. I have two old VGA monitors. Neither worked. (Hey, it was worth a try.)

2) I was late to work at the hospital today. My phone alarm somehow got switched so it repeated just on Thursday. Unfortunately it is Friday, so it didn't go off. Although the other alarms went off, and I actually got up and worked on the computer some more, I'd gone back to sleep for about 45 minutes and relied on my phone to wake up by. Needless to say, that didn't work.

3) Because I was running late, I didn't manage to pick up my glipizide, one of my diabetes meds, and really can't until Monday.

4) We didn't manage to get the truck order put away tonight at the gas station. We'll probably catch hell for it tomorrow, but it came an hour late and was pretty big. I stayed an extra hour to help.

The good:

1) At least I managed to get the computer back to its normal state. Plus, Best Buy gives a full refund regardless of whether you open the package and try to place it in a computer. I'll take the card back Monday. The memory was cannibalised from another computer that someone I know had, so it is not an issue in terms of money. I traded out my monitors so I have my smaller one hooked up, but it's brighter, and I can see videos better, have better contrast, and generally see truer colours.

2) I got to the gas station early because a security guard at the hospital gave me a ride on his way to the bank.

3) I called the pharmacy and they'll hold the glipizide for Monday rather than restocking it, plus they'll fill my Lamictal as well.

4) We got free pizza (eaten quickly) because our carryout order took an hour to get ready. [The wife of one of my co-workers waited over there all that time.] This is why I don't care for Pizza Hut. The two times I have ordered from them there's been a huge delay. Last time they couldn't find us and we're across the street from them. I really do prefer Papa John's.

The weird:

Yesterday I met a woman waiting for the bus. At first I thought she'd done a few too many drugs during the 60s. Then I decided it was a combination of that and her being just plain batty. When I gave her my seat, she offered me her hat so I wouldn't get cold. She said smoking was a way to stay warm. I explained I was fine and that I'd just been sitting down to get a rock out of my shoe. She said I should have kept it because it was good luck and I could have named it and talked to it. She was really disoriented about the bus because she had not been on one in years. Nothing really odd about that, but she got hot and took off her jacket and a sweatshirt, and in order to do so she removed her hat, a white knitted beret. Inside it was lined with tin foil. Yes, really, as in thwart-the-CIA-or-aliens-who-are-spying-on-me aluminum. I kind of felt sorry for her. She said someone stole all her money from her account after she sold her car and she was going to the Salvation Army to find a place to stay and something to eat. But I couldn't help wondering if I were being played, because she had the money for cigarettes. She thought maybe you could still write a postdated cheque to the YMCA for a place to stay. I'm pretty sure that's not the case anymore. I explained bus transfers to her and she got one, but she got off before we got to the transit centre to get something from Subway (again, she said she had just $2) and basically wasted the transfer. Anyway, it was rather odd. I do hope she found what she was looking for, whatever that really was.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Silly goyim

And I say that as someone who is also non-Jewish, although I do have a minor in Judaic Studies, so I knew what the tefillin are. But I guess to the uninitiated they might look suspicious. His grandmother is right, though, we're very skittish in America (not that we haven't had cause), but the boy did explain what he was doing to the flight attendant who questioned him, and he was very cooperative with everyone. She went ahead and reported it to the cockpit, and they decided on the safe side to divert the plane. At least now maybe those non-Jews out there who haven't seen or heard of the ritual will understand a little better, though, so I guess something good came out of it.

A Flight Is Diverted by a Prayer Seen as Ominous (Jewish Teenager's Tefillin Diverts a US Airways Flight)
To some people in New York, that is a relatively common sight: an observant Jew beginning the ritual of morning prayer. But to at least one person on US Airways Express Flight 3079 on Thursday — the flight attendant — it looked ominous, as if the young man were wrapping himself in cables or wires....

[T]he flight crew had never seen tefillin, small leather boxes attached to leather straps that observant Jews wear during morning prayers. The flight crew “didn’t understand what it was,” he said, and the pilot “erred on the side of caution and decided to radio that in and to divert the flight.”
Thanks to YKWIA (my go-to person for all things Jewish) for letting me know about the story.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Oh, that's so cool

From Ireland--

Virtual explorers: access to rare artefacts at National Library
The exhibition features a range of rare items from the library’s collection of documents, letters, maps and art, many of which were deemed too valuable, light or air sensitive to be placed in regular display cases.

To overcome the problem, the National Library teamed up with Microsoft which has developed an interactive touch sensitive screen allowing the public to magnify and examine artefacts dating from the Middle Ages to the 20th century.

“A lot of the items are very delicate and fragile,” said Elizabeth Kirwan an assistant keeper at the National Library of Ireland. “Traditionally if you wanted to see them you had to make an appointment with a section curator, get a reader’s ticket, put on a pair of white gloves and go to the relevant section to look at the material.

“What we have been able to do now with the technology is enable detailed access to the items both in the library and online.”

Among the library's holdings is a map drawn by Gerald of Wales about 1200 CE. It's nice that if you can't travel there yourself, you can at least experience some things online. The web address for the library is http://www.nli.ie. If you're a history buff like I am, be sure to check it out. Thanks, Steven, for the link to the story.


Info from the Herald-Leader (I won't bother linking, as it will not be available after a few days)

Last night a woman just a little younger than me was killed on New Circle Road by someone who was quite probably drunk. His car was travelling the wrong way on the inner loop without its lights on. He struck one person's car, then collided head on with the dead woman's car. The force of the crash was such that the man's transmission and engine wound up on the outer loop (crossing a grassy median), where another car struck those. Everyone was injured, but had their seat belts on, and of course the one woman was killed.

She hasn't been identified yet. She was someone's daughter, quite likely someone's mother, even grandmother. Her death was due to someone's deliberate choice to drink and drive. In all, four people could have died on that road last night.

New Circle Road is the inner beltway around Lexington (the outer one is Man O'War). Three-quarters of it is a limited access highway; the north-east section was built first and is lined with businesses. But on the rest the speed limit is 50 or 55, hence the high force of the crash (and who knows how fast the drunk driver was going). I have to admit, I tend to avoid it for the most part when I'm driving because 1) they drive like crazy people there, like they're on an actual Interstate, and 2) I usually have older cars and don't really want to break down along that stretch of road, since there are no businesses to walk to. I also avoid I-75 and I-64 for the same reason. What can I say, I guess I drive like a fuddy-duddy. And yes, I've had my own brush with drunk driving, when a driver without his headlights on ran up on a median, sending a speed limit sign careening in the air towards my vehicle, which fortunately just stopped short of coming through the windshield. I'm lucky we weren't hurt in that one, and that the other car he actually smashed into had no one hurt either.

Anyway, I'm sorry to hear of this woman's death. My thoughts and prayers are with her family, and I hope the driver who killed her is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

UPDATED: The woman's name was Connie S. Layne. Her funeral is Sunday in Pike County, in Eastern Kentucky. According to her obituary, she was a social worker. She is survived by her mother and stepfather, two sisters, a grandmother, three nephews, and a niece. My condolences to them during this difficult time.

Although court records do not show a previous DUI for the driver who'd been going the wrong way, he had been arrested for public intoxication twice, driving without insurance, and operating a vehicle without a licence in the past.


I just paid my electric, cable, and cell phone bills (my home phone comes out automatically) and I must say I am much poorer. Fortunately I get paid from the gas station sometime tonight. That's all the standing bills for the month. I'm going to try to put some in savings towards a car and pay off a little debt as well.

I guess that's all for now. Good night.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Oooh, wonderful!

Temple to cat god found in Egypt
Archaeologists in Egypt have discovered a 2,000-year-old temple in Alexandria dedicated to a cat goddess.

The temple is the first trace of the royal quarters of the Ptolemaic dynasty to be revealed in Alexandria.

The find confirms the Greek dynasty of Egyptians continued the worship of ancient animal deities.
The Goddess is, of course, Bastet, sometimes known simply as Bast.

It's award time!

A Very New York Novel Wins Newbery Medal

A list of all the award winners can be found on the American Library Association's web site.

Speaking of trees

Fight to save dying plant species
A botanist from Kew Gardens is fighting to save one of the rarest plant species in the world, the Bastard Gumwood tree.

The last tree of this species is found on the tiny South Atlantic island of St Helena, and it is dying.
Only 1 in 10,000 pollen grains have a genetic mutation that allows self-pollination to take place. The tree is covered with netting to prevent cross-pollination with a related species. And a few people go out every day to use paintbrushes to collect pollen grains and pollinate the flowers. The only way to tell if the seeds are fertile is to plant them. I wish them success.

The island of Saint Helena was once covered with unique plant species, but much has been supplanted by introduced species, and then there was the introduction of goats, which eat all sorts of vegetation.

Hee hee

Offline Book "Lending" Costs U.S. Publishers Nearly $1 Trillion (from Go to Hellman)
From what we've been able to piece together, the book "lending" takes place in "libraries". On entering one of these dens, patrons may view a dazzling array of books, periodicals, even CDs and DVDs, all available to anyone willing to disclose valuable personal information in exchange for a "card". But there is an ominous silence pervading these ersatz sanctuaries, enforced by the stern demeanor of staff and the glares of other patrons. Although there's no admission charge and it doesn't cost anything to borrow a book, there's always the threat of an onerous overdue bill for the hapless borrower who forgets to continue the cycle of not paying for copyrighted material.
Thanks Chuck and Blake!

An update to an earlier post

New England loses a big tree, and a little history: Champion tree was more than 200 years old and battled Dutch elm disease

As the tree's long-time caretaker, Frank Knight--himself over 100--put it:
"It's been a beautiful tree. I'm sorry to see it go. But nothing is forever," Knight said. "It's pretty near my turn. And it's just a fact of life that life is going to end. And that's for people, for trees, for everything. I thank the good Lord every day that we had him in his glory and beauty for so long."
It survived the odds for so long, and grew majestic and strong, sheltering many a person and witnessing much of history in Yarmouth, Maine. I'm sure they will miss the grand old tree very much. But some essence will continue in the wood, and a part of Herbie will live on in various new forms.

There's a fine line between assisted suicide and murder

ME mother 'helped daughter die' with morphine syringes

A mother gives her debilitated daughter two syringes of morphine, who injects herself intravenously in a bid to end her own life. But it doesn't work, and then the mother injects more morphine, gives her daughter crushed pills, and finally injects air into her in an attempt to bring about her death. At that point I have to agree that it ceased being an assisted suicide and turned into murder. Yes, she may have been trying to fulfill her daughter's wishes. But 30 hours of continual actions designed to kill someone after they were no longer able to direct the effort really is at the very least manslaughter, and credibly murder. I'm interested in how this British case turns out.

ME, by the way, is Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, the disease that robbed the daughter of so much. In Britain the term refers to what we in America would call Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. She'd lived with a severe case from age 14 to 31. Although I do support a person's right to end their own suffering, and sympathise with her situation, I think the mother went too far, although she was trying to follow her daughter's wishes, but it is not our intentions but are actions that matter, and the fact of the matter is that her daughter is dead not by her own hand, but by her mother's.

Just in case you're one of those people that think Twitter is useless

Twitter used to help land plane with aid for Haiti earthquake victims

Doctors without Borders has a Twitter account, and they tweeted their frustration that one of their planes had been turned away (carrying a collapsible field hospital) and had to land in the Dominican Republic to try to make it over land, and another plane was in the air and in danger of being turned away as well (there were problems with planes crowding the available space on the ground).

Their followers picked up and retweeted the info, and a lot of them tweeted to the United State Air Force Twitter account, demanding that the plane be allowed to land. The Air Force replied that it was working on the problem. Eventually the plane, carrying vital medical supplies, was allowed to land. So as far as I'm concerned, go Twitter!

Obviously, I've been thinking of Haiti a lot lately

This political cartoon depicts how the Haitian earthquake reminds us of the things we have that they do not--clean, potable water on demand, health care, loved ones, and let's not forget the money that can help provide the necessities of life to the island nation and its people.

If you haven't given yet to the cause, please consider a small amount to an established charity. Food, water, and medical supplies are desperately needed, and getting the aid to the people who need it is improving. It is one thing to have so many thousands die in the quake. It is another that additional deaths will happen due to infection, dehydration, hunger, or being trapped too long. We need to do everything we can to prevent that which is preventable, to minimise this tragedy as much as humanly possible, and to reach out to our sisters and brothers in this time of need.

For more on the current state of the Haitian crisis, read:
Help steps up, but so does scale of Haiti tragedy: Authorities estimate 200,000 dead, 1.5 million homeless

Monday, January 18, 2010

Sometimes a cat can be man's best friend

Cat alerts sleeping couple of house fire
The search is on for Baby.

The white, brown and gray tabby is credited with rescuing a couple by rousting them from sleep when fire broke out in their Wonder Lake home early Monday. But Baby disappeared after everyone escaped.
The cat uncharacteristically jumped on them as they slept on the couch, alerting them to the smoke-filled state of the house. The couple are expecting twins in a couple of months, so that's four human lives saved, plus their dog. I hope they find their cat; she's 13 and strictly and inside cat, and very much a heroine.

Going through my Google Reader feeds

Dozens of elderly closer to death than rescue: Nursing home is near airport but also deep inside a maze of angry refugees

Senegal offers land to Haitians

Nine cameraman sorry for missing Haiti girl rescue footage: An Australian television cameraman apologised to his news director for missing images of a baby rescue in Haiti because he had put his camera down to help the infant, it has emerged

Haiti's voodoo priests object to mass burials

Stop using the word “looting!”
What constitutes “looting” in an area that has been reduced to rubble? Not waiting in front of a collapsed grocery store for the cashier to return? I suppose people should not eat until they have the opportunity to pay someone for food? Is that what “civilized” people would do?

Girl killed, 4,000 homeless in Manila slum fire: Blaze guts hundreds of shanties near Philippines capital

Mauritania fatwa bans female genital mutilation

Were mixed Christian-Jewish marriages possible in late medieval Poland?

NASA: Options dwindling for Mars Spirit rover: NASA exploring Mars rover options, including making Spirit a static lab

Is it really doomsday for books? Not while English casts its spell: Economic and technological changes have freed the English language from the shackles of empire and expanded its reach still wider (Thanks, birdie)

Iraq reclaims a Jewish history it once shunned (Thanks, Steven)

Science project prompts SD [San Diego] school evacuation
(On Slashdot: garg0yle writes:
"Police in San Diego were called to investigate an 11-year-old's science project, consisting of 'a motion detector made out of an empty Gatorade bottle and some electronics,' after the vice-principal came to the conclusion that it was a bomb. Charges aren't being laid against the youth, but it's being recommended that he and his family 'get counseling.' Apparently, the student violated school policies — I'm assuming these are policies against having any kind of independent thought?")

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Listening to:

'Hold On' by KT Tunstall

Her song came pre-loaded on my phone, so I heard it today while cleaning a friend's house. I really like that style of music, and I've enjoyed her other songs I've heard, especially 'Black Horse and the Cherry Tree'. YKWIA, I think you would like them.

When I'm feeling down, this sort of goes through my mind, too...

Just ask my friends--I organise other people's stuff, not my own, and I wouldn't wish the job on anyone else.


Garland: Protest Same Sex Marriage, or DIVORCE? by Garland Robinette of WWL Radio of New Orleans
I have one opinion on the gay rights controversy, and I know my opinion is correct, beyond a shadow of a doubt. Those of you actively fighting against gay marriage have waaaaaay too much time on your hands.

I don’t believe your real reason for fighting gay marriage is because you are sooooo concerned about the threat to the institute of marriage. If you were, you’d be protesting people like me. I have been married three times. Elizabeth Taylor and me are the biggest threats ever faced by the sacred institute of marriage.

Let’s not be a hypocrites. You don’t want gay marriage, because you don’t like gays. It’s that simple. You’re frightened by those icky things they do with their sexual parts. But, here’s another hypocritical part ... have you ever seen what them-thar “heterosexuals” do with their private parts? Whoa, talk about icky!
That pretty much covers it in my book, but read the whole opinion piece. He's absolutely right. I find it horrible that my six-month (officially nine by the time the paperwork went through) marriage was perfectly legitimate but that my friends who have been together almost twelve years can't marry, even though they are in a much more committed relationship.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Nor is the danger over

Aftershock Shakes Port-au-Prince

A short while ago a 4.5 magnitude aftershock briefly interrupted rescue efforts as rescuers had to withdraw from shaky buildings and then return to voices they'd heard in the rubble.

Things I'm reading and watching about Haiti this morning

(I found several links through Twitter)

Struggle to Bring Relief Continues in Haiti

Techies unite to brainstorm help for Haiti

Haiti: the 2010 Earthquake in Haiti (The Ushahidi crowdsourcing crisis report mapping system)

Photo: Haitian Red Cross volunteer Jean Zacharie delivers first aid to 1 month old- Deborah Fatima, mother died in quake (from the Red Cross)

A list of reliable charities operating in Haiti

Wikipedia's article on the 2010 Haiti earthquake

World Watch: Haiti Earthquake Updates from CBS News

Haiti online donations blocked over fraud concerns

Social Media and Mobile Texting a Major Source of Info and Aid for Earthquake in Haiti

The Big Picture: Pictures of the Earthquake in Haiti

A report of a girl trapped in the rubble amid dead bodies. Rescuers were giving her food and water but did not have the equipment to move the concrete trapping her. They were considering amputating her leg, but did not have the blood to do so. I'm not sure how this worked out, but it illustrates the desperate straits in Haiti, and I pray they were able to free her and save her life. It's difficult to watch but illustrates what is happening all over Port-au-Prince.

Please donate to a reliable charity in the wake of this crisis. It doesn't have to be much. I donated the equivalent of a loaded pizza--something I can easily do without. For these people, it can mean so much more.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Here's hoping she can be captured alive

Escaped zoo hippo still roaming free: Female's movements are being tracked by the zoo's private security
A 2-ton hippo who escaped from a flooded private zoo in Montenegro was roaming free Wednesday but returning to the zoo owner's restaurant to eat bread and hay.

Officials disagreed over whether to kill the hippo, considered one of the world's most dangerous species. Nikica, 11, escaped this week as heavy rains sent water flooding through the zoo, raising the water level in her pen and allowing her to swim over the top of the cage surrounding it.

A spokesman for Montenegro's natural disasters commission, which responds to floods, said the law required animals that can endanger human lives to be killed. But state veterinary authorities said they were not entitled to kill animals.
Hippos are not the cute things you see dancing in tutus in Disney movies. They are extremely dangerous. That said, I hope that there is some way that she can be returned to the zoo (once it is functional again) alive and not killed.

Some good news

Doomsday Clock set back by a minute
Humanity inched away from Armageddon on Thursday morning. The Doomsday Clock was set back one minute, from 11:55 to 11:54, reversing a precipitous slide toward midnight, the zero hour, ultimate self-destruction.

The clock was reset to reflect a "more hopeful state of world affairs," the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists announced at the New York Academy of Sciences and over a live feed on the Internet. Forty policymakers, scientists and Nobel laureates on the board of the Bulletin -- an online magazine that covers threats to humanity -- decided to move the clock after spirited debates about current trends in science and politics.

"We are poised to bend the arc of history toward a world free of nuclear weapons," the board said in a statement. "For the first time since atomic bombs were dropped in 1945, leaders of nuclear weapons states are cooperating to vastly reduce their arsenals and secure all nuclear bomb-making material. And for the first time ever, industrialized and developing countries alike are pledging to limit climate-changing gas emissions that could render our planet nearly uninhabitable."

This is the 19th time the clock has moved in 63 years. The creators of the Manhattan Project wound up the symbolic device in 1947 to remind the world of the consequences of abusing nuclear power. Since then, the clock has moved forward 11 times and back eight times. It came closest to midnight in 1953, when the testing of hydrogen bombs nudged it to 11:58, and moved furthest away in 1991, when it slid to 11:43 after the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. The clock has been steadily ticking toward midnight since the mid-'90s, as increased terrorism destabilized regions of the world and India and Pakistan tested nuclear bombs.
Of course, the Doomsday Clock just measures mankind's self-destructive likelihood from nuclear weapons. The article also points out that the prophecy site Rapture Ready's Rapture Index, which is a sort of barometer as to how close we are to the End Times, is at its highest point since the 9/11 attacks, having been last updated before the earthquake in Haiti, which will no doubt raise it further, serving to underscore the tribulations we are experiencing from a Christian standpoint.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

An amusing twitter post (not mine)

from librarianwonder, who has a blog, too, the Pop Culture Librarian
People keep asking me how my family is doing in Haiti and want to help. Positive: ppl are kind. Negative: ppl have no idea where I'm from.

[Her parents are from the South Pacific and she describes her ethnicity as Desi. So, nowhere near Haiti. But since she grew up in different places in the US and now lives in the Pacific Northwest, even she says if you want to know where she's from, prepare to sit down.]

I know the feeling, a bit. My family is from Kentucky but I grew up in five different states and about nine different locations, with two kindergartens, two elementary schools, three junior highs, and two high schools (is it any wonder I didn't acquire any social skills until I was an adult?) The life of a military brat is complicated sometimes. I once told someone I was from Louisiana (because I spent the longest there, and we were talking about Cajun food, and I was trying to impress her, and it just slipped out that way), despite being born in Kentucky and being a ninth-generation Kentuckian, and a friend has never let me forget it. But at least I was born in a town where my family lived and came back in time to graduate from high school there, so I can say that Danville, Kentucky is my hometown. Still, I wasn't raised there, so it gets a little weird if you go further than that. And of course, I've lived over half my life now in Lexington, so it really is home.

How about you? Do you have a place you identify with more than a hometown, really?

Oh, good lord--there's security, and then there's stupid harassment

Meet Mikey, 8: U.S. Has Him on Watch List
The Transportation Security Administration, under scrutiny after last month’s bombing attempt, has on its Web site a “mythbuster” that tries to reassure the public.

Myth: The No-Fly list includes an 8-year-old boy.

Buster: No 8-year-old is on a T.S.A. watch list.

“Meet Mikey Hicks,” said Najlah Feanny Hicks, introducing her 8-year-old son, a New Jersey Cub Scout and frequent traveler who has seldom boarded a plane without a hassle because he shares the name of a suspicious person. “It’s not a myth.”

Michael Winston Hicks’s mother initially sensed trouble when he was a baby and she could not get a seat for him on their flight to Florida at an airport kiosk; airline officials explained that his name “was on the list,” she recalled.

The first time he was patted down, at Newark Liberty International Airport, Mikey was 2. He cried.

After years of long delays and waits for supervisors at every airport ticket counter, this year’s vacation to the Bahamas badly shook up the family. Mikey was frisked on the way there, then more aggressively on the way home.
The simple explanation of the problem is that he shares the same name as someone on that list, and airlines have been determining who should be screened by names alone. But its not a simple problem--thousands of travelers have been put through the ringer based on a similarity of name. One Canadian man went so far as to change his name to be free of harassment. Others mispell theirs, which if you think about it, any terrorist could do as well. New procedures will involve taking down dates of birth and genders of passengers, which should help. Mikey, after all, was born a month before September 11th, so that should flag him as okay. But I think there must be better ways to improve security than a list of suspicious people. It's too easy to avoid for the real culprits and too hard to avoid for the innocents.

For that matter, it's not just names. I have a co-worker who gets frisked every time, probably because she had a darker complection (I think she has American Indian in her) and looks slightly ethnic as a result. She has complained a couple of times of having to strip to her bra. Her husband, lighter complected, has no trouble.

I'm not in the business of security, so I don't have a lot of ideas for alternatives. I suppose face-recognition programs might help, although technology is never perfect either. But there are lots of people in intelligence who are paid big bucks to come up with plans for protecting us, and I think they can do better than a list where an 8-year-old can't go anywhere on a plane and enjoy a simple family vacation without being frisked.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

By the way, it was practically balmy this afternoon

I don't know the final temperature, but it was supposed to be about 34 degrees. I actually managed to go to work without my gloves on and with my coat unzipped. Even now it's 27 and feels so good compared to 12. Or 7. You get the idea. Tomorrow it's supposed to be 44, staying about the same at least through Monday. And Sunday we're supposed to get rain. Not snow--rain (although I enjoyed the sun today, and the stars are very clear tonight with the waning crescent moon). I feel like celebrating the thaw that finally has come.

Requiescat in pace

Cathy Jordan was a medical librarian who cheerfully shared articles of interest on the MEDLIB-L list quite often. Today the sad news was shared on the list that she apparently died of a massive brain hemorrhage on Friday at her father's home. The coroner said that it would have happened quickly, that there was nothing that could have been done to save her, and that she would not have suffered. She was only 55.

She is survived by her father, a sister, and three brothers. She was from Portland, Oregon, had worked at the Walter Reed Army Hospital library in Washington, DC, but had returned home to Portland and was a librarian at the VA Medical Center there.

Her obituary is brief, and can be found here.

Condolences can be left here.

According to her obituary, a Mass of Christian burial will be at 11 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 14, 2010, in St. Agatha Catholic Church.

Of all the various tributes to her that appeared on the list, I especially like a post Valerie Rankow dug up that Cathy wrote in 2001:
"While I was weeding some books recently, a book fell open to a section I thought you would all find interesting. The book is "House Officer Training" by Robert Moser, published by CC Thomas, 1970.

Page 42, last paragraph says "If you are not fortunate enough to have access to MEDLARS, you are obliged to employ traditional methods. Your ML can help you again..." I presumed ML meant Medical Librarian, however, backing up to the previous paragraph, I found: '...If you have access to the MEDLARS at the National Medical Library, select the key words with the help of your marvelous librarian (ML)....'

So, my title is now "Marvelous Librarian".

I did not know her personally, and only knew her from her posts, but I'm sure she was, indeed, a marvelous librarian. I think it wonderful that there has been such an outpouring of sympathy and remembrance from the list. We should all hope to be remembered this fondly.

I've bought into that illusion in the past

Catching up on lost sleep a dangerous illusion
People who are chronically sleep-deprived may think they're caught up after a 10-hour night of sleep, but new research shows that although they're near-normal when they awake, their ability to function deteriorates markedly as night falls.

Some studies show that almost 30% of Americans get less than six hours of sleep at night. The research indicates that the body's daily circadian rhythm hides the effects of chronic sleep loss and gives such people a second wind between about 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., when the circadian rhythm is pushing them to be awake.

But then they fall off a cliff in terms of attention.
According to the article, staying up for 24 hours can impair a person on par with being over the legal limit for alcohol. Getting only 6 hours of sleep for two weeks gives about the same results as being up for 24 hours. Since many professions where attention is crucial involve little sleep--paramedics, doctors, nurses firemen, policemen, truckers, etc.--critical errors may result. Scary.

More on the situation in Haiti

Tens of thousands feared dead after Haiti earthquake

U.S. Mobilizes to Help Haiti

150 U.N. staff members remain trapped under rubble in Haiti

U.S. husband pulls wife from Haiti rubble: She was trapped for 10 hours; aid worker drove 100 miles and dug her out

I feel much better than I did last night

I think it has something to do with climbing so much on the ladder to put away the cigarettes on truck night. I think I got on the ladder briefly twice today. My feet were really bothering me right before I went from one work to another, but they stayed about that level of pain. I thought it would get much worse. So here's another day closer to being pain-free.

On a good note today, my mother called me and told me that my grandmother, who is 85 years old, is doing well after surgery to remove her kidney due to renal cancer. She's still in the hospital, but I think she gets to go home in a day or two. Here's hoping for a complete recovery.

I'm going to check the news now. Have a good night.

Haiti disaster relief--a worthy cause

Normally when I spotlight a particular disaster, I do what I can to inform people of organisations willing to help, but can't afford to donate myself. But I got paid today and it was a good cheque due to working double time on New Year's Day, so I made contributions to Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) (they have a team there normally, but their facilities were damaged and their personnel and patients may be hurt; they're sending reinforcements to help) and the American Red Cross (material aid is on the way from the Panama; an initial $200,000 has been pledged but will surely increase).

Latest reports say that Port-au-Prince is devastated and that as many as 3 million people have been affected by the quake.

Please do what you can to help the victims of this disaster. I didn't donate much, really, but my donation taken with the many others that are made make all the difference.

Another tribute to Miep Gies

from the Anne Frank House itself.

The video is in Dutch, but if you go to the lower right corner and choose the up arrow, it will give you the option to turn English or French subtitles on.

You can also sign a condolence book at: http://www.annefrank.org/miepgies


I'm up, it's 8 am, and I feel awful. I almost got up at 6:30, but I'd slept very fitfully, my feet moving the whole time in a bid to get comfortable, and holding my body a certain way to keep from bleeding on the mattress like I did the night before. I'm very stiff and my neck hurts. Even my fingers hurt. A hot shower might help. Yoga would be good, but it doesn't always mix well with menstruation. My feet do feel better, though. I can walk with just the normal amount of pain this morning.

I'm sorry to go on about the travails of my body aches. Maybe I'm becoming like an old grandmother. Next I'll be talking about the regularity of my poop, no doubt (my older relatives do this, almost always during dinner. It's very embarrassing.)

Anyway, I'm up but slow moving and sloth-like.

Such awful devastation in a country already strained by poverty and woe

Fierce Quake Devastates Haitian Capital
Rescue teams struggled in the early-morning darkness Wednesday to make their way through the rubble of collapsed buildings after a devastating earthquake struck Haiti late Tuesday afternoon.

The quake, with a magnitude estimated at 7.0, caused the collapse of the National Palace, leveled countless shantytown dwellings and brought more suffering to a nation that was already the hemisphere’s poorest and most disaster-prone.

The earthquake was the worst in the region in more than 200 years and left the country in a shambles. As night fell in Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s densely populated capital, fires burned near the shoreline downtown, but otherwise the city fell into darkness.

Battered by major quake, Haiti braces for huge death toll

Unfortunately one group that could do a lot to help is currently in uncertain status itself:
The world body "is still in the process of gathering information on the extent of the damage and the status of U.N. personnel," said Alain Le Roy, the U.N. undersecretary-general for peacekeeping operations.

The Brazilian led-mission includes about 2,000 police and nearly 500 civilians. It was first sent to Haiti in 2004, after the ouster of then-Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. An official at U.N. headquarters in New York said the headquarters collapsed, and engineers were trying to clear the rubble.

Mike Godfrey, an American contractor working for the U.S. Agency for International Development, said "a huge plume of dust and smoke rose up over the city" within minutes of the quake. He described it as "a blanket that completely covered the city and obscured it for about 20 minutes until the atmosphere dissipated the dust."

According to the White House Twitter feed, you can text "HAITI" to 90999 to donate $10 to the Red Cross relief efforts in Haiti. For more information, check out the White House blog's Thoughts and Prayers for Haiti. The $10 will automatically be charged to your cell phone bill. You can also go to the Red Cross or Mercy Corps to make a donation.

I had a very odd thing happen tonight

As a customer pulled out his money, something went flying over the counter, landing behind me. Without thinking I retrieved it and handed it back.

Then it hit me.

It was a small baggie full of large opaque white crystals. I don't know what kind of drug it was, but I basically handled something highly illegal, which rather bothers me. I don't know if there was any better way to handle the situation (really, withholding it and threatening to call the police might have agitated him, and where there are drugs there are often guns). I'm thinking it was his own personal stash as a user, not a dealer, unless there were lots of little baggies in his pocket, and he didn't pull out wads of cash like I sometimes see. But still. It was unnerving, to say the list. I've never so much as held marijuana in my hands, much less something like meth or crack. (I'm not sure which it was. Is meth white?) The only drug I've done in my life was legal at the time (I tried amyl nitrate, also known as 'poppers' when I was dating my ex). [I don't think it's legal anymore, but really, I'm not sure.] Anyway, so I am not wise in the ways of the drug culture. It makes me feel both good to be that naïve in some ways, but also makes me feel like I'm a little squeaky clean Gidget type, ready to be exploited by the world. (Yes, I know, I'm not really squeaky clean/totally naïve, but you get the idea.) Anyway, it made me feel weird to say the least.

How would you have handled it?

I did it again

I'm getting somewhat frustrated. I come in, blog a little, and then by 10 or 11 pm I move to the comfy chair with Snuggie and comforter to get warm and elevate my feet and the next thing I know it's 2 am and I've slept when I should have been doing other things, like the game notes, laundry, or cleaning. Cleaning is especially important at the moment because it's the time of the month I give offerings to Hekate, Who has a purification aspect, so the house should be reasonably clean--especially now, in the first month of the new year. (In fact, I did exactly the same thing on New Year's Eve--come home, fall asleep in the chair, etc., that I forgot to offer a libation to Her on the changing of the year. She is also a Goddess of liminal points, including time, so going from one year to the next is a time of offerings.)

The plan for several days has been to get up early and do this stuff then, when I'm refreshed. So far it hasn't worked, but the extra incentive of readying the house for Her may help. I hope so, at least.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Even without DNA, prions can evolve like organisms, study says
To prove his theory, Weissmann took prion populations from infected brain cells and put them in cell cultures. After being transferred, the prions outcompeted the normal prion protein. And when those prions were transferred back into animal brains, they took over again.

To confirm the findings, the researcher tested the drug swainsonine, which can inhibit the formation of prions. In cell cultures where the drug was used, a drug- resistant substrain of prion evolved to become predominant. When the drug was withdrawn, the substrain that was susceptible to the drug again grew to become the dominate strain.

"The practical implications are that prions may develop drug resistance," he said.
It is kind of scary to think that abnormal proteins without DNA could still go through natural selection and acquire drug resistance. Prions are the cause of a variety of diseases, the best known of which is mad cow disease.

I don't want to sound like a complete and utter wuss

But I was in such pain on the way home tonight I broke down and cried. I was able to keep going on by controlled breathing, but barely, although I was determined to make it home. My tendonitis is the main problem tonight, sending shooting, hot pain up my legs to my thighs. My left foot felt like it was tearing in the heel; that may have been the spur. Now that I'm off my feet they're still aching, but it's nowhere near the intensity as when I was walking.

Yesterday I got the impressions of my feet for my orthotics, but they'll be ready in four to six weeks. I think it's time to go back to Dr Rooney and see if there's anything they can do. The only other thing I can think to do is find another part-time job that doesn't require standing for long periods of time. Years ago a psychic predicted that I would be crippled, in a wheelchair by the time I was in my 40s. I really don't want that to happen. I just want to walk without pain. That may mean losing weight, taking cortisone shots, finding another job, whatever. But something's got to give....

Monday, January 11, 2010


She had a long life, but, oh, I'm sorry to hear of Miep Gies' death. Gies was one of the people who helped Anne Frank's family hide during the Holocaust. She is the one who found Anne's diary and saved it, giving it to Otto Frank when he returned, having lost his wife and daughters. She also spoke about her experiences and wrote a memoir of that time. She is a reminder that ordinary people can do honourable things during even the darkest times.

Anne Frank diary guardian Miep Gies dies aged 100

'I am not a hero. I just did what any decent person would have done.'--Miep Gies

Here is a tribute to Miep Gies I found on YouTube:

Shakes head in disbelief

Some guy is taking information from a credit card over the phone a couple seats away from me and is repeating every bit of it out loud for anyone to steal. I can't tell if he's ordering something for someone or if he's actually asking someone as a business thing. I think the latter, as he didn't know the person's e-mail and it appears to be a business credit card. I can't believe someone would do this.

Wait. I can. There are a lot of stupid people in the world. But the sad thing is that the man/woman on the other line has no idea he's doing this in a public library, I suspect. Agh.

PS He just ended the call and apparently it's some family member helping him out with school. I only hope no one else took down that information. Gee.

A Kentucky library director has been named Librarian of the Year

As you may remember, it's been a hard year for the Louisville Free Public Library, given the flooding in 2009. Its director, Craig Buthod, was named Librarian of the Year by the Library Journal.

Mr Buthod is from Tulsa, Oklahoma, but I think we'll adopt him as an honorary Kentuckian. Way to go!

I have an appointment in about thirty minutes

and realised that if I took the bus I'd originally planned to, I would have been late, so I left work my normal time for a Monday. Of course, this way I'm early, but there is a public library conveniently across from the doctor's office. :)

I did make my dental appointment too, for Thursday. It will be less fun than today's, which is only supposed to take about 10 minutes. I'm not sure if I'll be able to catch the bus directly afterwards or if I'll be back in the library for a few minutes. I am on a time schedule today, but it is somewhat fluid.

So far the day's been okay. One of our new copiers was misfeeding today, so a tech arrived just before I left and I was able to show him what was going on. Hopefully it will be fixed before I get in tomorrow.

Beyond that it hasn't been particularly eventful, so I'm going to go look for news to see if there's anything blogworthy this afternoon.

On a less weighty issue, at least for society

More power to Conan O'Brien, who's really getting shafted by NBC because their darling Jay Leno couldn't cut it in prime time.

Conan O'Brien Ready to Leave NBC Over Late Night Shake Up

Our generation's Brown vs. the Board of Education? I think so...

Definitely a case to watch:

Courtroom showdown set to begin over same-sex marriage
They've been committed to each other for eight years and have four sons together, but there's a component missing in one Berkeley, California, couple's life that's out of reach for them: getting married.

Kristin Perry and Sandra Stier's partnership is one that has taken center stage because of the ongoing debate on same-sex marriage in California.

On Monday, the spotlight will be even brighter, when a trial challenging California's Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriage, begins in U. S. District Court in San Francisco. Demonstrators are expected to be out in force. There also may be a camera in the courtroom if the ballot initiative's sponsors fail in their 11th hour bid to convince the U.S. Supreme Court to keep it out.

Perry and Stier, along with Jeffrey Zarrillo and Paul Katami, of Los Angeles, are the two couples at the heart of the case, arguing that California's ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional. They are asking Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker to issue an injunction against Proposition 8's enforcement.
And yes, I hope they keep the cameras in...this is a case that should be seen by the American public, as regardless of what side you stand, it will obviously be a landmark case, most likely going to the Supreme Court of the United States. Of course, I also hope the couples win. :)

I'm getting a late start today and waiting for the next bus

Today I need to:

1) Get my foot impressions done.
2) Make an appointment with the dentist.
3) Clean up my kitchen and living room, where things are piling up.
4) Take out the trash.
5) Work on notes.
6) At least a little laundry.
7) Add some water to the fish tank and clean out the duckweed

But then there's my work list and going over to a friend's for a while to help him with a few things. I won't be able to stay for 'Heroes', however, as I can't afford a cab fare home tonight--but I'm paid up through the 21st on the bus. :)

My apartment complex did a top notch job on clearing not only the internal walks and driveways, but also the sidewalks around the perimeter, something very few people have done with this snow despite a city ordinance requiring walks to be shoveled within a certain number of hours of snowfall. Yesterday, both in the moning and at night, I do something I rarely do--cut across the car lot between my apartment and the bus stop, because their lot was clear but their sidewalks weren't. Walking on snow exacerbates the tendonitis in my ankles, and it wasn't like I was bothering the cars. But I did feel like I was trespassing (which in point of fact, I was, at least when they were closed.)

We're getting another inch or so this afternoon, but tonight the temps are going to be around what the days have been like lately. So that's a plus.

Well, let me check the news quickly. Have a great day.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

It looked like I was walking on diamond dust this evening

as I made my way home. And considering how dry and powdery the snow is, covered with ice crystals, I suppose it seemed even more so. The slush is freezing. When we did the great grocery run earlier today, Margaret's car slid down the driveway in park--and it was only about 6 pm. By the time I got home, the wind chill was down to 3.

But the good news it that it will be warming up to the 40s by Wednesday. Of course, that means we'll have a messy thaw, but it will be nice to get some normal temperatures (average temps for January are a low of 41 and a high of 23, although the record, set in 1963, for a low was -21!) Now that's cold...

Perhaps the most haunting song I have ever heard

In my head on a cold winter's night:

The Wookie's enthusiastic but Vader steals the show :)

Yes, I'm harmed, but also highly amused. Thanks for sharing, YKWIA.

By the way

the National Geographic DVD-ROMs were everything I could hope for. I will savour each issue. (See accompanying tweets on the Twitter gadget down and left). Thanks YKWIA and A for the great (and much appreciated) Yule present!

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Yes, we as a society should pay for the very things librarians do (or at least any librarian worth her/his salt)

Seth Godin has a post on the future of the library:
What we need to spend the money on are leaders, sherpas and teachers who will push everyone from kids to seniors to get very aggressive in finding and using information and in connecting with and leading others.

Here's one response, which includes a comparison between the local public library and Barnes & Noble. The Analog Divide has one that's pretty much aligned with mine.

I've been following someone on Twitter

but am now following his blog because, well, of the Persian FBI post. But then there was the graph showing Hewlett-Packard ink as costlier than blood, and then I read his apostrophe post (yes, it really is s', not 's after an s as far as I am concerned [not to mention after x and z, or at least that was how I was taught]; I think people just aren't taught properly anymore and have no idea of proper grammar--sorry Stephen King). Well, you get the picture. A dead man fell from the sky... is a blog by Gary Corby, who writes historical novels set in Ancient Greece. Once they're published I definitely must check them out, and not just because I majored in history and classics, love reading, and love how the English language flows when well-written--he's got a great sense of humour, too.

Anyway, go read his blog...or follow him on Twitter (http://twitter.com/GaryCorby). Here's the blurb for his first book, due to be released in Fall 2010:
Nicolaos, the ambitious son of a minor sculptor, walks the mean streets of Classical Athens as an agent for the promising young politician Pericles. Murder and mayhem don't bother Nico; what's really on his mind is how to get closer (much closer) to Diotima, the intelligent and annoyingly virgin priestess of Artemis, and how to shake off his irritating 12 year old brother Socrates

Oh, and Socrates? He's that Socrates. :) Book 2 is in revision and he's currently writing Book 3. I must say I'm intrigued. So keep an eye out for more.

You may have heard of the tragedy

where a woman and her year-old daughter were trampled to death by an elephant who came out of the brush in Kenya.

What I didn't know what that she was a librarian. Thanks, Blake from LISNews, for letting me know.

She had joined the Peace Corps and fell in love with Africa, and was a faculty member at Nairobi's university along with her husband, working to improve education and literacy there. So sad that her life was cut short, and that of her young daughter's.

Gay marriage controversy hits the annual meeting of the Americal Historical Association

American Historical Association Annual Meeting begins today amidst controversy
Some of the events are being held at the Manchester Grand Hyatt, whose owner contributed heavily to the campaign in the state against same-sex marriage. The 1,625-room resort has been the subject of a boycott by gay-rights activists since July 2008.

There were calls for the historians to boycott the hotel and pull out of hosting the conference there, but the AHA replied that doing so would cost over $800 000, which would be too expensive. Arnita Jones, the association’s executive director, said, "We’ve been around a long time, but our members are college professors, history teachers and librarians, and we aren’t a wealthy organization."
Instead they are hosting a mini-conference on historicial perspectives on same-sex marriage, but they still expect protests to the conference.

This bookstore cat needs a home

Rare Bookstore Cat Soon To Be On Streets?

Well, I'm sure that won't be the case, butSkyline Books in New York City is closing, and Linda, their 8-year-old bookstore cat, has always lived in the store and is territorial around other animals, so she may not be able to live at home with her owner. They're especially interested in finding another book shop to take her in (although maybe a small library would work?)

Thanks to birdie from LISNews.

Kudos to them!

Plus-size models buck thin trend in V magazine: ‘Big’ news as avant-garde fashion publication releases February ‘Size’ issue

In actuality the 'Size Issue' of V presents women, both large and small, in a way to encourage people to see beauty regardless of the size of the woman. They even have two covers, one with tiny Dakota Fanning and one with Precious star Gabourey Sidibe, who weighs just a little less than me.

In a world where a size 12 is a plus-sized model, the average woman is a 14, and 41% of women are above that, we need to redefine beauty. Women may have an ideal size when they are their most beautiful, but it shouldn't be dictated to them. A woman who is beautiful at an 18 shouldn't be forced to starve herself till her health is compromised. What's important is one, being healthy, which contrary to popular belief can be possible at a larger size so long as you are also active, and two, recognising beauty for what it is, not merely something physical but the all-around wonder of woman.

Now that's more like it

Latest in hummus war: Israel doubles record: But Lebanon is already plotting a bigger plate of mashed chickpeas
You've got to love the opening line in this story:
Israel has taken the upper hand in a new kind of Mideast conflict, one in which bullets are replaced by chickpeas.
But most significantly:
Hundreds of jubilant Israelis, a mix of Arabs and Jews, gathered around the giant dish in the town of Abu Ghosh near Jerusalem on Friday, many of them dancing as a singer performed an Arabic love song to the beige chickpea paste.
Here's to hummus as a means to foster cooperation instead of violence. And it's quite tasty, too.

Violence begets violence

Muslims, Christians set homes ablaze in Egypt: Fires follow killing of 6 Christians on Coptic Christmas, rape of Muslim girl

The area of Nagaa Hamady, a little north of Luxor in Aegypt, has become in embroiled in violence after the (Coptic) Christmas Eve [Wednesday night] drive-by shooting of six Coptic Christians. Two of the three men held are believed to be related to a Muslim girl who was said to be raped about a month ago by a Copt. In the wake of the shootings, four Muslim shops in a nearby village and four Coptic houses in another have been torched. Demonstrations also yielded several arrests.

Here's hoping for peace to reassert itself. Copts and Muslims have co-existed in Aegypt for many hundreds of years, and I'd like to see this as an isolated incident that will die down. But whenever you get into retaliation violence, there's a tendency for it to escalate first.

Ways to use technology (and even Web 2.0) to collaborate to better serve patients: a list of articles freely available for reading

A scientific collaboration tool built on the facebook platform.

AMIA Annu Symp Proc. 2008;:41-5

Authors: Bedrick SD, Sittig DF

We describe an application ("Medline Publications")written for the Facebook platform that allows users to maintain and publish a list of their own Medline-indexed publications, as well as easily access their contacts lists. The system is semi-automatic in that it interfaces directly with the National Library of Medicine's PubMed database to find and retrieve citation data. Furthermore, the system has the capability to present the user with sets of other users with similar publication profiles. As of July 2008,Medline Publications has attracted approximately 759 users, 624 of which have listed a total of 5,193 unique publications.

PMID: 18999247 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Web screening of US nursing homes by location and quality.

AMIA Annu Symp Proc. 2008;:576-80

Authors: Pearson G, Gill M, Thoma G

To assist American families who will one day need to find a nursing home for a loved one, NLM is developing a Web 2.0 interface to important evaluative information about nursing homes in the US. Currently in prototype form, our Nursing Home Screener locates homes on a Google Map. It allows nursing home quality, indicated by map icons, to be surveyed in any of four major categories: staffing, fire safety deficiencies, healthcare deficiencies, and quality of care inferred from residents health. Within each category, options can be tailored to user preferences. Furthermore, home attributes can be used to selectively hide home markers of less interest. The goal is to offer the public a timely, easy to use site for the rapid location and comparison of nursing homes, thus identifying those worth further review or a personal visit.

PMID: 18998890 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

A prototype system to support evidence-based practice.

AMIA Annu Symp Proc. 2008;:151-5

Authors: Demner-Fushman D, Seckman C, Fisher C, Hauser SE, Clayton J, Thoma GR

Translating evidence into clinical practice is a complex process that depends on the availability of evidence, the environment into which the research evidence is translated, and the system that facilitates the translation. This paper presents InfoBot, a system designed for automatic delivery of patient-specific information from evidence-based resources. A prototype system has been implemented to support development of individualized patient care plans. The prototype explores possibilities to automatically extract patients problems from the interdisciplinary team notes and query evidence-based resources using the extracted terms. Using 4,335 de-identified interdisciplinary team notes for 525 patients, the system automatically extracted biomedical terminology from 4,219 notes and linked resources to 260 patient records. Sixty of those records (15 each for Pediatrics, Oncology & Hematology, Medical & Surgical, and Behavioral Health units) have been selected for an ongoing evaluation of the quality of automatically proactively delivered evidence and its usefulness in development of care plans.

PMID: 18998835 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

These are all in PubMedCentral, NLM's FREE depository of articles.