Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
comic strip overdue media

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Happy Birthday to Brandon

who, along with his twin sister, turns 27 years old today. He's a great co-worker and regular reader of this blog. So here's to a special day for him and his family.

Could those holographic touchscreens be far away?

This one's just for YKWIA, who wants holographic touchscreens for use at the game. Now if they can project the screen into the air and combine with this technology, we might have something...

Possibility of TouchLESS Computers
Researchers at the Lab have developed a motion relationship between screen and computer, turning the monitor into a device that not only displays images but can sense light and movement as well.

“Imagine every pixel on your LCD screen emitting light could also be receiving light,” said Ramesh Rakar, an Associate Professor at the MIT Media Lab. “So in a sense, you’re creating a mega-pixel sensor.”


I wish all paedophiles were this stupid

Alton man faces child porn charges after library staff finds images on his flash drive

The images were found by a library worker while verifying that the man was, indeed, the owner of a flash drive left behind at the library. Once the images were found, he denied ownership of the drive, and then went to a computer at the library, whereupon police were summoned, so I don't know how the case will play out. He could just deny it's his, but surely he must have indicated it was his prior to the images being found, since the police did go ahead and arrest him rather than just question him about it.

As a side note, the news service the link belongs to also published his address along with his name. Since the jury of public opinion doesn't involve 'innocent until proven guilty', that opens him up to a lot of harassment. 'Course, if he is guilty, I hope he's put away for a long time.

Thanks to Blake from LISNews for the story.

Okay, I studied mediaeval history extensively and this one

took me a little while to navigate (I knew the big points, but things like where death ships landed in Norway threw me, or at which eastern city along the trade routes did invaders lob infected corpses before breaking the siege--and I never could keep my popes straight, which is why I have an encyclopaedia of them).

So what do you know about the Black Death? Try out The Diabolical Black Death Quiz, which doesn't go forward until you get the question right.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

3,000 hours playing with toothpicks

This guy has spent 3,000 hours over since 1977 (he was 17 at the time) building a whimsical sculpture tribute to San Francisco out of...toothpicks and Elmer's glue. The thing that really makes the sculpture, though, is that the angles were designed so ping pong balls would race through it. The sculpture is 9 feet tall and weighs 20 lbs, and it contains about 100,000 toothpicks. Wow. I have to admire his dedication, although I do wonder if he has just a little too much time on his hands. I have to admit, although it sounds like a silly hobby for an eccentric person (he's also a surfer and competitive freestyle Frisbee player), I'm rather impressed. And at least he knows how to have fun.

Here's a video of the sculpture with the balls rolling through it:

from Dude Totally Re-Creates San Francisco With Toothpicks

I'm drowning in paper

It's amazing how much paper one can accumulate in one room. Unfortunately, you have to go through each piece to make sure it's not important. Some things are, like prescriptions and flexible spending receipts and pay stubs, for example. Most were on the loveseat, but I've tucked all sorts of stuff here and there in the living room. Just about every horizontal surface is covered with stuff, whether paper or not. I'm making progress, but I'm not finished, even after over an hour of dedicated weeding.

I have completed my census form and called my mother. It looks like we're going to try to have me visit Monday night, if my schedule stays like the preliminary one I found. Then I can come back on Tuesday. I must remember my CPAP machine this time. My mom's had some sort of viral stomach bug and wasn't feeling too great, but seemed to be getting over it. By Monday she shouldn't be contagious, thankfully.


Wednesday afternoon I spend dusting at YKWIA's.
Thursday evening I'm going to have dinner with Angelica and Teressa.
Friday's my birthday, and I'm hoping to go out to an Indian restaurant.
Saturday I work at the store, no doubt, it's just a matter of when.
Sunday I clean the game master's house and play in the game.
Monday evening I go over to my grandmother's.
Tuesday I'll have to ask off for and will come back from Danville.
Wednesday, if the schedule holds out, I'll work.

So I should be fairly busy, but have some time to do stuff like notes, hopefully.


I walked into the house and it seemed like a greenhouse. Mind you, it's only 54 degrees outside, but sunny, and I'd already taken off my little hooded jacket and was comfortable in a T-shirt (the cat one I got the other day). So I opened my windows; I'm hoping it won't hurt the orchid to cool down the house a bit. I didn't open the window directly in front of it just to be on the safe side. It's actually getting some indirect sun today, after days of being so dreary and dark.

Tomorrow it's supposed to be 72 degrees, Thursday 78, and my birthday 76, all nice and sunny. I did buy a new umbrella at Walgreens this afternoon when I picked up a couple of meds just to be prepared for the rain's return, when it happens. They had to wheel the umbrella rack out for me when I asked where they'd gone--they only bring them out on rainy days, apparently. It's a bright rainbow pattern, good for pedestrians to have, small enough to fit in a purse, but with a large coverage. Here's hoping it lasts longer than the last one. I also bought a bag that's smaller than my satchel, but I think most things that I actually need will fit in it. It's green silk patches, the type where there are no real pockets, just a casual purse. But it was just $6, and it fit my personality. I'm not really into green, but this is a sage with some purple and brown in the details, and most of my wardrobe is purple, black, brown, cream, and one sage sweater.

Yesterday I'd had a follow-up with the nurse practitioner about my neck and the EMG results. I asked him about the leg cramps. He thought I was probably dehydrated and perhaps low on potassium. I ate bananas yesterday and had a strawberry/banana smoothie, drank some water (I'm bad about that) and actually slept well last night with no cramps.

I had not realised how late I got in last night until I looked at the post time for the little bit I wrote then. I started the leaving process about 12:30 or 1 am; I guess the cab took longer than I thought it had. I was half asleep anyway, so my time sense went out the window. The cab driver got lost last night, so he just charged me $10, which is about the usual fare. That was nice. And it wasn't a van, thankfully. I find it impossible to gracefully get into the back of a van. One friend described it as 'whales on ice'. Yeah. I love A. Really. That's okay, I mock him, too. The sad thing, is, I can't argue with the description. Thank goodness I haven't had to get in with a skirt on, I'd moon the neighbourhood, as YKWIA said.

When I got home today there was a birthday card from my grandmother in my mailbox that was very nice and had a white cat on it. My cat Spock was white, and it brought back good memories of him.

{Quite a bit latter}
A friend called while I was posting and I talked with him for some time, and then I took a nap in a sunbeam. So far it's been a good day, and coming home in mid-afternoon was wonderful. Now it's time to buckle down and finish the stuff around the house I didn't to on Sunday. I need to:

  1. Pick up the living and dining areas.
  2. Do the dishes.
  3. Straighten up the kitchen.
  4. Clean the cabinets, stove, and microwave.
  5. Sweep and mop the kitchen.
  6. Go through the mail.
  7. Run the vacuum.
  8. Take out the trash.


  9. Call my mother.
  10. Fill out my census form.
  11. Enter more books into LibraryThing (was too tired to do that last night).
  12. Practice more Latin (was too tired to do that last night)
  13. Work on the game notes.
Realistically, I doubt I'll get to read tonight, but I will put on a DVD on the computer or something from the DVR while I do the living room.

So tired

As you know, I couldn't sleep last night until pretty late, and then it wasn't the best sleep. But I got up on time, had a good day at work, etc. Then I went over to a friend's house and worked on his house and now I am quite tired. I did everything I normally do on Sundays except for dusting and computer maintenance. That'll have to be left for Wednesday. Tomorrow I have another night to myself, so I'll work on my living room and kitchen but try to do something fun, too. And I need to call my mom.

I'm also tired tonight because I'm weepy and emotional, no doubt due to my hormones. Just thinking about the Ood singing to Doctor Who during his demise set me off crying, for example. I cried a good bit tonight for various reasons, and it's taken a toll as well. Fortunately I have a friend who's pretty tolerant of hormonal outbursts.

But for now, I'm going on to bed. Sorry for such a brief post. I'm sure my news reader is full of interesting items to blog about. But I'll have more time tomorrow. Take care, and good night.

Monday, March 29, 2010


I'm tired. I'm ready for bed. But my legs are hurting and keep binding up in cramps. I'm thinking of taking one of the muscle relaxers to see if they will help. And although I'm tired, I'm not exactly...sleepy. I guess I put so much on my plate and didn't get it all finished (although I got a lot accomplished), so my body's trying to stay up. I'm going to try again. Good night.

Have you ever been praying for what you think you should pray for

and instead, your heart's desire comes spilling out naked for you and your Deity to see?

That happened tonight. We'll see what comes of it.

Since it's the middle of the night and I still have Latin on the brain


I can't sleep

Probably the most important news in the world at the moment is about the dual explosions in the Moscow subway system about an hour and forty-five minutes ago. Right now, though, details are sketchy, so here's an odd story for all of you fellow insomniacs:

How the stimulating smell of wasabi can save lives as a smoke alarm for the deaf

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Going to bed

I spent the last hour folding the rest of the laundry (I really need an iron) and then did five chapters from the first Ecce, Romani! book. (They're short chapters, about 22 pages in all tonight.) I had Classical guitar in the background, which was nice, and the whole bedroom smells like the lavender and sandalwood scent of my softener.

I was going to do a bit of reading and then go to bed, but it occurs to me that it's my night to go out and give a libation to Hekate. I think I'll take an actual bath rather than a shower, with some lavender salts. I probably won't blog any more tonight. Good night.

Okay, I'm pooped

I've talked to most of the people in my life today on the phone. I've cleaned. I've had a little fun. But mostly I've cleaned. The kitchen and living rooms may just have to wait until tomorrow morning. Plus I'm cleaning someone else's house tomorrow after work and a doctor's appointment. I've folded most of the laundry. I think I'll just read and do a little Latin before bed. But first I'm putting some lotion on my feet and hands; they're awfully dry. I'll take out the trash tomorrow morning, too.

Napping was not entirely successful

mainly due to the leg cramping I sometimes get during my period. They're pretty severe today. Anyway, I've been up for awhile, but now it's time to get back to work. Might as well, eh?

Reason #562 for not forwarding chain letters at work for any reason

NAACP: SunTrust Mortgage worker fired over e-mail
The NAACP says a 14-year employee was fired from SunTrust Mortgage Inc. in Richmond after she was accused of sending a chain e-mail she received at work that ultimately was forwarded to the NAACP.

The fired African-American employee said she found the e-mail offensive.

The e-mail contains pictures of 40 bumper stickers such as, "Clinton ruined a dress, Obama ruined a nation," "So I guess we're even on that slavery thing eh?" and, "Diversity -- It killed 13 at Fort Hood."

SunTrust issued a statement yesterday saying: "We do not endorse or condone the views expressed in the e-mail cited by the NAACP, and had already taken appropriate action to respond to the circulation of the e-mail."

A spokesman would not comment on whether others were reprimanded, citing personnel issues.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People released a copy of what it said was the e-mail sent by a SunTrust official to 13 office employees and one outside recipient under the subject line "FW: Bumper Stickers that Make Sense."
The woman who was fired says she'd always gotten good performance reviews but was fired over a chain-letter she forwarded outside of the workplace because she was offended by the content and wanted another opinion. She had originally been sent it, along with other recipients, by someone within the company. Several recipients, including her, were black, and also found it offensive. She was brought in and told her boss did not trust her anymore and because she e-mailed the letter, was terminated.

Regardless of the other question here (who sent the original? Were they fired? Is SunTrust racist? etc.), this is a perfect reason why you shouldn't forward chain letters at work. Now, if I received a racist one, I would show our IT people, and they could go from there. I have received religious ones and requested the sender delete me from her uplifting little religious pep talks. We're not supposed to use our e-mail sending around stuff we find amusing or uplifting anyway. Work e-mail is, well, for work. But even so, as one commenter, going by the handle someone_else put it, succinctly:
The larger lesson here is that you all should think carefully about what you are sending before using work emails for personal use.

Some of us don’t care about the content, we just don’t want to receive your unfunny jokes, your insipid inspirational prayers, your idiotic political chain emails or anything else. This is work, not a social gathering.

But when you use a work email for your own personal amusement, you need to take responsibility for it if someone gets offended. If you have a problem with that, don’t send the email in the first place.

Hope Ms Russ gets a fair trip through the appeal process, because something does seem wrong about the whole thing, but of course we only got bits of the story. Otherwise, enough said.

Okay, I've gotten quite a bit done

Laundry took forever, it seemed, but I got six loads in the washers, five in the dryers. I ordered pizza because I had enough points to get one free. I've eaten, it's sunny again, and I'm feeling like taking a small nap, about 45 minutes. Then it's back to work. I also added a new LibraryThing widget to the blog. It took me a bit to get the width right. What do you think? I'm go to try to add some books every day. Since all I need to do for the most part is type in the ISBNs, it wasn't hard to add 60 today. It took maybe 30 minutes. I think that's doable. I'm a lifetime member now, meaning I can put in more than 200 books. I have, I don't know, maybe 2 or 3 thousand (and my library pales compared to YKWIA, who has to keep building bookshelves for his). :)

Okay, first a nap, then the bathroom and kitchen.

Today's agenda

  1. Breakfast (coffee and Irish oatmeal)
  2. Bathroom floor (the tank flooded sometime last night, so must mop it and remove the wet mat for laundry...but first I must have breakfast--I'm not up to dealing with it just yet)
  3. Look up a couple of things for YKWIA while the floor dries
  4. Hang a new shower liner
  5. Clean the toilet, sink, and tub
  6. Fish out (no pun meant) a couple of fish that didn't make it from the tank)
  7. Take out the trash
  8. Do the laundry
  9. Wash the few dishes in the sink and set up the dishwasher and start it afterwards
  10. Pick up the kitchen and wipe down the cabinets
  11. Insert new air freshener into Airwick plug-in in the kitchen
  12. Sweep the kitchen and mop the floor
  13. Order free pizza from Papa John's for lunch
  14. Nap for just a bit
  15. Put the 'Secrets of Isis' DVD in [Apparently my VCR has died. I need the VCR to see what's on my DVD. I'll have to watch on my computer instead, but for now I just hooked the cable straight up to the TV. I did see I had several Doctor Who's on my DVR, one of which is 'Blink', which is terribly creepy. I may watch that tonight sometime.]
  16. Pick up and organise the things in living and dining areas
  17. Go through and throw away junk mail/old mail
  18. Take out more trash
  19. See if the vacuum cleaner will get up the salt I've tracked in over the winter
  20. Take a shower [Bath, actually]
  21. Call my grandmother and check on her (my mom's probably asleep today; she works overnights on the weekends) [reassured her I was alive and said I would try to call my mom on Tuesday]
  22. Call Angelica and make plans for Thursday if possible [talked to her for quite some time]
  23. Call Teressa if that is possible so she can request off [found out she'd been unwell but will try to make dinner on Thursday]
  24. Find a nice movie on OnDemand to watch--maybe The Lovely Bones has already made it to there [Nothing really grabbed me.]
  25. Read some of The Color of Water and Dead Beat
  26. Blog
  27. Put some books into LibraryThing [Added 60! A whole bunch to go!]
  28. Study some Latin (I'm getting rusty; an hour or less a day should help me refresh) [Five chapters, 22 pages of the first Ecce, Romani! book...whilst listening to soft strains of Classical guitar, very relaxing. My Classical pronunciation is still good, I just have to slow down a bit.]
  29. If I still have time, I'll work on the notes
So that's quite a bit to do, but I think I'll be happier to have clean clothes and a clean house, and it shouldn't take all day. I clean a friend's house in about five or six hours at most, and he has much more square feet than I do (on the other hand, I'm a lot messier). I have enough quarters to do one load of linens and four of regular clothes, so I should be good for getting everything done. I have enough clothes that I can put it off for awhile but I've reached the critical point. At some point I may have to go over to Kroger for a large light bulb (my lamp blew the other day), but I'll try to do that tomorrow coming back from my doctor's appointment. I'll just walk over if I need more quarters (I can get them from work; Kroger is stingy about such things). But it looks like rain, so I'll try to avoid going out beyond laundry and trash take-outs. Okay, no sense waiting. First the oatmeal, then I conquer the bath. Allez-y!

Supersized Last Supper?

A new study shows that portion size has grown in the hundreds of years since Leonardo da Vinci and others painted depictions of the Last Supper between Jesus and his Apostles. The article, 'The largest Last Supper: depictions of food portions and plate size increased over the millennium' appears in the April issue of the International Journal of Obesity. I also found it interesting that pork was found in some paintings, reflecting a Gentile misunderstanding of the Jewish rules of kashrut at what may or may not have been a Passover seder (Three of the four gospels suggest it is; John, whose account differs in many ways from the Synoptic gospels, suggests it happened on the preparation day for Pesach (Passover)). In any case, observant Jews would not have been eating pork!

Anyway, it's worth a look at. Here's some links:

Meals of The Last Supper grew bigger in the last thousand years (includes a video presentation with some poor-quality sound, but perhaps of interest)

Last Supper helpings have grown: An unusual study looks at the food portions in artistic depictions of the Last Supper throughout history. The apostles have eaten better and better over the years, scholars say

Last supper 'has been super-sized', say obesity experts

I can't say they're as cute as lemurs, but I wouldn't want to see them vanish

Spooky creature endangered by superstition: The small, perfectly harmless aye-aye is often killed on sight
Although the aye-aye weighs a mere 4 pounds in the wild, this tiny animal is viewed as the harbinger of death by locals in Madagascar, the only place on Earth where you'll find these creatures in nature.

According to legend, the aye-aye, with its dark eyes, long fingers and ghoulish appearance, is thought to sneak into the dwellings of nearby villagers and use its middle finger — considerably longer than its other fingers — to pierce the hearts of sleeping humans.
Check out the picture on the news story; it's very spooky. They actually use that finger to dig out grubs to eat. It's a shame that people react to them like they do.

This is such a wonderful idea; I'm sorry I missed it this year

but I was at work, where we definitely were lights up. If I'd been at home though, and knew ahead, I would have turned out the lights and enjoyed a little candlelight.

Millions unplug for Earth Hour: Buildings in some 4,000 cities turn off the lights

Last year 88 cities participated; this time it was 4,000. What an amazing thing. It's about climate change, of course, but it also shows us just how polluted are skies have become in terms of light. Some people might have seen the stars for the first time in a great long while. Do you realise that many of today's young people have probably never seen the Milky Way? I remember the clarity of the desert skies when I lived on Edwards Air Force Base when we watched meteor storms. Now I'm lucky if I see three or four, even though I live almost at the edge of town in Lexington--and we've got it better than, say, the Eastern seaboard; we can drive 20 minutes out of town and be in the country.

The worst road accident in Kentucky

since the Carrollton bus crash in 1988:
2 boys survive Ky. crash that killed 11: Victims included 9 from Mennonite family headed to wedding
In addition to John and Sadie Esh, the dead included their children Anna, Rose, Rachel, and Leroy and his wife, Naomi. Jalen, the adopted infant son of Leroy and Naomi, also was killed. Funerals for the family and Gingerich were set for Tuesday.

Family friend Ashlie Kramer and the truck driver, 45-year-old Kenneth Laymon of Alabama, also died.

The only survivors of the crash were two boys from Guatemala also adopted by the couple as infants. Police credited child safety seats for sparing Josiah, 5, and Johnny, 3.
The family was travelling to Iowa to attend a wedding when their van was struck by an out-of-control semi with such force that the transmission and engine wound up scattered along with the truck's contents, according to this morning's paper. The Mennonites belonged to a church that had been Amish but had transitioned to Mennonite a few years ago so they could use modern conveniences such as cars and telephones. They are part of a very tight-knit community, and this has been a severe blow. The baby was just 2 months old. In the churchyard, so far there is only one grave, that of the Esh' son, who died in a snowmobile accident on a mission trip to the Ukraine. Now, unfortunately, there will be more graves to join his. No word yet on what happened with the semi, as the driver was also killed, but was so badly burnt there may be little evidence to glean. I'm sure there will be an investigation, though. Also, cables were installed on that stretch of I-65, but they were the lighter type that restrain cars and lighter trucks but not fully-loaded semis. The decision was made to install them because they were cheaper than the heavier cables. The semi crossed the median through the cables and hit the Esh' van head-on.

My thoughts and prayers are with the community to which the Eshes and the others belonged, and for the two children who, by some miracle, escaped their family's fate.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

I think Lexington is somewhat stunned

West Virginia beats Kentucky to reach Final Four

I don't really follow basketball. But I brought my radio in to work so we could listen to the game (Brandon's a big fan). Even I could tell the Wildcats made a poor showing, and although they were struggling to the end, it was too late.

Usually after a game we have a huge rush as people buy more beer, etc. There was almost a hush as a few stragglers came in, their enthusiasm blunted by the loss. Almost everyone referenced it, and while they were all supportive--after all, UK went to the NIT last year, but made it back into the NCAA and played a great season--you could tell the wind had gone out of their sails. Many Kentuckian take basketball very seriously--it's like it's own religion here. I'm sure A is terribly disappointed.

But there's always next year. Coach Calipari got them off to a great start. Now there's just the wait to see if any of the stars of the programme will stay, or if they will go on to the NBA.

And West Virginia hasn't been in the Final Four since the 1950s, so it's a great opportunity for them. This tournament seems rife with upsets and derailments.

Oh, Gods, I can't believe I'm writing a post on basketball, and actually analysing the play. I'm not sure what's come over me. But maybe next year they'll be playing 'On, on, U of K' all the way to the title.

An unusual way to spend the morning

I don't, as a rule, watch television. When I do it's a few special shows or perhaps a documentary, and even then, I'm more likely to watch at a friend's house. But today, I watched a three-hour programme that had me crying continuously for the last hour.

Okay, I admit it, I'm hormonal. But still, it was moving. And there was a good bit of serendipity, because, except for a few recent things I've learnt, I wouldn't have truly understood it.

Now it's time to go to work and I've showered, which has taken most of the red away from around my eyes.

So, laundry can wait until tomorrow. Today it's work with some fun before.

Why school libraries matter

Young Learners Need Librarians, Not Just Google, by Mark Moran
Many absolutely clueless administrators still believe that a search engine is an adequate substitute for a trained research teacher. With the nation's schools budget-strapped, librarians--and even libraries--are being cut from coast to coast. Even President Obama, whose creation of a National Information Literacy Awareness Month suggests he should know better, left additional funding for school libraries out of his FY 2011 budget proposal.
Saving the Google Students, by Sara Scribner
For the Google generation, closing school libraries could be disastrous. Not teaching kids how to sift through sources is like sending them into the world without knowing how to read.
Thanks to David Dillard for the links.

Every day in my reader it seems I hear of more layoffs in the schools or library closures. School libraries impacted my life far more than inspiring me to go to library school. The women (sadly, there were no men in any of the positions where I attended), were driving forces behind literacy and research. Unlike many students who go to college, I knew how to use Books in Print and all sorts of other indices and sources before stepping into the university library. I was well-versed in card catalogues (the OPAC came a couple of years after I started).

Plus, school libraries were a lifeline for me. I didn't have ready access to a public library when I lived at Barksdale AFB--we lived seven miles from the main base out in a neighbourhood surrounded by woods with just a little convenient store. My parents wouldn't have taken the trouble to drive into Bossier City and take me to the library there. Fortunately, they didn't have to. In California, there was a Kern County Public Library on base, but the librarian wouldn't let me choose any books on the level I was reading (college, first year), because I was in 8th grade and they were 'too adult' for me. The school librarian, on the other hand, let me work there, helping her with all sorts of task. The librarian in Kansas, where I did have a good public library, nevertheless taught me to stick to your guns as she faced down a censorship ploy.

Sadly, I don't remember any of their names, but they were very good to me, and I remember them fondly. I still feel sympathy, for example, for the woman at the California school whose son--a student at the US Air Force Academy, died in an accident on the very motorcycle they gave him for his birthday.

'Without a librarian, a library is just a collection of books.' That's on the signature file of someone on the MEDLIB-L list. I don't know the attribution, but it's very true. Librarians make collections come alive. They keep them growing, make them useful, and spread the word of what's available. Tapping into the knowledge contained in a collection (whether actual or virtual) is the librarian's special gift. Guiding his or her patrons through the information maze is another.

If you are a parent, make sure you tell administrators how important the librarians and the library are at your school. If you are an administrator, think twice before making cuts that leave students floundering. Libraries are much easier to maintain than rebuild, and much less expensive. There seems to be a thing that happens where cutbacks are made in lean times, and then later, in the good times, organisations find that it's not so easy getting back what was lost.

Our children deserve to have the tools they need to compete in the world after leaving the relative safety of school. Librarians provide some of the best tools ever, because it's not about facts and figures--it's about how to learn, how to reason, how to think critically, and how to apply this to everyday life, that matters. But you still need to know where to go, how to go about it, and what to do when you find it, and that, too, falls under the perview of the school librarian.


New hominin found via mtDNA

--this time from a cave upon a mountainous steppe in Siberia.
Homo erectus, the first hominin to move from Africa to Eurasia, did so 1.9 million years ago. After that, two known migrations occurred: Neanderthals are thought to have left Africa between 300,000 and 500,000 years ago, while early modern humans -- immediate ancestors of Homo sapiens -- took a later wave, migrating some 50,000 to 60,000 years ago. However, because the lineage of the hominin whose finger was found in the cave split off before Neanderthals and early modern humans arrived, the researchers speculate that that this new human form must have moved to Eurasia after H erectus but before Neanderthals -- probably a couple of hundred thousand years after the divergence.
All this information came from extracting mitochondrial DNA from the pinky bone of a small child in a manner to keep from contaminating the results with researcher's own material. The new hominin's DNA was compared with a variety of other known species (modern humans, Neanderthals, and the bonabo, for example) and came up with unique features.

I find what they can tell through DNA these days to be fascinating. If I'd stayed a biology major, I might have gone into that instead of oecology, but it was all so new then.

Friday, March 26, 2010

My toy!

Saw this on YouTube. It's Pete, a pet magpie, playing with a rubber cat toy that looks like a giant jack (you know, the ones you play with by bouncing a rubber ball and picking up the jacks). I rather like birds in the crow family. We don't have wild magpies where I live, but it would be nice to see one. They're very smart birds, and rather pretty, I think.

The first thing I did when I got home from work tonight

was take my little boom box back out to Brandon's car so we could have it going at work tomorrow night when the University of Kentucky plays West Virginia in the NCAA tournament [Brandon's a big UK fan; I'm not so much a sports fan but it is my alma mater and I do tend to get caught up in a game if I happen to be exposed to it. Plus I get to wear jeans to work on game days at the hospital so long as they keep winning. :)] The purpose of giving him the radio tonight was so I wouldn't have to carry it walking to work tomorrow afternoon.

The second thing was to solve the mysterious appearance of a key in my mailbox. Usually that means there's a package, and even though I wasn't expecting one, it is almost my birthday, so there's that. But it didn't look like one of those keys; it had no label. I checked anyway but all the keys were in their boxes. It rather looked like a car key. Now, I don't expect to find a car sitting outside my apartment, but for a brief moment, I thought it might. Then it occurred to me that there was a car dealership ad in the box and this was obviously some gimmick to get you to come in, and the key had fallen off its paper. Feeling sheepish, I slunk back from the mailboxes.

Thirdly, I came in and the aquarium, which I've been putting off for a few days, was really looking pathetic, and I was swept with sympathy for my poor fish. One had died and needed to be removed (well, actually, two, but I didn't know that at the time.) So I filled it up with treated water using my old 5 lb cat litter bucket with handle (which for two trips adds about fifteen gallons). I told you, it had gotten low. I don't know how the humidity in my apartment can be so low--it saps the water right up within a couple of weeks, and the water was at half in a 29 gallon long tank. While I was at it, I cleared out some duckweed and fed them after things had settled down. I also added some Stability solution, which has bacteria that fixes the nitrates/nitrites in the water. My nitrates are always high for some reason (my plants are beautiful as a result, though it tends towards algae on the glass), but the nitrites are generally low. I had turned the heater off a couple of days ago because the water was so low, but kept the apartment warm enough, hopefully.

Fourthly, I noticed that my orchid has opened two more flowers and several buds are swelling. I was a little afraid I'd harmed it after I walked home with it on a fairly warm but somewhat windy night, as two of the buds on the first stalk shriveled up. But after a week I put three ice cubes (according to the directions) on the soil and then the ones on the secondary stalk burst forth. So, perhaps it had just been awhile since it had been last watered; I'd erred on the conservative side so I wouldn't over-water it. The flowers are a beautiful pink. I think it's your standard Phalaenopsis orchid, and it's quite beautiful. They were at Kroger for only $9.99. This one is a large plant (each of the three leaves is way longer than my hand), with two flower stalks, most of which had not bloomed yet, so hopefully they'll last awhile. The only odd thing is although the pots were all sitting up nicely in the store, apparently on the way home my plant shifted and now has to be propped between two candlesticks. But it's still lovely. I've placed in a window that gets afternoon sun, but there's a sheer to protect it, too.

So now I'm eating a peanut butter and spreadable fruit sandwich and reflecting on my day. Things went well at the hospital. The store was a challenge both because when I was on the register (for about two hours) I dropped more money from my drawer than some days and because of the supply truck. We were very busy and I was alone for about an hour. Then, the truck came early, before Brandon even came in (although fortunately someone else was there by then). Almost half the boxes we got were cigarettes--over 350 cartons, double the norm, and putting them away in an orderly fashion is my job, because I organise them as I go. That took about three hours, and at one point I missed a rung on the latter and nearly fell, and I dropped a heavy box of cappuccino mix, but no damage was done to me or the powder packets. Yay.

But I am so glad to be home. I'm very tired. The nice thing is that we're not having the game on Sunday, because Brenda is going to a doll tea party (yes, what can I say, she sews clothes for ball-jointed dolls as a hobby), and the game master is celebrating an anniversary (Yay!) So for me this means 1) I don't have to finish the notes by Saturday, but can concentrate on laundry and work, and 2) I have Sunday to myself. I'll go do the Sunday cleaning on Monday, and some major book dusting on Tuesday (I'm off for nearly a week at the store due to the schedule). Wednesday is up in the air; I may try to go out to dinner with Angelica, whom I haven't seen since December, and see if Teressa can go too. I would invite Brandon, but it's his birthday, so I'm assuming he'll be doing something with his family. Besides, he doesn't know Angelica. Thursday I'm on my own again. Maybe I'll go to a movie. I wonder what's playing? Friday is my birthday. I plan to go to an Indian restaurant (as usual) with some friends. Saturday I'm sure I'll work at the store, and then hopefully the next Sunday there will be the game again. So my life is kind of planned out for the next bit.

Oh, and I got three things in the mail today--the two T-shirts I ordered the other night, and the PaperBackSwap book The Color of Water. I've already read the first four chapters or so and it drew me in immediately. I'm also reading This Book is Overdue!: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All and Dead Beat, a Dresden Files book by Jim Butcher. I should concentrate on the middle one, though, because it is a 14-day book from the library. The Butcher book I have more time, and of course, the book I got through PaperBackSwap is mine to keep for the price of a book credit. I already marked it as received so the sender can get a credit and use that for a book of his or her own. I love that website.

Okay, I'm a bit tired. I may check the news, I may not, I'm not sure. I think I will sit in the comfy chair for a bit with the massager on. I've starred quite a few things from my news feeds and e-mailed some things from my library lists of interest so that I'll have them at home and can blog about them. So stay tuned. Good night for now.

Go, monkey, go!

Fugitive monkey has pursuers going bananas: Runaway rhesus is making monkeys out of them, has 16,000 Facebook fans
For more than a year now, a very resourceful rhesus macaque monkey has been leading a wildlife trapper on a merry chase across three counties and through the urban jungles of Tampa Bay and St. Petersburg, Fla.
The monkey has avoided all attempts to capture, including being hit with tranquilizer darts. He's thrown foeces back at pursuers, too. Residents have been warned not to try this themselves, as a wild monkey can do a lot of damage if it bites you. The professionals involved are trying to capture him so he can be taken care of at a sanctuary. But the little fellow seems quite content to roam his territory for now. Thousands on Facebook are fans and urge him to run. I wish him well, whatever the outcome.

A great idea

What If Everyone on Twitter Read One Book?
The thought struck me that Twitter would provide a much better platform for a book club than the mere accident of physical proximity. Just think, we could supplant #howyouathug with #chapterfourexegesis in trending topics! Actually, no, we probably couldn’t, and that’s not the goal anyway. I love books. So do you. Let’s love one book together, our actual geographical location be damned.

Here’s how it’d go:

* Now: We collect nominations for what book we want to read. Take the Reddit poll at the bottom of this story to make suggestions and vote up and down the suggestions of others.
* Soon: We pick a winner out of the top selections. Why not just pick the one with the most votes? Because it’s not too hard to game the system. The final selection needs to be of general interest. It needs to be translated into many, many languages, and ideally it should be freely available.
* Soon after that: We start reading, and tweeting, and reading, and tweeting.

In the meantime, the hashtag for One Book, One Twitter is #1b1t. If you want to keep up-to-date, follow me @crowdsourcing.

So far it looks like Fahrenheit 451 is a clear favourite. What book would you like? Go to the link and vote!

It's almost time for the characteristic TARDIS sound to return to television

Matt Smith, the new 11th Doctor, has this take on why the Doctor travels the Universe:

Thankfully, I have BBCAmerica on my cable system. Guess what I'm recording on April 17th when it premieres in the US?

Thanks, Wired.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Good Lord...

House Democrats report increased threats since health care vote
Hoyer told a news conference that "a significant number, meaning over 10," had reported either threats, vandalism or other incidents. Capitol Police officials have briefed House Democrats on reporting suspicious or threatening activity and taking precautions to avoid "subjecting themselves or their families to physical harm," said Hoyer, D-Maryland.

Earlier Wednesday, the Albemarle County Fire Marshal's Office in Virginia confirmed the FBI was investigating a suspicious incident at the home of Virginia Democratic Rep. Tom Perriello's brother, days after the brother's home address was posted online by a Tea Party activist.

An aide to Perriello told CNN that a line to the propane tank on his brother's gas grill had been severed.
On the other side of the coin, our local Congressman, Ben Chandler (a Democrat, too), has been receiving very ugly messages as well for voting AGAINST for the bill.

It's absurd, the idea that violence could solve anything in this situation. And the lunatic fringe is having a field day. I give you:
Blogger Michael B. Vanderboegh of Pinson, Alabama, said Monday that in a Friday blog, he called for people to break windows at Democratic headquarters at the city and county level. He said he didn't call for the damages to congressional offices because, "I didn't want to be responsible for anybody breaking a federal law."

However, "I can understand how someone can be frustrated enough to throw a brick through a congresswoman's window," Vanderboegh said. He said he feels the health care bill is "unconstitutional and tyrannical."

"My answer is violence, by getting their attention," he said, adding, "If we can get across to the other side that they are within inches of provoking a civil war in this country, then that's a good thing."
I have a friend who is a staunch Democrat who is terribly embarrassed by his father, who is showing up at Tea Party protests in his area with a guitar and harmonica singing songs from the Declaration of Independence's point of view (in his opinion) and styling himself the Party's 'poet'.

I shake my head at these people. I cannot understand their paranoia.

An odd little film that looks fun

based off of the Franco-Belgian comic adventure series Les Aventures extraordinaires d'Adèle Blanc-Sec (The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Dry-White). [Somewhere I'm pretty sure I have the translated Adele and the Beast published by Dark Horse Comics back from when I worked at the comic store.] The film is set to premiere in France in April. I hope it is made available on DVD; I doubt it will be shown anywhere near Lexington in the cinema. The costuming looks superb. And really, how can you hate a pterodactyl terrorising 1912 Paris? Thanks to Edward Pearse of Through the Filter of a Victorian Aesthetic for the link.

Looking back at the cutting-edge technologies of yesteryear

In his post, We Live in the Future, David Rothman gives some telling illustrations of the difference between the technology of the 70s and 80s vs. today's. The pictures provide an excellent series of examples of how despite our failure to live up to all of the expectations of those decades (no moonbases, or flying cars, etc.), we have surpassed them in many ways.

So check out his post for some great comparisons, and a clever birth announcement on 96-column punchcards. (I think I understand where David got his self-avowed geekdom from, judging by his father's efforts.) :) I understand. My dad was always fiddling with radios, circuit designs, and programming. He even built our TV.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

This is so absolutely cool

The Edwin Smith papyrus is the oldest surviving surgical text. It is part of an online exhibit from the National Library of Medicine called Turning the Pages, which allows the user to turn the pages of the book (or in this case, unroll the scroll), and zoom to read, or click to translate various sections. It requires Adobe Flash Player to work (anything version 6 or better).

Other works available:

Hieronymus Brunschwig’s Liber de Arte Distillandi
Robert Hooke’s Micrographia
Conrad Gesner’s Historiae Animalium
Ambroise Paré’s Oeuvres
Andreas Vesalius's De Humani Corporis Fabrica
Johannes de Ketham's Fasiculo de Medicina

Check it out!

I just ordered

a T-shirt that says 'League of Extraordinary Librarians' from Off World Designs. :)

There was also one on clearance of a cat in spectacles reading a book that was just $5, so I grabbed that one, too.

I really wish they still had my size in the clearance shirt for 'All I ever needed I learned from Cthulhu'. :)

A look at spaces left behind

In the musical Les Misérables, Marius sings of the 'empty chairs and empty tables' now that his friends from the student rebellion have died.

Photographer Ashley Gilbertson has taken photos of the bedrooms left behind by soldiers who died in Iraq and Afghanistan. These poignant reminders of loss show the personalities of their former occupants, now lost to the world.

The Shrine Down the Hall

The New York Times Magazine put twenty of her photographs together as a slideshow, along with the name, age, place, and circumstances of death for each one. Each name links to a picture of the person. My favourite, the one that really got me the most, was that of Private First Class Richard P. Langenbrunner, of Fort Wayne, Indiana, who died on April 17, 2007 in Rustamiyah, Iraq, of a suicide. He was 19 years old. His room has posters of Stargate SG-1 and Lord of the Rings; he has a replica of Bilbo Baggins' sword 'Sting' on his wall as well. There is a telescope in the window, pointed towards the heavens. The room strikes you as that of someone curious, imaginative, and ready to explore.

The photos are stark, black-and-white. They resonate with emptiness and remembrance, as shrines to loved ones now gone. A daughter's stuffed animals, a son's baseball trophies--the details of the things we surround ourselves with--they are all that remain. The photos themselves are moving, and the details worth contemplating.

What would remain of you when you die? How would your family remember you?

I read about this photoessay on Brandon's blog. Thanks, Brandon.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

'I do not think that word means what you think it means'--

a phrase that came up in conversation, which made me think of the excellent story of The Princess Bride, so I took a quiz. Quite frankly, Inigo is my favourite, but still...

Your result for The ULTIMATE Princess Bride Test...


Congratulations! You scored ###!

Inconceivable! You've done it! You've bested my test! I drop my hat to you, good sir (or madam) and congratulate you on a job well done. See, you paid attention!

Take The ULTIMATE Princess Bride Test at OkCupid

I'd love to see the movie again, and I really must look into reading the book.


From the local library, a hold has arrived for me: This Book Is Overdue!: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All by Marilyn Johnson. I'll pick it up on my way to work today.

This book has made quite a splash in the librarian community, and I want to read it for myself.

From PaperBackSwap, the book The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother by James McBride is on its way to me.

This man's story of his family sounds fascinating. His mother was a Polish Jew who came to the United States, was raised in the South, and who went north and married a black man (McBride's father), and then, when widowed, married a black man again. She had twelve children, and despite monetary constraints, all of them went to college, and two became doctors. She had stressed education very strongly. Every other chapter has to do with her story; the other half with his of growing up biracial. They are woven together to tell a story that includes but also transcends race and religion. She sounds like a remarkable woman; she died just this January.

I meant to blog about this earlier

Bacteria on Your Hands Could Become New Forensic Fingerprint

It has a huge margin of error, but the idea is certainly interesting, and it could be used as an inadmissible yet useful scientific process whose data could help finger (pun intended) criminals so that more reliable methods could be pursued, plus it yields details neither DNA nor fingerprints do.

Check out the article. It's certainly an interesting idea.

Friday, March 19, 2010

I've been trying to get up since 6 am

with the idea of going into work early and making up some time I've lost, but to no avail. I did get up at 8:30, giving me a chance to drink a couple of cups of coffee and write this, but that's about it. Between doctors' appointments, daylight savings, pills that make me sleepy, and higher blood sugars in the morning, I just haven't done well in getting in all my hours. I'll check to see what the official tally is this morning and see if I can use PTO time for it. I think it's about 2 hours off.

Speaking of doctor's appointments, I didn't write about the results of my nerve conduction/EMG tests. The good news it there is no sign of diabetic neuropathy, which is good, as there isn't a lot to be done about that. It's also not coming from my neck issues. The bad news is, yes, I have carpal tunnel. The left side isn't too bad, and the problems conducting signals probably are a residual from before my surgery. The right, however, is definitely conducting signals abnormally, which isn't surprising since I've been dropping things, feeling numbness, and having pain when I fill out paperwork--I've been through this all before. They don't tend to do surgery a second time (I wondered about that) and instead suggested hand occupational therapy and splinting, although the place that sent me doesn't take my insurance, so today I need to see if there's an alternative, as $100 a visit is really going to eat into my flexible spending account.

I'm a little disappointed that my body is doing this again. I felt so good after the surgery; it was like a miracle to suddenly feel fingers again. But carpal tunnel does recur even after surgery, and although I don't type a huge amount anymore, I do have repetitive motions with my right hand only when I use the cash register--it's a touchscreen, and you hold your hand out in front of your chest. I started at the gas station about a year after my first surgery. I think the surgeon did an excellent job, but the repetitive nature of my job has contributed to another flare up. But even so, this is nothing compared to how severe it was before surgery.

So I'm hopeful that therapy and splinting will help, especially as we're catching it early--I've only had noticeable numbness for a few weeks.

Okay, I've got to get ready for work. Have a good day.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Great Mythos video

Thanks to my game master for showing me this one...sorry, you really need to know a bit about HP Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos to get this one...

You can buy Lil' Cthulhu gifts, too, including the happy Necronomicon T-shirt.

On a similar note, I would so dress an infant in this onesie, with its picture of baby Cthulhu eating a teddy bear. Am I just wrong, or do I just have a sense of humour (unlike a couple of people I could mention?) There are also T-shirts, mugs, etc. with this design.



High-Speed Camera Scans Books in Seconds

Just flip through the book under the camera lens and it takes pictures of the pages and then reconstructs them as flat even if captured at an angle. A 200-page book takes less than a minute to scan.

It's just a prototype, but think of how it could revolutionise digitilisation of print.


Another quiz, this time on which religious founder I resemble

Your result for The Religion Founder You Resemble Test...


You two would probably really get along!

Founder of Zoroastrianism

"Taking the first footstep with a good thought the second with a good word and the third with a good deed I entered Paradise."

Take The Religion Founder You Resemble Test at OkCupid

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Sixty-five years ago

this month, a 15-year-old girl and her sister died of typhus just weeks before their concentration camp was liberated by the British. The exact date is unknown, but it is estimated to have been sometime in early March. The girl was, of course, Anne Frank, the famous Holocaust diarist, whose family hid in a secret part of an office building for just over two years with the help of Dutch Gentiles before being arrested by the Germans for the crime of being Jewish.

If she had lived, Anne would be 80 years old today, probably someone's grandmother. Instead her life was cut short by hate, but her voice continues to teach new generations about the importance of tolerance. Who knows what impact she might have had on others had she lived, but the truth is that in her martyrdom, she impacted millions.

And so for Anne, and her sister Margot, their mother, and the millions of others, Jews and non-Jews alike, who died at the hands of the Nazis, I say, I will remember you. I will recognise that each of you had a unique life that was cut short by the actions of others. Rest in peace.

A son died for our country; now his mother is in limbo

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

He was 25 years old when he died in Baghdad, in process of sponsoring his mother, who is from Peru, in becoming a permanent resident of this country. As far as I am concerned, she should be granted such status, and encouraged to be a citizen. Her son is buried here, having paid an awful price. Deporting her would be an insult to his memory. Most likely she will be granted permanent residency under a humanitarian provision. Still, the fact that she is now in limbo is a terrible thing. Our immigration system should allow immigrants whose immediate relatives have sacrificed themselves for our freedom to become legal residents.

On a related note, I checked on a story I'd blogged about before, of a Japanese woman who became pregnant by her Marine boyfriend right before he was deployed to Iraq, married him by proxy (a practice the military recognises as valid), only to lose him within a month as he was conducting a house-to-house search. Her son is an American citizen. She wants to raise him with her husband's family, to surround him with things related to his father. The family has been fighting to allow her to stay in Tennessee. A 1950s immigration law has been impeding their efforts. It does not recognise proxy marriages, and requires all marriages to be consummated. The immigration service is not considering it consummated despite their having a child together because they were not together after the actual marriage date. Now, although I think they continue to try to get her legal status here, she as of the beginning of this year she was returning to Okinawa. It's a very sad state when an American citizen must be sent to another country to be raised because his mother--who married his father in a ceremony recognised by both the US military and Japan--cannot stay. Our immigration system really needs to be reworked. Lots of illegal immigrants circumvent the system every day, but those who try to follow the rules come across roadblocks that are unnecessary and in some cases cruel.

Marine's wife, son will return to Japan despite legal efforts to stay

My best wishes to these two women, who have lost their loved ones, in their aim to reside in the US.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A much better day

Thankfully, and fairly productive. And I haven't been in pain. I guess the muscle relaxers last night helped.

I got the copy of Runes of the Earth from the person who sent it to me via the PaperbackSwap club. I should probably re-read the first two trilogies before this one, though.

We have two new people starting at work, including one who can work nights and weekends. This means I have my extra day off next week, yay! I've really missed it.

Tomorrow is St Patrick's Day and we can wear jeans to the hospital (although not to the store, so I have to bring a change of pants).

I have quite a bit to do tomorrow. I'm going to try to push the envelope and actually get up early enough to do a bit of laundry. But it won't be the end of the world if not. As long as I get up on time to get to work, I'm happy.

Okay, that's enough for tonight. I know I didn't blog anything earth-shattering, but hopefully it was worth reading. Good night.

PS I decided to re-join the Kentucky Library Association today. So I belong to the Medical Library Association, the American Library Association, the Kentucky Medical Library Association, and now KLA. Fortunately dues are based on income. :)

Nice thought, although it doesn't get the urgent things done, now does it?

I am a procrastinator. I admit it. I have a project right now that I have totally put off for months because every time I think about it I feel blocked and paralysed.

But maybe there's something to the video. Rather than doing nothing, or doing useless things, one can channel one's energy in doing things that are worth doing. I guess the theory, too, is that once you get something accomplished, it's easier to come back to the thing you're procrastinating and put some effort into it.

I think I'll try this out tomorrow at work.

This is so me!

Today's 'Unshelved' comic, in which Colleen determines to continue looking for the answer to a reference question long after the patron leaves is so me. I want to find the answers to questions, not only to be helpful, but because...I must. I think most librarians are naturally curious and definitely want to help their patrons find answers. But sometimes, no matter how talented, we are thwarted. I suppose I feel like pursuing an answer on my own time because I refuse to be defeated by a question. You never know when it might come up again, no matter how esoteric, but mainly it comes down to meeting a challenge and fulfilling curiosity. Of course, the main objective, which we should not lose track of, is, indeed, finding such information for the patron, but still, I understand her determination.

A wonderful video

that looks at the stereotypes of how people view the young, and what the reality is, when it comes to the publishing industry and books. It was produced by the UK branch of Dorling Kindersley Books for a sales conference, but it holds true for how librarians have to approach the Millennial generation, too.

Thanks to David Rothman for sharing it on his blog.

Let's start a campaign!

I was checking out the list of this year's crop of Library Journal's 'Movers & Shakers' and noticed on the graphic for Movers on the Map: 2002-2010 that none of the 450 Movers & Shakers have hailed from Kentucky.

We've got to work harder, people! Every day, librarians in Kentucky go above and beyond in serving the needs of their patrons and positioning their libraries and programmes for success. Surely someone in the Commonwealth has what it takes to be named for 2011. You have until November 1, 2010 to nominate a Kentuckian (okay, you can nominate people from other places, too, but really, we need a state drive for this. It's just us and South Dakota and Delaware, unless I missed one, in terms of '0' states.)

Okay, this one was too fun not to take

Your result for The Zombie Awareness Test...


Well, well. You scored a whopping 227 points.

Awesome. You have what it takes to maybe, just maybe survive the horrific future in store for all mankind. You're probably not going to shoot yourself in the face, and you're not likely going to go running off alone into the unexplored areas. Try not to drop the flashlight, and you may see the sunrise.

Take The Zombie Awareness Test at OkCupid

Haven't done this in awhile...

Your result for The RPG Class Test...

Mystic Theurge

15% Combativeness, 17% Sneakiness, 85% Intellect, 58% Spirituality

Brilliant and spiritual! You are a Mystic Theurge!

Score! You have a prestige class. A prestige class can only be taken after you've fulfilled certain requirements. This may mean that you're an exceptionally talented person, but it probably doesn't.

The Mystic Theurge is a combination of a cleric and a mage. They can cast both arcane and divine spells, and are good at both, making them pretty terrifying on the battlefield. They have more raw spellpower than just about any other class.

You're both intelligent and faithful, but not violent or deceitful. I guess that makes you a pretty good person.

Take The RPG Class Test at OkCupid

Monday, March 15, 2010

A blah day

It's Monday. I don't expect much from Mondays. Or certainly the Ides of March, for that matter. But today was, well, blah, in pretty much everything.

Today I woke up at the same time I usually wake up on weekdays. Unfortunately, where last week that was 9 am, today it is 10 am, with the time change. By the time I could get ready and ride the bus, I got into work at 11 am, a full hour late.

I couldn't stay late however because I had an appointment with the nurse practitioner at my doctor's office to see about my neck. He thinks it's a muscle strain injury, judging by where I was having pain. He suggested alternating ice and heat keeping the neck mobile and doing stretches (I've been doing all of that). He also prescribed a muscle relaxant, tizanidine, to take 1/2 a tablet about 6 pm, then 1 or 2 tablets at bedtime. My doctor gave me a prescription for Darvocet-N 100 for pain. They'll see me back in two weeks. If it hasn't gotten better, then they'll start doing some tests and x-rays. The final decision to go came over the weekend when I woke unable to feel my entire right hand (although it did come back once I was up and moving). Hopefully as the muscles relax, that won't happen again.

My blood pressure was back to normal this time, at least, and I'd lost a prescription and had just run out, so I was able to get another for one of my other meds. Thursday I have the nerve conduction study due to the numbness I was having earlier.

That's pretty much it. I went to a friend's house, but he was asleep. I came on home, meeting a neighbour on the bus and then walked with him and talked for a bit. Hopefully tomorrow will be better, and I'll wake up on time despite the time change and meds.

Help the Library Society of the World send Walt Crawford to the ALA!

Help the LSW send Walt Crawford to the ALA!

Walt Crawford, as some of you might know, studies blogs, specifically those that are library/librarian related. He also produces Cites & Insights, which is an ongoing serial containing his thoughts regarding blogging and librarianship. He's been kind enough to include this blog in his studies, and I've mentioned him in the past.

Just one thing.

Walt lost his job recently
, and wasn't sure he'd be able to make the trip to the American Library Association annual meeting in Washington, DC this summer. (Yeah, both the Medical Library Association and ALA are meeting there this year).

So the folks at Library Society of the World are trying to get the word out and provide a way to send Walt to ALA. So far they've raised enough money to get him there, plus some lodging, but they need to send him back to California when it's finished, too. Here's how you can donate:
  • via PayPal (account: newrambler at gmail dot com)
  • by cheque (made out to: Laura Crossett, Send Walt to ALA Fund, PO Box 85, Meeteetse, WY 82433)
  • directly to Walt via the PayPal button on Cites & Insights
Anything else left over will help keep Cites & Insights going. Thanks Laura, for the links and information, and to birdie from LISNews for the link to her post.

:) How science, field trips, and swift shipping services met

Meat-eating amphibian predates dinosaurs: Named after shipping service, Fedexia survived ancient climate shift
An interesting "rock" initially tossed aside at a FedEx site near Pittsburgh International Airport turns out to be the skull of a meat-eating, early terrestrial amphibian that lived 70 million years before the first dinosaurs emerged, according to a paper released Monday in the Annals of Carnegie Museum.

The approximately 300-million-year-old carnivorous amphibian has been named Fedexia striegeli. The genus name refers to the well-known shipping service, while the species name recognizes Adam Striegel, who spotted the animal's well-preserved, 5-inch-long (12.5-centimeter-long) fossil skull while he was a University of Pittsburgh student on a field trip.

Striegel originally threw it aside, thinking it wasn't important. But then he and class lecturer Charles Jones noticed its pointy teeth and tusks, so the skull was brought to experts at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History.
See what field trips to FedEx will get you?

One more to study for English class... :)

'Lost' Shakespeare play Double Falsehood published
A play which was first discovered nearly 300 years ago has been credited to William Shakespeare.

The work, titled Double Falsehood, was written by the playwright and another dramatist, John Fletcher.

Theatre impresario Lewis Theobald presented the play in the 18th century as an adaptation of a Shakespeare play but it was dismissed as a forgery.

But scholars for British Shakespeare publisher, Arden, now believe the Bard wrote large parts of the play.

Researchers think the play is based on a long-lost work called Cardenio, which was itself based on Don Quixote.

Something that could open up a world for the blind

Blinded Merseyside soldier 'sees' with tongue device
A Merseyside soldier blinded by a grenade in Iraq has said his life has been turned around by technology that allows him to "see" with his tongue.

L/Cpl Craig Lundberg, 24, from Walton, Merseyside, can read words, identify shapes and walk unaided using the BrainPort device.

The machine converts visual images into a series of electrical pulses which are sent to his tongue.

The soldier said the device gives off "a pins and needles sensation".

L/Cpl Lundberg lost his sight while serving with the King's Regiment after being hit by a rocket propelled grenade in 2007.
There's a video that accompanies the article that demonstrates the device. Although it's just a prototype, and an expensive one at that, there's hope that one day it will help those who are visually impaired navigate and read. The glasses have a camera and the device translates the letters or objects into a two-dimensional shape using electrodes on a 'lolly pop' held on the tongue. The lance corporal describes it like 'licking a nine volt battery or like popping candy'. The main drawback is since it is held on the tongue, you can't talk or eat at the same time you're using the device. Researchers are working on a smaller version that might fit in roof the mouth or such that would allow this at some point.

This is an excellent example of technology pursued in an effort to make people's lives better.

Sad end to a remarkable woman

Once-revered lawmaker freezes to death alone: She was the first black woman elected to the South Carolina Legislature

Juanita Goggins was an educator who went into politics and got ground-breaking education legislation passed. She was a trailblazer, an excellent role-model. But she became increasingly reclusive in recent years and refused help from others. After she was found in her home, dead of hypothermia, signs of dementia were found during the autopsy, which may have accounted for her situation. She sounds like a wonderful woman who had a lonely life towards the end. That's a shame. Yes, it was by choice, but it seems to have been an impaired one. Hopefully her work and her life will be remembered, though.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Well, it's 1 am

Soon it will be 3 am instead of 2 am. I'm going to bed, having finished the game notes. Had a good day at work; I was a little too bouncy for my tastes, and managed to insert my foot into my mouth is a most spectacular way (twice), but survived without really offending anyone. And there was nummy Bean Curd Szechuan-style from Golden Wok. Will write more tomorrow. Good night.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A little humour to go with setting your clocks forward

from Rachel Maddow and her guest:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


Despite working the truck last night (the cigarettes were not too bad; the cooler was), my neck was feeling halfway decent so I didn't take any pain medicine last night before I went to bed. I woke up several times throughout the night trying to get a good position, and now my neck hurts worse than it had been, along with my back, and I feel achy all over for that matter, because I did not get the best of sleep.

Now that I've eaten something I've taken half a tablet, with the aim of working on the notes. I got a third of them done on Tuesday, and had great hopes for finishing them by Thursday or Friday until the neck thing happened. Still, I must push on, because the time change is tonight and I have one less hour before the game tonight. I think I can finish this morning. But my I fear bleary and not at my best. The weather change and the beginning of my allergies aren't helping either. We had a big front of thunderstorms go through yesterday.

Okay, I better get on those notes.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Let there be light

For the past week or so, my aquarium has been dark, as the light bulb bit the dust. Now that I've been paid, I was able to get a new one today. However, it annoys me how these things are built. The box says it is recommended that these bulbs be changed every 8-12 months. My original bulb, the one that the aquarium started out with, lasted for years. My last bulb made it maybe nine months.

Fortunately the sword plants are still going strong, although I think the water sprite has bitten the dust. The fish seem happy though. I do need to put some more water in tonight or tomorrow, as it's gotten fairly low.

Utter callousness and stupidity

Primary schoolchildren in tears after they are told they will be removed from families as part of Holocaust 'game'

A teacher decided to do a roleplaying exercise to teach her eleven-year-olds how it might have been for Jewish children during the Holocaust. Unfortunately, the kids didn't know it was a roleplay, for the teacher neither informed students or parents about the intended programme.
One girl said her classmates began crying when Mrs McGlynn told them she had a letter from the Scottish Executive saying nine children had to be separated from their classmates.

She told the shocked youngsters those who were born in January, February and March had lower IQs than other children, 'due to lack of sunlight in their mother's womb', and that they had to put yellow hats on and be sent to the library.

The mother added: 'When I asked why on earth they thought it was appropriate to deliver a role play situation to the children in this way, Mrs Stewart informed me that they didn't inform the children beforehand.

'This was because they wanted the children to experience an "accurate emotional response" to this scenario in order for it to be reflected in their story writing.

'Mrs Stewart then invited me to come up to the school and see the excellent work that had been produced as a result of the exercise.

'I declined and my position and opinion on the method used to extract emotive story writing from the children was cruel, barbaric, traumatic and totally, totally unethical.

'My daughter and indeed no child needs to feel the terror, fear, panic, segregation and horror that a child of the Holocaust experienced during one of the worst atrocities in history to be able to empathise with them in order to produce good story writing.'
Well said. It reminds me of the Jane Elliot's controversial 'blue-eyed/brown-eyed' exercise, which was used as an example of unethical use of human subjects in sociology class, along with the Milgram experiment. Ironically, had the teacher in the British case been a scientific researcher, her exercise would never had made it past an institutional review board (IRB) because it violates the first point of the Nuremberg Code--that informed consent of the subject must be obtained. The Nuremberg Code was, itself, set up as a response to Nazi human experimentation methods during the Holocaust to prevent exploitation and harm to the experimental subjects.

Interestingly, several commentators on the story mentioned that children today are coddled and that the children shouldn't have been so upset. But they are missing a crucial issue--trust. I don't think the parents are wrong to be upset. There's a difference between coddling a youngster and sheltering him or her from the realities of the world and betraying the trust that school is a 'safe place' in which to learn. I do not believe the teacher in this case thought out the emotional distress that this would produce coming from a trusted adult.

Interestingly, despite the ethical issues surrounding the Elliot and Milgram exercises, the majority of participants in each case looked back on them as positive experiences. Perhaps these children will as well. But considering the manipulation of emotions involved, I can't help but think that there are psychological explanations for the overwhelming support the subjects gave, perhaps a refusal to believe that anyone in a trusted position would abuse their power through manipulation. But in my opinion, that is what was done in all three of these cases.

A mixed blessing

Medicine's Future Could Lie in Each Patient's Genome: In two studies, scientists quickly scanned individuals' DNA to get at causes of disease

On the one hand, single-gene disorders such as Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease could be detectable earlier and help doctors hone in on correct treatments. It's not so helpful for more complex yet common diseases such as diabetes or Alzheimer's. But it holds possibilities of targeted prevention as our technology grows and the cost of DNA sequencing goes down.

The article doesn't, however, address privacy concerns and what happens in terms of a person's chances of getting insurance in a world where newborns' genes are sequenced and their potential disorders are catalogued in their medical record. Even now, for example, there are women whose families have a strong history of breast cancer who are afraid to test for the genes--even though the test has been around for awhile--because of what it might do if it fell into the hands of insurance companies. The idea is that you could be blacklisted for conditions you might develop. That's not so bad in a healthcare system where everyone is treated equally (such as with socialised medicine). But for one based on health management organisations and the like, where costs to the insurer are very important--it could be devastating.

Still, the two studies are remarkable. The future is now, as the saying goes.

I feel better

A friend worked on my back tonight, much like a chiropractor would, putting the spine back in place correctly. I came home (bumpy bus ride that isn't great for my back ensued), put IcyHot on my neck (well, the pharmacy version, anyway), and went to the massage cushion and let it go for a good long while (minus the heat--that doesn't mix with the IcyHot well), with a Snuggie over me. Not surprisingly, I fell asleep sometime after I stopped the massage. Between what he did and that, it seems to have helped the muscle spasms in my neck. I won't say I have full range of motion, but it's better than before.

This afternoon I had to take a half of a Percoset for the pain. Now, I'm a weenie when it comes to some types of pain, but usually take things like this in stride. I only took one Percoset when I had oral surgery, for example (hence why I still have a few). When I had my carpal tunnel surgeries I think I took pain meds for a day. Ibuprofen usually takes care of my needs. This time was a little different, but hopefully it will be greatly improved soon. There's still a numb place at the base of my neck where the muscles are bunched up. I have osteoarthritis there because my spine is very straight (it's 'J' shaped rather than 'S' shaped) and my neck, which curves opposite what it is supposed to, bounces on that straight section and causes pain. So I have prior issues that contribute.

I tell you one thing. I won't be lifting anything for awhile. If I have more boxes, I'll ask housekeeping porters to help. Now, at the store that's not a luxury, but the main thing I have to lift there are cooler items, and tomorrow I'll be dealing with the cigarettes instead, so hopefully I'll have a chance to bounce back.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

I feel a little better

not so much from sleeping but from a nice, hot shower this morning. It loosened the muscles that were so tight around my neck and I can actually move it with just a little pain. I got up a little early this morning again (not so early as yesterday, it took awhile to get moving). So I'm not having to rush.

Yesterday I got something interesting at Walgreens, of all places. They have socks especially designed for people who work on their feet. They have massaging bars of terrycloth on the soles, and I have to say my feet, combined with all the other measures I've done, felt better. They're by Peds.

I can already tell that I'm starting to pronate in my shoes. I guess I'll have to replace them more often than normally recommended. Still, for now, they're feeling better, although I did try to twist my ankle yesterday getting into my cubicle (I have about a foot of room to enter, when they put the chairs at the computer, and even though I removed all those boxes from the library yesterday, I came back downstairs to find three new boxes at the end of my cubicle. Figures. So I had a momentary issue navigating.

The other day, though, before we played the game, I almost went through a window. I tripped over the leg of a cedar chest whilst trying to plug in a battery charger and pitched forward, catching myself before I went through the glass. Then I dropped all the batteries, and started laughing. But is there any wonder I got AFLAC this year? I am a danger to myself (but rarely to others, at least). I think it was because I was wearing my glasses and misjudged where to step. But it could have been very bad had I not caught myself.

Here's hoping today will be quiet and no potential injuries ensue. I don't have to work at the store today, so I'm going over to YKWIA's. Have a good day.

Sorry to keep this brief

I moved a lot of boxes of books today at work and I've done something to my neck. If I move it the wrong way at all it hurts, and ibuprofen didn't touch the pain. Consequently, if I sit at the computer, it hurts. I put the massaging cushion with the heating pad on my back to try to loosen things up a bit with a little success. But it still hurts too much to blog much or do game notes. Here's hoping it works its way out overnight as I sleep, or I may have to go to the doctor about it. In the meantime, I, who almost never take pain pills, am going to take a Percoset and go to bed. Good night.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Texting from a mobile phone...

Got up at 8, took a bath, and now watching geese at the bus stop waiting for an earlier bus.

[And somehow when I originally posted it, it doubled my post. Sorry about that. I've deleted the extraneous one. Oh, and just so you know, I was waiting for a bus, not the geese...it was a little vague, but you only get so many characters in a text message. Sorry. :)]

Okay, one more thing

Thanks to @GaryCorby from Twitter (although I had to look up the story myself):

Shellfish Could Supplant Tree-ring Climate Data: Temperature records gleaned from clamshells reveal accuracy of Norse sagas

Really. This could really add to our understanding of historical and paleotological climate change, and our present situation as well. It's worth a read.

Alright, this time I really am going to bed. 'Night, all.

Well, I'm about a third of the way through the game note transcription

and I took out the trash, did dishes, did laundry, and spent some time on a massage cushion/heating pad to help my back/neck/shoulder relax. I'm going to go on to bed now. If I manage to do about as much on the notes as I did tonight I could have them done by Thursday or Friday at the latest, leaving me Saturday morning to do more laundry and clean the bathroom, hang the new shower liner, do the kitchen, and mop the floors. Wish me luck.

Also, I think I'm going to start setting the alarm for 7 am in the hopes of getting up at 8 so that I can actually have some time to ease into the day rather than the normal jump up and go. I think it would help my productivity at work. Plus, I can eat breakfast earlier and take my medicine, etc. before I get there, plus check the news and maybe blog, which I usually don't get to do until late at night. (I'm not allowed to blog from work.)

Okay, good night. It turned out to be a decent second-half-of-the-day after all. Hopefully tomorrow will be better at work. I think when it comes down to it, my reactions to things was the problem. Fortunately I wasn't bitchy or impolite. I was just down. I should be back to my old self tomorrow.