Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
comic strip overdue media

Friday, April 30, 2010

I am so sorry to hear

Police officer is killed
I don't think I've met Officer Durman (I see several police regularly who stop in by the store, for which I am grateful.) He was responding to a noise complaint and speaking with one of the passengers in the offending car when someone in possession of drugs and with outstanding warrants struck him, the car he was near, and the one in front of that. The suspect then sped off but Glenn Doneghy was later found and charged with murder, leaving the scene of an accident (a felony), 4 counts of assault 3rd Degree, 1 count of assault 2nd Degree, possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of a controlled a substance suspected to be cocaine, plus two counts of failure to appear in court unrelated to the incident.

Durman is the first Lexington police officer to be killed in the line of duty since 1985, (a sherriff's deputy was killed in 1987).

Ironically, the last uniformed officer I saw was Wednesday night, in honour guard uniform, who had spent all day doing casket duty. Officer Durman was killed last night, Thursday. I'm afraid there will be more of those somber uniforms as his body is laid to rest.

My heartfelt condolences to his family, colleagues, and friends.


'Cuddle hormone' makes men more empathetic
A nasal spray can make men more in tune with other people's feelings, say a team of German and UK researchers.

They found that inhaling the "cuddle hormone" oxytocin made men just as empathetic as women.

The study in 48 volunteers also showed that the spray boosted the ability to learn from positive feedback.
Okay, back to the notes.

You know, every time I mention voles, I get blank looks

Vole surge in Kielder Forest boosts owl population
The tawny owl population in a Northumberland beauty spot is booming as a result of the harsh winter, experts say.

The Forestry Commission say their growth at Kielder Forest is due to an increase in the number of voles, which the birds of prey feed on.

The large amount of snow which fell over the winter allowed voles to hide from prey and breed successfully.
Not that they come up much in conversation. I have a friend whose dog can take down a vole in about 5 seconds flat; that's how it usually comes up. I admit that until a few years ago, I was also uninitiated when it came to voles. So, just to clarify, this is a vole:
(PHOTO: CC 3.0 Fashionslide from Wikimedia Commons)
Not to be confused with a mole:
(PHOTO: CC 2.5 David Hill from Wikimedia Commons)

By the way, there's a great picture of little owl babies at the article link. :)

Also, a pet peeve, do you know I've had to explain to two separate people that birds actually have sex? And these are people older than I who presumably had science in school.

I grew up in Louisiana

albeit in the northern part, not the south, but it breaks my heart to see so much oil heading for the coast in what could easily be the worst spill ever. The damage to wildlife could be incalculable, and in an area barely recovering from hurricane Katrina, this could mean the end to many people's livelihoods (shrimpers, for example). As one man put it:

"A hurricane is like closing your bank account for a few days, but this here has the capacity to destroy our bank accounts," said Byron Marinovitch, 47.

Birds under threat as oil hits La. shore: Spill may prompt rethink of Obama’s coastal drilling plans

I remember the Exxon Valdez spill and how devastating that was. (Did you know that ship is still in service?) Even now, the coast there shows signs of oil. This is set to be far worse, since the oil is continuously pumping out and is much more than any single tanker could contain. May they be able to do everything they can to minimise the damage to the Gulf Coast.

How do you clean up an oil spill?

PHOTO: (Black Turnstone (Arenaria melanocephala) in mating plumage foraging on rocks near Crescent City, California)


Apparently that last post was number 5,000. Yep. You read that right. 5,000 posts. It only took nearly about 8 1/2 years. :) Anyway, there's a great milestone. I also recently hit 90,000 visitors to the site.

Thank you all so much. It amazes me that I, who could never keep a journal on paper, have been doing this for so long and still enjoy it. And it also amazes me that people actually come to read it.

Thanks, too, to Blogger for hosting this blog and giving me the tools to express myself via writing.


As my feed for it said, 'because it's never too early to teach them how to kill orcs':

Wizards of the Coast Publishes D&D for Kids

Monster Slayers: the Heroes of Hesiod is a free PDF aimed at children 6 and up.

Daniel Donahoo says:
The publishers of Dungeons and Dragons have just launched Monster Slayers: The Heroes of Hesiod which looks like it could be a whole new line of D&D products for children age six and up. They are quick to link their product to the broad range of educational benefits including math skills, literacy, problem solving and creative thinking.

They leave out the other important skills that can be learned like how to pierce a dragons hide, why you should always let the thief open the locked box and why you should never, ever become separated from the party in a narrow dungeon.
Maybe Chaosium will get on the bandwagon and publish something similar as a Cthulhu Mythos line. :)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Please use your seat belt--it could save your life

I came across a post that had embedded this advertisement where the writer was lamenting the death--in just a weekend--of nine people in his home state who died because they weren't wearing safety belts in car crashes. I found the video rather moving, and thought I'd share it here. It was cleverly done and the imagery is simple yet memorable. You can be embrace life on Facebook, too. Okay, time to get ready for work. Have a great day, and buckle up!

All material © 2010 Sarah Alexander/Daniel Cox/Sussex Safer Roads Partnership

Congratulations! And one day, others may not have to go out of state to do likewise...

Ill. lawmaker's engagement spotlights gay marriage

State Representative Deborah Mell announced her engagement on the Illinois House floor the other day to applause. Only one problem--a 1996 law in the state defines marriage as between a man and a woman and civil unions are not supported in Illinois, so she and her girlfriend of six years will be travelling to Iowa for the ceremony.

But one day soon, I believe, same-sex marriages will be as ordinary as mixed race ones are today--something else that was seen as a threat to the institution of marriage once upon a time. Those with little minds will eventually become more marginalised, or simply die off, and allow a more understanding younger generation to bring the changes needed to institutionalise rights to marry for love regardless of gender.

Until that day, let me congratulate Deborah Mell and her fiancée. May their years as a married couple be happy ones, even though their own state will not recognise the relationship, much less the marriage.

This ancient illness is not the horror it once was, but it still infects, albeit in small numbers, in the US

Most people don't know about Hansen's Disease, if you were to ask them about it. I only know because of Stephen R. Donaldson's Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, because Donaldson's father was a doctor who specialised in treating it and he gave the main character of his books the disease.

But people have heard of it's other name--leprosy.

Leper, outcast--it conjures ancient fears, images of people with deformed and missing parts of their body, of infection, etc.

The fact of the matter is, leprosy isn't so infectious. 95% of our population is immune to it, being such an old disease. Plus, it can't even be cultured in a lab normally...it has to be cultured from animals that carry the disease like armadillos. It's relatively easy to cure--new drugs can't repair loss of sensation or damage, but can render it noninfectious. 6,500 or so people live in the US with leprosy and its effects. More live throughout the world, and of course are less likely to receive treatment and more likely to be shunned. In the US the main problem is many doctors have never seen a case of leprosy and would not recognise the tell-tale signs until damage has taken place.

The article, Living with Leprosy, gives a good look at leprosy, from what remains of a leper colony in Louisiana to what's it like to get the diagnosis, to how the disease is studied.

Because of the Donaldson books and because of my study of ancient and mediaeval history, I've always been fascinated by leprosy. And as a child growing up in Louisiana, I played with those very same armadillos at times. And of course as a medical librarian, I'm intrigued by various syndromes and diseases. So I found the whole article group very interesting. Leprosy is a both a success story in that it can be cured, and yet the horror it conjures is still very palpable in the modern world.

Disaster in Mongolia as herders lose livestock to extreme weather

Mongolian dzud kills millions of domestic animals
Damien Woodberry, a veterinarian with The World Society for the Protection of Animals' (WSPA) disaster response team, recently visited Mongolia, where he worked with WSPA's member society, the Cambridge Mongolia Development Appeal (CAMDA), to deliver emergency aid to animals.

"The landscape is literally littered with dead animals--cows, sheep, goats, yaks, horses and camels. It is horrific," said Woodberry. "Most the herders' gers or yurts--semi-permanent tents that they live in--have large piles of dead animals next to them. The ones left alive are sick or so weak they barely move when you approach, and all are extremely thin."

Cold weather happens every winter, but this Mongolian dzud is a combination of events causing a far higher rate of animal death:
  • Summer droughts: These prevented many herders from stockpiling sufficient hay and fodder reserves to last their animals through the winter.
  • A higher-than-usual winter snow fall: Animals couldn't access what pastures remained and herders' efforts to feed with their own stocks was hampered.
  • Extreme cold: Snow on the ground turned to ice, making it impossible for animals to use what little pasture had been available. The animals, who already suffered from malnutrition, then became extremely vulnerable to hypothermia.
The last dzud in 2001 killed about 11 million animals. However, experts estimate this dzud will be worse. With no relief until at least May, possibly even as late as June. A total loss of 4-5 million animals is expected by spring. By the end of the disaster, an estimated 20 million animals could have died.
Struggling to survive Mongolia's freezing winter
The Galsaikhan family have lost 800 of their 900 animals. Chumedtseren, the mother, says the mornings are the worst. "Every day when we wake up we have the same fear. How many have died overnight?" She says sometimes she and her husband are frightened to go to check. "If we lose all our animals we'll have lost everything," she says. The frozen carcasses of the animals lie where they have dropped, several of them in the pen where the others seek shelter from the wind. The herders' cattle, their sheep, their goats are their cash. They use them to pay for everything from food to medicine to schooling for their children. So for the family losing so many is disastrous. Renchan, Chumedtseren's husband, says the greater pressure at the moment is mental, not physical. "Our only source of livelihood is slipping away. If we lose all our livestock how will we keep going?"

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Books aren't the only precious things that go into night drop boxes

Dogs do, too, at least at our local humane society. Thankfully, a border collie/terrier mix of which I am very fond who was lost was found four or five miles away from home by a Good Samaritan who caught her, drove her across town, and dropped her in the night box so she wouldn't be hit by a car or otherwise harmed. Now she is back home and I plan on bringing her dog biscuits tomorrow. I am so happy she is safe. I prayed very hard to my Patroness, who among other thing is known as a Protectress of dogs, that she would be okay and find her way home safely. I'm going to give a libation of the rest of my burgundy tonight in thanks (I was going to as soon as I got home from work, but the police officer who lives across the hall was out and I didn't want to explain why 1) I had an open container of wine and 2) I was pouring said wine on the ground.)

Anyway, she is home and I am grateful. It's made for a much happier day.

Up early

With the idea to work on game notes early in the week (well, earlier than Saturday, anyway). After days of rain there's not a cloud in the sky and it's quite sunny, although very cool.

I keep thinking it's Tuesday, when it's Wednesday. I lost time on Monday when I was feeling so awful and spent the day at home. The nice thing about this is pay day crept up on me and refilled my bank account whilst I was unsuspecting. :)

Yesterday's highlight was giving blood (I hadn't been contagious on Monday, after all, just full of fibromyalgia soreness and fatigue). It was a day to bleed, apparently. When the guy went to check my hematocrit it burst from my finger all over his lab coat. They still had to spin my blood to find out if I could give (it never just sinks in the copper sulfate solution--I guess it's a problem with being female). Anyway, the phlebotomist got the vein on the first try, I was done quickly, and chalked up yet another almost-universal-donor gift for life. They didn't have any of that blue co-ban without latex so she had to tape me up with gauze and regular tape, and I liked to never got that off later.

I've never given as often as I could, but mainly do it at bloodmobiles that come to work. (It's not that easy to get to the main centres on the buses. I've only donated once at a centre--it was at the old location, which was easier to get to, and it was September 11, 2001.) But I'm working on my fourth gallon. Of course, I started when I was 17, so I'm kind of slow. But I'm O+, so I get lots of reminders from the blood centre.

I'm also on the bone marrow donation registry, although if I ever go to insulin my diabetes will probably prevent me from donating there. But in the meantime I keep up my contact information should it be needed.

Okay, let's see what I can do about these notes. Time to transfer the recording to the computer for transcription.

When I was 15

I remember watching Tom Baker's 'Doctor Who' (the fourth Doctor) on PBS (playing here in America much later than in the UK), when I first discovered the franchise and fell in love with it.

When I was 15, Matt Smith, the current Doctor, was born.


'If this is the mouth, I'd love to see the stomach--but not right now.'

Okay, so the DVR version of 'The Beast Below' was all pixelised and the sound kept going out, but I checked to see if it were being re-run during the week and lo, it was in 5 minutes. So I'm watching it now (but it's at commercial at moment).

I really like this so far.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A look at the new Doctor

Series Trailer from BBCOne:

Series Trailer from BBCAmerica:

I think I'll go watch 'The Beast Below' that I have on DVR....

Marilyn Monroe's writings to be released

Monroe’s writings to be released: ‘Fragments’ to feature starlet’s musings on life, men
"I think the book will show that she was a really thoughtful person with a real interior life," Hodell said. "She was a great reader and someone with real writing flair. There are fragments of poetry that are really quite beautiful, lines that stop you in your tracks."
A little about Marilyn Monroe and books:
The library of Marilyn Monroe contained over 400 books on a variety of subjects, reflecting both her intelligence and her wide-ranging interests. No surprise to those familiar with Monroe, they were the books of a well-read and inquiring mind. Works of Literature, Art, Drama, Biography, Poetry, Politics, History, Theology, Philosophy, and Psychology covered the walls in her library. Among the First Editions was her own copy of The Beat Generation classic On the Road by Jack Kerouac, Ralph Ellison's The Invisible Man and William Styron's This House on Fire. From Tolstoy to Twain, many other classic works of literature were represented, including her copies of The Great Gatsby, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, James Joyce's Dubliners, Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises, and The Fall by Camus. Her library also contained books on gardening, her Bibles, and children's books, including her own copy of The Little Engine That Could which was possibly marked with her own childish scrawl.

All items in Monroe's library were in original bindings (mostly cloth or wrappers), and good condition. The books comprising Marilyn Monroe's reading library contained her pencil marks, notations, and inserted book marks or slips.

All volumes sold at the 1999 Christie's auction contained a posthumous bookplate identifying them as coming from Marilyn Monroe's library. Books from Monroe's library were sold to benefit Literacy Partners.--from The Marilyn Monroe Collection website


6-pound horse may set world record: Foal measuring 14 inches tall may be tiniest ever born
Dr. Rachel Wagner, Einstein's co-owner, says the Guinness Book of Records lists the smallest newborn horse as weighing in at 9 pounds.

Breeders say that unlike the current record holder, Thumbelina, Einstein shows no signs of dwarfism. He's just a tiny horse.

I've seen Thumbelina--she's come to the hospital since she has the horse equivalent to dwarfism and that is a condition we treat. The picture at the story site shows a completely in proportion horse--but a very tiny one. Here's a video of Einstein:

Oh, and guys at NBC, he's a miniature horse, not a pony--completely different.


Ancient building came with DIY instructions: Like IKEA furniture, symbols showed how the pieces slotted together

It sounds rather like an ancient version of those those houses you used to be able to buy from the Sears catalogue--only this was 6th century, pre-Roman, made by 'Greek artisans coming from the Spartan colony of Taranto in Puglia' for a clientele with a desire for Greek-style buildings.

Balancing love for books and a need to appeal to the public is a difficult thing

And weeding books is a tricky sort of thing, as this illustrates:

Library books end up in trash

A look at the early modern textbook for dealing with witchcraft

Malleus Maleficarum: How to Torture a Witch

The Malleus Maleficarum ('Hammer of Witches') was the handbook to the inquisition and torture of suspected witches during the 16th and 17th centuries, and was used by witch-hunters and inquisitors to elicit confessions and otherwise punish those unfortunates accused of the crime during what is sometimes referred to as 'the Burning Times' (although witches were mostly burnt in mainland Europe--in Britain and America they were primarily hanged).

The text can be found in several places online, including http://www.malleusmaleficarum.org/, which is both able to be browsed and searched.

Most studies look at the cost of piracy; this one's a little different

Study: Fair Use Contributes Trillions to U.S. Economy

One person with persistence can bring forth change

Just ask Paul Clark, known as 'the library guy', who spent his vacation time from his job as a systems librarian at the Florida State Capitol, silently pleading with lawmakers with a sign urging them to continue to fund the state's public libraries.

It worked. Lawmakers managed to preserve $21 million worth of state funding during their marathon session that ended at midnight on Monday, and Clark was referenced by the Senate budget chief.

Monday, April 26, 2010

When teachers snap...

Teacher Peter Harvey 'beat pupil while shouting die'
He was apparently shouting 'die, die, die' as he beat a student in the head with a dumbbell. Now he's on trial for 'grievous bodily harm with intent'.

UPDATE 4/30/2010: Harvey was acquitted on the charge:

Teacher Peter Harvey cleared of attempting to kill boy
It emerged during the four-day trial that pupils at the school were trying to wind up Harvey so his reaction could be caught on a camcorder being used secretly by a girl in the class.

The footage was then to be passed around the school as a way of "humiliating" the teacher.

'Pupils abused' Mansfield school attack teacher

Training carnivorous marsupials to avoid poisonous toads

Sausage 'solution' to Australia's cane toad invasion
They are mixing in a nausea-producing chemical in with cane toad meat sausages to teach quolls (which used to numerous but which have seriously declined in the last twenty years) from eating the large toads.


Cutting libraries in a recession is like cutting hospitals in a plague--Eleanor Crumblehulme

Thanks to Daniel Solis:
(You can get it on a t-shirt, by the way: http://www.cafepress.com/soullesstees.440929848)

The quote is from Eleanor Crumblehulme via Twitter: twitter.com/Crumblehulme/statuses/12135783319.

I finally got to see Doctor Who 'The Eleventh Hour'

and I must say I enjoyed it immensely. Amy is very plucky. Matt Smith captured the newly-regenerated-have-no-idea-who-I'll-be aspect of the Doctor rather well and then came to something more whole at the end, just as he's meant to. And he does do the 'madman in a box' well too. I think it will be a fun ride. I haven't seen the next episode yet (I have it on DVR), but I don't feel up to it tonight. Still, it put me in a lovely mood.

PS You have to admire a companion who will knock you up side the head with a cricket bat and then handcuff you to a radiator. The Doctor hasn't had enough of that (but I'm sure Donna would have).

I came across this montage of David Tennant moments from the last season. I hope you enjoy:

I feel all herb-y

It's 7 pm and I've finally taken a shower after being in bed for most of the day. I have a new rosemary and mint shampoo and pomegranate and lemon verbena bath wash, so I smell like some mixture of herbs and fruit.

I still feel awful, though. Warm water just helps a bit.

My only link to the outside world today was YKWIA, who'd asked me to look up some Arabic translations of English words for him. Now, I don't know Arabic (just some Hebrew), and it was pretty challenging since I needed the transliterations (he does know a little Arabic and can transliterate, but wanted to bypass that step if possible) and those are somewhat hard to come by on the Internet, but I succeeded. I swear it's good that he has a personal librarian--he's come close to breaking librarians on those occasions he calls the public library with rather esoteric questions.

I really want to do something, but I'm so tired. I think I'll play a little Freecell and try not to go back to sleep so I can sleep tonight.

Sad, in several ways

New York passers-by leave good Samaritan to die
In contrast to the apes' reactions to death, we have this:
A homeless man in New York City who was stabbed after coming to a woman's aid was left to die while passers-by ignored him, CCTV footage has shown.

Police said that at least 25 people walked past Hugo Alfredo Tale-Yax as he bled to death on a pavement in Queens.

The 31-year-old from Guatemala was repeatedly stabbed by a man as he intervened during the attack last week.

The footage shows it was an hour and a half before somebody tried to rouse him and contacted the emergency services.

RIP to someone who did a good deed--and suffered for it with his life, as others refused to do the right thing.

Do our primate cousins mourn the death of their companions, too?

Video: Chimpanzees Mourn Their Dead
Two reports of chimpanzees tending their dead provide poignant examples of how humanity’s closest relatives grieve for the dead, a behavior once thought unique to humans.

In one report, two mothers in a chimpanzee colony in Guinea carried the dead bodies of their infants for weeks. In the other, chimps at a safari park in Britain cared for an elderly female in her final days.

“We propose that chimpanzees’ response to death has been underestimated,” wrote researchers led by University of Stirling psychologist James Anderson in a paper published April 26 in Current Biology.

Chimps 'feel death like humans'

"Several phenomena have at one time or another been considered as setting humans apart from other species: reasoning ability, language ability, tool use, cultural variation, and self-awareness, for example," said James Anderson from Stirling University, who led the research team looking at the death of the elderly female.

"But science has provided strong evidence that the boundaries between us and other species are nowhere near to being as clearly defined as many people used to think.

"The awareness of death is another such psychological phenomenon."

Chimps face death in humanlike ways: New papers provide rare glimpses of chimp rituals
"In the days before Pansy died, the others were notably attentive towards her, and they even altered their routine sleeping arrangements to remain by her, by sleeping on the floor in a room where they don't usually sleep," lead author James Anderson told Discovery News.

Blossom, another elderly female, and Pansy's daughter, Rosie, both stroked and groomed the dying Pansy, and sometimes just sat, subdued, beside the elderly female. Blossom's son Chippy checked to see if Pansy was alive by manipulating her arms and trying to open her mouth.

All of the chimps tossed and turned at night, much more than normal, during the dying female's final few days.

"As she died, all three were closely gathered around her, and they paid especially close attention to her face," said Anderson, who is in the Psychology Department at the University of Stirling. "After some lifting and shaking of her head and shoulders, all three moved away from her, and there was no more such contact at all."

After Pansy died, however, overhead video cameras captured Chippy jumping onto the platform with Pansy's body. He leapt into the air, brought both hands down and pounded on Pansy's torso. He later sat by the corpse, and gently removed straw from the face.

"It is possible that it was an attempt to arouse Pansy, or a serious test of whether she was able to respond," Anderson said.

In the case of captive apes, it may mean a difference in how humans care for elderly creatures near death:
In light of all of the findings, Anderson and his colleagues suggest it might be better to not remove ailing elderly or terminally ill chimpanzees from their groups before they die, if the chimps are not contagious. At present, such individuals are often taken away and put to sleep.

"In some cases," Anderson and his team conclude, "it might be more humane to allow elderly apes to die naturally in their familiar social setting than to attempt to separate them for treatment or euthanasia."

I'm at home today

I feel crappy, hurting all over from head to toe deep in the muscles, so I called into work and went back to bed for awhile.

I know what it is. For about twenty years I have had fibromyalgia, and it although it's always present in one degree or another, it truly gets bad when there is an extreme temperature drop such as we had this weekend (it's about 20 degrees cooler now). That's when I feel like I've been hit with a truck and am so tired.

I don't talk about it much because when I first was diagnosed, I did a lot, and my friends made much mock of me. One even called it 'fibrous migraines'. It doesn't help that not all of the medical community recognises it as a legitimate syndrome, and no one really knows the cause, although strides have been made in research and there are new pharmaceutical treatments now. Also, I always seemed worse when I focussed on it too much or talked to other people with it, because I became more self-aware of my pain and probably somatosised as well.

My fibromyalgia is mostly tolerable. I haven't sought out medical help in years, because at the time there was nothing to do except maybe stay as active as possible or take anti-depressants, which work for some people. It's one of the reasons I got into yoga, and it helped a lot, although I must admit I haven't done it in awhile.

But then I have days like today, and I feel awful, and I think maybe I should try one of the new drugs, although I'm loathe to add more to my regimen (I already take eight pills a day). I have to admit, though, that like my carpal tunnel, I tend to ignore the chronic pain and not really realise how in impacts me unless I happen to be pain free, which is virtually never. When I had my carpal tunnel surgery it was like someone lifted a veil and I suddenly wasn't numb, wasn't having pain in my hands, and could feel things again. I'd like to do that with the fibromyalgia. I think in turn I could be more active and it would set up a cycle that would be better. Plus there is are cognitive and other issues that come into play with the disorder. So I may ask Dr Nesbitt about it at our next appointment.

In the meantime today I'm resting, just trying to get up and do a little. I've very rarely missed work due to my fibromyalgia; there are people out there so debilitated that they can't work at all, so I'm grateful that I can still be okay to make a living. But I have to admit, as I type this, that even my fingers hurt and while I should take advantage of a free day to do something around the house or whatever, I simply don't feel up to it. I might be able to watch that 'Doctor Who' premiere and the second episode later. But for now, I really just want to go back to bed. Once my body gets used to the weather change, I'll feel better, really. But for now, I feel like someone has pulled me one direction and then another, and another, until I almost break like a rubber band.

Interesting use of technology

New Software Processor Can Transcribe Music From Any Performance
Spanish telecommunications engineers have devised a new method to generate sheet music based on the sounds of individual notes, which it can identify regardless of musician, instrument, and venue.

The research team, from the University of Jaen in Jaen, Spain, describes an automated system that determines the spectral pattern of an instrument's musical notes. The pattern is used to create a harmonic dictionary, which is paired with a pattern algorithm. The system then determines which note is which, and converts the information into a readable format. Given a WAV file of a recording, the software can produce a MIDI transcription.

Automatic music transcription could help musicologists analyze sound samples, recover musical content and separate varying audio sources, according to Julio José Carabias, co-author of the paper and a researcher from the Department of Telecommunications Engineering at the University of Jaen.

There are those who want a world where women and girls cannot thrive

Afghan schoolgirls fall ill in suspected gas attack

Afghan schoolgirls poisoned by Taliban?: 'A smell like a flower reached my nose,' says hospitalized girl

Genocide by any other name

Armenians mourn victims of mass killings
The slaying began on April 24, 1915 with the rounding up of about 800 Armenian intellectuals, who were murdered. The Ottoman authorities then evicted Armenians from their homes in actions that spiraled into the mass slaughter of the Armenian population. Scholars widely view the event as the first genocide of the 20th century.

"We are grateful to all those in many countries, including Turkey, who understand the importance of averting crimes against humanity," Sarkisian said.

Turkey has warned the U.S. administration of diplomatic consequences if it fails to prevent the passage of a congressional resolution that would brand the killings of Armenians genocide. The Foreign Affairs Committee of the U.S. House of Representative's last month passed a resolution declaring the killings genocide, but it is unclear if the full House will vote on it.

Countries recognizing the killings as genocide include Uruguay, Chile, Argentina, Russia, Canada, Lebanon, Belgium, Greece, Italy, the Vatican, France, Switzerland, Slovakia, the Netherlands, Poland, Lithuania and Cyprus.

Last month, Sweden's parliament narrowly approved a resolution recognizing the slaying of Armenians as genocide.

Obama's statement, which did not use the word "genocide," said: "I have consistently stated my own view of what occurred in 1915, and my view of that history has not changed. It is in all of our interest to see the achievement a full, frank and just acknowledgment of the facts."

24 years ago today...

April 26, 1986: Chernobyl Nuclear Plant Suffers Cataclysmic Meltdown

Chernobyl disaster

Images of Chernobyl filmed in the days right after the incident:

The first part of a documentary on the disaster:

Animals and nature take over what humans abandoned in the Zone of Alienation (but whether they are actually flourishing is open to debate):

Chernobyl 'not a wildlife haven' (counterpoint to the last)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

I just spent ten hours at the store

Only eight were actually at work. The rest was due to waiting till close so Brandon could drive me home in a rainstorm. The rain actually eased up about 11:35 pm, but by that time it just made sense to wait. Thanks for bringing me home, though, Brandon!

I have to get up about 5 am, and it's almost 1 am now, so I'm going to eat my soft pretzels and then go to bed. Hope your weekend is going well.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

In celebration of finishing the notes

and still having time to relax. :)

Two quotes, as the result of watching a video and being moved to tears

'It is nothing to die; it is dreadful not to live.'--Victor Hugo, Les Misérables (the novel)

And from the the musical:

'Take my hand, and lead me to salvation. Take my love, for love is everlasting. And remember, the truth that once was spoken, to love another person is to see the face of God.'

Good night.

I like Brandon's math

After work tonight, we went to Meijer because he'd seen the Diet Sunkists I like on sale, buy 3 six-packs get 2 free. All I know is that 30 16.5 oz bottles cost a little over $8, whereas one 20 oz bottle costs $1.58 with tax normally.

Today was a good day, although long. First, there was the Kentucky Medical Library Association meeting and continuing education sessions at the Hospice of the Bluegrass. Our instructor today, Holly Ann Burt, from the Greater Midwest Region of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, was excellent. I really enjoyed the advanced PubMed searching class we had in the morning, and the afternoon overview on evidence-based practice and PubMed was very useful, although I was flagging towards the end and immediately took an hour-and-a-half nap upon arriving home.

Then it was off to work from 6=10 to check in the truck delivery and put away my part of it, which is generally the cigarettes, anything that needs to be dated, and the cooler items.

Once I got home, I caught up on stories in my newsreader while eating dinner. I was way behind and it took a good hour and a half to make it through everything. I starred quite a few things to share, although I may need to take a rain cheque on writing tonight. I'm starting to get sleepy and I want to at least set up things for something I'll be working on tomorrow.

Hope your weekend is off to a good start. And congratulations to Brandon's wife, Angenette, for passing her boards and gaining her certification.

Okay, time to go. I'll write more tomorrow.

Friday, April 23, 2010

But first

Great quote for me to remember, from Ovid's 'Epistulae ex Ponto':
Nemo leditur nisi a seipso
Nobody suffers except by his own doing

Of course, YKWIA's been telling me this for years. It just sounds better in Latin. :) :) :)

(Please don't kill me, YKWIA. I know, I would have listened to you ever so much earlier if only you'd had a British accent. And there's no sense in beating your head into the table, either.)

Anyway, it's one I need to take to heart. I found it on the Latin Quotes page's discussion of Casanova's mottoes (he, too, was a librarian, you know).

Okay, time to do some computer work

and then it's off to bed. I have to be up early for a meeting of the Kentucky Medical Library Association, with two continuing education classes being taught. It'll make for a fairly long day and then I have to work tomorrow night at the store.

PS There is some sort of odd rumbling noise coming from upstairs. Odd, because it really does sound like thunder, and it's supposed to storm, but it's too regular to be thunder. Also, it's odd because in all the time I've lived here (6 years!) I've never really had any trouble with noise. (It helps to have a police officer who lives across the hall). Maybe it's some game or something. Fortunately I shouldn't hear it when I go to bed.

Good night.

Librarians get good press in the Chronicle of Higher Education

An English Scholar Under a (Volcanic) Cloud
Joseph Bristow has been stranded in Ireland since a volcanic ash cloud halted air travel in Britain. Mr. Bristow, a professor of English at the University of California at Los Angeles, went to Ireland for a conference and to meet with researchers there. Then, last week, the now-infamous volcano in Iceland erupted. Mr. Bristow stopped to talk to The Chronicle by cellphone Wednesday while visiting a cathedral in Galway.

Says Professor Bristow, when asked whether he'd kept up with work back at UCLA:
My laptop crashed and I needed unrestricted access to e-mail. I thought if I went to [the Mary Immaculate] campus, I might get some help. The librarians were unfailingly helpful. They gave me access in their reference area to e-mail. I must have spent about five to six hours on e-mail, especially with my students.

Thanks to Martin at LISNews for the link.

Oh, this is so wrong

Insurer targeted breast cancer patients to cancel: Government: Software flagged new cases, sought reasons to drop policies
None of the women knew about the others. But besides their similar narratives, they had something else in common: Their health insurance carriers were subsidiaries of WellPoint, which has 33.7 million policyholders — more than any other health insurance company in the United States.

The women all paid their premiums on time. Before they fell ill, none had any problems with their insurance. Initially, they believed their policies had been canceled by mistake.

They had no idea that WellPoint was using a computer algorithm that automatically targeted them and every other policyholder recently diagnosed with breast cancer. The software triggered an immediate fraud investigation, as the company searched for some pretext to drop their policies, according to government regulators and investigators.

Once the women were singled out, they say, the insurer then canceled their policies based on either erroneous or flimsy information. WellPoint declined to comment on the women's specific cases without a signed waiver from them, citing privacy laws.

There's even a name for the practice. It's called rescission. And it is so very, very wrong. I hope the government wins its case. And unfortunately, although men are also victims of rescission, it's very much a women's issue:
"It's not like these companies don't like women because they are women," says Jeff Isaacs, the chief assistant Los Angeles City Attorney who runs the office's 300-lawyer criminal division. "But there are two things that really scare them and they are breast cancer and pregnancy. Breast cancer can really be a costly thing for them. Pregnancy is right up there too. Their worst-case scenario is that a child will be born with some disability and they will have to pay for that child's treatment over the course of a lifetime."
The article looks at several factors in depth. Check it out. Also, WellPoint has lots of subsidiaries. One of the women spotlighted in the article is from Louisville. Her carrier was Anthem Blue Cross of Kentucky, one of the largest insurance companies in the state. It might be good to investigate who your insurance company answers to. Mine is UnitedHealthcare, which is part of UnitedHealth Group, one of other 'big' insurers nationally. So far, I can't say anything particularly negative about my care; they've done very well, although as time has gone by our benefits have lessened over time, but that's a 'what can the company afford' sort of thing. Still, I must say, my continued well-being depends on my health insurance, given my diabetes, among other ailments. Losing it or having it drastically reduced is a fear of mine.

Scary in an almost Cthulhoid way

Why is it always fungus? Why is it always spores?

Deadly airborne fungus in Oregon set to spread: The new, rare strain has killed 1 in 4 infected, researchers say
A deadly, airborne new strain of fungus has emerged in Oregon. It has killed nearly one out of four known affected people so far and might also attack animals ranging from dogs to dolphins. And it is likely to spread, researchers now warn.

The new strain known as VGIIc of the fungus Cryptococcus gattii not only targets humans but has also proven capable of infecting dogs, cats, alpacas, sheep and elk. Other strains have even infected porpoises.

Although it can spread to mammals, it does not jump from animal to animal. Instead, people and other animals get it from inhaling spores released by samples of the fungus that infect trees.

It might be more virulent than earlier strains because it is reproduced sexually, or it could be a factor of a fungus moving from tropics abroad to a new clime (British Colombia, Washington, and Oregon are where the less-virulent strain are found in trees).
Symptoms can appear two or more months after exposure. Most people never develop symptoms, but those infected may have a cough lasting weeks, sharp chest pain, shortness of breath, headache related to meningitis, fever, nighttime sweats and weight loss. In animals the symptoms are a runny nose, breathing problems, nervous system problems and raised bumps under the skin.

Treatment requires months to years of antifungal medications, and even surgery to remove the large masses of the fungus known as cryptococcomas that can develop in the body. So far it cannot be prevented, as there is no vaccine.

Wow. Let's hope this doesn't turn out to be that easy to catch.

Speaking of dreams

I had a horrible one night before last where a customer came into the store (which was quite different; it had gas but all the snacks, etc. were basically dark space), kidnapped me, molested me, and generally scared me to death. The police saved the day by catching the person in progress, but then (and somehow this was the worst), the kidnapper was rushed off and I was left alone, traumatised, like so much debris on the ground. It wasn't any real customer's face, just so you know. The guy was I guess my version of a predator from Deliverance. But I woke up really upset. It unsettled me quite a bit. All I know is that the kidnapping itself wasn't nearly as bad as being abandoned by everyone else afterwards when I needed them most.


This has been my experience

Dreams 'can help with learning'
Napping after learning something new could help you commit it to memory - as long as you dream, scientists say.

They found people who dream about a new task perform it better on waking than those who do not sleep or do not dream.

Volunteers were asked to learn the layout of a 3D computer maze so they could find their way within the virtual space several hours later.

Those allowed to take a nap and who also remembered dreaming of the task, found their way to a landmark quicker.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

To celebrate Earth Day

a video from BBCEarth on how climate has changed before:

Granted, that was a major change taking thousands of years. But small climactic changes can make great impacts on Earth's life, both human and otherwise.

A long but successful day

  • Got to the hospital late, but I have a conference on Friday so I was going to have to leave early or be over on my time anyway.
  • Did lots of interlibrary loans, among other things.
  • Got to the store and clocked in a half-hour early.
  • Repaid the cab driver from the other night. I tried to give him $20 (the fare was $10), but he only took $15.
  • Came home and found that the pay at the hospital had gone through.
  • Paid my phone bills and set up Vonage with the right card for future bills.
  • Changed my password at the bank to something I don't use on anything else.
  • Went on Facebook and gave out flair.

Okay, I have a lot to do tomorrow, so I'm going on to bed. Will try to watch DW:TEH tomorrow (and work on notes).

Good night.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Brandon had this on his blog, and I had to include it here...

I've always liked Toto's song 'Africa', but this a capella choir from Slovenia has truly done a remarkable job with it, especially in translating percussion using fingers, hands, and feet to produce a very authentic-sounding rain. The choir is called Perpetuum Jazzile. All I can say is, wow.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A remarkable woman

Dorothy Height, civil rights activist, dies at 98
Dorothy Height, who as longtime president of the National Council of Negro Women was the leading female voice of the 1960s civil rights movement, died Tuesday. She was 98.
She continued speaking publically into her 90s. I do hope that oral historians were able to record her experiences.
The late activist C. DeLores Tucker once called Height an icon to all African-American women.

"I call Rosa Parks the mother of the civil rights movement," Tucker said in 1997. "Dorothy Height is the queen."

Rest well.


From Discovery News:

Desert 'Kites' Were Ancient Animal Traps: Mysterious lines on the deserts of the Near East are massive ancient hunting tools, made up of low stone walls

Good news/bad news

Good news: A friend fixed a wonderful gourmet dinner that was incredibly good and satisfying.

Bad news: I missed the last bus because we were eating.

Good news: I called a cab and it came and got me and took me home.

Bad news: It declined my debit card because the cheque I deposited today doesn't go through until midnight (it was about 11:40 pm).

Good news: The cab driver was great and handed me his card and told me to call him when I had the funds available and we'd take care of it then.

Good news: The cheque will go through and I'll be able to pay him, although I may wait until Wednesday when I get paid so I can up his tip. But I'm thankful he was so understanding.

Good news: I get paid both Wednesday and Thursday, so the time of no money (which frankly has been pretty short this time) will be over and I can pay all my bills.

Bad news: Of course, I still have that tax bill hanging over me as well.

Good news: I'm home, safe and sound. I think I'll go on to bed. Good night.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Today is cursed, just so you know

or so said one of my history teachers in school. In Rome, for example, April 19th was the day of two of the worst military defeats the Empire saw. One was in what is now Yugoslavia (or at least, was Yugoslavia in the 1990s), where they lost an emperor into a swamp. The other was a defeat in the east when an emperor was killed, stuffed, and set up in a temple. It was one of those amusing anecdotes Dr Gargola was fond of, like the story about the sacred chickens. Before every battle, the Romans would do a divination based on how well the chickens fed. One naval leader, on the eve of battle, was so thwarted by the birds' lacklustre feeding that he first tried to force-feed them and then threw them overboard. Needless to say, the Gods were displeased and it was a terrible defeat. Say what you will about the sacred chickens, but remember the Empire conquered the known world with this technique. I can't remember if that was on April 19th or not. I do know I pointed out that this was the day of the Waco siege fiasco and the Oklahoma City bombing, and he said it proved the day was cursed (granted, there's a calendar difference, but still....)

Here's hoping no major historical event happens today.


I came in about 10 pm tonight thinking that my game master would do his normal thing and call to see how I liked the game, so I didn't watch Doctor Who 'Eleventh Hour' (the premiere of the 11th Doctor) on DVR. Instead, I snuggled up in the comfy chair with my phone nearby and a Snuggie over me and promptly fell asleep, waking up a little after 1 am. So I could have watched after all. Now I'm too sleepy. Ah, well, there's tomorrow.

I didn't see it last night when it premiered because I was at work. I got home early enough to watch it anyway despite needing to get up early for game preparations, but there was a retrospective on the programme on BBCAmerica that I thought sounded interesting, so I recorded that, and I didn't know enough about DVR to know if you could play a recorded programme while recording another. Anybody know?

Anyway, it turned out that was a good call, because I kept getting phone calls. One was from a friend regarding DVR (they just got upgraded to it). The rest were from a co-worker who was justifiably weirded out when a woman came in a little before close, begged for money and cigarettes, and then when he would give her neither made a point of telling him she'd seen him walking at night and asking when he left. He had to ask her to leave because she was hitting the customers up for money or cigarettes, too. After he closed up, a car came into the parking lot twice, circled real close to the store, and left, like it was waiting to see if he were coming out. He called the police and one of the officers who comes in regularly checked out the area and then took him on home to be safe.

I am so glad I don't close. This really would have creeped me out, too. I would have called the police so fast. You never know when someone might come back with a gun or a few friends with a baseball bat. For that matter I'm almost surprised she didn't just push him off the ladder he was on when she first came in and just taken the cigarettes she wanted, but of course it would have been caught on camera, so even though she was a nutjob, she was a crafty nutjob. Much better to try to intimidate him by threatening him in the most non-threatening of manners, and then getting him alone elsewhere later on. Of course, this kind of thing can happen at any time, but it's scarier that time of night. I'm glad the Lexington police don't mind checking out something that seems minor yet disturbing and making sure nothing happens to us. All the officers I've met have been great and I'm glad they're in and out so often at the store checking in on us.

Fortunately, everything turned out okay, and I'm glad he kept me up to date.

Despite the lack of sleep I got over to the place where we game by 8 am and cleaned, then played the game when the other two women showed up. Afterwards we did the big every-two-week grocery run, with each of getting a list of his or her own, which worked swimmingly. But that's why I'm so tired now. So that's pretty much it for tonight. I'm wiped out. Good night.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Oh, my

Have I mentioned that I think the era of the copy editor is over? That more and more books I read have glaring typos or errors? And yet this proves--so much--that we need editors (and editrices!) to continue to correct mistakes before something like this happens:

Cook-book misprint costs Australian publishers dear
An Australian publisher has had to pulp and reprint a cook-book after one recipe listed "salt and freshly ground black people" instead of black pepper.

And it's not just some fly-by-night publishing group--it's Australia's Branch of Penguin (yes, the publisher of all those great classics you read in school).

A life stolen, and finally, justice

April is Child Abuse Awareness Month. Here's a story to make us pause...

Decades after shaking baby, dad jailed again: Case centers on 19-year-old who died from trauma suffered during infancy

What could Christina have become? And I feel so sorry for the loss her adoptive mother must feel, after caring for a child no one else wanted for so long, one that never learned to walk, talk, or sit by herself, who beat the odds and lived 19 years when all the experts thought she would die soon after being injured severely by her own father.
Mike Wells was 19 when he shook his 2-month-old daughter and covered her mouth to stop her from crying. He and Tina Wells were convicted of aggravated child abuse in 1989, and each served less than a year in prison.

They went on with their lives, having several more children together. They raised their growing family in weathered mobile homes in rural Pasco County northwest of Tampa, and then in central Georgia where Mike Wells worked for awhile at a used-tire shop. Neither got in serious trouble again with the law.

And that might have been the end of it — a forever-sorry father having served his time and having to live with what he'd done to his child.

Lives take a turn

But when Christina died on March 15, 2006, at age 19, a medical examiner ruled the case a homicide: The brain injury her father inflicted almost two decades earlier had caused her death.

The same prosecutor who'd sent Mike Wells away in 1989 came after him again, this time getting a grand jury indictment charging him with murdering his daughter.

Wells pleaded no contest to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 15 years as part of an agreement with the prosecutors that allows him no appeals. Before his daughter died, he was able to visit her and see how severely he hurt her.

Please...no matter how angry you may be at a child, think of Christina and the terrible price that she paid for a young father's impatience. And kudos to Maureen Welch and her late husband for giving Christina a loving home, who patiently cared for her, who treated her lovingly and gave her a life beyond what she might have had in an institution.

I never had a child. I don't know what kind of parent I would be, but I never thought I'd be good enough at it to try. But if I had a little girl or boy right now--after reading this story--the first thing I would do is hug him or her and not let go for awhile.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Ancient Greek hairstyles

Art History - The Caryatid Project Photo Gallery

Link from Meghan of Ancient Musings.

There is even a DVD showing step-by-step how to create the hairstyles. Alas, my hair is not long enough or thick enough for that matter to do it well, but on the other hand when participating in religious ritual I am supposed to have my hair free anyway.


Okay, it helps to be a geek who majored in classical civilisation, but here you go...

Latin Tattoos gone awry

Thanks to In Rebus for the link, as well as this gem of weirdness:

Lectio Equaria Palaestra

From the blog post:
This is just too bizarre not to mention here. Alexandr Nevzorov, a Russian film-maker well-known for his eccentricity and right wing inclinations (as well as genuine love for horses), has released a new movie entitled "Lectio Equaria Palaestra." This Latin phrase can be translated as "Equine reading in the arena." In the movie, Nevzorov claims that as a follower of an Ancient school of equestrian training he is able to teach horses how to read (Masons and Knights Templar are, of course, mentioned indiscriminately). That's right, folks. Horses can read! But wait! They can read IN LATIN. Supposedly, these intelligent creatures can even communicate back using large cardboard letters, randomly arranged in front of the horses' eyes.

I try to listen to/watch this once in awhile

and since it's after 2 am, I thought it might be a good precursor to going to bed...it's by Animusic:

All their stuff is great, but this is my favourite. Thanks, YKWIA, for showing it all that time ago.

Eww! They have 'fangs'!

Fanged leech pulled from girl's nose: New species of blood sucker feeds from the body orifices of mammals
An enormous-toothed leech, pulled from the nose of a girl who was bathing in a river, has just been documented in the journal PLoS ONE.

Named Tyrannobdella rex, which means "tyrant leech king," the new species of blood sucker sports its "ferociously large teeth" in a single jaw, but is less than 2 inches in length.
Photo credit: Phillips, et al. / PLoS ONE 2010


Last night about 10 pm people from Wisconsin to Missouri saw the following meteor as part of the Gamma Virginids shower:

Thanks, Brandon, for the link to the video. I've seen quite a few meteors (especially when I lived in the California desert, with prime viewing away from light and pollution), but nothing this spectacular.

Thankfully, progress

Obama orders same-sex hospital visits: Gay, lesbian couples must be allowed visitors, medical power of attorney

The rule will affect any hospital that receives Medicaid or Medicare funding, which is the majority of hospitals in America.
Officials said Obama had been moved by the story of a lesbian couple in Florida, Janice Langbehn and Lisa Pond, who were kept apart when Pond collapsed of a cerebral aneurysm in February 2007, dying hours later at a hospital without her partner and children by her side.

Obama called Langbehn on Thursday evening from Air Force One as he flew to Miami, White House officials said. In an interview, Langbehn praised the president for his actions.

"I kept saying it's not a gay right to hold someone's hand when they die, its a human right," she said, noting that she and Pond had been partners for almost 18 years. "Now to have the president call up and say he agrees with me, it's pretty amazing, and very humbling."

The new rules will not apply only to gays. They also will affect widows and widowers who have been unable to receive visits from a friend or companion. And they would allow members of some religious orders to designate someone other than a family member to make medical decisions.
It reminded me of the case of Sharon Kowalski and Karen Thompson, a lesbian couple who were separated for years until Thompson finally won the right to care for Kowalski, who had been severely injured in a car accident.

It's good to know that other couples won't have to fight draining court battles to be with their loved ones. But there is a big caveat--hospitals have to respect the wishes of their patients but those wishes must be known. That's where advanced directives/living wills are so important in determining who has say over medical care. Remember--it's easy for something to happen that prevents you from conveying your wishes in an emergency.

A different sort of archive

Archiving mementos at Section 60: Curators collect items left at Arlington cemetery
Without a national memorial to the more than 5,300 service members who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan, Section 60 has become its own community of remembrance. Thousands of mementos left at their graves stand testament to the grief of loved ones.

Crown Royal whiskey bottles, war medals, birth announcements, wedding photos, Christmas ornaments, GI Joe action figures, painted rocks, church bulletins, a fishing lure, even a rubber duck are among the items left at the graves of the more than 600 from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars who are buried at Arlington.

Families gather for birthday parties for the fallen, leaving behind cupcakes and balloons. War orphans drop off handmade valentines. Twenty-somethings with crewcuts and military boots smoke a cigar and set an empty beer bottle next to a buddy's white grave marker.
Arlington is a working cemetery, not a museum, not a memorial. For years items left at the cemetery were thrown away in an effort to keep it clean and presentable. But last fall a request was made to begin to collect items left at the gravesides. Every Thursday, military curators gather non-perishable items, photograph them, and then bag them up and take them with them. They're intentionally not accessessioning them, to prevent them from becoming specifically military property, but they are saving them until a next step can be determined. Someday, I'm sure, there will be a memorial to those who have fallen in Iraq and Afghanistan, but until that time, curators are preserving history for us. Kudos to them, and to their effort. As one of the women interviewed for the article (who found out she was pregnant a few day after husband's death) said:
When they see a card left from a 2-year-old or a balloon left welcoming a son that they never met, I think that makes more of an impact. It makes Americans a little bit more thankful or appreciative.
She's right. A tangible item puts things into perspective, breathes life into names and numbers, and remind us of the personalities lost and left behind. I hope this pilot project continues.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

But first

an example of how medical studies get mangled by journalists, courtesy of the Daily Mail...

Cancer danger of that night-time trip to the toilet

Thanks to Graham Murkett (somegreybloke on YouTube) for the link via Facebook.

On another note, please consider signing a petition to make it a crime to protest at military funerals (as the Westboro Baptist Church has been doing for years, blaming homosexuals for deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan). I was signer #886. Granted, they're a little out there (if the Supreme Court rules in a current case for the Church, the folks who have organised the petition want to try to amend the Constitution, which frankly isn't going to happen in this case), but...their hearts are in the right place. It's horrible to think that in your greatest time of grief some yokel gay-hater is going to show up at the funeral with pickets, shouting obscenities. It's obscene itself, and Congress should do something about it.

Okay, this is what I get for checking my Facebook page. I'm going to bed now, really. Good night (again).

So tired

I don't know if it was too much caffeine yesterday, or maybe a little hypomania, but I couldn't sleep last night except finally from about 6 am-8:30 am. Unfortunately I couldn't concentrate on something productive, like game notes, so instead I got sucked into a zoo simulation game on Facebook, doing things like buying veterinarians for my zebras and breeding bald eagles. While I enjoyed it, it really was a fair waste of time. Oddly enough, I have been awake and productive throughout the day, although my energy level started to plunge about an hour or two ago. I managed to make it home on the bus by midnight. I can feel myself crashing. Now I am going to go to bed, and not go near my zoo.

On Twitter?

Go to Room to Read's Twitter page (@RoomtoRead). A donor will give one children's book for every retweet with the hashtag #tweet4books. Room to Read is opening its 10,000th library on April 30th.

Thanks to author Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) for the retweet that pointed me to them.

Oh, and if you'd like to follow me, just go to (@eilir).

Celebrate National Library Week

by voting on these libraries at National Library Week 2010: America's Most Amazing Libraries:

  • New York Public Library
  • Exeter Academy Library
  • George Peabody Library
  • Boston Public Library
  • Salt Lake City Public Library
  • Seattle Public Library
  • Yale University Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
  • Library of Congress

Each is unique in its own way, and the photos are beautiful. Vote for your top five at the link above.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Crazy to get an iPad?

Read Sarah (the Librarian in Black)'s iPad manifesto. She's already gotten some rather nasty comments from iPad fans, but I laughed until I almost fell out of my seat.

Granted, I don't have an iPad, and only want it at all because it's a gadget. I'll settle for something in my price range.

Animals matter to me--do they to you?

Go the explore the map and look up Lexington, KY, USA, and my profile is there under 'eilir'.
World Society for the Protection of Animals
Wikipedia's article on the WSPA
Wikipedia's article on the Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare

In space news...

Obama revives capsule from canceled program: Modified Orion vehicle and heavy-lift rocket on the way, officials say
President Barack Obama is reviving the NASA crew capsule concept that he had canceled with the rest of the moon program earlier this year, in a move that will mean more jobs and less reliance on the Russians, officials said Tuesday.

The space capsule, called Orion, still won't go to the moon. It will go unmanned to the International Space Station to stand by as an emergency vehicle to return astronauts home, officials told The Associated Press.

Now that's how to show how far you've come

35 years ago civil war broke out in Lebanon. To mark the anniversary, political leaders from different factions met in another form of strife--a football (soccer) match.

Lebanon's political rivals meet in football 'friendly'
Rival political leaders in Lebanon have marked the 35th anniversary of the outbreak of the civil war with a football match to show their unity.

Prime Minister Saad Hariri captained his team against a side led by an MP from the Shia Hezbollah movement.

Commentators had to stifle their laughter as the unfit politicians quickly ran out of breath.

A unity government was formed by Mr Hariri's majority coalition and the Hezbollah-led opposition in November.

The agreement ended five months of deadlock following June's general election which had threatened Lebanon's stability.

'One team'

"We are one team" was the slogan for the 30-minute friendly played by ministers and MPs to commemorate the bloody 1975-1990 civil war, which left more than 150,000 people dead.

Monday, April 12, 2010


US doctor takes live ammo from soldier's head
A U.S. military doctor removed a live round of ammunition from the head of an Afghan soldier in an unusual and harrowing surgery.

Doctors say a 14.5 millimeter unexploded round — more than 2 inches long — was removed from the scalp of an Afghan National Army soldier at the Bagram Air Field hospital last month.

Wrong, terribly wrong

Even after death, abuse against gays continues: Case in Senegal shows the intensity of homophobia in Africa
Even death cannot stop the violence against gays in this corner of the world any more.

Madieye Diallo's body had only been in the ground for a few hours when the mob descended on the weedy cemetery with shovels. They yanked out the corpse, spit on its torso, dragged it away and dumped it in front of the home of his elderly parents.

The scene of May 2, 2009 was filmed on a cell phone and the video sold at the market. It passed from phone to phone, sowing panic among gay men who say they now feel like hunted animals.

Proof that a little person can have a big life

Hollywood mourns Munchkin actor

Actor Meinhardt Raabe, who played the Munchkin coroner in The Wizard Of Oz, is best known for the following line:
As coroner I must aver, I thoroughly examined her. And she's not only merely dead. She's really most sincerely dead.

He was 94. There aren't many Munchkins left. In 2007 there were just seven. But they brought delight to viewers for decades now.
In later years, he toured fan conventions and released a book, Memories of a Munchkin: An Illustrated Walk Down the Yellow Brick Road, in 2005.

The actor lived a full life after Oz. He was a pilot and an instructor in the Civil Air Patrol during World War II; He worked as a spokesman for the Oscar Mayer hot dog company for 30 years; and he was also a horticulturalist and teacher.
Rest well.

Another Julia Sugarbaker moment

that Brandon put on his blog, but this is for YKWIA, who will understand why:

I am under orders

from Brandon to not think of the additional $930 I owe the state and federal government for 2009 (I did my taxes tonight), but to blog about something interesting for him to read. So first, some humour...

Here's a stupid-criminal story:
Jail me, Elmo? Police: Dad left pot in boy’s bag: He's accused of calling son's school to see if he could retrieve it

Here's a little another odd bit:
Doctor Who regeneration was 'modelled on LSD trips'
"The metaphysical change... is a horrifying experience - an experience in which he relives some of the most unendurable moments of his long life, including the galactic war," it said.

"It is as if he has had the LSD drug and instead of experiencing the kicks, he has the hell and dank horror which can be its effect," the memo added.

In the library world, Will Manley is a columnist who is both lauded and reviled for his perspective. In 1992, he lost his position at the Wilson Library Bulletin for running a sex survey of librarians in his column. Finally, the results are made public:

WILL UNWOUND #78: “The 1992 Librarians and Sex Survey Results” by Will Manley

Just for the record, I would not be among the 38% of female respondents who, if PeeWee Herman were the last man on Earth, have sex to repropagate the species. The human race would just die. Sorry.

On to something more serious. To kick off National Library Week, an op-ed piece by Art Brodsky on the decimation that library budgets are undergoing when they're most needed:

Our Public Library Lifeline Is Fraying. We'll Be Sorry When it Snaps
No less an authority than Keith Richards put it best in his forthcoming autobiography: "When you are growing up there are two institutional places that affect you most powerfully: the church, which belongs to God, and the public library, which belongs to you. The public library is a great equaliser."

This is sure to cause some strong reactions:

Spanking kids linked to bullying: Report: Physical punishment can lead to aggressive behavior
According to the study, kids who were spanked often were twice as likely as those who weren't spanked to develop aggressive behaviors such as getting into fights, destroying things or being mean to others.

Earlier research had produced similar results, but most had not taken into account how aggressive kids were to begin with, and other factors could have biased the results.
As I don't have kids, I don't feel I can really comment on this too much. I do think that the greater the physical punishment, the more likely the child is to model this behaviour him- or herself.

There's a taste of stuff in my reader, Brandon. Hope you all enjoy.

Although it was yesterday among the Diaspora

in Israel they marked the day today...

Israel mourns and remembers victims of the Holocaust
Israel came to a halt as citizens marked Holocaust Remembrance Day, commemorating the murder of six million Jews by the Nazis during World War II.

Sirens rang out across the country bringing drivers to halt, and they stood by their cars for two minutes' silent reflection.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used the occasion to warn against what he called a new threat to Jews from Iran.

There are more than 207,000 holocaust survivors living in Israel.

There are 63,000 fewer survivors remaining compared to two years ago, figures show.

Yesterday was Yom haShoah, the remembrance day for the Holocaust

Holocaust lessons stated anew: Services emphasize preserving memory

I confess that although I knew it was coming soon, I forgot the exact date. But I will never forget the millions killed by the Nazis and their collaborators. Tonight I'll light a candle for those who died, and those who survived--dwindling now, as age and death takes them one by one. But this article also talked of how those who came after, the legacy of hope that remained with each survivor, chose to remember their families' struggles each year anew.

'We will remember' in Hebrew in Nizkhor. We should never forget the martyrdom of those who died due to such terrible hate and desire to rid the planet of those different. Genocide, unfortunately, has not been eradicated as a result of the Holocaust, but we are more aware of it, and nothing to the scale of Hitler's plan has surfaced yet. But we must have constant vigilance to protect the future, and in order to avoid repeating history, must remember those who died or underwent the horrors of the Holocaust.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

I'm sorry to hear

of Dixie Carter's passing from endometrial cancer at the age of 70.

Dixie Carter, TV Actress, Dies at 70

She was probably best known as Julia Sugarbaker in TV's 'Designing Women'.

One of my favourite moments:

Something I didn't know: Unlike her character, Dixie Carter was a Republican with libertarian leanings, according to Wikipedia. For every liberal speech she made on the show, there was apparently a deal with the producers to allow her a song (she was a beautiful singer). However, she was also a great supporter of the gay community.

All in all she was a classy woman, and I'm sorry that she has died. My thoughts and prayers go to husband Hal Holbrook, her two daughters, and others she touched.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

I must confess that

I have never been to Keeneland, Lexington's thoroughbred racetrack, nor for that matter any horse race in Kentucky. I once went to Louisiana Downs in Shreveport with my father and grandmother when I was 19. I learnt I should never bet on horses; I bet on the long-shot and the favourite to show in a five horse race. Guess which horses didn't make it?

But it sounds like today's Blue Grass Stakes was well worth seeing, as we lead into the Derby.

40-to-1 shot wins shocker, earns trip to Derby: Stately Victor surges down stretch to capture Blue Grass Stakes

You must understand that horse racing is serious business in Kentucky, both literally and figuratively. And the Derby is the event of the year (akin to New Orleans' Mardi Gras, I suppose, but with mint juleps and hats). Even those who aren't fans catch the fever at Derby time. I usually try to tune in. I love grey horses, and tend to favour those, or black ones if there are no greys. They don't tend to win, of course--most horses are bays, so the odds are in their favour. But still...my favourite Derby winner was Black Gold, who won in 1924. His story was told in Marguerite Henry's book named for him. He was euthanised after breaking down four years after the Derby during a race at the New Orleans Fair Ground, and he is buried there. Despite his injury, he finished the race on three legs. A race, the Black Gold Stakes, is run at the Fair Grounds in his honour today.

Loss and grief in the news today

For Poland, plane crash in Russia rips open old wounds

The plane went down in fog carrying the Polish president and first lady aboard, among other leading figures in Poland.
It was, in a sense, a nation colliding with its past: The aircraft ran aground on a patch of earth that has symbolized the Soviet-era repressions that shaped much of the 20th century, near the remote Russian forest glade called Katyn where thousands of Polish prisoners of war were killed and dumped in unmarked graves by Soviet secret police in 1940.

The toll cut a swath through Poland's elite. The 97 dead included the army chief of staff, the head of the National Security Office, the national bank president, the deputy foreign minister, the deputy parliament speaker, the civil rights commissioner and other members of parliament.

Also aboard the plane were war veterans and surviving family members of Poles killed by the Soviets. There was 90-year-old Ryszard Kaczorowski, Poland's last "president-in-exile" during the Soviet years. And Anna Walentynowicz, the shipyard worker whose dismissal in 1980 sparked the Solidarity union protests that eventually led to the collapse of Polish communism and made the symbolic first chink in the Berlin Wall.

And here in the US:

Mine Area Mourning After Missing Bodies Found
Search crews at the Upper Big Branch Coal mine discovered early Saturday the bodies of four missing miners from Monday's devastating explosion.

They started bringing out miners' bodies two at a time in ambulances past the state troopers' salute, reports CBS News Correspondent Jim Axelrod.

"We did not receive the miracle that we prayed for," West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin said to reporters just after midnight, confirming that slim hope had turned to no hope for the four missing miners. "We have accounted for four miners that have been unaccounted for. We have a total of 29 brave miners we are recovering at this time."

The miners died in what appeared to be a methane gas explosion a thousand feet underground and several miles into the sprawling mine.
My thoughts and prayers go to the people affected by these terrible tragedies.