Book Ratings

Book ratings explained:

* I didn't like it | ** It was OK | *** I liked it | **** I really liked it | ***** I loved it

Wednesday, September 29, 2004


If you haven't already done so, REGISTER TO VOTE! I don't care who you vote for, but, dammit, get off your ass, register, and vote. It is your privilege and your obligation. There can be no change unless we move to make change. There can be no progress. There can be no regress.



harangue \huh-RANG\, noun:
1. A speech addressed to a large public assembly.
2. A noisy or pompous speech; a rant.

transitive verb:
To deliver a harangue to; to address by a harangue.

intransitive verb:
To make a harangue; to declaim.

Harangue derives from Medieval French arenge, from Old Italian aringa, from aringare, "to speak in public," from aringo, "a public place for horse racing and popular assemblies," ultimately of Germanic origin

See post above this one for my harangue of the day.

FoxTrot by Bill Amend

News coverage at its finest.

(If the title link has gone out of date, click here for the saved image.)

Yahoo! News - 'Miraculous' Christ Washes Up in Texas Rio Grande

MONTERREY, Mexico (Reuters) - A fiberglass statue of Christ that washed up on a sandbar in the Rio Grande three weeks ago is attracting scores of devout pilgrims to a police department lost-and-found and being hailed as a miracle.

Police in Eagle Pass, Texas, said up to 40 people a day are coming to pay homage to the five-foot-tall figurine, known as "The Christ of the Undocumented," which was found by U.S. Border Patrol agents in the river.

"Some come to pray, and some come and just touch it," police lieutenant Daniel Morales said by telephone on Monday. "We have never experienced anything like this before, and interest is growing by the day."

The border city, which lies opposite Piedras Negras in northern Mexico, has a large Mexican community. Many arrived illegally by way of the river, and most are devout Roman Catholics.

Morales said the life-like statuette, which turned up without a crucifix base, would probably be given to a church in the border city if no-one came forward to claim it within 90 days.

Local Catholic Church authorities called the figure's arrival "miraculous" and said they wanted to place it in a specially dedicated chapel in the city.

"Jesus Christ manifests himself in many places, but he showed himself here in the way of an undocumented migrant," said Marta Ramirez, a spokeswoman for the city's Our Lady of Refuge Church.

"We think it's appropriate to place it in a special chapel."

Am I to take it this statue is now a symbol for illegal aliens to step up their efforts to get into the U.S. since a plastic Jesus accomplished the act?

BBC NEWS | Health | Herbal remedies 'do work'

Scientific tests on a range of traditional remedies have shown they have "real benefits", researchers say.

Experts from King's College London said the treatments from around the world had properties which may help treat conditions such as diabetes and cancer.

National Geographic Photo of the Day: Mountain Lion

I love the National Geographic Photo of the Day. I check it out every morning. If I really like the picture, it becomes my desktop wallpaper.

I like the site so much I've added a link on the left. There's nothing like a new view every morning.

Geek Trivia: Low and behold

What celestial object emits the lowest frequency note ever detected, far below the low-frequency hum produced by Earth?

A black hole at the center of a galaxy in the Perseus Cluster is currently generating a deep B-flat note that's 57 octaves below a tuned middle C on a piano.

Put another way, the lowest frequency sound a human being can detect is 0.05 hertz, or a frequency of one-twentieth of a second. The Perseus Cluster black hole generates sound with a frequency of 10 million years. This represents the most sub-bass frequency ever detected.

To be precise, the black hole itself is silent, but the stellar gases pulled into the gravitational well of the black hole are not. As the gas falls toward the black hole's event horizon, it accelerates to velocities approaching the speed of light. This acceleration creates turbulence, which in turn generates light, heat, and, within the medium of the gas, sound.

Of course, space being a near total vacuum (and the black hole being 250 million light years away), the sound of the black hole hasn't actually reached Earth. British astronomers discovered it using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory while trying to analyze the formation of galactic clusters such as Perseus.

The black hole in question is unusually energetic, emitting a significant amount of X-ray radiation, which scientists used to model the thermal and kinetic activity of the matter pulled into the black hole.

This modeling revealed the sonic tone induced by the black hole, which could help explain why galactic gas clusters stay warm, rather than cooling and collapsing. Massive celestial objects such as black holes are "ringing" the gas clusters, which keep them energized and hot, leading to some of the specific star formation behavior that scientists had previously been unable to explain. Now that sounds like some great Geek Trivia.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Cat babble

I can't possibly let another day go by without some babble about my cats.

Mouse has become fascinated with the television set. She props her front paws on the screen and just watches and watches. Or she sits on the bookshelf next to the set and stretches her neck out to see the screen. I think what has her so fascinated is the reflection of things in the set. Heru and Rainbow were playing on the back of the sofa, running back and forth, and I could see Mouse tracking something that had nothing to do with the action of whatever was actually on TV. She's just too cute for words.

And the prodigal son called me this morning to tell me Heru has finally discovered the bliss that is rolling in catnip. Until today he'd shown no interest in it, just sniffing at it and walking off whenever the son put some down for the girls. But this morning he pounced on it and sneezed it and rolled in it. He's an even bigger catnip slut than Mouse and Rainbow are. He's too cute for words as well.

Still kind of blah

I'm back at work but I still feel very blah. I didn't get much sleep last night, only a couple of hours, so I'm very much running on empty. I've had coffee but it hasn't helped.

The company picnic is this Saturday. I will be receiving my 25 year award then. Can you imagine it? 25 years with the same company. Maybe that's why I'm so blah - time catching up with me. Or maybe that should be 'age' catching up with me.

Making Tracks on Mars :: Astrobiology Magazine :: Search for Life in the Universe

Summary (Sep 27, 2004): In a remarkable series of orbital pictures, the Mars Global Surveyor's cameras have imaged the tracks of the Spirit rover on the surface. Individual debris pieces including the backshell and lander are visible with remarkable clarity using an innovative roll of the satellite.

Monday, September 27, 2004

On being blah

I've gotten some kind of bug that has thrown me for a loop. The only time I seem to feel, well, not sick is when I'm asleep which is what I've been for the last two days. I have no interest in anything - not reading, not crocheting, not computer play, not watching TV. I'm just incredibly blah right now.

Basically, this is a warning in case I disappear for a day or two since I'm usually such a diligent poster.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Standards, my eye teeth

I've been playing around with style sheets and I am happy to report there is no such thing as a standard when it comes to how browsers interpret styles. I've only IE and two of the Mozilla based browsers loaded on my computer, but sheesh . . . Trying to make a three column layout with fixed header and footer band just about ate my lunch. Tables may be passé but style sheets are a pain.

Mouse all over the house

I'm glad to report Miss Mouse has finally achieved recovery from her trip to the vet. She and Heru spent a good portion of last night chasing each other round and round and round and round the house. She chased him and pounced. He chased her and pounced. Over and over and over. They even felt it necessary to run over me while I was watching whatever it was on TV. (The only thing I actually remember watching on TV last night was Joan of Arcadia - which was very depressing - even though the TV was on for hours last night and I was plugged into it. Obviously nothing else engaged the brain cells.)

Color SynthAxis

This is a nifty little color tool I stumbled across yesterday. I played with it a bit, after reading the English tutorial which I strongly recommend, and came up with a new color scheme for my blog. Unfortunately, my computer decided that I didn't really need time to write down all the lovely blue to green color numbers I came up with before it completely shut down and I lost it all. Boy, color me annoyed.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

New links

I've added Such a Pretty Face to my reciprocity links and Epilogue to my general links.

And they say women are fickle

Well, Ivan has decided he'd rather visit Louisiana so all the storm and flood watches and warnings for our area have been lifted. It's possible we might get some rain tomorrow.

Magnolia seed pod

Magnolia seed pod

Tropical storm warning

Ivan is still heading in our direction. Storm and flood watches and warnings are up. I snapped these pictures of the clouds as they were rolling in just as the sun was starting to go down.

Clouds Clouds Clouds
Clouds Clouds

Work demons and other natter

There actually aren't any work demons, but I have been very busy at work trying to catch up from all the time I missed. I'm almost there.

I finally picked up my crocheting again last night. I actually finished the first skein of thread and started the second. Even though the lot numbers are the same, there is a slight variation in colour. I doubt it will be very noticeable when the curtain is hanging on the window.

Rainbow and Mouse are still doing well. Mouse has actually started playing with Heru and Rainbow, and she's stopped looking so gaunt since her appetite kicked in again. It won't be much longer before Heru is as big as the girls. I really hope his huge paws aren't an indication of how big he'll be when he stops growing. Now, if he'd just learn what NO yelled at the top of my lungs means. Life would be really good if he did.

And the prodigal son . . . Yesterday he got the front yard mowed before it started to rain and today he stared work on cleaning out the garage and he straightened the living room and started to clean the kitchen. And he opened the windows to air out the house. With the ceiling fans going, it's only about 80F. Not bad for September.

Gosh, life is good today. I'm going to go kick back and enjoy it.

Later, 'gators! News - International - Frozen sugar at centre of Milky Way

Frozen sugar at centre of Milky Way


ASTRONOMERS have found a cloud of frozen sugar near the centre of our galaxy, the Milky Way, it was revealed yesterday.

The discovery heightens the possibility of early building blocks of life originating in interstellar space.

Molecules of a simple sugar, glycolaldehyde, were detected in a cloud of gas and dust called Sagittarius B2 about 26,000 light years away.

Observations indicated large quantities of the sugar frozen to a temperature only a few degrees above absolute zero, the point at which all molecular movement stops.

Glycolaldehyde consists of two carbon atoms, two oxygen atoms and four hydrogen atoms.

This type of molecule is known as a two-carbon sugar. Significantly, it can react with a three-carbon sugar to produce the five-carbon sugar ribose - the molecule which forms the backbone of DNA.

The discovery adds to the growing evidence that the foundations of life can be traced to chemical reactions within interstellar clouds.

The clouds, which are often many light years across, provide the raw material from which new stars and planets are formed.

Radio astronomer Dr Jan Hollis, from the American space agency NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre in Green- belt, Maryland, said: "Many of the interstellar molecules discovered to date are the same kinds detected in laboratory experiments specifically designed to synthesise prebiotic molecules.

"This fact suggests a universal prebiotic chemistry."

Gravitational attraction causes lumps to form in interstellar clouds which eventually condense into stars and planets.

The process generates so much heat that any prebiotic molecules within the planetary lumps would probably be destroyed.

But the new findings show that life’s building blocks could exist in the frozen wastes beyond the planet-building zone of an embryonic solar system, where comets form.

A collision with a comet or a brush with a comet’s tail could then "seed" a young planet with the material needed to kick-start life.

The Green Bank Telescope which was used in the study is the world’s largest fully-steerable radio telescope. Its dish covers more than two acres of signal-collecting area.

Dr Philip Jewell, another member of the Green Bank team, said: "The large diameter and great precision of the telescope made this discovery possible, and also holds the promise of discovering additional new complex interstellar molecules."

SojoMail | Jimmy Swaggart tells congregation he'd kill gays

"I've never seen a man in my life I wanted to marry."

(shouts, applause)

"And I'm gonna be blunt and plain, if one ever looks at me like that I'm going to kill him and tell God he died."

(laughter, applause)

"In case anybody doesn't know God calls it an abomination. It's an abomination! It's an abomination!"


..."I'm not knocking the poor homosexual. I'm not. They need salvation just like anybody else.... I'm knocking our pitiful, pathetic lawmakers. And I thank God that President Bush has stated we need a constitutional amendment that states that marriage is between a man and a woman."


And people wonder how I can find the label 'good Christian' offensive and insulting. I have far more respect for my fellow man than any good [fill in reference to the religion of your choice]. I refuse to be told what to think and how to feel. If god had intended me to be a mindless herd animal, I wouldn't have been born with free will and the ability to recognize bullshit when I step in it.

Blogthings - Boobie Name Generator

I stumbled across this early this morning so naturally I had to try it.

Using my real name:

Your Boobies' Names Are: Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding

Using the name of the alter ego who holds this domain:

Your Boobies' Names Are: Bert and Ernie

Using the name of the alter ego who holds my Glynn Garthold domain:

Your Boobies' Names Are: Siegfried and Roy

Humorously frightening, isn't it?

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Star Wars Trilogy

coverThe not-exactly-original original trilogy has finally come out on DVD. I haven't yet decided if I'm going to waste my money on buying a DVD set I will probably never watch since I found the enhancements unpalatable, never mind the additional changes Lucas has made to keep this set in line with the offal that is the current trilogy.

I read an interview with Lucas where he explained why he couldn't care less about the fans that made him what he is by supporting Star Wars and another that listed the enhanced enhancements he made to integrate the new trilogy into this, but I'm not at home so I don't have access to them to quote or link. However, I will try to remember to update this entry after I get home to include that information.

UPDATE: I'm at home and I've found the two articles I mentioned earlier. The first can be found here: - Why Lucas tinkered with 'Star Wars' - Sep 20, 2004.

Q: Why not release both the originals and special editions on DVD?

LUCAS: The special edition, that's the one I wanted out there. The other movie, it's on VHS, if anybody wants it. ...

I'm not going to spend the, we're talking millions of dollars here, the money and the time to refurbish that, because to me, it doesn't really exist anymore. It's like this is the movie I wanted it to be, and I'm sorry you saw half a completed film and fell in love with it. But I want it to be the way I want it to be.

It's nice to know the generation of viewers who made the franchise what it was in the beginning aren't worth the money to give us what was, quite probably, the seminal movie experience of our generation. It's nice to know that those of us who PAID to see the original movies 10, 20, 30, 40 times aren't worth a few dollars to get the version of the films that have meaning for us.

You know, George, if you'd released both versions of the films on DVD, you could have had your cake and eaten it too.

The second article can be found here: - Five major changes in the 'Star Wars' DVD - Sep 20, 2004.

But the most noticeable change -- and perhaps one some "Star Wars" diehards will have a tough time stomaching -- is Hayden Christensen (who plays young Anakin in the prequel trilogy) now appearing in the scene where the "force ghosts" of Anakin, Obi Wan, and Yoda smile at Luke.

Since I used the word 'offal' to describe the current trilogy, do I really need to say anything about this?


Crusade, The Complete SeriesCrusade - The Complete Series is available for pre-order at It's scheduled to be released on December 7th. I've already got mine on order. This will be my Christmas present to myself. I've been looking forward to getting this DVD set because I really enjoyed the show for the small amount of time it was allowed to be on. Like Firefly - The Complete Series and Wonderfalls, Crusade wasn't given the opportunity to develop a following.

Sharing breakfast

As you can see, we have a much improved Mouse sharing breakfast with Heru this morning in the mud room.

Mouse and Heru sharing breakfast Mouse and Heru sharing breakfast

Monday, September 20, 2004


In keeping with the cat obsessed topics of today, here are two feline related links to artwork at

Epilogue Artist - Michelle Parker : Shining Light

Epilogue Artist - Michelle Parker : The comfort of Danu

Pictures of my obnoxious monsters

Heru sitting stillThis is Heru sitting still - a fairly rare occurrence - and looking mildly confused - a not so rare occurrence. The prodigal son had been trailing a string around in a circle which Heru was chasing after at full gallop. The string stopped moving and I came out with this gizmo attached to my face and poor Heru was overcome by confusion so much so he had to sit down to deal with it.

Rainbow taking a respite on my afghanAnd here is the Muggle Monster taking a respite on the afghan my former step-daughter made me for Christmas in 2002. All the kittens like to snuggle on it, in it, and under it.

Mouse and the prodigal son by the backdoorAnd here's a two for one shot of Mouse and the prodigal son sitting by the open back door. The two of them were fixing to get smoochy.

Mouse and the prodigal son by the backdoorThis is one of those wonderful trick shots you can get with a digital camera when everyone decides to move before the camera has actually finished snapping. This is actually the first shot I tried to take of my son and Mouse smooching by the back door.

I took all these pictures today after I got home from work. As you can see, Rainbow and Mouse are doing OK after their trip back to the vet. He said the incisions were healing nicely despite having only been stitched shut a couple of days. He wants us to keep a closer eye on the incision site and we definitely need to keep the three little monsters from doing any serious rough-housing for a week or so. I'm happy to report that Mouse engaged in some mild play with the prodigal son although she still doesn't feel much like playing with the other two hellions. I've already had to break up one wrestling match between Heru and Rainbow since I've been home.

Those obnoxious little monsters

Not only has Mouse chewed out her stitches, but I've just found out Rainbow has chewed hers out as well. Argh, cats!

The prodigal son is scheduled to take both of them in at 2 p.m. so our vet, Dr. Smith, can look them over. Dr. Smith doesn't know that Rainbow is coming as well. The appointment was only for Mouse since she was the only one who'd yanked out her stitches when I called the vet's office this morning.

Argh, cats!

Shadows and Ice

I've added a new Blogging Buddies link to Shads' site. I know her from Shadowmarch (where the abbreviated Shads comes from) and I've been meaning to add a link to her since she very graciously has a link to me, but I've been just the tiniest bit distracted the last few weeks (and I'm also one of the world's greatest procrastinators.) Shads has commented here as Tessa, but I always have to stop and think who Tessa is since she will forever be Shads in my little pea sized brain.

Dare I hope for improvement?

Mouse apparently spent the night sleeping on the couch instead of curled up in the cat bed she's been favoring since she came home. She perked up when I sat next to her and she started digging to Chine even before I began to pet her. (She's a compulsive kneader when she's on the couch. You don't have to touch her to set her off.) And she ran to the food bowls when I picked up the food bag and shook it. She was right there with the rest of the furry monster impatiently waiting to be fed. I left her and Heru eating out of the same bowl - never mind each monster has its own - which is something the two of them have done since Heru joined the pride.

I'm hopeful she's on the road to being herself again.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Poor Mouse

She still hasn't bounced back from the surgery. She still sleeps almost all of the time and barely rouses herself to eat a bit and drink. She's also developed this weird breathing thing she does every once in a while, a thing that sounds like she's trying to hawk something out of her lungs. The only thing she's managed to do is chew out her stitches. There isn't any bleeding and the wound seems closed. I'm having the prodigal son take her back to the vet first thing in the morning to have her checked over. She's taking way too long to turn into herself again.

Rainbow, on the other hand, has to be reminded she's just had surgery and that major wrestling matches between herself and Heru are still verboten. I've had to break up some serious play between the two of them several times.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

The girls are back

Rainbow and Mouse came home from the vet's earlier today. When the prodigal son and I went to check them out, Mouse seemed very alert and ready to go while Rainbow was sort of withdrawn. Now that they've been home the better part of the day, Rainbow is the one back to her old sweet self and Mouse is the one who seems withdrawn. I think poor Mouse is feeling the effects much more than the Muggle Monster is. I'm trying to keep my eye on them both, but keeping them where I can see them is much like trying to nail jello to the wall.

And poor Heru doesn't know what to make of them because they are both short tempered and swat at him when he wants to play. Not only that, but the humans yell at him when he gets rambunctious around his playmates. But he's been pretty good for the most part.

The Deed of Paksenarrion

By Elizabeth Moon

The Deed of Paksenarrion I finally finished the book. I wish I could say something good about it, but I can't. It is a Tolkien derivative fantasy complete with elves and orcs and dwarves and spider worshipping Drow. It read much like someone's D&D adventure. As much as I've like Elizabeth Moon's other books that I've read, I didn't really care for this one. It was just too predictable. Nothing was a surprise.

Friday, September 17, 2004

If life were only this simple

FoxTrot by Bill Amend

A good lunch has always proved beneficial for study.

(If the title link has gone out of date, click here for the saved image.)

My poor babies

I've dropped Rainbow and Mouse off at the vet. Both are getting spayed today. They won't come home until tomorrow. I miss them. Heru misses them. He doesn't have anyone to chase and wrestle with and he looks a little sadly confused or maybe confusedly sad. It's possible Mouse took the one brain cell she and Heru share to the vet's with her.

I'm anxious about them. They are both much younger than I would have liked them to be to get fixed. If the prodigal son hadn't brought Heru into the house, my little furry monsters wouldn't have been spayed until they were a year old. But Heru, young and immature as he is, has begun developing an interest in Mouse that isn't exactly brotherly. As much as I love all five of my little furry monsters, five is the limit. This house can't bear anymore and, knowing myself as well as I do, I couldn't bear to part with any furry little monsters my furry little monsters might have brought into the world.

Sleeping late

You'd think I would sleep in late on my day off especially considering how tired I was yesterday and the day before. But no. I've been up since a little after 6:00 a.m. I've gotten all my email read. I've perused all the newsgroups I subscribe to. I've visited all the sites I normally visit. I've already made one other entry in my blog. I've uploaded a couple more avatars to my site. I've added a link to All Avatars to my side bar so I don't have to keep linking the individual images when I use them. I've played with the cats.

And now I'm bored. I don't feel like reading. I don't feel like crocheting. And TV at 8:30 a.m. leaves a lot to be desired. Oh, well. I think I'll go annoy the cats some more.

Medusa Medusa

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Da Vinci Code banned in Lebanon

Father Abdou Abu Kasm, president of Lebanon's Catholic Information Centre, said the contents of the book were "insulting".

"There are paragraphs that touch the very roots of the Christian religion... they say Jesus Christ had a sexual relationship with Mary Magdalene, that they had children," he said.

"Those things are difficult for us to accept, even if it's supposed to be fiction.

"Christianity is not about forgiveness to the point of insulting Jesus Christ."

There is only one valid response to this:

"I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use." -- Galileo Galilei

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Clean bill of health

Yay! I spent 45 minutes in the doctor's office so he could spend three minutes with me to tell me I'm perfectly fine and I can go back to having a normal life.

I didn't go to work this morning because I woke up almost as exhausted as when I fell asleep last night. I guess these three days at work really did take it out of me. I barely got up in time to shower before going to the doctor this afternoon.

The Dream of ScipioThe Dream of Scipio by Iain Pears
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Link to

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Too pooped to 'puter

Another very busy day at work. I am exhausted. I'm on the verge of falling asleep as I type this paltry bit. Having just stuffed myself is adding to the drowsy factor.

I'm still almost finished with the first roll of thread for the curtain. I did work on it during lunch, but I doubt I'll pick it up again tonight.

Anyway, I'm off to be a couch potato for a bit before I hit the sack.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Blogging: Genius Strategies for Instant Web Content

by Biz Stone

Blogging: Genius Strategies for Instant Web ContentI just finished the book. It took me about three hours to read it. Since it was published in 2002, it is fairly out of date. All things considered, if I didn't have a clue about anything web related, this would be the book to peruse to get started blogging. Unfortunately, I had a clue so it took me about five minutes to figure out blogging and buying this book was basically a waste of money for me.

Bizzy, bizzy, bizzy

My gosh, you'd think I'd had surgery a week and a half ago the way people are treating me. I think I'm stepping over some invisible boundary that requires one to spend several weeks recovering instead of bounding back to normal as close to immediately as you can get after surgery. I think I'm going to scream if I receive one more solicitous offer to fetch and carry for me. Actually it's not the solicitous offers that will drive me 'round the bend. It's the looks of disbelief when I profess to being perfectly fine and back to my old self again. People, hmph!

Spent another full day at work. Well, almost. I had to duck out a little early so I could make it to the insurance office to pay my flood insurance premium the notice for which the insurance company sent to my mortgage company instead of me despite the fact the flood insurance wasn't set up to be part of escrow. It dawned on me yesterday that I hadn't received a renewal notice and that my insurance must have expired. I called my local agent this morning and found out they'd billed the mortgage company which hadn't paid yet. I also found out that if I paid the premium myself ASAP my coverage wouldn't suffer any lapse. So at 4:30 p.m. my prodigal son picked me up and ran me over to AllState to pay. Insurance companies, hmph!

I don't live in a flood zone, but neither am I stupid. I live on the Texas Gulf coast where hurricanes and tropical storms routinely visit and things flood when they're not supposed to. We're also nestled between a couple of rivers that leave their banks whenever there is really severe rain between here and Dallas. We had a 100 year flood about 10 or so years ago and the house I'm in managed to stay dry. Still, there is some little comfort in knowing you have flood insurance.

I worked on the curtain for the window in the door during lunch. I've almost used up one roll of thread. Based on how long the curtain is compared to the length of the window, I'll need four more rolls of thread to finish it. I bought two to start off with. I hope I can find more in the same color lot. If not, I'll have to do something seriously creative.

Anyway, it's been a busy two days at work. I'm still catching up from missing a week for class and then missing another week almost immediately for the surgery. But I enjoy being busy. I like work when I'm actually working.



longueur \long-GUR\, noun:
A dull and tedious passage in a book, play, musical composition, or the like.

Longueur is from French (where it means "length"), ultimately deriving from Latin longus, "long," which is also the source of English long.

I've read entire novels that suffered from longueur. The only play I've ever seen for which I believe the word had to have been coined is The Man of La Mancha. That is the dullest thing I've ever seen performed live. I was hard pressed to stay awake during the performance.

Baby Doom

Claim: A Kinsey Institute study found that having children lowers the IQ of both parents.

Status: False.

(There may be no real studies to indicate that IQs drop after having children, but something certainly happens. Between baby talk and having to use smaller, simpler words to convery very complex ideas, you sometimes feel like you've lost the ability to communicate on an adult level. I still suffer from that feeling every once in a while - especially when I have to explain something technological to a person who can't program a VCR.)

Monday, September 13, 2004

The Reich Stuff?

Claim: Fanta was invented by the Nazis.

Status: False.

Shark Tank: Someday My Prints Will Come

From a newsletter I subscribe to:

Corporate help desk pilot fish gets a call from the manager at one of
the company's retail stores. The printer is giving an error message: Close back door. "I checked the back door, and it was shut," manager says. Try opening the back door and shutting it again, fish suggests. "If I open the back door, the fire alarm will go off," user protests, "and mall security will have to come to the store to shut it off." No, sighs fish -- please close the back door of the PRINTER.

(It's nice to know people like this exist everywhere.)

Mouse eyes

Mouse eyes

BBC NEWS | UK | Politics | Dive recovers Cromwell's sailor

A sailor from a sunken ship belonging to Oliver Cromwell's navy had the upper body of a trapeze artist but bowed legs, his recovered skeleton shows.

(Politics? Still? Just because Cromwell is mentioned?)

Sunday, September 12, 2004

FoxTrot by Bill Amend

Pop quizzes just aren't what they used to be.

(If the title link has gone out of date, click here for the saved image.)

Smiley drinking a soda

The window in the door

This is the door with the window in it --

And this is the curtain I am crocheting to cover it -- Crocheting project

I'm still not very enamored of the curtain, either the color or the way the pattern is shaping up, but the thought of adding another piece of white to the room or introducing that cream or taupe color just suited me even less. I live in a town where WalMart and Hobby Lobby are the only places that carry yarn and their selections leave a lot to be desired.

Rainbow eyes

Rainbow's eyes

The infamous prodigal son

Someone posted a comment (Feeding frenzy) wondering if I had any pictures of my now infamous prodigal son. Yes, I have pictures. Lots and lots of pictures starting with the day he was born and going up to a couple of months ago. But that's not really what you were after is it? I did find a couple of pictures of him from earlier this year - June/July time, I think. One was taken by his girlfriend when they were getting ready to go swimming and the other I snapped while he was trying to carry two squirming kittens out of his room. The picture I took is blurry, but that's what happens when the subject matter is in motion. Anyway, here they are:

The prodigal son The prodigal son carrying kittens

The heart of a president

Sat Sep 11, 1:26 PM ET AP

President Bush and first lady Laura Bush, right, take part in a moment of silence, Saturday, Sept. 11, 2004, on the South Lawn of the White House to mark the third anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Second left is former Solicitor General Ted Olson, with his granddaughters Jillian, left, and Kirstin Olson, right. Olson lost his wife Barbara in the plane that hit the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001. Others are unidentified. (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Back to work and other stuff

I went to work on both Thursday and Friday, but I only lasted a half day each time. I would never have thought that sitting at a desk answering email, entering data, writing code, and the like would be so exhausting. By the time lunch rolled around, my back was aching and I had a headache. I decided the better part of valor was discretion so I went home and napped.

I've decided I'm tired of the window in my back door being uncovered so I've begun crocheting a curtain for it. I'm using a variegated cotton thread that matches the colors of my sofa. It's a very simple net pattern. I'm not overly fond of how it's turning out, but I'm less fond of having the window uncovered.

I am so totally bored with being house bound. Isn't it an interesting facet of human nature that when you have all the opportunity to go and do, all you really want to do is sit at home, but when you're required by circumstance to sit at home, all you really want to do is go out? Argh!

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Telescope snaps distant 'planet'

Astronomers working in Chile think they may have taken the first direct image of a planet circling another star.

The star, called 2M1207, is 230 light-years away and is very much smaller and fainter than our own Sun.

The pictured companion is 100 times fainter still and tested the technical limits of the Yepun telescope.

Fossil Supports Case for Dutiful Dinosaur Parenting

A fossil find from China provides new support for the idea that dinosaurs were devoted parents. A report published today in the journal Nature describes a specimen that includes the remains of an adult skeleton surrounded by 34 juvenile ones. “It's one more piece to further support that parental care occurred among dinosaurs,” remarks study co-author David J. Varricchio of the University of Montana.

BBC NEWS | Americas | World 'wants Kerry as president'

A new poll in 35 countries suggests that people around the world would prefer Democratic challenger John Kerry as US president over George W Bush.

Global research company GlobeScan Inc and the University of Maryland found clear leads for Mr Kerry among those polled in 30 of the countries.

Only Filipino, Polish and Nigerian respondents clearly backed Mr Bush.

Most said Mr Bush's foreign policy had made them feel worse about the US since his election in 2000.

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | New ring discovered around Saturn

UK scientists using the Cassini probe have found a new ring and one, possibly two, new objects orbiting Saturn.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

The gruesome details

OK, I did promise I would fill in all the gruesome details of why I went missing between 8/30 and 9/6. I had emergency gall bladder surgery on 9/2 after checking into the local hospital emergency room on 9/1. They let me out on 9/3 and I just couldn't sit up for any length of time without my back hurting like a son of a gun until 9/6.

I'm perfectly fine and almost completely normally mobile with the same ravenous appetite and appreciation for food I've always had. I just can't quite fit into my clothes just yet. I own nothing but slacks and they button right where the hole in my belly button is so wearing them is still uncomfortable. Since I have a desk job, there's no reason I can't go back to work . . . except the clothes issue. I just don't think anyone would really appreciate me walking around the office with my pants unbuttoned and unzipped. It might cause talk.

Now I'm sure those of you who've known people with peckish gall bladders are probably wondering why I had emergency surgery since most people have all sorts of lovely symptoms to indicate they have a problem and they schedule their surgery at their convenience. Well, that's because I've never been most people. Until the agony struck Wednesday morning, I had not a single symptom. I left work around 11:30 a.m. and went home to rest. I had my son take me to the emergency room at about 1:30 p.m. The pain I felt was right up there with labor.

They checked me in, ran blood work, a urine analysis, an ultrasound, and scheduled surgery for Thursday morning. Wham bam, thank you, ma'am.

Thursday afternoon, after the surgery, the surgeon came to see me. He told me my gall bladder was in such bad shape that if I'd waited another day or two it would have been gangrenous. I don't think he believed me when I told him I hadn't had nausea or vomiting and that there hadn't been any pain until Wednesday morning. Oh, well. The nasty little beggar is gone and I'm all set to get back to normal . . . once I fit into my slacks again.

Feeding frenzy

Mouse and Heru Mouse and Heru Mouse Heru Rainbow, Mouse, and Heru

You would think the poor things had been starved to death. Mouse and Heru are such little piggies. Every time they hear the rattle of the dry food bag or the swoosh of a can being opened, it's like it's the first time they've ever had food and are on the verge of perishing from hunger. I have to give my son credit for being able to photograph the kittens while he holds a can of food for them to attack.

Well, Rainbow, Mouse and Heru went to the vet last Friday. Rainbow and Mouse for their last checkup and round of shots until next year and Heru for his first of four or five visits. Rainbow weighs in at a skeletal 5.2 pounds while Mouse is an emaciated 4.9 pounds. Heru, being the youngest, weights in at a meager 3.4 pounds. Given how not well we suspect Heru was taken care of, the only bad effects from his prior home is a case of hookworm for which he is being treated. Neither of the other kittens have gotten the worms, and I suspect neither have the older two cats, since all of them are on Revolution.

It's been a week and a day since Heru joined the household and I have to say that he integrated himself rather well. I'd say it took him all of 10 or 12 seconds before he made it known that he wanted to play and he wasn't going to take no for an answer. Other than the first night when we kept him separated because we weren't sure what would happen, he's had the run of the house - and yes, I do mean that literally. He chases Rainbow, she chases him. He chases Mouse, she chases him. He is not the least bit put off by Mouse who must play with him even when she doesn't want to play anymore. Miss Muggles, on the other hand, has managed to get the upper hand. When she's done playing, Heru leaves her alone . . . and goes after Mouse.

It has been a really interesting experience having three kittens running around the house. Between the two of them, Mouse and Heru share one brain cell and it's sometimes difficult to tell which is in possession of it. The Muggle Monster has all the rest of the brain cells so she's far too clever for her own good. She knows when she's done wrong and she always looks so guilty while the other two just look confused.

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Solar capsule crashes into Earth

A capsule from the Genesis probe, which has been gathering particles blown off the Sun, has crashed back to Earth.

The capsule entered the atmosphere as planned at 1554GMT (1654BST) but its drogue parachute failed to open.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Charley Reese | The War

We know how the Bush administration has handled the war: It fouled up royally. First, it had bad intelligence. Second, administration members shut their eyes and their minds to all advice, to all of the caveats from the intelligence community, that didn't justify going to war. Third, the administration disregarded sound military advice that a lot more troops would be needed than it was sending. Fourth, by not giving the U.N. weapons inspectors time to finish their job, the Bush administration lost the support of France, Germany, Russia and most of the rest of the world. Fifth, it did not stop the looting. Sixth, it did not anticipate and prepare for the resistance. Seventh, its occupation has been nothing but a cluster-blunder. And eighth, it has overextended the U.S. military but stubbornly refuses to admit it.

Judgment Day

Yes on Schwarzenegger. No on Bush.
By William Saletan

I'm no huge fan of John Kerry. He sees two sides of every one-sided issue, and four sides of every two-sided issue. But the alternative is a president who sees one side of every issue, no matter how many sides it has. Given how many sides there usually are, and given how little effort Bush makes to learn about each issue, the odds are that, on average, he'll pick the wrong side. The record of the last four years shows that he has done precisely that. But because Bush refuses to "waver," as Schwarzenegger charitably puts it, we keep going in the wrong direction. The only way to stop such a president is to vote him out of office. Fortunately, an election is coming.

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Small planets seen by astronomers

US astronomers say they have found two more Neptune-sized planets orbiting stars beyond our Solar System.

They say their discovery of the smallest worlds yet seen circling other stars is a breakthrough in the search for other Earths and for life in space.

They are only about 15 times more massive than the Earth. Previously known worlds were Jupiter-class, some 318 times more massive than the Earth.

One of the new planets is in the first four-planet system ever discovered.

Researchers Unveil Smallest Atomic Clock Yet

Scientists have manufactured the world's smallest atomic clock, with inner machinery about the size of a grain of rice. Requiring very little power to run, the device loses only one second every 300 years and could one day provide precise timekeeping for portable applications such as wireless communication devices and Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers.

From the Bush mouth

"Too many good docs are getting out of the business. Too many OB/GYN's aren't able to practice their love with women all across the country."—Sept. 6, 2004, Poplar Bluff, Mo.

Monday, September 06, 2004

I'm back - sort of

Those handful of you who know me personally know why I've been off-line since the 30th. For those of you who don't, I'll fill you in later. I've spent just a little more time than I can in one sitting trying to catch up everybody everywhere so I have to take a break. I'll be back later with all the lovely, gruesome details.

Scientific American | Science News | Mummy's Face Revealed with CT Scans

Recreation of mummy's face

How many members of the Bush Administration does it take to change the proverbial light bulb

USA Smiley

The god of reason

"I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use." -- Galileo Galilei

Accomplishing the impossible

"Accomplishing the impossible means only that the boss will add it to your regular duties." -- Doug Larson

The brain is a wonderful organ

"The brain is a wonderful organ. It starts working the moment you get up in the morning and does not stop until you get into the office." -- Robert Frost

Welcome to America

San Francisco Bay Guardian News | Censored!
The 10 big stories the national news media ignore.

1. Wealth inequality in 21st century threatens economy and democracy

2. Ashcroft versus human rights law that holds corporations accountable

3. Bush administration manipulates science and censors scientists

4. High uranium levels found in troops and civilians

5. Wholesale giveaway of our natural resources

6. Sale of electoral politics

7. Conservative organization drives judicial appointments

8. Secrets of Cheney's energy task force come to light

9. Widow brings RICO case against U.S. government for 9/11

10. New nuke plants: taxpayers support, industry profits