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26 December 2002

Hoorah for Christmas!


This is the time to remember that this is a time to reflect upon our blessings and spend time with those we love.

But that doesn't mean we can't still spend time playing with your Christmas gifts!

We got a digital camera, which which I am now playing (aside from taking pictures yesterday). It's nifty, and has a feature that allows me to "stitch together" pictures to make one big picture, which is perfect for taking pictures of the house. So be very afraid....

Meanwhile...

Bounder's Head


Other excitement, is that I received a letter from Ben in Kyrgyzstan. He is doing well, learning Russian very quickly and says that it is very cold there. (Unsurprisingly). Mostly I was delighted to hear from him. I can only imagine how difficult it must be to be so far away during the holidays, (although Ben is certainly more adventuresome and more emotionally equipped to deal with such separations than I am!) although it is probably just as hard on my aunt. He was able to tell me a little about culture there, but says he will learn more as he learns more Russian and is able to move about more freely in the area. I'm just glad he is doing well.


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20 December 2002

The New England Journal of Medicine has released several articles on the internet regarding the debate about smallpox vaccination.


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19 December 2002

Thanks to Bob, I can now be safe from alien mental intrusion. "It can't be stressed enough how important it is to have the shiny side pointing out."

Fun with the scanner!

Gina's head scanned

No, that is not MY head. But I did help with the scanning!



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17 December 2002

Random thoughts at work day.

I found a link to the Red Hat Society, while looking for the poem Warning - When I Am an Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple, by Jenny Joseph.

Finally, some informaiton about the new smallpox vaccine. It is expected to be liscensed in 2004, and should be available to any adults who want it, although it will NOT be available to children. It will not be tested on children, because the risk is greater than the benefit at this time, and until it is tested in children, it can only be used in adults.

A study of binge drinking among Jewish and non-Jewish college students. Previous studies have found an association between religious worship attendance and decreased rate of alcohol abuse in Christians, but the same was not found in those who are Jewish, although there was an association with religiosity and rates of alcohol abuse. They also found that being Jewish was protective against alcohol abuse. Pretty interesting.

Wired article with John Poindexter's personal information (We all remember Poindexter right? Iran-Contra? Off to jail but for presidential pardons? Now in charge of the Total Information Awareness system.) ! Information includes his address and phone number. You can also see satellite photos of his house.

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Take the Affliction Test Today!

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Table of Condiments that Periodically Go Bad
I ran across this a couple years ago when I searched Google for fnord.

Godwin's Law: /prov./ [Usenet] "As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one." There is a tradition in many groups that, once this occurs, that thread is over, and whoever mentioned the Nazis has automatically lost whatever argument was in progress. Godwin's Law thus practically guarantees the existence of an upper bound on thread length in those groups.

Boondocks



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16 December 2002

Heard an interesting thing on sea squirts. Their genome has been sequenced, because they apparently have genetic characteristics of both vertebrates and invertebrates, and may be the link between the two. Nefty, 'eh?

A study linked sensitivity to light with having sensitive teeth. Pretty odd, but interesting.

Lesson of the day: Don't plan to have your birthday dinner on Monday, if you want to eat at local a restaurant.

Welfare and Institutions Code (California)
Detention of Mentally Disordered Persons For Evaluation and Treatment
5150. When any person, as a result of mental disorder, is a danger to others, or to himself or herself, or gravely disabled, a peace officer, member of the attending staff, as defined by regulation, of an evaluation facility designated by the county, designated members of a mobile crisis team provided by Section 5651.7, or other professional person designated by the county may, upon probable cause, take, or cause to be taken, the person into custody and place him or her in a facility designated by the county and approved by the State Department of Mental Health as a facility for 72-hour treatment and evaluation.
Such facility shall require an application in writing stating the circumstances under which the person's condition was called to the attention of the officer, member of the attending staff, or professional person, and stating that the officer, member of the attending staff, or professional person has probable cause to believe that the person is, as a result of mental disorder, a danger to others, or to himself or herself, or gravely disabled. If the probable cause is based on the statement of a person other than the officer, member of the attending staff, or professional person, such person shall be liable in a civil action for intentionally giving a statement which he or she knows to be false.
(Amended Ch. 968, Stats. 1980. Effective January 1, 1981.)


So since Star Trek has been the theme of conversation all weekend (Michael still has not decided whether he liked the movie or not), I started thinking about characters, and then started to wonder, why was it that I disliked the character Wesley Crusher so much, I mean, I liked Garak and Quark, and I was rarely bothered by Jake Cisco, so why did I dislike Wesley so much? I came to two conclusions, noth equally valid. The first was that I disliked his character for the same reason I always hated teen movies--They make me cringe in embarassment. Things are supposed to be funny, I find simply horrifying, and I felt that way to a big degree about Wesley's character. The second reason, was, I think, that his character was too damned self-assured--trying to be an adult and blind to the fact that the adults didn't see him that way. That comes in for the cringe factor, but it also reminded me to a great degree of being a teenager, and all the self-assured jerks with whom I went to school (shudder). Tehy rarely showed him being an insecure teen, so he instead came off as an arrogant, self-absorbed creature--something to which I (believe it or not) can not sympathise. Why Wesley was written that way, and Jake rarely was I don't know, unless it had to do with the very nature of the shows--the difference between Deep Space Nine and The Next Generation. (Of course we all know that of the two, I by far prefer Deep Space Nine). Anyway, it was just something that was running though my mind this evening as I recovered from eating too much birthday dinner. :)

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Happy Birthday Mom!

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15 December 2002

Still doing a bit of work on the website. Fussed with the Quotations section (need more quotations--I'm willing to take suggestions), and did a bit more work on the Books section, mostly adding more information about books, and making sure I had books that I'd read placed where they belong.
Mark was right:
schmuck (also shmuck) 1. the penis 2. a oaf; a jerk; a dullard. [If this form comes from the German Schmuck, "jewel" or "ornament" via Yiddish, it does so without obeying the usual German and Yiddish sound correspondences; both sense, U.S. slang, mid 1900s-pres]
also:
dork 1. the penis 2. an odd or eccentric person. [both sense, U.S. slang, mid 1900s-pres.] 3. to copulate; to COIT someone. For synonyms see OCCUPY. [U.S. slang, late 1900s].
from Slang and Euphemism by Richard A. Spears.
Oh the fascinating things one can discuss in a bar.

Yes, I own not one, but several books on slang and word origins. One day I'll own a copy of the OED, but not any time soon I think.

Yikes! I keep forgetting! Erin's bio is now on-line. Learn about Erin, and see a picture of her decked out in nothing but hair.


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13 December 2002

Australian lawyers claim that mooning is a form of political protest. Yup. Showing your backside to an officer of the law should be, according to an Asutralian lawyer, allowed as a national icon.

Hoorah! I just discovered that Baxter Black (cowboy poet and former large-animal veternarian) has a website. You can read his weekly written commentaries on the Amarillo Globe-News website, or better yet, hear his commentaries on the NPR website (do a search for Baxter Black). I love (although I rarely get to hear) his commentaries on Morning Edition, and they always make me laugh. But I have to say he looks nothing like I imagined. I somehow expected him to be...larger.

Archeologists have uncovered what may be the unluckiest church in the world. A structure that was built in the 4th century and possibly ended life in the middle ages as an opium den. Things may not be much better in the future, as the site is on the edge of a cliff that is falling into the ocean.

Some journal titles that amuse me:
Genes and environment have gender-independent influences on the eating and drinking of free-living humans.
The effect of covertly manipulating the energy density of mixed diets on ad libitum food intake in 'pseudo free-living' humans.
Main Entry: long shot
Pronunciation: 'lo[ng]-"shät
Function: noun
Date: 1867
1 : a venture involving great risk but promising a great reward if successful; also : a venture unlikely to succeed
2 : an entry (as in a horse race) given little chance of winning
3 : a bet in which the chances of winning are slight but the possible winnings great
- by a long shot : by a great deal

A study has found that a majority of adolescents in juvenile detention suffer from mental illness, strengthening the belief of many mental health professionals that mental illness is undertreated in juvenile delinquents.

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I'm a geek!

I know y'all are shocked about that one.

You are 60% geek
You are a geek. Good for you! Considering the endless complexity of the universe, as well as whatever discipline you happen to be most interested in, you'll never be bored as long as you have a good book store, a net connection, and thousands of dollars worth of expensive equipment. Assuming you're a technical geek, you'll be able to afford it, too. If you're not a technical geek, you're geek enough to mate with a technical geek and thereby get the needed dough. Dating tip: Don't date a geek of the same persuasion as you. You'll constantly try to out-geek the other.
Take the Polygeek Quiz at Thudfactor.com

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12 December 2002

Some updates to different part of my page. Added some Christmas-y stuff to the front page (just because I never make any changes there), updated the book section, and edited some of the family stuff. Nothing big and exciting, but then again I did not have as much time to work on this today as I would have hoped. Erin is also updating her site, and will supposedly do so throughout the week. I'm not sure if I feel inspired enough to do much more than I have already.

Mostly I'm trying to get psyched up for the holidays. Made Christmas cookies, and my Amaretto cake, and am going to make peanut butter fudge (I think) and possibly a rum cake, and I'm not sure what else I'm going to make, but there has to be more! You can't have too many Christmas cookies... can you?

If so, everyone needs to come to my house after Christmas to eat cookies! (No, they won't be disgusting--they're frozen and thawed as needed!)

I guess not much else is going on--I'm still waiting impatiently to find out how I did on my finals and my final grades. I hate waiting.
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11 December 2002

Finally got back the pictures that were taken earlier in the fall. There are not a lot of pictures (for which I am sure you are grateful) but they are kinda cute.

There is an adorable picture of Wilson at his second Birthday party.

There is a picture of Kim at her surprise birthday party (I *think* she eventually forgave us--though she doesn't look too forgiving in the picture, does she?).

My favorite picture is from Ben's going away party. In case you have not been following along, my cousin Ben joined the Peace Corps and is in Kyrgyzstan for a little over two years, so there was a party for him before he left. The group picture...well, it pretty well represents my family. Stark, raving, lunatics. Well, perhaps not everyone... but most everyone. So this goofy picture happened because everyone else was gone, and we were relying on the cameras' timer function. The first camera to go up is focused, set, the shutter is pushed....and nothing happens. So we start making jokes about getting a picture of someone running back to check the camera. Still no picture. So someone runs back, and tries again. Still nothing happens, and we are beginning to wonder..... Third time, a little light starts flashing, so we all start screaming our heads off, "It's working! It's WORKING! Run! RUN!" which of course makes us start to laugh hysterically. So then for *every* picture, we all had to yell and get excited.

My family is a lot of fun, and I think that is the greatest picture.


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10 December 2002

Do hidden biases lead to black men being shot more frequently than white men? A study at the University of Colorado and published in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, found that participants forced to make snap decisions in a video game like situation, were more likely to shoot unarmed black men than white men, even if those people did not have conscious biases. This points out not only unconscious biases, but also raises the question of whether Amadou Diallo was shot solely because he was black.


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9 December 2002

Integrating crime and science, DNA analysis and other scientific techniques to identifies the bodies of those who were killed in South American during the reigns of dictators such as Augusto Pinochet and Joao Goulart, who used the military to suppress criticism of their regimes. Sting's song "They Dance Alone" from the album ...Nothing Like the Sun was written about the women who silently protested these regimes, and the murders they committed.

Finally! A news article focusing on the fact that few web designers modify their pages so that websites can be easily accessed by the visually impaired. This is something that I repeatedly emphasize when I teach HTML, and it's something at which most web designers miserably. Of course how many people are going to pay attention to a story on the BBC except me? Here is a British webs site for the RNIB Campaign for Good Web Design, here is a link to the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) , and here is a link to Bobby, a site that will analyze your website and help you make your content more accessible.

Could this be the end of confusing and poorly worded Any Language to English signs? Probably not. Although this article singles out China, most of us have received e-mails listing humorous "English" signs from all over the world, as well as my favorite, the English subtitles of kung-fu movies (Okay, that is ridiculous! My spell checker wanted to replace Kung with kumquat). What will I do for entertainment if everyone learns to speak English properly? Well considering that even native speakers like Dan Quayle can't manage it, I think we're safe.

Regarding state budget deficits....
"That's a hole so deep and so vast that even if we fired every single person on the state payroll every park ranger, every college professor and every Highway Patrol officer we would still be more than $6 billion short."
-HERB J. WESSON Jr., the California Assembly speaker, on the state's budget.
Well, I guess we in WV should be thankful for small favors, that we are no where near in that much trouble. Of course California's deficit is probably the size of our entire budget....

Completely randomly I decided that I'd love a copy of the newest "The Incredible Machine". I haven't played TIM for years, since our copy of the game disappeared. (I keep thinking it might be at my parents house, but if it's in my dad's office, it's as good as lost forever.

In case you were curious as to how many steps were in a mile, the average is apparently about 2000. Aren't you glad you know that?


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7 December 2002

Today is Pearl Harbor Day. In 1941, Japanese planes made a surprise attack on the US Navy at Pearl Harbor, killing 2,403 and wounding 1,178. Twenty-one ships were sunk or damaged, including the USS Arizona, which remains on the harbor floor, and the USS West Virginia, which was eventually refloated, repaired, and rejoined the fleet towards the end of the war.
The following websites may be of interest:

For information about the Pearl Harbor Attack, including ships lost and damaged and casualties, as well as other resources.
Pearl Harbor Remembered, including survivor's remembrances.
The official US Navy Pearl Harbor website.
Information about the attack at Pearl Harbor, including images of the dispatch sent by Commander in Chief Pacific (CINCPAC).
A site about the USS West Virginia, including pictures of the ship from the 20s through the "mothballing" of the ship in the 1950s (She was later broken up and sold for scrap).
Website for the USS Arizona, from the University of Arizona, including a brief hisotry and online exhibits.
Here you can find the text and excerpts of the audio of President Roosevelt's speech in response to Pearl Harbor, and the other attacks that day, calling for war.

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6 December 2002

Happy Birthday Andy!


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6 December 2002

Not water, gatorade!

So this is not bounded in scientific research, just something about which I was thinking following a discussion with Erin tonight....

I would think, that the reason water might make one feel worse after a night of heaving drinking is that you don't need just water. Atheletes can suffer from water poisoning after strenuous activity, because they sweat out not just water, but salt (and minerals) as well, and so in theory, when you drink copious amounts of alcoholic beverages, you may be peeing out not just water and alcohol, but also unprocessed salts and minerals. And if you are sweating as you drink (since we all know what cool places bars tend to me) that would only exacerbate the situation.

So it is possible that if you rehydrated with gatorade or some other beverage with salt and mineral supplements, that you would not feel worse, but better, because your cells are able to keep a balance of salts and water, whereas if you are low on salts AND water, but drink only water, water will flow into your cells, and salts will flow from your cells, to regulate the balance.

That's my theory anyway, and I think it's sound, and I am sure I could find some research to back it up, but I think I'll refrain from testing that theory myself. I have my own methods to keep from getting hangovers.
1. Don't drink
2. Failing Rule One: Don't drink to excess
3. Failing Rules One and Two: Don't go to sleep until you're semi-sober
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I'm bored.....


What Was Your PastLife?


See which Greek Goddess you are.


Nifty, an entire site dedicated to Greek Godesses!


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6 December 2002

President Bush revved up the war on drugs, continuing the waste of law enforcement resources against a substance (marijuana) that is less addictive than alcohol and tobacco, with similar health costs. This prohibition for the 20th and 21st century is not only a waste of money, but contains also a huge revenue loss--think of all the money the US would make if we legalized--and then regulated and sold--drugs that are now illegal. We'd save tons of money on enforcement, as well as health costs because the product would be regulated. The money made from sales could fund not just treatment programs, and clean needle programs, but would probably put other money into the nations financial coffers as well. It would knock drug dealers, pull the rug out from under the drug king pins who are highly involved in other types of organized crime, and make life better for those in south and central America who farm these substance for the drug lords. But instead we continue to flush money down the drain with the war on drugs, and programs like D.A.R.E. that don't work. What a typical use of tax dollars.

So they convicted the "pharmacist" who diluted the cancer drugs of thousands of patients, and convicted him to 30 years. Personally, I think it should have been much longer. For some reason, what he did disgusts and disturbs me more than any other crime about which I have heard or read in years. I think it is the fact that this is someone who was supposed to be trust worth, who took advantage of those in desperate need, for money.


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5 December 2002

The Plain English Campaign, is today sponsoring Plain English Day, and gives awards for both plain English and gobbledygook. Richard Gere won this years Foot-in-Mouth award for comparing himself to a giraffe.

Was looking for something else on Senator Byrd's website, and came across this section on the case that the United States provided the Iraqi government with the building blocks for its biological weapons program. This includes a letter from David Satcher of the CDC outlining biologicals sent to Iraq, and a transcript of the Armed Services Committee hearing where Senator Byrd questioned Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. I was actually quite amused (and yet unsurprised) by Rumsfeld's vacillation on answering Senator Byrd's questions.

There is a woman in Mali who is believed to be about 125 years old. Although her lack of birth certification keeps her out of the Guiness Book of World Records, I don't think she really cares. She is able to vividly recount things that happened at the end of the 1800s, which is why social workers are placing her age to be about 125. She has a great-great-great-grandaughter, and I think that in and of itself is pretty great.

...and the winner for worst descriptions of a sex act in a contemporary novel is...
("She closed her eyes, saw his dark-as-treacle-toffee eyes gazing down at her. Weirdly, he was clad in pin-stripes at the same time as being naked. Pin-stripes were erotic, the uniform of fathers, two-dimensional fathers" )

"The last thing you want when you pick up your phone is to hear Tom Cruise heavy breathing down the phone at you.

Really?


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4 December 2002

Finals are over for me! Hoorah! (happy dance)
I am fantastically relieved. No more studying for about a month, my biggest decision is what am I going to read now? I still have not finished Bioterrorism, I have Coraline by Neil Gaiman waiting to be read, several different fantasy series, and a book of Japanese folktales. Plus back issues of magazines, primarily cooking magazines, to go through. What a delightful dilemma!

Investigators Find Repeated Deception in Ads for Drugs. Oh, like this is a big surprise to anyone? The only big surprise will be if anything is done about it. Which is unlikely, considering that the homeland security bill had a provision protecting Eli Lilly from lawsuits over vaccines. A provision that no one seems to admit adding, and was passed despite the protests of Democrats AND Republicans.

Speaking of prescription drugs, I heard a piece this morning in Morning Edition about the fact that vaccines are not tested in children, although must drugs are used in young children, which means that we are subjecting teens and children to a pharmaceutical regime that is untested, and thus we have no idea the affect that these substance are going to have on still developing bodies and brains. Which is worse? Having a child with a disease and no current acceptable cure or prescribing a drug for a child that has never been tested and found safe and effective in children?

We seem to be in a nasty Catch-22 with prescription drugs--we want the latest and the best, and we want extensive testing, but drug costs are escallating out of control, and more and more health plans are raising the co-payment--or even dropping prescription plans altogether. Things can not continue for long like this, but what change is probable--or possible?


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3 December 2002

I've been avoiding Selected Shorts all fall, because it is an extra distraction from studying, but last night I got sucked into "He's at the Office" Allan Gurganus, read by Philip Bosco. According to the Symphony Space website, the story can be found in The Best American Short Stories 2000 edited by E.L. Doctorow (Houghton Mifflin).

An article on the NY Times on the presidents "climate strategy" "No one can say with any certainty what constitutes a dangerous level of warming, and therefore what level must be avoided" President Bush. Y'all can come visit me when West-by-God-Virginia becomes beach front property.


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2 December 2002

You MUST read Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser. Click here to read what I had to say. You can read an interview about the book at the Atlantic website, another interview about the book, an excerpt from the book from the Guardian.


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2 December 2002

Would you buy a calendar with pictures of naked grandmothers? People are, to raise money for charities--it's gotta be better than a bake sale! Although the original Ladies of Rylstone (the calendar was to raise money for leukemia and other blood cancers) site is no longer, the information moved, so you can see the first calendar that caught the interest of Americans. The idea has caught on slowly in the US, with calendars of different groups raising money for breast cancer, a gardening club and other non-profit groups. I personally think it's a pretty neat idea. Americans are hung up on this ephemeral idea of beauty and youth, the idea of seeing normal people in the buff is a pretty good idea.

Because I saw "Four Weddings and a Funeral" again recently, here is the text to Funeral Blues by W.H. Auden.
Funeral Blues (Song)

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone.
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling in the sky the message He is Dead,
Put crÍpe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever, I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun.
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.


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1 December 2002

Article in the NY Times on parents who refuse vaccination for their children. It just makes me mad--these people who are refuse to read and understand the literature on vaccination, on what vaccination does for children, adults, and the community at large. I wish they could be transported back 100 years, so they could see what the world was like before accination, because they won't read about it and learn from the past. Selfish bastards.

And in a related article, there is now a rush to revaccinate against smallpox, starting with health personnel who would be the first exposed in a bioterrorism attack. I am curious as to whether they are going to revaccinate in this area, because I know that in other areas they are collecting serum (I think) from those who have been vaccinated to use to treat those who have a bad reaction to the vaccine. I was vaccinated as a child, and still probably have a degree of immunity since it was about 20 years ago that I was vaccinated. I'd be willing to be revaccinated if they were running such a program in WV--to collect blood products of recently vaccinated individuals. I guess I could try and figure out who to contact, for it couldn't hurt to ask.

Okay, I MUST get back to studying....



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