September 30, 2003


It is for posts like this that I read Neil Gaiman's journal regularly:

And I'd write a whole proper honest to goodness journal entry here, but sleep beckons. It doesn't just beckon, actually. Right now it's more or less jumping up and down on the bed waving both arms, shouting my name through a loud-hailer, and it's clutching a home-made sign with "WILL YOU GO TO BED ALREADY?" lettered on it rather crudely.

Posted by Michelle at 10:39 AM |


Hoorah! The penguin picture!

In case you didn't get to see it on the Human Descent website, here is the penguin that amused me so much.


Posted by Michelle at 08:50 AM |

September 29, 2003

Exercise and Diabetes (Type II)

Research in Pittsburgh has found that 30 minutes of exercise a day reduces incidence of Type II diabetes, regardless of the weight of the individual.

So now there is one more reason to get out and exercise. Remember that exercise doesn't have to mean a workout that leaves you drained and sore. Exercise can be as simple as 30 minutes of brisk walking, and if you have an hour for lunch, that 30 minutes is easy to work in.

Posted by Michelle at 02:37 PM |

Plame Affair

The Valerie Plame scandal, which has been flying under the radar since July, has finally hit the mainstream press.

Will anything come of this? We shall see.

Posted by Michelle at 12:06 PM |

Benedum Lecture

Thursday, 2 October is the first Benedum lecture.

Benedum lecture—Will the Future Be Post-Human? The Possibilities and Peril of Genetic Manipulation, Jean Elshtain, 8 p.m., G24 Eiesland Hall

Hopefully it will be interesting, even if it's not, I'll tell you all about it anyway.

Posted by Michelle at 09:45 AM |

September 28, 2003

Especially the penguin one.

(via Making Light)

He's right. Especially the penguin.

Posted by Michelle at 01:07 PM |

September 27, 2003

Week's End

Yesterday my latest book order came, so yesterday evening I read Endless Nights and Wolves in the Walls. Not that I'm on a Neil Gaiman kick or anything...

Today was spent cleaning and running errands and shopping, and not fun shopping, except for the brief trip to The Bookshelf, where I picked up a collection of short stories by Latin American writers.

Because it's not like I have enough to read at home or anything.

Anyway, if you know anyone who wants to put up a bird feeder, but doesn't want to go for the usual, the boring, the mundane, the perpendicular to the ground, then I'm your woman. I did, however, do much better with the cat window perch.

Michael, who is a good man and a much better person than I, did not even laugh at the bird feeder.

And now, to bed.

Posted by Michelle at 10:52 PM |

September 26, 2003

Fearless Faceless Figures

For most of the week as I’ve been walking at lunch time, and this includes walking through Health Science North, where the “electrical fire” earlier in the week put that half of the building on reduced power. Offices with windows are not allowed to turn on their lights, and classrooms and other rooms are to only used half their lights. The hallways are dark, with only an occasionally light to keep everything from being plunged into darkness.

As you walk along the darkest of the hallways, people approaching you have only form and figure, no features, and I find it fascinating. (Err… Sorry about that alliteration.)

Approaching a person who is, in essence, faceless gray shapes should be eerie, but being the middle of the day in a public building with hundreds of other people around removes any sense of fear and makes the while thing simply intriguing. Any preparations people may have taken in their dress are moot point, for all you can see are shapes. If you pass someone under a light, then you can see their clothes and their facial features clearly, but otherwise strangers are even more strange.

I like it. Perhaps they’ll keep the lights dim permanently.

And as far as the statement that we are perfectly safe, that there are not excess asbestos fibers or PCB particles floating around as a result of Monday’s meltdown, well if that is from the same person who told the papers that the building was completely evacuated by the time the fire department arrived on Monday, then I know that too is bullshit.

Posted by Michelle at 01:27 PM |

September 25, 2003

Just Because These Things Fascinate Me

More Making Things from Legos.

Unlike the Lego bible, this site does not contain sex, nudity or violence. It just amazes, how much time people spend doing this.
(via Electrolite)

Posted by Michelle at 04:13 PM |

Rambling Memory

I'm not quite sure why I've felt so busy this week, I mean last week we were running around car shopping and every minute seemed as if there was something to do, this week I had class cancelled on Monday, so I'll I've had to do is go to work and study, but it somehow feels as if I'm even more busy.

If I hadn't mentioned it before, I really like my fencing class. Not sure exactly why, since we've barely gotten to do anything so far, after all yesterday we learned how to dress, and only spent about 5 minutes poking at people, but it was still good. He told us to imagine that our opponent is someone who made us angry recently...good thing we're not using, say, broadswords or axes. Despite the fact I'm a complete wimp, I think I could still muster up enough residual rage to do some serious damage.

Which reminds me, there has been an interesting discussion on language going on over at Making Light and some of the participants have mentioned that they actually see words in their head, so they can read the correct spelling. This completely boggled my mind. Are lots of people like that? Because I absolutely can not visualize words and numbers in my head. It's one of the reasons I was miserable at spelling bees and that I can not do math in my head, because I simply don't visualize. I hear things. If I want to remember a series of numbers, I have to repeat them over and over in my head until I hear the pattern, then it's stuck there. But I don't see things like words and numbers in my head, and the ability to do so seems extraordinarily strange.

Is it just me?

Of course I have exceedingly vivid dreams, and I'm not sure where that fits the grand scheme of things. But I don't see words or numbers unless I try really hard, and even then they don't stick. I've always seen people who could do math in their heads and remember numbers (like Andy), I've seen their abilities as a memory thing. That their memories work differently than mine, but now I wonder whether it is a visualization thing. Can Andy remember numbers easily because he sees them in his head, where as I hear them in mine? Or does it have to do with the clarity of the mental vision. What things I do recall in my mind are hazy pictures, almost brief snapshots that bring feelings. Perhaps it is that lack of focus that makes my memory different. I don't know, and I'm not sure that we'll ever know.

But it's worth a few minutes entertainment and rambling.

Posted by Michelle at 09:30 AM |

September 24, 2003

Amazon Is Out to Get Me

Saw this when I logged into Amazon to check on an order.


Posted by Michelle at 09:43 AM |

God Has A Sense of Humor

I saw this yesterday and it really amused be, but I was busy and so forgot to post it. So you can enjoy it now!


Posted by Michelle at 08:33 AM |

September 23, 2003

Read a Banned Book

It's Banned Book Week.

Go read a banned book. There's something in the list for everyone.
Here are the top 25 of the 100 most frequently challenged books:

  1. Scary Stories (Series) by Alvin Schwartz
  2. Daddy’s Roommate by Michael Willhoite
  3. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
  4. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
  5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  6. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  7. Harry Potter (Series) by J.K. Rowling
  8. Forever by Judy Blume
  9. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
  10. Alice (Series) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
  11. Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman
  12. My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
  13. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  14. The Giver by Lois Lowry
  15. It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris
  16. Goosebumps (Series) by R.L. Stine
  17. A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck
  18. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  19. Sex by Madonna
  20. Earth’s Children (Series) by Jean M. Auel
  21. The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
  22. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
  23. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous
  24. Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
  25. In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak

Posted by Michelle at 10:55 AM |

Where There's Smoke, Employees May Leave

This is why I got to go home early yesterday.

(image from D.A.)

See: Daily Athenaeum article or the Diminishing Pest article.

And it still stinks where I work this morning.

"By the time firefighters arrived, almost everyone had left the building" This is a lie by the way. HSC North had been evacuated for almost half an hour before we were allowed to leave. Since the fire alarms never came on where we are, we were not allowed to leave. Then we had to stand in the rain for awhile before word came down we were allowed to go home.

Posted by Michelle at 08:44 AM |

September 22, 2003

Could I Have Been Anyone Other Than Me?

Jason from Nego, Please has made another very interesting post on race, and this time asks the question "if race doesn't matter, would you choose to be a different one?"

It is an interesting question, but answerable, I think, only if you could answer yes to the question of whether you would choose to be someone else.

I think we had been discussing personal problems and how brain chemistry fits into it, and Dee asked whether if I could switch brains with her, if I would, and then she went on to list some of her traits and issues. It really made me think, and to be honest, I don't think I ever answered her, because I didn't have a good answer at the time.

But now that some time has passed, I think the answer it no, I wouldn't want to trade brains with anyone else, or be someone else. There are changes that I would love to make to myself if given the chance, but I don't think I would want to be someone else. I'm comfortable with being myself. I know my own little quirks, and how my brain works, and despite some issues, and pretty comfortable being me, so I don't think I would want to change places with someone else, for then I would have to get used to a whole new set of quirks and issues and problems...

No one's life is perfect, it's just that from the outside you can't always tell the insecurities and issues that may been seething and boiling away.

The whole question reminds me of the tale (I believe it is of Chinese origin) of the stonecutter.

Once there was a stonecutter, hard at work, who saw the coach of a rich man pass by, and the stonecutter wished he could be that rich man, riding around in a carriage instead of toiling at the mountain, when suddenly, it is so.

At first he enjoys the luxuries of being rich, but as he is traveling in his coach, he is forced to stop and wait for the governor of the province to pass, and so he wishes that he were the governor, and thus it is so.

Again all goes well and he is enjoying being governor, until he goes to court and it made to bow down to the emperor. He then wishes he was the emperor, and thus it is so.

As emperor he is quite delighted in his power and riches, and the fact that he must bow down to no man. But soon he is walking in his garden, and becomes terribly hot from the sun beating down upon his head, so he wishes he was the sun, and thus it is so.

As the sun, his rays beat down upon the earth, plants whither and people rush to avoid his gaze. As he is reveling in this power, when he notices that a cloud has blocked where he was directing his beams and try as he might, he can do nothing to affect the cloud, so he wishes he were a cloud, and thus it is so.

As a cloud, where he once sent out burning rays, he now pours down rain, driving people off the roads and into their homes. Animals and humans alike scurry to take cover when he approaches. But he notices that the mountains are unaffected by his actions, and so he wishes he were a mountain, and thus it is so.

As a mountain he stands proud, changed by neither the sun nor the rain, ignoring the animals that scurry about him, until he feels a 'chink chink' and looks down and sees a stonecutter, hewing blocks from his side, and thus he is a stonecutter again.

Posted by Michelle at 02:52 PM |

September 20, 2003

Featuring: Barney Foot!

I have some new car pictures!

Barney Foot is now in the car!

Posted by Michelle at 03:21 PM |

September 19, 2003

Screaming Liberal Fantaic

When I posted another response for my on-line history course, I realize that my classmates have probably labeled me either "godless athiest scum" or "screaming liberal fanatic".

Which makes a recent piece of mail I received all the more amusing.
Return address:
Republican National Committee
310 First Street, SE
Washington, D.C. 20003

Directly above my address:
Republican Census Document Enclosed


Posted by Michelle at 04:27 PM |



From Making Light:
5. Only to talk like a pirate. Not to make walk the plank. Not to sack the Accounting Department. For that is the law.

Who wants to sack the accounting department? That's where my brother works!

ADDENDUM the Second
You absolutely must go and read the comments at Making Light for the above post.
I mean it.

Posted by Michelle at 10:12 AM |

September 18, 2003

New Car!

New Car! New Car! New Car!

We got a new car!

(dancing around)

A 2004 Corolla. All the doors open! No rust spots! Fully functional power steering!

New Car! New Car! New Car!

And with a month and a half before the inspection inspired on the Camry to boot!

(dances off)

Posted by Michelle at 09:55 PM |

Hurricane Isabel

It seems as if everyone on the east coast is in a panic over Hurricane Isabel, even WVU posted a message to students on how to properly prepare for the storm. (Flashlight? Check! Radio with Batteries? Check! Water? Check!)

I mean really, normally when we have natural disasters, the National Guard helps out.

Oh yeah, that's right, they're all overseas in Iraq.

Well, why don't we just put all the police and fire persons on alert?

Oh yeah, that's right, they're already short staffed because most of them were called up for National Guard duty, and the widespread state budget cuts have caused serious difficulty with restaffing.

Thank you, Donald Rumsfeld.

When I talked my grandmother, she said that when she was washing dishes she saw something fly off the roof, but she decided she wasn't going to go check and see what it was.

It turned out to be the wire that was on top her chimney to keep out the squirrels.

Overall she was very lucky, no water in her basement, no damage to her house, and the power went out briefly overnight while she was asleep, so she didn't even notice.

Posted by Michelle at 08:46 AM |

Mountainstage Live

I heard on the radio this morning that Mountainstage is again hosting the New Song Festival and the line-up is FANTASTIC: Nickel Creek, Kathy Mattea, Tim O'Brien, and the Del McCoury Band...

We saw Nickel Creek last year when they came to WVU, and I've heard Kathy Mattea numerous times listening to Mountainstage, same for Tim O'Brien (though usually with his sister Molly) and the Del McCoury Band.

Oh MAN, and it looks like Todd Burge will be there too! (sigh) We never get to have ANY fun...

Posted by Michelle at 08:00 AM |

September 17, 2003

Salam Pax on Fresh Air?

I could SWEAR that Terri Gross just said that Salam Pax was going to be interviewd on Fresh Air tomorrow (Thursday) but there isn't anything on the Fresh Air website.

From the Fresh Air website: The mysterious Baghdad blogger, Salam Pax. The name is a pseudonym, which combines the Arabic and Latin words for peace. Pax's weblog of life in Baghdad before and during the war developed an international following. It's just been published in book form.

Posted by Michelle at 08:06 PM |

September 16, 2003

Pop the Hood

We went car shopping today after work. We ended up driving all the way to Little Washington and the Toyota dealership there (about 40 miles away) to see what they had, since Michael liked Dave, the guy there he had talked to several times on the phone.

Of course Dave wasn't there. But someone else was willing to help us.

Of course they have zero (0) manual transmission Corollas. And zero (0) CE Corollas for us to look at, but I wanted to test drive one anyway, just to get the feel for the car. So the salesman got the key for an LE (more expensive model), and off we go. The salesman drove the car off the lot, and then I drove a brief tour around the area. Michael rode in the front seat and looked at things like cup holders and gloveboxes and such (and was quite excited about the all the space to put stuff! I was just glad they moved the radio up from where it is on my car, which seems to be a few inches above the floor. Very convenient for trying to switch radio stations while driving. Safe too.)

We get back to the lot, and I take a brief look at the cupholders and such, and then as we're getting out, the salesman says, "Michelle, why don't you pop the hood so Michael can get a look at the engine."

Oh really?

I was bemused at the time, but when Michael mentioned it on the ride home, I decided that it WAS rather rude, especially since I was the one who asked most of the questions about the engine and about the car in general. (I was also pleased that the dipstick for the oil is much better placed in the Corolla than it is on my Camry.)

"Michelle, why don't you pop the hood so Michael can get a look at the engine?"

As if he instinctively knows more than I do about car engines, just by having a 'Y' chromosome.


Posted by Michelle at 09:14 PM |

Calvinism to Lawsuits

One of the subjects covered in my history class recently has been Calvinism, and more specifically the Calvinistic idea of predestination. First things first, I am completely and utterly opposed to the idea of predestination. I, like the Enlightenment thinkers (we recently read about them as well), believe in a distant and impersonal God, for the personal God of Calvinism, who dictated the every move of every human, seems not only ridiculous, but vaguely evil and nasty. Why would God create people only to send them to eternal damnation, seemingly on a whim, since no actions or beliefs taken by any individual can change their predetermined fate?

I can not comprehend the mind that would come up with such a cruel concept, nor, to be honest, would I want to.

But in the midst of considering Calvinism, I was listening to a bit on tort reform, and for some reason at that mind the two seemed related in a strange way, and brought on the following train of thought.

America is supposed to be founded upon the idea of self-reliance and responsibility, which doesn’t seem to fit well with the concept of predestination. After all, why work hard if your place in the world has already been determined? But lately it seems as if the idea of personal responsibility has been shunted aside as we look to blame others for our faults and problems. For every problem, there is a lawsuit. Someone you can blame for your predicament. And if you are the one at fault, well you shouldn’t be held responsible, because society/your parents/fast food made you the way you are.

Oh how far the mighty have fallen.

We expect perfection out of others, while refusing to accept responsibility for our own actions. We sue the doctor when our recovery isn’t perfect, but it is the fault of McDonald’s that we needed that triple by-pass surgery, because they made the junk food we ate.

It’s disturbing, this culture of blame that we seem to have created around us, and it’s also illogical. Either individuals are responsible for their own actions, or we are in no way responsible for anything that happens to anything else, we can’t have it both ways.

As to how I got there from Calvinism, your guess is as good as mine.

Posted by Michelle at 11:28 AM |

September 15, 2003

I Got Mail!

My latest book order came! I'm so excited!

Volume III of Neil Gaiman's Sandman and The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling.

Though I have to say I'm disappointed, I bought this years collection because Erin got an honorable mention for her poem "Brother and Sister" but they spelled her name wrong! Boo! Hiss!
(While I'm thinking of it--ERIN! You were supposed to send me some of your writing to read? Now that I don't see you all the time I have no opportunity! Please?)

Of course I still can't wait to start reading.

Must remember:
Finish book review for history!
Read chapters for history!
Read articles for gerontology!
Start book for history!
(Read Year's Best!)
(Read Sandman!)

Posted by Michelle at 09:12 PM |

Widows and Mental Health

An interesting, but unsurprising study has confirmed that "(w)omen widowed less than a year reported more mental and physical problems than women who were married and women who had been widowed for longer than a year"

This research simply seems to be confirmin the fact that elderly spouses are likely to die within a year of each other, but it is good that someone is looking into a subject that will become only more important as baby boomers age and widows and widowers become more common (assuming that divorce doesn't get them first, which would then be related to another study that found that being divorced is harder than being widowed.

And although I can't find a source to site for the bit about divorces versus widowhood, I did come across this:
"(I)t is possible to predict which newlywed couples will divorce from the way partners interact in just the first three minutes of a discussion about an area of continuing disagreement."

Posted by Michelle at 03:58 PM |

September 14, 2003

The Best American Non-Required Reading 2002

The Best American Non-Required Reading 2002 Dave Eggers (ed)

Despite the fact that I’m not under 25, I read this anyway, and seem to be none the worse for the experience.


Posted by Michelle at 09:07 PM |

September 13, 2003

Going Away

Pictures from Mike's going away party.

I particularly like the picture of Mike and Kim.

Oh, and there is this:


Posted by Michelle at 08:09 AM |

September 12, 2003

Congratulations Erin!


She found out today that she has (unofficially) passed the Bar Exam!

Erin has had an exciting week: she passed her ethics exam, quit her job, and passed the bar.

Hoorah! Hoorah!

I think I'll even do the chair happy dance for her while here at work!

Posted by Michelle at 01:18 PM |


I think it is safe to say that Slate has successfully made the switch from outside cat to inside cat.

Posted by Michelle at 01:00 PM |

September 11, 2003

What Happened to Studying?

I updated my books section with the last three books I've read:

The Sandman: The Dream Hunters by Neil Gaiman & Yoshitaka
Ethics for the New Millennium by The Dalai Lama
Year's Best Fantasy 3 by David G. Hartwell (ed)

Posted by Michelle at 07:22 PM |

The Sandman: The Dream Hunters

The Sandman: The Dream Hunters by Neil Gaiman & Yoshitaka Amano

The Dream Hunters was quite different from Sandman Vols I & II which I read previously. It is written more like an illustrated book--reminding me more of my collection of Charles Perrault's fairy tales than a comic book, which was much easier for me to read, since the text was all in one place.

Posted by Michelle at 06:45 PM |

Ethics for the New Millennium

Ethics for the New Millennium by The Dalai Lama

(I)t is far more useful to be aware of a single shortcoming in ourselves than it is to be aware of a thousand in somebody else. For when the fault is our own, we are in a position to correct it.

Posted by Michelle at 06:30 PM |

Year's Best Fantasy 3

Year's Best Fantasy 3 by David G. Hartwell (ed)

I picked up the book because it contained stories by Neil Gaiman and Charles de Lint, even though I had arready read Charles de Lint's Somewhere in my Mind There Is a Painting Box it was well worth reading again, and Neil Gaiman's story, October in the Chair reminded me briefly of a folktale about the twelve seasons

Posted by Michelle at 06:15 PM |

Rules for Flying the American Flag

Flying the American Flag (Please follow the hyperlink for a complete detailing of the rules and regulations):

  • It is the universal custom to display the flag only from sunrise to sunset on buildings and on stationary flagstaffs in the open. However, when a patriotic effect is desired, the flag may be displayed twenty-four hours a day if properly illuminated during the hours of darkness.
  • The flag should not be displayed on days when the weather is inclement, except when an all-weather flag is displayed.
  • When the flag is displayed in a manner other than by being flown from a staff, it should be displayed flat, whether indoors or out. When displayed either horizontally or vertically against a wall, the union should be uppermost and to the flag's own right, that is, to the observer's left. When displayed in a window it should be displayed in the same way, that is with the union or blue field to the left of the observer in the street. When festoons, rosettes or drapings are desired, bunting of blue, white and red should be used, but never the flag.
  • When the flag is displayed on a car, the staff shall be fixed firmly to the chassis or clamped to the right fender.
  • When hung in a window, place the blue union in the upper left, as viewed from the street.
  • Section 8k of the Flag Code states, "The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning."
  • Is it okay to have a flag t-shirt with words written on it?
    No, the flag should never be worn and no, the flag should never have marks or words written upon it. Section 8d (see below): "The flag should never be used as wearing apparel." Section 8g: "The flag should never have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any nature."
  • Is it okay for an advertisement to use the flag?
    No. Section 8i (see below) reads, "The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever."
Read the rules and regulations.

Posted by Michelle at 08:55 AM |

September 10, 2003

Comfort Food

Comfort-food cravings may be body’s attempt to put brake on chronic stress

So that's why I'm craving greasy food and mayonaise and brownies! I'm stressed!

What a surprise!

Okay, the article is actually more interesting than my snide comments would make you think.

Posted by Michelle at 04:59 PM |

Brought On

I haven't mentioned it for awhile, but that doesn't mean I'm not paying attention:

As of Monday, Sept. 8, 287 U.S. soldiers have died since the beginning of military operations in Iraq, according to the Department of Defense.
A listing of soldiers who have been killed in Iraq.
(In the right panel under related article List of U.S. Soldiers Killed in Iraq, you can click to find a reverse chronological listing.)

Posted by Michelle at 04:14 PM |

Exercise Is Good, Even In Moderation

Moderate physical activity promotes weight loss as well as intense exercise

I heard about this study this morning, and it's quite interesting. It seems to be saying that much like exercise for health, what matters is that you are active, not how hard you exercise. Which is a good thing, because in my humble opinion, moderate exercise is more pleasant than vigorous exercise. I like walking for 30 minutes and talking with Kim. Having to jog or run for 30 minutes would be much less fun, and thus I would be much less likely to continue. And I would assume that many people would feel the same way.

Of course the primary goal of exercise should be to increase health and not just to lose weight, otherwise once the weight has been lost, the exercise regime may no longer be continued.

What strikes me as odd, is the number of opportunities for exercise that people avoid, such as taking the elevator up or down one floor. It's actually shocking to me that people will stand and wait for an elevator rather than walk up or down a flight of stairs.


But there are a lot of things I see that I can't explain, so it'd be best if I dropped the subject now, before this turns into a rant.

Posted by Michelle at 03:34 PM |

Americans and Global Warming

Americans among most misinformed about global warming

A 2001 poll, for example, found that only 15 percent of the U.S. citizens surveyed correctly identified burning fossil fuels as the primary cause of global warming. "Even the Cubans, at 17 percent, were slightly more informed,"
Considering that many members of the party currently running the government refuse to accept the facts of global warming, this is not a surprise. A sad fact perhaps, but not a surprise.

Posted by Michelle at 03:05 PM |

September 09, 2003


So I decided to take time from today's busy schedule of napping to upload some of the pictures I took of Slate.

There are, for obvious reason, no pictures of her with either Kat or Kit, but I think that Kit is slowly warming up to her. I'm hoping that our daily allotment of hissing will be substantially reduced in coming weeks.

Although she used to have Tabby markings, you can't really tell to look at her, except, perhaps for her tail. Either cats turn gray with age, or she decided to live up to her name.

Posted by Michelle at 07:12 PM |

September 08, 2003


I'm coming down with a cold.

I was really hoping that Michael was just having problems with his allergies, but no, it was apparently a cold and he shared it with me.

And I have class tonight, so I can't even go home and take a hot shower and go to bed. Bah humbug!

Of course this settles it. I'm not swimming tomorrow, just walking. They're doing some sort of Master Swim Class (?) at the Rec Center and the place was full up this morning, so I was considering not swimming anyway. So it appears that walking it will be. (Trying to swim while not being able to breathe sounds highly unpleasant.)

Posted by Michelle at 04:22 PM |

Benedum Lectures

The schedule for the 2003 Benedum Lectures is out. This year's theme is genomics. And since the Lectures are on Thursdays, there should be no conflict with my classes! Hoorah!

Thursday, October 2– Jean B. Elshtain
Political Philosopher and the Laura Spelman Rockefeller
Professor of Social and Political Ethics at University of Chicago
“WILL THE FUTURE BE POST-HUMAN? The Possibilities and Peril of Genetic Manipulation"

Thursday, October 9 – Allison A. Snow
Professor of Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology at Ohio State University
“An Ecologist’s View of Genetically Engineered Crops”

Thursday, October 16 – Terry W. Melton
President and CEO of Mitotyping Technologies, LLC,
State College, PA
“MITOCHONDRIAL DNA: How the Smallest Human Genome Helps Exonerate and Convict”

No other lectures have been posted for the fall yet, but I'm hoping there will be some other interesting lectures. Last fall there were several good speakers besides the Benedum Lectures, including Jared Diamond who was a good speaker and did a good job communicating his topic, but had the absolute worst comb-over I have ever seen. (It was so bad I found it distracting.) So I'm hoping there will be other good speakers this year...although as I consider the state of the budget, I'm not sure.

Posted by Michelle at 01:48 PM |


This is for every person who has sent me the list of amazing but true facts!

The old saying that a duck's quack produces no echo is... well, just plain quackers. Daisy performs: The anechoic chamber has no sound reflections Acoustics expert Professor Trevor Cox has deployed the most powerful techniques his science can muster to prove the bird's calls will bounce off hard surfaces in just the same way as all sounds.
And if I ever sent that to you, I apologize.
Posted by Michelle at 12:47 PM |

September 07, 2003

Cat Carriers of Doom

You who were reading along knew precisely what was going to happen. There's something about distance and not being personally involved that allows you to more realistically judge events, to know what is going to happen better than those about whom the events are occurring.

Yes, we now have three cats.

Slate loves being an inside cat, Kit spent 28 hours hidden in my parents garage, and only came out when we came over and called her, Kat is still mad as hell, but is just going to have to live with it.

The interesting thing to come from all this is I've yet again changed my theory on cats and car sickness. My original thoughts were that the reason Kat and Kit didn't get car sick, is because we took them on car trips from an early age, and those trips were not solely to the vet. Kat and Kit have been to my grandmother's house, to Michael's mom's house, to Michael's grandmother's house, to my aunt and uncle's house, many times to my parents house, and to Susan's home many times. And they've never had any problems, except for the one time Kat had to share the back seat with Michael's mother and got sick out both ends. But we're sure it had to do with the fact that he didn't want to share the back seat and was taking revenge.

So our cats travel well. As we talked about bringing Slate here, however, my dad warned us that Slate always gets car sick, and out both ends. (Of course the only place she has ever gone is to the vet, so it's not like she had good associations with the car.) So to bring her home, we put sheets down in the trunk and back seat (Mom said she lives to jump in the trunk of her car, so we thought it might be reassuring if she could go into the trunk.

So expecting the worst, we harnessed Slate up (our cats wear dog harnesses out of the house, with leashes) put Slate in the car, turned on the engine, and left.

Not only did she not get sick, she seemed to enjoy the ride, looking out the windows and climbing onto Michael's lap for some attention and to look out his window. Not bad for a old cat who has spent the past seventeen years getting sick out both ends every time she takes a car trip.

My new theory is that it is not cars per se, but car carriers that make cats sick. And it makes sense, since the floors are hard plastic upon which cat paws can gain no purchase, so they slide around while being trapped in the small plastic box.

So my recommendation is no cat carriers. Dog harnesses and leashes for restraint (No one has ever jumped out at a stop, but we'd rather not take that chance). And a litter box in the trunk for long trips.

Posted by Michelle at 08:48 AM |

September 05, 2003

Religious Tax Reform

There is a long but excellent post over at Making Light that you really should read. The gist of it is that some conservative Christians have discovered that the bible actually tells people to care for the poor, and from that they have come to the realization that the tax code is unjust.

What stuns me about this is not that it happened, but that it happenes so infrequently. As I have complained before, one of the things that bothers me so much about Bush is that he claims to be a Christian, while completely missing every main point of the bible--compassion, caring for the poor, helping those who can not help themselves.

I just makes me glad that someone labeled a conservative Christian finally got the point.

Posted by Michelle at 01:00 PM |

Cat Exchange

So today is the day of the Cat Exchange. Kit, affectionately called The Evil One and also know as Destroyer of Plants, Stuffed Animals and Ponytail Holders goes to my parents house and we come home with Slate, my parents 17 year old cat who is getting old and a bit tired of being an outside cat.

As cute as Kit is, she apparently needs more space and entertainment than we can give her, and she is a little unbalanced, so she goes off to the space and entertaiment of my parents house, and we get Slate. The only forseen difficulty is that Slate and Kat might not learn to get along with each other, but I am really hoping that will not turn out to be the case, after all, he did eventually learn to get along with Kit.

So keep your fingers crossed for us, that we don't have absolute mayhem breaking out at our house.

In other news, if someone had wanted to design a two week period that allowed us to complete as little studying as possible (barring tragedy) they couldn't have done better than the past fortnight. We've gotten a new washer (time off from work for delivery), we've installed a new vent in the basement, we're looking for a new car (which has a bunch of things to deal with in and of itself, including contacting the Mountaineer Good News Garage to find out if they'll take our car, and every Toyota dealership in the area to look for a five speed Corolla, and talking to USAA about seventeen thousand times about the loan and our insurance), we've ordered a new hot water heater (which involved TWO trips to Lowe's), we had to figure out why our property tax dropped and whether the decrease was real or an accident (It was real. It's also a long and complicated story), there was a football game tailgate (Six hours of frantic activity with only four of us to run the entire tailgate and five hours of sales) and a trip to Stonewall Jackson (craft fair and historical reenactment) followed by my father asking "Do you have a second to look at something with my computer?" (We installed a zip drive, a scanner, and completely rearranging his setup, including pulling everything out and tearing everything apart. We didn't get home until almost 10pm).

All I have to say is, the rest of the semester had better be smooth sailing.

Posted by Michelle at 12:30 PM |

September 04, 2003

Yuck Plus More

8:51 a.m. The tooth fairy's pouch must have a rip in it, as numerous human teeth were found in a Valley East parking lot.

By way of apology for the above:

Thursday, August 7 12:41 a.m. An historic Plaza lodging establishment wasn't a big fan of Brendan the Midnight Bagpiper on the Plaza.

Actually, the Arcata Eye police log is in rare form. Go read all the recent listings!

Posted by Michelle at 04:15 PM |

Geeky Language Goodness

Xopher said: Apostrophes were introduced to indicate where letters have been left out. Old possessives all had the extra vowel (so the poss. of 'Beowulf' was 'Beowulves', pronounced bay o wool ves). That vowel was dropped for most nouns, and the apostrophe instroduced to indicate its absense ('Beowulf's').
From the By my ear and hand comment section of Making Light.

That absolutely fascinated me, which meant that I then had to fascinate everyone here at work, and they all at least feigned interest. But then whole stinkin' lot of us are readers, so they probably were interested. I have to say that I love working with other people who are readers, even if we read different sorts of books. There is just something about talking to someone who understands why you are so excited about a book. Makes the other stuff tolerable.

Of course the rest of the thread is also interesting and well worth reading as well. But then most of the posts on Making Light fascinate me, so you'll have that.

Posted by Michelle at 11:03 AM |

September 03, 2003

Futile End of Life Treatments

Since my article review for my Gerontology class is on clinical management of the terminally ill, I found this article of interest: ethics consultations reduce futile end-of-life treatments

What I find interesting is not their results, as much as the fact that futile end of life care is now recognized as a problem.

I suppose much of it has to do with the focus of the medical profession of saving lives--treatment of the terminally ill doesn't really fit well into that spectrum of saving lives. After all, when someone is dying, there isn't much a doctor can do for them anymore right?

Wrong. And it's good to see that this is becoming more recognized as a problem. There is plenty that can be done for dying patients, and it is good to see that the US is beginning to recognize that.

My fear is that managed care however will worsen the problem, with doctors having so little time for their patients. Time to discuss outcomes and options and hospice and everything.

But perhaps I'm wrong, and things are really getting better across, the board. Perhaps treatment of the terminally ill is becoming less of problem in this country now that people are becoming more knowledgeable of hospice care, and that the Hospice benefit of Medicaid has improved.

We can always hope.

Posted by Michelle at 04:53 PM |

September 02, 2003

Locks of Love

There is a very nice article on the Times today on Locks of Love, a company that provides wigs for children who have permamently lost their hair.

Both Michael and I have donated our hair to Locks of Love--I donated about 15 inches and he donated about 12 inches. I've been asked if I'm going to grow my hair out again to donate, but there is so much gray in it now, that they wouldn't be able to use it, so I don't think I'll deal with the hassle of long hair again.

Michael, on the other hand, is letting his grow back out, and so may donate again--assuming that he doesn't have too much gray!

So if you or anyone you know has long hair and is considering cutting it, please consider a donation to Locks of Love.

Posted by Michelle at 03:55 PM |

Sandman I & II

Sandman I & II by Neil Gaiman
Preludes and Nocturnes & The Doll’s House

As I consider the first two compilations, I decided that comics/graphic novels are wasted on me. I barely look at the pictures, but instead read through the text at my usual breakneck speed. I did try to look at the pictures, but I tended to get caught up in the story and then once again zoomed along reading the text and ignoring the pictures.


Posted by Michelle at 03:50 PM |


S. of Hillybilly Sophisticate and I had been discussing (in e-mail) the fashion trends (or lack thereof) going around, so it was with particular interest that I read this article on the NY Times on fashion for teens and pre-teens:

Not long ago, the television commentator Bill Maher made the point that the way things are going in fashion, there will soon be nothing left for prostitutes to wear.
Teenagers "dress like trollops now," said Kim France, the editor of Lucky magazine.
And they get bonus points from Gina for using the word "trollop"--although she was a bit peeved that a major newspaper had used her favorite word without attribution--nobody can use the word "trollop" in casual conversation like Gina.

Posted by Michelle at 12:23 PM |

Blogs Versus BBSes

I finally re-found Letter from Gotham which disappeared from its old spot several months ago, and then just as mysteriously reappeared. I enjoyed her writing style before, although I don't necessarily agree with all her politics. But then I can't think of anyone whose politics I agree totally with, so there is that.

What drew my interest today she has a post on the blogosphere which, to be honest, struck me as strange, primarily because I don't think of blogs in the way she describes. I read blogs because I like the way the writer writes, and because their politics don't send me on a ranting spree every time I read them.

I write in my blog because I like to write, and if people read this, fine, but if they don't, I'll write anyway. After all, I initially started this as a way to keep a journal (which I'd never been able to do consistently) and as a repository for hyperlinks.

But the world that Diana describes seems to be more akin to getting your 15 minutes of fame kind of thing. You write what other people want to hear so that they'll link to your blog and send other people who agree with you to read your stuff.

What's the fun in that?

Personally, I think that blogs should be more like the old BBSes (oh how I still miss Speakeasy) where it's a discussion, not a monologue. You post an idea and someone makes a comment about it and you discuss it, Making Light and Electrolite are, to me, as close as you can get to what we had going.

Yeah, if you're vocal about your politics, you are not going to get a lot of readers who disagree with you. But if you're preaching to the choir--what fun is there in that? Where is the room for discussion and debate? How can you learn anything if you only talk about ideas where you agree? Lenny and Dee and Ivy and all the others from Speakeasy sometimes did manage to change my mind about things, because they presented me with their story, their history, and their way of looking at things. They allowed me to understand where they were coming from, to understand why they thought they way they did. And even if we never came to agreement, we still respected each others ideas and ways of thinking.

Some days I really, really miss that.

Posted by Michelle at 11:06 AM |

September 01, 2003

People Suck

We woke up Sunday morning, to discover that some... jerks... had stolen the evergreen we had growing in a pot at the bottom of our driveway.


Nevermind that when we got the tree it was only a foot high, and I'd spent the past five years fertilizing and watering it, and getting out outside in the winter, yet protecting the roots from freezing.

Some drunk stupid college students saw it and thought it'd be cool to have a Christmas tree in their living room. It'll be dead in a month.

People suck.

Posted by Michelle at 08:02 AM |

Happy Labor Day!

Happy Labor Day!

For those of us who have the day off, whether you like it or not, it is thanks to Labor Unions that we have this holiday, and if you have forgotten how things were before, perhaps I can remind you:
Triangle Factory Fire
Coal Wars
Child Labor

Yes things have gotten better, but if you think they are perfect, consider those working as you take advantage of "Labor Day Sales" by going to the mall, and perhaps stop for some fast food. Look at the people working.

If where you are is anything like where I am, you'll notice that among the high school students and college students, there are middle aged (and older) men and women who are scraping by as best they can with no skills and no education, and kids at home.

Then you can read Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation.

Posted by Michelle at 07:45 AM |