31 October 2002
Happy Halloween!

And because it came up, here is more than you wanted to know about absinthe, and here is some more about absinthe with a much better FAQ. Since absinthe tastes like Anise, we decided it would not be the drug of choice for anyone here (at work).

Thermal Destructive Capability

And for more for the surreal files: A Frenchwoman accused of undressing during an airport security screening could face up to three years in prison if convicted under a law passed after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.


30 October 2002

Busy, busy and more busy. I am back in panic mode for my project--I have swung to the "I have not done nearly enough work" side, though in a couple days I'll probably swing back to "I am doing too much for this stupid project! I need a break!" mode. I created a small website for part of my presentation. Feel free to peruse it and share your opinion. After all, if the goal of my project is education about hospice, it certainly can not HURT to advertise hospice...to Erin.

This is an interesting little website, you can calculate your life expectancy. The problem I had with it, was that I can not answer the question "Did more than one of the following relatives in your family live to at least age 90 years in excellent health: parents, aunts/uncles, or grandparents?" Because they are not yet that old! (Okay, my grandmother is getting there, but she's still only in her mid 80s.) How are you supposed to answer that?! I said yes anyway.
My life expectancy is 94.8 years. Assuming I don't get throttled for being so annoying long before that.

And under the category of things that are wrong: this website that Michael found.

If you have not already seen it, check out this open letter to Dr. Laura. This website actually contains the English text quoted.

Oh, Dr. I. wrote a letter to the Dominion Post, which I quite liked, regarding war with Iraq. Steve had a letter to the editor published the following Saturday. Apparently every felt the need to write letters to the Diminishing Pest in October, even though few people with any sense actually admit to reading the paper.


28 October 2002

"Men are like fine wine. They all start out like grapes, and it's our job to stomp on them and keep them in the dark until they mature into something you'd like to have dinner with."

"Women are like fine wine. They all start out fresh, fruity and intoxicating to the mind and then turn full-bodied with age until they go all sour and vinegary and give you a head-ache."


24 October 2002

Two days in a row! Not that I have much left to say.

Was trying to figure out the axiom about hemlines and the stock market, and found that although theory has not proved to be true in recent years, other bizarre theories about bear and bull markets have correlated.

I read a very interesting article today about prescription drugs for seniors, and that big drug companies offer discounts to senior citizens who do not have insurance, but do not qualify for Medicaid. I sent this information onto my aunt, so she could see if my Grandmother and her doctor know about it.

I'm leaving work early yet again, this time to go speak to someone at Morgantown Hospice, regarding the project for my Social and Behavoiral Theory class.

Oh, Nickel Creek is coming! 15 November 2002 at the Mountainlair Ballrooms at 10:00 pm!


23 October 2002

As Erin reminded me yesterday, I have not written anything for awhile. Not that I had forgotten, I have just been really busy.
Of course as far as I know, Erin is the only person reading this, so in theory I should fill this with amusing comments directed at her (intestinal microflora).

So what on earth have I been doing? Well, last Wednesday I went to the last Benedum lecture, and apparently every Intro to Communications student in the university realized that this was the LAST talk, so if they were going to go to a required lecture, this would have to be it. The place was packed, and we ended up standing, until almost the end, when many of the communications students decided that they had enough material for their five page paper and could now leave. When he finished the talk and came to questions and answers, it took about 10 minutes for all the students to mill out, finally leaving those of us who were there because we actually wanted to hear the lecture to enjoy the question and answers. But other than that it was a very interesting talk, although as usual I did not get to ask a question.

Last night we saw Jared Diamond, the author of Guns, Germs and Steel, who is a great writer, and a great speaker, but my God does he have a terrible comb-over. It was actually distracting. And I was about halfway back (far enough back that Michael said he didn't notice the comb-over, because the speaker was just a big blob). But despite that, I really enjoyed the talk, and think he makes many excellent points and managed to give a talk that would be interesting both to those that had already read his book as well as those who had not, although I have to say that his argument to "convince" hard-boiled racists that Europeans are not superior was not really that convincing as a stand-alone argument. But he did have a lot of time to cover in a very short period of time. I had forgotten about the fact that only a handful of seeds and animals are suitable for domestication, and that most of those were located in Eurasia, which is of course one of the primary reasons, along with the East-West orientation of Eurasia, that Europeans and Asians dominated the world. Very good talk.

Of course one of the best parts was that Bob came, which means that I have seen Bob three times since mid August, which is quite a lot anymore. Of course the conversation we had when I first saw him was typical:
Me (this is actually all one long sentence, with exclamation points for emphasis): "Bob(!) You're here(!) Fantastic(!) I meant to tell you about this, but I forgot and I'm sorry, How did you find out he was speaking Did you read it in the DA?"
Bob: Actually, you did send me an e-mail.
About two weeks ago.

Ah well. So much for memory.

Today was a rough day, not necessarily any one part of it was specifically bad, but the whole thing just added up. I had to teach MS Access this morning, which I hate--which reminds me, I read yesterday in New Scientist, that until a couple weeks ago if you typed "go to hell" into Google, it took you to the Microsoft web page. Unfortunately it no longer does so, which is really too bad.

But that has nothing to do with my day.

So I taught Access, which I hate, and then I had to go to the dentist and get two fillings replaced, which was not too bad in and of itself, and even though I was there for almost three hours (I always go early to any type of medical appointment), it ended up being only $160 instead of $200, which is a good thing, since I don't have dental insurance.

Then I had to take a test for my web class, Social and Behavorial Theory, which is, of course, also not a bad thing in and of itself, but it is stressful, and I was worried about the test, although I have to admit I ended up getting an 88, no thanks to the person who wrote an analogy question (part of our "homework" is to create test questions for each "module" and some total jerk made one that was an analogy). What kind of person does that to their fellow students-- writes an analogy question? Apparently it is the kind of person I don't like.

But the day ended well enough with the belly dancing class, which I really love, because it is so relaxing. And fun as well, but the best part for me right now is that it is relaxing. So I ended my rough day with an hour of bliss, and that was nice.

And then after I came home I finally made my yearly pledge to West Virginia Public Radio and made my usually plea for MORE JAZZ (he said he would even put down three exclamation points). And I got to say that I really like Wait Wait Don't Tell Me!, and don't like the new show that comes after it.

Of course I don't think Erin listens to Public Radio, so I guess that last bit was really unnecessary... (grin)

Right. Off to bed with me!

Oh yeah, the other big happenings were that Hammer and his roommate Sal, came to visit, which was fun even if I barely saw them, and we finally replaced the motherboard on my computer, so now things are actually working. Which is a good thing, although another added and unwanted expense.

Now I'm going to bed.

As soon as I spell check this.

And finish dwadling. (And how unusual, the word dwadle is not in the Arachnophillia spell checker)


16 October 2002

This would be a much happier occasion were this paycheck (and the next several) not already spent. Not that I didn't need a new motherboard for my computer, but I didn't really want to buy one right NOW. Ah well, perhaps everything will soon work on my computer. (knock on wood)

Today I discovered that Jared Diamond will be speaking on "Guns, Germs & Steel" at the Mountainlar Ballrooms at 8 PMon the 22 October. I just happened to have gone to the WVU Calendar of Events website and noticed the new updated. How exciting!"

I've been studying and working like crazy on my project for my Social and Behavorial Theory class. I've learned lots more about hospice, but there really is not a lot of information out there on community education about hospice, so my project is giving me a headache. But I'm muddling through. I do now know about the West Virginia Center for End-of-Life Care where I have gotten a lots of assistance, and yesterday I spoke to someone at Morgantown Hospice. Everyone was very helpful, and I've gotten tons of information.

But I still feel somewhat overwhelmed.


13 October 2002 (part III)

I really am not trying to avoid studying.

I'd forgotten to mention that I was really pleased with Senator Robert C. Byrd's comments and attempts to fight the Iraq Resolution. And while I'm on the subject, I'd like to say that he really is a fantastic representive for the people of West Virginia. I was looking for infor on the southern Congressional Race, and came across his information on Project Vote Smart. They have roll call vote analysis, and for the past five years, his attendance has been either 99% or 100%. As a point of comparison, John McCain (who I like mind you) had attendance from 64% to 96% for the past three years (the only time available). I also noticed that his party and presidential support votes have not really changed in the past five years, despite the change in administration.

And while I'm on the subject of politics, here is the website for Senator John J. Rockefeller who I also like a lot and believe is doing a tremendous amount for West Virginia.

Also here is the link for the West Virginia Democratic Party web page and the link for the West Virginian Libertarian Party web page. Not that there are many Libertarians to vote for right now, but still... No, I am NOT going to give you the address for the WV Republican party, even though I have it, because the only Republican who's race really matters right now is Capito, and I refuse to give her any support and despite the fact that I do not much care for Humphries, I would greatly prefer him to Capito. So you can come back after Capito loses the 2002 election and I'll give you the web address then. (It's my website and I can be petty if I want to. So there.)

Oh, here is the address for the League of Women Voters West Virginian, which sponsors many of the political debates in the state.


13 October 2002 (part II)

Definitely need a study break. Was up until 1 last night, working on my project, which is way past my bedtime anymore, and although I spent a good portion of the day working on the project, and the rest of the day was spent doing things that needed to be done, and even thought the project is not due until the middle of November, I still feel overwhelmed and like I'm not going to be able to do a decent job in the allotted time remaining.

Another exercise due for Epidemiology, and I have a week and a half until my next quiz in Social and Behavorial (I just want you to know what one of the recommended replacement words for Behavorial, was Beelzebub) Theory. The more I study, the more stupid I feel. I thought going back to school was supposed to make you smarter, but instead I feel like nothing I already know is useful, and that regarding what I am studying, I just don't get it.

I have no idea how Michael is putting up with me.

Of course we did buy pumpkins, so if I can find the time to cook them down, we'll have fresh pumpkin for pies and breads etc. Of course I still have one thing of pumpkin from last year, which I should really thaw and make into pumpkin bread as soon as possible. Sure I'll fit that right into my schedule.

Of course Michael job hunting does not help. Nor does that fact that my computer is in need of at the minimum a new mother board and modem (power surge fried the modem, which we knew, and seems to have damaged the mother board, as now things such as my sound card, and my scanner no longer work). And I have to have a computer for my one class. Yeah, I know I have my laptop for work, and sure Michael has a current job, but we really want him to get a better job, especially with the bills that keep cropping up unexpectedly. (The fact that I do not, in fact, have dental insurance through his work, and so we have to pay for my appointment and fillings, was just rude).

I know, mentally, that we are okay, but viscerally I feel like we are in a big mess, and it's driving me nuts.

I know, not that far a drive. (grin)


13 October 2002

Read something for my project that set me off, and although I already ranted to Erin and Gina, I'm always more than happy to rant again.

"We estimate that it will cost $1.4 million per year to provide universal access to hospice for terminally ill Oregonians who remain uninsured. Ironically, those for and against Oregon's assisted suicide initiative spent a total of $4.6 million in advertising for the intensely debated November 1997 election to retain or eliminate Oregon's assisted suicide law. That is enough money to fund access for every dying Oregonian for 3 years."
Tolle, S.W., Care of the Dying: Clinical and Financial Lessons from the Oregon Experience. Annals of Internal Medicine, 1998. 128(7): p. 567-568.

This, of course, immediately brings to mind the Capito-Humphreys for Congress. "the Capito/Humphreys race is on track this year to be the second most-expensive campaign for a seat in the House of Representatives. Humphreys spent more than $7 million...Capito spent $1.29 million in 2000 "

That is more than $8.29 million, in a state that is currently suffering across the board cuts in spending. And as a contrast, Senator Robert C. Byrd from 1997 to 2002 Spent: $1,321,059. (That is for 5 years, one of those years being an election year--I did the math with a calculator.)

Think about what that money could fund if put to an appropriate use....

It makes me really mad to think about it.


9 October 2002

Tonight, we went to see Amira E. Sonbol, who spoke on Muslim Women in the Twenty-First Century. This talk was what I had wanted last semester's Women in the Modern Middle East to be. She was quite dynamic, moved out from behind the podium almost right from the beginning, and took more questions than the other speakers, although she too was cut off by the people in charge. I don't get it, but that's the way it is I suppose.

Her main point seemed to be that much of what we in the West consider restrictive Islamic law and regulation really did not come into being until colonialism. Some of her examples were that in the 1830s Egypt opened a medical school for women (in Islam women could not be treated by male doctors, so women doctors were needed) but in the 1890s when the British took over, they closed the women's medical school and instead opened a nursing school for women. She has researched records dating back to the 1300s and discovered that women not only brought frequently brought cases to court (every 2nd or 3rd case she said) but that they performed all types of jobs, including manual labor, such as stone cutting. She discovered that the laws that are now one of the biggest problems for Muslim women, laws regarding divorce, were much more equal in practice, in that a woman sometimes could sue her husband for divorce, or leave her husband, but that this changed during British colonialism, where these laws eventually became seen as Islamic law, and were integrated into the sharia, where now they are used to subjugate women, and cause terrible problems for women, because men are seen as having the right to throw their wives and children out on the street with nothing.

Things are, however, changing she said, and she cited new divorce laws in Egypt that allow a woman to sue for divorce and have it granted in three months, and a new divorce law under consideration in Jordan that would reduce that to a month. However this is not true in many counties, and partnered with citizenship laws, in effect seem to make women second class citizens (my term, not hers) in many countries.

Another point of interest she made, was that our government uses the plight of Iraqis to try and goad the country to war, but in reality women in Iraq are very secular and hold much power, certainty more power than women anywhere else in the middle east. She was, needless to say, against the war that the president is trying to start there.


8 October 2002

Something new for those of us who hate the idea of being watched all the time. An articles in the Times about a man who discovered how to temporarily blind video surveillance cameras. Michael Naimark's website contains his discussion about how to block cameras, and laser sights in general. I found it pretty fascinating, although I have to wonder how long he'll be allowed to keep it up. For now, I think I'll have to get a laser pointer for my next trip to the mall.


7 October 2002

Had another weird dream last night. I fudged this one a bit--it was much longer and the longer it went on, the more surreal it got, so I just wrote down this brief segment. I am sure it means something that I keep having dreams where I am male, but I do not think I particularly want to know.

My aunt called and e-mailed over the weekend, to let us know that everyone was safe. I can't imagine how living in the DC could possibly be any more stressful than it already is, but I think this puts the whole area right over the edge. How someone can shoot a child--even a teenage--is beyond me.


6 October 2002

If anyone doubts that the Vatican is not in league with the ultra conservative group Opus Dei the almost miraculous speed with which the founder of Opus Dei, Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer, was cannonized should help to allievate any nagging doubts. With the knowledge that John Paul II has appointed a large proportion of current cardinals, I can only imagine that the successor to John Paul II will be even more conservative and more out of touch with the majority of the Catholic populace.


4 October 2002

On the first anniversary of the discovery of the Anthrax letters, I heard an interesting interview with amateur detective Ed Lake who has not only created a website with his theories, but has invested a lot of time into investigating the attacks. One of his theories that intrigued me, was that an adult had a child write the letters and address the envelopes. Sounds a little out there at first, but on further consideration it is a very intriguing idea.

"Farmers' children were defined as children whose parents answered "yes" to the question "Does your child live on a farm?"
From Environmental Exposure to Endotoxin and its Relation to Asthma in School-Age Children N Engl J Med 19 Sept 2002, 347 (12):869-867.
Very helpful and clear that is!


3 October 2002

Nothing like coming back from a dentist appointment with the news that nothing much is wrong! Yeah! I need two fillings replaced, but that is it! Whew!

Looking for fantasy book artwork, I came across the site of Keith Parkinson who does a lot of cover art, including book covers that I quite like. He has some very nice artwork, and if you read a lot of fantasy, you probably have several books whose covers he has done.


2 October 2002

Just got back from the latest Benedum Lecture, David R. Franz, who spoke on Bioterrorism After September 11, 2001. I also got to hear him speak at lunch time at the Health Sciences Center Auditorium on Hospital Preparedness for Bioterrorism. Both lectures were very good, and I enjoyed the different perspectives, the Health Sciences Lecture, of course, being a little more technical and directed towards health care providers, while this evenings lecture was directed towards the general populace. He mentioned two facts, first that five people had died from inhalation anthrax, and the second was that the government has allocated almost 6 billion new dollars to bioterrorism research and defense, which comes out to be over a billion dollars per victim. No where else will you find that kind of spending in public health. The good part was that this new spending is primarily going to public health infrastructure, to preparedness that can be used not only for bioterrorism (or other terrorism) events, but also for other public health emergencies, which is a very good thing, because in many ways public health has been ignored in recent years. Of course this money will do little good without changes elsewhere in the system. Many--even most--hospitals lack enough nurses, and a public health emergency would immediately overwhelm hospital staff. Communication between hospitals and public health workers, is often poor, with different emergency responders using different radios and some resources being unable to communicate with others. If the money goes to shoring up this infrastructure, then that will be a good thing.

He also spoke of the bioweapons program in the former Soviet Union, a problem that, in my opinion, is several underestimated in the US, even post 9-11 and post Anthrax attacks. But a very interesting point I think he made this evening, was that the way to reduce the terrorist threat from these areas is not with force, but with scientist to scientist contact. More than just a giant PR campaign, although that wouldn't hurt, but to open channels of communication between different scientists, because as he emphasized in both speeches, much of what is needed to produce bioweapons can also be used for legitimate purposes. Machinery that is used to produce vaccine can also be used to produce live agent, and may have a very legitimate need in these countries, and so the only way to truly reduce the threat to bioterrorism, is not to destroy these places, but to change the minds of those who produce the weapons.

A noble cause perhaps, but that makes it a good one. Right?


2 October 2002

Fooled you! Several British newspapers wrote about in a W.H.O. report that blondes were going to become extinct in about 200 years, but apparently did not bother to check the veracity of the report. This would be different from the article I read in New Scientist, that talked about the theory that if the Y Chromosome continues to lose genes at its current rate, it will disappear in about 5 million years. Note the time difference. (The descent of man New Scientist vol 175 issue 2357 - 24 August 2002, page 29)
(In case you are interested, men will become extinct, because the Y chromosome, unlike the X, is unable to recombine, and thus mutations and deletions can occur and remain more easily. It is, however, theorized, that men will develop another way to stick around before, since there are already species where the Y chromosome has already disappeared, and men are determined, it seems, by having no X chromosome.)

Was sitting here looking at The two Thieves World books that were sitting on my desk, and was once again caught by the artwork--oddly enough not the cover drawings per se, but the border around the image in the center. There are different series I have where I really like the cover art, especially the borders: The Last Herald Mage Series by Mercedes Lackey, with cover art by Jody Lee, The borders around the Thieves' World series, by Gary Ruddell, and the first two Mithgar series by Dennis McKiernan, but I have loaned out those books, and so have no clue who the artist is.


1 October 2002

A new article on the over-prescription of Cipro and other antibiotics which is leading to antibiotic resistance. The effectiveness of Cipro and related antibiotics against E-coli has dropped from 95% to 72% since 1997, and is even worse for cystic fibrosis microbes. But people STILL insist on antibiotics when they have a virus, they don't finish taking their antibiotics, and in general they are just IDIOTS. I hear people griping about how their doctors won't prescribe them antibiotics when they go on not feeling well, even though they are told that antibiotics WILL NOT HELP. I think that the pharmaceutical industry needs to develop a placebo antibiotic that is REALLY expensive that doctors can prescribe for jerks who insist on medication when it won't help. The money can then go to offset prescription drugs costs for the elderly.

A very good article in the NY Times about Prostate Cancer. Although to be honest, I thought the sentences: "The score ranges from 2 to 10 and reflects the extent of deranged cells. Prostate cancers with Gleason scores from 8 to 10 are the most angry tumors, the ones that might kill a man in three to five years", were a little bit ridiculous. I mean really, deranged tumors? Angry cells? Come on. But aside from that, I found the article quite good and well worth reading if you'd like to know more about prostate cancer.

There was also an article about the use of cell phones and possible health hazards. The article basically said that the danger from cell phones comes not from ionizing radiation, but from people using them while driving or doing other tasks, although the author mentioned the rude factor as well. As in, the rest of us don't want to hear your conversation so please take it somewhere else.

But I think what struck me most today, was an article I read in US News and World Report. In an article on how voters (oh yes, it is an election year) feel about the economy and the war, I was really struck by a graph looking at how voters feel about the issues of war and the economy, at three time periods. I can't recreate the graph, so I am not sure if the raw numbers will have as much of an impact, but I'll give you the data anyway:
Thinking about the 2002 elections for Congress, which of the following issues will be more important to your vote?
War with Iraq - 36%
The economy - 55%

War with Iraq - 34%
The economy - 57%

War with Iraq - 49%
The economy - 42%
I find it rather disturbing that as the administration has pumped up the issue of Iraq, the American populace seems to have fallen for it, hook, line and sinker.

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