30 September 2002

Well, whatever I wrote last Friday is gone. Which is okay, because I had not said anything worth while anyway.

(I'd forgotten about the frames, so for the hyperlinks I added, click on "T" for Thieves World and "L" for Mercedes Lackey--Sorry.)

For some reason, (respite from studying for Epidemiology I think) I was thinking about Thieves' World, one of my favorite series, when it struck me that, Thieves World has a lot of female characters that are not only important characters to the series but are important to the functioning of the town. There are of course Ischade and Roxanne, the witches, Shupansea, the Beysib ruler, and there is also Illyra the S'danzo seeress. All four shape the town the events that unfold in the series as much as any male character. And there there are other female characters who play integral parts: Myrtis,the Madamof the Aphrodisia House, Cheynaya, cousin to the prince and general trouble maker, Moria, hawkmask and thief, Kama, the daughter of Tempus Thales, Gilla, the wife of Lalo the Limner... I could go on, but for the sake of brevity, I won't. What struck me about the number of female characters, it's not a big deal that these women play such a big part in Sanctuary, in fact it took me years to even realize it.

So why am I writing about this, if it isn't a big deal? Well, that is precisely what struck me. Sure, there are other fantasy books out there that have strong female leads, but many of these books seem to be almost pushing a female agenda (Mercedes Lackey is a good example of this). The women are so strong, and so central, that they are almost in our faces with their competence, even when they screw up. Now don't get my wrong, I really like many of Mercedes Lackey's books, and I think she is a fantastic author with the ability to create characters about whom I really care, but I do think that at times she comes across as having a feminist agenda, and many of the other books I have read (and liked mind you!) with female leads come across the same way. But in Thieves' World they are just characters with all to human foibles and problems and issues us normal people have, and to be honest most of them are not even likable (except,of course, for Illyra) which is perfect, because almost none of the male characters are likable either. Well, perhaps likable is the wrong word. I really like Ischade and Hanse the thief, but I am quite sure that I would not want to meet either of them in a dark alley, or even a well lit room with armed guards.

So what struck me was that you have these fabulous female fantasy characters who are just strong women in the way that women you meet every day are strong.

In other words, it's just one more reason for me to like the books, and to rave about them, even when I have not read them in at least a year.


26 September 2002

You know those days where you feel tired and achey, and it's dark and damp and cold outside, and nothing goes right for you, and everything people say to you gets on your last nerve, and you just want to run away screaming and hide under the bed?

I never have days like that.

And if you believe that, I can get you a real deal on the Brooklyn bridge.

Mark sent me this link to Earth From Above, which if full of gorgeous arial photographs taken from all over the world. Please note that this took a long time to load with a speedy work connection, so it will probably be painfully slow over a modem. Although the site is quite obvious about it's connection with Fuji film, it's still worth viewing. You can also download pictures for your desktop wallpaper, if you so desire.

What is it that makes taking on-line personality tests so appealing? Fun ones, joke ones, it doesn't matter, we take them. Do we learn anything about ourselves? Maybe, and perhaps that's why we take them, because always want to learn more about ourselves. If you care, I am INFJ -- Introverted Intuitive Feeling Judging. TO find out your type, check out this website


25 September 2002

And on a lighter note (from my last post), Gina just informed me that the Ig-Nobels for 2002 will be coming out soon! The ceremony is scheduled for 3 October at Harvard, and apparently the event is typically a sell-out, so get your tickets now if you want them! For those who do not know about the Ig-Nobels, they were first issued in 1991, and are "awards for achievements that cannot or should not be reproduced". If you have not had a chance to check out past winners, I highly recommend that you take the opportunity to do so. The Ig-Nobels are sponsored by the Annals of Improbable Research (AIR), a real magazine that looks at research in science, medicine, and technology, in a much lighter vein than other science magazines. If you have not read AIR before, I would also recommend that.

Today, I was highly amused my the comic Non Sequitur (even the name should amuse those who know me).

Non Sequitur Comic

An article published in the September/October issue of the journal Psychosomatic Medicine presents the results of a study that found that during certain types of stressors, having a pet is better for reducing stress than having a spouse or close friend in attendance. Of course they only studied cats and dogs, but taken with the recent research results that having multiple pets significatively reduces allergies in young children, if you don't have one already, it's one more reason for you to run right out and get yourself a furry friend!

For anyone who didn't already know it, another study has found the lots of soy in the diet decreases a woman's chances of getting breast cancer. So that must mean it's time for more Chinese takeout!


24 September 2002

Tonight Judy Shepard, the mother of Matthew Shepard, spoke at the Health Sciences Center. It was a phenomenal speech, and I have the utmost respect for a woman who can take the brutal murder of her son, and attempt to turn it into good. Attempt to change society.

Judy Shepard spoke not only about the life and death of her son--and spoke in a way that was not, as I was expecting, completely painful, although it was painful, especially when she described seeing him in the hospital--but she spoke of his aspirations, and things he held important, and she spoke eloquently of the need for change in our society. She said she spoke only as a mom, but really she did much more than that, she spoke for those who are abused and harassed for who they are, and for who people think they are. She spoke not only of gay rights but also of the need in our country to erase hate, and hate speech from our vocabularies. She spoke of changes that need to be made. Education of individuals, education of communities, and she spoke repeatedly of the need for political activism. She stressed again and again the need to people to vote, to know what those who represent us in government are doing, and to tell them what we want them to do. She repeated again and again the need for everyone to learn what the government is doing, to speak up about your own beliefs.

She spoke of the need to teach acceptance in our schools, not just of blacks and gays, but of anyone who is different. She spoke of the resurgence of hatred of Muslims and Arabs following 9-11. She spoke of the need to accept people for who they are, not to judge them upon their looks or their sexuality, or their beliefs.

She was, again, a phenomenal speaker, and I would suggest that if you have the opportunity to hear her, you do so.

Although I have these links elsewhere on my site, I want to use this opportunity to post the websites again for GLSEN (http://www.glsen.org) and for Youth Resources (http://www.youthresource.com/) which contains information on Gay-Straight Alliance groups and much more.


22 September 2002

Your pirate name is:

Black Ethel Bonney

Like anyone confronted with the harshness of robbery on the high seas, you can be pessimistic at times. You can be a little bit unpredictable, but a pirate's life is far from full of certainties, so that fits in pretty well. Arr!

Find your pirate name!

This small bit was brought to you because Thursday 19 September was Talk Like a Pirate Day.


21 September 2002

I had another weird dream. Slightly less bizarre than the last, but still odd.


20 September 2002

Lying weatherman. No rain yet.

The only good thing about feeling cruddy with this sore throat, is that I'm home on a Friday night and get to listen to Music from the Mountains. Joe Dobbs plays some fantastic music, and there is something about his voice that I really enjoy hearing. If you happen to be home some Friday evening. I'd suggest tuning into WV Public Radio at 9:00. I even heard the Falling Run Bluegrass Band on night last winter. They play regularly at the Brew Pub, but for various reason we have not been out to see them in a couple months.

This weekend is the Wine & Jazz festival, which we will be missing, partially because I don't feel well, partially because it's been a long month or so, and I'm tired, and partially because I don't want to pay $10 to watch Michael get drunk. I don't drink wine, so I'm not excited about going. Of course Erin will be there, so perhaps she can tell me all about it next time we work. I will, however, be going to the Buckwheat Festival next week, (as I mentioned previously) hopefully with my friends who should be in from out of town, but of course it's always a good thing to go to Preston county and eat Buckwheat cakes.

I'm also avoiding answering a message from Dee about the split between the Orthodox and Catholic churches (talk about jumping subjects) primarily because I don't have as much source material as I thought I did. I am actually rather surprised that none of the books I have really detail the split between the two churches, which now that I consider it, it a little odd. Ah well, off to search.


19 September 2002

Lots of exciting science news.

Green tea my help allergy sufferers. Good news for Michael, scientists in Japan have discovered that a compound in Green tea can help to alleviate allergies. As if you were not already impressed with its other semi-medicinal properties, here is just one more reason to drink green tea. If you are unfamiliar with the different types of teas, Green, Black and Oolong simply refer to the amount of oxidation that the tea has undergone during processing. Black tea is the most oxidized and green tea is the least oxidized.

Drinking and driving are more hazardous than most believe according to a new study conducted at Texas A&M. They found impairment at 0.04 BAC, which is lower than the legal limit of 0.08 in many states. What this means is that two drinks may be enough to impair the driving of an average male.

The Hygeine Hypothesis just got a boost with a new article published in the New England Journal of Medicine, where they found that children who lived on farms and were exposed to greater levels of endotoxins were less likely to have allergies than children who lived in "cleaner" homes and areas. So now, as they are now saying, "Let them eat dirt!"


19 September 2002

Saw Terrence M. Keane last night as part of WVU's Benedum lecture series. He spoke on Terrorism, War and the Trauma: Lessons for the Promotion of Resiliency and Recovery which turned out to be a talk about Post Traumatic Stress disorder or PTSD. Unsurprisingly perhaps, there were numbers of people who suffered from PTSD following the events of 11 September, and the more television someone watched, the more likely they were to suffer PTSD. Which makes one wonder about the media circus during the one year anniversary, and what impact this had upon those who had difficultly following the original event. Surprisingly he did not address this issue in his lecture, and I wish he would have. I was somewhat surprised to learn that men and women suffer from PTSD at different rates, with men having a lower rate of PTSD than women, although women have historically had a lower rate of suffering traumatic events. Which made me wonder how traumatic events were classified, and whether things that women might consider "traumatic events" were not considered so in the classification of such, because exposure to multiple traumatic events lead to an increased likelihood of PTSD. Just a thought.

Finally! The forecast is for RAIN! There are calls for a burn ban, because it simply did not rain enough last weekend to either fill the water table or to soak down the land enough that a spark won't start a fire, but if we are lucky, we will actually get all three days of rain for which they are calling.

Compare cities and discover that Morgantown WV gets more inches of rain and days of percipitation than Seattle Washington. Which makes the drought we have been happening all the more disturbing.


18 September 2002

Congratulations Michael!

He passed his Cisco Networking Certification! Yeah!
Now y'all can offer him a job.

See pictures of my dad and his "twin"!

Yes, I am sure this is a valuable use of my time.


17 September 2002

Went to see Dr. Neil Smelser tonight, speaking on September 11th as Cultural Trauma. He was a good speaker, but I was quite surprised, because much of his lectures covered topics that I had already been discussed with Lenny, Dee, Ivy and Steve. Slightly strange to hear topics of our discussions as part of a lecture, but it was, aside from that anomaly, a good talk. He discussed the cultural changes that have occurred since 11 September, and mentioned the Americanism and patriotism that have spread across the country, which is, if you think about it, quite a phenomenon. He talked about the changes in American values; how everything last year--Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas--seemed to become a patriotic holiday. He spoke of how the trauma affected the entire country, which makes sense of course, because this was something we saw live, we watched it happen, and then we watched it happen over and over again. And the trauma of 9-11 is really something that hit Americans, because something like this truly had not happened on American soil before. Sure terrorism had occurred in Europe and the Middle East, but until that point American soil had somehow been sacrosanct, where as now something has changed.

There was an opportunity for questions, and I asked him if he thought that the patriotism and Americanism that swept the country after September 11th was a permanent change, or if it would disappear. His response was that it would not disappear, but there were several things that could happen. If there are no more attacks, the levels will taper down to levels somewhat akin to what they were prior to the attacks. If there are further attacks, there will be fresh waves of terrorism, but they will be occurring at the same time as people as "How could this have happened again?", and if, God forbid, we end up like Israel, with attacks on a seemingly regular basis, then the country will reach a numbness.

All in all an interesting speech, but again oddly enough, not ground that had not already been covered.

And on a completely catty note, I can not believe what Larry has done to his hair. I mean, he must be in the middle of a divorce or something, because I can not see any self respecting woman allowing her husband out of the house with such the cheap dye job that really makes him look more the clown than he already did. What I found completely ridiculous is that he can not be bothered to get a decent hairCUT, and so he really does look a bit like Bozo the clown, yet he has enough vanity to purchase cheap dye to cover his grey, but still is far enough from reality that he has no clue that he looks utterly ridiculous. Like I said, perhaps he is in the middle of a divorce or something, because his midlife crisis is really showing.

And what the hell was going on at the Law School that every cop car in town was there with their lights on? Guess I'll have to read the paper tomorrow to find out.


16 September 2002

It is definitely Monday.

Had a long and tiring but interesting weekend. Got to see my family, which is always good, even if it did involve spending nine hours in the car this weekend. My cousin Ben leaves for the Peace Corps at the end of this month. He'll be going to Kyrgyzstan in the former USSR. I think it's fantastic that he's doing this, but knowing the situation in the Middle East and South Asia, it is a little scary. But it sounds like Kyrgyzstan is not a hotbed of Islamist radicals, and that everything will be fine.

Even so the little nagging voice in the back of my head will probably still worry.

And my cousin Math turned 16, which means that 3 out of 4 of Aunt Chris and Uncle Gary's children are now be driver age. I guess Ben being graduated and out of the country is a good thing, as far as insurance rates are concerned! The party was nice, and it was good to talk to people, and as always it was good to spend some time (no matter how limited) with my grandmother. We talked about books, and when we went to The Bookshelf to look for Math's birthday gift, Jim told me that Anne Perry had put out a fantasy novel, which I purchased, and loaned to Grandmom. She said it looks good, and wanted to make sure I didn't want to read it first. I don't even had time to be doing this right now, so further distractions are NOT what I need!

Okay, really, I have got to stop this either get to work or study!

11 September 2002

"I am convinced that love is the most durable power in the world. It is not an expression of impractical idealism, but of practical realism. Far from being the pious injunction of a Utopian dreamer, love is an absolute necessity for the survival of our civilization. To return hate for hate does nothing but intensify the existence of evil in the universe. Someone must have sense enough and religion enough to cut off the chain of hate and evil, and this can only be done through love."
--Martin Luther King, Jr. 1957
"Patriotism is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.
- Adlai Stevenson
"A thoughtful mind, when it sees a Nation's flag, sees not the flag only, but the Nation itself; and whatever may be its symbols, its insignia, he reads chiefly in the flag the Government, the principles, the truths, the history which belongs to the Nation which belongs to the Nation that sets it forth."
- Henry Ward Beecher from The American Flag


9 September 2002

Happy Birthday Susan!


8 September 2002

Today's Lessons:

1. The sound of an opening can does not always mean tuna juice for cats. Sometimes it means soup for a human.

2. Sometimes people are jerks, and there is just not a damn thing you can do about it. So to hell with 'em.

3. There is an awful lot to do around here that is not studying.


3 September 2002

Heard about this on All Things Considered on Friday, and thought it was fantastic. It's a reenactment of The Cattle Raid of Cooley or Tain Bo Cuailnge, which, oddly enough, I had just read in one of the books I was reading on Irish legends and folktales. There are pictures from the "Raid" on the site, as well as a synopsis of story. I just thought it was fascinating by the timing of the story.

I still want to pick up CDs by the Mediaeval Baebes, and Bela Fleck but that just has not happened yet.

In case you could not tell, I did not do a lot of studying over the weekend.

Mountaineer Week is the 9 through the 17 of November this year. Of course there is nothing on the web site about it. Go figure. Also, the Buckwheat Festival is Thursday September 26 through Sunday September 29. We went to the usual Labor Day festivities at Jackson's Mill this past weekend, and although the reenactments were nice, the craft portion of the fair was a let down, so I don't think I have any interest in going again next year.

This is going to be a busy month....Wilson's 2nd birthday, Ben is leaving for the Peace Corps... I'm going to have to make sure I get much of my studying done during the week, because weekends may just be impossible. But we did find two, in my opinion, really cute gifts for Wilson, and so now I have ideas for the spate of kid's birthdays in the spring. (With new arrivals all the time!) If you happen to be looking for kids gifts, check out: Laurie Berkner's website at http://twotomatoes.com/ and Daniel Pinkwater's page at http://www.pinkwater.com. Of course more entertaining are his bits on Car Talk about buying a car , about large bottoms.

Okay, that's enough for now.

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