Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Here's a new take on the Administration

Dennis Kucinich is a pretty liberal Democratic candidate for President. If I were twenty years younger I would applaud his idealism and I'd be voting for him. Sadly, I am now 45, and my political sensibilities tend towards realistic compromise. I fully subscribe to the political philosophy often mistakenly attributed to Winston Churchill, summarized thusly: if you are young and not liberal you have no heart, if you are mature and not conservative you have no brain. While still a Democrat (more or less) I am a right-leaning one (is that really possible)? But in my current home state of NH, I might as well be a Communist! (hee, hee)

Mr Kucinich recently questioned President Bush's sanity after Bush linked Iran's ability to manufacture nuclear weapons with an inevitable World War III. While some would say that the President's comments could be considered hyperbole, I think the guy takes everything he says in public totally seriously. (Plus, I don't know that he could pronounce the word if his speech writers gave it to him.)

Dennis, I concur with your assessment that The President should consider his remarks more carefully before making them. However, I think you give him too much credit. There are many highly intelligent people out there who suffer from mental disturbance. I do not think our President suffers from a mental disturbance, I just happen to think that he is deeply stupid.

He does not have to be insane to not "... understand his words have real impact". He could be merely ill-advised or his words could be ill-considered. Neither makes him mentally 'ill'.

I would like to chalk up some of the ridiculous actions of this Administration as the product of insanity. Sadly, most were well-calculated acts of disregard for the law of the land and the will of The People perpetrated by an oligarchy of right wingers appointed by a low-talent man who owed a lot of favors after barely getting into office the first go around. And some, were just the ill-conceived words and acts of ... well ... from all evidence ... a moron.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

How dumb is too dumb?

I stumbled on this article on Monday: How dumb is too dumb to operate a computer?

After years of being a geek, I have often thought that operating a computer should require some sort of license, much like operating a car. While the effects of poor operation are not as obvious, in today's interconnected world one user's poor computer skills really do bring down the neighborhood.

Typically, the most attacked ports on the Internet are being attacked by computers whose primary operators are unaware that their computers are participating in any sort of attack.

I guess it might be like allowing all sorts of people to buy guns, to defend their homes (of course) and having other people come in and borrow those guns, without their knowlege, who in turn shoot up the neighborhood.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Congratulations Red Sox Nation

While I do not consider myself a fan, I know that today will be a great day at work as all the Red Sox fans bask in the glory of their team as they stumble bleary eyed through their day. The Sox beat the Rockies last night to win the World Series in four straight games. Two of them were crushing defeats, while the other two were close.

Now I just have to listen to the Patriots fan jabbering for a few months. I look forward to February when the sports fans in Boston are relatively quiet. No one is all that frothing about the Celtics or the Bruins.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Another Pleasant Valley Sunday

OK. Not so much. But, I like the song.

This morning started off quite strange. My son and I have the same model atomic alarm clock. Both of our clocks decided that Daylight Saving Time happened last night. A week early, but probably correct for DST prior to the ridiculous change in the laws regarding DST last year. I don't think we had this issue back in the spring. Then again, I really don't remember.

We realized that all the other clocks in the house, including the cable boxes, were still an hour later than our two lowly clocks. The atomic clock/indoor-outdoor thermometer clock in the kitchen was still right. How many clocks does one household need, any way? So, we realized that our two clocks must have been hard programmed with the old dates for changing the time.

I kept hoping that sometime today the stupid things would sync up with the atomic mother ship, and get things straight. No such luck. So, I manually changed them... clocks that are always supposed to know the correct time, even after the power goes out, because they talk to the atomic mother ship.

Fabulous. Maybe I should just keep some wind-up job and call it a day.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The latest vampire movie

When October comes along I have a tendency to read and watch horror. Because of school commitments, I have kind of fallen down on the job in the reading department. Also, as I've gotten older, I've grown a lot pickier about what kind of horror I'm willing to subject myself to.

My mature sensibilities (ha ha) require that the horror have some sort of supernatural aspect to it. I am not interested in psychos or serial killers or anything entirely plausible to the scientific/logical mind. Real life can be disturbing enough, and I don't need to dwell on something that actually could occur. This still leaves a great deal on the table.

This weekend we rented "White Noise", simply because we'd seen a commercial for "White Noise 2" which intrigued us. We figured we'd better watch the first one before committing to the second one. The first one stars Michael Keaton as a recently widowed man who is still seriously grieving his wife after six months. He discovers a means of seeing the dead through the 'white noise' of off-air radio or television stations. It was interesting and a little bit creepy. Recommended if you like horror.

Tonight, we went to see "30 Days of Night," the latest in vampire flicks. I LOVE vampire flicks and books. This one took a slight step off the path, which was refreshing. The setting is a little town in the way north of Alaska where the sun disappears for 30 days (every vampire's fantasy). Just prior to the setting of the sun for the month, the majority of residents bug-out. And, at the eleventh hour, some odd things start catching the attention of the local sheriff (Josh Hartnett). He and his deputy find a huge pile of cell phones melted on a roadside just outside of town. Then, all the sled dogs in town are killed. Finally, the satellite/telephone substation is destroyed and the caretaker decapitated. Sadly, this last bit happens after the last airplane leaves the airstrip out of town. With 153 residents left in town for the dark month, it's a virtual vampiric buffet.

Overall, "30 Days of Night" is a pretty good horror flick. The vampires are not sympathetic in any way. They don't even speak English, so we get all of their lines in subtitles. My only real quibble with the movie is during the transition from human to vampire, the teeth of a new vampire are pretty different from the human form and there is no spitting out of the useless flat-edged human teeth. Suddenly, they're just this mouthful of fierce canine-like weapons (which is pretty cool - these are not your grandma's vampires).

If you are into horror, particularly vampire stuff, I totally recommend this indulgence.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Can't we just like women for the way they are?

In a new twist a beauty queen is being told to gain weight. Apparently, Miss England has been asked to put some pounds onto her size 4 frame to increase her curve-appeal. While part of me is glad that, for once, a woman is not being told to lose weight to be acceptable, I don't think I like this turn of events either.

Women should be accepted for who they are naturally. I realize that the cosmetic and fashion industries would cease to exist under such circumstances. However, isn't it more important to appreciate a person for who they are on the inside and to encourage self worth by accepting people for how they look naturally? No diets. No surgery. No obscenely high heels. No laser hair removal (like my office mate has been undergoing for the last year).

What a culture we have.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Celebrity justice

When it comes to justice, our children learn that if you are a celebrity, or if you are just plain rich, the system is nicer to you than it is to the rest of the population. Today's evidence: Britney Spears avoids hit-and-run trial. Because the pop princess finally got around to paying for the other driver's damages she doesn't have to deal with the hit and run charge, but they are holding her accountable for driving without a valid license at the time.

Excuse me? Since she has since gotten a license, why don't they let her off on that too?

When I was young and stupid, I bumped a car in the parking lot of my job and didn't get out to look. I did a total of $130 worth of damage to the other car (26 years ago). The next day, the police were standing beside my car in the lot talking to the driver of the other car. I went out and apologized for what I had done. The driver said she only called the police in order to determine who to contact about the damages. I gave her my info, but the police wrote me up with a mandatory court appearance. The other driver offered to appear in my defense, saying how cooperative I was after the fact. Also, I presented the judge with my stellar school history and my previously clean driving record (at the ripe age on 19). I ended up with a lenient $150 fine and four points on my license. And, I DESERVED it.

What positive things does the pop princess have to offer in her defense? Is she a good mother? Does she have a clean and community oriented public persona? Has she complied with the law under other circumstances (hrm... What about oversleeping through drug test appoitments?) Does she have any positive redeeming social value?

*sigh* I don't know why I let this crap bother me, other than the fact that I don't like the message that it sends to our kids. Celebrity and wealth should not exempt you from justice. Neither should political office, but that's a whole BUNCH of other blog posts.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Freedom to fork over all electronic records to the NSA

With every passing week the Bush Administration turns our country into a more overt police state. A new Senate bill will retroactively protect e-mail providers, search engines, Internet service providers and instant-messaging services from lawsuits brought by citizens whose privacy was violated when such organizations turned over electronic records to the NSA.

Here is the REALLY laughable aspect of this bill:

"Private companies who received legal assurances from the highest levels of government should not be dragged through the courts for their help with national security," Sen. John Rockefeller (D-W.V.), the Intelligence Committee chairman and the bill's primary Democratic sponsor, said in a statement. "The onus is on the administration, not the companies, to ensure that the request is on strong legal footing, and if it is not, it is the administration that should be held accountable."

First off, West Virginians: Ditch this moron! (Some Democrat, huh? I thought those guys were supportive of Civil Liberties and Due Process. My mistake!)

Secondly, the current administration does not give a rat's butt about the legal footing of its actions and has yet to be seriously challenged on the legality of any of its actions.

Give me a break!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

What's in your movie theater?

During our weekend trip, we considered going out to a movie on Friday, and then on Saturday, night. We were too exhausted both days to bother. The film we both wanted to see the most probably wasn't available any more any way. It seems that the movies I am interested in seeing get short run limited releases (which means almost never do they come to NH). We usually go see the 'blockbuster' movies when they come out. And they are usually in the theaters for at least a month. Smaller films only seem to stay in the theaters for a week or two. If they are there for longer, the formula which determines the length of their run completely eludes me.

The film that we wanted to see, "Eastern Promises" with Viggo Mortensen, started off as a limited release, and then quickly vaporized after hitting more theaters. The critics gave it a "B", which isn't bad for a small film.

On the other hand, I reviewed the offerings of our local theaters and I am perplexed by some of the things that have had staying power: "Across the Universe" (huh?), "The Game Plan" (puhleez), "The Heartbreak Kid" (sorry Mr Stiller, better luck next time), "Sydney White" (Amanda Bynes is cute, but ...), "Dragon Wars" (LOL!), "I Pronounce You Chuck and Larry" (yes, still out in my area), "The Seeker" (???), and "Mr Woodcock".

It's kind of sad, in a way. There are a lot of small movies that are only released in LA and NY that I would see if they came to NH. I'd definitely opt for them over the crud I listed in the last paragraph. I'm waiting on Brad Pitt's Jesse James film to go for broader release. I like him, and I've always been interested in the Jesse James story. I wonder if it will even make it to NH. Babel didn't see an NH release until it made the Oscar nominations. Makes me feel like I might as well live in Canada's Northwest Territory instead of an hour outside of Boston.

I guess this is why DVD rentals were invented, huh?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Not a sports fan, but ...

I have to hand it to the Red Sox. When backed into a corner, they can remember how to play baseball. It's too bad that they had to paint themselves into that corner for the American League playoffs. However, they did make the series interesting by going from 1 and 3 to come back and win 3 games in a row, and two of them quite decisively.

I wish them luck in the World Series. However, I will not be disappointed to see the Rockies win. They really came from out of nowhere to shine this season.

Who knows? Maybe I'll even watch a game or two.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

A fantastic trip

Our trip to New York City did not go exactly as planned, but was still great fun. The drive down took us twice as long as we had thought it would because of major traffic snafus in CT and just north of Manhattan. We decided to drive the 'local route' through the Bronx and got to experience a side of NYC that we had not previously experienced: the STUPIDIST pedestrians on the planet. Really. People would step in front of moving cars, which had the right-of-way, and not even look at them. It was unbelievable. But, if must be the culturally accepted norm for the Bronx, because EVERYONE did it.

By the time we got into Manhattan we had no energy for the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Instead, we decided to treat ourselves to this fabulous sushi restaurant a few yards from our hotel near Times Square. I highly recommend Hikata on 48th Street. The fish was melt-in-your-mouth fresh.

On Saturday, we grabbed a quick breakfast at one of the multitudes of Starbucks in town, then headed up to the American Museum of Natural History. Let me just say that I could easily spend three days in that museum and not be bored. The mineral and gem exhibit is fabulous. I also really enjoyed the bird exhibit. We never even got around to the dinosaur exhibit, which the place is supposedly known for. We took in a planetarium show on "Cosmic Collisions". We passed up the new Butterfly Conservatory, which looked fabulous. And, we were a couple of weeks too early for their new exhibit on Water. Yup. Really want to go back.
Star of India
The Star of India

On Saturday evening we went to Esca. This was the MOST FABULOUS, albeit expensive, dining experience of my life. We made reservations three weeks in advance, and had to accept the less-than-popular 5:30 time slot (which turned out to work great for us). In order to truly appreciate all that the restaurant had to offer, we went with their 'tasting menu' (at $75/person). We also order some wine, which was perfect. We experienced a seven course meal over the course of two plus hours. Our bill was just under $200, on top of which we left a well-earned yet generous 21% tip. My favorites from the meal (beside the wine) were the polenta dish, the seared scallops, and the apple cider sorbet that was part of my dessert. I NEVER order dessert. However, since our meal was spaced out in little courses over such a long period of time, I had room and it was well worth the wait.

Breakfast on Sunday turned out to be an attraction in and of itself. We decided to try this diner a few blocks from our hotel. Ellen's Stardust Diner advertised that it had 'singing waitstaff'. We didn't think much about that, figuring that it was a gimmick that probably didn't apply to breakfast. We were wrong. The waitstaff, like most waitstaff in Manhattan, are all aspiring performers. They get their practice and exposure by singing their way through their meal shifts. I think the longest we went without live song was about five minutes. And, while the staff were singing, they were refilling beverages and leading people to tables. To me, this spoke of their talent. Without missing a beat (literally) they were able to perform as performers and as courteous and professional waitstaff. I wish them all the best. It was unexpected fun (for me, my husband wanted to crawl under the table and have it all go away).

After breakfast, we took in the small but perfect Central Park Zoo. While I am sure the Bronx Zoo has more to see, it was charming to experience a zoological park in the midst of one of the world's most populous major metropolitan areas. The Rain Forest exhibit was the best. The birds were very active, and seemed to take great joy in diving just over the heads of the human visitors. In Central Park, you can truly forget that there is a teeming city of millions just a few hundred yards from the trees and wildlife you are enjoying.

I could never live in such a big city with so many people all the time. However, I truly enjoy NYC as a change-of-pace setting. I look forward to taking another trip. Next time, we'll visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and revisit the American Museum of Natural History. Maybe we'll take in a show.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The big trip weekend

Our cats will be home alone this weekend. My husband and I are going to NYC for a laid back getaway. We plan on doing a couple of museums that we've never done before, and a little wandering around Central Park (which I've never done before). Also, we are planning a dinner splurge.

Our son is going to Vermont with his church youth group for a weekend of no sleep, no showers, and lots of junk food. There will be chaperons, so I'm not worried too much about what he'll get into. And, he will have showered on Sunday by the time we get home, so I won't have to see/smell how grungy he got during his wild weekend.

A good time should be had by all. Look for a trip review (hopefully) late on Sunday evening. Here's to wishing everyone a fabulous weekend!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Spam for breakfast

Spam. No, I am not writing about unwanted email. I am referring to the much maligned meat-in-a-can. Spam is one of those foods that I grew up with that both disgusts and attracts me. About once or twice a year I get a craving for the stuff. The traditional mélange of meat and gelatin is high in fat and sodium, which is definitely not good for your health (much less your self-respect).

Yesterday, I was in the grocery store picking up some snacks for my son. He's going on a trip this weekend too, with a bunch of teenagers and a few chaperones from our church. While in the store, I stumbled on the Spam offerings. Yes, multiple varieties. I have been suffering from the craving of late, but had yet to give in. Then, I saw it. The stuff that might satisfy the craving but could subtract at least part of the guilt (but not the shame, mind you):

I bought a can of the lite junk. I put it in the refrigerator last night, since I much prefer the crud cold. This morning, I popped the top of the can. (Sends shivers down your spine, and revulsion through your digestive tract, doesn't it?) To my surprise there was no congealed gelatinous goo surrounding the compressed meat product. And the 'meat' filled the entire can, which did make it more difficult to wrestle out.

I am certain I will regret this, but I am consuming some with breakfast this morning (along with some virtuous oatmeal). It doesn't taste that different from what I remember of the 'Classic' variety, so I'm sure that it will repeat on me in an hour and I'll remember why I only eat this stuff about once a year. (grin)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

What are you reading?

I love to read. Sadly, my life is so busy and tiring that I have come to a new definition of the word "reading": Primarily, I "read" via audio books.

I do my reading for school on the exercise book in the wee hours of the morning (5:30-ish). I 'read' my monthly book for my church's book discussion book in the car via audio. And, I 'read' several radio programs, or other audio programs, at the gym. Sometimes those programs are books, sometimes they are audio-only programs.

Recently, I have been listening to short stories by New Hampshire author James Patrick Kelly. For our road trip down to NYC, we're planning on listening to Stephen Colbert's "I Am America, And So Can You". Also on the audio queue list is Daniel J. Levitin's "This is Your Brain on Music", "Darkly Dreaming Dexter" by Jeff Lindsay, and "Peony in Love" by Lisa See. I've also listened to a couple of Dr Who novels.

My physical reading list is relatively lengthy, but harder to address between school, work, and the commute. However, I am planning on reading The Zoo Keeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman.

I'm always curious to hear what other people are spending their precious reading time on. What are you reading?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Patience is a virtue

My husband and I have been planning a trip to New York City for over a month. Our budget was unhappy with the hotel rates we initially encountered. So, we decided to wait until the last minute to book. If you know me at all, you know that this was an extreme exercise for me. EXTREME! The way that I was able to reconcile the situation was that I told myself that, in the worse case scenario, we simply were not going to go. My husband had reconciled himself to paying, at most, $300/night for a hotel (which was about $50/night more than we wanted to pay). If you know anything about NYC hotel rates, you will realize that anything under about $350/night is pretty good.

HA! We just booked a 3.5 star deal near Times Square for $204/night. If you have the patience, I highly recommend last minute deals from We played around with, but they failed us as recently as Saturday. Today was THE day.

I feel better now. Hee hee.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Blog action for the environment

Today is Blog Action Day. The theme is the environment.

I used to be a better environmental citizen. However, two years ago we moved to a town where the recycling station is on the other side of town. So, I try to justify my lazy-unwillingness to drive across town by saying that all the gas I would consume driving there would cancel out the virtuosity of the recycling. (Can’t you hear John Lovitz saying, “Yeah, that’s the ticket!”)

Anyway, I decided to check out the energy saving tips from the Sierra Club. And what do you know? I am doing some virtuous stuff from the list. Almost every light bulb in our house is a compact fluorescent. Almost all of our appliances are less than two years old, and we went for energy efficient models when we bought them. Also, we are using a low flow shower head.

Could we do more? You bet! One of the things we are planning on doing is reapportioning the electrical plugs for our entertainment center so that everything but the cable box and the TiVo are on a powerstrip that we leave turned off. Solid state electrical equipment, such as stereos and televisions, sucks up lots of power. I’m also pretty bad about not shutting down my home computer when I leave the house. So, I’ve committed to change my evil ways.

Even one little thing, over time, can make a big difference. Is there ‘one little thing’ that you could commit to do to conserve energy? The planet (and your power bill) will thank you.

Stay clear of the "Psycho Cat card"

The latest version of the Nuwar/Storm/Peacomm worm was seen this weekend being spread by emails with a subject heading like: "Here is the new Psycho cat card,"

For the full story, check out this article on Computer World: Storm Trojan flaunts crazy cat to build out botnet

The plans of teenagers

For the last two years, my son has talked about playing tennis in high school, and ultimately in college. He's not a great player, but he is pretty good. Last year we hooked him up with a pretty good tennis program. One that challenged him, but wasn't so expensive that we were forced into eating pasta for every meal. It was still a pretty big financial commitment, and it meant that we had to drive him 30 minutes (each way) every Sunday for his 90 minute tennis clinic. However, we knew that he liked it and that he was committed to playing the game.

Yesterday, on the way home from tennis, he told me that it really wasn't that much fun any more and that he didn't really want to play tennis for his high school (now that he was actually in high school). I was stunned into silence. Part of me thinks that he realizes that he'll never really be 'great', so why bother. Part of me thinks that he knows that playing on the high school team will involve huge time sacrifices. He recently pointed out that the school team had two or three matches every week for the ten to twelve weeks of the spring season that the sport runs. We then pointed out that there was no way, with matches and practices that he could have a job; however, we said that he could make plenty of cash over the summer so it shouldn't be a big deal.

I guess I should expect that his interests are going to shift. To me it may seem 'out of the blue', but I'm sure that he spends some time considering the implications.

All through elementary school, he played guitar. He was pretty good, but he grew to hate the regimen of practices. Finally, in sixth grade my husband and I got tired of nagging him about the practicing, so we let him stop taking guitar lessons. A few times in the last couple of years, he's picked the instrument up again and diddled around with it. He's currently preparing for a performance at his church youth group's annual coffee house in February. It was totally his idea. Maybe he'll start playing the guitar for fun now. That would be great.

His latest interest is actually academic. His school runs this program called "The Academy of Finance" for students interested in careers in the financial industry. K is fascinated by the machinations of money and the stock market. The last few years he has done really well in social studies, and is highly interested in the democratic process. (He's big into Obama, while his parents currently favor Clinton ... and we have seriously discussed the ins and outs of both candidates.)

"The Acadmey of Finance" means taking a lot of accounting and economics classes, which doesn't seem to bother him (at this point). But, he pointed out that it can also lead to a paid internship between Junior and Senior years in high school, and potentially to scholarship money for college.

It seems like he's thinking about this stuff seriously. I know I should encourage him, but that I should not invest any strong hopes in any of his plans. They are HIS plans, and they can and WILL change. No doubt.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Cats invade Madison Square Garden!

My husband and I attended our first cat show last spring. This is pretty impressive though. a cat show in Madison Square Garden. The video is from the AP, so they are not big on providing the embedding code that would let me post the code right here. There is one particularly talented black and white kitty in the video.

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

A mind in the toilet

Sim Jae-Duck, of South Korea, was born 74 years ago in a rest room. He has spent most of his life obsessed with the cleanliness and peacefulness of rest rooms. While his recent construction of his toilet -shaped house may seem comical, Sim's interest in the topic actually has a serious side.

"Epidemics caused by poor sanitation worldwide cost two million lives a year, he said. Worldwide, 2.6 billion people live without toilets. Elsewhere, poorly designed flush toilets waste vast amounts of potential drinking water, he added."

His house was designed by Koki-woong and will open to the public on November 11, to mark the launch of Sim's brainchild, the World Toilet Association, an organization dedicated to providing clean toilets worldwide.

While this might sound like a unique quest, there is a similar organization already, based out of Singapore, known as the World Toilet Organization. I think that the underlying goals of both organizations are laudable. However, I think it might be easier to take their work more seriously if they didn't have the word 'toilet' in their names.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Nobel Peace Prize Winner or Most Unpopular President?

Which would you rather be a Nobel Peace Prize Winner or the most unpopular President of the United States in modern memory?

I am still of the opinion that Al Gore was robbed of the 2000 election presidency. And, I doubt that we would have invaded Iraq with him as President. We may have still gone into Afghanistan (a country with clear ties to Al Qaeda and 9/11). However, I now think that he really got the better deal.

As President, Al Gore may have done a lot better than Bush. However, I'm sure there would have been policy areas that he would have been reviled for. But, as a Nobel Peace Prize Winner, he is being lauded all over the planet for his environmental awareness work. He will be remembered as 'one of the good guys'.

How will George W. Bush be remembered by most people? How is he thought of around the globe?

Congratulations Al Gore!!!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Self-care Dialysis?

WellBound Teams With Kaiser Permanente to Open New Self-Care Dialysis Center in Sacramento, CA. What will they think of next? I'm all for making health care more accessible and affordable. And, I suppose, with the right patient education and the right medical technology, that this could work for people with long term dialysis needs. It's just a little scary to me. I mean, it does involve tapping into your blood stream. Perhaps there are safety precautions to make sure that you don't inadvertently bleed yourself dry by accident. (Actually, I'm being a bit facetious here. My husband says that technicians do set up the intravenous connections.)

What's next? Mall kiosks for self-care radiation therapy? Perhaps a flu-shot machine next to that passport photo booth? If the Red Cross is desperate enough for blood donations, perhaps they should look into 24x7 self service stations where you donate blood without having to have a technician present.

I did read an interesting article today about a little radioactive seed that can be implanted in a woman's breast after a lumpectomy. It's placed where the lump was removed, and it delivers low-dose radiation to the tissues immediately surrounding the area the lump was growing in. Pretty interesting stuff.

Now, if they could just come up with a way to deliver pain relief to localized areas for chronic pain sufferers, without impairing their function, that would be grand. (Note: A VERY bad back week.)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Are we learning yet?

I am taking an actual face-to-face course this semester: The Emerging U.S. Health Care System. This is a required course for my major, so there is no getting out of it. However, I have had the bulk of this material in numerous other courses over the years.

The grade in the class is, more or less, equally balanced on the midterm, final, class participation, homework, and a ten page paper. The paper will be the only thing that I won't absolutely be able to snooze through. I won't be bleeding over it, mind you, but I'll be putting forth some effort. On the other hand, the midterm has turned out to be a complete joke, in my book.

This is a face-to-face class with only four people in it. However, the instructor decided to give us a take home exam. No problem. However, 80% of the grade on the exam are multiple choice questions that could easily be researched using our text book. Another 10% of the grade is dependent on True or False questions that are nearly as mindless. The final ten points of the exam are two essay questions (but you get to pick which two out of four that you feel like answering).

Give me a break! How does this exam show that the students in this class have MASTERED the material thus far? Sadly, out of the four of us, two of my classmates will still probably struggle to get the give-away A that the instructor pretty much guaranteed us on this 'exam'. One is a very enthusiastic late-twenties ditz-ess of chaos (who took an incomplete in this class twice before). The other is a totally overwhelmed middle-aged health care worker.

I really don't mind that I don't have to work for the "A". However, I think this class is a disservice to the other students. If they walk out of the class with a "B" (or more probably a gifted "A") will they really have an appreciation for the material that we were supposed to cover? Doubtful.

C'est la vie.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Whatever happened to Fay Wray?

How many of you are old enough to remember going to a double feature at the movies, drive-in or otherwise? I think I was still in elementary school the last time that was a viable option.

A few months ago Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino put out an intentional schlock double feature called "Grindhouse". It looked classic. Rodriguez's piece on it's own was called "Planet Terror". Tarantino's piece was called "Death Proof". While I love B grade action movies, and virtually anything either of these guys can put out. The 191 minute combined running time was more than my back or bladder could take ... in the theater. Both are now available individually on DVD. I think I'll rent them both together so I can watch them as they were intended, as a double feature.

Have you ever thought to watch two movies back to back, at home, that weren't intended to go together? I like to, at least mentally, come up with my own double features. Here are just a few that come to mind. Feel free to add your own pairings.

  • Life of Brian
  • Better Off Dead
    Ferris Bueller's Day Off
  • Sixteen Candles
    Can't Hardly Wait
  • Philadelphia Story
  • Class
    Mrs Robinson
  • The Day the Earth Stood Still
    Meet Joe Black
  • The Road Warrior
    Resident Evil: Extinction
  • Shoot 'Em Up
    Smokin' Aces
  • Go
    Two Hundred Cigarettes
  • Cruel Intensions
    Dangerous Liasons
  • Big
    Thirteen Going on Thirty
  • 28 Days Later
    Dawn of the Dead
  • The Long Kiss Goodnight
    The Bourne Identity
  • Some Kind of Wonderful
    Pretty in Pink
  • Babette's Feast
    Big Night
  • Purple Rain

Monday, October 08, 2007

...every day, I don't write the book

While Elvis Costello really has very little to do with this post, the refrain from that song seemed appropriate. Last week, I added the little badge to the right that said that I planned on participating in National Blog Posting Month. This summer I was doing pretty well at posting every day. Since school started back up, I've been falling down on the job.

Well, I committed to posting every day in November for NaBloPoMo. However, I had planned to really get back with the program a few days ago. But, I missed yesterday. I have a good excuse...

OK. Why do I suddenly feel like Juan Epstein from "Welcome Back, Kotter"? "Mr Kotter, I got a note!"

See, I was really very ill all day yesterday and part of today, which really threw a monkey wrench in my three day weekend. I managed to get my homework done. Just. But, I didn't leave the house yesterday. I barely left the bed. And, all I had to eat was a handful of pretzels and half a bowl of room-temperature ramen. Yum.

Maybe at the bottom of my illness was the pathetic performance Saturday night of our Manchester Monarchs. We had such high hopes for the game. Last year, the boys won the Atlantic Conference of the AHL. Saturday night, they looked pretty sad against the Providence Bruins. But, it wasn't too surprising. Nearly our entire roster had changed. Virtually every player was an AHL rookie. I think that last year's team did so well, that most of them got scarfed up by NHL teams this year. Good for those guys! Sad for us.

So, any way, back to 'Every day, every day, every day, I write the book'. I am recommitted to posting. A handful of my blog friends have signed up for the November commitment. Heck, a few of them even post every day now. Some, ahem, should sign up so that they post more than once a week. You know who you are.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Three day weekend, off to a great start

I am so looking forward to this fabulous three day weekend. To get it started off right, I had an extended massage this morning. Next, I'm about to go down for a short nap. We plan to run a couple of silly errands this afternoon. And then, this evening, we'll be attending opening night for the local AHL team, the Manchester Monarchs.

Tomorrow will be a typical Sunday. I'll sleep in a bit late. Then, I'll take K to tennis, where I'll deal with some school work while he runs around like a maniac. In the evening, we'll take him to his youth group meeting. We may take in a movie, or we may just relax at home until it's time to pick him up three hours later.

Monday, I think I may do some school work, but I also plan on puttering around my craft bench. I haven't visited there much since school started.

If only every weekend had three days!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Great hunter

Our condo association is in the process of painting the exterior of our building. Twice in the last two weeks we have had to remove all the outdoor furniture from our patio. The first time, we were surprised to find our little friend the frog (See Best weekend of the summer) hiding within the stack of plastic chairs that we brought in. Our younger cat, Caboose, alerted us to the frog's presence by batting at him, and not leaving the stack of chairs alone. Sadly, my camera battery was exhausted at the time. So, we merely captured the frog and put him back outside where he belonged.

This week, the battery was working just fine. The cat, however, was seemingly oblivious to the frog's presence. Notice the little frog off to the cat's left in the first picture. The second picture is a close-up of the little guy.

We captured him again, and returned him to the great outdoors.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

What seems appropriate?

We are struggling with out teenage son. (Quelle surprise!) One of our constant battles is with daily tasks, things like washing his hair with actual shampoo, brushing his teeth, and putting trash bags into cans he has emptied. Three times in less than a week, he has left for school without brushing his teeth.

I am entertaining productive suggestions on how to drive this point home with him. Is there an appropriate punishment for forgetting? Is there an appropriate negative reward? I refuse to actually reward daily hygiene in a fourteen year old.

I did however agree to purchase "Tag" deodorant for him this afternoon, because he really likes the smell of their product. If it means that he might actually consider putting some on even half the time before he goes to school, I'd be thrilled.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Web site taken down by a law suit?

I am doing a paper for my class, Emerging U.S. Health Care System. The paper is on the Indian Health Service. I have tons of resources. However, I wanted to look through the web site for the Bureau of Indian Affair for related demographic and other statistical information. Unfortunately, the Bureau is party to a class-action lawsuit brought by Native American representatives. Cobell v. Kempthorne is a result of claims "that the U.S. government has incorrectly accounted for Indian trust assets, which belong to individual Native Americans (as beneficial owners) but are managed by the Department of the Interior as the fiduciary trustee".

Pursuant to that suit, the entire BIA web site has been taken down, except for a few skeleton documents. WTF? How is it that information on a public web site can be made unavailable due to a court case? Wouldn't that be like pulling all the books written by one author out of all the libraries in the world because the author was involved in a law suit? Whether the documents help or hinder either side of the case, they existed and should be admissible to the court record as they were. Also, whether or not they are valuable to the case, a government sponsored web site is as good as a government document and should not be made unavailable to the public.

Doesn't this situation violate the Freedom of Information Act? If the government took it down on its own, the answer is definitely 'yes'. If, on the other hand, the plaintiffs in the case petitioned to have the site taken down, the judge had better have darned good reason for requiring that the information that was on the site be made unavailable to the public. However, there is no explanation on the site as to which side initiated the CENSORSHIP other than the following:
The BIA website as well as the BIA mail servers have been made temporarily unavailable due to the Cobell Litigation. Please continue to check from time to time. We have no estimate on when authorization will be given to reactivate these sites.


Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Freak of nature

Every 6-10 years, I get a new dentist, usually because of a change of address that makes the former dentist's office an inconvenience. Every time I get a new dentist, I get remarks about the number of relatively straight permanent adult teeth in my mouth. I have thirty two. That is actually the number of teeth an adult should have. Unfortunately, most people I know had problems with the eruption of their last sets of molars, also known as wisdom teeth. Either they didn't have room for them in their mouths or they came in sideways. A few people just don't get that last set. Lucky them.

Mine came in during high school and college. My gums itched like mad. But, there was room, so there they are. Some would say that I had room because I have a big mouth!

Wisdom teeth are dying out, from an evolutionary standpoint. More and more people are just not getting them. They used to be an advantage. But now, for most people, they are just a pain in the mouth

I, however, am a proud freak of nature. The only time I'm not proud of my 'extra' teeth is whenever the dentist wants to take a mold of my teeth. They have to put in extender trays that cut into the rear of my mouth. Darned inconvenient. But, alas, it is the price I pay for the bragging rights. Maybe the wisdom teeth explain my sharpness of mind? ... nah, probably not. Amusing anecdote, though.