Blog of the Day Awards for Tuesday August 29, 2006

"Blog of the Day Awards for Tuesday August 29, 2006
The Blog of the Day Award Goes to The Bemused Muse Paleobiology - now that is a really cool topic for a blog. Mix that in with personal writing and a weekly blogger choice and it certainly chases away any bit of ennui (?) you might have been feeling. Check out this post about Pluto. This site was nominated by more people that any other nominee in the history of the Blog of the Day Awards. Be sure to submit your nominations early. Thank you"

WOW! Thanks AnnieElf and to the others for voting! I had put the link up on suggestion, and didn't expect anything to come of it. You guys rock!

Please visit
Blog Of The Day Awards - Best Blog and cast your vote for your favorite blog! How about we give the Sunday Scribblings a nomination, or any one of your most favorite blogs!

Blog Of The Day Awards Winner

Procrastination, and Mouse Romance Novels

My head aches today.

It isn't the typical headache or migraine, but rather the dull ache of a brain that has spent the entire afternoon researching material that is needed for my novel (a written adaptation of a 3-Act play written by my mother.) Some of you are already aware of my current endeavor, although the actual material will (until publication) remain hidden. The play itself is powerful - a gold mine filled with things that will blow current trends out of the water. I guard it as fiercely as the angels guarded the Garden of Eden. My task is therefor to flesh it out into novel form; this is either a ministry, or a curse. I choose to think of it as the former.

I enjoy writing, and I have a thirst for research. My Theological Quest is secondary to my Scientific Quest, and often those two pursuits smack into each other when anthropology rears her ugly head. (If you do not understand this, don't ask. The Bemused One is much too tired to expand upon that musing.)

Forgive me, Roadchick! - Autrice seems to have developed a taste for referring to herself in the third person! (I adore 'Chick's blog, for that reason!)

It stands to reason that my head aches today for no better reason than "brain drain". I've been thinking too much. A proper remedy is, of course, to step back from the project and allow the thoughts to settle into a recognizable pattern. Unfortunately, due to my lack of discipline (a necessary thing for any writer to master!) I tend to then put off working on current projects altogether, abandoning them as new concepts take shape. As I stated in a previous entry, I have several novels in the works, some completed and in need of polishing, and others merely ideas mapped out on paper.

I do my best writing in the wee hours of the night, when I can appreciate the silence of the house (and when Mr. DelDrago doesn't have those *rhymes with "ducking"* Star Trek reruns blaring from the television.) People who know me personally will tell you that I am an absolute bitch when I'm in my "composition" mode - do not bother me, do not call me, do not pull me from my work, and - under no uncertain terms - do anything that puts your life in jeopardy. The world ceases to exist, when I write, and all things of the world no longer have any meaning. Time becomes immeasurable. I will sit down and proceed, only ceasing when duty calls or I need more water in my glass. One of these days I will have to stop suddenly as my over-crowded ashtray has finally caught fire. It would make everyone's life much easier if I would just become a night owl. However, we are taking classes through Jefferson County in order to qualify for the state's adoption program, and as those occupy our Tuesday and Thursday evenings (and all day Saturday), I can not shrug off the mantle of a diurnal animal and give myself up to my nocturnal desires. So, forced to work during the day, I become a pest to those around me.

The phone rings, and I toss the handset it to Better Half, growling "I'm not available."

The doorbell chimes, and I announce to Better Half, "I'm not home."

The dog comes over and hits my mouse button with her nose, thus deleting the entire chapter I had just completed, and I become a vicious beast, spewing forth a cloud of vile expletives aimed at the poor animal's questionable parentage.

If I want to make sure better Half remains in my life, it would be best to become nocturnal, I think. He really gets a lot of neglect when I write. It isn't that he doesn't know any better than to bother me... but I don't think he understands the mind set and focus of a writer as they work.

Writing has never been an effort or struggle for me. I do enjoy it. I wrote the "Monster" piece in under five minutes, simply because of the challenge of being among the top ten entries. When I set a deadline for myself, I launch whole-heartedly into my task. I have given this current novel a completion deadline of one year. The timeframe is not reflective of the effort of creating/fleshing out the new concepts that I am adding to the work, but it reflects the sheer amount of data (lines) and background that needs to be formatted to book form. (If I can ever manage get it published, you will understand why this is such a challenge. I will tell you that it is based in theology, historical texts, ancient cultures and customs, and factual figures - all of which require, on my part, solid research.)

On that note: I said "Get it published", not "publish it". Aspiring writers, please beware - self publication does not make you a writer. Anyone can "self publish", and once you do so, professional writers will never take you seriously. Never, ever fall into the trap of "self publication". You are simply paying money for some group to render your work into a form that can be circulated to the masses. You will end up having a basement or garage filled with your book, tucked away into boxes and growing moldy. If you are serious about your craft, you will work your ass off until you produce something so worthy that a major publisher takes notice and offers you a contract.

One other grain of wisdom to offer: the world has too many flimsy dime-store romance novels, and any sorry sex-deprived housewife can write smut and get it published. No one will take you seriously if you write crotch novels, unless it is within the crotch novel genre itself. Would Steven Spielberg be a household name if all he could direct was porno movies? So by the same logic, will you be considered a successful author if all you write about is various takes on the same lame plot: girl is beautiful/haunty/rich/poor/insert your daydream here, girl meets man/Fabio/beast/lord/knight/adventurer, man takes girl's virginity (in a rugged, passionate, highly sensual way - and she always climaxes the first time around!), girl and man overcome obstacle, girl wins? Pshaw. What a boring formula.

Here is my take on the Romance Novel:

Lab mouse one tossed her wee white head back, the movement a proud display of the attention she knew she commanded. Lab mouse two stared at her subtly, holding back his urges to ravish her luscious form until she submitted to him in both will and desire. He would have her as his own, and she knew it. She would often imagine him peppering her mousy body with hot steamy licks of his mousy tongue, and she felt herself growing hot despite the warm lab lights that constantly glared above them. He leaned over, his nose nuzzling her neck, and she found herself caught up in desire. She turned towards him, his scent filling her nostrils and causing her bosom to heave as he pushed her trembling body to the floor, and then she screamed as the giant hand plucked him from beside her and began dropping Clorox into his eyeballs. The end.

See? As I said, the basic romance formula is easy to follow. Who needs talent to do that??

I've procrastinated enough for today.

To Love, Honor and Dismay ~ Bemused Muse's weekly Blogger choice

It is rare that I would suggest anyone ask for advice from an online forum, be it a chat room or blog. That was before I discovered a link to To Love, Honor and Dismay ~ Andrew McAllister, Ph.D. As he states, "Relationships are fascinating, aren’t they? The way we get along with our significant other dominates our conversations with friends, enriches our lives and stresses us beyond all measure. Maybe that's why we love to hear Dr. Phil explore how relationships work. This is a forum for doing just that. You can review the stories, comment on the advice, or send in a question or story of your own. The names and email addresses of all email respondents will be kept confidential." He also posseses a keen sense of humor (it should be a requirement for anyone working in psychology!)

This gentleman is one of those rare individuals who not only possesses the skills needed to give advice, but writes in such a way as to captivate the reader (while imparting a good lesson or two on the topic.) Please stop by and lend him your support. Kudos to you, Andrew!!

Domain names, registration, and copyright

You may have noticed two changes to The Bemused Muse ("Really," you ask, "I swear you change the damn thing weekly! How much more schmutz can you pack into those side bars anyway, Autrice??!")

Ahem -

You may have noticed two changes THIS WEEK to The Bemused Muse. The first is the copyright symbol and text that has been built into my template. I had a rare situation where one of my posts was ripped (pictures, text, text format, title and link) from my blog and used as a false link to an adult entertainment web site. Sure, laugh it up, you perverts! I wasn't as offended that my stuff was ripped as I was offended that a general search engine listing would lead you to believe you that you were clicking on my link, and then would direct you to something that appeared as if I was using adult entertainment banners as advertising. No, thank you very much. I have minors who visit my site, and I do not support the adult entertainment industry (which, in my opinion, is nothing but pictures and videos of worthless ex-cheerleaders or jocks - or else geeks who never "got any" in high school - that are too stupid to actually succeed in community college, and who think their genitalia is attractive. By the way, all you aspiring porn stars, you ain't all that and a bag of chips - I've seen monkeys go at it with better acting skills - and if that is all you have to offer the world, go to Walmart and see if they are running a special on "Get A Real Life".)

Carpal Tunnel Disorder - it's not just for typists anymore!

Trust me, you do not want to see that copy of my website. It is pretty graphic, if not downright naughty.

::: You'll go blind! :::

Alright, for those who are curious, I'm providing the link. Be aware that it is adult material. This is the link for that horrible porno copy of my web site. It is virus-free. Don't say that I didn't warn you! To return to this page, HIT YOUR BACK BUTTON!

Ahem -

Another situation I discovered was that some doofus decided that my page name was really kewl, and decided to use it. Now, I am not the original Bemused Muse, and I won't be the last. But, The Bemused Muse web site on Blogger is my own. A friend had tried to locate me recently, and typed Bemused Muse into their browser, and found themselves redirected to "a poorly done page with woeful writing." ::: GASP! ::: Can such a thing be? For the love of God, at least change the template out so you don't have my links and listings! Duh. Template snatcher! (Mind, now, my template is generic and offered free through, but I've modified it.) So, I've registered myself as Whoopie.

Those two incidents got me to musing - if it can happen to me, can it happen to some of my blogger friends? The simple answer: YES. I Googled some of their article headings, and found that they had also been ripped (and notified them about it!) I also found that some of them had copycats of their sites (and notified them about it!)

So, I would like to recommend that you take pains (it really isn't that painful, you know?) to secure yourselves. The first step is to include a copyright symbol if your work is copyright. You can use alt (key) 0169 to create this font code. Or, you can use HTML code bracket c bracket. If you don't know what that means, click

The second step would be to register yourself with a domain name service. The one that I chose allows you to link things for free. Blogger, and many blogging platforms, will not allow you to remove their name from the address. So, the service I chose allows me to link to this web page if I type in I can add to get to my blog photo page. I can also have free email through them. "It's a good thing", as old Martha would grunt. The link to them is through this nifty button that I have painstakingly placed here for your enjoyment:

While I'm in the hunt-and-peck-HTML mode this week, if anyone out there would like to be added to my links listing, please leave me a comment here. All I ask in return is that you link me on your own page.

Why are links important? First, they get you exposure. You can spend all your time going to other people's blogs and typing "Nice post, now visit my blog" (the loser method), or you can add links to increase your search engine results. (Oh, and I do not post comments from people who are trying to generate interest in their sites by spamming my blog.) I am going to put in the catch-all phrase: I add links to blogs of note - which means I am selective about the content that I have on my page (see third paragraph, re: porn for losers.)

Speaking of that third paragraph - "what did she do about it?" I had fun with it. First I contacted the search engine company and threatened them with a lawsuit, which prompted them to investigate the porno site (and they promptly removed it from their engine!), and then I barked up the chain, gathering information about the domain name provider, ISP, etc. The site is no longer online, and the lawsuit is moot now. However, I wouldn't hesitate to do it all over again. You don't rip my material without permission and stick it on your "boobs and butt" web site - I have nothing better to do than strive to keep my title of Ultimate Bitch Queen. (To my admirable retainer - your check is in the mail. LOL)

"Aut, how come you wail about the copyright and then post articles written by others? How cheesy is that?" It's not cheesy at all. First, I do not plagiarize the material, meaning that I do not attempt to represent myself as the author. I also site the source and (if available) the actual author of the piece, and state very clearly (sometimes twice) that the material is published here for commentary and/or discussion purposes only.

"How is that different than the porno site ripping your stuff?" Simple - the quoted material posted here remains recognizable. Clicking on my link will take you to this web site. The porno site had a hidden code in the HTML that directed you to their site. It was my exact web page, with the exception of the adult entertainment banner. For example, the article below this one has a web address of Now, if I added the letter Z after woe, it would become and that would be the "new link" to the porn site. (How original! NOT! No one ever said porn stars had much in the way of brains or creativity.)


Sunday Scribblings #22 - The Monster

The Monster hurled his naked bulk down the hallway, his breath coming in ragged bursts and his lungs strained under the effort of providing oxygen to his heart while also supporting the wail coming from his mouth. He turned left, and finding his way blocked by a heavy door, he harnessed his rage and dug in.

He would not give in. He would not be subjected to the whims of the Paladin and the Bard again. His yowls of angst became silenced, and his ears strained... their footfalls would betray them, and he would use this to his benefit. Escape was obtainable, if he only allowed himself to be patient.

The groan of wood told the Monster that his would-be captors drew close, and soon his eyes could see their shadows creeping down the corridor; they were nearly at the bend. He tensed, his muscles contracting for the desperate leap he was about to make.

Almost... almost... and the shadows drew closer... almost... NOW! he burst forth, his legs pumping wildly as he darted to the left, avoiding a lunging hand. He was free then - around the bend he raced, skidding on the polished wood and skipping down the stairs two steps at a time. If he could just reach the outer doors of the castle, he would have total liberty!

The Paladin was much quicker, although not nearly as nimble as the Monster, and to his distress, the Bard was soon passing the Paladin! He might be able to escape the man, but the woman was enchanted with a sort of magic that increased her natural abilities in combat. No sooner had the Monster's foot touched the landing when the Bard's arms reached out from behind him. He dodged her at the last possible moment, and once again he was in flight.

And so they raced - 'round tables and chairs, through rooms and halls, past heavy tapestries and mullioned windows - the Monster in lead, until they came upon the grand hall. The Monster knew he could avoid them in this large space, and the outer door was in his line of sight. The Paladin was nearly breathless, but the Bard had kept her wits, and seemed to understand that the Monster's sole goal was that exit.

She raced past him then, blocking the door by throwing her arms and legs wide. "Not this time!" she cried! "Not this time!"

The Monster threw all his efforts into stopping his progress, but the high gloss of the floor would not allow for traction. He skidded and began to fall, and the Bard's arms closed around him.

"Noooooooooo!" the Monster bellowed, every fiber of his being dreading what would happen next. "No, No!"

The Paladin reached them then, and took the Monster from the Bard's grasp. "Shall we?" he asked, his face flushed from the chase.

The Bard considered, and then nodded. "Yes. The game has ended!" The Monster swooned, and his body went limp (his favorite trick), but they held no empathy for him.

Five minutes later, the Monster sat, sulking, in a tub of hot water, as the Bard gently rubbed his face and neck. The Paladin, holding a fluffy towel, grinned at him. The magic took effect as the dirt and jam stains disappeared from his face. Soon the Monster was gone, leaving behind a little Boy.

Bath time was over. Mom and Dad were exhausted!

©The Bemused Muse, 2006


Pluto: the cold, icy... thing?

Much "kerfaffle" has been in the works this past few weeks, as Men With Large Degrees and Brains debate the classification of the tiny little planet, Pluto. Of course, Pluto is not longer a planet, and thus I will begin referring to it as Dwarf Planet - a new category of planets.

Dwarf planet? Pluto? Shouldn't we rename it Doc, Sleepy or Bashful??

I think a great amount of confusion regarding this reclassification (how rude of those Men With Large Degrees and Brains!) is due to a lack of understanding (among Those With Large and Small Brains But No Astrophysics Degrees) of what makes a plant an actual planet. It all comes down to a series of mathematical formulas (of course, doesn't it always) dealing with Kepler's Law.

Johannes Kepler first presented his theories to his mentor (Tycho Brahe) in the early 1600's. They soon became recognized as Kepler's Three Laws:

1. The path of the planets about the sun are elliptical in shape, with the center of the sun being located at one focus (The Law of Ellipses).
2. An imaginary line drawn from the center of the sun to the center of the planet will sweep out equal areas in equal intervals of time (The Law of Equal Areas).
3. The ration of the squares of the periods of any two planets is equal to the ratio of the cubes of their average distances from the sun (The Law of Harmonies).

Pluto, you are in direct violation of the law! Cease your orbit and submit yourself to Men With Large Degrees and Brains for reclassification!

How the hell does Pluto break the Law? Pluto, an ornery little gal, has a large eccentricity when compared to the other eight planets of our solar system. She doesn't want to play nice, bulks at convention, and is content to dance to her own tune.

Eccentricity? What's that? Remember the Law of Ellipses? Let's look at that one (with a little help from
The Physics Classroom. "Kepler's first law - sometimes referred to as the law of ellipses - explains that planets are orbiting the sun in a path described as an ellipse. An ellipse can easily be constructed using a pencil, two tacks, a string, a sheet of paper and a piece of cardboard. Tack the sheet of paper to the cardboard using the two tacks. Then tie the string into a loop and wrap the loop around the two tacks. Take your pencil and pull the string until the pencil and two tacks make a triangle. Then begin to trace out a path with the pencil, keeping the string wrapped tightly around the tacks. The resulting shape will be an ellipse. An ellipse is a special curve in which the sum of the distances from every point on the curve to two other points is a constant. The two other points (represented here by the tack locations) are known as the foci of the ellipse. The closer together which these points are, the more closely that the ellipse resembles the shape of a circle. In fact, a circle is the special case of an ellipse in which the two foci are at the same location. Kepler's first law is rather simple - all planets orbit the sun in a path which resembles an ellipse, with the sun being located at one of the foci of that ellipse."

Eccentricity and Pluto: All the other planets follow the same dull routine. Pluto, as I mentioned, dances to its own drum. Pluto has a very eccentric orbit - meaning that its distance from the sun varies a lot during its orbit around the Sun. Sometimes it is even closer to the Sun than the planet Neptune. Pluto also breaks the rules in other ways. It rotates around its axis in the opposite direction from most other planets. Its orbit is tilted from the plane of the ecliptic, and this angle, its orbital inclination, is 17.15 degrees - the largest inclination of any of the planets. To put that into terms we can understand, look at the top of your table or deck with your monitor being the Sun. All the planets slide along the surface of the desk in a circle, going 'round your monitor smoothly. (Before I get bombarded via email by Men With Large Degrees and Brains - yes, I am aware that this isn't a scientifically accurate representation, but honestly, you do need to get your noses out of the books and learn to interact with people!) Back to the example - if you look, you will see eight little planets circling around your monitor, content to slide over the surface of your desk in cosmic harmony. Suddenly, a little marble pops up from the surface near the left-hand bottom corner of the monitor, leaps over the right hand corner of your monitor, glides around to the back, only to disappear behind the left-hand rear corner. If you watched it long enough, you'd notice that sometimes the marble would pop through the desk much closer than Neptune, and stay in that closer orbit for a while before finding its way back to the outskirts of the orbits.

For decades, the debate over Pluto's plant status has been a hot one. It remained a planet until August 24, 2006 - because it does not want to fit into Kepler's Law. Does this downgrade her as far as interest goes? Not at all, for Pluto is still a beautiful object to view. This classification, by the way, does not stop with Pluto; we have discovered other solar systems, and the planets all follow Kepler's Laws. The discovery of anarchist "Pluto's" in other solar systems would be amazing, but it is nice to think that our own solar system can be picked out among the heavens simply because we do have a designator such as Pluto dancing around. We are no longer "That Solar System with Nine Planets and A Lot of Noise." Rather, we are now a solar system containing eight plants and several dwarf planets.

Some other fascinating facts about this little dwarf:
Pluto's name: It was once called Plant X, and does have its own moons. Percival Lowell calculated the rough location of Planet "X's" orbit, but died in 1916 before it was found. American astronomer Clyde W. Tombaugh found the planet in 1930, and named it Pluto. The name itself is after the Roman God of the underworld, Pluto. (One of Pluto's moons, Charon (discovered in 1978), is named after the mythological demon who ferried people across the mythological river Styx into Hades.) The Dwarf Planet's symbol the combined letters "P" and "L", either for Pervical Lowell or for Pluto. The name, by the way, was suggested by Venetia Burney of England, who was eleven years old at the time. She suggested the name to her grandfather, who was Librarian at Oxford. He passed her idea to the astronomers who were trying to name the newly-discovered planet (ahem, Dwarf Planet).

The Headline News Story from AP can be seen at
Astronomers Give Pluto the Boot as Planet.

Oh, Angel! The BEST Cutesy Angel Email Ever!

Early mornings are not my favorite things. I enjoy them about as much as I would enjoy whiskers on kittens or brown paper packages tied up with string. I am not an "It's a Small World" or Tickle Me Elmo sort of person, nor do I find Barney amusing or think those obnoxious "Cutesy Angel Picture and Poem" emails are sweet. Hence, when I opened my email this morning and saw a forward from a dear friend, I had to strongly fight back the hurt to reach across the miles and choke the living shit out of him for sending me a saccharine-coated tidbit from the World Wide Web. Surely he knows me well enough to not send me these things! Holding my temper in check, I opened the email.

Oh, my! "This is an email that needed forwarding," I stated to myself and the dog, tearing my eyes from the picture to so as to better type in the addresses of some friends. The purpose was two-fold. First, everyone should have an angel like this greet them on a Wednesday morning! Second, the words above the angel captured my sentiments on "cutesy" email forwards dripping with sappy poetry and idle threats to my financial success and well-being. My Husfriend would surely not appreciate my fascination with the angel. (Hello Fun Bun! I know you are reading this!) If anything, he might get a tad jealous (but, honestly, Hon, when was the last time you strapped on feathery wings and pranced around in a loin cloth?) He might just ban me from Internet use altogether, thinking my friends to be a tad lusty (don't worry, Hon, their husbands don't wear the loincloth either.) Well, considering one of the guys in his military group uses the picture of a bimbo for his IM icon, he really doesn't have a wing... leg, I mean... to stand on.

I personally collect pictures of angels. No, not the fat ones with baby faces (God knows I hate those!) I collect the more masculine version, usually stained glass images and statues. I have quite a few paintings saved in jpeg format, for no better reason than the fact that angels fascinate me (please do not flood my in box with angel pictures you assume I would like.) My mother collects angel figurines (she doesn't have many cherub ones), and most of hers have feminine faces and features. The female angels are pretty, but I can not picture the Heavenly battle between Michael and Lucifer being fought by two PMSing angels (Hey, God, she stole my chocolate and said this harp makes me look fat!)

And now, with much flourish (on my part), I give you the best "Cutesy Angel" forwarded email ever:


How many of you


getting little angel love notes from every person
in your address book?

You know the ones...

*I love you so here's a too cutesy angel and some mushy poem to prove it...*

~~ BLEH!! ~~

Like the cute wasn't bad enough,

THEN they FORCE you
by threatening bad luck
if you don't send it on to others
& back to them
to prove you read the email!

A vicious circle!






Maya Angelou Proverbs

There are a few contemporary authors, poets and public speakers out there who I admire greatly, not for their opinions on certain viewpoints, but rather for their ability to speak from the heart. Maya Angelou has written many phenomenal pieces, yet it was during an recent interview with Oprah that she said a few proverbs that all people would do well to live by. The following is a copy of those words, as sent to me in email by a friend:

In April, Maya Angelou was interviewed by Oprah on her 70+ birthday.

Oprah asked her what she thought of growing older.

And, there on television, she said it was "exciting." Regarding body changes, she said there were many, occurring every her breasts.
They seem to be in a race to see which will reach her waist, first.

The audience laughed so hard they cried.

Maya Angelou also imparted these smart tidbits - wisdom gathered over 70 years of living:

"I've learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow."

"I've learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights."

"I've learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you'll miss them when they're gone from your life"

"I've learned that making a 'living' is not the same thing as 'making a life'."

"I've learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance."
"I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw some things back."

"I've learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision."

"I've learned that even when I have pains, I don't have to be one."
"I've learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone.

People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back."
"I've learned that I still have a lot to learn."

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."


Wordstar, Mount Doom, and Commas

I have just finished helping my mother proof read (and edit) a fifteen-page letter to a local (Steubenville) parish. She is writing it, I need to add! And, if we recall my earlier posts, she lives in Colorado. What else do you do on a Monday night, when long distance is free, and your mother is in grammatical distress?

My Mum is the comma queen. She writes as she speaks, and her program does not often catch the grammatical errors. Neither does my father, who we suspect only pretended to proofread her letter. We must also factor in her word processing program - WORDSTAR. Many of my Dear Readers are younger than this antiquated program. I think we even find a reference to it in Genesis, right after God created animals and saw that they were good. (Why would God create bad animals, anyway? Then again, God did create my cat. She is of the devil.)

Getting back to my mother: Mum would love to learn a newer program. I would love it if she learned a new program. But in my parents' house, we have Computer Wars. The war is mainly because my father likes to kibitz around on the thing, which means my mother doesn't get to use it (he has a lot of khutzpe, doing that!) When she does manage to snag time, he gripes because he falls behind on work. The whole thing is just farbisine, because the man is hopelessly addicted to tinkering. He gets into Meshugine Mode (run in terror) when kicked off the thing, and that starts the mishigas flowing.

My God, to hear me talk, you'd think we were Jewish! Break out the nosh, because it's gonna be a megila. Oy vey!

My mother and I worked on the letter, and finally got it proofed and polished. I even taught her how to use MS Word (which means that I instructed her to roll her mouse over to the pictures in the upper left hand corner and click on the little icon that looks like a disk. I should work for AOL customer support! I would have to move to India, in that case.)

Mum's letter was very powerful - she is a talented woman! (Mum, look! I used a " - " in that sentence. I would use a comma. If it was necessary.)

I just spent five minutes trying to construct a really witty grammatical error (in that case, a run on sentence), but I have just now discovered that I am so damned anal retentive that my brain forbids me to do so! So much for trying to put a little "inside humor" into this post.

Why do I have the strangest mental image of my father sitting in their darkened office, hugging his monitor and purring "my Precious"?

It must be dinner. Jeff made an excellent pork chop (shut up, I'm Italian! I can eat those!), although I am feeling too lazy to actually go downstairs and put the leftover bits in the refrigerator. It has been a long day - two funerals! Not my own, although I will be facing death for this post! We simply had two members of our parish pass away this past week. Three, actually, and I am singing at that funeral as well.

There is a bright side to this wacky day! I actually sat down and wrote the first six pages of my newest book (also a Mum project.) Of course, I will wake up tomorrow and decide that it is all crap, and delete it. Vicious circle. I have exactly five "newest books" floating around on my hard drive. Two are nearly completed, and two are in just the plot tinkering stages. None are ever going to see publication, as I don't think they have any real merit (or market). "Decision" at least has the plot done for me (thanks Mum!) and just needs fleshing out. For those who are curious - it is an adaptation of a play that she wrote years back. On Wordstar - the same Wordstar she uses today. Moses helped her proof it (as my father was looking at CAD stuff for the arc... on the computer... with Noah.) Remember, Wordstar is in fact in Genesis, before Adam but after the animals. God saw that it was Good, and then He created Bill Gates.

What? You don't believe me about Wordstar?
A Potted History of WordStar Check it for yourself! $8,500 and you, too, could have started MicroPro International Inc. (My father would be proud of me for knowing that! I'll be sure to tell him that, once Mum and I pry the computer out of his hands and throw it into the cracks of Mount Doom.)

I'm just joshing. My father rocks! He may be in his 70's, but the man can scratch build a computer better than most people my age. We don't sing "Daddy of the 9 USB Ports" at family functions for nothing! (If you never saw the cheesy Rankin-Bass cartoon, or have never heard the warbled "Frodo" song from it, you won't get that joke. It, like Wordstar, is before your time.)

Duirwaigh's Sunday Scribbling - To Tinkerbell

I enjoy Sunday Scribblings, and often I run across a story that literally shakes me emotionally. So today I share a Message from the Muse, Duirwaigh: To Tinkerbell. Words can not even begin to say how poignant her story is. I found myself on the edge of my seat, walking each step with her, which of course is the hallmark of an excellent author! Tink and Duirwaigh truly are inspirations for all of us to keep fighting, no matter how badly the odds are stacked against us.

Her main blog link is
Duirwaigh (

Greyhound's Voice - Sunday Scribbles #21

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Gentle dream,... rocks flick up to smack against my belly... I run and run, the circle complete, and I stop, my breath in great puffs as they come for me to begin my cool down...

But this is just a dream. A memory of the shadows of my past. I have many.

My life began as all life does, with the smells of my family and the touch of my mother. And so I grew, long legged and strong, and earned a place with a good kennel. I was a racer, and my sole purpose was to push all my energy into those frantic moments each day when the gates would hurl wide and release me into my appointed task.

But life has quirks, and we can not run forever. Many of my kin disappear once their running time comes to an end. It is bitter, almost futile... to be born, to run, to die.

My name is Sami, and I am a retired racing greyhound.

Here, come over beside me on the couch. It's a comfy couch, I think... and I spend a lot of time here. Pardon that wet spot; that is my favorite pillow, and I like to rest my head on it. That has always been my couch, always since I came to live here. This has always been my family, too, because before I came here I did not know what family was. Look around, at my home, please. It is filled with sights and sounds and so many fun smells. You can ask my human mother for a cookie from the jar in the kitchen, if you get hungry. And if you thirst, my bowls are always available, and always full of water to drink!

Before I came here, I lived in an adoption kennel. Yes, that makes sense, doesn't it? I don't really understand the kennel thing. I was born into a Kennel, and sold to another Kennel, and the owners of that second Kennel had hired managers who kept us. I knew only three Spots.

My kennel, the metal cage itself only large enough for me to stand or turn around in, was my place of Existence. When I left this place of Existence, it was for very few things. I wore my muzzle at all times, from the moment I passed through my personal confinement door until the moment I returned. I came from a good Kennel, and the managers kept me groomed from fleas and made sure my injuries were addressed. Do you know how many hours I lived in the place of Existence? It was never just to sleep overnight, you know! If I was not running, or exercising, I was confined.

The Turnout Yard, dirt paved, was where I voided myself, is the second Spot I knew. I wore my muzzle, and romped as best I could with ten to twenty of the other males housed by the Kennel. The females were separated us by a chain link fence, and they, too, wore muzzles. We were given a brief time, twice per day, where we could be out in the fresh air in the Turnout Yard.

The only other Spot I knew was the Place of Purpose. This was many places, but all part of the same thing. We race on a constant basis. We must be examined and checked. Our ears are lifted, so that the tattoos on both ears could be read to verify that we were the same dog as listed. We were groomed and washed, and our plastic muzzle was replaced by a metal one designed for the track. Our nails were clipped, our pads checked... and then we were lead to The Gate.

The Gate! The Purpose Revealed! I still feel my heart begin to race when my memory recalls The Gate! This was my trial ground. If I ran well, I was rewarded with my life. If I ran poorly, death awaited me.

You are chuckling? Oh... I understand. You think I'm being metaphorical!

Please, please understand! I had only one Purpose! We, all my racing kith and kin, have only one Purpose! We run. We must run. We will run... run well enough to be allowed to continue to run. My dreams, even now, involve that sole pursuit! If we do well, we live another week! But, if we fail, if we can no longer fulfill our purpose, we have no reason to be kept alive. Did you know that?

I shudder to think of the badly run Kennels, and my fellow racers housed within, the property of the Owners. Many "worthless" racers, those who simply do not do well on the track, are sold into laboratories for animal experiments. YES! That still happens in this day and age. Whole groups, taken into the buildings, are used to better your human life. Medical, chemical... it doesn't matter. When you see us run on your TV, do you pause to consider that we are so disposable? Many people don't.

But, there is a far worse thing. Euthanasia. We are killed because we are a burden. Who wants to breed a dog that is worthless as a runner? Who wants to keep a loser on the dole, paying to feed an animal that doesn't bring profit? Please consider a moment the greyhound called Baron Hill. He came from a horrid Kennel, a Kennel with a manager who never treated a single track wound on his body. He was scared and abused, neglected and mishandled. Yet, his heart was filled with a desire to love and do well. His fate was to be a dishonorable death... taken into the field and shot by the Kennel manager... but he was saved by an adoption group who saw the mistreatment. Baron Hill, the retired racer, spent his last few years of life living in a loving home - the same home that I now call my own! He died, sadly and suddenly, from an aneurysm, but he died, not in a field with a bullet through his head, but in the tender arms of his new father. Please hear this: many racers are put to death each year, because they are a burden on the Kennels. Many racers are not given the chance to die with love. Many, too many of my kin, are released from the bonds of this earth simply because no one wants them. Many die before the age of four.

Please understand, I am speaking to you from my heart. People do not always comprehend my situation. They assume that the organizations that are in place protect us. This is not so! So, I wish to take a bit of your time, if you were permit it, because it is so important that I share this!

There is so much love and joy that I want to share with you. We all do. We are just like other dogs, you know? Well, I should take part of that back; we are not just like all other dogs. We are trained to behave. I will patiently stand still while you bathe me and groom me, and will allow you to clip my nails without any fuss. I also stand quietly while my vet examines me, even when he draws my blood for tests. I don't growl or bite when given shots, either. I was trained to be a good boy. But, my experiences in the Kennel have drawbacks - I had never seen stairs before! I had never experienced the way glass feels when you press your nose against it! The first time I was turned out into my new back yard, I could not understand why I was not muzzled, and why I was allowed to run free. This was all new to me, although I have mastered it now.

I, like most of my kind, am content to spend my days resting on blankets or anything soft. I am not hyperactive. I am used to being confined in a small box for most of my time, after all. And, because I am used to the hustle of activity at Kennels, I have learned to stand patiently in a busy environment. I have learned not to be aggressive with small animals (although many Kennels use live bait when they train us!) I love to offer love, standing quietly and resting my head in your lap while you type, or flopping down next to you as you read your book. I have found that children are fascinating, filled with smells, yet because I was never allowed to lick anyone to show my feelings, I do not make a pest of myself and attempt to do you job when it comes to cleaning your child's face.

How could my kind be of service to you? Ha! To be of service is my dream and life's work! So many of my kind would love to be your daily jogging partner, either in the bustle of a metropolis or in the quiet solitude of the countryside. We love to work as Compassion Animals in medical centers, especially when that works means interacting with ill children or senior citizens. How we love to lay by your feet as you read to children in libraries! We are not just retired racers, then... we are Companion Animals! Oh, and if we are not too badly injured from our careers, we love to lure course!

As for me? I am content to spend my days bringing comfort to my family. I make them smile, and sometimes I can even get them to laugh when I do silly things that they are not expecting, such as play with a toy! I know when my new mother is feeling pain, and I come to her in the morning and rest my head on the bed next to her, my eyes looking deeply into hers as if to say "it's okay, I love you anyway." When my new father walks down the stairs, I stay near him, or walk in front of him, to help him keep track of how many steps he has to go down! My sisters, who are not retired racers, run about and demand attention. I prefer to give attention.

Would you be willing to allow me a chance at life? Well, in truth, I have already been given one, and love my home. Yet, so many retired racers are in need of you. They need someone to take them in, to give them new purpose. Adopting or fostering just one means that there will be one less younger dog who is used for research in labs or put to death for no good reason. Please, take a moment to see all the ways we can bring joy to your life!

Thank you for listening to me today. It means so much to me.

With unconditional love,

Racename: PB Drives On By
(For more pictures, please click here: Autrices Image Page: Greyhound's Voice - Sunday Scribbles #21)

Adoption Agency Listings:

Adoption Agency Directory The Greyhound Project

Greyhound adoption - Wikipedia

FOR GREYHOUNDS - Friends Of Retired Greyhounds This is where I came from for adoption! God bless you people! Thank you, thank you, thank you for liberating me!

© The Bemused Muse, 2006


The links list... late, but still great!

I have not forgotten the weekly list! I've been writing addresses down since the last was published, but have just not had the heart to update my own links list or post new ones here. Shame on me!

So, please stop by and visit a few (if not ALL) of these places:

Life is a Glorious Cycle of Song ( Lori and I share the same template creator (and also a mischievous passion for tinkering with it!) I think we also might share the same sense of humor. Hmm. A long lost twin?

Good Deeds ( oh, wowzers! This is a place to recount an act by people who want to reach out to their neighbor, their community, their world, if just for a moment. This touching of the world, by just one act, can change the world. It can change those touched. Most importantly, it can change the one who touches. They are off to a promising start.

David A. Vogel - CD; CALLING US HOME II ( this isn't a blog. He is a friend of the family, and I thought it would be nice to share his music with you. David has appeared on various EWTN specials, and is a talented musician.

Bush Pilot (with English subtitles) !? - Google Video ( this is also not a blog, but it is funny! Make sure you have the volume turned up, to appreciate the sound effects!

Seven Creeks Roadside Spring Water ( I've already mentioned them once, but twice is just as nice.

Gas Prices - MSN Autos ( Want to find the cheapest gasoline near your house? Enter your zip code and let the search begin!

All-American Girl's Roadtrip ( how could I forget The 'Chick? Finally, she has been added to the links on the right. This is one blog that I really enjoy reading through... the Roadchick inspires!

Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium

I have had the most exasperating, asinine and anal week! It started off with a high note, and came to a bitter conclusion today.
(By the way... the pictures here are best viewed at full screen.)

To summarize: I was offered a job. Good. Teaching. Great. Kids. Fantastic! I spent the last three days toiling on lesson plans and gathering data for their age group. I stopped by the facility and prepared the room (cleaning it top to bottom and organizing the materials already on hand!) I met with the staff. I have spent the last 72 hours immersed in preparations, including researching various programs that would advance the project as a whole. Today, thanks to an oversight on their part and a persnickety administrative bureaucrat, it was decided that my contract would not be signed. "Perhaps next year?" My would-have-been direct "boss" was ticked off four ways to Neptune, not at me, but at the board itself, as he really wanted to incorporate me into their curriculum.

Am I depressed over it? Not really. These things happen, and it "was not meant to be at this time." But am I pissed? Oh, I am indeed. The anger is not directed at anyone personally. It’s just a general sense of mal-use. I will get over it.

So, now free of imminent obligations, and not wanting to spend any more time in front of the computer (and deleting email pertaining to the courses I was going to teach) I decided on a whim to drive up to Pitt and check out the zoo and aquarium. We all need capricious moments to bring levity to dismal days.

The Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium is a good little place. The admission is only $9 per adult, and membership is dirt cheap. The facility itself is nicely laid out, promoting a natural habitat environment for the animals in an effort to support conservation. They have developed research, breeding and conservation programs in tandem with international organizations and zoos across the country, and have more than thirty-two threatened or endangered species on their grounds.

The layout, as I mentioned, is very well thought out. You do not see much of Pittsburgh from the zoo's pathways, although some of the exhibits' moats prevent people from seeing the animals at close range. We arrived at 3 PM, and the heat was not too bad, but most of the animals were wisely resting at the back parts of their enclosures to better utilize the cool rocks and shade. I would have liked to have seen more enrichment toys for them, but I do understand the zoo's desire to make the habitats appear as natural as possible.

So, today (midday) was not a good time to view animals. Most were a flop, as they could not be seen from their cool spots in the tall grasses. I captured a few photographs, which are present here, and ended up cropping them (as the zoom feature on my digital camera only allows for so much distance!)

I am pleased to see that they have a Komodo dragon. These are breathtaking lizards, and although they can be fierce, they are generally more interested in their food and enrichment treats than scuttling along the ground in search of stray children. Like most zoos, Pittsburgh keeps these creatures behind a think panel of glass (bacteria is a major problem.) The Komodo here, No-name, was perfectly content to play dead among the grass.

The West African Dwarf Crocodile was an added delight. I have not seen one of these in captivity (but my zoo-going prowess is near nil, anyway.) They had several on display, which were basking in the sun (the open mouth helps regulate body temperature. It is quite comical to see 4 or 5 of these fellows all lined up on the bank with open mouths gaping at the crowds.)

The Snow leopard, Siberian tiger and Amur leopard were no-shows today, although we could see bits of ear or tail poking out of hidey-holes here and there.

On the African Savanna MIA list were the Black rhinos, African lions (we did see one lioness flopped high on the ledge), blesbok, Dama gazelle, and Thomson's gazelle. The ostrich, zebra and giraffe were happy to wander about their exhibits, as someone from the animal husbandry department was walking about with a water hose. The African elephants were inside their housing, but visitors could walk through to see them up close.

We had providence with the Tropical Forest, as the primates are housed indoors. The lemurs were content to frolic (and yes, lemurs smell terrible!), as were the other smaller monkeys. Their Bornean orangutan had a small male baby, and we watched as she set him to play on the branches overhead while she straightened up their nest. Orangutans are very intelligent creatures, and I felt a profound sense of general boredom from her. Perhaps it was the way she half-heartedly moved the hay back and forth, or her downcast eyes, or maybe she was simply sleepy - I am not a primate expert by any means! Still, it was a moment that had sadness to it.

We moved on to lunch and the African Ravine, where the African wild dog exhibit (a new addition) is kept. Much like their neighbors, these fascinating dogs hid themselves in the cool grasses and brush, so the observer was treated to bits of ear sticking up from their hiding spots.

After a quick meal of hamburgers and French fries, we found the bear exhibit. The Kodiak reminded us of our dog, Mattie. Its facial expression... one of half sleep and half "who are you people?" was a near duplicate of our dog's own face when she is bothered out of her nap. The bear hugged its favorite log play toy, and was asleep again before we had even passed by. The Spectacled bears were a bit more awake, and gazed at us. The black bear, next door, retreated to the confines of the shady portion of its exhibit, and did the perfect imitation of a shaggy rock.

We did not complete the whole zoo tour, and will have to visit the Worlds of Discovery (reptile house, amphibians, meerkats etc) at a later visit. But, we did stop by Water's Edge, the aquarium portion.

Water's edge is a small aquarium, but their tank layout done rather well. Of course, I took pictures of the leafy sea dragons (my favorite of seahorses!), as well as a few other fish.

We left right around closing at 6, but do to a concert at the Pavilion, we did not get back to Steubenville until late this evening (traffic! WOW!)

I think I will do a little work tomorrow, and then come home and relax. Despite the disappointment early this morning, it was a lovely day.


A Bemused Sunday Scribbling

This was the perfect Sunday to "get out and about". I had stopped by the market after Mass, and picked up the basics for supper, and came home to find Jeff at the front door, eager to go on a our picnic (believe me, he made my morning!)

We packed up some things we had at home, and stopped at Federicos for a few good deli items, then drove over to the local park - to find the picnic area enclosed by a high chain link fence decorated with a nasty looking "No Trespassing" sign. I would have scaled the fence ten years ago - but today was too nice for one of my anarchy moments, so we settled on taking a drive to Seven Creeks (
Seven Creeks Roadside Spring Water, you can get all the details about this wonderful place by clicking on that link!)

We drove down the narrow roads, and found a perfect little area. Our ears were greeted by ringing silence (you know, that woodsy, "there are no humans here, unless you count the ax murderer crouched in the undergrowth" sort of sound), but soon we could pick out the merry laughter of a creek. We pitched our blanket, and the cicadas and crickets began to serenade us. There wasn't much in the way of bird song, but the slight breeze caused the canopy of leaves over our heads to dance their own chorus, and truly it was a peaceful setting. I had just commented to Jeff that we would have had to drive nearly three hours to find such a spot in Colorado, and that we would have found it already inhabited by a bunch of weekend Extreme Sports warriors (with their iPods, expensive outdoor gear, camel-backs, and Pop Culture wardrobes (take your pick: EMS, Mountain Chalet, L.L. Bean, Rei, etc - because you just can not enjoy the great outdoors in Colorado unless you are wearing the latest and greatest fashion trends!! Have I ever mentioned how much I despise the "I'm So Cool Colorado" mentality? Stay tuned - I usually voice that opinion at least one a quarter.) Now, where was I?

Oh, yes...

I had just commented to Jeff that we would have to drive nearly three hours to find such a spot in Colorado, but Seven Creeks was totally uninhabited and thus the perfect place to enjoy a quiet Sunday afternoon, when lo and behold! An old car pulls up with a couple and their very young daughter. We cringed a bit, as we really were wanting to escape human beings today, but they soon settled on the other side of the grassy berm, out of sight from us, and once again we were left to solitude. That is, until the fancy SUV pulled up and spewed forth a group of gaggling adults, who seemed hell bent on capturing photographs of the area while discussing where they had found a great shopping deal on shirts ("I picked two pink ones, and a white one, and then some pants,... yuck is that water brown... but I don't have shoes to match, so I went next door and they had shoes, and so I bought them, but they were buy one and get one free, so I bought two. Well, the second pair was free, so it's not like I actually bought them, bought them, you know? So we went over... hey, is that a bird or something?... so we went over to JC Penny and I found the cutest... oh, hey, a stream... cutest outfit for Barb, so I called her and told her to meet me... hey, look at that old bridge... to meet me there because there was only one her size..." Phish! these people reminded me of a certain AOL Chatroom!) Needless to say, after ten minutes they soon reasoned that "there isn't anything to see here", and left - once again, we found ourselves basking in Nature. They did bring their expensive digital cameras, and did actually point the camera lens at "stuff", but who has time to really appreciate "stuff" when it's much more entertaining to talk?

It is a very sad modern trend - as if the whole world is consumed by rampant ADHD. If you put two people in a natural setting, with complete solitude, they soon grown bored and feel the urge to move on. I am often reminded of the chorus portion of the Soft Cell tune Entertain Me:

"Entertain me
I'm as blank as can be
And I've done it before
And I've seen it before
And I think that I like it
But no I don't like it
It just goes on over and over
And over and over and over again!"

Yes, people want to (need to be!) entertained. Nature has little to offer, unless you take the time to center yourself, becoming almost Tao (One with it!) If you simply get out of your car and glance at it, it is nothing but a field of green dotted with shades of brown and blue. It's a "bunch of trees" or "some grass", with "rocks and bugs". It is just a backdrop, and you are waiting for the curtain to rise. Alas! Poor, misguided modern people! The backdrop is really the main show, and all that dwells within it are the star players!

These are the things I pondered, as I sat on our blanket and ran my fingers through Jeff's hair or rubbed his shoulder. He was at peace, my lap a pillow, so he could enjoy the dance of the tree branches over our heads. (On that note, he has an absolutely cute "military haircut", and one of my favorite pastimes is "petting him", enjoying the tactile pleasure of feeling those bristly short strands tickle the tips of my fingers.) The men of my generation (those in their mid-30's) seem to lack the ability to allow the mind to wax philosophical. Sure, they can quote philosophers, and they might have a unique thought or two, but their mind is also sharing time with music or video games. My Jeff, my wonderful and witty husband, is older than I am, and comes from a time when childhood entertainment meant reading a book or playing in a creek (although he did often beat the hell out of his younger brother, for kicks.) Jeff is the sort of person with whom I can spend a good several hours debating evolution what-ifs, or dialoging about astronomy, oceanography, or other such things. We can discuss theology or politics without the conversation turning ugly. But, most of all, we can sit in a field in the middle of the woods, and not have to say a word to each other, and yet we both know each other's thoughts. We both can appreciate the entertainment (always subtle, never ceasing, ever magnificent) of Nature itself.

So, in our brief time at Seven Creeks today, we discovered yet another little "perfect world", a treasure hidden in plain sight of those who do not have the mental mastery to settle and become One with their surroundings. The pictures in today's entry are all from our picnic sight at Seven Creeks. I wish that I could transport all of you there, so that you could feel the beauty around you. Words can not impart the true experience. But, should you have come along today, you would have been treated to a wonderful Sunday afternoon. I urge you, however, to turn off your computers today. Find a bit of Nature around you and allow yourself to become lost in it. Nature does not have to be a wooded area. It can be found in your own backyard. It can be seen on your apartment window ledge, in the form of a small spider spinning her nightly home. Something as simple as a wooden bit of furniture, with it's marvelous rings and whorls, cool to the touch yet once a living thing, can spin you away from your mundane world. Allow your imagination to capture you and whisk you to a place of tranquility. Perhaps this will inspire you to expand what you "know", to understand that there comes a point where we should stop asking "who else could I still be", and pause (really pause!) to reflect that who we are, and what we are, is in fact the same perfection as is found in nature... sometimes rugged, but always a wonderful thing to discover and explore!

As a final thought, I will leave you with an "anonymous" poem I discovered in a $5 flea-market find this evening. The book, dating from 1891 (that is not a typo!) and entitled The Speakers' Complete Program, contains hundreds of "period" pieces. This lovely poem, The River of Life, is one of them:

Down from the heather-covered hills,
Fed by a thousand little rills,
Through sun and shadow, night and day,
The brooklet speeds upon its way.

Flashing through meadows in its pride,
Flowing through towns that full its tide,
Through sun and shade, towards the sea,
The river speeds unceasingly.

So too from days of babyhood,
When every minute has its mood,
Changeful as any April day,
Life's river speeds up its way.

Sparkling in all Youth's joyous pride,
Dulled by stern Sorrow's murky tide,
Through sun and shade, through joys and woes,
Unceasingly Life's river flows.

Dr. Horner's lecture canceled.

I guess I'm not the only one having a bad week!

Please keep Jack in your prayers as he recovers.

"A recent knee injury has caused the cancellation of the lecture by famed paleontologist Dr. Jack Horner on Sunday, August 13 at 3 p.m. at Carnegie Museum of Natural History. People holding tickets will automatically receive a refund through the Group Services Office (412-622-3291). The talk has not been rescheduled."

Catching up on stuff

I would like to say that I was detained from writing due to an overly exciting week. I would also like to say I am Heir to the Throne of some very exotic country. Neither are plausible. We did explore the local area a bit more. I had meant to write about that this week, but was sidelined by the "blahs". The following are some excerpts from an email to my Mum -

"We drove up the 2 in West Virginia today. We passed the mill, and drove all the way until it ended. Nice drive... very quaint towns and all. I took a few pictures, but the one church didn't come out (need to use a program to lighten it.)


Our $30 antique cabinet. The white stuff on the back is where there was paint over the shipping label. This was up past Weirdtown towards New Cumberland. Lots of antiques in this guy's shop, and everything priced way below their worth. I could have dropped $500 and furnished the whole house (if he had more things that were my style.)

Not much else going on it Steupedville today. L called and left a message, but I have not called her back yet. At least AH called you today.

Oh, my lame perm picture. I have the sides pulled back with combs, since they look like frizzy poodle ears. Here's a picture.

Guess that's all the news to report. I'm going to shower (and deep condition the rat's nest on top of my head), then call it bedtime."

Yes, there you have it! The wonderful excitement that is the backdrop of my daily life! Are you in awe? If you are, you have less of a life than I do! HA

I've just been too under the weather to really get out and do much. I did not attend Dr. Horner's lecture at Carnegie last weekend (and am very bummed about that), nor did I manage to do much in my yards. The back yard looks positively savage (in other words, primitive savages could probably find plenty of cover in the grasses and weeds!) With the exception of the moth, I have not been able to sit on my deck or porch and enjoy the bounty of wildlife. It's just the usual muscle and joint pain - during the "bad weeks", I spend most of my time trying hard not to cry. Oh, that is a lie - I spend my crying time at night, in the dark, so I don't bother Jeff while he's sleeping. I've at least been able to read, and have discovered that Spongebob Squarepants is actually quite funny (God, help me! Help me! ROFL)

Tomorrow I will attend mass and (if I'm up to it) sing in the choir. I've asked Jeff if we could please do something fun - take a drive, or have a picnic, or maybe find a deserted back road and drag the telescope out so that we can watch the Perseid Meteor shower. That would mean a lot to me.

My (rather negative view) of the new Airport Restrictions

Pauline in the UK sent me an email earlier today, concerning the heightened airport security (she lives spitting distance of a major airport.) And so, she has asked for opinions on the new "restrictions" going into place. I obliged her with the following:

Well, I used to travel a lot for my former employer... conventions mostly within the United States... so I can tell you some things that do come in handy... and now that they are banned, people will be in fits over here

1. Laptops. To begin with, during a 6 - 10 hour flight, your company expects you to be productive. That means completing any last minute details for your seminar or project, working on email (to be sent once you have debarked the plane), figuring out your route, etc. The Laptop also plays movies, has games, and allows you to listen to music. We used to have security set up so that you had to turn your laptop on and prove it was a working device. Now that they are insisting that these tools be stowed in baggage, I will expect the airline to fully compensate me for any losses due to their neglect... in other words, they will not just pay for the laptop, but the wages I LOST because I could NOT perform my job without the laptop. I am PAID to work during the flight, as well.

2. Water bottles. I never fly without one. Mainly, it is because of medical reasons. I need to keep hydrated, or I become sickly. I also need water to take my medications (pill form.) The airline provides a small plastic cup with no lid, so I dare not nap, get up to use the restroom, or shift my position, or the damn cup will tip over and spill all over me and the fellow next to me. I also travel with a small bottle of apple juice, so my sugar does not drop. Will the airline provide FREE bottles of these things, at my very beck and call, when I need them?

3. Medications in liquid form. Over the counter drops for babies are a life-saver for all those who must travel with them. Their little ears can't 'pop' due to the altitude, and they begin to wail something horrid. A smart parent travels with a baby bottle of milk, and a baby bottle of water. Also, pediatric ear drops help ease the discomfort. If a parent is allowed to carry this... WHY CAN'T WE?? People with ear and eye disorders often carry over-the-counter medications that their doctor prescribes. There is, of course, no label on these items with the patient's name, as they are OVER THE COUNTER and not dispensed by a pharmacist! As for contact wearers? What will they use to hydrate their lenses? Spit? And a baby bottle with milk (the mother is required to taste it to prove it is milk)... I pity the poor father who is taking his infant on a short flight with bottled breast milk!

4. Cigarettes. Sure, those who smoke carry them, but now they too are banned. Guess what? My pack will be stuffed under my left breast, in my bra, and when asked, I will explain that I had breast restoration and am disfigured. They can pry my cigarettes from my cold, dead hands, as far as this asinine rule goes.

5. Other electronic devices... well, the iPods and other portable music devices are usually used with kindness, but I have been stuck on a long flight with a teen who seemed to be so deaf that he had to crank the device up to the highest setting. I am not a fan of rap music, and the flight was hell.

6. Hand luggage... gee, what do I carry in mine? I travel with one suitcase (checked baggage) and one soft case. The soft case is often stowed in overhead, after I remove my computer and a smaller case. The smaller case contains: medications (4 bottles, 2 of which prevent me from having a heart attack), antacids (I HATE flying, and it shows!), cough drops, a bottle of water, a bottle of apple juice, tissues, a tampon (should it be that time of the month... and where, I might ask, shall I store 2 or 3 of them? Behind my ears?), a small package of cheap cookies (to take with my medication so I don't vomit from meds on an empty stomach!), eye drops, an eyeglass case, and a book. Should I need to fly, I will embarrass whoever is around me by placing all these things in a clear plastic bag, making sure that I purchase tampons and kotex with the brightest and most obvious packaging. I will mark the bag "BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU" in big, black bold letters, along with "I HAVE MY PERIOD AND AM BLEEDING BETWEEN MY LEGS" (oh, too TMI!!!). That should clearly alert everyone to the fact that the feminine products are for personal use and not a bomb or weapon. Of course, I may lose my temper and insert a tampon into the eye socket of the first person who tries to reach under my left breast to grab my cigarettes.)

7. Carry on bags in general. Most of us who travel for business do away with checked bags. We pack one suit, with interchangeable shirts. We have 1 pair of extra shoes. We pack only enough underwear to last the trip. Thus, we travel with just a carry on bag (I, however, prefer to drag a suitcase, as I always stop at museums or other attractions during my personal time. Souvenirs are a bummer to carry!)

8. Perfume. Good, ban it. I can't stand having to sit on a plane with someone who wears their perfume so heavy that they have burned out their olfactory bulbs. I am allergic to perfumes, and reply upon tissues and antihistamines to survive flights containing people who smell like French whores.

9. Newspapers and books. What the hell are we supposed to do during long flights? They won't let us smoke. We can't have sex in the bathrooms. Picking our noses or masturbating in public is a very, very big no-no! Fellow passengers won't appreciate us singing. So that leaves us with: 1. talking to the person next to you (I hate doing that. I don't want to hear about your great aunt Millie, or your kids, or your dog, or your job, or your promotion, or the concert you are going to.) Unless you are in a scientific field, or medicine, don't bother me. 2. Sleep. Yes. I can always sleep, provided I'm not sitting next to a 'talker'.

10. Cell phones. We can't use them during flight anyway. But, the minute my plane lands, I have to "call the office" and let them know. I then call the hotel, and the convention center, and the client. If my bag is lost, not only do I not have my computer, but now I can't call anyone! As I can't carry books on the plane, I don't have any contact phone numbers handy! I am stuck, in your rotted airport, without any means of communication! Excuse me while I insert this tampon into your other eye socket.

11. Booze. I don't carry it. If I find a good deal, I'll mail it home. I hit the airport bar before I leave, if I so want a drink, or I'll have one in-flight.

12. Makeup. If you think, for one moment, I am going to represent my company by stepping off a plane looking like Attila the Hun, you've got another thing coming.

13. Keys are allowed? Honey, if I'm mad enough, I can kill you with a set of keys. The tampon is just softer and absorbs your blood so that I don't leave a mess on the floor.

14. Toys. Alright, I won't travel with a dildo, I promise! (LOL). But toys are what keeps those cranky kids amused. I suggest we put a caught terrorist on flights with children. His punishment will be to keep the tots entertained through the entire flight. If one child cries, he gets shot. Or stabbed with tampons.

Believe me, travel before these new restrictions was hell. At this point, if a terrorist should be stupid enough to 'try something' on a flight, I believe most of us business travels would murder him in the aisle, just because people like him have caused us so much inconvenience! They had best ban stewards and stewardesses by that point, because we will use them as a weapon... nothing says 'thanks for flying' like being hit over the head with a cheerful, perky flight attendant.

As for American airport security... the lines are always long. Arrive 2 - 3 hours ahead of schedule. Be ready to have your checked bags searched. Your carryon bags must be opened up and sent through X-ray. You must remove your shoes and place them on the X-ray belt. Your computer devices must be removed from their cases and set in a separate bin. You must walk through the metal detector, sans shoes (also placed in a separate bin). I always beep (surgical metal and metal in my ankle brace), so I am taken aside (wasting another 5 - 10 minutes) while they run a wand over my body and feel me up. You must have your ticket and a valid photo id handy. No one but those with tickets and an ID can cross the checkpoint. No cigarette lighters, btw. (Carry matches) No hairspray cans, or other flammables.

Perseid Meteor Showers

(Sky & Telescope Aug. 7) - The Perseid meteor shower, an annual celestial event beloved by millions of skywatchers around the world, returns to the night sky this coming week. But moonlight will interfere somewhat with the view.

Sky & Telescope magazine predicts that the Perseid shower will reach its peak late on Friday and Saturday nights, August 11-12 and 12-13 (for viewers in North America). The rate of activity should pick up after midnight until the first light of dawn.

You'll need no equipment but your eyes. The moonlight in the sky will hide the fainter meteors, and so will artificial light pollution, but the brightest meteors should still show through.

Find a dark spot with a wide-open view of the sky. Bring a reclining lawn chair and a sleeping bag; the bag not only provides warmth against the late-night chill but also serves as mosquito armor in this era of West Nile virus. Cover your remaining exposed parts (including hair and clothing) with an effective mosquito repellent.

"Go out after about 11 or midnight or so, lie back, and gaze up at the stars," says Sky & Telescope senior editor Alan MacRobert. "Relax, be patient, keep the Moon out of sight, and let your eyes adapt to the dark. With a little luck you'll see a 'shooting star' every few minutes on average."

Perseids can appear anywhere and everywhere in the sky. So the best direction to watch is wherever your sky is darkest. Faint Perseids appear as tiny, quick streaks. Occasional brighter ones may sail across the heavens for several seconds and leave a brief train of glowing smoke.

If you trace each meteor's direction of flight backward far enough across the sky, you'll find that this imaginary line crosses a spot in the constellation Perseus, near Cassiopeia. This is the shower's radiant, the perspective point from which all the Perseids would appear to come if you could see them approaching from the far distance. The radiant is low in the north-northeast before midnight and rises higher in the northeast during the early-morning hours.

Don't give up if it's cloudy on the peak nights. The shower lasts for about two weeks, with fairly good rates in the predawn hours of August 10 through 15. (The radiant is always low or below the horizon for Southern Hemisphere countries like Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa; therefore few if any Perseids can ever be seen from these regions.)

The Perseid meteoroids are tiny, sand- to pea-size bits of rocky debris that were shed long ago by Comet Swift-Tuttle. This comet, like others, is slowly disintegrating as it orbits the Sun. Over the centuries, its crumbly remains have spread all along its 130-year orbit to form a sparse "river of rubble" hundreds of millions of miles long.

Earth's own path around the Sun carries us through this stream of particles every mid-August. The particles, or meteoroids, are traveling 37 miles per second with respect to Earth at the place where we encounter them. So when one of them strikes the upper atmosphere (about 80 miles up), it creates a quick, white-hot streak of superheated air.

For several years in the early 1990s the Perseids performed spectacularly, flaring with outbursts of up to hundreds of meteors visible per hour. The rubble streams responsible for these outbursts were probably shed during Comet Swift-Tuttle's swing by the Sun in 1862. In recent years, though, the shower has returned to normal.

For more information:


Taxonomic Quandary! What am I? Sphinx Moths!

AnnieElf, you just know that I thought of your butterfly post and Hazzbugs' website when I spotted this little fellow shuddering in the light breeze. I've never seen one of these moths before, and snapped up several pictures as he basked on the porch post.

Anyway, if we have any entomologists out there, can you pinpoint this guy? Or am I way off in my classification?

Sighted: August 8, 2006; 2:30 PM EST
Location: Eastern Ohio, near West Virginia border (PA being 5 miles away.)
Possible: (Hawkmoth) Sphinginae Paonias... but is it astylus or myops?

Taxonomic Groups Butterflies and Moths of North America - a guide.