Jan 28 2012

Some People

Tag: booksDonna B. @ 10:56 am

Some people see Elvis. Some people get mail from Robert Heinlein.


Jan 25 2012

Why Youtube Must Survive

Tag: computers & internet,humor,legislation,musicDonna B. @ 6:25 am


Jan 20 2012

Why Is SOPA or PIPA Needed?

Tag: economics,legislation,stupidity,technologyDonna B. @ 5:41 am

Instapundit links this story: US government hits Megaupload with mega piracy indictment.

Since that action was possible under existing criminal laws, why is legislation that layers obscuring civil penalties against entities not engaged in criminal activities needed to protect intellectual property?

One might be forgiven for wondering if the push for such legislation stems from something other than the desire to prevent theft of intellectual property. Maybe these Harvard Business Review bloggers have it right: it’s a legislative attempt by big companies with vested interests to protect their downside.

On the surface, SOPA and PIPA aim to make it difficult to steal intellectual property by making it difficult to use legal tools like the internet to “fence” their loot. I’ve got no problem with that idea.

I’ve not read SOPA, but I did read PIPA yesterday and cannot find where it makes it more difficult for the criminals. It makes it more difficult only on those producing the tools by shifting the burden of law enforcement to businesses.

It makes just about as much sense to charge International Paper with the responsibility of making sure that none of the paper it produces is ever used in a ransom note. Or regulating the sale of paper to only registered users.

UPDATE: Another reason why SOPA and PIPA are not needed is that the purveyors of intellectual property most often stolen — music and movies — are not hurting economically from piracy as much as you’d think from the publicity.

…bleeding revenue to piracy is going to be a problem to the extent that your product is a hit… (rtwt)

In short, piracy is certainly one problem in a world filled with problems. But politicians and journalists seem to have been persuaded to take it largely on faith that it’s a uniquely dire and pressing problem that demands dramatic remedies with little time for deliberation.  On the data available so far, though, reports of the death of the industry seem much exaggerated.


Jan 08 2012

Random Blogging

Tag: books,food & drink,religion,whiningDonna B. @ 10:21 pm

My title is worthy of a creative award, don’t you think?

~~~

Reading a decent freebie Kindle murder mystery, I’m annoyed at the carelessness of the author. One night it’s moonless after a storm clears intimating a certain time of the month. The next night it’s a 3/4 moon. I feel mislead by the first description of the weather and lack of clarification of whether it was cloudy.

This one is better than some of the other free novels. At least the author manages to keep his characters’ names straight. I would have been happier with some waxing accuracy instead of waning. I would have been impressed had the author described it as a gibbous moon.

~~~

Via DrX, Buying the Body of Christ. In that excellent essay about how the communion wafer entered the capitalist marketplace, there’s a mention of a “Chasid Cup” which I didn’t find a link to but I did find the “Celecup” which also packages the grape juice and wafer together in easy single servings:

  • No Special Preparation Required
  • No Refrigeration Necessary
  • Three – Six Month extended shelf life
  • Time Saved During Church Services
  • Strict Hygienic Packaging Standards
  • Allows For Communion In a Variety of Settings
  • Can Be Transported Without Spillage
  • Sized For Standard Communion Trays

I think it’s “Time Saved During Church Services” that is really strange. “Andale, andale… we haven’t got all morning ya know!” Followed by an admonishment not to litter and maybe a reminder to help the arthritics who may not get theirs opened quickly enough.

Nothing above is meant to disparage Christianity, but I cannot imagine ever being comfortable or feeling worshipful in a church that used this product on a regular basis, especially one that used it to save time.

~~~

I’m not sure why my husband decided to buy a bottle of Glenfiddich 15 year old Scotch for me, but I’m grateful. It is very nice. And it follows the Christmas gift of Samalens XO Armagnac from my sister. Y’all keep this up and I’m not going to be satisfied with box wines.

~~~

“So we let him sleep it off…”

Goodnight!


Nov 18 2011

Such A Thoughtful Gift

Tag: music,my family,parentingDonna B. @ 2:04 am

For years my daughters have given me truly fantastic gifts, especially for Mother’s Day and my birthdays. These have included trips to Scotland, wonderful dinners, cards, photos, surprise visits… the list is long. *

What makes each gift special is that so much thought and planning (conspiracy!) goes into each one. Though an overseas trip is always a good gift, the one to Scotland was awesome because it was a trip to see my sister. Plus, they checked with my boss first to make sure I could get the time off AND announced the trip with a surprise party at my workplace on my birthday.

After the Scotland trip, I was informed that was “it” and that they would be starting over the next year with handprints on paper plates. I must confess I’m a tad bit disappointed that they didn’t actually do that.  

Yesterday, I got an out-of-the-blue gift from one of them. We’d discussed our tastes in music earlier this year when we drove to S Carolina together. (Not an entirely uneventful trip.) Our tastes overlap somewhat, but we both love types of music that the other just doesn’t quite “get”.

She had already sent me the cable I needed to hook my new smart phone to my car’s audio system merely because I mentioned I’d like to have it.

But… back to yesterday’s gift. Two music CDs. One of them is filled with songs we both like; music I’m quite sure she already had on her hard drive. It’s the other that is special because, with the possible exception of one song, I’m pretty sure she had to search, buy, and download them.

She made me my dream “Music To Drive By” CD.

Now while I’d like to believe she reads my blog daily and remembers posts from over a year ago, even my daughters aren’t THAT good. I’d sent her a link to that post this past August prior to traveling to S Carolina together to… shall we say… emphasize our differing tastes in music.

Thank you, my dear daughter, for paying attention.

I’m sure that I will never be writing a post like this one, though I submit that buying a gift for an old woman is easier than buying one for an old man every day of the week. Oh, it wouldn’t hurt to remember I like scotch (and wine, of course) as much as that old fart does but I’m not quite as particular about the age. 

*Disclaimer: I did nothing as a parent to deserve this kind of treatment. I’m just very, very fortunate.


Nov 13 2011

Gimme a T

Tag: grandchildren,my family,photosDonna B. @ 2:44 am

TCU 36, Boise State 35.

TCU cheerleader in training


Oct 20 2011

Alert The Media, I Have Texted

Tag: technologyDonna B. @ 10:02 pm

I am now “with it” folks. I’ve gone from a 5-year-old flip phone to a Motorola Druid Bionic 4G and have sent my first ever text message.

I feel so young, so connected, so… clumsy. It’s not that I’m all thumbs, but apparently I have big thumbs and my aim is poor. Plus I’m rethinking the wisdom of all my strong passwords of great length with upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols. I also don’t have a clue what the password is for my wireless network.

Off to waste time at the Android Market now.


Oct 18 2011

Upset With Comcast. Again.

Tag: pet peevesDonna B. @ 3:22 pm

You know, I wouldn’t nearly as upset with Comcast customer service if they did not treat customers as if we are idiots.


Oct 16 2011

Henry Says “Hello World”

Tag: grandchildren,parentingDonna B. @ 8:07 pm

My youngest grandchild arrived September 26th, 2011 at 8:50 am. Henry checked in at 6 lbs, 15 oz. and 20 inches long. And handsome!

He was 19 days early and there’s no doubt that his due date was calculated correctly. Though there was some careful watching for jaundice due to ABO incompatibility issues, Henry did not require treatment. 

Henry’s father says his son takes after his mother — aces all the tests and finishes early. 

These photos were taken when he was 13 days old. Since then, his arms and legs have filled out a lot. He’s got a good appetite and has had very few nursing issues.

His Mom & Dad are pretty awesome also. They were so calm and laid back that some of the hospital staff thought this was their 2nd baby.

Not only that, but my daughter simply never had the appearance of just having had a baby. I won’t say her labor was easy. It wasn’t. But most women don’t look as good as she did after having been up for 24 hours even when they didn’t give birth during that time. Makeup or no makeup.  

Dad looked much worse in the day of birth photos, prompting many jokes. But that was just beard stubble. And his refusal to even consider makeup.

Now I understand that most of you are going to say that I’m just a besotted grandmother when I tell you how exceptional Henry is. That’s OK. I know better. Even his pediatrician noted at his 2 week check up that he’s focusing and tracking movement.  

Henry has his parents’ laid back attitude. The only time I heard him cry the first few days I was there was when his diaper was being changed… and I think that’s entirely attributable to temperature and expertise of the diaper changer. He didn’t like the cold wipes. And he didn’t cry as hard when I changed him. (Probably because I held the wipe in my hand long enough to take the chill off it, but I’m still chalking this up to he just loves his grandma.)

 By the time I left, Henry was expressing himself through crying a bit more forcefully. Though he’s easily pleased (food, warmth, cuddles) he is already teaching his caretakers how to know which one he wants.

My daughter jokes that his expressions in the last two photos are variations of him thinking “do you really know what you’re doing” and “so, there’s really no returns or refunds on parents?”

I’m impressed by how often he folds his hands together as he’s doing in the first photo. He expresses himself with his hands and let’s you know he doesn’t want them confined even if they do feel cold. (The old “I’m cold, you need to put on a sweater” maternal reflex.) Unlike the other newborns I’ve held and loved as a grandmother, he doesn’t often clench his hands into a fist though he does love to grasp a finger or toy.

Though I insist I’m not simply besotted, I concede that I’m easily impressed.

Of course, I’ve heard that babies this young appear to be smiling when they have gas. Henry is (of course!) different. He smiles when he’s drifting off to sleep. I know this isn’t a smile in response to any outside stimulus but I do think it’s a harbinger of his personality – it’s going to be easy for him to smile and be happy. Twice, he’s made a sound that sounds like laughter… or a chuckle.

OKAY! Maybe I am besotted. I’m fine with that. It’s not the first time, you know.

UPDATE: How could I forget to give kudos to the photographer. These photos were taken by Henry’s aunt — my oldest daughter… I mean “older”. And just a tad bit older. Not much.

She’s been working on her skills this past year and these were taken without the use of autofocus, autowhatever, etc. The most amazing photos aren’t posted here because… well… I don’t know why, but I don’t post (recognizable) photos of my grown children. It’s a privacy thing, I suppose.


Sep 15 2011

Totally Deranged

Tag: art,humorDonna B. @ 2:59 pm

Extreme Tidying Up

I get the soup one. After all, I’m the person who thinks the grid on a waffle is there for a reason.

The parking lot rearrangement also makes sense though I think two of the cars should have had a category of their own. What’s really nice is to see them all neatly within the lines. Most of them anyway.

Really, he could have done better with the cars now that look more closely.

via Marginal Revolution


Sep 04 2011

Nice Weather

Tag: seasons,Shreveport/Louisiana,weatherDonna B. @ 9:51 pm

It’s 10:20 pm and 78 degrees. There’s a breeze. It’s nice on my front porch for the first time in months.

Rain would be nice, but I wouldn’t want the flooding that coastal areas have experienced from Lee… regardless his status. After months of forecast highs in 105+ degree range, I am delighted to see nothing forecast above 96 for the next 9 days.

It’s September – cool weather is welcome!


Sep 02 2011

Random Links Of Varying Interest

Tag: art,random miscellany,wordsDonna B. @ 3:19 pm

Jeopardy!: arbiter of normalcy

Sporting relationships (imagine that as a Jeopardy! category)

The currency of art (everything is beginning to look like possible Jeopardy! categories)

Words Jane Austen didn’t write (via Dustbury, who would excel as a Jeopardy! writer)

Shoes no one will ever actually wear (Dustbury again)


Aug 28 2011

Mortality And The Importance of Securing Cargo

Tag: stupidityDonna B. @ 12:26 am

More often than I’d like I’ve been reminded of mortality recently. Three cousins younger than me have died — two of them with physical problems I might also have inherited and the third of an accident.

Don’t think the accident doesn’t alarm me. I was recently involved in an interstate incident that narrowly escaped crunched metal at the least. Though I don’t know them, there are at least 3 other drivers who experienced the terror along with me. I’d love to think my skill as a driver along with theirs was responsible for no collisions or death… but I’m pretty sure that we were all just lucky.

Whoever you are that thought your mattress would not blow out of your pickup bed and that your body would protect it from being run over by myself and other innocent drivers… I hope you have learned… something. Surely you’ve learned that mattresses should be tied down!

You do know, don’t you, that we were NOT avoiding hitting your mattress. I’d have much rather collided with the mattress than be hit by the 18-wheeler barreling down the other lane. It was YOU that I swerved in front of that 18-wheeler to avoid.

Oh yes… I put my life and the life of my daughter in peril to avoid running over your selfish ass. The drivers of the two vehicles in front of me did the same. The driver of the 18-wheeler was fortunately skillful enough to avoid hitting any of us. Did you notice the massive plumes of smoke from his braking?

All of us were lucky. No one was injured or killed.


Jul 26 2011

Soylent Green, Red, Orange, and Purple Is People!

Tag: brains,food & drink,Science, Medicine, etc.Donna B. @ 8:08 pm

Well, not exactly.

Though surely we will see “jello pop science” as a Wheel of Fortune  Before and After puzzle.

Developments like this are going to bump up against some of our deeply ingrained “Ewwww, ICK” reactions now that they are not just in the realm of science fiction. 

One of the problems the story notes with current gelatin manufacturing methods is that it is not vegetarian since it is derived from animals. Like this commenter, I’m having trouble seeing where this technique will solve that problem for the more picky vegetarians out there.

Photo found here, but upon further browsing, I’m sure this is the original.


Jul 24 2011

Get Your Links Here! Free!

Tag: art,Science, Medicine, etc.,sillinessDonna B. @ 12:50 am

Organic Water. Riiiiigghht.

Since I’m all out of organic water, how about some inorganic BS? Create your own at the Arty Bollocks Generator.

My work explores the relationship between Jungian archetypes and football chants.

With influences as diverse as Kierkegaard and Frida Kahlo, new synergies are manufactured from both orderly and random dialogues.

Ever since I was a teenager I have been fascinated by the theoretical limits of the moment. What starts out as triumph soon becomes finessed into a cacophony of defeat, leaving only a sense of unreality and the dawn of a new synthesis.

As momentary replicas become transformed through boundaried and academic practice, the viewer is left with an insight into the inaccuracies of our culture.

Telepathic soldiers. Well, not really, but very interesting research and development. I found it interesting that two of the sounds being initially researched are “ooh” and “aah”. These will surely be followed by “sh”, “i”, and “t”.

Eat Your Iron. I think distilled water should be substituted for tap water.

Yep, he knows what he’s doing. The course reminds me of the AZ driving test course that I would not have failed if I’d…. ohnevermind.

Helpful Household Hints.

I wouldn’t cry over spilled milk, but this is entirely different.

Should you ever need to cite this post in print, here’s how.


Jul 21 2011

Remembering the Heat Wave of 1980

Tag: nostalgia,seasons,weatherDonna B. @ 9:54 pm

Oh yeah, it’s hot and we need rain. But it’s still not as bad as the summer of 1980:

In Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, high temperatures exceeded 100 °F (38 °C) a total of 69 times, including a record 42 consecutive days from June 23 to August 3. Dallas/Fort Worth reached an all-time high when the temperature hit 113 °F (45 °C) for three consecutive days on June 26-28. In all, the Dallas/Fort Worth area saw 29 days in which the previous record high temperature was either broken or tied. 

 That summer we were living in Dallas in an older house that had a tiny basement area containing the sump pump for the A/C. We were also broke. When the sump pump failed, our choices were don’t run the A/C or bail water until funds were available for repairs.

We bailed. For about two weeks, I think. The upside is that there was a lovely patch of green grass right outside the door.

Other than that, we didn’t suffer. We were very fortunate. Though money was tight, there was enough to stay in a house with A/C and the electricity to run it. And we were young enough and healthy enough to bail the water to keep it running.

According to this chart from NOAA (pdf), heat waves are the deadliest weather disaster. In the past 30 years, 18,458 U.S. deaths were attributed to heat waves, while the toll from hurricanes (the next deadliest weather event) is 2,901 (1833 of those from Hurricane Katrina).

Stay cool, y’hear? And keep an eye on the old folks and youngsters.

And laugh if you can.


Jun 26 2011

Making Chili, Part II With A Warning

Tag: food & drinkDonna B. @ 3:00 am

Do not attempt to make chili while distracted.

Today’s chili was never going to be the Midnight chili of 2009. First of all, I didn’t have any ground bison on hand, nor did I have fresh peppers or tomatoes.

I think I’ll name tonight’s chili Quick and Dirty Accidentally Edible chili. I planned to use 5-6 tablespoons chili powder, ground beef, and canned tomatoes. What I didn’t plan was accidentally picking up the jar of cayenne pepper instead of chili powder.

Have I mentioned that I just eyeball what 5 to 6 tablespoons looks like instead of actually measuring?

Yeah, I dumped that much cayenne pepper into the pot thinking it was chili powder. Fortunately, the ground beef I was using had been browned then frozen, so scraping off most of the cayenne pepper wasn’t too difficult.

Still, this pot of chili is going to be a bit hotter than I normally make. Perhaps “normally” is the wrong word to use when describing how I make chili. It’s different every time.

Tonight’s chili is quite good. In an effort to tone down the hotness, I crunched the last quarter bag of tortilla chips and added them as a thickening agent instead of flour, corn meal, or masa  harina. I have been known to put a can of corn in the blender and add it to chili.

Probably the only thing I’m consistent with in making chili is that it DOES NOT include beans. I have nothing against beans, but I do not like them in chili or cooked with chili seasonings.

I also have nothing against following a recipe. It’s just not something I do when making chili. Chili is an adventure, not a routine!


May 08 2011

Here’s What I’ve Read Online This Week

Best Mothers of the Animal Kingdom - I’m really glad I’m not an octopus.

The Beauty and the Bartender - a dating service tale with a heart-warming twist.

How to make cheap wine taste better  – knowledge is free.

A lost girl remembered - an excerpt and follow-up from The Poisoner’s Handbook.

The Costs of Not Vaccinating - the story of a 2008 measles outbreak in Tucson.  

Parasites, boogers, and garlic - oh, and don’t scratch.

Are Talking Heads Blowing Hot Air - Yes, mostly. The literature review beginning on p. 5 of the pdf names a book I now want to read – Expert Political Judgment. The best part of the study begins on page 17 with descriptions of the 26 columnists and types of predictions they made. While the numbers make some of them look good, the descriptions lead me right back to the hot air conclusion.

Ten Peeves About Greenies


May 06 2011

I’m Still Here

Tag: brains,healthDonna B. @ 9:05 pm

You know the old saying about when it rains it pours. It’s been pouring around here for a while. And you can bet your sweet bippy I’m not about to ask what else can go wrong!

Most of what’s gone wrong has resolved or is well on its way to being resolved. One issue (that I’m not going to write about) I’ve simply shoved away for a time.

One issue I will write about is my worry that my husband was developing a dementia of some sort on top of his numerous well-documented (and mostly well-treated) physical problems. Finally, I get the courage and impetus to broach the subject with him and we see his doctor.

Sure ‘nuf, he flunks the mini-test warranting further exploration. The first thing done is an MRI to rule out stuff. One of the things to be ruled out is normal pressure hydrocephalus. And the MRI indicates that might be the problem – but before we get those results back, he passes out and falls hitting his face on our metal trash can.

I hear the crash and find him conscious, but not coherent at all. I call 911 and refuse his requests to help him up. I’ve got to compliment the Shreveport Fire Department and EMS people. They got here quick and they were as compassionate and helpful with my panic as they were my husband’s disorientation.

So we’re off to the ER and find out about the implications of the MRI and that other causes of fainting now have to be ruled out also. Then we experience the horror of being hospitalized over the weekend.

It took approximately 6 hours for my husband to return to “normal”. It was very much like being with someone coming out of anesthesia, though maybe a bit slower. We were told by various representatives of specialists that several tests needed to be done. The first was 24 hour heart monitoring. By the time that was finished, we were told (on a Saturday morning) that the other tests couldn’t be done until Monday or later.

Now… there’s nothing worse than being in the hospital when you feel as good as you ever do… or “fine” if that’s the word to use. The remainder of these tests — a specialized MRI, EEG, ECG, tilt table test for orthostatic hypotension, etc., are all tests that can be and are routinely done on an outpatient basis.

So… perhaps we were wrong insisting on going home. However, I’m not sure that these tests would have been done sooner had he stayed in the hospital.

After leaving the hospital (not against doctor’s advice btw) I ran into more trouble than I’ve ever had before scheduling these various tests. One of the problems turns out to be that the hospitalist intern was now acting (or trying to act) as primary care doc – and he would certainly not be the doc of our choice. Another problem was that the consulting cardiologist in the hospital was also not the cardiologist who has been treating my husband for over 15 years.

Then there was the crazy neurologist. Yes, crazy. My husband and I had both been referred to this neurologist a few years ago and the best way to describe his diagnostic technique is that he refuses to diagnose. So… we were not thrilled, but also felt we had no choice but to try to use him.

There’s a lot of appointment making strangeness, but I’ll not go into that right now.

As it stands now, my husband is having a cardiac cath done next week because he failed the stress test needed to clear him for surgery to install a shunt to treat the normal pressure hydrocephalus.

Of course during all this, I get my annual cold which turns into bronchitis and am pretty much out of commission for a few weeks.

We have an appointment with a second neurosurgeon also. As of now, the main differences between the two neurosurgeons is the brand of programmable shunt they use, the ease of interacting with their staffs, and the location of the operating room… and, of course, their reputations.

One of them is the chief of neurosurgery at LSU medical school and hospital. He practices with a group of neurosurgeons that has managed to not renew the practice’s domain name, has an indescribably poor telephone system that makes making an appointment next to impossible, and… includes the neurosurgeon that scared the hell out of me a few years ago about my meningioma.

I do not think that the neurosurgeon that I rejected a few years ago reflects on the skills of the chief of the department. But I have to ask why the department continues to allow a doctor whose physical impairments quite clearly portray an inability to operate to continue doing so.

The other doctor is one who just might have what I think could be an unethical relationship with a medical device manufacturer. This is merely a suspicion… and I do NOT think that doctors who look to the manufacturer of devices for training are necessarily unethical.

Regardless which surgeon we choose, this is a no guarantees procedure. First, there’s no way of knowing whether his dementia symptoms are caused by the normal pressure hydrocephalus. And there’s also the possibility that some are and others are not. The surgery itself is sort of a test to determine cause.

It’s also a step that I think must be taken. The possibility that this surgery can stop the dementia symptoms where they are now (mild) cannot be discounted. The possibility that the surgery could reduce the symptoms cannot be overlooked, even though that is not likely.

Of course, he could have Alzheimer’s or some other dementia as well as having normal pressure hydrocephalus dementia. I can’t say that is a reason to not have the surgery. One cause seems better than two, doesn’t it?

So… we wait. We’ll see.

Next up – what’s with this shortage of drugs?


Feb 04 2011

Texas Snow Princess

Tag: UncategorizedDonna B. @ 12:29 pm

Texas Snow Princess


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