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Monday, September 28, 2009

Excuse me, but was that animal on fire?

Because we all love a flaming cow story: De Groene Amsterdammer (a Dutch newspaper): A Dutch veterinarian was fined 600 guilders [about $240USD] for causing a fire that destroyed a farm in Lichten Vourde, the Netherlands. The vet had been trying to convince a farmer that his cow was passing flatulent gas; to demonstrate, the vet ignited the gas, but the cow became a 'four-legged flame-thrower' and ran wild, setting fire to bales of hay. Damage to the farm was assessed at $80,000USD.The cow was unharmed. You gotta love a Dutch veterinarian.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Memories are the stuff that dreams are made of

"How old is that thing?" - If I had a dime for every time I heard that one! I thought I would do some more remembering. This is about another relative I got to know as a kid - Uncle Rufus. Uncle Rufus was a strange man, even by the standards of my other slightly strange relatives. He hated almost everything and everyone. He was the only man I know that would join a protest march and then join the counter-protest half way through. Luckily, Rufus did not have to deal with people a whole lot. Even in his job - see Rufus was a chinchilla farmer. He raised a herd, skinned them, and sold the pelts once a year at a furrier's market. In case you don't know, chinchillas are basically a cross between a squirrel and a hamster. From the face end they look quite a bit like a very large hamster. From the tail end they look like a squirrel with a bit less fluff in the tail. They are, however, blessed (or cursed, from their standpoint) with a fur that is about a soft as fur can get. For that reason for over 400 years, these little rodents have been sought and bought for their pelts. As I said, Uncle Rufus was a "hater". He hated everyone. I use to tell him (when I was out of range of those massive hams he called hands - see Rufus was about 7 feet tall and over 350 pounds)"Uncle Rufus - you are an equal opportunity hater." Yessir, Rufus hated some because of what they were and others because of what they weren't. He hated special days and days with nothing going on. He basically hated. Now this was many years ago, and the civil rights movement was getting a solid start in really making some changes. Rufus would hear someone like Martin Luther King and start screaming at him on the TV. The very next minute he might hear George Wallace and start screaming at his image as well. The thing is, he didn't agree with anyone -he just disagreed with everyone. Uncle Rufus started doing some checking on his background and heritage. See, he was adopted. My grandfather always said Rufus' mother let him go because he was arguing with her about child care as an infant. He did not know his natural father or mother. So, he went to looking around. Turned out he was one-quarter Japanese, one-quarter black, one-quarter native American, and one-quarter Caucasian. He killed himself - hate crime.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Even more headlnes

These are more headlines that are presented as real - whether they are or not - I love 'em. Here we go: COLD WAVE LINKED TO TEMPERATURES a simple start - no comment needed MAN IS FATALLY SLAIN Gotta hate when that happens - probably just meant to wound them AUTOS KILLING 110 A DAY, LET'S RESOLVE TO DO BETTER You gotta love a positive attitude NICARAGUA SETS GOAL TO WIPE OUT LITERACY They can start with newspaper writers and editors NEVER WITHHOLD HERPES FROM LOVED ONE Sharing is very important in a relationship MINERS REFUSE TO WORK AFTER DEATH It is SOOOO hard to get reliable help LAWMEN FROM MEXICO BARBECUE GUESTS Want fries with that? NJ JUDGE TO RULE ON NUDE BEACH The bailiff should probably skip the "all rise..." part SQUAD HELPS DOG BITE VICTIM Animal rights gone wild or just an Animal Planet show gone bad? And the Journalism Award of the Month goes to this gem: WAR DIMS HOPE FOR PEACE A Jimmy Carter devotee no doubt Gotta go read the paper.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

I'm Baaaaaack!

I just finished a period of travel. I am now home for five weeks or so before I head out again. After Nashville for two days, Las Vegas for three days, and Atlanta for four days over the last four weeks, it is good to be home. The other good news is that the next trip I take (mid-October) is for ME! (or my wife and me) We are headed for Miami and the Bahamas on a cruise ship. Can't wait! This is just a collection of thoughts. Let's get this thing started: Friday was the 8th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. I saw some stories memorializing the events, and some speeches and such. That is good. There was also a noticeable lack of attention in my opinion. For all the cries of "Let's never forget!" and other such sentiments it is amazing to me those that have apparently forgotten what happened that day. I saw and see news stories every day about releasing "enemy combatants"(we can't call them terrorists any longer, it may offend their sensibilities), filing criminal charges against the CIA personnel that did the covert intelligence gathering to prevent other attacks, and generally vilifying anyone other than those that acted in, and supported the attacks. That is pathetic and sad. In most of our jobs, if we make a mistake we get reprimanded. If we mess up real bad we may get fired. How about a job where if you make a mistake (or have made one prior to getting up and running) you destroy the earth. I don't mean nuclear winter, or poisoning the water - I literally mean DESTROYING THE EARTH, as in "POOF" no more earth. In the interest of science - quantum mechanics to be exact - the European governments and various universities have designed and built the world's largest particle accelerator - the Large Hadron Collider being brought on line in France soon. This unit is the world's largest of what is commonly referred to as an "atom smasher". This unit is much, much larger than the largest now which is in the U.S. The unit will crash sub-atomic particles into one another at near the speed of light to break them down into the particles that make up these formally smallest particles. The search is on for the illusive Higgs boson as well as any other particle that would solve some lingering questions about how matter is held together. (I could go on about quarks, gluons, and more - I LOVE it! - but most find it boring, so I won't) The problem with this (or granted - potential problem) is that there are more than a few physicists that believe this large collider could open up a small black hole when cracking these particles. Now, small is misleading. A small dog is cute. A small hole in a sock can be ignored. Small can be OK, when talking about bad things. A small black hole however can destroy the earth. Again, not cause a problem that will poison us slowly; not create an issue for the scientists to work on; DESTROY the earth. (FYI, from my very limited knowledge I see this as a very, VERY, VERY slight potential problem) The scientists that are working on it say it is such a small statistical chance that is it almost non-existent - so they are going on and firing the machine up. Now for the point. The unit was to go on line last year. They had problems. Then is was fired up partially this year and they found problems with the cooling system and some other parts that caused the unit to "crash" before it could split an atom. When checking, the engineers found numerous problems that are being worked on. So, this large machine that has a potential of destroying the planet is a lemon. It is over budget, behind schedule, and requiring major repairs before it even gets going. I'm just saying... Lastly, my wife has started a web page or blog on Caring Bridge a site for patients and family of people with illnesses. I have referred to her in many posts here. You may want to get a feel for her illness from her perspective. She does not type well any longer as her motor skills are going and her tremors can be pretty bad - but I think you will get the gist. Here is a link to her site: Later - if we are still around.