My Novels

Thursday, January 31, 2002

Today started out overcast, not as warm as yesterday for my bike ride. Around noon now it's sunny, warming up again; there's predictions of storms tonight. We often have tornadoes here in the spring, which I could do without!

Well, I finally seem to have my PC working better; it's now booting up normally. I got some tech support from Compaq, took off a few of the unnecessary programs that are in the msconfig file for startup and that helped somewhat. Still don't think this computer is going to last six months, so I'll keep shopping for a new one.

Here's some interesting articles:

The Smile and the Comb-Over

--How men disguise baldness, women disguise arguments, and Bush disguises politics.
By William Saletan

As they grow up, men and women learn two subtle skills. Men learn the art of the comb-over: how to cover bald spots with hair from adjacent areas of the scalp. Women learn the art of the smile: how to argue and get their way without appearing belligerent or even self-interested. President Bush demonstrated both arts in his State of the Union address last night.

The comb-over is Bush's way of compensating for his habit of concentrating on a few big issues. Prior to Sept. 11, he focused on passing his tax-cut, education, and energy proposals. Since Sept. 11, he has focused on fighting terrorism. The payoff for this focus is effectiveness. The price is that Democrats will exploit the issues he isn't focusing on, as they did to his father. How can Bush persuade the public that he's paying attention to issues other than national security, taxes, education, and energy? By selling his policies on national security, taxes, education, and energy as solutions to every other issue.

Yep, I heard THAT!


No need to quote, just go read it for yourself. Don't know if this is some of the zany conspiracy therorists at work, or something that should be taken seriously.

That's all for today, folks!

Wednesday, January 30, 2002

Not much to report today, except I went on my bike ride as usual this morning. It is near 80 degrees today, and feels more like spring than the end of January! The ride was okay, but again the heat made it more uncomfortable than I like.

Later I went to town, just did some random shopping. I don't do this as much as I did when we first moved back to the city; I used to spend hours just browsing the stores, or hanging out at the library, but now perfer staying home using the internet for information.

My computer is still not booting up right; I have to give it the command prompt in MS/DOS to restore the registry every time I turn it on. I'm still shopping for a PC, but can't decide if I want a top-of-the-line laptop or another desktop. Decisions, decisions!

Nothing else much to write about. I still have a case of the 'blahs,' just not interested in anything or inspired to write, even in this journal. Plus, I don't think it's ever read by anyone but myself, so why bother updating each day? I follow a few daily journals, but find that few update often enough to bother. I had wanted to at least write in this journal daily, so there's always something new...

Alas, enough for now.

Tuesday, January 29, 2002

Woke up with a bad case of the blahs today. But I did go on my bike ride, and it's too warm here for this time of year -- near 70 degrees, which made the ride a bit harder. I've found that riding in 50 degree weather is near perfect; you don't work up a sweat, and can ride longer and farther without tiring so quickly. The hotter it is, the less stamina I seem to have for riding. The sun is out now, and it will probably get even warmer.

I had a series of vivid dreams last night, but can't remember much about them. The Kava seems to always make me sleep well, and dream move vividly.

Looks like some of the illegal Mexican immigrants lured here by Tyson Foods are now getting scared:

Immigrants lured by Tyson Foods are 'scared'

Matthew Baez, who works with immigrants through Esperanza del Barrio, a 4-year-old social services group, said he has been helping some Hispanics lured to Tennessee by promises of $8-an-hour ''dream jobs.''

Baez described the affected Hispanics as ''scared. They realize they have been part of a fraud.''

''They are not going back home. They are forced to look for other means of survival.''

Am I to believe these illegals didn't KNOW they were coming here as part of a fraud? I can't buy that. Send 'em back, please!


I also see that Stephen King may stop writing. I understand exactly what he means in the following excerpt. I too began 'repeating' myself after about twelve novels, and finally lost the drive and inspiration to write fiction.

Stephen King ready to close book as writer?

"I don't want to finish up like Harold Robbins," he said, referring to the pulp novelist who started with well-reviewed works such as "A Stone for Danny Fisher," later suffered a damaging stroke and ended his career in steep decline. "That's my nightmare."

Till tomorrow....

Monday, January 28, 2002

Here comes another gripe session: My mother dropped by this morning; my step-dad and a friend were on the way to get a haircut, and they left her here with me. I was just about to go on the bike ride, but had to postpone it and talk with her. What did she want? Why, to borrow money, of course. I gave her $20.00, which I said she could just consider her birthday present. I know they are barely getting by, financially, but every time she comes here, it is for money. Then she sits there and talks about how awful my youngest sister is, how she's mistreating her child, and her husband not making much income. As if my sisters's childhood had nothing to do with her current problems. She also said the same things about one of my disturbed nephews, who is never going to work for a living. Oh well, what else is new? Denial is her way of survival.

When she finally left, I went on my bike ride, worked off the stress of her visit. Then I scrubbed the cats' porch before I took my shower, and got into some good clothes. I still have some housework to do, and it's almost 2:00.

I have recently discovered Alice Miller's work, and visited her website and joined a mailing list of those who wish to discuss abusive childhoods. I think this will be interesting, in that Miller advocates the theory that ALL violence and disturbed behavior of humans develops from abusive childhoods. I've always known this, because I'm a living example. Whereas she might think of therapy as a way of helping overcome that childhood, I don't that it is possible at all to EVER undo the damage. But I must agree with her in the need to making good parenting one of the top issues of our day and time. Too bad more don't think of it as a priority.

Here's a good link for Alice Miller's work:

Twenty-one Points by Alice Miller

That's all I have time for today.

Sunday, January 27, 2002

I had more strange dreams last night, but can only vaguely remember something about a Chinese man and a girl working for him. She was in love with him, but it turned out that he was a leader in a gang and/or mafia, which got him killed. I often have dreams in which I am only an observer, not in the dream at all. This comes from years of being a creative writer, having ideas, etc. Anyhow, it was an entertaining dream!

No biking this morning, I take today off. DH and I are going on our long ride in the country today, and it'll be nice to get out of the city. It's a bit overcast, but supposed to be clear and sunny later.

That's about it. Here's a quote for today: "You can’t say civilization don’t advance, for in every war they kill you a new way." --Will Rogers

Saturday, January 26, 2002

Last night I had very strange dreams. I sometimes take Kava-Kava (an herbal OTC) for insomnia, and it always makes me have very vivid dreams.

I dreamed that DH and I were at my paternal grandparents old house, walking through the empty rooms, looking at what a wreck the place was. The house was rundown, and littered with debris; we even saw rats and spiders in the corners. Vaguely, I recall something about a hobo hiding in the closet, and this gave the dream a sense of danger too. But we were discussing buying the house, and renovating it, bringing it back to its former state. I felt creepy, and somehow didn't want to buy it though. Of course, my paternal grandparents' house was my one refuge as a child from my abusive homelife. Unfortunately, the house was utterly destroyed in a 1974 tornado, though my grandparents were in the storm cellar and survived.

I woke up, then went back to sleep. This time I dreamed that I was visiting a former neighbor's biological mother's home on a quaint island near one of the large cities in our region. There is no ocean or island in such a location, but it seemed very real in the dream. This former neighbor, Linda, was such an annoying person; she constantly came over, could not take a hint that I wanted nothing to do with her. Years later, after we moved from there, she and her teenage son/daughter, killed her husband for life insurance money. She is now in prison. At any rate, in this dream DH and I were visiting a beautiful little cottage on this island, and it was furnished with WWII-style furniture, some antiques and other odd stuff. There was an unknown woman with us, who lived there and was the caretaker; she was telling us how the house had been kept in the same condition as Linda's biological mother left it; that when Linda got free of prison, she would inherit this house. {Linda is adopted; and she had already inherited her adopted parents' home/property years ago.} As with all dreams, it was a bit confusing and convoluted...but left a good feeling when I woke, compared to the bad feeling after the first dream.

Now if I was superstitious, or believed in ESP or the supernatural, perhaps I would wonder if such dreams were premonitions or something. But in fact, right before DH and I went to sleep last night, he'd told me that he'd learned more about a house/property we'd been thinking of buying some time ago. The owner declared bankruptcy, and DH had been trying to learn more about it -- which he did. And we may go look at the place later today. So I'm sure that is where the dreams of 'houses' came from...and that my subconscious is trying to tell me I probably don't want to move, since I do like living in the city and the other place is in the county.

It's a beautiful day here, sunny and warm, near 60. I went for a long bike ride earlier, and enjoyed myself. A neighborhood cat was at the park, and as I rode by, it would act as if it were about to chase the bike. I finally stopped and petted it a little while. At least it DID have a collar/I.D. on it, and I know it belongs to a nearby home, since I've seen it on the porch. I wish ALL people would at least keep collar/I.Ds on their dogs/cats...

Here's an excerpt from an interesting article:


Study Also Shows Decline in Federal Tax Burdens for All Income Groups

A NEW PATHBREAKING Congressional Budget Office study, which includes the best data that any agency or institution has compiled on income and tax trends in recent decades, shows that the average after-tax income of the richest one percent of Americans grew by $414,000 between 1979 and 1997, after adjusting for inflation, while average after-tax income fell $100 for the poorest 20 percent of Americans and grew a modest $3,400 for those exactly in the middle of the income spectrum. In percentage terms, after-tax income grew an average of 157 percent over this period for the top one percent of the population, rose a modest 10 percent — about one-half of one percent per year — for the 20 percent of Americans in the middle of the income spectrum and was effectively unchanged for those in the bottom fifth.


Yep, the rich keep getting richer, and the poor keep getting poorer... What else is new? (sarcasm)

Here's a quote for the day: "We have to make myths of our lives. It is the only way to live without despair." --May Sarton

Friday, January 25, 2002

Busy, busy day! I had errands to run in town, and grocery shopping (which I've come to loathe!). But it's a beautiful day, sunny and mild, in the 50s. When I got back from the errands, I went on a very long bike ride, since I missed it yesterday. It was perfect weather, a little nip in the air, great for riding. Then I had some housework to get done, and at last made it to the computer.

My PC is still not performing smoothly; at times it freezes and I have to reboot to get it going again. At least it IS booting up, although slowly, as if it's looking for a something it can't find. In the meantime, I'm still shopping around for best prices on a new PC if it comes to that.

So what's in the news today? Quite a bit to comment on, starting below:

Former Enron executive dies in apparent suicide

HOUSTON, Texas (CNN) -- The former vice chairman of Enron Corp. was found dead Friday, the victim of an apparent suicide, police in Sugar Land, Texas, said.

Investigators had wanted to speak with Baxter, according to a source on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, but he had not been subpoened by the committee. Instead, congressional investigators were negotiating with his lawyers to arrange an interview.

Baxter was among the Enron officers and directors who made massive profits cashing in on Enron stock options, netting nearly $22 million since October 1998, according to records of stock exchange transactions.

Quilty conscience? Or did he know too much?

More of the wonderful, warm, fuzzy family feelings in this tragedy:

Two Parents and Two Children Found Dead in Home; 16-Year-Old Family Member in Custody

MIFFLINTOWN, Pa. (AP) - Two adults and their two children were shot to death at their home, and a 16-year-old family member was in custody on Friday, state police said.


Now it's Kmart's creative bookkeeping that's coming under scrutiny:

Kmart, SEC Investigate Letter About Accounting Matters

TROY, Mich. (AP) - Kmart Corp., which filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this week, said Friday it has begun an investigation after receiving an anonymous letter claiming to be from employees that expressed concern about unspecified accounting matters.

The nation's third biggest discount retailer said it had contacted the Securities and Exchange Commission about the letter and its own investigation and is cooperating with the regulatory agency.


And that's all the dismal news for today!

Thursday, January 24, 2002

Last night I stayed up late watching the movie, "Mrs. Soffle" with Diane Keaton and Mel Gibson. It is based on a true story in 1901, a warden's wife who helps a convicted killer, Ed Biddle, (and his brother, Jack Biddle) escape death row. Mrs. Soffle and Ed are in love, and she goes with the two brothers. I found the story echoing memories of my past. In fact, twenty years ago this week I also met a charismatic, convicted thief (bank robber) and visited him in prison. For four days we talked, shared...and yes, he was in many ways the love of my life. But like "Mrs. Stoffle" our tale also had a sad ending, for we were never together in the free world. And over the years, we lost touch. I have no regrets though, and will always hold him dear in my heart.

The pouring rain outside prevents me from doing a few errands in town, so I suppose it's a good time for silent reflection.

Here's a poem I wrote about that past time of my life:


He rode into my safe, settled life
On the swift, silver wings of time,
Charging through dim, dark destiny;
He spoke softly in a husky whisper,
And seduced me with silken mysteries.

He lifted me high into a dangerous realm,
And convinced me I could know his heart,
Understand his wild, wicked world.

I was never a victim of his ways,
I was only mesmerized by his words;
So I boarded the plane, took a flight,
Across the vast distance between us
Unbelievably fascinated by him,
Dying to meet this daring man,
A highwayman who had walked brazenly
Into many banks, robbed in disguise,
But never harmed a single person.

He met me there, waylaid travelers,
Both of us oblivious to his confinement;
We touched, we talked, we soared above
Those iron bars and walls of stone,
Having no serets, no barriers between us.

I left, walked away from the highwayman
Richer, wiser -- holding his trust, his secrets
Deep within my deepest promise of silence.

But somewhere in time, I know not where,
He still rides the lonely roads, perhaps
Raiding and robbing, just being himself:
A highwayman living out his destiny,
Always knowing his secrets are safe with me.

Wednesday, January 23, 2002

It's a bit later in the afternoon, and though I usually only make one entry per day, I just had to post this amusing (and true) piece about older women by Andy Rooney. It's a real gem! I also went on my bike ride around noon, since the ground had dried out somewhat. More rain on the way though, even warnings about some flooding in flat regions.

Here's the piece:

Older Women

Andy Rooney says, "As I grow in age, I value older women most of all. Here are just a few reasons why.

An older woman will never wake you in the middle of the night to ask, "What are you thinking?" She doesn't care what you think.

An older woman knows herself well enough to be assured in who she is, what she is, what she wants and from whom. Few women past the age of 50 give a damn what you might think about her.

An older single woman usually has had her fill of "meaningful relationships" and "commitment." The last thing she needs in her life is another dopey, clingy, whiny, dependent lover!

Older women are dignified. They seldom have a screaming match with you at the opera or in the middle of an expensive restaurant. Of course, if you deserve it, they won't hesitate to shoot you if they think they can get away with it.

Most older women cook well. They care about cleanliness and are generous with praise, often undeserved.

An older woman has the self-assurance to introduce you to her women friends.

A younger woman with a man will often ignore even her best friend because she doesn't trust the guy with other women. Older women couldn't care less.

Women get psychic as they age. You never have to confess your sins to an older woman. They always know.

An older woman looks good wearing bright red lipstick. This is not true of younger women or drag queens.

Once you get past a wrinkle or two, an older woman is far sexier than her younger counterpart. Her libido's stronger, her fear of pregnancy gone. Her experience of lovemaking is honed and reciprocal and she's lived long enough to know how to please a man in ways her daughter could never dream of.

(Young men, you have something to look forward to.)

Older women are forthright and honest. They'll tell you right off you are a jerk if you are acting like one.

Yes, we praise older women for a multitude of reasons. Unfortunately, it's not reciprocal. For every stunning, smart, well-coifed babe of 70 there is a bald, paunchy relic in yellow pants making a fool of himself with some 22 year old waitress.

Ladies, I apologize for all of us. That men are genetically inferior is no secret. Count your blessings that we die off at a far younger age, leaving you the best part of your lives to appreciate the exquisite woman you've become, without the distraction of some demanding old man clinging and whining his way into your serenity."

It rained most of last night, but this morning was only overcast. However, the streets/sidewalks were wet, mud-puddles in the park, so I didn't ride the bike. I may later though, since the sun has come out and it looks like a nice afternoon...although way too warm, in the 70s! That means possible thunderstorms tonight, which I could do without. Oh well.

I finally got my PC to boot up right, but now I'm having trouble with the Juno program. Darn, I don't know if I can endure more of this freaking constant trouble with this PC, and may get a new one VERY soon.

What's on my mind: more news items. Here's some excerpts:

Census report finds illegals threat to U.S. security

The bureau found that 5,312,990 undocumented residents hailed from North and Central America, with 3,871,912 coming from Mexico, the source of the greatest number of illegal foreigners.

Although this article is ranting about illegal Mid-east immigrants, I am more concerned with all these Mexican illegals. We got our share of them here, and as I've said before, they cause a drain on the public systems in our community. Send 'em back!


According to the Drudge Report people are getting tired of the whining from WTC disaster victims who are already getting huge sums of monetary help.

"An ugly backlash is building as families of the people killed at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon push for changes in the guidelines controlling how much they can expect to receive from the federal fund... In rallies and on radio and television talk shows last week, victims' advocates had hoped to mobilize public support to make the fund more generous. Instead, they have provoked a surge of angry criticism in the media, in comments to the fund's administrator, Kenneth R. Feinberg, and even in personal e-mails to their homes."

Yeah, I heard THAT.


Officials doubt story of alleged kidnap

HARVEST, Alabama (CNN) -- Calls made from the satellite telephone of an American after he allegedly was kidnapped in Afghanistan have been traced to Pakistan, a U.S. official told CNN on Tuesday.

We've been hearing plenty about this in our state, and it sounds like a religious scam -- because the wifey was evoking prayer and god in her defense of hubby's attempt at fraud. I think it's all a scam.

Till tomorrow...

Tuesday, January 22, 2002

Another beautiful sunny morning for riding the bike; it's now overcast, predicted to rain tonight and tomorrow and Thursday. Guess I'll have to resort to the ski machine, in that case.

Perhaps some of my political rants here seem to indicate I'm a Democrat, and though I do have leanings in that direction, I really am not for either political party. I see some aspects of both that are good and bad, and attempt to interpret these as I see them. For example, recently our small town voted against increasing property taxes -- mainly in an effort for more funding to the public schools. I voted against the increase too, since we own our home mortage-free.

One of the main problems here is that we haven't extended the city limits, and a great many subdivisions with $100,000.00 homes have been built -- and the parents send their kids to the city public schools, instead of a county system. The city schools have a better reputation than the county schools, but the out-of-district fees are way too low. So either we expand the city limits to include the suburbs, and get that extra tax...or we let these people pay about three times per child what they do now if they come into the city schools.

Also, we have a growing population of illegal Mexican immigrants who send their kids to our public schools; these illegals need to be sent back where they came from. I have nothing against legal immigrants, but those who come here illegally and are a drain on public systems, yes, I think they should be sent packing. Pronto. At any rate, we're going to have another property tax vote, and I again will vote NO, just like I think the majority will in the city.

Here's an observation: The other day I was browsing bloggers, and found this 16-year-old girl's blog. She wants to be a famous celeb musician/singer -- says that life is for doing what you want, and succeeding. Gee, from my older perspective, it stuns me that anyone could be this naive and uninformed. I cringe to think of the awful blows she's got coming in life. The odds are against what she wants, and more than likely, she'll end up in some job she dislikes, kids, etc, disillusioned. Additionally, she stated she COULD NOT LIVE WITHOUT THE INTERNET. Give me a break! What kind of generation are parents raising that thinks they can't exist without the internet? Scary. I too like the net, but I COULD do without it, since I lived 45 years before I even went online.

When I think of those cosmic disasters that could befall Earth, I see individuals like this girl being the first to perish when it hits. Once a civilization's infrastructure is gone, no electricity...well, there's none of the amenities we American softies have come to know and depend on. It wouldn't take much to wipe us out, methinks.

And on that note, here's an interesting news item:

Whose Fault Is Fat?

Conventional wisdom says our obesity stems from laziness, lack of willpower or a fast-paced lifestyle that prevents healthy eating and exercise. We already spend up to an estimated $50 billion a year on diet and weight loss products — are we really just not trying hard enough?

While individuals surely bear responsibility for what they eat and whether they move, some nutrition and legal experts say we may not be entirely at fault.

Some say the food industry — particularly fast food, vending machine and processed food companies — should be held accountable for playing a role in the declining health of the nation, just as the tobacco industry ultimately was forced to bear responsibility for public health costs associated with smoking in its landmark $206 billion settlement with the states.


Do we really, really want to sue the food companies for enticing us into eating less healthy food? This is utterly ridiculous. Why not sue the PR firms who do the ads? Are people so brainwashed they can't decide for themselves what to eat? Ain't Americans great, always looking to blame someone for our own faults?


Here's someone who seems to prefer England to America:

Robert Altman Speaks

MAKING "Gosford Park" in England seems to have turned Robert Altman against the United States. "When I see an American flag flying, it's a joke," he fumed to the Times of London yesterday. "This present government in America I just find disgusting, the idea that George Bush could run a baseball team successfully - he can't even speak! I just find him an embarrassment." Altman's feeling is so strong, he's thinking of moving to London for good. "I'd be very happy to stay here," he tells the paper. "There's nothing in America that I would miss at all."


So long till tomorrow....

Monday, January 21, 2002

Beautiful morning, even though the weather predictions were for rain! It is sunny and mild, so I had a nice bike ride, even went a bit farther and worked up a good sweat!

I am having trouble with this PC again! It is not booting up correctly, gets hung/frozen and I have to restart a couple times to get it going. I installed CorelDRAW that came with the computer the other day, and I THINK that is the source of the problem. I contacted Compaq support, and was given the instructions on how to remove the program because it doesn't have an uninstall, nor is it listed in the add/remove programs under MS additional software. Bummer. I am about tired of all this wrangling with the PC, and am still thinking of getting a new one. Or a laptop. Can't decide which one I'd rather have at this point.

Here's another excerpt from a catastrophic cosmic disaster in Earth's past:

Comets, Meteors & Myth: New Evidence for Toppled Civilizations and Biblical Tales

"...and the seven judges of hell ... raised their torches, lighting the land with their livid flame. A stupor of despair went up to heaven when the god of the storm turned daylight into darkness, when he smashed the land like a cup." -- An account of the Deluge from the Epic of Gilgamesh, circa 2200 B.C.

Biblical stories, apocalyptic visions, ancient art and scientific data all seem to intersect at around 2350 B.C., when one or more catastrophic events wiped out several advanced societies in Europe, Asia and Africa.

Increasingly, some scientists suspect comets and their associated meteor storms were the cause. History and culture provide clues: Icons and myths surrounding the alleged cataclysms persist in cults and religions today and even fuel terrorism.


Why do religious nuts always attribute medical treatment/success to a 'miracle' when it's obviously due to human ability? For example in this excerpt:


Limbaugh's hearing returned a month after undergoing cochlear implant surgery.

"It's too early to tell how much I can hear... music, television," Limbaugh revealed on over 600 stations. "My miracle was immediate, in terms of conversations..."

Oh puuhllease! If it wasn't for human medical science, Limbaugh would STILL be deaf. Let's give credit where credit is due, huh? Not to some fictional 'god' or 'miracle.'

And I'm away for today!

Sunday, January 20, 2002

A nice Sunday here, started out very sunny and mild. But now it's overcast. DH and I went on our long drive in the country, then came back early so he could go show some horses to an interested buyer at the farm. I did some housework and then went on my bike ride. I also moved my stray cat feed behind the garage, and scrubbed the backporch where they'd been eating and spraying -- not a pleasant sent!

We're eating out tonight, so no cooking. Yippee!

It's overcast outside now, supposed to rain tonight but will clear again by noon tomorrow.

Here's an interesting news article few may have read:

Anthrax Missing From Army Lab

Lab specimens of anthrax spores, Ebola virus and other pathogens disappeared from the Army's biological warfare research facility in the early 1990s, during a turbulent period of labor complaints and recriminations among rival scientists there, documents from an internal Army inquiry show.

The 1992 inquiry also found evidence that someone was secretly entering a lab late at night to conduct unauthorized research, apparently involving anthrax. A numerical counter on a piece of lab equipment had been rolled back to hide work done by the mystery researcher, who left the misspelled label "antrax" in the machine's electronic memory, according to the documents obtained by The Courant.

Meanwhile, one of the 27 sets of specimens has been found and is still in the lab; an Army spokesperson said it may have been in use when the inventory was taken. The fate of the rest, some containing samples no larger than a pencil point, remains unclear. In addition to anthrax and Ebola, the specimens included hanta virus, simian AIDS virus and two that were labeled "unknown" - an Army euphemism for classified research whose subject was secret.


Rosenberg's analysis of the anthrax attacks, which has been widely reported, concludes that the culprit is probably a government insider, possibly someone from Fort Detrick. The Army facility manufactured anthrax before biological weapons were banned in 1969, and it has experimented with the Ames strain for defensive research since the early 1980s.

Vander-Linden said that one of the two sets of anthrax specimens listed as missing at Fort Detrick was the Vollum strain, which was used in the early days of the U.S. biological weapons program. It was not clear what the type of anthrax in the other missing specimen was.

Now that is very, very interesting, isn't it? I wonder if the FBI will EVER catch the culprit who sent the anthrax in the mail? I hope so, but I wouldn't hold my breath!

Enough for today.

Saturday, January 19, 2002

Rainy, rainy dreary day in Dixie. Soaking rain when I woke this morning, so no biking. But I'll use my ski machine tonight, and get a regular workout.

I had one of those nights when I dream constantly, but can barely remember the content when I wake. I love to watch TLC or Discovery programs before I go to sleep, and especially documentaries about ancient Egypt, archaeology, or space/cosmos programs. Sometimes these lull me sleep, but other times, I learn a great deal.

In my previous entries, I've referred to the major cosmic disasters that could befall the Earth. I also realize that mankind itself is the main threat, in that we have the means of self-destruction. Either way, I do believe that there MIGHT be some sort of cosmic/natural principle at work which always destroys any lifeform that develops in the cosmos; that way, it is self-correcting. We humans, and all lifeforms on Earth -- as well as any other alien lifeform -- could be aberrations, and the asteroid/comets/gamma ray bursts that hit Earth every few hundred thousand years (see previous entries for articles on this) are a means of elimination.

What I find somewhat humorous is that Americans think our country is the best, our society the greatest...and yet, we're barely 200 years old. Think of the ancient Egyptian culture that lasted over 3,000 years and still perished eventually... In that context, our country looks rather young and untried; I don't see it lasting 3,000 years!

I guess I'm getting old, because with all the developments lately (terrorism and resulting high-security measures) I really don't want to live in the kind of world I foresee as a future. It resembles George Orwell's '1984' too much, with Big Brother breathing down your neck, strip-searches at public gatherings, censorship, little freedom -- and all for what? Security? Safety? Let's face it, LIFE is risky and when you trade off freedom for security, you will lose. I don't want to live in that kind of repressive future world.

Now to the news excerpts:

Go read this full article, which will open your eyes to the coming military spending and loss of freedoms if you are at all curious about our future.

Making Money on Terror

A recent Washington Post/ABC News poll found that more than two-thirds of poll respondents expected the war on terrorism to diminish funding for other needed programs, but that more than half of those surveyed felt the sacrifice was worth it. That view would surely change if more people knew how much of the Pentagon's new largesse is serving the needs of special interests rather than the national interest.


GOP Touts War as Campaign Issue

AUSTIN, Jan. 18 -- President Bush's top political adviser said today that Republicans will make the president's handling of the war on terrorism the centerpiece of their strategy to win back the Senate and keep control of the House in this year's midterm elections.

"We can go to the country on this issue because they trust the Republican Party to do a better job of protecting and strengthening America's military might and thereby protecting America," Karl Rove said at the Republican National Committee meeting here.

Bahhhawwwa! I'm laughing about this, because if I didn't, I'd be crying. Trade off our freedom for security? When there is NO SUCH THING as security in life itself?

Are the majority of Americans so blind that they don't realize Bush & Company have brought us nothing but war, economic recession, and massive military spending -- without explaining exactly HOW Sept. 11th happened in the first place? I don't buy into conspiracy theories, but I find it VERY strange that the last plane hit the Pentagon. It strains credulity that no fighter jets intercepted that last plane; they must have had time. I can understand how the two planes hit the WTC, but I cannot imagine a way a plane could have managed to hit the Pentagon without any interference from fighter jets. So I would like a full congressional investigation into EXACTLY why Sept. 11th happened at all. Something seems weird about the entire disaster.

And lastly, here's a good link if you want to have an informed opinion on whether the press/media is censored these days:

Columbia Journalism Review

Remember this quote, it could become true: "Fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power." -Mussolini.

Friday, January 18, 2002

I had a busy day, had to run errands in town, some shopping, then housework and last, a long bike ride. It was raining early this morning, but stopped and was only overcast, cold...fine for a ride. I really, really enjoy biking on a daily basis, weather permitting. I like the park for rides, but dread the onset of baseball season, since there's a ball field there and it'll be filled with screaming kids. Guess I'll ride on the streets then.

Here's some of my pet peeves:

People who are too lazy to take down their outside Christmas decorations -- either way late, like into January -- or leave them up year-round. Don't these stupid people know that it's bad enough to put up tacky decorations during the Xmas season, much less leave them up beyond Christmas? Tacky, tacky, tacky!!!

People who have more than two children, or adopt from foreign countries. We have plenty of older children here who need adopting, and the ONLY reason to go overseas is to get a little, prewwwwcious baby. Give me a break. These people don't want to be parents; they want a helpless infant. Why don't they just get a dog or cat? As for more than two children per couple, I think over-population speaks for itself on this issue.

People who have pets, but don't take care of them. If it's cats, they let them roam loose and don't neuter/spay; same for dogs. We DO have a leash law here for dogs, but I still see plenty out running around without any I.D. The cats seem to multiply all the time here, and most people allow theirs to run loose and breed. I think there should be LAWS to force owners who allow cats/dogs loose to have them neutered/spayed -- or pay big fines. That would do more to end unwanted domestic animal populations than the terrible brutality of so many being killed at animal shelters each year.

Perhaps I should just sum this up and say I HATE irresponsible people in general!

I saw a great movie on Lifetime last night, though originally made by HBO. "Beyond the Call" was about a death row inmate whose execution comes to the attention of his first girl-friend, now long married with kids. Sissy Spacek plays the woman, and it was a though-provoking story...more about Viet Nam vets than anything. I highly recommend it.

I still am not interested in reading fiction. I had several novels I'd gotten from the library, and didn't read a single one. I tried to read "Smoke Jumper" by that guy who wrote the "The Horse Whisperer," but it got so mauldin I couldn't hack it. Oh well.

Enough for today.

Thursday, January 17, 2002

First, good news: I figured out how to get the just!burn software installed! It works perfectly, and I have the Compaq tech help to thank for that. My PC is almost back to normal, with the improved speed of the new RAM upgrade, thank goodness!

I went on my bike ride early, didn't sleep as late today. I wanted to ride before the predicted rain arrives, later this afternoon.

Some of the recent news about Enron excerpts to follow:

White House Dismisses Report It Favored Enron
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House on Thursday denied a senior Democrat's allegations its energy plan was crafted to benefit Enron Corp., President Bush's biggest political patron, and dismissed a congressional report on the matter as a ``waste of taxpayers' money.''

The White House also rebuffed calls for the release of information about contacts between Vice President Dick Cheney's energy task force and energy companies, including Enron. The General Accounting Office, Congress' investigative arm, is threatening to sue the White House over its refusal to name industry executives the administration met with last year while drafting its energy plan.

The White House is eager to distance itself from the widening scandal surrounding Enron, the energy-trading giant which collapsed in the autumn and filed for bankruptcy on Dec. 2 after trying to solicit aid from the Bush administration. The White House says it did nothing to help the company and did nothing wrong.

A report by California Rep. Henry Waxman, the senior Democrat on the House of Representatives Government Reform Committee, found that at least 17 policies in the White House energy plan were advocated by Enron or benefited Enron.

The policies cited in Waxman's report include deregulation initiatives long promoted by Enron, support for trading in energy derivatives and proposals to facilitate natural gas projects.

Duh! Did we expect the adminstration to ADMIT any wrongdoing? Nah, don't think so.

And this:

Probe Raises Stakes on Energy Task Force Records

Members of Congress and watchdog groups are seeking to learn whether Enron, a major contributor to Bush's presidential campaign, influenced the administration in five areas: Enron's solicitations of government help in the weeks before its bankruptcy; the administration's energy policy, which includes expansion of energy production and transmission; last fall's economic stimulus package, which included a tax break sought by Enron; Enron's influence on the selection of administration personnel; and benefits Enron received from the Overseas Private Investment Corp. and the Export-Import Bank of the United States.

Hang in there, I'm sure that something significant will be uncovered eventually. It seems in today's world: politician = lying/greed.


How about some more cosmic disaster scenarios? Here's some great food for thought:

Meteor clue to end of Middle East civilisations

Studies of satellite images of southern Iraq have revealed a two-mile-wide circular depression which scientists say bears all the hallmarks of an impact crater. If confirmed, it would point to the Middle East being struck by a meteor with the violence equivalent to hundreds of nuclear bombs.

Today's crater lies on what would have been shallow sea 4,000 years ago, and any impact would have caused devastating fires and flooding.

The catastrophic effect of these could explain the mystery of why so many early cultures went into sudden decline around 2300 BC.

They include the demise of the Akkad culture of central Iraq, with its mysterious semi-mythological emperor Sargon; the end of the fifth dynasty of Egypt's Old Kingdom, following the building of the Great Pyramids and the sudden disappearance of hundreds of early settlements in the Holy Land.

Until now, archaeologists have put forward a host of separate explanations for these events, from local wars to environmental changes. Recently, some astronomers have suggested that meteor impacts could explain such historical mysteries.

Dr Benny Peiser, who lectures on the effects of meteor impacts at John Moores University, Liverpool, said it was one of the most significant discoveries in recent years and would corroborate research he and others have done.

He said that craters recently found in Argentina date from around the same period - suggesting that the Earth may have been hit by a shower of large meteors at about the same time.


Clues to Bronze Age comet strike

Evidence is growing that a huge comet smashed into the Earth about 4,000 years ago.
Scientists are pointing to studies of tree-rings in Ireland which have revealed that about 2,354-2,345 BC there was an abrupt change to a colder climate.

They have also highlighted discoveries by archaeologists in northern Syria of a catastrophic environmental event at about the same time. This is also about the time that Bronze Age civilisations collapsed.

Sci/Tech Article

Clues to Bronze Age comet strike

Evidence is growing that a huge comet smashed into the Earth about 4,000 years ago.

Scientists are pointing to studies of tree-rings in Ireland which have revealed that about 2,354-2,345 BC there was an abrupt change to a colder climate.

They have also highlighted discoveries by archaeologists in northern Syria of a catastrophic environmental event at about the same time. This is also about the time that Bronze Age civilisations collapsed.

Firework displays of meteors

Dr Bill Napier, an astronomer at Armagh Observatory, and Dr Victor Clube, from Oxford and Armagh universities, say the evidence points to a comet hitting the Earth, and have called for more research.

Writing in Frontiers, the magazine of the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council, Dr Napier suggests that the Comet Encke, first observed in 1786, might be a remnant of the object along with its associated stream of meteors, called the Taurids.

This giant mother-comet is thought to have been disintegrating as recently as 5,000 years ago.

At this time, and for some millennia afterwards, the night sky would have been lit up by a bright light caused by dust particles, cometary fragments, and firework displays of meteor storms.

The scientists highlight ancient civilisations' preoccupation with the sky.

Cosmic icons were widespread

Dr Napier wrote: "People have assumed that this was driven by the need for a calendar for both agricultural and ritual purposes.

"However, this explanation does not account for the doom-laden nature of much cosmic iconography and early sky-centred cosmic religions associated with these societies."

The new evidence also ties in with ancient prophecies, including the Book of Revelations in the Bible, which appears to describe cataclysmic events involving objects falling from the sky.

Every 100,000 years or so one of these rare, giant objects enters an orbit that crosses the path of the Earth.

And now, let's look to the future statistics of what might happen by cosmic disasters to Earth:

Impact Events Shaped Rise Of Civilization

Both the emergence and the collapse of human cultures, the Pleistocene-Holocene transition and the Neolithic Revolution, the onset and collapse of the Bronze Age civilisations, and even the collapse of the Roman Empire may be associated with episodes of increased cosmic activity and multiple impacts that may well have included incidents of cosmic dust loading."

While most of these impacts occurred over unpopulated areas of the globe, there are historical accounts about devastating cosmic catastrophes. According to a number of Chinese records, about 10,000 people were killed in the city of Chi'ing-yang in 1490 AD due to the break-up of a small asteroid.

Dr Peiser also presented new impact simulations that estimate expected fatalities of cosmic impacts for the next 10,000 years. Without the establishment of effective strategies of planetary defense in the future, more than 13 million people are expected to die as a direct result of impact catastrophes in the next ten millennia.

Based on computer simulations that take into account the current flux of near-Earth objects, a typical 10,000 years period with a constant human population of 5 billion can expect to experience: *110 fatal impacts resulting in a total of 13 million fatalities (an average of 120,000 fatalities per event).

300 "Tunguska" style airbursts over land, with 80 of these producing fatalities (roughly 1 fatal event per century).

12 ocean impacts that produce tsunami, with an average of 500,000 fatalities per event.

4 land impacts, with an average of 500,000 fatalities per event.

"These estimates are based on the assumption that the current asteroidal and cometary flux will be constant in time and quantity over the next 10,000 years. However, there is growing evidence to suggest that there have been peak levels of meteoritic activity in the past that differed significantly from the cosmic calm of the last 300 years", Dr. Peiser pointed out.

WHEN might these disasters happen? Well, in one article it stated that one could happen tomorrow or within the next 50 years or the next 100 years...or this afternoon. There's no way to predict with any accuracy...but this much is SURE: cosmic disaster WILL happen to Earth sooner or later.

Like I've said, tomorrow is promised to NO ONE!

Wednesday, January 16, 2002

I went on the bike ride this morning around 10:30, since I got up at 9:00. Yeah, another morning sleeping too late. I got over nine hours of sleep last night, but sometimes this seems necessary. What I cannot endure is to get LESS than six hours of sleep, and the more I get, the better I feel the next day. If I get less than six hours, I feel all achy and tired, almost as if I had some sort of deep bone disease. So sleep is good for me!

The bike ride was great, since it's around 50 today and partly cloudy. (Does anyone need the weather report?)

Then I had some housework to do, and baked some brownies (the easy kind out of a premix package). But those will be good for DH tonight, as he has a sweet tooth. I rarely eat any kind of sweets, as I don't seem to have a craving for that kind of food.

I never did get my just!right CD burner software restored, although Compaq tech help was quick to respond via email. I may have to order the SoftPaq that will restore that, if I can't figure out how to re-install it from the CD restore disk. Though I don't use it often, I still want it to work -- eventually!

Two more school shootings since yesterday -- one in Manhattan (a public school apparently), and today a law school. Here's the headline from today's event:

Law School Shooting

Three Killed on Virginia Campus
The Associated Press

G R U N D Y, Va., Jan. 16 — A gunman killed three people and wounded three others during a shooting spree today at a tiny law school in the western Virginia foothills, officials said.

And we thought we had to be worried about foreign terrorists? I think Americans right here are at least as dangerous and more apt at random, violent, fatal attacks, courtesy of our gun laws.


Another warm, fuzzy "family" story here--->

Shooting rampage in Pennsylvania

Man kills wife, daughter, wife’s parents and himself

ARDMORE, Pa., Jan. 16 — A man shot his wife, her parents and his stepdaughter to death before killing himself at their home in this Philadelphia suburb, police said. A woman made a desperate phone call summoning police to the home Tuesday, but the line was disconnected as the rampage began, Lower Merion Township Police Superintendent Joseph Daly said.

Sure looks as if we have more to fear from our own near-and-dear family members than perhaps foreign terrorists or even demented co-workers, eh?


That's all the nutty news and thoughts from our mad, mad world today. Reflection is optional.

Tuesday, January 15, 2002

I've had a busy day, went grocery shopping, then back home to ride the bike this afternoon. It was sunny, windy and cold...but I didn't even wear a jacket, and made it fine. It's always more difficult when I'm fighting the wind; yet I did have a great ride.

I knew it was too good to be true -- that my PC was going to work smoothly now. Actually, most everything is working okay...except last night I discovered the CDRW software program is missing! I can't burn CDs. I don't use that much, but I don't like the fact that the software has disappeared and could be expensive to replace. Not to mention the compatibility problems. At any rate, I called the shop this morning and the lady asked the tech why the program was missing. He said it should be on the hard-drive, but I can't find it if it is. I even ran the 'Find' search in Windows and it didn't come up. Perhaps it's zipped, and I don't recognize the program file name? Anyhow, after talking to her, I looked through Windows again and DID find AOL V.4...which is what was working before. I installed it, and presto!, I can use JUNO without AOL trying to take it over. So that one problem is solved. I also just now emailed Compaq support and will see what they suggest.

Now for the news, here's some excerpts:

CIA: Bin Laden Escaped Afghanistan

In a major setback to the war on terrorism, CIA analysts have concluded bin Laden escaped from the Tora Bora cave complex in eastern Afghanistan and into Pakistan around the first week of December, intelligence officials said.
The officials also told ABCNEWS that one captured al Qaeda fighter claims to have witnessed, in one of the Tora Bora hiding places, bin Laden turning over operational control to one of his deputies.

"I think that most intelligence analysts are absolutely convinced at this point that bin Laden has slipped the noose and has left Afghanistan and Pakistan," said Vince Cannistraro, an ABCNEWS analyst and former CIA counterterrorism chief.



Better Safe than Sorry

Experts Suggest Bush Receive Additional
Tests to Rule Out Heart Problems

Moss explains that while vasovagal syncope is a reasonable explanation for Bush's episode, there are other more serious considerations, such as heart rhythm diseases, that should be evaluated with additional testing.

"Abrupt un-witnessed syncope in a 55-year-old male is a potentially serious problem that is surely being given more attention than the causal response reported to the press," Moss says.

I think Bush should have a thorough checkup; we'd sure be in trouble if something happened to him, since Cheney is certainly in precarious health with his advanced heart troubles.

And that's it for today.

Monday, January 14, 2002

We had fun yesterday using the metal detector. We went to several old schoolyards, and a community center and ended up at an old family cemetery (of my relatives) way out in the deep woods, no church or buildings anywhere in sight. All we found, however, was some coins and a small charm off a charm bracelet. But nevertheless, it was interesting to scout the ground and hear the detector beep, so we could look to see what was buried.

The metal detector we're using is at least twenty years old, borrowed from one of DH's friends. Certainly, if we buy one I want controls that will show depth and something about the buried object -- which the newer ones do. We dug up a lot of aluminum cans and aluminum foil, way too much work for nothing! Anyhow, at least we know some of the features we'd like in a newer metal detector. But it is a fun activity, and good exercise in all that walking, plus a great way to pass hours and hours of time!

Well, all the news lately of Enron is very interesting. I can only offer this comment: I hope that the Congressional investigation gets to the bottom of that fiasco. I think ALL the employees who were not allowed to sell their stock as it fell should be reimbursed -- possibly straight from the CEOs of Enron who made a fortune by selling off their shares BEFORE they went bankrupt. As for the Prez & Company, if he is involved, it will sooner or later be revealed -- unless another terrorist attack saves his butt.

In an earlier entry I had mentioned that I've found very little about the ring-leader of the WTC plane attacks, Atta. Here's an article I did find that is somewhat interesting:

Agony of teacher who gave help to hijack leader

A RETIRED teacher from Hamburg has described the mental breakdown she suffered after hearing that Mohammed Atta, the student she brought to Germany to foster international friendship, was the ringleader in the September 11 attacks on America.

Frau Michaels and her husband said they were devastated that their sponsorship of Atta had given him an entrance to the West, which he had used to train for his attack on the World Trade Center.

"I had a breakdown (after September 11) and I am still fighting it," she said. "The impact of this was like a split or a breakdown in everything which my life represented until then. It was as if a chain had snapped."

The couple, who did not wish to have their full names revealed, were speaking for the first time during an Insight investigation that revealed a disturbing portrait of Atta, the chief hijacker on September 11. While Atta seemed a quiet and shy student to his German hosts, he could be short-tempered and sometimes violent.

Atta plotted the attacks during more than seven years in Hamburg.

"We often discussed politics and he told me, 'It's terrible when people resort to violence,' " said Michaels. "I was devastated when I found out what he had done."

She said her breakdown lasted until the end of November. She did not receive hospital treatment, but sought the help of a psychologist to combat the depression.

"For years I have made it my business to try to build up good contacts with people from abroad," said Michaels. "I am not so open any more and of course that hurts me."

Nevertheless, she feels no responsibility for September 11. "I don't blame myself for what happened. I understand that other people, professionals, who ought to have noticed something, didn't."

Michaels established contacts in Cairo when she helped organise the exchange of schoolchildren between Egypt and Germany, and, after a request from mutual family friends, extended a formal invitation to Atta to study in Hamburg.

Herr Michaels said: "It's a fact that we tried all those years to build bridges between our country and other people and look what happened."

When Atta arrived at the couple's spacious bungalow, he impressed them with his diligence, criticising students who failed to attend tutorials.

He was already a committed Muslim, covering his eyes with his hands when semi-clad women appeared on television. But he showed no signs of being a dangerous extremist.

The Michaelses lost contact with Atta in about 1995, but he remained in Hamburg and cultivated fundamentalist contacts.

While he was withdrawn in German company, among his Arab friends he was quick to anger and was once involved in a brawl at a Hamburg station. He would also go out drinking on the Reeperbahn, a renowned red light district.

Now I've got to try and install a bunch of programs on my PC, for the scanner, printer, etc...and hope it all goes well! Still haven't been able to get AOL to work without interfering with JUNO. Oh well, so it goes!

I went on my bike ride earlier, and it's cold, overcast...but the sun is supposed to come out later this afternoon. Nice day, nearly 60 degrees.

Till next time...

Sunday, January 13, 2002

Believe it or not, I actually got my PC back yesterday afternoon!

I couldn't believe it when the lady from the computer shop called around 1:30 and said it was ready. I asked if the RAM had come in, and she said yes, did I want it installed. I agreed, and she said that would be done within thirty minutes. So I picked up the PC a little after 2:00, and it cost $86.00. I can't complain, because once it was setup, everything seems to be working well. Of course, since the hard-drive was reformatted, I have to reinstall some of my favorite programs (that I'd saved to CD) and find others on the internet.

McAfee Virus protection was on it again, and I had to take that off for it interferes with installing programs, as welll as uses too much system resources. {I learned this when I first bought this Compaq.} Right now I'm downloading a free virus protection program, and will test it. Also, I couldn't seem to get AOL and JUNO to work together; AOL kept coming up when I tried to use JUNO. So I took AOL off for now. But JUNO is working fine, and that is my main ISP. If I can't get AOL to work, I'll drop that -- since I only have 4 hours anyway as a backup in case JUNO is down.

After I got the PC back yesterday, I went on a long bike ride because the sun had come out. It was still a bit cold, but nice for riding. That helped improve my mood it usually does. And getting the PC home helped too!

I don't have any news items to comment on today, since I've had no time to gather any.

DH and I are going out later today on a metal detecting expedition! We're hoping to walk along some creekbanks and see what we can find. It's near 58 and sunny, so we should have a pleasant day.

And that's all for today folks!

Saturday, January 12, 2002

I got up today in a depressed mood. I didn't go on the bike ride; it's a cold, gray, overcast day but no rain. I just didn't feel in the mood to get out of the house. Some days are like this for me.

At any rate, here's a few excerpts/headlines on the latest news about the Enron collapse/scandal:

Justice picks prosecutor to head Enron investigation

Top White House officials, meanwhile, urged what one called "context and perspective" in media coverage of the developments.

"There are some legitimate questions and some questions we view more as political," the senior official said.

Why does this White House team continue to try and dictate the terms of what the news media should and shouldn't report? Granted, no news agency is going to report military secrets that would endanger troops, and a bit of reticence is necessary in that corner. On the other hand, this latest scandal with Enron has NOTHING to do with the war effort, and the more the republican pundits ask the news agencies to not cover it in-depth (or with any negative connotations for the Prez) then the more suspicious the American citizens should become. The free press in America is SUPPOSED to be the fourth estate, to keep a checks-and-balances on political power so that it doesn't run amok and destroy democracy. The current administration does nothing to enhance its image by trying to dictate what 'news' is to the press.

Here's a few more articles that have differing viewpoints:

Despite President's Denials, Enron & Lay Were Early Backers of Bush


White House Hypocrisy Causes Collective National Guffaw

"It's appropriate to take a look at what led to the bankruptcy of Enron," Mr. Fleischer said. He expressed the hope that any Congressional inquiry would be even-handled, not a "partisan, politically charged investigation" of the kind that he said had so soured many Americans on Washington.


That's all for today.

Friday, January 11, 2002

Here comes a gripe session about the PC upgrade!

I called the lady at the shop, and she said the tech was STILL having trouble reformatting the hard-drive. Said he needed a floppy restore disk that should have come with the PC. I searched through all the material with the PC (which I have carefully kept in a box!) and could NOT find the floppy. So I went online, and contacted Compaq support, which replied within an hour via email (thank goodness somebody is working right!)

Anyhow, the Compaq support said a restore floppy did not ship with that model of PC. So he gave explicit instructions how to make a floppy restore disk off the restore CD that came with it. I printed it out, took it to the computer shop, and by then I was really getting angry. After all, if I'm going to have to give the tech instructions, why should I pay him to do anything?

I also checked on the Compaq website, and found out that you can buy 64 MGs of RAM for $24.99. The lady at the shop told me it cost $40.00. And to top it all off, she said that the RAM still had not come in. I took my computer into that shop Monday, and so far, all they've done is render it inoperable.

When I told her how much I could get the RAM for, she said they ordered from a different place. And the darn tech guy was OUT, not even available to talk with me. When she saw I was angry, she said they could hold off on the RAM upgrade.

As I headed out of the shop (before I really let her have a piece of my mind!) I just said, "We'll see. Right now I just want that computer working the way it was when I brought it in here."

What IS it with computer shops? Am I just unlucky, or is it always this way?
I slept way too late this morning, but I suppose that is a privilege of NOT having to work at a 9-to-5 job! Some days I wake up early, other days I am lazy and just sleep late. Anyhow, I'd thought it was supposed to be raining, and since I have wood shutters on the inside of our bedroom, I didn't know the sun was out. When I finally got up, I decided to go on the bike ride, and it was quite pleasant. We did get a little rain, but not enough to amount to much. The park was nice though, rain-washed and pine-scented from all the many pines and cedars around the trail I ride.

My DH (dear husband) and I have decided to take up a new hobby. For some time now, we'd been searching for something we could do together when we go on our drives through the countryside. I had once tried photography, but lost interest in it. Now we've decided to try treasure hunting with a metal detector.

For those who think the internet/web is useless, I found it incredibly helpful/educational last night as I explored various aspects of metal detecting. I learned everything from the type of metal detector to buy for a novice/beginner to personal opinions (in newsgroups) and photos of others' finds. We will probably buy a detector soon, but in the meantime, DH was able to borrow an older one from a friend so we can try it out first.

There's lots of places here to search for interesting buried objects. One place I'd love to go is my grandparents' old home place. The house was destroyed by a bad tornado in 1974, and the property no longer belongs to our family; but I think we could get permission to search there. I'd love to find some old objects that might be buried since the tornado literally crumbled the house. Also, one of my great-grandfather's old homeplaces should be interesting; there were always rumors that he'd buried a bunch of money on the property! Plus, there's just lots of interesting history in this region, from Civil War battle areas to old homeplaces to river and creekbanks. I'll keep this journal updated with any experiences and/or finds we make. We'll probably try out the borrowed detector this weekend, if the weather permits.

Now to the news:

True color of the cosmos revealed, pale green

The color itself might seem surprising since there are no green stars, Glazebrook acknowledged. The hue, however, reflects the preponderance of the most common kinds of stars, old red ones and young blue ones. A combination of light from the two sources produces green.

The color composite was created during an analysis of different theories about star formation. Scientists think that the universe first went through a "blue phase," populated mostly by young stars; then shifted into its current "green phase," with its mixture of young and old; and will eventually experience a "red phase," when it possesses mostly aging red giants.

Yep, and in that red phase we're going to be toast, as well as most of the planetary life anywhere else in the cosmos.

Here's a list of the most popular books read by skeptics, courtesy of Skeptic Website. If you've not read any of these, you might want to check them out -- if you consider yourself to have an open mind.

The Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan

Why People Believe Weird Things by Michael Shermer

Flim Flam!: Psychics, ESP, Unicorns and Other Delusions by James Randi

Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science by Martin Gardner

How to Think About Weird Things by Theodore Schick and Lewis Vaughn

The Faith Healers by James Randi

How We Believe by Michael Shermer

The New Age: Notes of a Fringe Watcher by Martin Gardner

The Mismeasure of Man by Stephen Jay Gould

Voodoo Science: The Road From Foolishness to Fraud by Robert L. Park

Enough for today!

Thursday, January 10, 2002

Much warmer in Dixie today, near 60 degrees. I went on the bike ride early, before it got so warm. We're in for rain tonight and tomorrow morning, but perhaps I can ride late in the afternoon tomorrow.

I don't expect to hear anything else on my PC upgrade till late tomorrow, if then. Drats!

I watched a fascinating episode of Nova on PBS the other night, entitled Death Star about gamma ray bursts in the cosmos, and then went to their website for the supplemental material. Again, it proved intriquing -- unless of course, you are of the opinion that earth has some 'divine' right to exist. Otherwise, the future looks rather bleak.

Here's an excerpt:

A Bad Day in the Milky Way

If the [gamma ray] burster were closer, say less than 3,000 light-years away, the gamma-ray flux received in a few tens of seconds could wipe out the entire ozone layer for years to come. At the very least, the drastic increase in solar ultraviolet radiation reaching Earth's surface would cause severe skin cancers. For humans and other animals, slow starvation would likely result, as the harmful ultraviolet flux inhibited plant growth and damaged and altered ecosystems supporting the food chain. As in a nuclear winter, the nitric oxides darkening our skies could also cause acid rains and significant cooling of the Earth's surface. Such pollutants would take decades to settle out of the stratosphere.

But that's not all. In addition to the chemical changes in the atmosphere, the nuclear interactions induced by the high-energy gamma rays would rapidly produce huge quantities of radioactive nucleids, such as carbon-14, which has a half-life of 5,700 years. Of course, winds would distribute this fallout worldwide.

Shaviv and Dar postulate that as the neutron stars begin their own catastrophic merger, jets of matter would be flung from the system at nearly the speed of light. These atoms and ions would be so energetic that they would absorb visible starlight and re-emit gamma rays, which we would detect as a gamma-ray burst. Impinging on our fair planet shortly after the horrific flash of gamma rays, the energetic particles themselves would join in the destruction, triggering still more deadly atmospheric cascades of nuclear interactions lasting up to a month.

If Shaviv and Dar are correct, a collapsing binary neutron star system anywhere nearby would spell doom for our fair planet.

These authors and others note that known pairs of neutron stars exist in our galaxy, including one within about 1,500 light-years. This knowledge has led to the speculation that in the past the Earth has found itself uncomfortably close to a violent neutron star merger. Some estimates hold that one occurs within about 3,000 light-years of the sun every 100 million years on average. Intriguingly, this timescale is roughly the same as the time between mass extinctions in our planet's geological record.


The mainstream media seems to continuously downplay the Enron scandal (not that any will name it that!)...but look at this headline from CNN:

CNN/Money: Enron flap prompts 401(k) probe

EXCUSE me, but it's more than just a little flap. In fact, here's a more in-depth analysis/commentary:

Enron is not Bush's Whitewater [Commentary: It will be worse]

What it is about, [the investigation] and what the public will get to hear and read about in wrenching detail over the coming months, is how business gets done down in Texas. How a small group of business leaders exert enormous clout over Bush and his team in getting the rules changed to their benefit.

It will explain why Bush has locked up presidential records, locked out any voices opposed to his pro-business agenda and rammed through an expensive economic plan that wiped out the budget surplus but to date hasn't had any positive effect on the economy.

It will explain what influence Enron Chief Executive Ken Lay and his advisers had with Cheney and his energy taskforce when they met six times last year while the Vice President was putting together the administration's energy policy.

And it will explain why Bush is now thinking about acting on a proposal from that very taskforce that seeks to roll back a key provision of the Clean Air Act that helps keep factory pollution down by requiring new controls when old plants are upgraded.

It's an ugly story. One that explains a lot about what's going on in our nation's capital right now. And it's only just beginning.


Of course, it's true that Bush's popularity is still very high. I think, and always have, that his popularity is the result of the Fear Factor...the more afraid Americans are of terrorism, the more they rally behind our leader. If the threat of terrorism subsides, then other issues that have been put on the back-burner amongst the public will come to the forefront. I don't like Bush, but I am patriotic, in that I support my country. However, fortunately we DO have the right to vote, and unless the Supreme Court decides to hijack the next election (like they did the previous one), then I don't think Bush will be our next Prez.

Just my two-cents worth of thought today!

Wednesday, January 09, 2002

Well, it seems that Blogger servers are under too much of a burden; each time I try to update, it says that the publishing feature is unavailable. Perhaps I will have to move this journal to a free website, such as Geocities, etc. I know HTML, so it wouldn't be that difficult, but I would hate to have to archive all the past entries here, so I might just provide a link. Oh well.

I am so aggravated about my PC upgrade. Today I talked to the lady there, and she said that the tech guy is still having problems reformatting the hard-drive. Duh!? Isn't he supposed to be the expert on this? I could have tried doing that myself, from the original reformatting disks that came with the PC, but I thought if it had to be done, the tech could do it, since I was getting the RAM upgraded anyway.

I had a similar problem in the past at a different computer shop. I took in an old computer for a modem upgrade, and ended up buying a new hard-drive from the guy. I guess there's no such thing as a good tech/computer service technician at independent computer shops. Or I just have lousy luck. At any rate, there's no telling WHEN I'll get the PC back, so I'm stuck with this old one. IF it isn't improved when I get it back, I'll buy a new one -- which I should have done to start with.

Here's some news article excerpts:

Suicide pilot's mother: 'He was my shining star'

Julia Bishop said she is stunned that her son would kill himself and shocked about the letter.

The distraught mother said she went to pick up her son at St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport, where he was taking flying lessons. When she got there, she said she was told of news reports about her son.

"I have not slept since Saturday, and I am still wearing the same clothes," she said.

"He was my shining star. He was the light of my life. There is nothing I would not do for that child. Everybody loved him."

Teachers and students at Pinellas County's East Lake High School described the teen as a sociable, kindhearted boy who got along with his classmates and had a good sense of humor. About 20 students went to East Lake counselors Monday to grieve over the loss of their friend, said Carol Madura, a member of the school's crisis team.

That description contrasts starkly with the one given by authorities, who have said the high school freshman was a troubled teen-ager with few friends.

"He was very much a loner," said Tampa Police Chief Bennie Holder. "From his actions, we can assume he was a troubled young man."

----And another similar article:
According to Tampa Police Chief Bennie Holder, Bishop was carrying a handwritten note, which investigators found at the scene of the crash, "expressing his sympathy for Osama bin Laden and the events which occurred September 11, 2001." Holder said the letter "had some other things in there that we prefer not to talk about (since) the investigation is still ongoing, but everything in the note mentioned things that occurred on September 11th and his support of bin Laden and al Qaeda."

What's up with these moms? Don't they have a clue about their poor parental skills? After all, this woman moved the kid all over the country, constantly changing his schools, always on the move, never settled. Did she even try to find out what might have been bothering him? Jeez, spare me the sob story, poor mommies!

A very humorous piece:

Ten Things to Do While on High Alert


Media's Patriotism Provides a Shield for Bush

Great article written by Joan Konner, professor and dean emerita at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Be sure to read this, if you are wondering why all we see on the media news is rapturous, glowing reports for Bush & Company these days.


I went on my bike ride earlier, and it was great. Now it's afternoon, and around 60 degrees. Earlier I cleaned and scrubbed the cats' sunporch, which was quite a task. But all is tidy and clean there now. I took advantage of this mild weather to get that out of the way.

Enough for today.

Tuesday, January 08, 2002

Great morning for a bike ride, brisk but sunny. I am putting about 25 miles a week on the bike, and it really makes me feel better, sleep better and stay relaxed.

In the news today several items to comment on:

Earth escapes brush with killer asteroid

(CNN) -- An asteroid that could pulverize a country zipped close by the Earth on Monday, only weeks after astronomers first noticed the big space boulder heading in our direction.

The Near Earth Object brightened enough for even simple telescopes to spot just before it raced past our planet on Monday, only two times the distance of the moon, according to, a NASA-affiliated Web site.

The range might seem like enough to breath easy, about 600,000 km (375,000 miles), but many scientists classify it as a relatively close call.

The asteroid, officially known as 2001 YB5, measures between 300 and 400 meters (1,000 to 1,300 feet) in width. If such a rock were to smash into the planet, it would unleash the same amount of energy as many nuclear bombs, astronomers estimate.

"The impact would be quite tremendous. It could essentially wipe out a medium-sized country," said Benny Peiser of the Royal Astronomical Society in Great Britain. "The environmental consequences would be regional but the social and economic consequences would be global."

Close encounters with giant space rocks are not uncommon. Asteroids comparable to 2001 YB5 could strike the Earth as frequently as once every 5,000 years, Peiser said.

In the year 2027, an asteroid between one kilometer and mile in length is expected pass even closer than 2001 YB5. Having pinpointed its orbital path, scientists dismissed any potential of danger.

But later on, either asteroid could pose risks to the planet, along with countless rocks lurking in the shadows that have yet to be identified, astronomers warn.

What particularly troubles Peiser is that scientists only first spotted 2001 YB5 in early December. What if it had been heading on a collision course?

Indeed, what would have happened? Disaster. Folks, I'll say it again: life is a dangerous business and tomorrow is never promised -- not even for the planet earth!


Departing Southwest flight disrupted at LAX by man holding shoe

Associated Press Writer
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- A Southwest Airlines flight about to leave Los Angeles International Airport was disrupted Monday by a shoe-wielding passenger who punched a flight attendant in the head and opened the plane's rear door.

The attendant was treated for minor injuries. No one else was hurt.

More airplane madness. Of course, this is nothing new; there's been such incidents frequently in the past, although it probably wasn't reported with such intense scrutiny.


I read an article quoting Robert Redford about aging celebs, and plastic surgery in Hollywood:

Robert Redford - once the pin-up boy to a generation - has launched a withering attack on his Hollywood colleagues who try to defy the ageing process by going under the knife. He said actors and celebrities have developed a "sick obsession with plastic surgery" and labelled those who undergo it "vain and insecure".

In an interview with US magazine he says: "Everyone in Tinseltown is getting pinched, lifted and pulled. For many it's become a sick obsession. They lose some of their soul when they go under the knife and end up looking body snatched. People should preserve their time in history. I'm happy to make the best of what I've got."

Bravo to you Redford! I thoroughly agree, and I don't think that even women should be having plastic surgery to remain 'youthful looking.' Most people couldn't afford it, but there's something to be said for integrity and growing old gracefully -- NATURALLY.


At some point in aging, I hope I arrive at the wisdom in this poem by Stevie Smith:

Why do I think of Death
As a friend?
It is because he is a scatterer,
He scatters the human frame
The nerviness and the great pain,
Throws it on the fresh fresh air
And now it is nowhere
Only sweet Death does this,
Sweet Death, kind Death,
Of all the gods you are the best.


I found out that my PC upgrade is going to take longer. First off, the tech said he needs to reformat my hard-drive in order to fix the system tune-up, which has been freezing now for two months. That means all will be lost on my hard-drive, but I'd saved the important stuff anyway. I probably should have just got a new PC; it seems it's hardly worth the time/effort/price of upgrades. Oh well. Live and learn.

That's enough for today's entry.

Monday, January 07, 2002

Brrrr, it's cold in Dixie today! Overcast, windy...just makes you want to stay indoors and read/write! Which I've done most of the day. However, I did manage to take the Compaq hard-drive in for an upgrade; the tech said to check back tomorrow around noon to see what progress they'd made. I KNOW how slow computer shops are, but at least I have the old computer to use in the meantime.

This morning I couldn't get the modem to work, but after some adjustments, my ISP program finally recognized it. I don't like this old computer, but it certainly beats not having one. I haven't sold it because I figured it might be more useful to me if needed than the amount I could get out of a PC this old and slow.

I didn't go on my bike ride today, need to use the ski machine tonight. I try to use it at least once a week for upper body workout. The remainder of this week is supposed to be very mild and sunny, so I should be able to bike every day.

And that's about it for now. No commentary on news items today, as I've not had the time to read any.

Sunday, January 06, 2002

Woke up to an inch of snow in Dixie! But it's starting to become slushy, and probably won't last long. However, there's predictions for a hard freeze tonight, and MORE, this may turn into a mess if nothing else. We occasionally get snow here, as well as a freak ice storm, sleet. I hate sleet, since we have lots of pines and evergreens, a magnolia in the front yard, and the ice can ruin these trees. At any rate, I don't know if we'll go on our usual Sunday drive today, but the streets do look safe and clear.

I went to the library yesterday and instead of looking for fiction (which I've lately grown tired of) I found memoirs and journals and biographys. Last night I read over half of a book entitled, "The Last Gift of Time -- Life Beyond Sixty" by Carolyn Hellbrun. I thought I might as well start preparing for my old age!, and this looked interesting. Hellbrun is a former professor of English, as well as a published author (she wrote the Amanada Cross mystery series). Anyhow, this is a great book! She's honest, very candid -- and that is what I've been searching for in my reading. I grew disgusted with the sentimental, unrealistic pap of mainstream fiction lately, and have tried to find more honesty in books, and other reading material.

Here's one brief excerpt about her retirement from being a professor: "I entered upon a life unimagined previously, of happiness impossible to youth or to the years of being constantly needed both at home and at work. I entered into a period of freedom, and only past sixty learned in what freedom consists: to live without a constantly, unnoticed stream of anger and resentment, without the daily contemplation of power always in the hands of the least worthy, the least imaginative, the least generous."

Ah yes, I DO understand that fact. And it's why I DO cherish my own freedom, to do as I wish...not be enslaved in the working marketplace. Nor to have the burden and demands of offspring -- which is a never-ending obligation.I am very fortunate not only that I am AWARE of this wonderful freedom I have, but also that I decided to prepare and take advantage of it starting in my early 40s instead of waiting till 60!

Now for a news excerpt:

Man accused of abducting girl he met on Internet

PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania (AP) -- A man accused of abducting a 13-year-old girl he met over the Internet was arrested Friday after FBI agents found the girl restrained inside his northern Virginia home, federal officials said.

The girl slipped out of her house in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, after a New Year's Day family dinner and was picked up by Scott Tyree, 38, and driven to his home in Herndon, Virginia, authorities said.

When oh when will people realize that the internet is just another medium for STRANGERS to meet? There's no way to know if that amazing person you're chatting with is an better be cautious, better to be safe than sorry.

That's all for now. I'll close with this line from a past popular song: "All we are is dust in the wind..."

Saturday, January 05, 2002

Went on the bike ride early, and though it was cold, I made it fine in the warm suit. The sun is out, but we're supposed to get rain later tonight and tomorrow -- and it MIGHT snow here Sunday night. Hope not!

Another thought about the WTC disaster and all the money raised for victims. Perhaps we could have an "All-Star Telethon" and put all that money in a fund to help the homeless, the working poor, the mentally ill, the drug addicted, those without health insurance, etc... After all, if the stars/celebs can raise that kind of money, why should we have the social ills we do now?

But then again, those who favor capitalism over democracy (and it's the majority in America I think) would oppose this. The reason capitalism works (at least usually) is that it is based on GREED. The more you get, the more you want..until, of course, there's a never-ending chain of dog eat dog eat dog...until you're the Top Dog (kinda like the Prez?). Take away the greed factor, and try to help those less fortunate...and hey, it just wouldn't be our good ol America, would it? (sarcasm)

One news article excerpt here from a article:

Trolling the Web for Afghan Dead

In an online report, a University of New Hampshire professor charges that the U.S. military has killed more than 4,000 civilians in Afghanistan and that the U.S. media have largely ignored the toll of the war on terrorism.

He said he discovered that Washington's anti-terrorism campaign has killed an average of 65 Afghans a day, information he charges has been blithely dismissed by the American mainstream press.

Yep, I wondered about this myself. This same man runs an excellent media/news watchdog website: CURSOR

That's all for today folks!

Friday, January 04, 2002

I got back from the errands in town, then went on a bike ride around noon. Did all the housework, and called the computer shop. I described some of the problems I'm having, and the lady said to bring it in before I decide on the upgrade -- to make sure it's not something serious before I put more money into it. Darn. But I'd rather know if there's a big problem, and not waste money upgrading. I will probably take it in on Monday, and by then should have my old PC set-up to use.

I indirectly heard from an old journalist buddy today. He is now working in Washington D.C. as a lobbyist. He always did have political inclinations, so I would think this position suits him well. When I knew him we both worked at the same newspaper, and he was much younger than me. I was the copy editor and he was a reporter, always had a great sense of humor. I'll never forget his pet phrase: "May the force be with you," which he would say as reporters went out to get their stories. I really liked all the reporters and the editor there; it was a fun time, back when I was in my mid-30s. But it always amazes me that the average person doesn't realize how much the PUBLISHER influences what is published in the newspaper. Most are ethical, and want to get at the truth...but they do exercise editorial judgement a lot of the time. This is why, having been an insider, I don't always trust the media and/or news reporting.

At any rate, here's a few news items with some commentary:

Woman Accused in Slayings of Two Husbands and Companion

ROCKVILLE, Md. (AP) -- A woman who allegedly enticed lovers to kill two husbands and a boyfriend and kept witnesses quiet with threats of voodoo will be charged with murder, a prosecutor said Friday.

Josephine Gray enlisted the help of each successive husband and boyfriend to commit murder on her behalf, first in 1974, then in 1990, then in 1996, authorities said in court documents. The second and third victims were suspected of killing the husbands who came before them.

Previous charges were dropped against Gray, 55, in two of the deaths after key witnesses disappeared; authorities accuse her of incorporating voodoo and witchcraft in her threats. Voodoo dolls of her dead lovers festooned with needles were found by authorities, Montgomery County State's Attorney Douglas Gansler said.

``Female black widow spiders kill their mates, and that is what Josephine Gray has done three times,'' Gansler said.

Gosh darn, more of that great family togetherness, huh? Black widow indeed!


And on the religious crazy front:

Eight year-old sacrificed by temple priest

IJNOR: In a gruesome incident, a temple priest chopped the head of a eight year-old boy with a dagger to propitiate a deity by human sacrifice in a town in Bijnor district, police said on Thursday.

The incident came to light when the boy hailing from Kalagarh was reported missing after he had gone to the Shiv temple to play with his friends, police said.

His body was later recovered from the nearby bushes.

On interrogation, the priest confessed to the crime, police said adding the priest has been arrested.
( PTI )


Cattle mutilations back

Ranchers, lawmen baffled by crime wave
Tribune Staff Writer

CONRAD -- This is the kind of déja vu Everett King could do without.
About 15 years ago, he discovered the grisly remains of one of his cattle that had died mysteriously.

In October, it happened again.

King said it looked as though a surgeon had sliced into his 7-year-old Charolais, the way its right eye and ear were cut off -- not to mention the way its reproductive organs had been cored.

What King finds most unusual, however, is that two months later the carcass lies right where he found it, untouched.

"Predators won't eat it," said King, who ranches outside Valier, south of Lake Frances. "It should have been cleaned up and gone a long time ago."

Ranchers reported four mutilations between June and August. Since then, there have been 11 more, and investigators are still searching for answers.

What will those darn aliens do next? :-)


And from a married-with-children woman's online journal, this excerpt which makes me glad I don't have any kids:

I can't wait until the kids go back to school again..this being a full time mom thing really, really bites into my computer time. It just bites period. I feel like I am running a full time taxi/restaurant/hotel business all in one. Living out in the country is not all it's cracked up to be. I have to take the kids hither and thither to their friends house or bring them here. There are still (actually more) dance classes to take them to and I am constantly baking, and making them things to fill their seemingly bottomless stomachs. Plus, I just can't concentrate on writing anything with depth or just plain continuity with them screaming at each other or at the background.

Kinda makes you wonder though why she had the children, if she didn't want to give them the attention/time/effort they need?

Till tomorrow...IF it comes!