My Novels

Thursday, February 27, 2003

Hey, that was quick! The 2000 Escort SE is sitting in my carport as of now! :=)

The salesman was nice enough to meet us on the north side of the larger city (50 miles away), which made it much easier on us. Didn't have to go through all the interchanges, etc, we would have had to if we'd drove all the way to the dealer's car lot. He brought all the paperwork, and I drove the Escort, DH looked it over, and we both decided it was a good bargain. Bought it, paid cash (with a check), signed all the papers, and it's officially mine now. We have a three-day grace period if we want to get the engine, etc, checked...but I'm sure it's a solid, sound engine. I drove it back, following DH, and I am very impressed with it out on the highway. Really smooth, has plenty of power (for a 4 cylinder, it's great), gets excellent gas, it's perky in the city too, quick start and drives/handles easily. I think I'm going to enjoy it even more than the older Escort I've had over ten years! Time will tell, but I am happy about it right now.

DH has to go out of town tomorrow, and might have to stay till sometimes, it was necessary to speed up the plans, if I wanted to get that car. And I KNEW it was a bargain, the best price I've found anywhere...thus, the rushed deal. At least the salesman was very helpful, cooperative and truly made it all go smoothly. I already have the insurance too; we got that via the phone from our local insurance agent as soon as we arrived home.

It is a cloudy, blustery day...and rained all morning, but quit about 11:00. I haven't used the ski machine (did yesterday though) nor will I go on the bike ride today. Tomorrow is supposed to be sunny, warmer, so I'll go then. I also want to wash and clean the older Escort, get it spic-and-span, for we do plan to sell it.

That's about it for today.

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

I think I've found a car. It's a newer Escort, 2000 model, and has all the features of my older Escort, except better. The price is right, but it's located at a Mazda dealer over 50 miles away. I've contacted a salesman, and if possible, DH and I will probably go look at it Saturday. It's white, the color I want, and has low mileage -- but best of all, it is really a bargain. I've researched online, we've looked at all the car lots/dealers within a 30 mile radius, and just haven't found such a bargain in price. If it drives well, has a sound engine, I think I'll want to buy this one.

It is very cold here, only in the high 30s with overcast skies. I didn't ride the bike today, it just seemed too cold after the nice warm weather we'd been having. No snow, ice or even rain we were lucky about that! I will use the ski machine in a short while.

I did some housework, extra stuff I only do about once a week this morning, stayed busy.

And speaking of that, here's a journal writing prompt:

If you had to choose between the services of a cook, maid, chauffer, or masseuse — absolutely free, but only for a year — which one would it be? Why?

That's easy: I'd hire a chef. Why? I absolutely HATE to cook. Anything. I don't even like to boil water! Being in the South, that gives me a somewhat dubious distinction. My grandmother tried to teach me to cook her delicious recipes, but I never paid attention. I just don't like working with food, and particularly detest dealing with raw meat. Ugh. If DH wasn't here, I'd eat nothing but nutritious soups and salads.

Here's a link and article excerpt for anyone who is interested in the 'doomsday asteriod' scenario:

Asteroids and Secrecy: If End is Nigh, Do You Want to Know?

Suppose a giant asteroid is heading toward Earth right now. Impact is certain. The consequences are expected to be globally devastating, with the human race among the casualties. The chances of doing anything about it are zero, the government decides.

Would you want to know?

Or would you prefer the Feds keep the information secret and spare you and your neighbors a bunch of pointless worrying?

In essence, the question concerns whether you'd prefer to die in ignorant bliss, or if you'd like some options. The alternatives might include dying in a panic, calmly making peace with your Maker, finally taking the kids to Disneyland or -- who knows? -- making a last-ditch effort to fight odds your elected leaders say are wholly against you.

For several reasons that will become apparent as you read on, the question is largely moot.

But that didn't stop it from coming up at a major science gathering earlier this month and generating a global round of conspiracy headlines. According to some articles, the U.S. Government has been advised to withhold information of a catastrophic impact, were one ever found to be imminent. The Times of London put this headline above its story: "Don't Tell Public of Doomsday Asteroid."

Excellent, thought-provoking article; read it if you get time.

Now off to use the ski machine!

Monday, February 24, 2003

Not much to report today, except that I've been in a frantic, busy mode all day. Had to run numerous errands in town, as well as grocery shop (NOT my favorite activity), and just got home a little while ago.

It's a beautiful day here, sunny and in the high 50s. The weather forecast is predicting a possible ice/snow event sometimes between midnight and early morning tomorrow, but it seems impossible right now.

Yesterday DH and I went on our long Sunday afternoon ride, looked at more small cars, though most car lots were closed. I still can't decide if I should get a newer car, or stick with the little, older Escort; it is running great these days, and except for replacing the air compressor (so I'll have air conditioning in the summer) there's no problems. Ah, decisions, decisions!

I also went on my long bike ride early this morning, and it was extremely nice in the cool weather. I ate more over the weekend, and am back to 91. I really don't want to get below 90, for it could be unsafe for my health in general.

And that's it for today...except I added a new link to a writer's blog at the bottom of this site where I have assorted links. Check it out!

Saturday, February 22, 2003

Feels like Spring here in the South today -- 70 degrees, windy and periods of rain mixed with sunshine. I went on my long bike ride in the park early, and for once, timed it exactly right: just as I came back home, rain started. It was only a brief shower, hard rain, then sunny again. Riding uphill into the hard wind was exhilarating, though difficult at times. I got sweaty too, since it was an excellent workout.

I was at 88 lbs. this morning, a first. I think the CoQ-10, Chromium Picolinate, and green tea are definitely speeding up my metabolism. All are supposed to help an aging body's ability to metabolize food, convert it into energy. Of course, I take other supplements and try to get enough nutrition, practicing Calorie Restriction. (See my CR Journal link on the sidebar for more on this topic, if you are interested.)

I have some errands to run in town, but wanted to make this update. As I've mentioned previously in this journal, I rarely write fiction anymore. I have various valid reasons for this, but mainly I've just lost interest in fiction writing. After more than 20 novels, I don't seem to have the drive and determination, nor the NEED to write fiction. I do write articles though, and essays, maybe an occasional poem.

Partly I think my attitude--as I've aged--has gotten more cynical, skeptical and fiction requires more compassion and empathy for the human race than I seem to currently have. Also, I suffer from depression occasionally, and find that makes it even more difficult to muster the energy, creativity and inspiration to write fiction. I do read voraciously though, and found this passage in a recent novel I read, which describes exactly my feelings so often these days:

Her whole body ached, her mind ached too. It came on her at moments, this depression, and felt like an enormous, wet, heavy canvas just sinking on top of her. As if everything were useless, as if life were misery for everyone in every place and at every time, and there was simply nothing anyone could do about it. You could delude yourself that you were aiding the cause of humankind by--what?--discovering penicillin, or writing a book. But it was only delusion. A delusion we'd invented, the way we invented the gods, to make things seem bearable. --Marilyn French, "The Bleeding Heart"

Of course, some of the latest news doesn't help my mood either. Like this link/excerpt:

Oil's Not Well on Wall Street

Even if the OPEC oil cartel goes through with its pledge to pump more oil to dampen a war-related jump in prices, the world's tanker capacity has eroded to the point where there aren't enough ships that can transport the stuff to the United States fast enough to avoid a price surge.

For example, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and other producers increased oil production by 1.2 million barrels a day in January. But the oil has still not reached U.S. refineries.

Then there's the issue of hope over reality. The cartel would be hard pressed to raise capacity if Iraq stopped producing because Saudi Arabia and perhaps, the United Arab Emirates, are the only producers with extra output to make more oil available to the world market.

The nation's dependence on foreign oil is frightening. The United States imports more than 11 million barrels a day, or 55 percent of its total consumption.

In its latest weekly update, the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the statistical arm of the U.S. Department of Energy, says gasoline prices increased for the ninth consecutive week, and the hike of 8 cents a gallon matched the biggest rise since the EIA started tracking the data in 1990. Heating oil prices are at a three-year peak.

Energy prices are going through the roof at a time when consumers are tapped out.

Consumer confidence, as measured by the University of Michigan, fell in February to the lowest reading since September 1993.

The smart money says it's just a matter of time before the slump in consumer confidence translates into an equally deep drop in spending.

Worth keeping in mind is this: Consumers, who have single-handedly kept the economy from slipping back into a so-called double-dip recession for the last two years, are now exhausted. They're loaded up to their eyeballs in debt.

So an oil-price shock would give the battered U.S. economy -- and the drivers of those gas-guzzling SUVs and pickup trucks -- a very rough ride indeed.

I think I'll just hold onto my small Escort, get the air compressor fixed. It is VERY cheap on gas, and that is what counts right now. I remember so well the gas crisis in the late 70s, but so many seem to have developed amnesia when it comes to that period. Then there's the ones born after that time, who simply can't imagine how bad it could get. They'll learn if they ever have to sit hours lined up at a gas station to get a tank of gas though!


Discovering a Secret of Long Life

LOS ANGELES -- Scientists for the first time have identified a common genetic mutation in people over 100 years old, a finding they say could be a key to discovering a way to avoid the ravages of aging.

In a study conducted at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, researchers found that centenarians were five times more likely than others to have the same mutation in their mitochrondrial DNA.

Mitochondrial DNA, the portion of DNA located in the mitochondria or "powerhouses" of the cell, passes only from the mother to offspring. The mitochondria capture the energy released from the oxidation of metabolites and convert it into energy.

"It is possible that in the process of replication these molecules are less damaged by oxidation, but we don't know that yet," said Dr. Guiseppe Attardi, Caltech professor of molecular biology, and an author of the study.

He said further lab studies are underway to determine the exact physiological effect of the genetic mutation.

Geez, I don't know if I want to live till next year, much less on and on to 100. However, I do eat to live, not live to eat. A good motto, just in case I live longer than I expect.

And finally, I'll close with this one positive quote regarding what I think the WWW and internet is all about:

"Most people live their lives, do their best, and maybe -- maybe -- get 15 minutes of fame. But they're still there, and in the long run they really matter.... It's the same on the internet. There is a silent majority of Web sites that don't cost much and don't make much money, or don't care about making money. They provide a great deal of what makes the Web what it is and what it will become. If the media....ignore that majority, they risk not understanding what's really going on." --Tim Haight

Friday, February 21, 2003

Rainy, rainy day here in the South today. No biking, so I'll use the ski machine later. And I may have enough time later today to make another entry.

For now, I am going to post this article in its entirety. I rarely do that, but this one is important enough that I am sure there will be no copyright issues, particularly as this is a press release. Read it and be glad that scientists have a sense of humor and a sense of absurdity (for those religious nutcases who truly think creationist pseudoscience is fact) though the message is totally serious.



Over two hundred scientists named Steve agree

Denver, Colorado, February 16, 2003 -- A first-of-its-kind statement on evolution signed by over 200 scientists was unveiled today at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual convention in Denver, Colorado, following Lawrence Krauss's topical lecture entitled "Scientific Ignorance as a Way of Life: From Science Fiction in Washington to Intelligent Design in the Classroom." The statement -- sponsored by the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), a nonprofit organization that defends the teaching of evolution in the public schools -- reads:

Evolution is a vital, well-supported, unifying principle of the biological sciences, and the scientific evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of the idea that all living things share a common ancestry. Although there are legitimate scientific debates about the patterns and processes of evolution, there is no serious scientific doubt that evolution occurred or that natural selection is a major mechanism of evolution. It is scientifically inappropriate and pedagogically irresponsible for creationist pseudoscience, including but not limited to "intelligent design, to be introduced into the science curricula of the public schools.

The 220 signatories are a distinguished group. Almost all hold PhDs in the sciences. They include two Nobel prize winners, eight members of the National Academy of Sciences, and several well-known authors of popular science books such as Why We Age, Darwin's Ghost, and How the Mind Works.

And they're all named Steve.

Stephen P. Ellner Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Cornell University, is among the signatories. Signatories who received their PhDs from Cornell are Stephen P. Ellner, Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Cornell University, Steve Halperin, Professor and Dean, College of Computer, Mathematical, and Physical Sciences, University of Maryland, Steven N. Handel, Professor of Ecology and Evolution, Rutgers University, Stephen Nowicki, Anne T. & Robert M. Bass Professor of Biology, Neurobiology, and Psychological and Brain Sciences, Duke University, Stephen J. O'Brien, Chief, Laboratory of Genomic Diversity, National Cancer Institute, and Stephen E. Schneider, Professor of Astronomy, University of Massachusetts.

Eugenie C. Scott, the executive director of NCSE, explained the significance of the statement. "Creationists are fond of amassing lists of PhDs who deny evolution to try to give the false impression that evolution is somehow on the verge of being rejected by the scientific community. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Hundreds of scientists endorsed the NCSE statement. And we asked only scientists named Steve -- who represent approximately 1% of scientists."

Steven Weinberg, professor of physics at the University of Texas, Austin, and recipient of the 1977 Nobel Prize in physics, added, "Of course science isn't decided by manifesto; this statement pokes fun at such efforts. If you want to know whether scientists accept evolution, you should look in the scientific literature. There you find that evolution is alive and well, as a central and unifying principle of science."

The statement comes in the wake of several recent attempts to undermine evolution education across the country, including in Ohio. Said Steve Rissing, professor of biology at Ohio State University, "I run what is perhaps the largest introductory biology program in the world. That people are misleading the public about the scientific standing of evolution not only saddens me but also makes my job harder."

Steven Pinker, professor of psychology at MIT, added, "The 220 Steves -- and Stephanies -- who signed the statement aren't trying to stifle dissent, of course. Anyone who did produce solid scientific evidence against evolution would become an instant superstar. The point of the statement is to demonstrate how misleading it is to claim, on the basis of a handful of dissenters, that evolution is a 'theory in crisis.'"

And why Steve? "In honor of the late Harvard zoologist and geologist Stephen Jay Gould, a valiant supporter of both evolution education and NCSE," NCSE's Scott explained. "We hope that the next time creationists present a list of 'scientific dissenters from evolution,' reporters will ask, 'How many of them are named Steve?'"

The National Center for Science Education is a nonprofit organization, based in Oakland, California, dedicated to defending the teaching of evolution in the public schools. On the web at For information about Project Steve, see the temporary web site at

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

We're having one of those unseasonably mild, wonderful days here today. Partly sunny, in the low 60s, no wind...perfect for biking, which I did early this morning. I also had a great dream before waking, about Gary Cooper. You can read about it in my Dream Journal, which has a link on the right sidebar of this blog page.

I also went shopping, and found a nice little 'consignment shop' nearby. Basically they take in quality used furniture and/or antiques and sell them for the owners on commission. I didn't find anything extraordinary, but I DID like some lovely white Plantation Shutters that would fit my formal living room windows. We are planning on redoing that room soon, and I'm going with very light, bright colors so the shutters would be an excellent, classy touch. They were priced at $105.00, but that is negotiable. Still, I need to find out what new ones cost before buying those.

Now...for what I consider GOOD news, at last. It seems that Dick Gephardt will run for President, and I for one, will be voting for him in the Democrat primary. I've always liked him and his policies, and think he would be a GREAT President. Here's a link for anyone interested in his announcement today, and the focus of his candidacy:

Gephardt Announces Presidential Run

(AP) Rep. Dick Gephardt, D-Mo., announces his intention to seek the Democratic nomination for the...

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Rep. Dick Gephardt, a 26-year veteran of Congress and the former House Democratic leader, announced his second candidacy for president Wednesday, pledging to repeal President Bush's tax cuts to finance "quality health coverage for everyone who works in America."

Frankly, I don't know if he could have any success with trying to help those who NEED health care, but at least he is willing to try...unlike Bushie who is only interested in seeing the wealthy get wealthier and the poor get poorer.

And on that note, here's a link to an interesting article about the sagging economy:

Economic Forecast: It's Worse Than You Thought

Take a look at it if you have time. It's a very accurate prediction, I think.

I am going to close with this quote, which has been attributed to Bushie. I haven't searched to see if it's true, but if so, I believe he's lost his mind, as so many religious fanatics do.

I don't know that Atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God." - George H. W. Bush

Tuesday, February 18, 2003

It has been a hectic, social few days for me, unusual. I mostly prefer my solitude these days, but do on occasion have to be social. We had a nice, fun time at my sister's house Saturday night; got the taxes done, caught up with all the news and then took them out for dinner (our form of payment for the taxes being prepared by my brother-in-law). My nephew was going out on his first date, so he got a lot of hassling by all of us! :-) He's 17 now, and will soon be graduating, then off to college.

Fortunately we had good news on the taxes: we will get almost a $3,000.00 return. Partly that is due to my husband not claiming either of us on his income, and also our investing in two separate IRA's each year. At any rate, we were happy with the results.

Now we are in a delimma about buying another car. I had been thinking of getting another car, since the air compressor broke in my Escort. If not, we'll have to have it repaired before warm weather returns here; a car without an air conditioner is unthinkable in the South!

Sunday afternoon and yesterday (DH was off for President's Day) we looked at car lots in our town, then drove north about 30 miles to a city and looked at the cars there. I got very excited when I drove a Chevy SUV Tracker, which is only a 4-cylinder and gets great gas mileage. I'd never even been inside a small SUV, and it was truly an amazing, fun experience! I LOVED driving it! But it was a bit more than we plan to spend. Back in town, we stopped and looked at a Kia Sportage, which is very similar to the Tracker. It was too expensive also, but I had FUN driving it. And in fact, I was actually thinking we might buy one of those...until I read some online reviews about how both are easy to tip over in curves. A serious flaw! Plus, the Kia Sportage had a tire rack you have to swing out in order to get inside the rear storage area, where I'd be putting groceries, etc. The reviews convinced me I wouldn't pay for such a newer model, but I might still consider an older, used one if it was priced right. Primarily I would use it in town; and the reviews stated it is fine for city driving, just not to think it is like the bigger, better? SUVs. We looked at several other small cars too, but are still undecided. Of course, we have another vehicle that DH drives, and it is rather new; so whatever I get will be for my errands in town, very little driving out on the highways/roads.

There were many anti-war protests all over the world this weekend, and I was glad to see that people are not afraid to voice their opinions against war. I also feel the same way, and was astounded today when Bush pronounced that he really isn't concerned with anti-war protests. Huh? I guess he is so arrogant that he thinks people's opinions just don't matter; and after all, why would he care, since obviously he wasn't elected by the American people, simply appointed by the Supreme Court. I just hope that attitude will get him out of office in 2004.

Here's a link and excerpt to an excellent article:

Reckless Administration May Reap Disastrous Consequences
--by US Senator Robert Byrd
Senate Floor Speech - Wednesday, February 12, 2003

This nation is about to embark upon the first test of a revolutionary doctrine applied in an extraordinary way at an unfortunate time. The doctrine of preemption -- the idea that the United States or any other nation can legitimately attack a nation that is not imminently threatening but may be threatening in the future -- is a radical new twist on the traditional idea of self defense. It appears to be in contravention of international law and the UN Charter. And it is being tested at a time of world-wide terrorism, making many countries around the globe wonder if they will soon be on our -- or some other nation's -- hit list. High level Administration figures recently refused to take nuclear weapons off of the table when discussing a possible attack against Iraq. What could be more destabilizing and unwise than this type of uncertainty, particularly in a world where globalism has tied the vital economic and security interests of many nations so closely together? There are huge cracks emerging in our time-honored alliances, and U.S. intentions are suddenly subject to damaging worldwide speculation. Anti-Americanism based on mistrust, misinformation, suspicion, and alarming rhetoric from U.S. leaders is fracturing the once solid alliance against global terrorism which existed after September 11.

Here at home, people are warned of imminent terrorist attacks with little guidance as to when or where such attacks might occur. Family members are being called to active military duty, with no idea of the duration of their stay or what horrors they may face. Communities are being left with less than adequate police and fire protection. Other essential services are also short-staffed. The mood of the nation is grim. The economy is stumbling. Fuel prices are rising and may soon spike higher.

This Administration, now in power for a little over two years, must be judged on its record. I believe that that record is dismal.


I couldn't agree more. Read the whole speech, if you have time.

I went on my bike ride about 1:00 today, but didn't go either Sunday or Monday. I did go Saturday morning before the rain set in; there were a few thunderstorms that night, but luckily the worst of it seemed to have missed us. Even after eating out Saturday night (although I only had grilled chicken), I still weighed 90 lbs Sunday and Monday. This morning I was at 91, but I vary between 90-92, and hope to stay at this weight, even when I eat more than usual.

Till tomorrow...I'll close with this quote:
"Animals are reliable, many full of love, true in their affections, predictable in their actions, grateful and loyal. Difficult standards for people to live up to." --Alfred A. Montapert

Friday, February 14, 2003

It has rained off and on today, so I stayed indoors. DH did some adjustments on the ski machine, and I used it for 45 minutes today; it seems to be better now, and doesn't hurt my knees. I like to have an alternative when it's too nasty outside for riding my bike.

Tomorrow we're going to get our taxes done at my sister's house; her husband is a CPA (nice advantage to having one in the family!). My other sister and her husband are going with us, since it's about a 45 minute drive to a larger city north of where we live. I'm looking forward to talking with my sisters while the menfolk do taxes! :-) That is, if we don't get washed away in a flood; there's weather alerts out about terrible flooding for the city where my sister lives, although we never have flooding here (our town is located on a plateau region).

DH bought me a delicious small cake from the bakery, but I confess I'd hinted what I wanted. This is one of those cakes with soft white cake and loads of thick, sugary white icing. I'd had a serious craving for that, but didn't want to buy a big, full-sized cake, since it would NOT be eaten here. I'd never eat more than a couple slices, and DH doesn't care for them all that much. Anyway, I'll have a tasty treat tonight -- which I think I deserve, considering I stay on a strict calorie restricted diet most of the time. He also got me a lovely card...and I'll give him his card after while.

Today as I used the ski machine I listened to some music videos on the TV/VCR which I've had for years. One is "A Thousand Miles From Nowhere" by Dwight Yokam. It has an evocative video of him riding on a train through what looks like Texas, flat and barren landscapes...forlorn, sad, etc. I like the song lyrics too (Yokam is a very talented song writer as well as actor). Anyway, I was reminded of a young guy I wrote to on death row at San Quentin back in the early 90s. I was in my 40s, and he was almost 30. I truly felt deep compassion for his life; he'd lived an awful childhood of abuse, then wandered around the streets before he killed someone. At any rate, he eventually killed himself there on death row. I don't know why Yokam's song reminds me so much of him...but it does. I wrote some poetry during that time, The Gift which captures some of what I felt writing to him.

Have a happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 13, 2003

I shouldn't, I know I really shouldn't...but I can't resist posting this joke circulating on the net:

A British doctor says "Medicine in my country is so advanced that we can take a brain out of one man, put it in another and have him looking for work in six weeks."

A German doctor says, "That's nothing, we can take a brain out of one person, put it in another and have him preparing for war in four weeks."

The American doctor, not to be outdone, says, "You guys are way behind, we just took a man with no brain out of Texas, put him in the White House, and now half the country is looking for work, and the other half is preparing for war."


Wednesday, February 12, 2003

I spent a busy day -- and then learned that DH will not be home for our evening meal. Sometimes this happens, though less often as he's gotten more seniority in his career. Still, it is somewhat frustrating, since I had spent time making a delicious cold slaw earlier. I planned on having spaghetti, although I was only going to eat zucchini squash with the sauce and pasta, not ground beef. Oh well. I'll just look at this as an opportunity NOT to eat, and possibly lose a little more weight. {I'm staying at 91 lately, so maybe this will get me down to 90.}

Went on my long bike ride this morning, since it is a gorgeous day, mild 50s, no wind. We have had the wind pick up late this afternoon, but it was calm and sunny this morning, perfect for my ride in the park.

I'm not superstitious, but IF I were (or even if I were religious) I would have to wonder if Bush Sr. and Bush Jr. aren't cursed. It seems like nothing but BAD, BAD and WORSE times under their presidency. Gas prices are becoming appalling (not that it bothers me, since I live in the city and have a small, economical car that uses very little gas), and war is looming. The economy has not just run afoul, it's in a deep ditch, and NOT improving. Times are just dismal. Osama is still on the loose, and ranting about terrorism for the USA (what happened to getting him as a goal of Bush?) And you never hear a discouraging word from a Republican, but you'd think they'd realize their fearless leader is laboring under some kind of awful warped vision. Oh well, enough ranting.

At least there was this good bit of news from AP today:

Meanwhile, House and Senate negotiators have agreed to limit a Pentagon anti-terrorism project that civil libertarians said could probe too deeply into Americans' private affairs. The Pentagon will be barred from monitoring Americans' health, travel and financial data compiled on the Internet, in e-mail and computer databases, a congressional spokesman said.

We'll see if this turns out to be true. I'm skeptical, myself.

Here's some excellent article links about scientific progress on humans overcoming mortality:

The Secret of Life --
Cracking the DNA code has changed how we live, heal, eat and imagine the future


Now, at the golden anniversary, we celebrate how much we have learned since then, including how little we know. For years scientists thought we human beings must have about 100,000 genes stitched onto our 23 pairs of chromosomes, only to discover that the number is less than a third of that. Like a vaccine against pride, the sublime achievement of the human intellect reveals that we have only twice as many genes as a roundworm, about three times as many as a fruit fly, only six times as many as bakers' yeast. Some of those genes trace back to a time when we were fish; more than 200 come directly from bacteria. Our DNA provides a history book of where we come from and how we evolved. It is a family Bible that connects us all; every human being on the planet is 99.9% the same.
It is not only our genes we are learning to play with. What if we could create mosquitoes, those flying hypodermics, that instead of spreading malaria spread a vaccine protecting humans against it? Back in 1965, scientists fused mouse and human cells. Today whole animals are being patented; pigs are bred with human cells in hope of finding a source of organ transplants for the 70,000 people on waiting lists in this country alone. And that raises the question: If an Australian biotech company creates a creature that is part human, part pig, what law would apply to it? Should a company be allowed to patent a cloned human embryo, then market its cells to help fight disease? What if the embryo is made of human DNA planted in a cow's egg?

The first insecticide was made from powdered chrysanthemums in China nearly 2,000 years ago. Now biotech companies test bananas that contain a hepatitis vaccine and tomatoes that fight cancer. Dow makes a kind of corn that can turn into biodegradable plastic. Other companies have field-tested a cross between a flounder and a tomato to see if a fish gene can help a fruit stay fresh in freezing weather. The U.S. and the rest of the world are locked in a fight over how much to tinker with and how much to tell about what is now inside what we eat.

Makes you sort of wonder exactly WHAT you are buying at the grocery store and eating, doesn't it? And since we humans don't seem TOO much more complex than a roundworm, I guess the hypothetical god was amused by our thinking ourselves so superior. It's obvious we've become what we are from evolutionary means, NOT some creationist idiocy.

Future Visions


How will genetics change our lives? TIME invited a panel of scientists and science writers to close their eyes and imagine the world 50 years from now. This is what they see

Ray Kurzweil
Inventor and author of The Age of Spiritual Machines
Within a quarter-century, we will have completed the reverse engineering of the human brain and will understand its principles of operation. We can then implement similar "biologically inspired" methods of information processing using far more powerful computational technology. This will combine our human strengths in pattern recognition and emotional and artistic intelligence with the speed, capacity and knowledge sharing of machines.

The emergence in the early 21st century of this new form of intelligence, one that can compete with and ultimately significantly exceed human intelligence, will have profound implications for all aspects of human endeavor, including the nature of work, learning, government, warfare, the arts and our concept of ourselves. Our biological intelligence is for all practical purposes fixed, whereas nonbiological intelligence is at least doubling in power every year, so by 2053, it will dominate.

I don't know about you, but I'm thinking that with all the crap going on in today's mad, mad world of humans...this MIGHT be an improvement: Extinction of humans due to their developing a new, better form of nonbiological intelligence.

------That's all for today folks! ;-)

Monday, February 10, 2003

Woke this morning to light rain, wind and cold. It was blustery all morning, so I waited till 1:00 to go on the bike ride. By then the sun was out, but there was still a strong wind. When I ride uphill at the park, the north wind hits me directly, and it is really rough! However, I managed to ride the entire distance, and then did some outside chores when I got back.

I slept till 8:30, mainly because I stayed up too late. I like to watch TV late at night in bed; it relaxes me, and sometimes (if boring enough) puts me to sleep. I used to read before sleep, but my eyes have gotten so weak that after a day of looking at a computer screen, and then reading at night while DH watches TV, I just can't endure the eyestrain. So I watch TV.

Last night I saw the Discovery Channel special, "Before We Ruled The Earth." Way too many wild, prehistoric beasts chasing half-monkey/half-humans...violent, scary. I DO believe that is how it was during that time of pre-history, because the special was based entirely on scientific information.

On the other hand, you have to wonder exactly WHAT is the meaning of human existence, if not to improve life for ourselves. I believe that's about it: We want to have better, better and better, easier least physically and emotionally more comfortable. And this drive has not lessened in all of human history; hence, we are almost at the apex of technological and biological evolution. If you know anything about nanotechnology and computers, you may realize that humans are trying very hard to overcome the limits of our biology...and in some sense, already have made progress.

If you don't believe this, tell me how many people would refuse a heart pace-maker if they would die otherwise. I envision a future in which humans slowly integrate with nano and computers/electronics, then evolve BEYOND our physical biology...and then humans will become extinct. I see NOTHING wrong with this, and just because some people might not like it, or think humans shouldn't go extinct, doesn't mean it won't happen. Think it can be stopped? Re-read the question about needing a pace-maker, and you'll understand EXACTLY how it will happen. End of lecture.

Now to today's journal prompt:

What's the first thing you remember? Or rather, what is the oldest memory you have? A holiday party when you were four? A lost pet when you were three? (Can you remember back even further — to when you were seventeen months old, perhaps?) What can you recollect? Sights, sounds, and smells? Just colors, faces, or voices?

I was born in December, 1951. Here is the imagery that lingers from my earliest years -- the first four happy years, the years before turmoil tainted everything.

My mother and father lived with my paternal grandparents at their rural farm, a big old farmhouse I remember fondly.

A quilt pallet in front of a screen door, cool night wind whispering over me as I lie there looking out at a bright summer moon.

A quilt pallet under a shade tree in the sweltering heat of mid-morning, sitting and playing alone while my mother and grandmother work in the field of cotton.

Playing on the dirt-floor porch, hearing the hiss of doddle bugs circling in the dirt, heat so intense it scorched your skin if you ventured out at noon. A bucket let down into the deep cool darkness of the well, the glug as it hit water, then the clank as it was pulled up for us to drink tin dipper-fulls of sweet, clear well water.

My dog, Nikki, a large black German shepard that followed me everywhere. Sneaking off into the nearby woods, finding the creek...stopping at the mossy bank, with Nikki yipping and yapping until his excited barks brought my mother and grandmother to our side, scolding and spanking me for venturing away from the house.

My daddy insisting I should sleep in the bedroom with him and mother, when I begged to sleep with my grandmother. [I was already devoted to my grandmother, because often my youthful parents left me in her and my grandfather's care while they went out.] Sometimes during that night, I got out of their bedroom and headed for my grandparent's bedroom -- but a shut door stopped me. As I struggled to open the door, I began to whimper and cry. At last daddy discovered me, and opened the door, spanking my bottom, and making me declare later the words that would be repeated at family gatherings, "Daddy spanked my butt-oh!"

A Christmas filled with all kinds of gifts. I was the first and only grandchild for four years; they all loved lavishing me with presents, and not just at Christmas. I was, in the space of those four years, pampered and petted, doted on by my paternal grandparents and my daddy's older brother and sister, my aunt and uncle.

That's it for today, quite a long entry.

Saturday, February 08, 2003

Busy day, as usual. First I had to run errands in town. I did some grocery shopping, then picked up a couple of rental movie videos. We have a supermarket that rents videos 2 for $1.00. You can't beat that. I rented "Swordfish" and "Blackhawk Down," neither of which we've seen. We're a little slow in getting up to speed on movies, though we do rent them occasionally. Don't subscribe to any pay movie cable though, so rentals are our only option.

When I got home, I went on my bike ride. I went farther and longer than usual, for I know I won't be able to go tommorrow, since there's predictions of rain all day. It IS cold today, only about 40 degrees, but no wind, so it wasn't unbearable. I weighed 90 lbs again this morning, so I'm satisfied. Always happier at the low end of my weight range!

Here's a few quotes that define some of my anti-religious convictions:

"A faith that cannot survive collision with the truth is not worth many regrets." --Arthur Clarke

"Ideas have consequences, and totally erroneous ideas are likely to have destructive consequences." --Steve Allen

Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived. -- Isaac Asimov

"To think that the ruler of the universe will run to my assistance and bend the laws of nature for me is the height of arrogance." --Dan Barker

Ta, ta till next time!

Friday, February 07, 2003

Not much happening today. Overcast, very the 30s with stiff wind. I didn't ride the bike, just couldn't deal with that cold wind. I thought maybe if I stayed out of the cold for a few days, the lingering effects of this cold (sinus drainage, coughing) would finally go away. I weighed only 91 this morning, and was pleasantly surprised, since I ate well yesterday but didn't bike.

DH brought a car by for me to look at, drive. I'm thinking of getting another car, and this one was nice. I liked it, and the price was right, but it has an uneveness in the motor when idling. If DH gets that checked out, and it's nothing...we might buy this one. I have an older (10 years old) car, and the air conditioning compressor went bad at the end of last summer. That is costly to replace, and we'd been thinking of getting another, newer car anyway, so we're looking around for another one. We'll see, I guess.

I'll close today with a quote I like:

Read, every day, something no one else is reading.
Think, every day, something no one else is thinking.
Do, every day, something no one else would be silly enough to do.
It is bad for the mind to be always part of unanimity.
--Christopher Morley

Thursday, February 06, 2003

Hmm, well looks like the Columbia Shuttle disaster has brought out the conspiracy theorists, as well as assorted nutcases. I've been reading a bunch of weird theories about what happened, from the probable to the ridiculous. I guess NASA will eventually put out the official report, once the investigation comes to a definite conclusion...but even then, some folks just won't believe facts.

I've also seen a reappearance of an Urban Myth about the 'alleged' last tape transcript of the Challenger Shuttle crew. That has been repeatedly debunked by everyone from Urban Legend websites, to verified scientists and NASA professionals, yet it persists. WHY is it so difficult to accept FACTS, and not make up a bunch of crap to go along with it? More of the "Mad, Mad World" we live in folks.

Today is rainy, a cold, slow rain...and I couldn't go on my bike ride. But I'm not complaining; I needed a rest day. I have biked each day for over a week, thinking rain was on the way and I should not take a day off till the bad weather permitted it. I am staying at 92 lbs, but admit I've eaten a higher calorie intake for the past three days. I don't know why I haven't gained more, but I'm satsified to stay between 90 and 95...

Looks like war clouds are brewing, and we will soon have a full-fledged war in the middle east. I have decided NOT to make any more comments, or supply links to any news about this...since, basically, I am not in favor of a war. I'll just keep my opinions to myself for now.

Here's a writing prompt for today:

What is the first hour of your day like? Does what happens then have an effect on the rest of your day?

I get up around 8:00, weigh-in (the only time I weigh each day), get my housecoat on and head out to take care of the cats. First I take care of the stray cats, putting out fresh food and water; there's always at least two waiting patiently for my service! Then I take care of my pet cats, sweep their sunporch, change the cat litter, put out fresh food and water. By then, it's time to come inside and have my morning breakfast: a small bowl of bran cereal, sometimes with a small apple. I don't drink coffee. I take my regular medications then, as well as my vitamins/herbal supplements. I sit down at the computer to check email while I eat my cereal, and this sometimes turns into a brief surfing jaunt to read up on the latest news events. If it's a nice day, I get on my biking clothes and head out for a long ride. When I get back, I hose the cat litter pan, do a couple of outside chores, and then come inside to take my shower. I'm lucky if I get all this done by 10:00--11:00...finally dressed and ready for the rest of the day.

Does this have an effect on the rest of my day? I'd say the biking has the most impact: when I bike, I feel more relaxed all day, since I get a good aerobic workout. The other stuff is simply routine, and doesn't really effect my mood.

Enough for today.

Wednesday, February 05, 2003

Busy, busy day ahead. Grocery shopping, errands, etc. It's a bright, sunshiny day here, but in the 40s. I will go on my bike ride in the afternoon, once I get back from all the running around.

Nothing much to write about now...but will try to add to this entry later in the day.

Monday, February 03, 2003

As sad as the Columbia disaster was, I don't think it had truly given me any grief...until I happened to see a segment on the news about the astronauts requesting "Imagine" by John Lennon be played just before they got ready to head back to earth. When I heard that, and as they played that beautiful song...I started to cry. I realized what a genuinely GOOD, OPTIMISTIC, PRODUCTIVE group of individuals the astronauts were. They had lived their lives pursuring higher knowledge, dedicated to science, taking dangerous risks for all of humanity. They will be missed by all those who loved them, I am sure. And we humans have lost truly GREAT individuals.

I can think of no more fitting tribute than the words of John Lennon's song:


Imagine there's no heaven,
It's easy if you try,
No hell below us,
Above us only sky,
Imagine all the people
living for today...

Imagine there's no countries,
It isn't hard to do,
Nothing to kill or die for,
No religion too,
Imagine all the people
living life in peace...

Imagine no possesions,
I wonder if you can,
No need for greed or hunger,
A brotherhood of man,
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...

You may say I'm a dreamer,
but I'm not the only one,
I hope some day you'll join us,
And the world will live as one.

Writen by: John Lennon
© Bag productions inc.

Saturday, February 01, 2003

Terrible, terrible tragedy today as the Shuttle Columbia was lost on re-entry to earth. I know that the men/women astronauts are aware of the danger in space flight, but I'm sure such a tragedy still comes as a shock to their families and friends.

However, I am glad there was no civilian aboard, and that the trained astronauts who died were at least professionals and had chosen their careers, fully aware of the inherent dangers. I also hope this disaster doesn't set the space program back as much as the other shuttle disaster did in the 80s when the civilian school teacher was aboard. Sure, there will have to be a thorough investigation, and preventive measures against this happening again...but there is always going to be RISK in space flight. We cannot abandon the endeavor, just because accidents happen.

From what I've heard on the news thus far, it seems logical to assume that whatever happened upon re-entry to the shuttle may have been connected to the piece of foam that broke off and hit the left wing at launch. Perhaps they will eventually discover the exact reason the shuttle was lost, but in the meantime, I see no significance in stopping shuttle launches.

I spent a busy day -- went on the bike ride around 9:00, then did housework, and headed to town for shopping. It's a beautiful day here, near 60 degrees, sunny and pleasant outdoors. Nice for shopping, etc. I hope this kind of weather continues, but I think we are supposed to have rain and storms on Monday/Tuesday. Tomorrow, however, will be great...and DH and I will get out and enjoy it, I'm sure.

I'm back at 90 lbs, probably due to suffering from a lousy cold all week. I felt horrible for a few days, had an awful cough, and stuffiness, sore throat. Thought I would cough myself to death! If that kind of cough is anything like smoker's cough, I'm sure I'd have no trouble quitting (though I've never smoked). My chest ached from all the coughing, felt like I'd been doing situps! I DID go on the bike ride each day though, even when it was in the low 40s. I am a glutton for punishment sometimes! Anyway, the cold also made food taste weird, and I lost my appetite...that's the good news, as well as the fact that I seem to be over it now, except for a little bit of croupe each morning and a frog-voice!

That's it for today.