Cast of Characters:



Karen
Enkidu (AKA Slim)
Beowolf (AKA Wolfie)
Blaze (AKA Blaze)

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Gas mileage

So...back in the day, Dad's 1981 Ford Escort Wagon got about 40mpg highway. Today, my 1997 Ford Escort Wagon gets about 30mpg highway. What gives??? I also know that mileage tends to be better in Europe.

It's obvious that the technology exists to get better fuel efficiency. We've had it since the late 70s. We need to convince the auto companies to produce a better product! The price of gas will just keep going up, which is better for the environment anyway, though being bad for the budgets of those of us who actually need to keep a budget. Oh well...if the price of gas keeps going up then maybe there will still be an earth for my kids and grandkids (this is rhetorical Mom and Dad...no grandkids in the works!).


I've thought about getting a hybrid, but I'm holding out for a hybrid station wagon. I don't know why they only make sedans and SUVs. Where's the choice in the middle???





We're actually still only paying a bit under half of what the Germans are paying for gas these days. My friend said that he's seeing prices there of 1.36 €/liter ($6.55/gal).

Monday, July 24, 2006

Super Fuzzball

Well, it's happened. Fuzzball is now strong enough to climb the furniture. Nappers on the couch, beware. Not only does she climb, but she grooms too, and little ferret teeth on bare ankles HURT!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Cute little sleepy babies


I took Chaos to the laundrymat, so he had a busy day. Fuzzball didn't do much all day, though. Anyway, here they are being cute.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Oops again...

There I was, lying in bed, sleeping peacefully at about 3:20 this morning, when I felt something moist on my face. This quite confused me in my half dream state, though I admit that I have no idea what it was that I thought it was. Anyway, I opened my eyes, and there was a fuzzy little body in front of my face. I grabbed Fuzzball, she squirmed and I took her back to the cage. Chaos was just hanging out in his little bed. He glanced up at me and that was it.

Apparently, despite previous experience, I forgot to close all the doors, even though I'd made a point of turning on the light in front of the cage to be able to double check. Oh well...at least they are not as destructive as many ferrets are.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Go Fuzzball, Go!

Sitting here watching Fuzzball climb into the litter box and look back at me while she does her business, I realized that I don't remember the last time that she missed the litter box. I don't know what changed; maybe she just feels more comfortable. Maybe it has to do with the blankets and plastic bags under/around the litter boxes. At any rate, this can be viewed as a success.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Pirates hype

I've been watching ABC while doing my homework. In the last couple hours, I've seen many commercials for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. They keep saying that it's the most acclaimed film of the summer, better than the first, etc... Give me a break! I watched it! It's nowhere near that good! It certainly wasn't better than the first! It's pretty frustrating seeing these claims made about it. This movie was nothing but a series of cheap tricks.

I almost never saw previews on the non-cable channels before. Maybe they're getting desperate, afraid that word of mouth will get around and no one else will go to see it. Maybe they want to try to convince the undecided that it's worth seeing.

Here's a good review of it. And here.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Gratuitous ferret photos

Here are some pictures of the ferrets from the last week or two.

Chaos with is favorite chew-toy/hide-out.















Chaos, sleeping with his head hanging out of the hammock.













Here, I force Fuzzball to stay still.














Guess where James found Chaos sleeping!















Here's Fuzzball, being good, for the moment.














Just chillin!














The Ratboy, helping me with my Latin homework.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

On Friday, I went to see the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie. I wasn't overly impressed...infact, I wasn't really that impressed at all.

I thought that I had sufficiently lowered my expectations, but apparently not. Almost every fight sequence in the movie was cool for the first 30% percent of the sequence...and then it just went on and on and on...

The least satisfying scene in the movie comes near the beginning where a prison for pirates is portrayed. To my knowledge no such place ever existed in real life. It looked like it should have been one of the evil keeps from the Lord of the Rings or something. It just didn't have the right look based on the first movie and the rest of this one. Don't get me wrong; I like fantasy, but this just didn't work.

On the Cheese-o-Meter of entertainment, this movie scores a 4.5. I think that an example of good cheese, at about level 3 would be The Princess Bride. A level 1 movie would be a quite serious movie, I think.


The end however left the film wide open for the next (and hopefully last) installment.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Plans for tomorrow

Tomorrow should be full of fun and excitement. First, I'm going to be taking the Spanish kid who I am tutoring to the zoo. It's a free zoo near campus and I think he'll enjoy it.




Then, in the evening, I'm going to watch Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. I hope that it will be good. I was quite the fan of the first movie, Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, having seen it in multiple languages and owning both the American and German DVD releases - though now it is not as exciting as it used to be. The ratings don't seem to promise much, but then again, despite all the 2 and 3 stars, one guy gave it 5 stars. I think if I keep my expectations reasonably placed, then I should enjoy it. I'm going to wear my Pirates T-shirt and baggy red pirate-pants. It should be fun.

Kenny Boy Lay dead

There will be no prison time for Kenneth Lay. He died. In fact, the money that he stole may very well be shielded from the courts.

Here, one reads the following:

The sudden death yesterday of Enron Corp. founder Kenneth Lay could make him an innocent man and shield his estate from tens of millions of dollars in forfeiture claims filed by federal prosecutors, legal experts said yesterday.

Under a precedent established by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit in 2004, Lay's conviction may be vacated because he did not get a chance to have the appeals court review the jury's guilty finding.

"It's not like the case is merely dismissed," said Josh, Berman, a former federal prosecutor in Manhattan who is now in private practice in Washington, D.C., with a focus on white-collar criminal litigation and securities law. "Everything associated with the case is extinguished. It's like the defendant was never even indicted.". . .

I can't help but wonder if the guy commited suicide to protect his heirs. He might have figured that there was nothing left for him anyway, so he might have decided to save himself the embarrassment of prison and to do something to allow his family to keep the stolen money. It could have even been a murder used to keep him for giving any more damning testimony. Who knows? Heart attacks can be brought on by unnatural causes. On the other hand, the guy had been under a lot of stress. Maybe it was just his time to go.

Oops! I forgot.

Step 1: Clean cage

Step 2: Place ferrets in cage

Step 3: Make sure that all cage doors are closed.

Step 4: Double-check that all cage doors are closed.

Umm...yeah...I forgot steps 3 and 4 last night before going to bed. Imagine my surprise to find all four side doors on the cage open when I was leaving for the office this morning. Imagine my even greater surprise when I realized that both ferrets were still in their respective hammocks inside the cage, and not out exploring the rest of the appartment. Apparently, they were so tired yesterday, that they didn't even notice that the doors were open. Lucky save!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Fuzzball's winning personality

Holding Fuzzball is just asking to get scratched and maybe nipped.

Lately, I've been working a lot with Fuzzball to try to convince her that being held isn't all that bad. I've taken to holding her against my chest with one arm while I do my Latin homework and giving her treats after I've held her for a long time (waiting, of course, for her to have stopped fidgeting for a while first).

Well, yesterday, I took the little dears outside, behind the building (see picture here). I put them on leashes and tied the leashes to a light pole, so they had somewhere between a 6 and 8 foot radius to play with. There were little kids out back, and they of course insisted on petting them. I let them. Chaos was quite stoic about the whole thing and even romped around with the kids who squealed in delight or fear...it's not always clear which. They kept at it, so they must not have been too frightened.

Fuzzball ambled around amiably (heh...alliteration...) until she got tired. She always gets tired more quickly than Chaos. She lay down in the grass and just hung out. I think that she might have nipped at a kid that got too close. The kids' parents and I told them to leave her alone. They eventually told them to leave both ferrets alone since they were trying to sleep.

The people, who had immigrated from Mexico, were new to me. However, because of the ferrets, they started talking with me. We chatted about animals and kids and they gave me some Jello with whipped cream and fruit, which was really nice.

Anyway, after a while, I went over to where the ferrets were and sat down on the grass. Chaos came over and crawled into my lap. Fuzzball came over and circled me a few times, trying to burrow under me. Then she climbed into my lap (or maybe I put her there...I don't remember). She poked her head around and moved a bit, but she eventually settled down to take a nap. We just sat there, and I was able to pet her without her biting or running away. It was nice.

So, there are a number of possible reasons for Fuzzball staying put:

1) She figured that I would protect her from the children
2) My lap was more comfortable than the ground
3) She likes being with me.

My guess is that it is some combination of 1 & 2. She never likes being held in the apartment, where she can run off to one of her hiding spots, though she sometimes follows me around, looking up at me expectantly when I stop.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Remember the Khmer Rouge???


(from CNN.com)

The Khmer Rouge, which terrorized Cambodia during the 1970s is just now possibly going to have to face trial for crimes against humanity. The terror was already history when I was born, and the leaders of it are still alive and well in Cambodia.

If the USA is supposed to be this great champion of human rights, why weren't trials conducted as soon as the Khmer Rouge was removed from power? I think that the United Nations should have stepped in. Something should have been done before now. And what about Somalia? Rowanda? Sudan? Why is it that only Europeans killed through genocide (i.e. Nazi Germany and the former Yugoslavia) have been brought to high profile trials? (This isn't quite true...Pinochet of Chile has also been brought to trial.) The number of crimes against humanity left unchallenged is unforgivable. These people excecuted children, for Christ's sake!

Cancer researcher faked data...how sick!

(for more info, see CNN.com)

I think that one of the worst things that can be falsified is medical research. Results of medical studies can lead literally to life and death decisions on the part of doctors and patients.

One researcher, who faked his results in many differnt works, said that it was a result pressure to publish and a psychological disorder.

This is a reminder of the need for integrity in academics. Also, there should perhaps be an UPPER LIMIT placed on publications rather than a high minimum. I think that many academics produce less than relevant (though usually not falsified) work, because they are pressured into publishing so much in order to be considered for tenure and other career related issues. On the other hand, putting a limit on publications would probably go against the principle of freedom of speech and therefore would also not be a good solution.

Chickenpox parties

Some parents are afraid to vaccinate their children. They are afraid that the vaccination will do more harm than the actual disease.

In fact, per NPR, some parents in Oregon are choosing to intentionally expose their children to chicken pox rather than having them inoculated.

As far as I can tell, the biggest problem with not immunizing everyone is that someone could not only get sick and die later from not having been immunized, but could also spread it to others. On the other hand, if everyone else has been immunized, then those who would get sick would be those who weren't, and if they died, then it would remove them from the gene-pool. Maybe the lack of faith in immunizations would die with them. (Wow...that's rather morbid of me.)

On the other hand, also per NPR, there has been a measles outbreak in Boston, suggesting that even people in their 30s and 40s, who were vaccinated, are at risk.

Some people also simply shouldn't get some vaccinations. I found out quite accidentally from a doctor that I shouldn't get a flu shot. I had gone in for something or other and she had noticed the note on my chart that I'm allergic to latex. She then said "You haven't had a flu shot", which I heard as "You haven't had a flu shot?" She explained that I shouldn't get one because there is some sort of negative interaction from the vaccine with people who have latex allergies.

I've gotten a variety of innoculations due to travelling in South America. I don't even remember how many shots I got. Apparently, none of them have killed me in the last year.

Anyway, get a shot or don't. Just make sure that you've done the research on it one way or the other!

Too sanitary

I was listening to Public Radio and heard Zorba Paster: On Your Health mention a study in which the health of lab rats kept in sterile conditions and that of sewer rats was compared. It was found that the sewer rats did not respond to whatever they were exposed to, because they had already built up an immunity to it. On the other hand, the rats from sterile conditions got sick. Also, when there was nothing attacking their bodies, their immune system started attacking the body itself (think asthma and allergies).

So, the suggestion is that we don't need to be 100% protected from everything, and that it might be better to be allowed to develop some natural defenses in childhood.

The next step of the study will be to create a fake sewer in order to be able to observe the rats throughout the life cycle to see how many survive childhood.

Here's a link to an article on it.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

John Kerry speaks out for Internet Freedom


Here's another big voice for keeping the web open!

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Stopping the Big Giveaway - by John Kerry

Editor’s Note: The following is a guest blog for SavetheInternet.com by Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.):

On Wednesday in the Senate Commerce Committee I warned that those of us who believe in net neutrality will block legislation that doesn’t get the job done.

It looks like that’s the fight we’re going to have.

The Commerce Committee voted on net neutrality and it failed on an 11-11 tie. This vote was a gift to cable and telephone companies, and a slap in the face of every Internet user and consumer.

It will not stand.

I voted against this lousy bill for two reasons: because net neutrality and internet build-out are crucial to building a more modern and fair Information Society, and both were pushed aside by the Republicans.

Everyone says they don’t want the new world we’re living in to be marked by the digital divide — the term is so clich├ęd it’s turned to mush — but yesterday was a test of who is willing to ask corporate America to do anything to fix it, and the Commerce Committee failed miserably. Why are United States Senators afraid to say that companies should be expected to foster growth by building out their broadband networks to increase access?

Free and open access to the internet is something all Americans should enjoy, regardless of what financial means they’re born into or where they live. It is profoundly disappointing that the Senate is going let a handful of companies hold internet access hostage by legalizing the cherry-picking of cable service providers and new entrants. That is a dynamic that would leave some communities with inferior service, higher cable rates, and even the loss of service. Not to mention inadequate internet service — in the age of the information.

This bill was passed in committee over our objections. Now we need to fight to either fix it or kill it in the full Senate. Senator Wyden has already drawn a line in the sand — putting a “hold” on the bill, which prevents it from going forward for now. But there will be a day of reckoning on this legislation soon, make no mistake about it, and we need you to get engaged — pressure your Senators, follow the issue, demand net neutrality and build-out.

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Source: http://www.savetheinternet.com/blog/2006/06/30/stopping-the-big-giveaway-by-john-kerry/

Hope for Dutch singles

Here's a Dutch newsbite that has nothing to do with pigs.

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Shoppen voor een date

Bij Plus Supermarkt De Greef in Almere-Buiten kunnen singles actief op zoek naar een partner. Alleenstaanden kunnen bij De Greef sinds anderhalve week kiezen voor een paars mandje, en zich zo onderscheiden van klanten met een relatie en een gewoon winkelmandje. De opvallende mandjes zijn een succes, zo stelt bedrijfsleider Ed de Greef, die mensen met paarse mandjes gesprekken ziet aangaan en telefoonnummers uitwisselen.

De Greef heeft de vrijgezellenmandjes ingevoerd op verzoek van enkele vrouwelijke klanten. Vooral 30-plussers maken gebruik van de nieuwe mandjes; volgens de bedrijfsleider komt dat omdat ze minder naar de kroeg gaan en de supermarkt daarom de aangewezen plek is om contact te leggen. Dat wordt bevestigd door een woordvoerster van het Centraal Bureau Levensmiddelenhandel; zij zegt dat mensen in andere supermarkten bij elkaar in het mandje kijken om te zien of er veel een-persoonsmaaltijden inliggen.

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Bron:Nieuwsservice van Radio Nederland Wereldomroep
Editie: Nederlands Nieuws, 26 juni 2006
http://www.rnw.nl/

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Shopping for a date

At Plus Supermarkt De Greef in Almere-Buiten singles can actively search for a partner. For the last week and a half, singles at De Greef have been able to choose a purple shopping basket, and are thus able to distinguish themselves from other customers in relationships with normal shopping baskets. The noteworthy baskets are a success, according to manager Ed de Greef, who sees people with the purple baskets starting conversations and exchanging telephone numbers.

De Greef introduced the singles baskets at the request of some female customers. Especially people aged 30 + seem to be making use of the new baskets. According to the manager, this is because they go to bars less often and the supermarket is the best place to make contact. This is confirmed by the spokeswoman from the Central Bureau of Grocers; sheh says that people at other supermarkets look into other people’s baskets to see if there are a lot of single serving meals in the basket

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Source: News Service from Radio Nederland Wereldomroep
Edition: Nederlands Nieuws, 26 June 2006
http://www.rnw.nl/