Monday, January 29, 2007

New Green Cars

Honda has come up with a new hydrogen car. They call the power center a "fuel cell," and in fact the car is called a FCV (fuel cell vehicle). The model they are putting into production is called the FCX Concept. It will be sold in "limited markets" in Japan and the US in 2008. The only waste product of the engine is water... clean water. That's it. How about that? It will travel 270 miles on a single hydrogen tank and its maximum speed is 100mph. The engine will start in weather as cold as 30 degrees below Centigrade. The gauges on the dashboard look like something out of Star Trek (... or beyond Star Trek actually, cause the Star Trek tech look is a bit dated, neh?). The interior fabric is made out of plant material fabric (they don't say what...). Price is not in the details on the site I looked at yet. The website loads very slowly (at least for me), but you can find out more about it and see pictures here and here and here. A warning: all of those sites take a long time to load. What I don't like about it: it's a low-rider, a *very* low-rider - no good for mountainous terrain, or even going over speed bumps from the looks of it. They also show off the fact that what's under the hood is very small and efficient by making the front end practically non-existent. It looks odd... I wish it were going to be released in more models soon, suitable for a variety of lifestyles and locations, but I get that the tech is new, so it's going to be limited for awhile.

To the best of my knowledge, GM is also working on a hydrogen car. Also to the best of my knowledge they are no where near ready to begin commercial production... Come on, GM, get on it!

Also, with a different kind of power source:

Tesla, a California-based car company, has made an electric sports car. It's going into commercial production by next year. It is an all electric car, will go from 0 to 60 in 4 seconds and has a range of 250 miles on a single charge. The motor is completely silent. It will cost buyers around $100,000, depending on options. In a few years, they plan to also have a more affordable, sensible sedan. I'm willing to bet that that one is going to cost about what a new Mercedes or BMW sedan costs... way more than I'd pay for a new car, electric or not. Tesla also promises that as the technology is refined the cars will go further and further on a single charge.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

A moment to crow...

I must take a moment to crow and announce that at one minute to midnight on Friday, I completed all of my homework assignments for Monday - all reading and written work done! WooHoo! ... ::sighs:: I can feel the kinks in my back loosening as I type. The pressure is not as hot as it was this morning. I feel like I'm whining 'cause pretty much everyone else I know has more to deal with on a daily basis than I do, but I'm pretty proud that I was able to read 41 pages of Cicero's political speeches (they are exceptionally boring) for Roman Lit class, and also decline/conjugate and memorize roughly 2 dozen Latin words and do the three assigned translation exercises in our Latin text... all on a *Friday.* I think this is the first time I've ever been able to make myself give that much of a Friday to homework, even when I have a paper due the next week. Usually I'm able to convince myself that I don't have enough homework to justify it until at least Saturday evening, no matter what kinds of headaches I give myself by Sunday night as a consequence. Could I be... learning... good study habits? Stranger things have been known to occur and time will tell.

Now, I'm going to watch "Psych" and hit the hay. Tomorrow, I'll dive head first into my work for Wednesday, staring with the 167 pages of The Commercial Revolution of the Middle Ages, 950-1350 by Robert Lopez. If I can get that done by Monday evening (when I'll have more yet-to-be-assigned homework to do for Tuesday), I just may be able to handle this semester with my sanity intact... and perhaps I'll be able to pick up my knitting needles before the end of this week. After almost a month with absolutely *no* time for knitting, and forget about anything else crafty, it's starting to get to me...

Friday, January 26, 2007

Tooth Tunes

Do you hate brushing your teeth? Is it a total chore? Do you have kids who hate to brush their teeth? Do you want to make sure you or they are brushing the dentist recommended 2 whole minutes every time, but you have a hard time keeping your eye on a clock? Well... Hasbro has just come out with an amazing product.

"Tooth Tunes" is a tooth brush, designed for kids (but that doesn't stop me), which plays music for two minutes from the point the brush touches the brusher's teeth. It has an on switch and switches itself off automatically at the end of the two-minute song. It's available in many different songs: Smashmouth's "All Star" (which is the one I bought; I love that song!), Beach Boys' "Fun, Fun, Fun," Kelly Clarkson's "Walk Away," Queen's "We Will Rock You," Aly & AJ's cover of "Walking on Sunshine," Black Eyed Peas' "Let's Get It Started," Hilary Duff's "Wake Up," Jamiroquai's "Canned Heat" (which I really need to get; I love that song too!), Jesse McCartney's "Beautiful Soul," Kiss' "Rock & Roll All Night," The Village People's "YMCA," The Cheetah Girls' "Shake A Tail Feather," and the theme song from the movie "Rocky." So as you can see, there's something for everyone!

I love it! It's a ton of fun! I've never had a problem brushing my teeth, but it's still more fun now than it was before... perhaps because I think just about anything is better with music. I've brushed my teeth after everytime I've eaten since I bought it last night... Definitely a must have for kids who hate brushing their teeth! See here for more information.

I'm not at all involved with Hasbro, I just really like this new toothbrush, although I wish that they would team up with Crest or some other company so that the brush head would be a little more comfortable, although as it is, it isn't bad.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


Okay... I love HBO's "Rome" to the point of obsession... but... they had to get something really unforgivably wrong (unforgivably to me anyway), and I guess this is what they chose.

I could deal with Timon regularly sleeping with a Roman woman... He likes Atia and Atia finds him amusing... Sure, it's not kosher for a 1st century BCE Jew to be doing that, but well within what I would expect the margin of behavior to be for people of that time. I can suspend any disbelief I might have in this case. He also doesn't look any different than any other Roman and his name is certainly not Hebrew. I can also excuse these things because we weren't given any kind of background for him at all. One could only guess at how long he had lived among Romans, how removed he was from Judean culture. Besides, there were literally hundreds of Judaisms being practiced in Judea and among the Diaspora during the Second Temple Period and we only know about four of them (granted they were the most populist, but still...). It wasn't all that unusual for Jews to Hellenize or Latinize their names when living among cultures where those were the everyday language. So I can suspend my disbelief here too.

But if they are going to flesh out Timon, show him with his family (which up until now we didn't know he had - two daughters, a son and a wife named Deborah or "honey bee" if you want it translated) and all that, and now, it looks like, make him develop into a more pious Jew, it's going to drive me nuts. This is one area of "Rome" that the writers, etc. are getting *really* wrong. I know more about Second Temple Judaisms than I do about most of the modern movements and... Oy! If they're going to expand on Timon's storyline and make him what I know is going to be a modern version of "pious," not a 1st century BCE version, I'm going to probably loose my mind. They already have him wearing what I'm going to call a pseudo-yarmulka. To the very best of my knowledge, yarmulkas of this style were not worn for another 1000 years or so, and are the most common type seen today in the US... I find it terribly distracting... Also to the best of my knowledge, generally in Roman times, Jews only covered their heads while praying, unless there was some sort of special circumstance, especially the ones who weren't very pious - Timon definitely would fall into that category.

In the first season, he also says at one point that he's wearing the yarmulka because it's Yom Kippur and he accuses his fellow Jew (who had asked him why he was wearing it) of being a particularly bad Jew for not knowing that. The other man says, "What are you? My rabbi now?" ... Dude! There were no rabbis in the first century BCE and certainly not the kind he's suggesting there. I realize that to most people yalmulkas and rabbis are Jewish icons, these things are easily recognizable and that's probably why the show is using them, but a plain, all-white marble Forum was an icon of "Hollywood Rome" and they blew that stereotype out of the water for the sake of historical accuracy. Why not this too while they were at it? Was it too much trouble to talk to some religious studies scholars while they were talking to archaeologists and Roman historians? ::sighs::

Also, for the love of all that's holy, they've told us in this episode that Timon isn't his real name. His real name is... wait for it... Tevye... Yeah, no, you're right, that's from "Fiddler on the Roof." And "Tevye" is distinctly Yiddish! Not at all Hebrew. The Hebrew would be "Tobiah" and it would be Hellenized as "Tobias." Yiddish comes from 11th century CE German... Why would someone in the 1st century BCE in Rome - or anywhere in the 1st century BCE for that matter - have that name? I could scream for such an asinine choice!

And then there's his brother, Levi, who was just introduced in the last episode... I can tell you now, he drives me even more nuts. Could they have found a more "Yid"-looking actor to play Levi? No insult to the actor intended. I happen to think that look in general is rather strangely attractive, but he looks so Eastern European that it's ridiculous. He's not a Jew from 1st century BCE Judea! He's a Jew from Kiev, 8th century CE onward! Also, the character himself is flawed. I can't believe that he would be talking about rebellion against the Romans so early... Sorry, just can't buy it... The First Jewish-Roman War is about 100 years away from when "Rome" is set. Did Jesus talk about it? Yes... at least the writings about Jesus do, but those were written around the time of the First Jewish War, so one would expect them to. But in the 40s-30s BCE... doubt it, seriously! I think it's rather contrived and convenient to have him speaking this way and to make that the major conflict between Timon and Levi in this episode. And even more contrived and convenient if they develop a schism between Timon and his friends in Rome over the issue.

Writers/Costumers/Producers of "Rome," I'm really disappointed in all this after all the research you put in to everything else...

Monday, January 22, 2007

USDA Corruption of American Democracy Continues!

Please, pass this on and write your elected officials immediately! Copied from

The following document is the Report of the Committee on Livestock Identification of the U.S. Animal Health Association, from a meeting on October 17, 2006. Present at the meeting were USDA Undersecretary Bruce Knight, Dr. John Clifford, Dr. John Wiemers, and Neil Hammerschmidt.

On p. 14 of this document we have a hint about a very dangerous game that the USDA may be intending to play with our way of life and our ability to keep livestock. The last paragraph on page 14 describes a recommendation that this Committee of the USAHA has made to the USDA:

Two recommendations were considered by the Committee. The following recommendation was approved by the Committee.

That USDA-APHIS-VS with input from the National Assembly of State Animal Health Officials (NASAHO), promulgate an interim rule that establishes a list of Consistent States for Cattle Identification. The rule would provide for restriction of interstate movements other than direct to slaughter from non-consistent states. The rule would specify that consistent states have established by law, rule, order, or other means requirements that all breeding age cattle be officially identified by means of official tag or registration brand or tattoo at each change of ownership, other than movements direct to slaughter, or movements through one approved market and then direct to slaughter. Further, that consistent states have import requirements that all such cattle be officially identified prior to import or at first point of concentration. Consistent states may grant waivers for such requirements for interstate movements which are part of normal operating business with no change of ownership and for seasonal grazing/feeding as agreed to by the state and federal animal health officials of the states involved. Further, that this interim rule be promulgated prior to July 1, 2007. In addition, the Committee recommends that a follow-up rule be promulgated prior to July 1, 2008, that establishes consistent states as those that have in place similar requirements for breeding aged cattle upon change of ownership for feeding or grazing.
-Report Of The Committee On Livestock Identification

The Committee has recommended that, prior to July 1, 2007, the USDA should promulgate an “interim rule” that would prohibit interstate movement of cattle from any state that fails to REQUIRE THAT ALL BREEDING AGE CATTLE BE OFFICIALLY IDENTIFIED at each change of ownership. Such an “interim rule” would make it impossible for any state to resist, because it would become economically isolated. Also note that an “interim rule” can be promulgated WITH NO PRIOR OPPORTUNITY FOR PUBLIC COMMENT.

Is the USDA planning to follow this Committee recommendation and force NAIS upon the entire nation by means of a dictatorial “interim rule”? It is bad enough that the USDA has been killing off American agriculture for decades; don’t let them kill off democracy.

Please send a copy of this message to your U.S. Congressman and your two U.S. Senators. This scheme must be stopped in its tracks.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Good News about NAIS!

I am pleased to report that the great and sovereign States of Washington, Missouri, and Indiana and the Commonwealth of Virginia have all had legislation introduced in their state legislatures to prohibit their states from participating in NAIS in the last week or so. In all these case, the intent to stop the threat of NAIS is stated in no uncertain language which could allow the USDA or the state departments of agriculture to get around the laws. If you live in Washington, Missouri, Indiana or Virginia, you should write your state representatives to tell them to support any legislation which will stop NAIS in your state.

In Texas, legislation has also been introduced, but it is not as strong as it should be. For more information on it, see this post.

For more information on the others:


Missouri 1, 2.



If you live in Virginia, it is particularly important that you write your legislators NOW(!) because a public hearing concerning the Anti-NAIS legislation will be held on January 23, 2007. See this post for more information.

Also, for those in Michigan:

There will be a chance to stop the order that cattle ranchers participate in NAIS by March in Michigan. See this post for more information.

And for those who live in Kentucky, I do recommend that you write your state representatives post haste. They want to make NAIS mandatory in Kentucky very soon. For more information, see this post.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

NASS *is* talking to NAIS!

This article is written by a lawyer who is also concerned about small farms and the effects of NAIS.

The 2006 Agricultural Identification Survey and the NASS/NAIS Identity
by Mary Zanoni, Ph.D., J.D.

Like many small-farm advocates, I have been fielding questions over the past few weeks about the above survey being sent out by the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). Many people ask if there is any relationship between the survey and the data being collected (often without the knowledge or consent of farmers) for the National Animal Identification System (NAIS). As we shall see, although USDA personnel won’t admit it, NASS data is the foundation of the USDA’s aggressive pursuit of NAIS.

To my great surprise, in this morning’s mail I myself received a 2006 Agricultural Identification Survey (2006 AIS). I say “to my great surprise,” because I am not and never have been engaged in any type of commercial agriculture whatsoever. I have never before received any type of communication from NASS.

The envelope states in very large letters, “YOUR RESPONSE IS REQUIRED BY LAW.” The envelope further states that the due date is January 29, 2007. As explained below, it is clear that many people receiving this form are not in fact “REQUIRED BY LAW” to answer it. Further, a recipient has only a couple of weeks between the receipt of the form and the purported deadline, and it would be impossible for the average non-lawyer to do enough research within that time to figure out whether he/she is or isn’t actually required to respond.

The form itself begins with several general questions, such as “Do you own or rent any land?” “Do you grow vegetables, hay or nursery stock?” “Do you receive government payments?” The questions appear deliberately designed to imply that anyone who would answer “yes” is among those “REQUIRED BY LAW” to fill out this form. The USDA is thus casting a very wide net in this particular intrusion into the lives of American citizens, because, frankly, just about everyone who is not homeless “owns or rents” real estate; some 75 million people in the United States “grow vegetables;” and some 60 million people receive “government payments.” (See 2007 Statistical Abstract of the United States, Table 1226 (vegetable gardening); Table 528 (government transfer payments).)

Now, perhaps it is possible that this “wide net” might not be as intrusive as it appears. After all, maybe NASS has only sent this form to people reasonably assumed to be farmers. But in fact it was distressingly easy to confirm that intrusiveness and deliberate over-inclusiveness are the hallmarks of the NASS approach. This morning, I called the information number listed on the form and spoke to a woman at the USDA’s Helena, Montana call center. According to her, the call center is being swamped with calls from people who live in cities and have nothing to do with agriculture. She stated that the call center employees really have no idea of why or how all these people have been sent the 2006 AIS. When asked for some conjecture as to how so many unnecessary people could have been included in the mailings, the woman explained that, for example, anyone who had ever subscribed to a “horse magazine” might have been included in the database.

Now, that raises interesting questions. How is the USDA/NASS getting the subscription lists of “horse magazines”? Why and how are “horse magazines,” or, for that matter, any rural-life publication, any breed association, feed store, or private or public livestock or horticultural enterprise whatsoever, giving their member/subscriber/customer lists to the government without telling their members, subscribers, or customers?

Or, worse yet, how is the government accessing such lists or databases without the awareness of the businesses or organizations in question? During times when the Executive Branch of the United States Government has secretly gathered the records of most people’s incoming and outgoing phone calls, and the President asserts a right to open your mail and my mail without a warrant, this is not a trivial question.

Returning to the first page of the form, we see the wide net growing ever wider. The form states: “Many people who don’t consider themselves farmers or ranchers actually meet the definition of a farm or ranch and are important to agriculture.” “We need your completed form even though you may not be actively farming, ranching, or conducting any other type of agricultural activity.” Finally, the first page of the form reinforces the threat of the “REQUIRED BY LAW” language of the envelope:
“ ‘Response to this survey is legally required by Title 7, U.S. Code.’ ” (Emphasis in original.) (Note the single-double quotation marks – the threat actually is in quotation marks, employing that common tenth-grade stylistic conceit of “quoting” something to make it appear extra-important.) One senses evasions aplenty here — the form has referred to the “definition of a farm or ranch” but nowhere tells us that definition. It suggests that anyone receiving a form has a legal obligation to answer it, even though their enterprise may not meet the definition of a “farm.”

Given the foregoing ambiguities, I had further questions about the definition of a “farm” and the possible legal penalties for not responding to the 2006 AIS. Specifically, I asked if my understanding of the definition of “farm” as an operation with at least $1000 in sales from agriculture was correct. (See 2002 Census of Agriculture, FAQs ) Further, having found the penalty listed in 7 USC § 2204g (d) (2), namely, that a “person . . . who refuses or willfully neglects to answer a question . . . . shall be fined not more than $100,” I noted that, insofar as the 2006 AIS actually contains 42 separate questions, it could be important to know whether there was a separate $100 fine for each unanswered question, or just a single $100 fine for not answering the entire 2006 AIS. These questions were beyond the purview of the call-center woman, so she made a note of the questions, referred them to a member of the NASS professional staff, and promised that the NASS staff member would call me with the answers.

The next day, January 12, 2007, I received a call from Jody Sprague, a NASS statistician. First we addressed the question of the “farm” definition. Ms. Sprague conceded that someone whose property or operation did not meet the “farm” definition would have no obligation to answer the 2006 AIS. She also conceded that the basic definition of a “farm” as an operation with at least $1000 in agricultural sales was correct, but explained that in addition to the gross sales figures, NASS also assigns certain “point values” for particular agricultural activities. If the points add up to 1000, your operation would meet the definition of a “farm.” When asked for an example of how the point values work, Ms. Sprague explained that 5 equines would equal a farm but 4 would not. (Subsequently, she explained that each equine equals 200 points.) When asked how many cattle equal a “farm,” Ms. Sprague said she did not know. At one point Ms. Sprague said that NASS wanted, through the 2006 AIS, to determine if they could delete people who should not be on their mailing list. But for the most part she contended the opposite, e.g., that she would “advise” anyone who had received the form to fill it out; and that even a person with one horse should complete the questionnaire, although she previously had conceded that someone with fewer than 5 horses would not meet the definition of a “farm” and therefore would not be required to fill out the survey.

We next turned to the issue of how NASS may have compiled its mailing list for the 2006 AIS. First Ms. Sprague maintained that the sources of the NASS mailing list are “confidential.” I noted the call-center woman’s reference to a subscription to a “horse magazine” as a source of names, and asked for some other possible sources. Ms. Sprague said that growers’ associations, such as the Wheat Growers’ Association and Barley Growers’ Association, were examples of sources. I asked for more examples but she was reluctant to give any, claiming that some are “confidential” and some are “not confidential.” She explained the overall process of list building thus: as NASS comes across lists where there are “possibilities of agricultural activity,” NASS incorporates those names into its mailing list.

We returned to the subject of “point values” for different livestock. Explaining that many people were likely to have questions about this, I asked if Ms. Sprague could find out for me the point values of cattle or other non-equine livestock. She put me on hold for a long while. Subsequently, she gave me the following point values: beef cattle, 310 points per head; dairy cattle, 2000 points per head; goats and sheep, 50 points per head. (I wanted to ask about chickens, but I was getting the distinct sense that I might be pushing my luck.)

Ms. Sprague stressed that she did not want people to be concentrating on the point values. For example, she noted that people should not say they have 4 horses if they really have 5 horses, “because it wouldn’t be ethical.” (But apparently under the NASS moral code, rummaging through some of those Choicepoint-type consumer profiles to track your reading habits is perfectly “ethical.” And, as we shall see, the NASS moral code also permits forking over your data to states that are in hot pursuit of the NAIS premises-registration quotas imposed as a condition for the states’ continued receipt of federal NAIS grant money.)

We went on to the question of the $100 non-compliance fine. Ms. Sprague assured me that a farmer’s failure to answer any or all of the 42 total questions on the 2006 AIS would only result in a single $100 fine. She also said that the fine is “rarely enforced” and that if any “producer” “chooses” not to report, no one from NASS would seek them out.

Finally, I asked Ms. Sprague if there were any relationships between NASS and the APHIS NAIS program, and she said, “Absolutely none.” I asked her if any other agency, state or federal, would ever be allowed to use NASS’s database to solicit premises IDs for NAIS, and she said, “Absolutely not.” And indeed, pursuant to 7 U.S.C. § 2204g (f) (3), “Information obtained [for NASS surveys] may not be used for any purpose other than the statistical purposes for which the information is supplied.”

Several weeks ago, Missouri antiNAIS activist Doreen Hannes sent a series of questions about Missouri’s solicitation of NAIS premises IDs to Steve Goff, DVM, the Animal ID Administrator of the Missouri Department of Agriculture (MDA). Dr. Goff provided written answers on December 20, 2006. When asked where the MDA had obtained addresses for its solicitation of NAIS premises IDs, Dr. Goff stated: “the mailing was done through a contract with the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service.”

I won’t answer my 2006 Agricultural Information Survey. Instead, I will send a copy of this article to my Congressman and my two United States Senators. I will ask them to have the House and Senate Agriculture Committees investigate the rampant and shameful abuses of federal law and common morality inherent in NASS’s compilation of its mailing lists and use of those lists to promote the APHIS National Animal Identification System. Why will I do this? Because I don’t live by the USDA’s false code of ethics; I answer to a higher authority.

Copyright 2007 by Mary Zanoni. The following article may be distributed solely for personal and non-commercial use without prior permission from the author. Non-commercial distribution and posting to assist in disseminating information about NAIS is, in fact, encouraged, so long as proper credit is given and the article is reproduced without changes or deletions. Any other distribution or republication requires the author’s permission in writing and requests for such permission should be directed to the author at the address/phone/e-mail address below.

Mary Zanoni, Ph.D., J.D.
P.O. Box 501
Canton, NY 13617

Monday, January 15, 2007

What kind of yarn am I?

What kind of yarn are you?

You are Shetland Wool. You are a traditional sort who can sometimes be a little on the harsh side. Though you look delicate you are tough as nails and prone to intricacies. Despite your acerbic ways you are widely respected and even revered.
Take this quiz!

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Saturday, January 13, 2007

My Witch of Endor tendencies...

Yeah, yeah... they're just cards... and in this case, virtual cards at that. But... like horoscopes, I've had some pretty insightful tarot readings too. Like the one I got for free from on my birthday. (Only downside to is that cards don't ever seem to come up reversed, which can be pretty significant with real cards.) It was a traditional Celtic Cross spread, focusing on the challenges of the upcoming semester.

I got the Eight of Swords in the Self position, the World in Situation, the Knight of Wands in Challenges/Opportunities, Strength in the Foundation, the Nine of Coins in Recent Past, the King of Wands in Higher Power, the Hanged Man in Near Future, the Page of Swords in Blocks & Inhibitions, the Queen of Swords is my Ally and Advise comes from the Queen of Coins. And Eight of Coins is my Long-Term Potential. Now, if you're a hard-core tarot person who doesn't have to look up meanings of cards and you know what I'm doing this semester, this could be a "woah!" moment.

Here's what it means for those who might care:

I'm about to have quite the trial this semester. I knew this going into it, so this card wasn't a surprise, other than it was rather obviously apt. Eight of Swords in the Tolkien deck (which is my favorite deck - big surprise!) is Sam preparing to attack Shelob in defense of Frodo, who lies poisoned. And like Sam, I'm going to need my wits and a sharp sword (in my case, a figurative one) to get through this. The World is my Situation... Oy... Basically, it's in my hand to possess and conquer or throw away - But hey, no pressure or anything! My Challenge card? Faramir preparing to battle the orcs in Osgilliath. (Do we see a theme here?) Not all will happen as planned and I have to keep a sharp eye and strong nerves to stay on top of things. Lucky for me that my Foundation is Strength, represented by the White Tree of the King at the dawn of the Fourth Age. This card in this position shows that "someone somewhere showed [me]..." that "there is no chaos so fierce or frightening that it can't be tamed and led to serve the greater good. This skill gives [me] the courage that empowers [me] to go with confidence into the lion's den." And the theme of going into a great battle continues... But this is good 'cause apparently, I can handle it... as long as I remember:

1.) ... that I got through last semester without blowing a gasket and to be proud of that accomplishment. (That would be the Nine of Coins card in Recent Past - even if it is represented by the Nine Rings given to Men.)

2.) ... that I need to take control of the situation with as much enthusiasm as I can muster and let the encouragement of those around me support that effort (That would be King of Wands).

3.) ... to not let the little things get me down... like Faramir almost getting burned alive on the Hanged Man card in my Near Future. He almost died... lost all the men under his command... his dad went nuts, tried to kill him and then died himself, but did he let any of that get him down? No! He went out there, got better and won Eowyn's heart (not that it was particularly hard at that point, but I digress...) Likewise, I must remember that I am *that* good, I *can* do it, and bleak feelings will not help me, only hinder - tossing them aside as soon as possible and getting on with things will serve me well.

4.) ... that I must avoid my self-deprecating tendencies. (Reiterating the warning above in the Page of Swords on my Inhibitions card.)

5.) ... The Queen of Swords (represented as Eowyn immediately after she has slain the Witch King)... This is a person (male or female) who has become an ally of mine in the challenge that this semester poses. I can't help but think that this is Professor Manolaraki. It may also be Dr. Milton, but since Prof. M has been *so* very helpful and encouraging, I think it's her. The Queen of Swords is "a canny, articulate... mentally imposing person" who "is a warrior of the mind" and now, my ally.

6.) ... Queen of Coins (Luthien convincing the Valar to allow Beren to live again)... She is my Advice. I should take heart in what I have and trust it. I have my parents, I have food and money enough to live and more. I want for nothing. I have wonderful friends and family who are extremely supportive. If I remember all of this, I will be able to get over any negativity all the sooner.

In short, I have *mad* *skills*, as they say. My Long-Term Potential (Eight of Coins), indicates that if I take my abilities seriously and don't fall into "my own worst enemy" mode, I can do just about anything I want to do and I can overcome just about anything. So, as long as I follow through and work damn hard, this semester will be, if not a cake walk, at least very doable and worthwhile.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Petition to End Pharma-Crops!

Pharma-Crops are genetically engineered (GE) crops, such as rice or corn, that produce chemicals and compounds for use in prescription medication and industrial chemical factories. These crops are currently grown in the open, in normal-looking fields. At any time, the pollen from these crops could cross-pollinate with conventional food and contaminate the US food supply. It would be months and possibly years before anyone realized that this has happened. It is possible that it has already happened in South Carolina with the rice grown there, due to the active hurricane season of 2005 and a less than responsible USDA and FDA overseeing the fields. All kinds of side effects are possible, since no one but the USDA and the pharmaceutical and industrial chemical companies really know what's being grown. It is *extremely* important that this kind of activity either be restricted to enclosed labs, with rigorous anti-contamination protocols in place, or outlawed in the US, since corporations cannot be trusted to put the health and well-being of the American public above profits. Please, sign the petition right away and tell your friends and family.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

More profundity...

Looking around a bit more on the "Rome" historian's blog...

“The dead were and are not. Their place knows them no more and is ours today. Yet they were once as real as we, and we shall tomorrow be shadows like them...The poetry of history lies in the quasi-miraculous fact that once, on this earth, once on this familiar spot of ground, walked other men and women, as actual as we are today, thinking their own thoughts, swayed by their own passions, but now all gone, one generation vanishing into another, gone as utterly as we ourselves shall shortly be gone, like ghosts at cock-crow.” ~ GM Trevelyan, a British historian

This is so spot-on, it so succinctly sums up one of the biggest reasons history and the study of it is such a deep and serious experience for me that it's almost scary. Almost, but not quite scary because the emotions studying history conjures in me are so much more complicated than that.

I also want to share this inscription that the RomeHistorian shared on his blog (in a discussion of Latin acronyms):

CIL 13.1983. Found in Roman France and dedicated by a labourer to his wife on her tomb. “To the eternal memory of Blandinia Martiola, a most faultless girl, who lived eighteen years, nine months, five days, Pompeius Catussa, a plasterer, dedicates to his wife, who was incomparable and very kind to him, this memorial which he had erected during his lifetime for himself and his wife... You who read this, go bathe at the public baths of Apollo for us, as I used to do with my wife. I wish I still could.”

Verbum, I love history.

"Rome," Latin, and looking forward...

I am so looking forward to "Rome" this Sunday on HBO... even more so than I look forward to my birthday, which is tomorrow. I have class *all* *day* *long* tomorrow and will be at USF from about 11 am to 9pm with just enough time to eat lunch and dinner between classes. "Hectic" doesn't even begin to cover it.

Sunday though... Sunday is the day before MLK Jr. Day, so no school the next morning. I can watch and enjoy without guilt or worry about classes and studying, and I plan to do just that.

Was just taking a look at the historian's blog at the HBO's "Rome" website. He had some profound things to say about studying Latin. He talks about the first time he understood a line from Virgil's "Aeneid" in the original Latin without translating it, even in his head, and how special that realization was for him. I still look forward to my "first time" of totally understanding a piece of Latin poetry (or even something from our class textbook) without having to think twice about it. It is becoming more and more intuitive all the time though, so I have high hopes of getting there with time, effort and practice that I am most willing to give. But sometimes, I have to make myself go with the flow and not question it in the moment. When I question myself, I have a tendency to over-think and get things wrong. Did that on more than a few quizzes last semester...

Friday, January 05, 2007

A hard day's work...

Though, not really... Today, I got up early at 8:30 when the nurse from the insurance company came by to get my vitals and take a blood sample. Nice way to wake up... but honestly, it could have been worse. At least I was awake when she left and then I had the whole day ahead of me.

I've pretty much just been seeing to a few regular chores outside (basically, taking a tally of everything I need to do asap so that the garden continues to survive the winter) and indoor hobbies all day. Did not unpack a scrap (something I'm sure I'll regret tomorrow). I've also not done any laundry, which I really need to do. Ah, well!

I did finish the first half of Fetching in Rowan Cashsoft DK. I know I've said it before, but I will say it again: I love, love, *love* this yarn. ::sighs:: Here are pictures of the results:

I quite like it! And I learned a new skill: doing a gusset for one's thumb. Not very well, mind you, because I had huge holes I needed to hide when I wove in the ends, but I get how to do it now, skillfully or not. A good warm up for Knucks, though there's no gussets in that pattern, as it is knit from the cut-off fingers wristward.

Speaking of Knucks, I'll probably have to wait 'til at least Spring Break to get the yarn for it because I can't bring myself to order it without having touched it to find out if I like it... ya know? But in the meantime, I'm planning the design I'll embroider and the words I'll use... Like Tolkien, I'm a tree-hugging non-hippie. I *love* trees. They are wonderful and I have been known to literally hug trees when the mood strikes. So, how to express this in two four-letter words? Or at least on eight fingers? I've complied a short list of ideas:


None of them totally work for me though... and TOLKIEN, TREEBEARD, and ENT MOOT don't have the correct number of letters... As you can see on the pattern page, it's pretty much gotta be eight letters total. The thumbs just aren't easily seen as being part of the words.

HOBB IT@<3 or HUGA TREE maybe? Could work, I s'pose.

But I do welcome suggestions on this, if anyone happens to have any laying about unused.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Adding to my stash...

We did make it to the yarn shop in Greensboro, NC - Yarns, Etc. - while I was visiting for the holidays. I love them because, in addition to carrying my favorite yarns (such as everything by Rowan), which my local yarn shop does not, the store also has an extensive supply of spinning accoutrement (also something that my LYS doesn't bother with). I got six ounces of Corriedale/Mohair blend roving in a very pretty pink/purple/dark blue kind of color, and two balls of Rowan Cashsoft DK in the medium blue color it's available in (can't remember the name of it). I would have probably gotten more, but I forgot my list back at the Burough. I wanted to get supplies for Knucks, but I couldn't remember which yarn it was done in... Ah well, I guess I'll just have to go again... Oh, the torture! I might be able to use the Cashsoft for Fetching though, which will help tide me over until I can get to my more tempting goal (not that Fetching wasn't on my list too...). I'm not sure that it will work though... I still have to swatch.

The Joys of the Holidays...

I got way more than I expected for the holidays. I got two darning eggs, one an antique, from Susan and Jason, as well as a bunch of other stuff. I got CDs, all of which are awesome! I listened to them all the way home (and that was an 11 hour trip, so each of them got played several times). The Medieaval Baebes - despite the odd name - are really cool! Lewis Black is funny as ever, and 30 Seconds to Mars rocks! I got a fun mug with a my initial on it... It really is quite spiffy and perfect for hot cocoa. There were a lot of other things as well. All of it really great and much appreciated. I remember more about what I got for other people than what I got myself.

My little siblings each got a ton of stuff. They are not in any way deprived where presents are concerned. I think I got each of them about how much my brother and I combined received for Chanukah and Christmas when were little. And that's just what they got from me. Doesn't include their gifts from parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. An ocean of presents really...

Pictured here are my sweet little brother and sisters, from left to right, David, Rachel and Heather. This photo was taken yesterday morning just before they left for school and I left to head home. All three are wearing their hats that I made them. The girls are wearing Odessa and David is wearing a solid-colored Tychus. They are both some of the best patterns I've ever knit from.

I was surprised how much David likes his hat. He hardly took it off after I gave it to him. The girls liked theirs too. Rachel was coveting Lara's from the second that Lara opened her present. But Rachel got over it when she saw that she had one too, and in her favorite color. (I wish that I had gotten a picture of Lara with hers, but it totally slipped my mind the two days we were in the 'ville.) Heather wore hers often too, even when playing and when she had her hair in a pony tail. I'm very glad!

For Susan, I made two pairs of bright red wool Godey's Ladies' Book New-Style Garters for Civil War reenacting. I wish I had gotten a picture of those too... And that's it for things that I made for people...

Speaking of Civil War reenacting, I got my bloomers, chemise and corset over the vacation... Still need at least a corded petticoat, corset cover and a dress. But I figure, I'm half-way there! The corset is a lovely dove-gray with cream lace trim. The rest of the things are white with white lace trim. All very pretty...

While we were in the Ville, we went to the land that my parents have bought in Bassett. Here's a few photos I took when we hiked up to the top of the hill, which my parents are saving for me to build a house on someday:

I call the above "David of the Clan MacLeod"...

Rachel of the Wood... and the Yellow Submarine...

The way down... Yes, it is at least as steep as it looks...

It was a nice little trip...

Oh, and back at the Burough, I took more pictures of my favorite still life subjects... tomatoes and bottles. I did not set them up that way. That's how I found them. Nice, huh?

And the food! Let me tell you about the food! Traditional turkey and ham dinner for Christmas Day at TK & Jim's house, with delicious potatoes au gratin, corn and grits souffle and other side dishes. Venison roast on Christmas Eve, thanks to Jason's skill at hunting with his bow and arrows... We had more of that roast ('cause it was huge!) for New Year's Eve. And Catherine made a wonderful feast for us several days after Christmas when we went to see her - turkey, green beans, yams, etc. And her sister, Louise, stuffed me and the bitties all with lemon pound cake, cookies, peanut butter fudge and regular fudge with iced tea to drink (all home made) when we went to visit her and her mother up on the mountain. We thought we'd have a sugar overload, but oh, it was *so* worth it! I'm still dreaming about that fudge. I also made potato latkes on the last night of Chanukah and sweet potato latkes to go with the venison. Pretty darn good, if I do say so myself.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

I'm back...

Just got back a few hours ago, and boy, do I feel swamped... (I wish my life didn't pile up like so much junk-mail on the front porch of an empty house when I go away... but I suppose that this happens to everyone.) It's going to take me at least all of tomorrow to get through all the snail-mail and e-mail waiting for attention... not to mention the annoyance of health insurance... Apparently, there is a nice thing about being graduated and working at a real job before the age of 24 and that is group insurance plans through one's employer... anything to avoid being on hold for 45 minutes, talking to a person who is essentially a telemarketer, then talking to an underwriter (which I think is a just sleazier version of a telemarketer, crossed with a crooked attorney, crossed with a car salesman, crossed with a Fortune 500 CEO), re-capping everything I just said to the telemarketer when they can plainly see the answers on the computer screen in front of them (they just want to trip you up, you see)... And then they rob a person blind! Thieves! It makes me feel dirty and used... And now I have to do something called a "paramedical examination"... That doesn't sound fun, and, at the very least, it will be time consuming... Grrr and double-grrr... Not the home-coming I was hoping for...

Anyway, update on the Pokeberry dyed yarn!

The yarn has now faded to it's undyed state (though it is not at all brown, so that does strengthen the tannins are absorbed by the earlier yarn batches theory - wish I could come up with a clever acronym for that...). So pokeberries are indeed not lightfast, in addition to not being washfast... It did however take almost a month of day-long exposure to direct sunlight... So it could be worse...

To bed with me...