Thursday, September 14, 2006

Mentally controlled bionic arms: great for amputees; how about for those with birth defects?

9/14/2006 article:
This man had used his arms for years before he lost them in an accident and got prosthetic arms - one "regular"; one thought-controlled.
Man's bionic arm provides hope for GIs

9/17/2006 article:
This woman lost an arm in a motorcycle accident and is learning to use her new thought-controlled bionic arm.
Bionic arm puts life in reach

Read about it!

The Mistress' question:
Will this technology work for people, such as thalidomide babies, who never had arms or legs to begin with? One would assume it would, if those people have the shoulder nerves (or, alternately, hip nerves) mentioned in the article.

But can we learn *their* language?

Kosik the Korean elephant has learned to mimic some of his trainer's words. He seems to be trying to communicate; next step is to test whether he really does understand "sit", "lie down", "no", "yes", and a few other words in Korean. If he does, will he teach us those words in his language?
S.Korean park features talking pachyderm

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Beautiful underwater SF: who knew?

Just west of the Golden Gate Bridge is where the outflow of San Francisco Bay is deposited. Using high-tech equipment and procedures, scientists have been able to show that this underwater area is dominated by... sand dunes! Huge ones, some of the biggest in the world. The computer-generated representations of the dunes are breathtaking.

The original article is here:

Thursday, August 17, 2006

UCSF study: too much fructose, not enough fiber the keys in childhood obesity

We've seen it for a long time. UCSF sees it. When will manufacturers stop adding sweeteners to kids' food and start using more whole grains?
Science Daily: "Childhood Obesity Caused By 'Toxic Environment' Of Western Diets, Study Says"

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Don't feel dumpy enough? Try getting carried around like a sack o' potatoes...

Another sport new to the Mistress, even more off the wall than underwater golf:

Wife-schlepping, a *championship* fought over by Estonians and Finns (and others)... Yay, Vikings!!!

Estonians reign at wife-carrying championships

Why has this not been in a Monty Python skit or movie?

Zamboni lovers, unite!

Another recent oddity, but a useful one:
Vermont inventor has made himself a very clever snowblower/Zamboni for use in backyard skating rinks.

If you have $30K to spare, you can order one now! The Mistress wishes she could :->
Bambini Revolution

The gentleman also offers temporary (seasonal) skating rinks for backyard or commercial use. These start at about $500 for a 10'x20' liner system for home use and go up to $500K or thereabouts for a large, refrigerated, commercial-grade one.

Cucumber x Cantaloupe: who knew?

One of many odd stories of late:
Cucumbers and cantaloupes can cross-pollinate to produce tasty, edible, hugely elongated, bumpy-skinned fruit...

Houma couple’s garden surprises them with a 'cuculoupe’

Friday, May 12, 2006

The Doll Lady of Sylacauga

This is the sort of person our children should aspire to be. Not financiers, not day traders, not people who try to win at everything.

For two decades, she has used her skills to make a library even friendlier for the children and staff who use it. How? By making dolls and artwork for the library.

What a doll! Sylacauga woman spends countless hours making dolls for B.B. Comer Library

Not everyone has as much time and skill as Christine Keay, but most of us have a little something we can do close to home. What have you done this year?

Haiku of the day: rain (ame)

The Mistress has been doing lots of Japan-related things of late, so please enjoy a haiku she made up this afternoon for a munchkin's amusement.

Rain on the windows
'Spring showers bring May flowers'
Too bad I can't breathe

What do dolphins call each other?

Scientists monitoring dolphins have determined that dolphins have names for one another and use them even when that dolphin is not present.
Just call me Dolph

What would be more interesting to know is this: what sorts of names? Bignose? Can't-Swim? Brownspot? Fast One? Four-Leg-Friend?

Six Degrees of Kevin Everyman

Invading foreign countries and then rebuilding them because that money couldn't possibly be better used improving our own schools, helping our own poor, stopping genocide, or feeding the hungry around the world: not enough.

No Child Left Behind: enough to "use" valuable classroom time and trained teachers in teaching to the test without financing this; otherwise, not enough.

Welcoming lobbyists and profiteers to the White House and government chambers: common enough, but not enough.

Claiming to love our country, but trying to pass laws against natural human diversity: not enough.

Getting rich off of gas prices: not enough. This is just the on-ramp!

The latest?
Six Degrees of Kevin Everyman's phone calls:
NSA has database of domestic US phone calls: report

Do you really think this will be enough?

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Pentagoing, going, gone...

Pentagon photos were on the news tonight, and mention of the name "Pentagon" inspired these non-9/11-related jokes, some lamer than others:

They've renovated the Pentagon again. New name: the Hexagon.

You've probably heard some version of that one before (it was original for those who giggled over it), but maybe not these follow-ons:

They'll move it to Texas and call it the Texagon (to Mexico, the Mexagon).

They'll cover it with mirrors and call it the Reflectagon.

Install washers and dryers and call it the Socks-are-Gone. (or Pants-are-Gone)

Tip the Washington Monument over to ring the Pentagong.

Dang, can't remember the rest. The Mistress is sure that you're relieved by this.

...5/12/06 addendum: got 'em!

Mmm, Chexagon.

Stomp, stomp, stomp - here comes the T-Rexagon!

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Split CA? TX? VA? Fix the flag first!

See the Dvorak Uncensored blog re: splitting California up into 2-3, or even more, smaller states.

I suggested that the U.S. flag be redesigned first, to *allow* for state boundary changes more easily. If we separate the flag issue from the addition or removal of states from our Union, things could proceed much more easily.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Celebrity babies: TomKat vs. Brooke Shields & hubby

Like many a female, the Mistress thought Tom Cruise was really something back in the day. Now he's pretty wacky and seems desperate for attention. Katie Holmes seemed snottily appropriate in Ang Lee's "The Ice Storm" (1987). Now she elicits pity.

So what did they name their (supposed) new baby, who just happened to be born along with Brooke Shields' second daughter Grier (which sounds awfully preppy but at least many people have heard of actress Greer Garson)?


They claim it's Hebrew for "princess" and Persian for "red rose"; commentators give some less-appealing translations from other languages: "pointy nose" in a South Indian language; "pickpocket" in Japanese.

If you type "Suri" into the Google search engine, you get many listings for alpacas such as this one as well as links to various pages about people with the surname "Suri".

Sky News gets into this discussion as well, with readers sending in additional meanings.

At least it sounds pretty in English. L'chaim, baby Suri! May you not out-weird your parents.

Read the original articles about this particular oddly-named celebrity baby:
One Down: World Awaits Pitt, Jolie's Baby
Cruise-Holmes Baby: Day Two

4/24/06 addendum:
Get outta here! Cruise baby name puzzles Israelis

A Poem A Day The Fibonacci Way

More-regular blogger Gregory K. has given himself the exercise of writing Fibonacci sequence-based poems to stretch his mind: "a six line, 20 syllable poem with a syllable count by line of 1/1/2/3/5/8." Readers of his blog are invited to post their own.

I write
one? Because
I might as well try
to learn this sequence right away.

you write
one? Because
it's not all that hard,
so suck it up and start typing.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Super 'Shrooms!

Mushrooms Are Unlikely Source of Vitamin D

Nah, not *those* mushrooms. Just your plain ol' bland ones from the food store.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Mug me! (no, not the crime way)

This Sunday's Washington Post's shopping section pointed out a new Global Warming Mug. Watch the continents vanish under water! It's available online at Wacky Planet.

The company (with which the Mistress is not affiliated other than as a potential customer) has some other fab items for sale, including a Vanishing Civil Liberties Mug. See which parts of the Bill of Rights the Patriot Act does *not* excise!

Out with the old, in with the new (if you have room in your cabinets or on your trophy-mug shelf)!

A Taxing Nation

In honor of Tax Day, I refer you to two online articles and have movie suggestions for when your taxes are done.

The first is about politicians who are so confused by their own tax laws that they hire accountants to do their filing for them:
Tax Law Authors Have Pros Do Their Returns

The second begs for a flat tax. The author?
Dick Armey.

For your viewing pleasure, the Mistress strongly recommends that you rent the highly intelligent and amusing 1987 Japanese movie
A Taxing Woman (Marusa no onna) and its 1988 sequel, A Taxing Woman Returns (Marusa no onna II). Make yourself some popcorn, turn down the lights, and celebrate the end of Tax Day... This year's, anyway.


Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Corn syrup once more: Mott's' tricky packaging

We're still seeing tons of sweetened applesauce, both at Baja Fresh and at the food store. The packaging on some is so confusing that extremely careful label-reading and comparison is required. My husband went to the store this week for more of the kids' favorite single-serving applesauce, Mott's Healthy Harvest Strawberry (which has no sugar added), among other things (regular shopping trip here - not a run for just one product). No, I don't get any money from Mott's. I just want to make sure there's no brand confusion here. I wrote "flavored applesauce (small)" or something to that effect on the shopping list. I didn't specify Healthy Harvest because he doesn't buy things with corn syrup if he knows it's there, and I figured he'd seen the packaging - and had bought it - often enough.

He came home with an almost identical-looking package - and it was strawberry, and it was Mott's. But it wasn't the unsweetened Healthy Harvest, and it had high fructose corn syrup (and Red 40 for good measure and an odd pinkish-red color).

I went to the Mott's web site to look up their single-serving applesauce options and wrote them a note. Go to the full post to see the text of my message to them...

I don't understand why you feel the need to sweeten applesauce with high fructose corn syrup (or color it with Red 40, for that matter). Applesauce is naturally sweet, especially strawberry flavored. There are enough kids with weight and/or dental problems without going to a restaurant and asking for "healthy" applesauce instead of chips or fries, only to be given your applesauce with corn syrup for your kids! Baja Fresh is one place that serves kids your sweetened applesauce.

Also, for truth in advertising purposes, you shouldn't put "Hand-Picked Goodness" on products that contain high fructose corn syrup. Since when was high fructose corn syrup hand-picked?

Finally - and very important - you need to make your packaging much clearer in order to allow consumers to easily delineate between your types of applesauce. More than once (including this week) either my husband or I have gone to buy small packages of applesauce, only to have to carefully scrutinize the label to be sure we're getting the unsweetened kind.

For everyone's health, why don't you just offer all of your great flavors only in the unsweetened variety and, whenever possible, as an organic? This would probably save you enough money on packaging and shelf space to balance out the added cost of going healthier.

If families really need sweeter applesauce to get their kids to eat it, they can easily add their own sugar or corn syrup, whether at home or at a restaurant.

Thank you!

A very concerned mom,

[signed my name and location]

So, if you're also concerned about calories and/or cavities, please get involved! Contact restaurants that serve sweetened applesauce and companies that make applesauce sweetened with anything other than fruit or fruit juice and ask them to CUT IT OUT already. The few of us (myself not included) who really need the extra calories can surely find their own sugar packets.


Thursday, January 19, 2006