Sunday, February 26, 2006

UK Radiation Incident

Blunder left trail of lethal radiation
By Andrew Norfolk
Safety cap left off toxic cargo as it travelled 130 miles across Britain

A LETHAL beam of radiation was emitted from a casket containing highly radioactive waste on a three-and-a-half-hour road journey across England, it was disclosed yesterday.

Thousands of people were put at risk by the “cavalier” attitude of workers for the privatised company in charge of transporting the hospital waste.

Anyone standing one yard from the beam and in its direct path would have felt sick within ten minutes. After two hours they would have been dead.

Only by “pure chance” was no one directly exposed to the high concentration of cobalt-60 gamma rays that streamed from the container because of the failure to install a lead safety plug.

Read remainder of story here:,,2-2046104,00.html

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Alien Life Found on Earth?

Some scientists in India think that a myseterious red rain that fell after a metoer exploded in the atmosphere may contain extraterrestrial microbes.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Twinkie Sushi

They have a recipe on the Hostess Twinkies website for Twinkie Sushi!

Tip: "Light" Twinkies are marginally vegetarian, without the "animal and/or vegetable shortening" that figures so menacingly in the ingredients of so many processed baked goods. I think it means "whatever was on sale that day at the rendering plant," which caused Twinkies to pop to mind as I was reading the article on Jimmy Hoffa in The Mafia Encyclopedia, where they suggested that Mr. Hoffa had been disposed of at a rendering plant in New Jersey.

I turned vegetarian in 1973 because my girlfriend that summer, (whom I mentioned previously in the post about cream cheese chile roll-ups), was a vegetarian and refused to kiss me if I ate meat. So that pretty well doomed me as a meat eater. Her reason for not eating meat was that "Those animals never did anything to me!" which was still what she said last time we were in regular contact in the 80's. I've always admired that. Today it bothers me a lot more because of the suffering that goes into it than for the simple fact that it's incredibly gross. Initially, however, I found that being off it for a few months caused it to change radically in my perception. A pot roast was no longer just a pot roast, but a scene from Silence of the Lambs. And don't get me started on lamb! So I haven't eaten any red meat or fowl since then.

I decided to start eating fish in 1980, and I don't really remember why, but I do recall the first time vividly, putting a piece in the oven and sitting in the living room feeling like I was performing some kind of cannibalistic torture-murder ritual. It's a miracle I could choke it down. I go through phases where I can't stand the idea of it, and I go off it for a few months or a year. But generally nowadays it's pretty normal to me. So I can say I was a vegetarian for seven years and have had strong vegetarian tendencies ever since.

For several years recently I couldn't stand eating shrimp, crab or lobster, just because, (as I think everyone knows), they're bugs. Sea-dwelling arthropods, not much different from a cockroach or a spider. And I know they eat tarantualas in South America, and I bet if you're used to the idea they're just as scrumptious as Alaskan King Crab. But a spider's a spider. Even so, I've had shrimp a couple of times recently, and I have to say, it was good. And it didn't even "bug" me.

A lot of vegetarians do it more for good health than out of concern for animals or disgust at consuming animal body fluids and tissues. This can lead to confusion. Like when someone said, "How come you drink Coke if you're a vegetarian?" and I said "Oh man! I've never thought of that! Those rats fall into the vats and dissolve in there! Yuck!"

Meat eating served us well when survival of the species depended more on finding a meal than on curbing our own excessive ability to consume, destroy and reproduce. I call them "The Three F's," the three things every species must do to live: to feed, fight (against predators, competitors, and the elements), and ... procreate. A profound irony of human existence is that we have learned to do all three so well, that the last serious threat to our collective survival, short of asteroid impact, is our own ability to perform those three primary functions so efficiently, on such a vast scale. The most important "fight" facing us now is the one to check our own extremes of destructiveness. Vegetarianism, by making better use of resources, can be a key element in winning that fight, much as an omnivorous diet coupled with tool making was key to our survival long ago.

I often tell Boo Radley when he menaces poor Sophy or Samantha, fur puffed out, spine-tingling hisses and moans spewing out between his bared fangs: "You carnivores think you're so dangerous. Ha! You got nothing on us omnivores. We have the Bomb!"

Oh yeah ... "and TWINKIES!"

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

More Panda than Panther


This is our cat Samantha. She saved Aimée's life once in Spokane by waking her up in the middle of the night while she was having severe asthma in her sleep, allowing her to get to the hospital for treatment. This was shortly after we started dating, before we moved in together.

When she went to work the next day her co-workers asked if I was beating her, because Samantha left a big scratch and bruise on her face, which is how the lady from the Humane Society heard the story and put Samantha up for a hero pet award. They were happy to have a cat for once because it was usually all about dogs.

Our cat Sophy did a classic Lassie routine on me one day, however. I came home for lunch and she walked up very pointedly and stared at me and said,"Mao!" -- and I said, "I'm sorry Sophy, I can't understand you," and she said "Mao!" -- and I said, "Seriously, I don't speak cat," and she continued her pointed stare and said "Mao!" So then something started to click and I said "Is something wrong with Buster?" and she immediately started walking toward the closet at the other end of the house, where I saw Buster's tail sticking out under the door. She was unperturbed, just waiting patiently in there for someone to let her out.

My Flickr Photos Site


Saturday, February 11, 2006

My Kitty Loves Water

Boo Radley is completely fascinated by water. We used to grow grass for the cats to chew on in a long square planter, and whenever I watered it he would stare at the soil, fascinated, smelling it, pawing at it. As the grass started to sprout he became all the more fascinated. I think he sensed a connection between the water and the grass growing.

He's totally psycho for anything that bubbles. When I put the fresh water out he waits patiently as the bowl fills up, and as soon as the air gets sucked back into the bottle he attacks it with both front legs. It happens two or three times before the bowl fills completely. It's a regular ritual, every evening when the water is changed -- he never seems to get tired of it.

Sometimes I put an ice cube in the water to amuse him and he watches it, occasionally gently pawing it, until it's completely melted. He'll also sit by the humidifier waiting for the same bubble effect (which happens about every 20 minutes) for hours.

I love my kitty!!

Tuesday, February 7, 2006

Truth amidst all the "truths"

The Calming Thought of All
by Walt Whitman

That coursing on, whate'er men's speculations,
Amid the changing schools, theologies, philosophies,
Amid the bawling presentations new and old,
The round earth's silent vital laws, facts, modes continue.

Saturday, February 4, 2006

God Busters

People have lots of expectations about how their lives will change when they lose weight after gastric bypass surgery. I recently read a popular magazine article about young women who had been fat all their lives, had rarely or never had boyfriends, and expected their love lives to blossom magically, only to find that relationships were just as difficult as they were before.

During the intake period when I met with the psychologists, one of them asked me how I expected my life to change after the surgery, and I said I hoped my heart failure would be cured, diabetes controlled, and that I would be able to walk around, take the L train, etc., and she nodded appreciatively. All those things have happened, but one small thing I didn’t think about turned out to be one of the biggest blessings of all.

I have a shower brush for scrubbing my back and other difficult-to-reach parts of my body, which I’ve always called my God Buster, on the theory that the cruelest trick the gods played on fat people was to make the parts of the body most in need of cleaning the hardest ones for them to reach. Now at 115 pounds lighter and counting, personal hygiene is no longer a chore, or worse. At the risk of revealing too much personal stuff -- (Oh what the hell am I saying? On this blog?) -- let’s just say that difficulties reaching those places could make using a public restroom an onerous and humiliating experience at times. The sense of relief on entering a restroom knowing it won’t be the ordeal it used to be is very pleasant indeed.

If you’re fat enough to know from experience what I’m talking about, and you’re thinking about the surgery, definitely add this to your list of plusses. You will appreciate it as much as the higher profile, life-and-death benefits, believe me.

What's new?

What profit do people get from all their labors?

One generation dies and another is born, but the earth goes on forever.

The sun rises, the sun goes down, then it circles around and rises again.

The wind goes south, then north, whirling around and around, yet always coming back to wherever it was before.

The rivers flow to the sea, but the sea never fills up, because the rivers return to their source, and flow again.

Things that have been will be again; things that have already been done will be done again.

There is nothing new under the sun.

(Ecclesiastes 1:3-7, 9)