Friday, November 30, 2007

Here We Go Loopty-Loo

Mathematics. Everywhere I look-mathematics. I worked a very slow shift at the library yesterday. It was so slow I was looking for something to read. I found a textbook on American Literature which had this math "trick" in it.

1. Pick a number


2. Spell the number out

forty eight

3. Count the number of letters


4. Spell that number out


5. Count the number of letters


6. Spell that number out


7. Count the number of letters


8. Spell that number out


9. Count the number of letters


10. Spell that number out


11. Count the number of letters


12. Spell that number out


13. Count the number of letters


14. Spell that number out


15. Count the number of letters


You are now in a number four loop. This works for any number you start with, why? Can anyone explain it?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

No, I Think I'll Pass

Last night my husband, in an attempt to get me to watch a television program with him, said, "It has some very interesting mathematics coming up."

But, honey, thanks for asking.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

We're Going To Party Like It's 1984

"The thought police would get him just the same. He had committed—would have committed, even if he had never set pen to paper—the essential crime that contained all others in itself. Thoughtcrime, they called it. Thoughtcrime was not a thing that could be concealed forever. You might dodge successfully for a while, even for years, but sooner or later they were bound to get you."
-George Orwell's 1984

Ronni Bennett over at Time Goes By has been writing a series of posts about a bill that is right now making its way though Congress. If passed, it will, in the name of Homeland Security, limit or even take away the most valuable right you have as an American citizen. The right to express your opinion and/or criticize your own government.

H.R.1955/S.1955, a.k.a. the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007, is also known as "The Thought Crime Bill." The following video will give you an idea of what this bill is about:

This bill is so fear based and 1984 it is almost laughable. Laughable if it wasn't so frightening. One of the things I find frightening about this bill is how vaguely it is worded. Who the government can go after is left for the government to decide.

Anytime an attempt is made to limit what a citizen is allowed to say moves us one more step closer to a totalitarian state. How do we maintain a democracy in a time were our government keeps trying to limit our rights as citizens in an over zealous attempt to, as they see it, protect us?

I have already written my Senate Representative, Sam Brownback, telling him to vote no on this bill. Protect your rights as an American citizen, call, write, or e-mail your Senator now and tell her/him to vote no on this bill.

Find the address and phone numbers for your Congressional Representatives here.

Read the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007 here.

A list of posts on Times Goes By and other websites concerning H.R.1955/S.1959 here.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Time Out

Could think of nothing to write about today, and I waited this long just in case something happened worth writing about, so a joke instead.

A building contractor dies in a hunting accident and next finds himself greeted by Saint Peter and a brass band when he reaches heaven. A smiling Saint Peter reaches out and enthusiastically starts shaking his hand while saying, "Congratulations!"

The confused contractor asks, "Congratulations for what?"

"Why, we are celebrating the fact that you lived to be 160 years old," Saint Peter replies, "No one has ever lived that long before."

"But, that's not true," says the still confused contractor, "I only lived for 40 years."

"That's impossible," answers Saint Peter, "We added up your time sheets."

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Fabulous Moolah

I just finished reading Lillian Ellison's autobiography, The Fabulous Moolah: First Goddess Of The Squared Circle. I got it from the library after reading an obituary earlier this month about her death. Ellison was one of the big stars of women's wrestling in the 1950's, a subject that has always interested me since it is a part of early television history.

When television started most sets were being sold to bars, taverns, and saloons. The companies building these sets were also the companies that owned the television stations. Since their main objective was to sell as many television sets as possible they knew they had to find programing that would bring in the audience they needed to accomplish this goal-and as cheaply as possible. One of the things they came up with was wrestling. It was a big hit and Lillian Ellison was a part of it. At first she played the role of Slave Girl Moolah* to other male wrestlers but soon became The Fabulous Moolah and fought her way up to women's world championship title. She held that title on and off for the next 30 years.

The book is not that good but it is an enjoyable read. Lillian tells so many lies it is hard to tell just what is the truth. Well, maybe they aren't lies really just exaggerations. Like when she says she picked 100 pounds of cotton a day when she was only eight years old or when she says she would hide a length of pipe in her tights and used it to bonk her opponents on the head or when she describes all of her bouts as if the outcome wasn't know before she stepped into the ring. This includes the time she won the World Wrestling Entertainment's Undisputed Women's Championship in 1999 at age, well, she's not telling but does admit she was in her seventies at the time.

What I most admire about Lillian Ellison is how she had a passion for wrestling and did not let anyone talk her out of it. She and the other women who wrestled in the early and middle part of the last century were willing to get into a ring and be as unlady like as possible in a time where being ladylike was the most important quality a woman could possess.

Lillian Ellison never let society tell her who she was nor did she let it tell her how she should act in old age. She says this about going back to wrestle in her late sixties/early seventies:

...I also wanted to come back to prove a point to people my age. Life doesn't have to end when you get your AARP card in the mail. Mae (Young), Katie (Diamond Lil Glass), and I stay away from senior citizen's outings because it always feels like too many people our age give in, give up, and stop living. I've always been about getting off of my ass and going after life, rather than waiting around to die. I figured if by watching me, one sixty or seventy-something fan get up off his or her duff and goes out and does something, experiences something new, different, and challenging, well, then my comeback will be well worth it.

All our lives society is not so subtly pressuring us to act a certain way depending on our sex or age and I have always felt that pressure. I've managed to resist it for the most part and like Lillian, I hope I continue to do so.

Lillian Ellison's wrestling Bio.

Website of Lipstick and Dynamite, a film about early women's wrestling.

A Review of Lipstick and Dynamite.

A short history of professional wrestling.

*She got the name "Moolah" when she was asked why she got into the wrestling game and answered, "For the moolah." Moolah is slang for money.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Turkey Hangovers, Anyone?

I trust everyone who celebrated had a fulfilling Thanksgiving yesterday? Pun intended. Mine was nice and quiet and since today is kind of a bonus day with schools closed and most people off from work I've decided to take the day off myself. Have a good weekend and see you Monday.

Oh, it's snowing here. Nice big flakes that make me feel like I'm living inside a snow globe. This is a bit strange because on Monday the temperature was up to 81F/27.2 Celsius. The snow probably won't be around long since the ground is still warm but it still is beautiful.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Turkey Day, Everyone

(Photo via this Thanksgiving Day website.)

Learn more about our Thanksgiving Day here.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

...Above The Fruited Plain!

(Title of this post is the fourth lyric of America The Beautiful written by Katharine Lee Bates.)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Point Blank

I finally got to see the Sixties film Point Blank starring Lee Marvin last week. Lee Marvin plays a man called Walker who is shot by his partner after they, with the help of Walker's wife, commit a successful robbery at the deserted prison on the island of Alcatraz . Walker is left for dead and the partner takes off with Walker's share of the money and his wife. Only Walker isn't dead and the rest of the movie follows him as he searches for his ex-partner and tries to get his money.

After watching it I can see why people either love it or hate it. I love it. Point Blank starts out as a revenge movie but something about it isn't quite right. It is surreal, disjointed, and dreamlike in many ways with jumps in time and space. There is one scene where Walker picks up an object he had broken earlier and drops it, breaking it again. I think this movie is a version of the short story, An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge, by Ambrose Bierce. Walker, dead or dying, is dreaming the whole thing.

There are clues that this may be true. The last time we see Walker on Alcatraz he is stepping half-naked into the water surrounding the island while we hear the voice of an Alcatraz Island tour guide saying, "Around the island there are treacherous currents rendering it virtually escape proof. The water temperature is usually 50 degrees."

The next instant we are in the tour boat with Walker. He is undamaged and wearing a suit. He is standing with another man. The man ask him, "How did you make it Walker?"
Walker gives no answer.

Then we hear the tour guide say about another escape attempt,"All indications point to their being swept out with the tide to the Golden Gate to a watery grave."

There are lots of moments in the movie where people imply Walker is dead or dying:

His wife: "I dream about you. How good it must be, being dead."

His sister-in-law: "You're suppose to be dead."

His sister-in-law: "You died at Alcatraz, alright."

Again, his sister-in-law: "You're a pathetic sight from where I'm standing. Chasing shadows. You're played out. It's over. Finished...Why don't you lay down and die."

One man says to him, " Fairfax is dead. He just doesn't know it yet." Is he implying Walker is dead and doesn't know it either?

Then there is a moment where it seems that Walker is not sure he is alive either:

Woman: Walker! You still alive?
Walker: Are you?

Is Walker really just dreaming the whole thing? Who cares, it's still a great movie. Watching it today it is hard to understand how it was dismissed as a violent, bloody, waste of time when it was first released.

Movie trailer for Point Blank here.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, Its Off To Work I Went

Sorry I missed you all Friday. The weather has been wonderful, low to mid seventies (20's C ), and I have been spending the last four days getting my yard and trees ready for the snow storm that is predicted to hit on Wednesday. I've raked up 18 black plastic yard bags full of leaves and yesterday took them up to the recycle centers' yard waste drop off. So many people were doing the same thing I had to wait in line just to dump them. I have also deep watered the trees, removed dead plants, swept the garage floor (again) since the wind is blowing (again), and sometime later this afternoon I plan to mow the grass for the last time this year. Be back tomorrow.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Into The Wild

Heading home today so only a short post this morning.

Yesterday was a beautiful day in Denver so I had the front door open here at my sister's house. Late yesterday afternoon her three dogs were laying in front of said open door enjoying the fact that they could watch what was going on out on the street. All of a sudden they jumped up and started barking furiously at something outside. Thinking it was the neighbor's dog running around as he is sometimes allowed to do I went to the door to quiet my sister's dogs. When I looked out the door I was delighted to see a small red fox standing in the yard about twenty feet away. He was not fazed by the dogs but when he saw me he startled, turned, and gracefully jumped to the sidewalk and then to the street. I watched him trot down the middle of the street until he disappeared behind the neighbor's car.

Foxes are not an uncommon sight in my sister's neighborhood since she is not that far from the High Line Canal. What most people do not know is that there are foxes all over the city of Denver. A family friend who lived near Eighth Avenue and Jersey Street (considered downtown these days) had a family of foxes living in the shrubbery next to her garden shed one Spring and Summer a few years ago. Wild animals are living side by side with the human citizens of this city. Most people here are not even aware of them. It's a secret world that we are lucky enough to get a glimpse of every once in awhile.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Forty Year One Hour

I'm in Denver again this week to help my sister as she goes through dental surgery.

This morning I went for a walk on the High Line Canal. As I walked I could hear the sound of a chainsaw up ahead and as I got closer to it the sound got louder. Around a bend in the trail I saw a group of men cutting down a diseased elm tree that was standing on the opposite side of the canal. By the time I got there most of the tree was gone with only the main trunk of the tree and one hugh branch that pointed up at the sky like a gigantic finger still standing. Only one man was in the tree at that point and he was strapped to the tree with a rope that circled the trunk and connected to a harness around his body. In his left hand he held a chainsaw.

As I watched, he made cuts into the branch using the chainsaw with all the ease of someone using a electric knife to carve a Thanksgiving turkey. He first cut a wedge of wood out of the underside of the branch then he cut down through the top of the branch. When that cut almost met the wedge cut on the underside of it, the branch broke off and fell about thirty feet to the bottom of the dry canal. When it hit the dirt it make a big crashing sound and broke into many pieces. As I stared at the fallen branch I heard one of the men on the work crew say in a thick Asian accent, "Forty year, one hour."

I knew instantly what he meant. It had taken forty years for that tree to grow to the height it was (forty feet) and they (the crew) had taken it apart in a little over one hour. There was something awe inspiring about that fact and also something a little frightening.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Feed The World And Your Mind

Blue Witch found a wonderful site, Free Rice. Free Rice is an organization that collects money from corporate sponsors to buy rice for hungry people world wide. You can help. All you do is play a game that tests and improves your vocabulary. The more words you get right, the more rice sent on to the United Nations World Food Program.

What could be more simple? Play a game, learn something, help feed the world.

(For more information about the Free Rice game go here.)

Friday, November 09, 2007

The Trouble With Ghostly Cold Spots, Vampires, And Zombies

Not in the mood to write anything today so I thought I would direct you to an interesting article I read on the Skeptical Inquirer website discussing ghosts, vampires, and zombies. First up, SI explains that there may be an perfectly good reason for some of those cold spots found in some haunted houses. Next, a discusion on the inconsistency of movie ghosts being able to walk on solid ground while also being able to walk through walls. Then, proof that vampires are not real. Finally, why zombies are not really the living dead. They are zombies- they're just not dead.

Go here to read the article.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Radio Waves All Around

I forgot that sunset was earlier since Daylight Savings Time is over and drove part of of my trip home last night at dusk. I also forgot that at sundown some radio stations go off the air while others lower their transmitting power. This along with the change in the "reflectability" of radio waves off the ionosphere at night allows your car radio to pick up stations from far, far, away.

On other trips I have tuned into the traffic reports from a station in Los Angeles, California (1240 miles/ 1995 KM) and my car radio picks up certain radio stations from Denver all the time. As I searched for stations on this trip I tuned into a car commercial out of San Antonio, Texas (981 miles/ 1570 KM), a traffic report from Chicago, Illinois (840 miles/ 1352 KM), a sports talk program from Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada (1190 miles/ 1915 KM), another traffic report from the Minneapolis/Saint Paul area of Minnesota (750 miles/ 1207 KM), another commercial from a station in Albuquerque, New Mexico (585 miles/ 941 KM), the announcement of a contest for BYU football tickets from a station in Salt Lake City, Utah (695 miles/ 1118 KM), and another traffic report from Nashville, Tennessee (1000 miles/ 1609 KM). I'm not too surprised by all the traffic reports since I was traveling during most big cities' rush hour.

There is something about racing through the plains at night surrounded by a cocoon of darkness that normally makes me feel isolated in time and space. Tuning into radio stations from other states and even countries makes me feel grounded again.

Monday, November 05, 2007

On The Road Again

In Denver for a few days and not sure when I will be able to post again. Got stuff to do and people to see. Back soon.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Thursday, November 01, 2007