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Friday, March 25, 2011

He said... she said

I like a good quote. Nothing too serious, mind you. Quotes are to be enjoyed, not taken as word from on high... unless they come from You Know Who.

Quotes like: "There will be a rain dance Friday night, weather permitting." George Carlin

Or: "When you are in love with someone, you want to be near him all the time, except when you are out buying things and charging them to him" Miss Piggy

Try these on for size:
  • "'Dr. Livingstone I Presume.' Full name of Dr. Presume." unknown
  • "In 1932, lame duck President Herbert Hoover was so desperate to remain in the White House that he dressed up as Eleanor Roosevelt. When FDR discovered the hoax in 1936, the two med decided to stay together for the sake of the children." Johnny Carson
  • "Death is nature's way of saying 'Howdy.'" Unknown
  • "The chicken probably came before the egg because it is hard to imagine God wanting to sit on an egg." Unknown
  • "In England there are sixty different religions and only one sauce." Francesco Carocciolo (1752-1799)
  • "Never try to walk across a river just because it has an average depth of four feet." Martin Friedman
You could quote poetry:

"Roses are reddish
Violets are bluish
If it weren't for Christmas
We'd all be Jewish.
Benny Hill (1925-1992)

Or common knowledge:

"There are three reasons why lawyers are replacing rats as laboratory research animals. One is that they're plentiful, another is that lab assistants don't get attached to them, and the third is that there are some things rats just won't do."  Unknown

It could be contemporary:

"The old neighborhood has changed. Hurley Brothers Funeral Home is now called Death 'n' Things. Elmore Leonard

Or about our quest for the perfect body:

"I asked the clothing store clerk if she had anything to make me look thinner, and she said, 'How about a week in Bangladesh?'" Rosanne Barr

Could even be a high school cheer (unofficially):

We don't drink!
We don't smoke!
Unknown... but ask the students

Or it could be funny:

"Last time I tried to make love to my wife nothing was happening, so I said to her, 'What's the matter, you can't think of anybody either?'" Rodney Dangerfield, of course

But you can only go for quotes in small doses. Too many overwhelm the sense of irony... and there is nothing I hate worse than ironing. I picked up a copy of Robert Byrne's book, The 2,548 Things Anybody Ever Said and realized how fast you can get full. But if you take your time and read just a few pages every so often, you would be amazed at how long it takes to get through 2,548 things.

All in all, I learned there are a lot of quotes by this guy, Unknown and his brother, Anonymous. I also learned the impossible:

"Fix this sentence: He put the horse before the cart." Steven Price

But what better than these important lessons from Jack Handy to finish this off:

"Better not take a dog on the space shuttle, because if he sticks his head out when you're coming home his face might burn up."

"For mad scientists who keep brains in jars, here's a tip: Why not add a slice of lemon to each jar, for freshness."

"If the Vikings were around today, they would probably be amazed at how much glow-in-the-dark stuff we have, and how we take so much of it for granted."

"Maybe in order to understand mankind we have to look at that word itself. MANKIND. Basically, it's made up of two separate words "mank"and "ind." What do these words mean? It's a mystery and that's why so is mankind."

"The crows seemed to be calling his name, thought Caw."

Last one, I promise: "The first thing was, I learned to forgive myself. Then, I told myself, "Go ahead and do whatever you want, it's okay by me."

Me too.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Things that amaze me most: Part IX

As I told you before, there are a number of things/events/emotions that absolutely blow-my-mind because they are so introspectively amazing and give me a deeper sense of awe. So I made a list of the things that amaze me most... some big, some small, some acts, some things... but all, in my mind, amazing.  So far:

Part III: THE YOUNG: Babies, toddlers and teens
Part IV:  LAUGHTER: A peek into the soul
Part V:   NATURE: Her splendor and fury


You know how nuts I am about space, the sun and the entire universe. Well, thanks to the incredible Hubble telescope, now in its 20th year in orbit, we can see some amazing, incredible things... like this mountain of dust and gas rising in the Carina Nebula. The top of a three-light-year tall pillar of cool hydrogen is being worn away by the radiation of nearby stars, while stars within the pillar unleash jets of gas that stream from the peaks.

Our Milky Way galaxy is 100,000 light years wide... and as we look into tonight's sky, we are actually looking in the past--millions of years into the past. As Marilyn vos Savant, The super-smart (I.Q. 185 +/-) Parade Magazine columnist tells us, "Say a certain star will live for 5 million years, but it's so far away that its light takes 10 million years to reach us. By the time we can see it for the first time, it has already been gone for 5 million years."

Light echos from red supergiant star v838 monocerotis
Using new technology, scientists scanning a small portion of the sky have just discovered 54 planets in orbit around other suns that are located, like earth,  in a "Goldilocks zone"--temperatures not too hot and not too cold-- but just right to hold water and life... like our own. They estimate that a broader scan of our Milky Way galaxy alone might find 400,000 more... enough like us to think E.T. would need a galactic phone book to get the right number and area code to phone home.

In a New York Times interview of Brian Greene, a Colombia University physicist, the question was asked: In your forthcoming book, The Hidden Reality, you ponder the possibility of a 'multiuniverse' composed of many universes. But what kind of worlds are we talking about? Clumps of subatomic particles in space? Or universes with restaurants and museums?

His astounding answer: Some might have museums and restaurants. Some might have copies of you and me having a conversation similar to this one. Yet other universes would be vastly different. They might involve a gigantic expanseive space that might be filled with other forms of matter governed by other kinds of physical laws. In one such universe, when the apple is released by a tree, it might go up instead of down.

Yep. Wild stuff for wild imaginations filled with big, big numbers and almost unfathomable images. Check 'em out at the Hubble site, highlighted above. Gosh, who would have thought that Flash Gordon, Commander Kirk, Han Solo and Luke Skywalker would prove to be intergalactic pikers when it comes to real life?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Things that amaze me most: Part VIII

As I told you before, there are a number of things/events/emotions that absolutely blow-my-mind because they are so introspectively amazing and give me a deeper sense of awe. So I made a list of the things that amaze me most... some big, some small, some acts, some things... but all, in my mind, amazing.  So far:

Part III: THE YOUNG: Babies, toddlers and teens
Part IV:  LAUGHTER: A peek into the soul
Part V:   NATURE: Her splendor and fury


Big, small, short, tall-- from a single cell embryo to Troy Jackson... who just died at 38. Troy was a basketball player... a 'classic' big man who could handle the ball--and look at how he could handle it. He was 6'10" tall and weighed as much as 500 lbs... or Shaq O'Neil who wears a size 23 shoe.

 Or... the World's Tallest man - Bao Xishun (7ft 7") or... the World's smallest adult, He Pingping (2ft 4").  How the heck did that all happen?

Funny thing is, we all started (with few exceptions-- in vitro fertilization, donor sperm or egg, Mary, mother of God, etc.) the same way. And if you don't know what that way is, then you'd better finally have that talk with mom and dad.

In any case, this is what the initial courtship  looks like... and yes, it is worth a few seconds to watch it.

Aww...The new baby. He/she has mom's eyes... and grandpa's sloping forehead, and cousin Ernie's long, tapered, pool-playing fingers... er, no fingers yet... but just you wait.

It is absolutely mind-blowing INCREDIBLE! From a single cell to... you and me, with all of our complexities, foibles and personalities. And the reason Baby Blue... or Pink, will look like us is that he/she has our genetic imprint... the heredity coding that says if your second toe is longer than your big toe, so will your baby's be... and if that big nose comes from grandpa's side of the family, baby's will look Italian too. The hair, the intelligence, the health, both good and bad, will all come from mom and dad and beyond.

As if that isn't enough, just imagine what we have learned to help us through life... all the technical, medical, psychological and social advances (and detractions) that build from generation to generation. Heck, our great-grandparents could have easily died in childbirth, or from appendicitis, or a bad tooth-ache, as many did! We even watched television in black and white, for God's sake. And we have, for better or worse, adapted to it all. 

Whether we are born here of there, of this race or that, big or small, male or female, we have a commonality to our heirs and one another:

If you are an Adam and Eve fan, then hello brother, hello sister.
If you go more for evolution, then shake hands with me, you big ape.
If you feel there is a place for both, I'm your man, just like him, her, it.

OK... are you ready for the moral of this story? We are all linked and dependent on one another... we just all haven't come to the point of accepting that as a human race. We still hate, show envy and prejudice. We still ignore the human rights and needs of others. We still kill and mistreat. The Golden Rule has nothing on us.

We can do better. We have to, because every moment of every day, there are more of us than ever before--5 times more people now than in 1900-- and we are all living in the same house as we always have... the one we call earth.

One last thought about that "house:" A mom tells of the conversation she had with her daughter... and the simple wisdom of a child that we often forget as we age.

Today, in the cutest voice, my 8-year-old daughter asked me to start recycling.  I chuckled and asked, “Why?”

She replied, “So you can help me save the planet.”
I chuckled again and asked, “And why do you want to save the planet?”
 “Because that’s where I keep all my stuff.”

(Thanks to Marc and Angel Hack Life website.)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

WWJD... revisited

You remember the story... bad storm at sea... giant waves violently rocking the boat... fishermen scared for their lives... THEN, ACROSS THE SUDDENLY CALMING WATERS, JESUS WALKS TOWARD THEM.

Well, that was then... before the days of the big oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. So tell me what went wrong when police found Jesus... swimming, not walking on water, far off shore in those Gulf waters?

"What's wrong, Jesus? Cat got your feet?"

OK, so that is borderline sacrilegious, but maybe it was the wrong Jesus. In fact, it was. Jesus Mares was the guy, not the Jesus H. Christ I pray to. And yes, the OAO does have a sense of humor... after all, he created us, right?

Elsewhere in the world of incredible happenings, two Japanese nerds recently set a record calculating pi to the five-trillionth digit. And... (yawn)... yes, it IS A NEW WORLD'S RECORD! Hmm, I wonder if they still make those plastic pocket protectors?

To get back to the real problems in the world, we need look no further than Ft. Wayne, Indiana--about 125 miles east of the heart of the Midwest.  There, city fathers had to decide if they would name Ft. Wayne's newly built government center after a former beloved mayor, which was the vote of the people. In the end, they opted NOT to follow their constituents' wishes to call it "The Harry Baals Building." And that's how "Government Building One" got its name.

Reminds me of a similar vote by the people of Peoria to nickname its new franchise hockey team, "The Prancers." Lasted for one season... the nickname, I mean. Too much laughing by the opponents.

If automobile stories are your thing, then you might find this interesting: One of the first motor cars ever imported to China as a gift to the Empress Cixi (pronounced Cixi), was a new, handmade 1901 Duryea. As the car was being shown, the driver, a little giddy from rice wine, lost control, ran over and killed a palace eunuch.  Today, there are 10,000 new cars on the road every day in Beijing alone, as China rushes to be number one in traffic jams... and DUIs too.

Oh, and China also grows nearly half of the world's tobacco (take that North and South Carolina) which makes sense when you realize one out of four Chinese smoke. Sometimes, being number 1 isn't as good as it sounds.

A Mercedes driver in Switzerland was stopped for speeding... he was clocked at 105 mph over the 75 mph limit! The Swiss determine fines based on the driver's personal ability to pay. He was rich. Fine: $1 million!

Last amazing thing: Utah's Dugway Proving Ground Army facility was locked down for 14 hours recently... because one-fourth of a teaspoon of a nerve gas agent was unaccounted for. The nerve agent, VX, was finally found in a mis-labeled container. Now, can you imagine... 1/4 teaspoon...

What exactly is VX and how bad is it? I was curious so I "googled" it.

From the government website, The Center for Disease and Prevention, a few "highlights:"
VX is a human-made chemical warfare agent classified as a nerve agent. Nerve agents are the most toxic and rapidly acting of the known chemical warfare agents. They are similar to pesticides (insect killers) called organophosphates in terms of how they work and what kinds of harmful effects they cause. However, nerve agents are much more potent.

VX was originally developed in the United Kingdom in the early 1950s. It is odorless and tasteless,
an oily liquid that is amber in color and very slow to evaporate. It evaporates about as slowly as motor oil. VX is not found naturally in the environment.

Following release of VX into the air, people can be exposed through skin contact, eye contact, or inhalation (breathing in the VX mist). Though it does not mix with water as easily as other nerve agents do, it could be released into water. Following release of VX into water, people can be exposed by drinking contaminated water or getting contaminated water on their skin. People can be exposed by eating the contaminated food.

Symptoms will appear within a few seconds after exposure to the vapor form of VX, and within a few minutes to up to 18 hours after exposure to the liquid form. It is the most potent of all nerve agents. Compared with the nerve agent sarin (also known as GB), VX is considered to be much more toxic by entry through the skin and somewhat more toxic by inhalation. It is possible that any visible VX liquid contact on the skin, unless washed off immediately, would be lethal.

All the nerve agents cause their toxic effects by preventing the proper operation of the chemical that acts as the body’s “off switch” for glands and muscles. Without an “off switch,” the glands and muscles are constantly being stimulated. They may tire and no longer be able to sustain breathing function.

Immediate signs and symptoms of VX exposure...
well, death is one, for sure (My comment).

Socrates, I'm sure would agree, mankind has certainly come a long way from hemlock. 

Just want to end on an up-note:

Attempt 1: Socrates walks into a bar and the bartender asks him, "Did you go to Harvard?" He answers, "Yale." The bartender responds, "DID YOU GO TO HARVARD?"

Attempt 2: Socrates walks into a bar with a duck on his head. The bartender says, "Can I help you?" The duck says, "Yeah, you can get this guy off my butt!"

Attempt 3: Socrates walks into a bar and orders a beer. The bartender says, "Okay, I'll serve you a beer, just don't get any ideas."

Three strikes and I'm out of here!