Tuesday, December 18, 2012

It's been a while

Okay, I admit it. I've been AWOL for a while. I've been using my free time to learn Korean. Could I possibly get any more random than that? Probably not. But bear with me. I'm trying to finish a level by the end of the year, and hope to be back in the New Year. 다음에 보자

Monday, September 17, 2012

Happy Birthday, Emoticon!

Okay, I'm a few days early, but, heck, since I haven't posted in a few months, it's nice to be early instead of late. While flying on a Southwest flight recently, I read an article about the birth of the emoticon. What would we do without the emoticon these days? How could we wink online or frown? Ever wonder who thought of the idea to use punctuation marks to express emotions? (Yes, as you might imagine, I have.) Turns out that the father of the emoticon is Scott E. Fahlman, and the emoticon's birthday is September 19, 1982. Dr. Fahlman was part of a Computer Science community at Carnegie Melon back in the early 80s, and they had an online bulletin board to discuss everything from campus parking to politics. He says that sometimes people would post a sarcastic comment and others would fail to see the humor. That lead to some irate posts. So, he suggested that :-) could be used as a humor maker, and :-( could be used to mark anger, frustration, or disappointment. The idea caught on and spread to other universities, and then folks took the idea up a notch and created emoticons for surprise, Santa Claus, and many others. Now, we even have moving emoticons. Happy Birthday, Emoticon! :-)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Presidential Randoms

In honor of Presidents' Day, here are a few Presidential Randoms:

1. Theodore Roosevelt was the first U.S. President to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

2. George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, John Q. Adams, Andrew Jackson, and William Henry Harrison were all born British subjects.

3. James Buchanan was the only President never to marry.

4. Twenty-six Presidents were lawyers.

5. Both Ohio and Virginia claim to have produced the most presidents. Both lay claim to William Henry Harrison, who was born in Virginia, but later moved to Ohio and served as both a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senator from that state.

Monday, January 23, 2012


"A loyal friend laughs at your jokes when they're not so good, and
sympathizes with your problems when they're not so bad."

-- Arnold H. Glasow

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Happy New Year

Many folks have their own New Year's Eve traditions, and our family is no exception. For many years, we rang in the New Year with friends at the beach, but then a hurricane came along and wiped out all of the beach houses, so there went that tradition.

New traditions take time -- that's, uh, sorta wrapped up in the whole idea of "tradition." But we more or less have a new one.

Not really being late night people, we ring in the New Year with a place in an earlier time zone. (Okay, that's cheating a bit, but we get to go to bed earlier that way.)

This year, we rang in the New Year with Gander, Newfoundland.

Now, one of the interesting things about ringing in the New Year with Gander is that the town is located in Newfoundland Standard Time, which keeps time by subtracting 3 1/2 hours from Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). This is a special time zone used in Canada, and really only on the island of Newfoundland, its offshore islands, and southeastern Labrador communities south of Black Tickle.

This special situation arose because Newfoundland was a separate country when the time zones were created and because it lies exactly 3 1/2 hours from Greenwich. Greenwich is home to the Royal Observatory, which at one time provided the astronomical observations that served as the basis for Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). GMT is often now referred to as UTC. Thus bringing us back to the significance of Newfoundland being 3 1/2 hours from Greenwich.

And, that is a long way to say that we really rang in the New Year at 9:30 p.m. local time.

Here's wishing you a Healthy, Happy, and Prosperous New Year -- no matter what time zone you're in.

Monday, December 26, 2011

They Made Cheese out of What?

Just spent a wonderful week in Florida hitting all of the amusement parks that one family could possible take in a five day period, following by a fun-filled family Christmas at our house with the extended family. (Can you say "tired"?)

So, it's time to get back to reality and visit my poor, lonely blog. Tempted as I am to write Disney Randoms or Christmas Randoms, I'll be settling for Cheese Randoms because I just ran across a European delicacy -- mozzarella cheese made from cat's milk.

Several things hit my brain when I first heard about this:

1) How do they get the cats to submit to milking? Surely, these people have met cats. Or, are the cats heavily sedated?

2) Who thought -- "Hey, why don't we make cheese out of cat's milk?" Some say that it was the idea of Franco Latitante from the Italian village of Rosenato.

3) What other mammals had they already tried to milk before turning to a house cat? Cows, horses, goats, yaks -- these I understand, but house cats?

I'm really hoping that someone will chime in here and tell me that this is just a joke. Until then, I'm going to be suspicious of any mozzarella cheese offered to me . . .

Happy New Year everyone!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Antifreeze in her Veins

What critter can freeze for several years, thaw out and walk away? No, not your mean Aunt Helga.

A Siberian Salamander.

These critters can survive deep freezes of up to -50 degrees. (It's 50 degrees above zero today, and I'm cold. I can't even imagine -50. Okay, so maybe I'm a major cold weather wimp.)

The Siberian Salamander is able to create "antifreeze" chemicals in its blood. The exact mechanism through which it does so is not known, but other animals use glucose, glycerol and related compounds to protect themselves in a similar way.

As you might guess, these little animals are found primarily in Siberia, but they can also be found in in northern Kazakhstan and Mongolia, northeastern China, on the Korean Peninsula, and on Hokkaidō, Japan, in the Kushiro Shitsugen National Park. They are thought to have come from Korea originally.

Knowing that they are found in such places doesn't make me want to visit those places any time soon -- at least not in the winter!