Thursday, August 31, 2006

Queen Anne's Womb

The failure of England's Queen Anne to produce an heir is significant enough that one could argue the United States itself may not even exist today – at least not in its present form – if not for this singular event in the 18th century.

Anne came to the throne of England in 1702, when her brother-in-law, William III, died without an heir. William, of course, had been the William of William & Mary fame, Protestant co-regents who overthrew Mary and Anne’s Catholic father, James II, in the Glorious Revolution, bringing Protestantism to the English throne for good.

In 1701, after it had become apparent that Anne would succeed her childless brother-in-law, a succession crisis occurred because Anne did not have any children either. There was a fear that once Anne died, her half-brother, James Stuart, who was Catholic like their father, would take the throne. To keep that from happening, Parliament passed the Act of Settlement to ensure that Protestants remained on the throne. Thus, the Act decreed that the throne would pass, after Anne’s death, to Sophia, who was the Protestant regent of the German province of Hanover. Sophia was the granddaughter of James I, through James’s eldest daughter, Elizabeth. Princess Elizabeth had married into the Hanoverian royal family. James I had been Anne’s great-grandfather, making Sophia Anne’s second cousin.

It was through no easy, or even likely, path that Anne came to be without an heir. In fact, it’s the unlikeliness of the fact that she didn’t produce an heir that makes this story so interesting. She wasn’t barren, and her husband was not sterile. They tried desperately to produce offspring. Between 1684 and 1700, Anne was pregnant no less than eighteen times. Eighteen times! Twelve of those pregnancies produced stillborn children, including a set of stillborn twins. Of the remaining six children, three were born alive, but died the same day, and two died before the age of 2 years. That left Anne and her husband with only one child, William. William was not a healthy child, and had continual physical ailments, including the brain disorder hydrocephalus (although that wasn’t determined until after his death). In July of 1700, he got sick and was treated for smallpox. It didn’t work. He died five days after his 11th birthday.

Can you imagine the sadness that must have accompanied twelve stillborn children, five infant deaths, and the death at age 11 of your only surviving child? Indeed, the physical and emotional stress of all these pregnancies and stillbirths left Anne with chronic ill health and chronic pain disorders. She eventually died of complications from gout, and it was said that death brought her a sort of sweet release from pain and suffering. She had grown so obese in her later life, from her inability to get around much, that she had to be buried in a coffin that was square, rather than rectangular.

Sophia of Hanover had died only a few months before Anne. This meant that her son, George, became Anne’s heir. George was a full-blooded German, already quite old by 18th century standards when he took the throne (54 years old....he was, in fact, older than Anne by five years). He did not speak English, and never learned English fluently even after assuming the English throne in 1714. Additionally, he concerned himself primarily with Hanoverian issues, even after moving permanently to England.

When he died, his son, George II, took the throne. George II had also been born and raised in Germany, spoke German has his first language, and was so dismissive of English culture that he brought his own German court composer to England with him....a little somebody named George Frederick Handel. Apparently the English musicians weren’t good enough.

George II outlived his eldest son, so the throne passed to his grandson, George III. George III, of course, is the King George of American Revolution infamy.

The Georges were notoriously dismissive of the American colonies. The colonies had enjoyed relative peace with their parent country under Anne and the other Stuarts. But with the ascension of the heavy-handed and autocratic Hanoverians, the colonies began to develop unrest. Western expansion was limited in order to avoid wars with Native Americans, and this greatly upset many of the American colonists. Then heavy taxes began to be levied against the colonies, which ultimately led to things like the Boston Tea Party, the Intolerable Acts, and all the events leading up to the Revolution itself.

An argument, I believe, could be made that without the Hanoverians’ autocratic rule – particularly that of George III – the American Revolution would not have happened when and how it happened. It’s possible to even speculate that it wouldn’t have happened at all.

And of course, the worldwide changes in history just snowball from there.

Without the American Revolution in the 1770’s and ‘80’s, there would have been no French Revolution in the 1790’s. Without the French Revolution, there would have been no Napoleon, and no French Empire. Without the French Empire, not to mention the United States, all of 19th century history would have been altered. For instance, there would have been no Civil War. No Abe Lincoln.

Additionally, without the Hanoverians’ rise to power, there would have been no Queen Victoria, thus no Victorian Age in England, and all the effects Victoria had on her country and the world.

Without the loss of the American colonies, British expansion into South Africa and India may not have happened, or at least not on the same scale. Thus, all of the sordid history of British colonialism in Indian and South African is altered.

All the events causing and leading to World War I would have been wiped out. Without a World War I, you have no Russian Revolution, and thus no USSR, and you have no Hitler and no World War II. Without a USSR, you have no Cold War, and there is no United States to have a Cold War with anyway.

And without these major events, even individual lives would have been greatly changed. World events shape our lives, and even our very existences. Without the wars and upheavals to mix populations around, people would have married different spouses, had children at different times. Diseases may have spread differently around the population, altering the population trends from what we know today. It’s possible that history would have changed so much that no one alive today would be alive today...instead, there would be a whole different generation of people with a different world view, a different understanding of reality, and a different set of experiences.

Of course, different events would have occurred in place of the events that we know and study today. A United States-type country would have eventually evolved from the American colonies, for instance. But Spanish influence in North America may have been stronger, due to the absence of French influence, as well as the lack of an independent country in place on the mainland of the continent. Wars would have happened, but they would have been different wars, with different circumstances. Again, all these differences would have led to a completely different population set. You and I wouldn’t be here discussing this.

All the major events of western history over the last 300 years would have been inexorably changed, or negated all together, without the inability of Queen Anne to produce an heir.

In that sense, I believe it’s not unreasonable to say that Queen Anne’s womb is the most important thing in western history.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Daily Update

Weight: 223

Currently Reading (fiction): Keep the Aspidistra Flying, George Orwell. I’ve read this book twice before, but not since college (or maybe right after college). It’s one of Orwell’s most satirical books, but also the only one that actually has a happy ending. It’s all about a young aspiring writer’s struggle to get published and support himself financially in the meantime, all while not giving into the “money world.” Sound like anyone you know?

Currently Reading (non-fiction): Walking the Bible, Bruce Feiler. I actually haven’t started this one yet...I planned on starting it last night, but I was too tired.

Currently Listening To: My Favorite Headache, Geddy Lee.

Rush Lyric of the Day: We’ve taken care of everything, the words you read and the songs you sing.

Hailey Update: Hailey’s behavior has just been atrocious this week. It started on Sunday and was bad all day, and then bad yesterday and this morning too. We’ve been trying to get her to go to the bathroom, and she’s been going through the typical shenanigans of dirtying her underwear, and then not going when we force her on to the toilet. She’s started screaming bloody murder – full, open mouth, screaming at the top of her lungs – when we make her sit on the toilet. Over and over and over again. Scream, scream, scream. Then she screams more when I flush the toilet, irrationally terrified that it’s going to get plugged up. She won’t go to bed at night. She acts up in the morning because she’s tired. She won’t talk at school and tries to hang on to my arm when I drop her off, so I can’t leave. I was late to work this morning. It’s so frustrating and makes me feel utterly incapable of handling her. I’ve seriously been thinking this week that we may need to get her some counseling. I don’t know what to do with her. She’s utterly unparentable at times. Either that, or we’re utterly incapable of parenting.

Work/Money Update: We’ve got a new receptionist – our third now since I started – and Joel’s last day was Friday. I paid our bills last night and even with Melanie’s extra paycheck in August, we’re still not ahead. As always, as soon as you get ahead in one area, you fall behind somewhere else – she got that extra paycheck this month, but this month we also had to pay $140 for Hailey’s dance class, and Melanie’s car insurance was due. So if it’s not one thing, it’s another. It’s so annoying. Every time there is a chance to get ahead, something smacks you back down. I don’t know how I can expect to start X-ray tech school and work two jobs, even if the second job is just a day or two each week. When will I have time to write, much less spend time with my family or read or anything else?

Lexington Plane Crash Update: This plane crash happened about 4 miles from our house, as the crow flies. One of the main landing lanes for the airport goes right over our neighborhood, so we see planes all the time. I haven’t seen a complete passenger list yet, but from what I’ve seen and heard so far, I didn’t personally know anyone on the plane. But of course, there are a lot of people around who did know people. Several of the teachers at Melanie’s school knew people, and the father of one of the little boys at Hailey’s school (not in her class) was on the flight. Also, my friend Bill up in Cincinnati...his mother was a neighbor in Burlington with the pilot.

Today in History, August 29:

1350 – The naval Battle of Winchelsea is won by the English under the command of Edward III and his son, the Black Prince, over a Spanish fleet.

1533 – The last Inca emperor, Atahualpa, is executed by Spanish conquistadors.

1831 – Michael Faraday discovers electromagnetic induction.

1877 – Death of Brigham Young, and the beginning of his journey to Kolob.

1896 – Chop suey is invented...in NEW YORK CITY.

1911 – Ishi, the last known member of the Native American Yana people, emerges from the wilderness and makes contact for the first time with European Americans. He is the last known Native American to live the majority of his life outside of contact with European American society. His name was given to him by anthropologists. In the Yana tradition, it was bad luck to say one’s own name, and since he was the only surviving member of his tribe, no one ever knew what his real name was.

1915 – Birth of Ingrid Bergman.

1952 – The premiere of John Cage’s Four Minutes and Thirty-Three Seconds. It was a piano piece in three movements, with no notes. It was literally 4 minutes and 33 seconds of silence.

1958 – Birth of Michael Jackson.

1966 – The last Beatles concert takes place in San Francisco, California.

1982 – Death of Ingrid Bergman.

2005 – Hurricane Katrina makes landfall on the Gulf Coast.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Today in History

I've already put up one post today, but the Today in History was too interesting not to post as well, so I'll just have to have two blog posts today, neither of which will probably be read by anyone :)

Today in History, August 24:

49 BCE – Gaius Curio, a general under the command of Julius Caesar, is killed in battle in Numidia, in northern Africa, during the Second Battle of the Bagradas River.

79 – Mount Vesuvius erupts in southern Italy, burying the towns of Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Stabiae. Pliny the Elder, a writer and naturalist whose written works survive to this day, is killed in an effort to witness the eruption up close.

410 – The Visigoths, under the command of Alaric, begin a three-day pillaging of Rome. It is the first time Rome is sacked in over 700 years. (This, as you may know, is the subject of one of my books...as yet unfinished.)

1113 – Geoffrey V, Count of Anjou, is born in Normandy. He adopts the broom flower as his personal emblem, even wearing it sometimes in his hat, and earns the surname “Plantagenet,” which means “broom flower” in French. His son will become king of England as Henry II, thus making Geoffrey the patriarch of the English Plantagenet dynasty, which would last until the late 15th century.

1349 – 6,000 Jews in Mainz, Germany are executed, under the suspicion that they caused the Bubonic Plague.

1456 – The printing of the Gutenberg Bible is completed. Gutenberg, ironically, was from Mainz, Germany.

1459 – 30,000 Transylvanian merchants and officials are impaled under the orders of Vlad Dracul, also known as Vlad the Impaler.

1680 – Death of Thomas Blood who, 9 years earlier, had stolen the British Crown Jewels from the Tower of London, only to be captured as he tried to make his escape. Charles II, for reasons not fully known, pardoned him for the crime.

1814 – British troops enter Washington, D.C. and burn down the White House.

1891 – Thomas Edison patents his motion picture camera.

1932 – Amelia Earhart lands in Newark, New Jersey, having taken off from Los Angeles, California. She becomes the first woman to fly across the United States.

1942 – The Battle of the Eastern Solomons begins, in which the Japanese aircraft carrier Ryujo is sunk, and the U.S. carrier Enterprise is heavily damaged.

1958 – On the 502nd anniversary of the completion of the Gutenberg Bible, actor Steve Guttenberg is born.

1960 – Vostock, Antarctica, records a temperature of –127 degrees Fahrenheit, the lowest temperature ever recorded.

1971 – On the 1,892nd anniversary of the destruction of Pompeii, Pink Floyd performs a famous concert in a Pompeii amphitheater.

1989 – Pete Rose is given a lifetime ban from baseball by Commissioner A. Fartlett Giamatti. Giamatti died 8 days later.

1990 – Judas Priest is absolved from any responsibility for two teens who committed suicide after listening to their music.

1991 – Gorby resigns as head of the U.S.S.R.

The Nature of Reality

You know you’re getting older when just about every woman under the age of 40 seems attractive. And a heck of lot of the 40+ women are good looking too.

Maybe it’s not that I’m getting older, but rather just hornier.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the nature of reality. Is reality what we think it is, or are we like ants on the side of the highway who think they know what’s going on, but in reality have absolutely no idea?

Is the whole universe just a computer simulation? Are we just characters in a cosmic game? Am I the only one who truly has consciousness? Maybe we all have our own simulation. In my simulation, my neighbor may jump off a cliff, but in his simulation, he doesn’t. In my simulation, a friend may get killed in a car accident, but in his simulation, he survives. Maybe I won’t ever die because I would never choose to die in my own simulation.

The only hole in this argument is this: If this is my simulation, I’d make every woman on earth my concubine. And that ain’t happening, so there’s gotta be a glitch somewhere.

But in all seriousness, there must be more to reality than what we actively perceive. I watched one of those news magazine shows on ABC last night (Prime Time, I think), and they had a story on two identical twins separated at birth. These women never knew they had an identical twin, until one of them began searching for her biological mother in her mid-30’s and discovered that she had an identical twin who had been adopted to different parents. They met each other in 1995.

At their first meeting, which was recorded, they both brought gifts, and the gifts ended up being the exact same thing. And it wasn’t a sweater or a CD or some common object that could easily get duplicated. It was a little coaster with a painting on it and a short poem. The odds of such a coincidence are astronomical. And that’s not the only time they’ve gotten each other the same gift for a holiday or birthday. And of course, they have the experiences of one picking up the phone to call the other, and the phone rings right at that moment and it’s the other sister. Or they sense something’s wrong and they call and something bad has happened, etc, etc.

Clearly there is something else going on there – a crossing of brain waves or something.

Anyway, I just think there’s a lot more to reality than we perceive or understand. I’m not necessarily suggesting it’s a “supernatural” phenomenon...I’m sure it can be explained scientifically, and will be some day...but it’s just important not to assume that we perceive and understand everything.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Daily Update

Weight: 220

Currently Reading (fiction): Black Order, James Rollins. This is a pretty good book about secret Nazi science research on evolution and superhumans.

Currently Reading (non-fiction): Beyond the Influence, Katherine Ketcham, et al.

Rush Lyrics of the Day: Apollo was astonished, Dionysus thought them mad.

Food Update: I seem to eat pretty well during the week, and then eat really terribly on the weekend. I think this may be what causes me to have stomach issues on the weekend, but seemingly never during the week. Today I’ve had oatmeal with flaxseed and blueberries, and green tea.

ESP Update: As I’ve been discussing via email, I keep having these weird ESP-like coincidences, which I’m sure are just that...coincidences. Last night, I dreamed of someone I went to college with who was just a distant acquaintance, someone I knew because he had friends who were PHA’s, and because Georgetown is so small, but otherwise, we weren’t friends or anything. I haven’t seen this person in I don’t know how long, and haven’t even thought about him in years. Then out of nowhere, I dreamed about him last night. So today, I’ve been convinced I’m going to see him, or hear something about him, or something like that. I’ll keep you updated as to whether or not that happens. It’d be weird if it did, wouldn’t it?

Reds v. Astros Update: Reds beat the Astros in Cincinnati last night, 14-0. I missed most of the runs (as they were mostly scored in the 2nd and 3rd innings), but watched the final 4 innings. I think the Astros season is pretty much over. The Reds are only a game out of 1st in the Central now, and are up by 2 games in the Wild Card. I hope that this little 4-game win streak they’re on is the beginning of a strong finish that will propel them into the playoffs. Despite being only 1 game out of 1st and leading the Wild Card, this is the first 4-game winning streak they’ve had since the first four games after the All-Star Break.

Job Update: Well I’m pretty damn depressed over my job situation. Despite getting an unexpected raise (which I suspect was a kiss-ass attempt to keep me here), I still am not making very good money and the support staff around here are dropping like flies. My friend Joel’s last day is Friday, and another legal assistant...Megan...quit today and didn’t come back. That means that there will now be only one full-time legal assistant who has been here longer than me. We’ve had 3 legal assistants quit in the last month, and 4 since I started, as well as losing two receptionists (one of the receptionists was promoted to fill a legal assistant vacancy). We’ve also had a number of runners and file clerks come and go. I’ve only been here 8 months, and already I’m one of the most “senior” members of the legal assistant staff. The turn over here is horrendous. You’d think that would tell them something, and, as I said, I think that’s why they gave me a raise out of nowhere, but you can’t expect to keep good employees when you’re paying them 23K per year or less. This is 2006, after all, not 1990. But it just makes me depressed because it seems like everyone else is moving on to bigger and better things, while I sit stuck here. I saw someone drive by today in a Scotts Lawn Service truck, and I actually felt jealous of him. Melanie and I are busting out of that little house, and the clutter makes me crazy, and we just need more room, but we can’t even THINK about moving, because I don’t make enough money. We made more money, and had a much larger house, when we were 25 and had no kids, than we do now, at 31, with 2 kids. That’s really, really frustrating.

Daycare Update: We’ve discovered that apparently Hailey doesn’t talk at Daycare. Literally. She apparently doesn’t talk at all, and they joke with her that she doesn’t have a voice. I hate that she is so uber-shy like that. I’m afraid she’s going to be like I was and have trouble in high school. Melanie says, however, that Sarah was really shy like that too at Hailey’s age, and she’s not shy at all now, and wasn’t as a teenager.

Today in History, August 23:

93 – Birth of Gnaeus Julius Agricola, Roman governor of Britain.

1305 – William Wallace is executed for leading a Scottish rebellion against the English.

1754 – Birth of the last French monarch, Louis XVI. He would lose his head some 39 years later.

1784 – The counties of eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina secede and declare themselves an independent state, named Franklin. This is ultimately rejected by Congress several years later and the counties are returned to their original states.

1799 – Napoleon bids farewell to Egypt and sets sail for France, where he will ultimately seize power.

1821 – Mexico gains its independence from Spain.

1914 – Japan declares war on Germany, and celebrates by bombing Tsingtao, China, which was a German colony.

1927 – Sacco and Venzetti, two Italian anarchists, are executed for murder in Massachusetts. The case becomes famous because they were found guilty on very sketchy evidence, despite having alibis, and were most likely the victims of anti-Italian prejudice. (I had to do a mini-thesis paper on this case for my Senior Seminar in History in college.)

1940 – Germany begins a campaign of bombing raids on London.

1942 – The Battle of Stalingrad begins. The battle would be the bloodiest in human history, with more than 1.5 million casualties, including over 40,000 civilian deaths. The Luftwaffe in the battle was led by Field Marshall Wolfram von Richthofen, a former World War I flying ace, who was a cousin to the Red Baron.

1966 – The Lunar Orbiter 1 takes the first ever photograph of the earth from the moon.

1979 – Russian Ballet dancer Alexander Gudonov defects to the United States, causing an international incident between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R.

1992 – Hurricane Andrew hits Florida. It was the most destructive storm in U.S. history until Katrina in 2005.

1958 – Birth of Julio Franco. That makes him 48 today. And he’s STILL playing major league baseball. He made his major league debut in 1982. He’s the oldest position player in history.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Weekend Adventures

My weekend was rather busy and somewhat adventurous.

On Friday afternoon, I headed up to Cincinnati to meet up with some friends from Counterparts (the Rush message board) to watch the Reds play the Pirates. These are people who I know primarily from the religion forum at Counterparts.

Patti and Bill were already there when I arrived, and then we sat outside and chatted while waiting for Mike. Mike lives in Minnesota, but was on a 12-day bus tour with his son, visiting various baseball parks in the northeast.

They finally arrived after a few minutes and we all headed over to the Reds Hall of Fame, which is basically a Reds museum. On the way into the museum, we passed Chris Sabo, the former Red and 1988 Rookie of the Year. He was the star third baseman for the Reds’ 1990 World Series team. He still has a flat-top, but has lost the glasses in favor (apparently) of contacts. He basically looks like an accountant or high school math teacher. It’s hard to believe he is a retired professional athlete. Bill, who will absolutely talk to anyone, said hi to him, and Chris returned the greeting as though they knew each other.

The museum was pretty neat, although we didn’t have nearly enough time to look at everything. But they had exhibits going all the way back to the 1869 Reds team that apparently had a 20-game winning streak and was given a parade through the city to recognize their accomplishments. They have a whole wall of 4,256 baseballs, commemorating Pete Rose’s career hit total, as well as a recreation of the Reds’ clubhouse, circa 1990. They even had the actual jersey that Eric Davis was wearing in Game 4 of the 1990 World Series when he dove for a ball and injured himself. According to the sign, the grass stain is still on the shoulder, but I couldn’t see it.
















We had nosebleed seats, but the view to Kentucky is spectacular!

The game itself proved to be a disappointment. The Reds played terribly, losing 7-3 to the Pirates, who are about 30 games under .500. Be that as it may, we had a great time chatting throughout the game and talking about religion, as we have a tendency to do.

The one bright spot of the night was when they played an obscure Rush song...The Analog Kid...over the P.A. system in between innings. I've heard them play Rush only one time in all the trips I've made to that park, and that was their most recongizable and popular song, Tom Sawyer, played prior to the game. And yet, on the night when a group of us from the Rush Message Board are at the game, they play a song during the game, and an obscure one at that! I bet less than 100 people in that stadium even knew what song it was!













From left to right, Mike's son Alex, Bill's son Neil, Bill, me, and Mike.

After the game, we all made our separate ways, and I walked back across the Roebling Bridge to where my car was parked.














I took several pictures on the way, and then when I got to the area where my car was, a fireworks show began across the river at the park. So I took some snapshots of the fireworks, although they did not turn out as well as I had hoped.

















My camera isn’t all that good for these kinds of shots, I don’t think.

Note to self: Ask for a new camera for Christmas.

I got home about midnight and was then up again on Saturday morning at 7:30 to head to Lake Cumberland. Melanie's parents rented a nice house in a resort area down there for the weekend ($300 a night), and our family, Sarah's family, and Melanie's parents all went down.

Gerald has gotten his boat out this summer for the first time in about 10 years, and has had it worked on for about 3 weeks. So this was the first time actually putting it in the water. The weekend proved not so good for getting on the lake, as it took us a long time to find a suitable boat ramp (there was one right across the road from where we were staying, but Gerald felt it was too steep), and then it rained.

However, the house was nice, and it had a big hot tub and pool table and nice amenities. All in all it was a good weekend, except that both Melanie and I ended up with the runs last night. But hey, you win some you lose some. And in this case, we both lost quite a bit.













This pool table was up in the loft, where there was also a full bathroom and two double beds.














A fully screened in porch, with the only access coming from inside the house. The hot tub was at the far end.



Getting ready to leave on Sunday morning, and back home.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Daily Update

Weight: 225

Currently Reading (fiction): Nothing.

Just Finished (fiction): The Eye of the Needle, Ken Follett.

Currently Reading (non-fiction): Beyond the Influence...I don’t remember the authors’ names. It’s a stop drinking book, recommended to me by someone on an AA board I post on. It’s really good. Highly advised for anyone wanting to stop drinking.

Currently Listening To: Anthem, Rush.

Rush Lyrics of the Day: I want to look at life in the available light.

Money Update: Some unexpected raises in salaries have gone a long way to help bridge the gap that Melanie and I were experiencing due to having Sydney in daycare now. I may be able to avoid having to work a second job, at least for the time being. I may, however, see about working one or two shifts per week in the kitchen at Don Pablo’s, just to make sure we have a little padding. I’ll have to see what they have available and are willing to offer me.

Weekend Update: I’m going on Friday to Cincinnati to see the Reds play the Astros. While there, I am meeting up with three friends of mine from the Rush Message Board. One is a Cincinnati police officer, another is an electrical engineer from Minnesota who is on a 12-day bus trip with his kids seeing baseball games at various parks around the country, and the last is a housewife from rural Ohio. You couldn’t get a wider array of backgrounds, and yet we all find commonality in Rush. It’s sort of like a cult that way. :) Actually, these are friends I have made in the religion forum on the Rush Message Board. The cop is an evangelical Christian, the housewife is a former Christian, now an agnostic/weak atheist, and the electrical engineer grew up a Jehovah’s Witness, turned atheist, then turned agnostic. All really great people. I’m looking forward to meeting them in real life.

Hailey’s Christmas Present Update: I finally put together the all-wood kitchen that Hailey got from Santa Claus for Christmas. We had to move some of her other stuff out of the room to make room for it, which is why we hadn’t put it up before now. It’s like a piece of furniture...when we move, it will move as a single piece. She loves it, though. Here are a few pictures of it:















Today in History, August 16:

1355 – Birth of Phillippa Plantagenet, granddaughter of Edward III. She married the powerful Edmund Mortimer, and this connection of the Mortimer family to the ruling family of England eventually paved the way for the House of York to take the throne under Edward IV in 1461, following the War of the Roses.

1777 – American Revolution: At the Battle of Bennington, the British are defeated by the Americans. (Americans 1, British 0)

1780 – American Revolution: At the Battle of Camden, the Americans are defeated by the British. (Americans 1, British 1)

1812 – War of 1812: Fort Detroit is surrendered to the British without a fight. (Americans 1, British 2 – The British win the Battle for August 16th Supremacy.)

1858 – President James Buchanan sends the first telegraph signal to Queen Victoria of England. What he says is kept secret, but the phrase is uncovered in 1901, following Queen Victoria’s death, among her personal journals. Buchanan telegraphed the following, “Nice tits, Vickie.”

1868 – 25,000 people in Arica, Peru are killed in a tsunami caused by an 8.5 magnitude earthquake in the Pacific Ocean.

1888 – Birth of Lawrence of Arabia.

1896 – Gold is discovered in a tributary to the Klondike River, setting off the Klondike Gold Rush.

1914 – One of the first major battles of World War I, the Battle of Cer, begins between the Austro-Hungarians and Serbians. Nearly 25,000 men are killed.

1920 – Cleveland Indians shortstop Ray Chapman – a native of Beaver Dam, Kentucky – is hit in the head by a pitch thrown by Carl Mays of the New York Yankees. The ball hits him so hard, it bounces all the way back to Mays near the mound. Mays thinks the ball had hit the bat, because of the sound it made when it hit Chapman’s skull, and he fields the ball and throws to first base. Chapman dies the next day, becoming the only major leaguer in history to die from an injury received during a game.

1920 – On the same day that Chapman was hit by Mays’s pitch, my favorite modern poet, Charles Bukowski, was born.

1942 – The crew of a Navy blimp disappears without a trace while in flight over the Pacific Ocean. The blimp floats unmanned all the way to California, where it crashes.

1946 – Birth of Elissa’s lesbian lover fantasy woman, Leslie Ann Warren.

1948 – Death of Babe Ruth.

1960 – Joseph Kittinger parachutes over New Mexico from 102,000 feet, setting 3 world records for highest altitude jump, longest free fall, and fastest human speed outside a vehicle.

1969 – Charles Manson and the Manson Family are arrested at Spahn Ranch, in California.

1972 – The Moroccan Air Force mistakenly fires on the plane of their own King, Hassan II, but fails to bring him down. Hassan is, understandably, pissed.

1975 – Ted Bundy is arrested for minor burglary, but later escapes.

1977 – Death of Elvis Presley.

1987 – Northwest Airlines flight 255 crashes in Detroit on takeoff, killing 155 passengers and crew. A 4-year old girl unaccountably survives the crash.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Daily Update

Weight: 222

Currently Reading (fiction): The Eye of the Needle, Ken Follett. WWII intrigue, which Follett is really good at. Apparently this was a huge bestseller in the late 70’s when it was first published.

Currently Reading (non-fiction): Nothing.

Currently Listening To: Manhattan Project, Rush

Rush Lyrics of the Day: The hopeful depend on a world without end, whatever the hopeless may say.

Doctor Update: The doctor told me yesterday I have IBS. Wonderful. He’s actually told me I had this before, in 2002 when I was going through a lot of stress and having similar symptoms to what I’m having right now. I am scheduled to see a gastroenterologist in September, just to rule out anything else. He’s certain, however, that it’s IBS. I just have to watch what I eat (which I do, most of the time, anyway), and deal with it. Today I’ve been fine.

Yoga Update: I’ve done yoga two nights in a row now. I had stopped, as you may know, for over a year, but I am finally getting back into it, and am enjoying it. I also meditated for about an hour last night.

Work-Out Update: I’ve been using the ski machine at home, walking, and doing push-ups. My pecs are sore from the push-ups. And so far, I’ve only been doing girl push-ups...the kind with the knees on the ground. And even so, I can only do about 15 at once. My, how the mighty have fallen. What happened to the guy who could bench press 230? And that was just a year ago!! It sucks to work out for years, and then get away from it, and then try to go back and see how far you’ve fallen. You take years to build up to something, and then it all goes away within a matter of months if you stop.

Food Update: Oatmeal with flaxseed and blueberries for breakfast. Black beans and cheez-its for lunch. Two cups of green tea.

Job Update: Make your checks payable to me, in increments of $2,000. Thank you.

Daycare Update: The kids are doing well so far in daycare. Hailey enjoyed her first day yesterday, and was excited about going back today. Melanie said that Sydney did well yesterday, and the sitter said she was a “good baby” and, in fact, much better than her other baby.

Today in History, August 8:

1863 – Robert E. Lee sends a letter of resignation to Jefferson Davis, following his defeat at the Battle of Gettysburg. The resignation is refused.

1918 – The Black Day of the German Army, when the allies advanced 7 miles, beginning the Battle of Amiens, and ultimately leading to the Armistice just three months later.

1974 – Richard Nixon announces his resignation due to the Watergate Scandal.

2000 – The Confederate submarine Hunley is raised from Charleston Harbor, where it sank during the Civil War. It was the first submarine in history to sink a warship, but it also sank in the same attack. The salvage operation was led by adventure novelist Clive Cussler.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Donations Accepted

I really have to find a new job.

The kids are starting daycare on Monday, and that means Melanie and I are going to be officially "in the hole" each week in terms of how much we're bringing in, and how much is going out.

She is going to take them for just a few hours each day next week, to get them used to it, but we still have to pay the full price. It's an additional 900 dollars per month. That's like buying a second house and having two house payments.

I have been looking for some time now, and have gone on one interview, but nothing has come up yet that pays enough.

Please send all donations to our address, checks made payable to me, in $1,000 increments.

Thank you.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Dead Batteries, X-ray Techs, and Other Musings

Melanie called me at work at about 5:20 last night to say she was broken down just outside the parking lot of Central Bank. There is an access road there, running parallel with New Circle Road, and she was sitting trying to turn onto New Circle from the access road, when her car died. It was about 95 degrees, with high humidity, and she had the kids in the car with her.

Fortunately, I was able to get over there in 7 or 8 minutes from work. Because of where she was sitting, we couldn’t have jumped it, so we had to get it towed about 2 miles down the road to Green’s Toyota. We think it’s just a dead battery, and the car place is supposed to call today to verify that. I had noticed this weekend that it was acting lethargic and labored when I would start it...the engine would turn slowly at first, instead of crisply starting like usual. Hopefully it won’t set us back too much.

Funny thing is, at lunch yesterday, I was putting oil in my own car, and while I was doing that, I glanced at my battery and thought to myself, “I wonder if that needs to be changed.”

The weather here has been really hot the last few weeks – temperatures in the 90’s every day, with humidity putting the heat index near or above 100. Our air conditioning was on all day yesterday, set to 72, and yet it was still 74 in the house after 10 p.m. last night. It was as high as 77 at one point in the late afternoon...and that’s despite the AC running.

Melanie has been looking up information for me on radiology tech programs and there appear to be two decent ones in Lexington. One is at Spencerian and is apparently a new, state-of-the-art oriented program that’s expensive and longer than most, but is supposedly the best program around. Lexington Community College also has one, which is cheaper and more average than the one at Spencerian. The good thing about that, though, is in addition to the lower cost, I could take classes at the Leestown Road campus, which is about a mile from my house. Not sure where Spencerian is.

Spencerian has rolling admission every quarter, but LCC only has entry in the fall, and the final day to apply for this fall is today. I’ll probably go ahead and apply to LCC, just to see if I get in, and then look more closely at the program and decide if I think it’s adequate, or if I’d rather go to Spencerian. Another thing about Spencerian is that it has a more flexible schedule in terms of nights and weekends...which I have to have, since I have to work during the day.

Om Mani Padme Hum

Serene Musings Books of the Year, 2005-2015