Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Bertrice Smalll, Patricia McCallister and Dean Koontz

I was re-reading The Silk Merchants Daughter, vol. 3 and realized at the end that I should look up the fourth daughter Serena's book.   It was not listed on Amazon.  So I googled Bertrice Small and discovered to my dismay that she had died in 2015.  Well shoot.  Amazon feed suggested Patricia McCallister's book Snow Raven.  So I purchased that one and discovered that this particular book fits nicely in Small's Historical Novel niche.  Snow Raven is the tale of a spirited woman who has decided to meet her fiancĂ© for a meet and greet.  She is captured by the younger brother of the Wolf of Badan sumpin sumpin and she is taken hither there and who happens to be mortal enemies to her fiancĂ©.   This action upsets the various monarchies involved in both Scotland and England who demand they marry.  There are subplots and spirited this and that.  Gorgeous descriptions of clothing, meals, landscapes quite poetic.  Eventually the villains meet their comeuppance, evil plots are foiled etc.  I enjoyed the book thoroughly.

Also quite coincidentally I watched the last five damn minutes of Odd Thomas and based on that alone, decided to download the first two chapters of the book.  My brother gifted me with many Odd Thomas books a decade ago but with time and shrinking font size of books, neglected to read this one by Dean Koontz.  Thank you Dean, this was a perfect book.  I am in mourning and haven't quite decided if I can navigate the remaining Odd Thomas books.  Maybe in a month or two I will brave a sample of two chapters worth of the next book in the series.  I shall have to watch the entire movie now just to see if casting is worthy of the 400 lb Ozzie and the other magnificent characters who know, love and fear  the Odd one.  Sniff.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Late night comedy

I recently discovered the I Heart Radio icon on my Kindle apps.  There is a sub category of comedy.  Lots of short bits by various stand up comics.  Extremely funny, and laugh out loud mostly except for the stand ups sound like they are experimenting.

I got to thinking what if I tried Stand Up?  Hmm, first of all there is a generation gap...of several generations.  The average audience is up to the minute. Who would want to listen to Grandma?

Pretty sure menopause jokes would not umm resonate.  And I have listened to The Moth Hour which is sometimes funny and the audience seems pretty accepting.  So the best I could hope for is an audience of empathetic NRP hipsters.  I don't even have an NPR type name like Ndinka Apenbaum.

Soooo....relying on life experience here goes. I worked for 35 years in Health Care, specifically medical records.  That basically meant that I could spell it and did not have to smell it.  One of my very earliest doctor was a lovely old fellow who needed help changing the tape on the dictation machine.  All he wanted was for me to take the tape out and turn it to side B.

Prior to that my early life experiences including learning practical things.  I have yet to determine why it did not occur to Mom to tell me to subtract the monthly bank fee BEFORE writing the bouncing check. 

One time I was short of enough change to purchase soap at the laundromat and looked around, there was no one in the place but there was a pay phone.  So thinking fast I dialed zero and asked the operator if she could give me change for a quarter.  No ma'am.  I also learned that colorful yarn booties would shrink to a size minus zero when washed in hot water. Pretty sure Mom told me about that but I forgot.

G'night folks, you have been great!!!

Monday, May 29, 2017


Carl's place near Berryessa cut.  He writes a very nice blog and post multiple pictures of goats, chickens, lots of varied size dogs, one cat and occasionally ducks.  They live in um..harmony. Yeah, that's it. Go take a look.  I hope I put the link in correctly. If not go Google Crazyachers@wordpress.com.  Derrr.


Monday, February 13, 2017

Two fer's

Dreams; Two --

First dream of last night:  I dreamt that I was moving, dunno where, but it felt New Yorkish or San Franciscoish.  We were in the apartment, couldn't find all my boxes.  The kitchen didn't have any appliances in it.  The flat was a simple one bedroom, bath, open living, dining, incomplete kitchen.  What!?  There were sliders to the deck so I went outside. The deck was huge, went out 40 feet or so and was covered in indoor outdoor carpet.  There were lumpy protrusions underneath the carpet.  I said to Charlie (Apparently he was helping me move) lets look under the carpet.  We pulled the carpet back and there were huge windows down into a very large apartment and I exclaimed, "There are my boxes!" Sure enough there all sorts of moving boxes down below.  Yay! And the kitchen had appliances.  So we went down there and there was some weird furniture along two walls, sort of like a banquet only the seats were individual chairs rather on the small side, no table.  There were 13 chairs along both sides of the wall and I wondered out loud if a coven of witches used to live here. At one point I looked outside, there was a small one way lane going downhill into a two way highway, so we had parking.  Charlie urged me to hurry up as we would be late to the Giants game.  Then I woke up.  Neither of us would go see a Giants game having never been interested in the sport. 

Second dream of last night: I dreamt that I was foot racing. I was competing against some other people who were racing kind of long distance in some kind of endurance race. (Two words not usually associated with myself; endurance and race).  There were lots of people watching and it must have also been timed as no winner was declared.  I noticed that the girl ahead of me was naked.  So I looked down and sure enough I was naked.  Dammit, I hate when that happens, fortunately no one seemed to think anything of it.  Sheesh.

I only ate my usual small frequent meals as the elderly are coached to do, so can't blame weird ingredients on content of dreams. Oh well.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Staph and Penicillin, what a story!!

Radiolab did a story on Penicillin, how it was discovered in 1928 accidentally.  The petri dishes were left out over the weekend and when the lab assistant gathered them up one dish was spotted with multiple dead zones.  Something had killed the staphylococcus.  Voila, Penicillin.  It was not until 1944 that Penicillin was ready to be used.  Unfortunately it was resistant to staph with a year or so.   The search for other penicillin commenced until today because of resistance, we only have one or two drugs capable of taking down MRSA.

Next Radiolab interviewed two women from England; one is a microbiologist who likes to play Vikings etc as a hobby and the other is a historian who specializes in Vikings and who likes microbiology as a hobby.  These two hooked up, compared hobbies and decided to conduct some research.  They found a 1000 year old book, sort of a herbalist book with cures and etc.  They had a nice digital copy to read in Old English, one of the two ladies was expert in Old English.  The books was called Bald Leach. (name of the author I think).  They eliminated most recipes that promised to purge the devil and narrowed their search to perhaps obtainable ingredients.  They found one recipe that ended, "The best medicine". It was a recipe for curing wens, or stys in the eye, which was caused by staph aureus.  Ah HAH!  They decided to assemble the ingredients to make the concoction.  First item was garlic and first ingredient was related to onions so they used onion as the second ingredient.  Third ingredient called for ox bile.  Apparently it is not as uncommon as you might think and they were able to obtain a supply of ox bile.  Last ingredient was wine.  They deduced that they would use a winery near where the book was originally written.  The last thing called for it to be mixed in a brass kettle.   They didn't have a brass kettle and threw in a copper penny which was a near equivalent.

Next came chopping and much mashing in mortar and pestle.  Next part of the recipe was to cover the mixture for 9 days.  They explained that medieval recipes had to provide a length of time to process ingredients and if it called for four Hail Mary's, that was roughly the equivalent of 20 minutes.  Because.  There.  Were.  No.  Clocks.  y'see.

After nine days the mixture was put on  simulated wounds smeared with staph.  They checked back the next day and 99.99% of the staph was dead, dead, DEAD.  They couldn't believe it.  They re-ran the experiment again and again.   Same result.  Discussion held, why did this recipe fall into disuse.  They conjectured that the staph grew resistant, the mixture no longer worked, so fell into disuse.

This raises an interesting question if a non penicillin mixture can kill staph in the 21st century, after being inactive for hundreds of years, is it possible for penicillin to be left fallow for a few years to let the resistant organisms die out then cycle the older penicillin back into use?  Anybody out there trying this?  After all it takes 10 years and a billion dollars to manufacture another drug.

I do not know if there is any follow up to the Sty treatment but seems like some homeopathic outfit would jump all over this yeah?

And, I know for a fact that MRSA can be literally scrubbed from a wound in skin wound cases and this works topically only.  The thought of someone scrubbing my infected wound with a dilute mixture of bleach makes my skin crawl, but if it works, better than having MRSA eat yer face.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Things places are famous for....

Yet another Radiolab enlightening me in the evening.

This one was about the island of Guadalupe which is located about 400 miles east of Puerto Rico.
The reporter visited and interviewed several different people.  One couple were farmers their main crop was watermelons. They have a chronic problem.  Their watermelons have been attacked.  The reporter was showed these gigantic water melons weighing between 20 and 25 lbs.  Several of them had a small round hole in the side about two inches across.   The insides were completely empty.
Each year they lose about one third of their crop. The raiders are raccoons.  They put up electric fences and the raccoons learned to lean a branch against the wires to cross the fence.  They set out a large metal trap cage.  The cage disappeared.  They found the cage in the jungle partially destroyed.  The raccoons had stolen the trap.  When asked if they would shoot or poison the raccoons the couple recoiled in horror.  Oh no, they couldn't kill a protected mammal.

In 1911 the curator of mammals of the Smithsonian received a box from Guadalupe containing the body of a raccoon.  The scientists examined the raccoon and discovered that it was significantly different from the North American raccoon so they called it a new species.  France governs Guadalupe so they declared the Guadalupe raccoon a protected species.  The Guadalupe peoples were proud of this and the raccoon appears on their stamps, on all sorts of tourist stuff.  There is a National Park that features the raccoon and they are every where.  The French go about freeing captured raccoons every once in a while. 

In 2004 the present curator of mammals of the Smithsonian took another look at the Guadalupe raccoon and determined that it was a juvenile and probably not a new species.  They did DNA test just in case and sure enough the Guadalupe raccoon is identical to the North American raccoon.  The locals still protect their raccoons regardless of new species identity or not.  And the scientist did give the opinion that if the current population of raccoons stay isolated on Guadalupe they had the potential to evolve into a distinct species but that probably would not show up very soon.

The only other native animal to Guadalupe are the bats.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Ted talks

Last night I listened to the Ted talk and the topic was the five senses;
1.  Hearing.  A woman was encouraged to put musical tones to the signals from the universe.   The song for a gamma ray blast was a surprisingly sprightly tinkly tune.  This application apparently yields valid data for other scientists.

2.  Sight.  A young man was diagnosed at age 13 with a degenerative retinal disease and he was blind by age 25.  He went through all sorts of rehab and he decided on his own to embrace the blindness, he was quite remarkable to listen to.

3. Taste.  A scientist is studying gene's trying to locate the gene for the taste of fat, so if successful there will be six senses.

Unfortunately I tend to nod off during some of these podcasts and I may have to go back and review.