Hasty Ruminations

Speaking out, to remove all doubt. http://hastyruminations.blogspot.com

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Thursday, September 28, 2006

Life In The RV Campground

OK, it's time to tell the truth. For two years, I have traveled the country, doing contract engineering work for drug companies and hauling my 5th wheel RV trailer (Big Easy) behind my truck (Big Ride). Lacy the dog and I stay in places called "RV campgrounds".

Here's the truth: they are trailer parks. No more denying it. And the doggie and I have become:

Trailer Park Trash!

Now, a company is introducing some dolls to appeal to our demographic: Trailer Trash Barbie and her friends, Jer Wayne Jr. and Trash Talkin' Turleen.

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Trailer Trash Barbie - "She smokes, drinks beer and has a third-grade education. What's not to love?"

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Jer Wayne Jr.
"Press his chest, and hear him exclaim the likes of, 'Yer lying thru yer tooth!"

Trash Talkin' Turleen - with belly-button quotations.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Natural Disasters

I received a very, very sad note from my Irish daughter-in-law concerning a natural catastrophe in the homeland.

"We've all seen the faces of those ravaged by the floods of Sri Lanka and New Orleans.

"This award-winning photograph of the recent flood waters rising in Ireland captures the horror and suffering there.

"Keep these people in your thoughts and prayers."

I'm thinking I should start collecting some money...

Thursday, September 21, 2006



A nearly complete fossilized skeleton of a three-year-old girl, Australopithecus afarensis just like Lucy, has been found in Ethiopia. It was found just a few miles away from where Lucy was found in 1974. It is about 3.3 million years old, tens of thousands of years older than Lucy.

Tiny head, tiny knee caps – just a baby, still nursing when she died. Her skeleton is much more complete than other adult ones found since 1974, and scientists have placed her firmly on our ancestor’s list.

The picture – a recreation based on her skull – has another value. It’s the best way a parent can illustrate that traditional warning: “Be careful, or your face will freeze like that!”

But I like it!

The Mind Was Made By A Genius


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I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mind. Aoccdrnig to a rseearch taem at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sltil raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.
Such a cdonition is arppoiaprtely cllaed Typoglycemia.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006



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I found this at
http://thecotas.blogspot.com/. It's a great site.

Please watch the video below, and then leave me a comment. If you like dogs, or animals or cowboys, you will love this.

If you don't like dogs or animals or cowboys... you will after you watch the video:


Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Shuttle Means "Same Old Stuff, Over and Over Again"


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Remember that, earlier this week, we reported on the loss of bolts and washers on the shuttle space walks? We said not to worry; they would find the missing stuff when they tried to close the cargo bay doors. Remember?

Check out the news from the shuttle today.

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We can't make this stuff up!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Here We Go Again


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So the Pope made the Muslims mad. Popes are always making somebody mad; I think it's in the job description.

Now they're screaming "Jihad!" Well, in the past this often led to a one word response: "Crusade!"

So, here's another chance to refresh our knowledge of history so we can understand the coming news bulletins better:

1. Who were the main players in the Crusades of the Middle Ages?

2. How many major, named crusades were there?

3. Who won the crusades?

4. The Pope's private army is the Swiss Guards. Name four things Switzerland is famous for.

5. Bonus question: So, why do witches burn?

(Answers below.)

(This will be easier for folks with laptops - just turn it upside down to read the answers. Others may want to print this page, and then turn the printer upside down.)

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Friday, September 15, 2006

Continuing Education


For your continuing education, go to:


You will get a short, instructive tour of Irish music through the ages.

It is very, very funny.

It will help if you
check this out first.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Worth Reading

. .

Ireland has produced many great writers.

Here's another one: an
Irish blogger with strong viewpoints, and a great way with words.

When you finish this article, jump back to the top and read "Just like the old days, eh?", and continue on down. Then tell me she doesn't remind you of Dubliners!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

News Briefs

HANOI (Reuters) - A Vietnamese man who once appeared on national television to demonstrate his ability to resist electric shocks has been electrocuted while repairing a generator, an official said on Tuesday.


NEW YORK (Reuters) - The United States should give the United Nations until the end of the year to reform and then consider cutting back on its U.N. dues if the changes fall short, U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said on Monday. Bolton thus confirmed his “does not work and play well with others” reputation.


Spacewalking astronauts worried they may have gummed up a successful job connecting an addition to the international space station Tuesday when a bolt, spring and washer floated free.

Don’t worry. They’ll find them later, when they try to close the shuttle’s cargo bay doors.


From the Herald Sun:

An alligator that appeared in the James Bond movie Live and Let Die is to be stuffed and put on display after his death at the British zoo where he lived.

May be a suggestion for Gerald Ford...

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

RIP Bogey


A friend has lost his friend: Stew's and Jen's cat has died.

I searched for an appropriate tribute to their cat of three names*, and I landed on one of my favorite musical theater composers.

. *(Bogey, Ampukitty and Tripod)

Andrew Lloyd Webber will receive a Kennedy Center Honor in December, one of America's most prestigious cultural accolades. Lloyd Webber said: "I'm very flattered to have been asked to join the impressive list of people the Kennedy Center has honored over the years." Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will present the award.

Film director Steven Spielberg, musicians Dolly Parton and Smokey Robinson and conductor Zubin Mehta will also receive awards.

Kennedy Center chairman Stephen A Schwarzman said., "Andrew Lloyd Webber has led a seismic change in our musical theatre, becoming the most popular theatre composer in the world."

The day after the ceremony, President George W Bush and his wife Laura will receive the honorees at the White House before a special gala performance at the Kennedy Center.

Paul Newman, Tony Bennett, Tina Turner, Robert Redford, Jack Nicholson and Julie Andrews have all received the same recognition in the past.

The tribute is Webber's "The Naming of Cats" from Cats:

The naming of cats is a difficult matter
It isn't just one of your holiday games
You may think at first I'm as mad as a hatter
When I tell you a cat must have three different names

First of all, there's the name that the family use daily
Such as Peter, Augustus, Alonzo or James
Such as Victor or Jonathan, George or Bill Bailey
All of them sensible, everyday names

There are fancier names if you think they sound sweeter
Some for the gentlemen, some for the dames
Such as Plato, Admetas, Electra, Demeter
But all of them sensible everyday names

But I tell you a cat needs a name that's particular
A name that's peculiar, and more dignified
Else how can he keep up his tail perpendicular
Or spread out his whiskers, or cherish his pride?

Of names of this kind, I can give you a quorum
Such as Munkustrap, Quaxo or Coricopat
Such as Bombalurina, or else Jellylorum
Names that never belong to more than one cat

But above and beyond there's still one name left over
And that is the name that you never will guess
The name that no human research can discover
But the at himself knows, and will never confess

When you notice a cat in profound meditation
The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
Of the thought
Of the thought
Of the thought
Of his name
His ineffable effable effanineffable
Deep and inscrutable singular name

Monday, September 11, 2006

Accuracy, Sort Of


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A little while ago, I suggested that we choose something besides English as our national language in the U.S.A.

The memorials recently written to Steve Irwin, and to the 9/11/2001 victims, perhaps will illuminate the point. The authors are not to blame: all want to express grief, sadness, outrage or hope. It's the language which lets them down.


"... filled with emptiness."

Yes, I... what?


"... more than fair ..."

I understand the intent, but the words are a mess. Consider a bunch of numbers - 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. Now count in 5 from the left, and 5 from the right: (0 1 2 3 4 and 10 9 8 7 6). We wind up on 5. If 0 is guilty, and 10 is innocent, then maybe 5 is midway, a little bit of both. What can be fairer than 5? Where is "more than fair" on this scale?


One more, from NYC Mayor Bloomberg today: "Their absence will always be with us."

Isn't it odd that we understand what he said, but the words don't describe it?!



Prince William is heading back to Sandhurst to finish his officer training.

William will be pelted with potatoes as part of his training in the third term. The aim of the exercise is to prepare recruits for tackling riots.

Given the way the Brits have treated the Irish, it’s realistic training.

Some old Guiness kegs should be included.

So He Had A Messy Bedroom BEFORE College?


Home football games at the University of Southern Mississippi are a mess.

On Sunday mornings, the campus and M.M. Roberts Stadium are strewn with garbage. Vacant tents stand by grills and tables with bottles of ketchup and mustard. Peanut hulls, pompoms and chicken bones litter the stadium.

It’s a ghost town that stinks of stale beer.

A crew consisting of Southern Miss custodians and community service workers start picking up trash at 5 a.m. Sunday, the beginning of a cleanup that will last four days and involve about 130 workers.

Every week.

Where Were You?


... on 9/11/2001?

I was working in Glendale, Ca, on a pharmaceutical engineering contract. I watched the second attack on TV from my hotel room (6:07 am PST), on the phone to my wife. She was wishing me happy birthday, and I was wishing her our happy 31st wedding anniversary.

Where were you?

Friday, September 08, 2006

In Memory of Steve Irwin

G'bye, myte.

On The Lighter Side


Try this for a not-too-serious astrology and fact chart.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Museum of Science and Industry: Standing Exhibits


The Museum of Science and Industry is one of my favorites in the world. It's home is the former Palace of Fine Arts, the last permanent building from the Chicago World's Fair / (Christopher) Columbian Exposition of 1893. It was designed to be America's first interactive, "hands-on" museum, to enable the visitor to understand as much as possible what he was experiencing.

This is the main hall, with a 727 airplane above the Spirit of America jet car, next to a full-sized bi-plane, over a steam locomotive, all in front of a huge running model railroad. What's NOT to like?!

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This is the Spirit of America jet car, built and operated by Craig Breedlove to establish a 600 mph land speed record in 1965 at the Salt Flats in Utah. My friend Mark and I spent hours in high school sketching, discussing and dreaming about such things.

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Here is another view of the Spirit:

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This display is the training equipment for Apollo crews and the moon mission. The astronauts trained on this gear before riding the Saturn 5.

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The museum also has the Command Module from Apollo 8. Apollo 8 was the second manned mission of the Apollo space program, in which Commander Frank Borman, Command Module Pilot James Lovell and Lunar Module Pilot William Anders became the first humans to leave Earth orbit and to orbit around the Moon. It was also the first manned launch of the Saturn V rocket. They gave us the famous Christmas Eve reading from the Bible in 1968.

Here is a shot of the museum's model railroad. The current layout was opened in 2004, replacing the one which was there for 60 years. The new one covers 3,500 square feet. It can have 34 operating trains at once. The old layout was in O scale (48:1) ; this one is HO (87:1), so a lot more scenery and trains can fit in the same place as the old layout.

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The Museum has much, much more including a working dairy farm and the U-505 submarine exhibit. If you're coming to Chicago, you should make the time to see it!

At least a week...

Museum of Science & Industry: The Da Vinci Exhibit

These are the pictures I took at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, in the Da Vinci Exhibit.

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The Museum took advantage of the notoriety of "The DaVinci Code" to stage the exhibit. A very small part of it spoke to the Dan Brown book and the movie, in a neutral way.

Most interesting were the models which have been built from Leonardo's drawings and skteches. Most were "hands on", in accordance with the Museum's charter to be as hands on as the displays permit.

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By moving his feet, the flyer extends, retracts and flaps the wings.

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This vehicle had cannon facing in several directions, and complementary axles for motion in any direction.

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Leonardo's design depended on vigorous rotation of the rotor, which would screw the helicopter up into the air.

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The ship carried a cannon capable of being trained to any direction, and elevated. It could contain several cannon balls or chain shot.

There were many more parts to the exhibit, but these I think are the more interesting.

Lockheed To Build Another Orion


NASA has awarded a contract to Lockheed-Martin
to build the new space ship for the space station and to the moon, the Orion.

There is some historical precedent... in a way.

Lockheed built the four engine turbo prop commercial airliner, the Electra, in the 1950's and 60's. It didn't do well, with several crashes due to the wings breaking off at the fuselage. (Aviators call this a "no-no".) The Navy bought all of the Electras because it needed to replace the aging P-2 Neptune maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) prop plane on an urgent basis. The Navy gave a contract to Lockheed to modify all of the planes, replacing their long thin wings with short, stubby ones.

The wings were the solution to stopping the crashes. The P-3 Orion has been flying ASW for the U.S. and many allies since 1962. I saw my first P-3 in 1966 when I was a Midshipman on a summer cruise out of San Diego. It buzzed our ship which was flying a drone anti-submarine helicopter (DASH), an early unmanned torpedo dropper.

My son is a Lieutenant Commander in the Navy now, and plane commander of P-3's.

Proud? Yeah, you could say so!

So, the space ship is in good hands: Lockheed KNOWS Orions!