Friday, October 31, 2014

Haloween customs

From the Smithsonian

Kale as matchmaker
Meet the Cromartie Fool, the goofy man holding a kale stock. According to Celtic tradition, it was believed that this jester presided over Halloween festivities—many of which involved single men and women uprooting kale stalks to determine their future. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

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Via TeaAtTrianon:


BBC on the UK's Haloween and Winter customs

There are men who carry flaming barrels of tar through a Devon village, folk who pour cider over apple tree roots and cross-dressing troupes who perform something called Soul Caking to ward off evil spirits.
There is also a village in Somerset called Hinton St George which has a tradition of pumpkin carving and night-time walks that sounds remarkably similar to the Halloween rituals we all know.


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Family News

Sunday is All Saints day, when we remember the dead.

Here in the Philippines, it means that everyone takes off for a long weekend to go to their home villages and check the graves of their ancestors, cleaning them up from debris and decorating them with candles and flowers.

Usually the family stays for a picnic lunch, and there are plenty of vendors around with cold drinks, snacks, and toys for bored children to play with.

Since it is also hot, I suggested to Lolo that we go today. Tomorrow and Sunday will see so many people in the cemetary that we won't get near the gravesites of his mother and relatives, and indeed, usually the roads are blocked for cars. Last year, we got a tricycle to get Lolo inside, since he can't walk well, but since it's been either hot or thunderstorms, I suggested we go a day early so his son can drive the car right to the grave.

The main problem of going early is that the local kids will steal the flowers to sell to other visitors.

But I figure the dear departed won't mind, since it's the thought that counts,  especially since the cousins will bring more flowers etc. in the next two day.

Because of the heat, instead of eating at the grave, on the way home, we stopped at Luz for lunch, despite the fact we were a bit sweaty and grungy from the trip. Oh well...they know us.

Craft item of the day

How to make a medieval costume in five minutes

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Download of the day

Download of the day is Michael Drouts's Encyclopedia on JRR Tolkien.

and if you use the search, the archives also has some of the series on Middle Earth.

they also have a torrent for the desolation of Smaug.

Quick before the copyright cops find it's there.

Stuff round the net

Nice Story of the day:

He takes a picture of her everywhere he goes.


Nice story of the past:

Usually the love stories in the Tudors seem a bit nasty, but Henry's sister did marry for love

Headsup TeaAtTrianon


ten things that are killing the family....

it's not all "morality"...some sociological and economic things are destroying the family.

the stress on the extended family being destroyed by moving into the suburbs is obvious, but rarely noted as a problem.
An extension of this:
Mens' wages went down, so we live in an economy that made it necessary for women to work full time jobs, and these jobs are often far from home.


The angry nurse who claimed that she was placed in quarantine after her forehead tested as having a fever has been released.

She is returning to Maine, but her neighbors there don't want her to break quarantine, as she is saying she plans to do.

Most of the studies have been done comparing forehead strips with oral or TM (placed in the ear) measurment of temperature in kids, for obvious reasons: Kids bite thermometers, mouth breathe, and refuse to cooperate.

but in this nurse's,case, they just aimed a temperature measuring gun at her head (which is how we were screened for SARS and influenza at Manila airport).

and although that screening will usually pick up fevers, with few false negatives it also greatly overestimates temperatures. Which means you have to rescreen (just as you have to be checked if the metal detecter goes off, or if your luggage tests positive for explosives because you had fertilized your garden the day you packed your suitcase).

from a scienceblogs article:

The bottom line is that this kind of remote fever sensing had poor positive predictive value, meaning that the proportion of people correctly identified as having fever was low, ranging from 10% to 16%. Thus there were a lot of false positives. Negative predictive value, the proportion of people classified by the IR device as not having fever who in fact did not have fever was high (97% to 99%), so not many people with fevers will be missed with the IR device. Predictive values depend not only on the accuracy of the device but also how prevalent fever is in the screened population. In the early days of a pandemic, fever prevalence will be very low, leading to low positive predictive value. The false positives produced at airport security would make the days of only taking off your shoes look good.
but of course, instead of using her predicament to educate the public on the proper way to screen passengers (i.e. anyone testing positive should be pulled aside an the temperature rechecked), she is suing.

Kaching alert....

The problem is that the feds are so mixed up no one knows anything...or rather we know it but they seem to be reneging on the problem.

From SciTechDaily:

Targeted Isolation May Be the Most Effective Way to Reduce Transmission of Ebola
 New research led by the Yale School of Public Health shows that isolating 75% of infected individuals in critical condition within four days of symptom onset has a high chance of eliminating the spread of Ebola.Isolating the most severely ill Ebola patients before the fifth day of their illness may be the most effective way to reduce transmission of the virus, new research led by the Yale School of Public Health suggests.
. The research is published October 28 in the Annals of Internal Medicine. ,,,

the WAGD from ebola article of the day at Wired..

summary: You are probably safe in East McKeesport, but if it hits Manila we are toast...



 Dietary cocoa flavanols—naturally occurring bioactives found in cocoa—reversed age-related memory decline in healthy older adults, according to a study led by Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) scientists. 

Family news

Yesterday, we moved the puppies downstairs to the laundry/garage area.
And I bought 20 pounds of puppy food (which we will soak and feed them, but also feed it to the adult dogs mixed with rice).

We have nine surviving puppies: Angel lost two of her five puppies, probably because she is older, but this is good because Sophie had six, and is happy to let Angel share in feeding the kids.

They have just started eating: Here, usually the minute they start solid food, they get given away, but I usually try to keep them for at least another month, because they often die if given away too soon.

The problem? Well, the staff often takes them home behind our back, meaning that the people who were promised puppies often don't get any.

oh well. I'd like to keep one, but we still have too many dogs, so until PapaDog dies (he is about ten years old) we'll have to give them all away. Since we spend time cuddling them, usually the dogs are good natured...and we have no trouble finding them homes.

None of them appear to be "short" like Angel, so they all should be medium sized dogs.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Stuff around the net

The latest school shooting was again in Indian country, like the one at Red Lake a couple of years ago.

Which brings to mind this: DWarren quotes Chaput's speech.

That word, “heartless,” is underused today. It raises the stakes on our idea of “feelings.” We have too many feelings, most of them fake. The genuine ones tend to be quite selfish. We “hurt” easily, we indulge, easily. Empathy and compassion are reduced to “feelings,” and our “concern” is to make the rich pay. The actual poor are subject to our feelings of irritation. When cornered, rhetorically, we may write a cheque, but it becomes a kind of blood money. Living as I do in Parkdale, I am conscious of the ignorance of one street for another, one house for another, one apartment to the apartment next door. I can understand it. I don’t want to know these people, either.
So that my heart breaks — I am “genuinely impressed” — when I see examples of personal outreach to the neighbours. Most often I see this in the form of one rather desperately poor person, spontaneously helping another. Such as offering him a cigarette. (The smuglies in government have made cigarettes expensive.) Such as “being there” when a man is fallen, and not just calling nine-one-one. Such as taking care of the crazies, hands on. Such as — and this is the most impressive thing I’ve seen — teaching a hopeless wretch the use of a rosary. Because that can change everything.
which reminds me of how many of our Native American neighbors took in relatives who needed a place to stay, or raised the children of relatives and friends who had drug problem.

Chaput's full speech about the family synod is here.

And someone took a quote out of context to demand he apologize.

so what else is new?

well, the pope explained that families were important but his statements didn't get much coverage.


Trig was not the first beloved child who had Down's syndrome.

Angel Unaware

I don't know if the link will work, but this is indeed the wife of cowboy Roy Rogers.


Family news

Ruby had a lot of friends over in the evening for a movie marathon to celebrate her birthday.

Lolo is wheezing again...but no fever. Might be the allergies/hayfever type syndrome since a couple of kids I saw had allergic rhinitis and cough.

Joy's sister has her week off from her immunotherapy...repeat testing will be Friday.

This is a big weekend: All Saint's day when everyone goes to the cemetaries to clean up the graves of their loved ones, eat a meal, say some prayers. etc.

Monday, October 27, 2014

WTF article of the day take two

The powerful, feeling-filled bond between a mother and her child is a big part of what leads working mothers to take their child-rearing responsibilities more seriously than working fathers.
If this essential difference is the problem, if it is the root of gender equality in the workplace, and if our highest priority is to eliminate gender inequality, then ectogenesis offers a way forward.

why not? The elites are already outsourcing pregnancy to surrogates in India.

Headsup WSmith 

WTF articles of the day

Nurse who cared for ebola patients and who had high fever but negative test at airport is lamenting her civil right were violated, and that her quarantine is "hell" (according to Drudge).

Well, the blood test may not be positive early in the disease. And after that hippie doc managed to go all around NYCity while feeling sick but didn't worry because his fever hadn't gone up, I don't think she will get much sympathy.

ALL patients arriving from West Africa who were in contact with ebola need to go into quarantine, fever or not.  This could be done at home if they are mature and can monitor their fever at home (or better yet, a nurse can visit them daily to check the temperature). Will that lower the number of "health care workers" who volunteer? Maybe, but I doubt it.

The last time that "civil rights" by narcissists trumped public health was when Mayor Feinstein faced a recall election for closing the San Francisco bath houses where HIV, hepatitis, and other STD's spread like wildfire. How many died because of that bit of nonsense. Indeed, if anyone had closed the bathhouses when the Hepatitis B epidemic was going on in the late 1970's, then a lot fewer men would have caught HIV when it flew in with "patient zero", the attractive Canadian flight attendant who probably caught it in Haiti.


heh. NJ guv says:

“I have great respect for Dr. Fauci, but what he’s counting on is a voluntary system with folks that may or may not comply,” said Christie, citing the example of an NBC News crew who returned from West Africa and violated their self-quarantine.
“This is government’s job,” Christie said. “If anything else, the government’s job is to protect the safety and health of our citizens.”

two more comments: The bitching nurse complains that her oral temperature was only 98.6 but only her forehead temperature showed 101 degrees.

Well forehead temperature scanning is not a very good test, but you know it is easy to fake an oral temperature, which can be changed if you drink something cold or hot or even breathe through your mouth. If she really wanted to argue with the high temperature test done, she should have insisted on the most accurate way to check a temperature: A rectal thermometer reading.

As for those who say you can't catch Ebola by sitting next to someone on a bus: True. But what if he coughs in your face, or (worse ) vomits all over you? If that had happened in the doctor who felt ill but didn't have a temperature,so he went all aorund instead of staying quietly at home,  it could have exposed 50 people to the disease.

Family news

Yesterday, they held a birthday party for Ruby and her friends from her church's youth group.

In the evening, we went to Luz restaurant with Lolo to celebrate.

So a busy day.

She lost her old computer in last year's typhoon, so kept borrowing my new computer, so I gave her the  computer for her birthday. (and bought another one for myself).

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Science stuff around the net

The latest Ubuntu: Utopic Unicorn.


the WAGD post of the day: EBOLA!

The model developed by Galvani and colleagues projects as many as 170,996 total reported and unreported cases of the disease, representing 12% of the overall population of some 1.38 million people, and 90,122 deaths in Montserrado alone by December 15.... The study predicts that, at best, just over half as many cases (53,957) can be averted if the interventions are delayed to November 15. Had all of these measures been in place by October 15, the model calculates that 137,432 cases in Montserrado could have been avoided.

a good article on Ebola from the NewYorker


Remember all the hype that only embryonic stem cells would work

or maybe not:

stem cells from his nose helped paralyzed man walk.


From AnnAlthouse; blog:

"European Scientists Conclude That Distant Comet Smells Terrible.""The European Space Agency has posted a full rundown of the comet's BO on its website. The mix includes ammonia (NH3), hydrogen sulphide (H2S), formaldehyde (CH2O) and methanol (CH3OH)."

if you like Ebola (which is only spread via close contact with patients or their secretions) you'll love MERS, which has now spread to Turkey.

 The Saudi authorities have been faulted for having allowed MERS to proliferate, particularly in Jidda, Riyadh, the Saudi capital, and the holy city of Mecca, where pilgrims from the entire world converge for the annual hajj. Pilgrims are known to have spread the disease to Iran, Jordan and Algeria. The W.H.O. said that as of Friday, it had tallied 883 MERS cases worldwide, including at least 319 deaths. Most cases are in Saudi Arabia.
 Maybe they should quarantine anyone who is high risk, such as travelers from Saudi or those who had contact with camels. 


mapping the "murmurations" of starlings.


Gladiators were mostly vegetarians....

maybe because most of them were recruited from poor people, POW's or slaves...

Why live wayyy up there?

From the LATimes:

Archaeologists say they’ve found the highest-known remains of Ice Age human settlements in the southern Peruvian Andes, dated to more than 12,000 years old. The two sites, described in the journal Science, sit higher than 4,000 meters (more than 13,100 feet) above sea level and indicate that humans may have adapted to the extremely harsh climate far sooner than many researchers had expected.
...Above 13,100 feet, the thin air and treeless terrain offers little protection from the high solar radiation. There’s not much fuel to make fires, there’s much less oxygen available to breathe and it takes about twice the number of calories just to "maintain normal metabolic function," the study authors wrote.

For many archaeologists, these factors explain why human settlements higher than about 13,100 feet and older than 11,500 years of age have eluded them. It probably took a good amount of time for the genetic variations to arise in the population that would favor, among other traits, higher metabolic rates and more lung capacity – traits found in certain high-altitude populations today.  And yet these high-altitude settlements were set up within about 2,000 years of humans’ first arrival in South America. Whether they had developed the ideal traits or not, clearly humans didn't take that long to settle in (or, in this case, settle up).

one reason for fleeing up into the mountains is to flee from more war like tribes.

Maybe they need to check about fortifications...

Stuff below the headlines

Easter Island wasn't as isolated as some "experts" claim...

"We found evidence of gene flow between this population and Native American populations, suggesting an ancient ocean migration route between Polynesia and the Americas," says the study's lead author, geneticist Anna-Sapfo Malaspinas of the Centre for GeoGenetics at the University of Copenhagen.
The genetic evidence indicates either that Rapa Nui people travelled the 3700 kilometres to South America or that Native Americans journeyed to Easter Island. The researchers believe it probably was the Rapa Nui people making the arduous ocean round trips.
"It seems most likely that they voyaged from Rapa Nui to South America and brought South Americans back to Rapa Nui and admixed with them," says Mark Stoneking, a geneticist with Germany's Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, who collaborated on a related study of Brazil's indigenous Botocudo people.

the suprise in this is not that the Easter Island folks traveled to South America, but that their DNA matched that of Amazon tribal folks.

But then, the Amazon was highly populated back then, and in contact with the mountain empires.

Video lecture here.


photo of the day:

This image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, taken in infrared light, shows where the action is taking place in galaxy NGC 1291 (NASA/JPL/Spitzer)


Angels according to the dead sea scrolls.

One of a series bookmarked for later reading.

Podcasts of the week:

OU continues it's series on the law.

from the Free Library site:

Walter Isaacson | The Innovators: How a Group of Inventors, Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital RevolutionWalter Isaacson | The Innovators: How a Group of Inventors, Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution
Recorded 10/20/2014
Listen to MP3 audio

Friday, October 24, 2014

Sex and the single peacekeeper.

yes, like the WWII soldier, often they saw this as a quid pro quo: sex for them and the ability to feed the family for the girl.

One is reminded of WKRP:

English Historical Fiction blog discusses nobility eating peacocks for the holidays, and adds:

And yes, they can fly. They seem very large but they weigh only about eight to ten pounds, the size of a large roasting chicken such as the Jersey Giant. They have a broad wing spread that gives them the “lift” they need. The tail, folded as it usually is, flops along through the air behind them, looking rather silly.


for later reading:

Professor (and poet) Holly Ordway discusses her conversion based on historical evidence and Sense of Event blog has comments about it.


faith healing in Monrovia meets ebola.


the article is about those living in the slums of New Kru town (an area with many Kru people, near the hospital where I worked 30 years ago).