Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Robert Lee Frost's Birthday

In his honor.....

Whose woods these are I think I know
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Many of us have had to memorize this at one point or another in our lives and maybe we know it still. It is easy to see why. Poetry with rhyme, rhythm, meter and meaning are easy to remember. If you want to get technical you could note that this is in Iambic Tetrameter - four iambic feet with an AABA chain rhyme.

Another one of Frost's most well known poems is this one:

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I
--I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

This poem is often used for graduations and other momentous occasions, but if you really look at it, well, it is kind of mocking. The text in red states the the roads are equally untraveled. So there really isn't a road less traveled, both are equally new...although both untraveled by our poet...and by us.

I like the part in green though. It reminds me of the tall tales told by our grandparents. It all but says "One day when I am old and gray I will tell of how I took the hard road, walking uphill and back in the snow; but I am tough and persevered and that is how I became the success I am today."

In the end, this poem speaks to me as a chronic second guesser. I always wonder how things would have been if I had zigged instead of zagged. I hope at the end of my path, I will look back and say, with a sigh, that the road I traveled was the right one and made me who I am today.

On a less starchy note, this poem and the deep thoughts it has inspired, reminds me of the random song that came up on the shuffle mode of my Ipod....This is your life by Switchfoot. Next time you reach a fork in the road, think of this song.
Don't close your eyes...this is your life...are you who you want to be?

Monday, March 24, 2008

Enthusiasm by Polly Schulman

Being best friends with Ashleigh can be exhausting. She always has a new enthusiasm...whether it is for making candy or the latest rock band, Ahleigh jumps in feet first. This year it is for Pride and Prejudice. Ashleigh is determined to meet her Mister Darcy and has just the plan to do so....they will crash the Cotillion at the Forefield School!

Poor Julia, along for the ride, finally meets her mysterious crush and learns his name only for Ashleigh to declare that HE is her Mister Darcy...her true love.

While not painful (talk about damning praise) I was disappointed that the author did not make more of the Austin connection of this book. Ashleigh was planning on speaking and dressing like a Bennet girl, but the book didn't make much of this and you and I both know that in high school...something would have been said.

All in all, I have to say that I was Un-enthusiastic about this title.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Jefferson Bass "Body Farm" Series

The pen name Jefferson Bass is actually based off of the names of the co-writers for this series.

Jon Jefferson is a journalist, writer and documentary film maker. The only film of his I was able to discover on IMDB was "Biography of a Corpse," which makes sense, when you consider who his co-author is.

Bill Bass is the creator of the University of Tennessee's Forensic Anthropology Center, more popularly known as The Body Farm. Being the sick and twisted person I am , I love this idea and think Dr. Bass must be a genius. This center tracks the changes in decomposition of human remains in various conditions. Does a body stored in the trunk of a car have the same level of insect activity as one that is houses in an enclosed car? The people at the body farm can answer that for you! You may ask, where do they get the bodies for these studies? Why through donations, of course. Not sure if you want to be cremated or burried. Donation can be an option you may want to explore. I don't think I am game for that though.

The series features Dr. Bill Brockton as the founder of the Body Farm. A professor and researcher, he of course, stumbles onto various plots and issues.

This is taken from the book jacket of the first book, Carved in Bone:"A woman's corpse lies hidden in a cave in the mountains of East Tennessee. Undiscovered for thirty years, her body has been transformed by the cave's chemistry into a near-perfect mummy - one that discloses an explosive secret to renowned anthropologist Bill Brockton. Dr. Brockton has spent his career surrounded by death and decay at the Body Farm, but even he is baffled by this case unfolding in a unique environment where nothing is quite what it seems." "The surreal setting is Cooke County, a remote mountain community that's clannish, insular, and distrustful of outsiders. The heartbreaking discovery of the young woman's corpse reopens old wounds and rekindles feuds dating back decades. The county's powerful and uncooperative sheriff and his inept deputy threaten to derail Brockton's investigation altogether. So do Brockton's other nemeses: his lingering guilt over the death of his wife, and the fury of a medical examiner whom Brockton dares to oppose in court."

This was a good a quick read. I learned something new...always a bonus AND the sequel came out not too long after I discovered the first book.

Flesh and Bone follows the growing romance in Dr. Brockton's life as well as a heinous crime in which he is the prime suspect. A fast and ferocious read.

Devil's Bones didn't grab me quite as quickly and no where near as hard. Dr. Brockton is back, licking his wounds from book 2. He is working on two cases, plus still dealing with the fallout of the issues from Flesh and Bone. The authors seem to be over-extending themselves, and instead of doing one story really well, they do three in a rather lack luster manner. Not only are there three cases, but they are entirely separate. Oh well...you can't have everything.

The pace picked up about half way through, and while I am already a fan, I will confess, if this had been my introduction to the series, I would have put it aside after a few chapters.

I will read the next book, and hope that the Jefferson Bass writing team are better coordinated next time.

All that said, I would still recommend the book for people that are growing tired of the angst ridden Kay Scarpetta series.

Last Breath by George D. Shuman: “A Sherry Moore Novel”

The other day I walked past a shelf of books (surprise) and saw a book I read last year. I really liked it but sadly it was the first book the author had written. I say sadly, not for the author or the quality of the book, but I always consider it a bonus when you find a good book and then find that the author is prolific. In those cases you can say…”if you like this one, there is plenty more where that came from!!!!” Not so….18 Seconds was the first “Sherry Moore Novel.” Seeing this book again, reminded me to see if there was a second and THERE WAS! : Last Breath is the second and I feel confident, not the last, “Sherry Moore Novel.”

But, before I can review this book for you, I need to do a retrospective of 18 Seconds.

In 18 Seconds, we meet our heroine Sherry Moore. Sherry is blind, but wasn’t born that way. She had her sight up until the age of 5. At that point she suffered a medical trauma which damaged a portion of her brain, but not the functionality of her eyes. Abandoned by her mother, Sherry grew up in foster care and gradually made it to adulthood, damaged. A freak accident, put her in the path of a dying man, and as the life left his body, Sherry obtained his vision. She saw the last 18 seconds of the man’s life, through her own eyes. Years pass and Sherry is a celebrity, sought out by people who want to know how their child died; by the police, although circumspectly, to help solve murders. And of course this background leads us to the case the book is centered on. I have since forgotten the rest of the book, but I remember it as being a good and satisfying tale. It was satisfying enough that I tried to remember to keep up with the author.

On to Last Breath…

The book opens with a disjointed chapter from the ramblings of a confused and most likely crazy mind. When I first read it I had in my mind an older woman suffering from Alzheimer’s, but I was off.

The next chapter is written from the point of view of a young boy, anxious to get home. It is his birthday and his mom has promised not to forget. She forgets a lot of things and the boy hopes and prays that she hasn’t forgotten his surprise party at the neighbors house…the bike, the one thing he wants, and most of all him. He wants to know that his mother loves him enough not to forget about him and his special day. Your heart goes out to this boy because you now realize that this is the woman we just met. And we know…she has forgotten.

The boy comes home to discover his mother in a dangerous and precarious position. She is in the middle of acting out her weakness, auto-erotic asphyxiation. The boy, upset that this is what she is doing instead of remembering him and his special day, decides to put his mad mother out of her misery, and kicks the hamper out from under her. Meet the serial killer for our story.

Fast forward a decade or so and Sherry is not in a good place. Prior events from 18 Seconds have left her world shaken and sad and she has started self medicating. When the police call on her for help, she agrees, and after receiving the confusing and disturbing visions from three bodies, is surprised when she receives a gag order from the courts. It seems that the families of the victims consider the information she received from the bodies as privileged.

The FBI is soon on the case and between Sherry’s mental health, legal and bureaucratic issues, this tale takes you on a twisted ride.

The “blurbs” on the back cover say the usual glowing things, but one of them is true enough to repeat; from Robert Crais: "Moves like a bat out of hell..."

This story does move at a break neck pace and was over far sooner than I would have liked.

BUT WAIT!!!!! THERE'S MORE!!!!! In doing my research for this blog, I found that there is another "Sherry Moore Novel" coming this fall.... please stay tuned for Lost Girls!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Sociopath Next Door

For the first time since I can remember, a patron gave me the willies today. The last time it happened, I was pretty much on the mark, and the man tried to grope me in the stacks. This guy didn't lay a hand on me but still managed to make my skin crawl.

To further this point, he was looking for this title.

The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout
We live in a dangerous world, threatened by international terrorists, corrupt politicians, unethical corporate executives, and street criminals. But there's another type of dangerous person who often goes unnoticed-the sociopath next door. According to the latest research, four percent of the population has an antisocial personality disorder, leaving them with no conscience, no sense of guilt or shame. They could be the people we encounter daily in our neighborhood, school, workplace, or even in our family. The Sociopath Next Door is the first book to take a hard look at the sociopaths in everyday life. Martha Stout, a practicing psychotherapist and Harvard Medical School instructor, explains that these people learn early on to show sham emotion, but underneath live only to dominate others and win. The fact is, statistically, we each know at least one sociopath, and readers will have an "a-ha!" moment of recognizing that someone they know-someone they worked for, or were involved with-is a sociopath. (summary from syndetics)

What do you think? Know any sociopaths?

Ageism in comics

Who knew that comics discriminated? I recently went to comics.com and found that they had the comics divided by AGE!!!! Apparently since I am in the 30-50 set I should like Marmaduke, Andy Cap and Dilbert.

The ones that I really like, Boy on a Stick and Slither; Pearls Before Swine and Get Fuzzy all straddle the age lines between the 18-30 and the 30-50 grouping.

Then there are the groupings for men, women and families. Seriously though. Don't we have enough things dividing us, that we don't need another?

That said...you should really check out Get Fuzzy. Satchel is trying not to curse....

Thursday, March 13, 2008


Personal Note….I am bringing in some pie for my co-workers. They will be served promptly on 3.14 at 1:59-2:65 (3:05pm)

pi =

3.1415926535 8979323846 2643383279 5028841971 6939937510

5820974944 5923078164 0628620899 8628034825 3421170679

8214808651 3282306647 0938446095 5058223172 5359408128

4811174502 8410270193 8521105559 6446229489 5493038196

4428810975 6659334461 2847564823 3786783165 2712019091

4564856692 3460348610 4543266482 1339360726 0249141273

7245870066 0631558817 4881520920 9628292540 9171536436

7892590360 0113305305 4882046652 1384146951 9415116094

3305727036 5759591953 0921861173 8193261179 3105118548

0744623799 6274956735 1885752724 8912279381 8301194912


Pi is an infinite decimal. Unlike numbers such as 3, 9.876, and 4.5, which have finitely many nonzero numbers to the right of the decimal place, pi has infinitely many numbers to the right of the decimal point.

If you write pi down in decimal form, the numbers to the right of the 0 never repeat in a pattern. Some infinite decimals do have patterns - for instance, the infinite decimal .3333333... has all 3's to the right of the decimal point, and in the number .123456789123456789123456789... the sequence 123456789 is repeated. However, although many mathematicians have tried to find it, no repeating pattern for pi has been discovered - in fact, in 1768 Johann Lambert proved that there cannot be any such repeating pattern.

As a number that cannot be written as a repeating decimal or a finite decimal (you can never get to the end of it) pi is irrational: it cannot be written as a fraction (the ratio of two integers).

Pi is a very old number. We know that the Egyptians and the Babylonians knew about the existence of the constant ratio pi, although they didn't know its value nearly as well as we do today. They had figured out that it was a little bigger than 3; the Babylonians had an approximation of 3 1/8 (3.125), and the Egyptians had a somewhat worse approximation of 4*(8/9)^2 (about 3.160484), which is slightly less accurate and much harder to work with. For more, see A History of Pi by Petr Beckman (Dorset Press).

The modern symbol for pi [π ] was first used in our modern sense in 1706 by William Jones, who wrote:

There are various other ways of finding the Lengths or Areas of particular Curve Lines, or Planes, which may very much facilitate the Practice; as for instance, in the Circle, the Diameter is to the Circumference as 1 to (16/5 - 4/239) - 1/3(16/5^3 - 4/239^3) + ... = 3.14159... = (see A History of Mathematical Notation by Florian Cajori).

Pi (rather than some other Greek letter like Alpha or Omega) was chosen as the letter to represent the number 3.141592... because the letter [π ] in Greek, pronounced like our letter 'p', stands for 'perimeter'.


For a neat illustration…see Wiki here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pi

The Meaning of Life (42) and Pi

(Quoting from Scott Glazer): Trying to come up with a significant number to search for, I thought of 42 (the answer to life, the universe, and everything in Hitchhikers's Guide to the Galaxy.) 42 would be way too common of course, so I went for 424242. Came back that this shows up at position 242423. Add one (for the decimal point, I lamely rationalize here) and you get 242424, the reverse of the original input. Now that's meaningful... or something.

[Editors Note] Amusingly enough, the entire string returned is 242424242. If you disregard either of the ending twos, you find that it's the same position at which you find 42424242. Ahh, the palindromic possibilities inherent in a reversible meaning of life string. --Dave http://www.angio.net/pi/piquery#comments

Oh Number π (to the tune of O’Tanenbaum)

Oh, number Pi
Oh, number Pi
Your digits are unending,
Oh, number Pi
Oh, number Pi
No pattern are you sending.
You're three point one four one five nine,
And even more if we had time,
Oh, number Pi
Oh, number Pi
For circle lengths unbending.

Oh, number Pi
Oh, number Pi
You are a number very sweet,
Oh, number Pi
Oh, number Pi
Your uses are so very neat.
There's 2 Pi r and Pi r squared,
A half a circle and you're there,
Oh, number Pi
Oh, number Pi
We know that Pi's a tasty treat.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

What the....?

Stealing from my good friend LO from multiply, I decided to ramble on about what I saw in the news today.

This was the main story on the news during my drive to work: Mom Throws Kids From I-30, Then Jumps: All 3 Survive Drop DALLAS (CBS 11 News) ―
A mother faces at two counts of attempted capital murder after she dropped her two children more than 20 feet from the Jim Miller Bridge off Interstate 30 in Dallas.
Police do not know what prompted Khandi Busby to toss the children 22 feet over the railing and then jump herself, but consider the children lucky to have escaped death. Officials do know, however, that the trio was in a car with the woman's father who stopped to tend to his vehicle. According to reports, the 27-year-old woman grabbed her sons -- ages 6 and 8 -- and got out of the car, walked over to the bridge then threw the children off the bridge about 6:30 a.m. before she jumped. "Considering the traffic coming down on a work day, the kids are very, very lucky they are not more severely injured," a police spokesman said Wednesday morning.
Wow. Not to make light of this, but I thought I had a tough morning....puts things in perspective, doesn't it?

Then there is this...which I am sure we are all sick of already: Spitzer resigns in disgrace over scandal NEW YORK - In a startlingly swift fall from grace, Gov. Eliot Spitzer resigned Wednesday after getting caught in a call-girl scandal that made a mockery of his straight-arrow image and left him facing the prospect of criminal charges and perhaps disbarment. I cannot allow my private failings to disrupt the people's work," Spitzer said, his weary-looking wife, Silda, standing at his side, again, as the corruption-fighting politician once known as Mr. Clean answered for his actions for the second time in three days. Ok...I highlighted "weary looking wife" and wondered why the author of this article thought this was necessary. Is that the reason Spitzer was involved with call girls, because his wife didn't take care of herself, or what?

And you just have to wonder if this is a hoax: Woman sat on toilet for 2 years WICHITA, Kan. - Authorities are considering charges in the bizarre case of a woman who sat on her boyfriend's toilet for two years — so long that her body was stuck to the seat by the time the boyfriend finally called police. Yeah...you have to read this to believe that I am not making this one up:
And lastly, how could I resist? 'Gilligan's' Mary Ann caught with dope . DRIGGS, Idaho - Dawn Wells, who played Mary Ann on "Gilligan's Island," is serving six months' unsupervised probation after allegedly being caught with marijuana in her car. On Oct. 18, Teton County sheriff's Deputy Joseph Gutierrez arrested Wells as she was driving home from a surprise birthday party that was held for her. According to the sheriff's office report, Gutierrez pulled Wells over after noticing her swerve and repeatedly speed up and slow down. When Gutierrez asked about a marijuana smell, Wells said she'd just given a ride to three hitchhikers and had dropped them off when they began smoking something. Gutierrez found half-smoked joints and two small cases used to store marijuana. She said she was swerving on the road because she was trying to find the heater controls in her new car. Tsk Tsk Mary Ann...you should never pick up hitchhikers! Click on this to see her mug shot, which is pretty funny...all things considered.