Wednesday, December 31, 2008

You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)

Of course this disco song, an icon of the late 70's era, was featured in "Milk." ((In my opinion, I'm actually glad they didn't saturate the movie but background music. I think it's the cheap way out to just plug in some music and call it the era).

This video is hilarious. It's got that foggy-colored look of early videos. Sylvester, man or woman, is the biggest drag queen I've ever seen (well, almost). The waif, jogging suit dancers are a riot! (I don't know what those two women are trying to do to each other, butt to butt). And the lip syncing at the end is horribly mismatched! And of course what would a boogie night be without a disco ball!

Harvey Milk

I finally saw the film 'Milk' tonight. It's the first movie I've gone out to see for a long time. The film was very emotional, inspiring, and of course I love Sean Penn. Not to mention I loved the setting--- San Francisco in the late 1970's.

I was about 13 or 14 at the time, but I didn't have any awareness of the gay rights battles that were going on. In fact I'm pretty amazed that the Briggs proposition was defeated in California. That's 30 years ago!


Unfortunately I do remember Anita Bryant.

I think she was on the cover of Time magazine, which my Dad had a subscription to. God was she scary! And so wasn't Briggs!


Some years ago I saw the documentary "The Times of Harvey Milk" (1984). Last night I came home directly from the movie "Milk" and watched the documentary again. Here it is for your viewing pleasure. If you have any trouble with this viewing go directly to Hulu.com.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Favorite Movies A-Z

Here's a Monday Morning Meme. Your task is to list your favorite movie titles, from A to Z. I promptly went to my Netflix rating list & found plenty of highly rated movies. Unfortunately, many started with the same letters, so I had to painstakingly choose among my dearest favorites. For other letters, I had to stretch it a bit, as you can imagine. There aren't too many X and Z movie titles out there.

Amadeus (1984)
Babette’s Feast (1987)
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958)
Drugstore Cowboy (1989)
Elizabeth I (2005)
Fargo (1996)
Gandhi (1982)
Henry and June (1990)
I Shot Andy Warhol (1996)
Julia (1977)
Ken Burn’s Civil War (1990)
Laundrette, My Beautiful (1986)
My Brilliant Career (1979)
Notorious (1946)
Ordinary People (1980)
Piano, The (1993)
Queen, The (2006)
Rear Window (1954)
Summer of Sam (1999)
Taxi Driver (1976)
Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988)
Vertigo (1958)
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
X-Files
Young Frankenstein (1974)
Zorro, The Gay Blade

Sunday, December 28, 2008

101 Things in 1001 Days

Perhaps you've heard of this meme. The task is to list and complete 101 goals in 1001 days. I've thought about making the list and completing it before. In honor of the coming year, 2009, here is my list. As you can see, I haven't got 101 goals yet, but I'm sure I'll come up with a few more. Most of them are serious, and several are coded or abbreviated for privacy. I struggled with listing what I realistically could complete, as opposed to what I'd wish or dream to complete. This list is a little of both. I suppose if I got 70% done that would be cool.



101 in 1,001 days
  1. finish reading mayflower
  2. read Walden pond
  3. read the universe in a single atom
  4. finish reading proust & the squid
  5. transfer funds from obra X
  6. direct deposit to orange acct.X
  7. make t-shirtsX
  8. go to bank abt. pmiX
  9. get 2nd job in bookstore
  10. visit Iceland
  11. visit grand canyonX
  12. visit montreal
  13. visit western Canada
  14. visit new mexico
  15. visit las vegasX
  16. nyc ellis island
  17. nyc the strand bookstore
  18. nyc judy Chicago
  19. visit Chicago
  20. visit Wisconsin
  21. visit n. s. Dakota
  22. make dentist appt.X
  23. go to dentistX
  24. get c.X
  25. exercise 2x wk 60% for 3 months X
  26. hair cut/perm colorX
  27. disability insurance
  28. Tibetan singing bowlX
  29. camera fixed or newX
  30. lose weight to 175X
  31. mediate daily for 1 weekX
  32. glacier national parkX
  33. yoga wkly 80% for 4 months
  34. get m
  35. sound barrier on door
  36. insulate windows in bd. & k X
  37. send inquiry to limerick, ireX
  38. return book to border’sX
  39. have friend appreciation partyX
  40. close b of a credit cardX
  41. pay off car loanX
  42. refinance
  43. indoor skydiving
  44. go to antiques fairX
  45. take literature class
  46. take basic Norwegian
  47. bookmakingX
  48. land in maine
  49. hybrid car
  50. mini cooper
  51. paint bdrm.
  52. get ticket to fenway dance X
  53. join non-fiction book club
  54. civil war pantsX
  55. frame or hang rug
  56. hang posters in laundry roomX
  57. move treadmillX
  58. sign up for 2nd cello classX
  59. bring lunch to work 70% for 3 monthsX
  60. visit Alaska
  61. do a 3 day fastX
  62. backpacking trip
  63. see Little Big Horn
  64. cross country scooter trip
  65. see American Indian reservationX
  66. sweat lodge
  67. put case on back of scooterX
  68. tune up for carX
  69. go for walks with n
  70. update resumeX
  71. get up off chair X
  72. sign up for journaling course
  73. extra lights on scooter
  74. massages 1x month for 3 months
  75. buy teasX
  76. write in grateful journal 2x month for 6 monthsX
  77. get another bookcaseX
  78. try para-gliding
  79. take collage classX
  80. cook a dinner for friendsX
  81. get a tattoo
  82. buy a watchX
  83. play tourist in concord, ma
  84. finish 101 things listX
  85. get on earthwatch website againX
  86. close s. credit cardX
  87. take spanish & get a B
  88. read Lolita
  89. read anglos, saxons, celts
  90. get iron on patch for pants X
  91. no x for 900 more daysX
  92. get flower box for porchX
  93. return celloX
  94. organize laundry roomX
  95. organize photographs
  96. plan earthwatch trip
  97. organzie tools/ cleaning suppliesX
  98. go to marathon sportsX
  99. order new checksX
  100. go check on pdp pointsX
101. pay tax refund towards credit cardX

Negative Thinking



Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Paranormal

This seems to be a good a time as any to delve into the paranormal. Despite being a skeptic, I find the lure of this subject irresistible and entertaining. I've been watching a few 'ghost hunting' shows, "Ghost Hunters" and "Ghost Hunters International" on SCIFI. After watching several shows, here are some of my observations.

1. Probably the best part of the show is that you get to see beautiful old houses, castles, lighthouses, inns, forts, etc... and you get to hear some
history.

2. It's interesting to listen to people's stories. Whether 'provable' or not, their experiences seem very real.


3. Unfortunately, most of the recordings made by the teams are nebulous. The team always investigates in the pitch dark (why? I don't know), and are talking, moving around, and wearing clothes that make rustling noises. The team 'hears' something (usually a footstep or thump), but the viewer does not clearly hear the same. There's also strangely malfunctioning equipment right at the critical moment.


4. The same dramatic scene is played out again and again. The team hears something, runs in the other room, and lo and behold, "There's no one there!"


5. It seems that in this modern age, many houses have 'electrical hot spots' in the basement or walls. This may explain a lot of 'paranormal' or 'poltergeist' activity.


6. Most of the sites investigated by the team are business places or historical sites for tourists. It adds quite a bit of attraction to claim the site is 'haunted.' The setting also gets featured on T.V. Free advertising. hmmmm.


7. Occasionally, the team records something very intriguing. For example, they record a moving figure on the thermal camera, or an unmistakable, clear voice. In this case, it's either outright fraud by the T.V. crew, or there is something there that's unexplainable.

8. Guess what? We'll never know.......

Saturday, December 20, 2008

N.D.E.'s Near Death Experiences

N.D.E.'s, or Near Death Experiences, are rather intriguing. I remember reading Raymond Moody's book "Life After Life" when I was in high school. At the time I determined that N.D.E.s were the result of the brain's reaction to extreme stress and pain. I'm still convinced on this point, but I have an open mind.

Of course the big question is: are N.D.E's proof of 'life after death,' or, that our consciousness can exist outside the physical body?
If our consciousness can exist outside the physical, then all the facts we currently have about neuroscience and physics will be challenged.

That's a big tamale, if you think about it. Here are my random thoughts about Near Death Experiences.


1. There seems to be no doubt in my mind that the
experience, to these people, is very real and very vivid. People have painstakingly accurate recall, and often their lives are significantly altered after the N.D.E.

2. On the other hand, we know
other events can bring on such vivid 'hallucinations,' such as drugs, extreme emotional trauma, epilepsy, and sudden acceleration of the body (jet pilots have reported these experiences).

3. I'm intrigued that the majority of people report an experience that closely parallels a Buddhist philosophy of life; one I happen to have an affinity for.


4. It's interesting that prior to modern medicine, N.D.E.s are rarely, or vaguely, reported. Is it because with modern
resuscitation methods, and modern drugs, more people 'live to tell the tale?' Or, centuries earlier more people believed in god and afterlife, so reports of such experiences were hardly surprising or newsworthy? Finally, is it because modern medicine and procedures cause these events?

5. The 'out of body' portion of the experience is most intriguing to me. People report hearing conversations of loved ones and medical personnel verbatim, while in a coma, or 'unconscious.' People see their own body from above, and can later report details they couldn't have seen with their physical eyes.


6. I'd be willing to consider that there are aspects of human consciousness that we are yet to understand. But science should be able to prove it, and, this higher level consciousness would not be exclusive to humans.


Here are some reported N.D.E.'s. Enjoy tickling your brain.


Friday, December 19, 2008

The Baron's Antique Roadshow

Found here in Bellingsgreens, Kansas
1. Jessie Driftlow's Civil War Pipe


2. Aunt Millicent & Her Special Plate
















3. 3 Old Ladies Born in 1902
















4. Judge Pipshaw's False Teeth








5. Old Maid Larson's 1903 Bloomers & Matching Stockings















6. An OriginalBag of Hortense Weegleworth's Old Home Flour

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Lyric Misunderstandings

Everyone has had the experience.... Thinking the lyrics to a song say something very strange..... Wondering if you're the only person on the planet that doesn't quite understand these lyrics, until you find out the true lyrics later. Here are some of mine:

1. Bennie and the Jets, Elton John

ME: "she's got electric boobs, her ma does too,
you know I read it in a magazine...."

REALITY: "she's got electric boots, a mohair suit,
you know I read it in a magazine..."

2. Everybody Plays the Fool, Main Ingredient

When I was about 8, because of the music, I thought the song was, "Everybody plays the flute." But I thought it odd. I knew plenty of people that didn't play the flute. In fact, I didn't know anybody that played the flute.

3. Scar Tissue, Red Hot Chili Peppers

ME: "With bird shit it's a lonely view....."

REALITY: "with the bird I'll share this lonely view..."

Saturday, December 6, 2008

If You're Miserable & You Know It Find a Friend

This landmark research study, published in BMJ, has been getting a lot of buzz lately. Basically, the study concludes that other people's happiness 'spreads' and elevates our own. All I can say is: "Come on, happy person, be my friend!"

This citing is the abstract. For the full published article, go to http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/337/dec04_2/a2338

Published 4 December 2008, doi:10.1136/bmj.a2338
Cite this as: BMJ 2008;337:a2338

Research

Dynamic spread of happiness in a large social network: longitudinal analysis over 20 years in the Framingham Heart Study

James H Fowler, associate professor1, Nicholas A Christakis, professor2

1 Department of Political Science, University of California, San Diego, CA, USA , 2 Department of Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical School, and Department of Sociology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA

Correspondence to: N A Christakis christak@hcp.med.harvard.edu

Objectives To evaluate whether happiness can spread from person to person and whether niches of happiness form within social networks.

Design Longitudinal social network analysis.

Setting Framingham Heart Study social network.

Participants 4739 individuals followed from 1983 to 2003.

Main outcome measures Happiness measured with validated four item scale; broad array of attributes of social networks and diverse social ties.

Results Clusters of happy and unhappy people are visible in the network, and the relationship between people’s happiness extends up to three degrees of separation (for example, to the friends of one’s friends’ friends). People who are surrounded by many happy people and those who are central in the network are more likely to become happy in the future. Longitudinal statistical models suggest that clusters of happiness result from the spread of happiness and not just a tendency for people to associate with similar individuals. A friend who lives within a mile (about 1.6 km) and who becomes happy increases the probability that a person is happy by 25% (95% confidence interval 1% to 57%). Similar effects are seen in coresident spouses (8%, 0.2% to 16%), siblings who live within a mile (14%, 1% to 28%), and next door neighbours (34%, 7% to 70%). Effects are not seen between coworkers. The effect decays with time and with geographical separation.

Conclusions People’s happiness depends on the happiness of others with whom they are connected. This provides further justification for seeing happiness, like health, as a collective phenomenon.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Separated At Birth?

Is Steve Tyler of Aerosmith the missing link in human evolution?
VS = ?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

3 Glorious Cello Pieces

I love the cello, and since September I've been taking an absolute beginner's class. When I can't even play 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,' it's amazing to see Yo Yo Ma and Jacqueline du Pre play.

Below are 3 pieces I think are sublime. Actually, I found out the third piece features the viola
da gamba, not the cello. I still included it, though, because I love it.

Tuesday I will be participating in my final cello class for the semester. We will put on a mini concert, and have some drinks and snacks. Our teacher will also be playing for us. If any friends want to come, they are welcome.


1. Yo-Yo Ma "Prelude -Bach's Cello Suite No. 1"


2. Jacqueline du Pre "Elgar, Cello Concerto in E minor, opus 85 1st mov."



3. Marin Marais "Sonnerie de Sainte-Genvieve du Mont-de-Paris"

Sunday, November 30, 2008

3 Best Songs About Drug Addiction

I know this may be a queer subject. I've never taken hard drugs, but plenty of other poisons. In my opinion, these fantastic songs capture the angst of addiction. Do you have a few more suggestions?

1. White Rabbit Jefferson Airplane 1969

http://prisken.free.fr/musique/Jefferson%20Airplane%20-%20White%20Rabbit.mp3

2. Ashes To Ashes David Bowie 1980

David Bowie - Ashes To Ashes.mp3 - David Bowie

3. Jane Says Jane's Addiction 1988

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Family Recipes

Thanksgiving is often the time to drag old family recipes off the dusty shelves. Every year, my grandmother made Waldorf Salad on Thanksgiving. This year I decided to make it. I made a variation of her recipe, and also searched online to discover there are many versions of this dish---- tropical, New York style, curry.....
Here's my concoction:

Waldorf Salad
Serves about 6

4 cups peeled diced apples

3/4 cup orange juice

1 cup diced celery

2/3 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 mayo

2/3 cup dried cranberries

Cut up the apples and place them in a mixing bowl with the orange juice. Stir until the apples are coated with juice. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes. Drain the apples very well. Add the remaining ingredients to the apples. Chill the salad for 1 hour before serving.


Ta Dah! Everybody liked it.....

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Wordsworth & Pink Floyd

Last night I was at a birthday party, which ended with a group of us having a sing-a-long. As I was leaving, the group was singing Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb." I love this song, and know every word.

It has long been on my mind how this song reminds me of the Romantic poets---Wordsworth, Shelley, Keats, etc.

Long, long ago in college, I remember discussing the philosophy of the Romantic poets, which I was very intrigued with. Wordsworth (1770-1850) ardently believed in the sanctity of the natural world, as a pathway to a spiritual "oneness". If the material world "is too much with us," we get out of tune with the oneness, and become spiritually bereft. Wordsworth also believed that children were naturally closer to the 'oneness'.


Wordsworth also lived during the time of the impeding Industrial Revolution in England, which dramatically altered rural life, and encroached upon the natural world. I have often thought about how Pink Floyd's lyrics express Wordsworth's belief, about how children can see and feel the spiritual world, without even realizing.


In the case of Pink Floyd, however, it is drugs that bring you closer to this "oneness."

William Wordsworth, 1806
The world is too much with us; late and soon,

Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;

Little we see in Nature that is ours;

We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!

This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon,

The winds that will be howling at all hours,

And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers,

For this, for everything, we are out of tune;

It moves us not.--Great God!
I'd rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;

Have sight of
Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old
Triton blow his wreathed horn.




Pink Floyd "Comfortably Numb" 1979

Hello? Is there anybody in there?
Just nod if you can hear me.

Is there anyone at home?

Come on, Come on, Come on, now,

I hear you're feeling down.

I can ease your pain

Get you on your feet again.

Relax.
I'll need some information first.
Just the basic facts.
Can you show me where it hurts?


There is no pain you are receding

A distant ship's smoke on the horizon.

You are only coming through in waves.

Your lips move but I can't hear what you're saying.

When I was a child I had a FEVER
My hands felt just like two balloons.

Now I've got that feeling once again

I can't explain, you would not understand
This is not how I am.


I have become comfortably numb.
(solo)
I have become comfortably numb.


O.K.
Just a little pin prick.
There'll be no more aaaaaaaaah!

But you may feel a little sick.

Can you stand up?

I do believe it's working, good.
That'll keep you going through the show

Come on it's time to go.

There is no pain you are receding

A distant ship's smoke on the horizon.

You are only coming through in waves.

Your lips move but I can't hear what you're saying.

When I was a child
I caught a fleeting glimpse
Out of the corner of my eye.

I turned to look but it was gone

I cannot put my finger on it now

The child is grown,

The dream is gone.

I have become comfortably numb.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Graphs and Charts

There's a fun website called http://graphjam.com/. You can make your own silly pie charts, line graphs, bar graphs, flow charts, and Venn diagrams. Here are a couple of pies and charts other folks created, that I thought were funny.
song chart memes
song chart memes
song chart memes
more song chart memes

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Enchanted Ceilings

I discovered this great meme website--www.enchantedceiling.com--. What a great title! Participants post photos of the sky from all areas around the earth. It's pretty cool. Check it out. Here are a few pictures of places that meant something to me. The artists' names are above. I'd like to submit my own enchanted ceiling soon.
1. North Conway, NH by Michael Rowland

2. Lebec, Maine by Chessie

3. Harbour Grace, Newfoundland by Karen Chappel (my grandmother's birthplace)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Grandmother's Quips

My maternal grandmother had an awesome sense of humor. She often repeated odd turns of phrase and told many a joke. I've been trying to remember all her quips and jokes, and write them down. Help family! I may keep adding to this list:

"This is the Westinghouse. And I'm westing."

"For years they called it yelly. And now they calls it yam."


Woman to husband: "There's 3 kinds of turds in this world. Mustard. Custard. And you you big shit."

"I ain't worried about your carfare. It's your welfare."

"Copacetic!"


As she bends over stiffly to pick something up: "How to keep from going old!"

As she says something very obvious: "Shakespeare!"


"An old Italian man goes into town to sign up for social security. When he gets there, he realizes he forgot the papers to prove his age. After he gets home he tells his wife: "I forgot my papers! I had to show the young lady the gray hairs on my chest to prove my age!" Wife quips: "You should have showed her something else. You would have got disability."


After many days in the house. "Get me out of here. I've got cabin fever."


"Skal vi ga hjem?" (Norwegian: Shall we go home?)

Person 1: "Hey, Did you hear about the gas explosion at Ma and Pa's?"
Person 2: "No, What happened?"
Person 1: "The roof came clear off."
Person 2: "Oh my."
Person 1: "Yeah. It's the first time ma and pa have been out together in years."

Person 1 (digging the butt of his trousers)
Person 2 "You going to the movies?"
Person 1 "No."
Person 2 "Well, you're picking your seat."

Meme

Sometimes I just need: a hot bath

Sometimes I want: something I can't have

Sometimes I like to: eat junk instead of dinner

Sometimes all it takes: is one thin dime

Sometimes I picture: romantic love

Sometimes I wish: I could live through my 30's again

Sometimes I find: a crumpled up dollar

Sometimes I take: what's not mine

Sometimes I look: at scary things

Sometimes I hate: what should be but won't change

Sometimes it’s nice: to say something clearly

Sometimes it hurts: when my heart is wounded

Sometimes it makes me happy: when I light candles

Sometimes it’s sad: when I think of the past

Sometimes I listen: to music

Sometimes I sleep: in the day

Sometimes I like to watch: true T.V. crime shows

Sometimes I feel: lousy

Sometimes I rant: about sexism

Sometimes I never: feel I can pay off my loans

Sometimes I really: wish it were true

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

New Books!

Spent two hours wandering blissfully in the Brookline Booksmith last night. Once I pass the threshold of temptation and decide to buy one or two books, I go for 4 or 5. Why not? At least some of them were bargain books!
1. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic. by Alison Bechdel

2. Buddha is as Buddha Does:The Ten Original Practices for Enlightened Living. by Lama Surya Das

3. American Bloomsbury: Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau: Their Lives, Loves, Their Work. by Susan Cheever

4. 1968: The Year That Rocked the World. by Mark Kurlansky.


5. Stiff: The Curious Life of Human Cadavers. by
Mary Roach

Happy Reading!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Yes We Can!

I heard about the Barack Obama action figure doll when I read a story about the Chicago rally on election eve. Instantly I wanted one to add to my collection! Tonight I found Obama at the Brookline Booksmith. He rode home with me on my scooter, and now he's standing and pointing his finger at my cats and telling them they should have voted.











Kitty thinks: "I'll vote.... purr... after I bite your head off...."

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Come over and see me sometime.....

Ernest Leslie Downing (grandmother's brother); Lillian Downing (sister in law) Cyril Downing (brother)
Here are some fun pictures of my grandmother and her friends and relatives in the early 1930's. I love the 'flapper' fashions of the time. What a fun era that must of been to experience! "A flapper" refers to a young woman who defied the times. The style of the day called for short, bobbed hair, short skirts, fancy hats, and clunky shoes. Women no longer wore corsets. After the end of W.W. I and the passage of the right to vote, women enjoyed more liberties. Many even began smoking, drinking, and driving cars! Oh my!
Lillian Downing; friend; Cecil Downing (grandmother's brother);Isabel Downing (grandmother's sister)

Prohibition was a desperate, conservative response to the excesses of the Roaring Twenties. My great-grandmother Mary Margaret solved the problem of Prohibition by having a whiskey distillery in her apartment in Chelsea. At the time, my grandmother's brother Cecil was a merchant marine and fisherman. My Norwegian grandfather Hjalmar was a seaman too. After many a fishing trip, Cecil would invite 'the guys' to his mother's house. That's how my grandparents met.
Grandmother Gwen and Lillian Downing

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Tiny Treasures

I keep little boxes of 'stuff.' When I was younger, my pack rat tendencies were much more pronounced. At the age of 7 I kept a frozen or petrified orange for months that I found on the floor of my father's car, under the seat. It was hard as a rock & fascinated me!
These days I curb my collection tendencies significantly, and I have more practical and adult concerns, but
some objects I simply must keep!
1. tiny camera 2. drawing by nephew 3. key 4. tiny football shirt 5. Mt. Rainier pin 6. cowgirl pin 7. pistol cuff-links 8. Norwegian krone 9. swirly pin 10. tiny wood pipe

1. picture of grandmother
2. dumb & dumber pin
3. tiny wooden box
4. picture of nephew
5. tiny tarot pack
6. naked lady pin
7. piece of clay pipe found in yard
8. hula girl cuff-links
9. Vespa girl pouch
10. ruby ring

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Beloved Cello

The mournful sound of the cello seems to fit late Fall. Here I am vainly attempting my open strings----C, G, D, A. I love the richness of the C string, (look at it vibrate!)and the G string. The sound of these two strings reverberates through your body. The D string gives me the most trouble, because it's easy to hit the other strings. To me, A sounds somewhat whiny.


Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Tell Tale Heart

In honor of Halloween-- one my favorite 'horror' stories---- Edgar Allan Poe's "The Tell Tale Heart (1843)."

TRUE! nervous, very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why WILL you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses, not destroyed, not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. How then am I mad? Hearken! and observe how healthily, how calmly, I can tell you the whole story.
It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brain, but, once conceived, it haunted me day and night. Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult. For his gold I had no desire. I think it was his eye! Yes, it was this! One of his eyes resembled that of a vulture -- a pale blue eye with a film over it. Whenever it fell upon me my blood ran cold, and so by degrees, very gradually, I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye for ever.

Now this is the point. You fancy me mad. Madmen know nothing. But you should have seen me. You should have seen how wisely I proceeded -- with what caution -- with what foresight, with what dissimulation, I went to work! I was never kinder to the old man than during the whole week before I killed him. And every night about midnight I turned the latch of his door and opened it oh, so gently! And then, when I had made an opening sufficient for my head, I put in a dark lantern all closed, closed so that no light shone out, and then I thrust in my head. Oh, you would have laughed to see how cunningly I thrust it in! I moved it slowly, very, very slowly, so that I might not disturb the old man's sleep. It took me an hour to place my whole head within the opening so far that I could see him as he lay upon his bed. Ha! would a madman have been so wise as this? And then when my head was well in the room I undid the lantern cautiously -- oh, so cautiously -- cautiously (for the hinges creaked), I undid it just so much that a single thin ray fell upon the vulture eye. And this I did for seven long nights, every night just at midnight, but I found the eye always closed, and so it was impossible to do the work, for it was not the old man who vexed me but his Evil Eye. And every morning, when the day broke, I went boldly into the chamber and spoke courageously to him, calling him by name in a hearty tone, and inquiring how he had passed the night. So you see he would have been a very profound old man, indeed , to suspect that every night, just at twelve, I looked in upon him while he slept.

Upon the eighth night I was more than usually cautious in opening the door. A watch's minute hand moves more quickly than did mine. Never before that night had I felt the extent of my own powers, of my sagacity. I could scarcely contain my feelings of triumph. To think that there I was opening the door little by little, and he not even to dream of my secret deeds or thoughts. I fairly chuckled at the idea, and perhaps he heard me, for he moved on the bed suddenly as if startled. Now you may think that I drew back -- but no. His room was as black as pitch with the thick darkness (for the shutters were close fastened through fear of robbers), and so I knew that he could not see the opening of the door, and I kept pushing it on steadily, steadily.

I had my head in, and was about to open the lantern, when my thumb slipped upon the tin fastening , and the old man sprang up in the bed, crying out, "Who's there?"
I kept quite still and said nothing. For a whole hour I did not move a muscle, and in the meantime I did not hear him lie down. He was still sitting up in the bed, listening; just as I have done night after night hearkening to the death watches in the wall.

Presently, I heard a slight groan, and I knew it was the groan of mortal terror. It was not a groan of pain or of grief -- oh, no! It was the low stifled sound that arises from the bottom of the soul when overcharged with awe. I knew the sound well. Many a night, just at midnight, when all the world slept, it has welled up from my own bosom, deepening, with its dreadful echo, the terrors that distracted me. I say I knew it well. I knew what the old man felt, and pitied him although I chuckled at heart. I knew that he had been lying awake ever since the first slight noise when he had turned in the bed. His fears had been ever since growing upon him. He had been trying to fancy them causeless, but could not. He had been saying to himself, "It is nothing but the wind in the chimney, it is only a mouse crossing the floor," or, "It is merely a cricket which has made a single chirp." Yes he has been trying to comfort himself with these suppositions ; but he had found all in vain. ALL IN VAIN, because Death in approaching him had stalked with his black shadow before him and enveloped the victim. And it was the mournful influence of the unperceived shadow that caused him to feel, although he neither saw nor heard, to feel the presence of my head within the room.

When I had waited a long time very patiently without hearing him lie down, I resolved to open a little -- a very, very little crevice in the lantern. So I opened it -- you cannot imagine how stealthily, stealthily -- until at length a single dim ray like the thread of the spider shot out from the crevice and fell upon the vulture eye.
It was open, wide, wide open, and I grew furious as I gazed upon it. I saw it with perfect distinctness -- all a dull blue with a hideous veil over it that chilled the very marrow in my bones, but I could see nothing else of the old man's face or person, for I had directed the ray as if by instinct precisely upon the damned spot.
And now have I not told you that what you mistake for madness is but over-acuteness of the senses? now, I say, there came to my ears a low, dull, quick sound, such as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton. I knew that sound well too. It was the beating of the old man's heart. It increased my fury as the beating of a drum stimulates the soldier into courage.

But even yet I refrained and kept still. I scarcely breathed. I held the lantern motionless. I tried how steadily I could maintain the ray upon the eye. Meantime the hellish tattoo of the heart increased. It grew quicker and quicker, and louder and louder, every instant. The old man's terror must have been extreme! It grew louder, I say, louder every moment! -- do you mark me well? I have told you that I am nervous: so I am. And now at the dead hour of the night, amid the dreadful silence of that old house, so strange a noise as this excited me to uncontrollable terror. Yet, for some minutes longer I refrained and stood still. But the beating grew louder, louder! I thought the heart must burst. And now a new anxiety seized me -- the sound would be heard by a neighbour! The old man's hour had come! With a loud yell, I threw open the lantern and leaped into the room. He shrieked once -- once only. In an instant I dragged him to the floor, and pulled the heavy bed over him. I then smiled gaily, to find the deed so far done. But for many minutes the heart beat on with a muffled sound. This, however, did not vex me; it would not be heard through the wall. At length it ceased. The old man was dead. I removed the bed and examined the corpse. Yes, he was stone, stone dead. I placed my hand upon the heart and held it there many minutes. There was no pulsation. He was stone dead. His eye would trouble me no more.

If still you think me mad, you will think so no longer when I describe the wise precautions I took for the concealment of the body. The night waned, and I worked hastily, but in silence.
I took up three planks from the flooring of the chamber, and deposited all between the scantlings. I then replaced the boards so cleverly so cunningly, that no human eye -- not even his -- could have detected anything wrong. There was nothing to wash out -- no stain of any kind -- no blood-spot whatever. I had been too wary for that.

When I had made an end of these labours, it was four o'clock -- still dark as midnight. As the bell sounded the hour, there came a knocking at the street door. I went down to open it with a light heart, -- for what had I now to fear? There entered three men, who introduced themselves, with perfect suavity, as officers of the police. A shriek had been heard by a neighbour during the night; suspicion of foul play had been aroused; information had been lodged at the police office, and they (the officers) had been deputed to search the premises.
I smiled, -- for what had I to fear? I bade the gentlemen welcome. The shriek, I said, was my own in a dream. The old man, I mentioned, was absent in the country. I took my visitors all over the house. I bade them search -- search well. I led them, at length, to his chamber. I showed them his treasures, secure, undisturbed. In the enthusiasm of my confidence, I brought chairs into the room, and desired them here to rest from their fatigues, while I myself, in the wild audacity of my perfect triumph, placed my own seat upon the very spot beneath which reposed the corpse of the victim.

The officers were satisfied. My MANNER had convinced them. I was singularly at ease. They sat and while I answered cheerily, they chatted of familiar things. But, ere long, I felt myself getting pale and wished them gone. My head ached, and I fancied a ringing in my ears; but still they sat, and still chatted. The ringing became more distinct : I talked more freely to get rid of the feeling: but it continued and gained definitiveness -- until, at length, I found that the noise was NOT within my ears.

No doubt I now grew VERY pale; but I talked more fluently, and with a heightened voice. Yet the sound increased -- and what could I do? It was A LOW, DULL, QUICK SOUND -- MUCH SUCH A SOUND AS A WATCH MAKES WHEN ENVELOPED IN COTTON. I gasped for breath, and yet the officers heard it not. I talked more quickly, more vehemently but the noise steadily increased. I arose and argued about trifles, in a high key and with violent gesticulations; but the noise steadily increased. Why WOULD they not be gone? I paced the floor to and fro with heavy strides, as if excited to fury by the observations of the men, but the noise steadily increased. O God! what COULD I do? I foamed -- I raved -- I swore! I swung the chair upon which I had been sitting, and grated it upon the boards, but the noise arose over all and continually increased. It grew louder -- louder -- louder! And still the men chatted pleasantly , and smiled. Was it possible they heard not? Almighty God! -- no, no? They heard! -- they suspected! -- they KNEW! -- they were making a mockery of my horror! -- this I thought, and this I think. But anything was better than this agony! Anything was more tolerable than this derision! I could bear those hypocritical smiles no longer! I felt that I must scream or die! -- and now -- again -- hark! louder! louder! louder! LOUDER! --
"Villains!" I shrieked, "dissemble no more! I admit the deed! -- tear up the planks! -- here, here! -- it is the beating of his hideous heart!"

Monday, October 27, 2008

3 Question Personality Test

If you haven't got much time, and can't afford a shrink, then take the 3 question (3 second) personality test. It's based on the Myers Briggs system, which I think is one of the best. I'm an INFJ, hence, an idealist. See what you are.....

Your Personality Is
Idealist (NF)

You are a passionate, caring, and unique person.
You are good at expressing yourself and sharing your ideals.
You are the most compassionate of all types and connect with others easily.
Your heart tends to rule you. You can't make decisions without considering feelings.
You seek out other empathetic people to befriend.
Truth and authenticity matters in your friendships.
In love, you give everything you have to relationships
. You fall in love easily.
At work, you crave personal expression and meaning in your career.
With others, you communicate well.
You can spend all night talking with someone.
As far as your looks go, you've likely taken the time to develop your own personal style.
On weekends, you like to be with others. Charity work is also a favorite pastime of yours.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

New Scooter!

There can't be anything more exciting than buying a new scooter! I just got to ride it 11 miles back to my house. It goes faster than my other scooter, and it's black! I also bought a new raincoat/ reflective vest, and a lock. Too bad the weather wasn't better for riding today.........

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Little People

Anthropologists can't believe it, but in 2003 they actually found evidence of a 'hobbit-like' people that lived on the island of Flores in Indonesia, as recently as 18,000 to 13, 000 thousand years ago. These people, which evolutionary biologists think were an offshoot cousin (pardon the pun) of the Homo erectus in Asia, were about the size of a three year old child. As modern humans moved into Asia, and our Homo erectus ancestors eventually became extinct, scientists believe that the 'hobbit' people were locked in time on the island, and survived. "Homo Floresiensio" may have co-existed with modern humans for 30,000 years until they died out!

Apparently there are legends in the surrounding Indonesian islands about little people living in caves. Indeed there must have been some interaction between modern humans and Homo Floresiensio. Anthropologists believe that the Flores people may have evolved a small stature through natural selection. Living in a contained environment, their small stature may have been an advantageous adaptation to food supply sources and sharing territory. Despite their small brains, Homo Floresiensio hunted in groups, formed stone tools, crossed water barriers, and used fire.


Other anthropologists dispute that the hobbits were a separate species of Homo, but think they were a group of 'cretin' or deformed modern humans that were isolated on the island. But Homo Floresiensio existed on the island from 95,000 thousand years ago to 13,000 thousand years ago,
before modern humans arrived in the area. Homo erectus was the only known species of Homo living in Indonesia 95,000 years ago.

It is truly amazing that Homo Floresiensio (13,000 years ago) may have been our last Homo cousin to walk the earth, at a time when scientists assumed modern humans completely dominated the planet.
Unless Yeti is real......

Friday, October 17, 2008

Fall


There's nothing like autumn in New England. Beautiful scenery and fun things to do. Here are some photos of my nephew and niece having fun last weekend in Maine.