October 31, 2003

You Asked, Bill Answers

The ever-fabulous and never-patient Bill Cimino has answered your questions!

Click it...you know you want to.

If you could trade lives with anyone for 24 hours, who would you choose, and

Someone who is in a coma. I'm exhausted and could use the rest.

If you could be any other blogger for one day, who would you choose?

You. I always wondered what it would be like to have boobs. I wouldn't
blog either. I'd just sit there topless all day touching them.

Why did you just look at your watch?

Because you people bore me to death and I can't wait to get out of here.

Do you still think Frank J is the most over-rated blogger? I mean, hasn't
everyone gotten over him by now anyway?

I guess not. I mean he's funny and all but man, the typos. The new most
over-rated blogger is VodkaPundit. He writes some inane crap every three
days and still gets a million hits. It's enough to make me want to throw my
blog out the damn window.

Are the rumors that you are a closet Indymedia moderator true?

Yes but it's not my fault. It's because of them damn

Is it better to have places like Indymedia where the bent can gather or to
have those people diffused into society?

I have no idea what that question means. Bent? Diffused? But I'll take a
crack at it anyway. I think they should go where everybody knows their
names. Hopefully all their names are "Norm" because it's fun yelling that
name out when you're in a bar and your hammered.

The Blogosphere seems unable to remove Rachel Lucas from its collective
blogroll, despite her apparent retirement. Why is this?

She's retired? Holy crap! Wait a minute. I just checked her site and
she's just taking a break, you liar. I will never, ever, never take her off
my blog roll even if she gets hit by a minivan or something because she is a
friend and has done more for me than any other blogger. She singlehandedly
set up my website. Hell, she still has access to it and can blog as me if
she wanted. And just between you and me, some days I suck so bad I wish she
would. I would just wake up one morning and there would be this great post
there that I didn't write but of course would take credit for. So the
answer is - because she's hot.

Is John Collins really living alone among Haitians, or is he just afraid to
admit to his "problem"?

He's among the Haitians. And they are some scary people with that voodoo
they do. Remember that movie with all the Haitians in it and zombies all
dancing around to those drums and then I think some spiders hatched out that
lady's face. Man, that was scary. Anyway, poor John is now one of the
living dead and as everyone knows, the living dead can't blog. Except for

Which bloggers, if any, are influential to you?

You mean who influences me? Can you people write a sentence that I can
understand? If that's what your asking, I guess the usual - Lileks,
Michele, I can't believe I'm about to say this but...Frank J. Damnit, I
can't believe I just did that. I would also say Paul at Sanity's Edge but
he's a jackass so nevermind him.

What's with all the crap on your blog? You have crappy posts, crappy
choices in your polls, etc. Do you run a crappy blog?

Do you really need to ask? Are you a moron? That's the stupidest question
I ever been asked. The answer is yes. I started out trying not to be
crappy but it all ended up as crap so I finally said to myself - Self, why
fight it? Just go with it. You were made to post crap. Plus, crap is one
of my favorite words. I'm also fond of the word bukkake.

What is the derivation of the word "bloviating"?

The Latins first used this word in it's original form "bloviatae" in 473 AD
when they were arguing in the Senate and Senator Dashulus Minimus was all
whining about "tax cuts for the wealthiest one percent of the Latins" and
"no blood for meade" and one of the Republican senators told him to stop
with the "bloviatum" and then wacked him with one of those metal wine

Would you give up your penis for a Hall Of Fame baseball career?

Are you out of you friggin' mind? I wouldn't give up Mr. Sparkles if you
made me rich, immortal and gave me the hall of fame career. I would think
about giving up a testicle though, if I could be paid to blog. So, if
enough of you go to my site and hit the tip jar and I get Andrew Sullivan
type cash, I'll lop off a nut. Promise.

When you majored in History in college, what was your favorite area of
study? (American, European, Ancient, etc?)

I hated Ancient history. All those Mesopotamiacs and Visigarths. I could
never keep track of them. I really hated that Egyptian crap too. Who
cares? It's a bunch of dead guys in gauze. I guess I like American history
most because we rule, but I thought the part about Germany and Italy
becoming nations was really interesting. Although Germany becoming a nation
didn't turn ou to be such a great idea after all. And the Italians are
useless. So forget all that European crap and let's go with American
history for $300, Alex.

If Jimmy Carter were President today, where would we be?

In a smouldering hole.

Be honest--how many dead mammals have you really found in your pool?

Just two. The possum and then a baby rabbit in the skimmer. And one live
frog but I don't think frogs are mammals. I also threw my father-in-law in
the pool once but he didn't die.

Does the revelation that Marie Osmond had problems with depression make her
a) even cuter; or, b) even more repulsive?

Is she the "little bit country" one or the "little bit rock and roll" one?
I get them mixed up. Anyhoo, she is niether cute nor repulsive. She's
Marie Osmond. What do I think of her? I don't.

If you could kill 3 people and get away with it, who would they be and why?

Yassar Arafat because he's a murderous thug. And he's really ugly. Kim
Jong-Il...ditto. He deserves to die just for the poofy hair. And Yoko Ono.
I don't need a reason to kill her.

Besides Sweet Alice, who are the hottest chicks you know?

Do I have to know them? If so, what fun is that because you won't know
them. But if that's your question, I'd say my friends Maria and Janet.
Happy? If you just mean anybody, I'd say Carmen Electra although she
totally ruined it for me when she married Dennis Rodman. Why, God, why????

Who is the most repulsive? Me? Seriously.

You? God no. It's without question Helen Thomas. I have tuned out of
White House press conferences because of that thing she calls a face.

What is the best thing someone has ever done for you?

Alice married me.

Posted by Jennifer at 08:37 AM | Comments (12)

Presidential Fun Fact of the Day

Presidential Last Words.

Franklin Pierce (11/23/1804-10/8/1869): unknown.

James Buchanan (4/23/1791-6/1/1868): "Oh Lord, God Almighty, as Thou wilt."

Abraham Lincoln (2/12/1809-4/15/1865): unknown.

Andrew Johnson (12/29/1808-7/31/1875): unknown.

Ulysses S. Grant (4/27/1822-7/23/1885): "Water."

Rutherford B. Hayes (10/4/1822-1/17/1893): "I know I am going where Lucy is."

Posted by Jennifer at 12:00 AM | Comments (1)

October 30, 2003

Terrible Shocking Mutilated Death

Today marks the 65th anniversary of the War of the Worlds radio broadcast. Which reminds me of something that happened years before that.

In the 1870s, reportedly to satisfy his own ego, one newspaper man conceived of a hoax that kept the streets of New York City empty.

James Gordon Bennett, the publisher of the New York Herald, bragged to his friends that he could make the public do anything he wanted. He said he'd prove it by keeping New Yorkers at home the next day.

Sure enough, the next day found the streets of New York deserted...the morning paper carried headlines about escaped animals from the zoo. "Terrible Scenes of Mutilation" and a "Shocking Carnival of Death" were promised to greet the citizens who wandered outside.

After several hours, people realized it was a hoax and slowly the city came back to life.

(The source for the above is Reader's Digest, but I found this, which explains it a bit differently. Draw your own conclusions.)

Posted by Jennifer at 07:55 AM | Comments (3)

Presidential Fun Fact of the Day

Presidential Last Words.

James Polk (11/2/1795-6/15/1849): "I love you, Sarah, for all eternity, I love you."

Zachary Taylor (11/24/1784-7/9/1850): "I am sorry that I am about to leave my friends."

Millard Fillmore (1/7/1800-3/8/1874): "The nourishment is palatable."

Posted by Jennifer at 12:02 AM | Comments (3)

*Ask Jen

Reader Pete wants to know, "Since the Swiss currently hold the Americas Cup where are they going to have the race? Last time I checked Switzerland was a landlocked country."

"Somewhere in Europe." That is the answer I was given, and since I don't really give one of Victor's rat's asses about the America's Cup, I didn't pursue it further. :-)

Reader Amy asks, "Who is Samuel Adams and why is a tasty beer named after him?"

Samuel Adams was an older cousin of President John Adams, and a signer of the Declaration of Independence. He inherited his father's brewery business and a significant amount of wealth with it...but he squandered his inheritance and ruined his father's business. He was one of the most radical of the patriots, and did a good job instigating rebellion. He was the chief architect of the politics that led to the Boston Tea Party, but mostly faded from the national picture after the Revolutionary War.

The Koch family, of Bavarian descent, started brewing Samuel Adams the beer. They are of no relation to the Adams family that I can tell. And for what it's worth, their website says Samuel Adams "was better at brewing beer than dissent". So that's pretty funny.

Do you have a question for me? You can e-mail it. If I know the answer, I'll answer it. If I don't, I might make something up.

Posted by Jennifer at 12:01 AM

October 29, 2003

Not sure if Al Gore was there...

On October 29, 1969, the first connection was made on what would become the internet. Data flowed between UCLA and Stanford Research Institute and marked the beginning of ARPANET, which was decommissioned in 1990.

By the end of 1969, UCLA, the Stanford Reserach Institute, UC-Santa Barbara, and the University of Utah were connected. Applications like e-mail and file transfer utilities were developed. By 1973, 75% of ARPANET traffic was e-mail.

Posted by Jennifer at 09:00 PM | Comments (3)

You Asked, Harvey Answers

Harvey has stepped up to the plate and hit a home run...check out his interview in the extended.

He discusses the BlogWar, BlogBabes, and of course...Graffiti Currency.

(He also thinks Daniel is "hunky", which is a little odd...but at least he has good taste, lol.)

Q: If you could get together any bloggers you wanted for any purpose, who would it be, and what would they do?

A: I’d get all the members of the Corner of the Bar Gang and Corner of the Bar Babes (as listed by Madfish Willie’s Cyber Saloon), together for a rollicking
drunken good evening of fun and conversation.

Orgy to follow in the Champagne Room.

Q: Do you blog just to flirt with female bloggers? What's your motivation?

A: Live to flirt, flirt to live.

Actually, the flirting is more just an outgrowth of being a smart-ass with a dirty mind. Taking innocent remarks the wrong way is a good source of humor, as is
making suggestive comments. Some women find bad boys appealing, and the next thing you know, hey... flirt happens.

I'm not sure if the "motivation" part of the question refers to flirting or blogging. The answer's pretty much the same for both: ego gratification. I'm thrilled whenever I can make a woman feel, well...womanly. And I'm also pleased when people leave a ROTFLMAO in the comments. I find both events quite

Q: Who are the hottest female bloggers? Why?

A: The one's without air conditioning.

I'm having trouble answering this one as phrased. I tend to judge blogerette "hotness" in terms of well-displayed-cleaveage pics. Of the ladies I visit frequently, I believe Susie of Practical Penumbra is the only one to have gone that route.

For non-cleavage displaying pictures, I like Dana of Note-It Posts. I'm a sucker for long, dark hair, and WOW! What a smile!

Heather of Angelweave has a nice pic, too. I love that sassy, saucy, over-the-shoulder flirty pic.

Venomous Kate of Electic Venom recently posted a nice picture of herself in a rather attractive dress. And for some sick reason, I enjoyed that "go thither" look on her face, too. I like tough chicks. I married one, after all.

Also, for non-picturey reasons, I should mention the following women who make my life special:

Susie, for being all kinds of sweet to me and constantly leaving encouraging comments. She flirts like a champ, too.

Lynn of Reflections in d minor, who writes brilliant, insightful pieces about music and art. Aesthetics is a tough topic to handle objectively, but she does so
with great intelligence. I am both admiring and jealous of her talents.

And, of course, Jen Lars, for being a classy lady, a charming interview hostess, and a worthy opponent in the Great Blog War of 2003.

Q: How much do you love me?

A: 6.25 inches. Which, coincidentally, is the length of a $100 bill. Which will buy you a LOT of lovin' in Olongapo.

If there are any other coincidences associate with that answer, I'm not aware of them.

Q: How sexy do you feel?

A: Like a drunken Britney Spears at a frat party.

No, wait… oh, "SEXY". I thought you said "slutty". I need a new monitor.

Probably about 5 on a 10 scale right now. I imagine that later tonight there’s a good chance that number will *ahem* rise.

Q: Are you naughty or nice?

A: Let's see... handcuffs, whipped cream, blindfolds, edible underwear, spanking, chocolate syrup...

Um... nice?

Q: What do you want to be when you grow up?

A: Still happily married to my first and only wife.
Everything else is just gravy.

Q: Do you rule your relationship?

A: With an iron fist.

Whenever she lets me.

Seriously, though, there isn't much "ruling" that
needs to be done, since our interests and activities
rarely conflict. We're an amazingly complementary
couple. When there IS a "situation", I usually give in
right away, because when she gets her mulish up, I'm
*know* I'm gonna end up losing, so I don't waste time

Q: What brand of beer does the Corner of the Bar Gang

A: Whichever brand you’re buying for us.

Q: Wisconsin, eh? What's your favorite beer? What's
your favorite cheese?

A: Best beer I ever had was when I was in the Navy,
stationed in Alameda, California. I used to go
sight-seeing in Berkeley, and there was a brewery/bar
there called the Triple Rock Brewery and Alehouse. The
had one called Red Rock Ale that had this rich, nutty
flavor that was to die for.

My favorite cheese is Kraft Singles Fat-Free Sharp
Cheddar slices. Tastes like real cheese, without that
heavy, greasy texture. It's also the only fat-free
cheese I know of that melts worth a damn.

Oh, and since you're mocking Wisconsin, you forgot to
ask about my favorite cow.

Which is the Holstein.

Q: You got carried away buying weapons. You have money left for the following shields: 2 heavy or 6 deflector?

A: When playing old DOS games, like Scorched Earth, with blogless brothers, I prefer quantity to quality, so I’d go with the 6 deflector shields. Of course,
since the best defense is a good offense, I’d also consider investing heavily in extra-large nukes. Who needs a shield when you can take out half a mountain
in one shot?

Q: If the Presidential election were today, who would
you vote for as a write-in candidate?

A: Pre-9-11, I would’ve said Rep. Ron Paul of Texas,
who was elected as a Republican, but actually votes
Libertarian. In fact, he was the Libertarian
presidential candidate in 1988. Whenever I hear his
name, it’s usually in connection with some sensible,
pro-freedom bill that he’s sponsoring, which the rest
of the Congresscritters have bottled up in committee.

Post-9-11, I don’t trust the Libertarian defense
strategy, which is basically to bring all the troops
home & hope America doesn’t get attacked. Personally,
I think we need a world-wide presence to gather the
intelligence we need to stomp the terrorist
cockroaches before they have a chance to leave the

So, with that in mind, I’d probably vote for Frank J.
of IMAO. Next to W’s current policies, I think his
Nuke the Moon plan has the best chance of providing
world peace.

Q: What's with the phrase "dollars for doughnuts"? Are
they Krispy Kreme doughnuts?

A: Ok, ya lazy bum, I did yer googlin' for ya.

The more common form of the expression is "dollars to
doughnuts", and it implies that you're very confident
about the outcome of a situation, since you're willing
to wager your Real American Dollars against someone
else's nasty Krispy Kreme doughnuts. I hate Krispy
Kreme donuts. They skimp on the frosting & filling.
Now, Dunkin' Donuts... YUM!

See also, "dollars to buttons", "dollars to
dumplings", and "dollars to cobwebs".

Q: How did you ever get involved in graffiti currency?

A: It was a 3-stage process.

Stage 1: A couple days before we left for Jamaica to get married, I was doing my teller thing & had a thought: wouldn't it be cool to have a dollar bill
with our anniversary date in the serial number? Du-uh! NO! But I was stupid-in-love, so I started looking. During the hunt, the math-geek in me kept being
intrigued by the occasional cool patterns in the serial numbers. (oh, and I *did* finally find a 20 with 4999 (April 9, 1999) in it.)

Stage 2: A few weeks later, I wondered: would people actually pay money for a bill with a cool serial number? eBay said "yes", which led me to start selling
the stuff via on-line auctions.

Stage 3: I started examining every bill I saw for potential collector value, and I kept noticing that some bills had a message something like, "you will
receive a lot of money if you write this message on 10 other bills". I started collecting those just to compare and contrast the messages.

Like all bad habits, this one just kept snowballing until I was collecting any bill that was obviously and deliberately marked up. My personal favorites being
the "luv u 4 ever" type messages. Gee, I guess THAT relationship was worth less than a bag of Doritos.

Since then, it's occurred to me that graffiti currency is like a low-tech form of blogging. In both cases, people seem driven by the conflicting urges to be
noticed by the world, yet retain some degree of anonymity.

Q: Have you ever gotten counterfeit money? What do you do?

A: I’ve never gotten a fake deposited to me, but I’ve seen a few. Most were surprisingly bad. They looked like they were printed on an inkjet printer at 300
dpi, with all the fine resolution of a Sunday color comic. Since they also looked like they had circulated a bit, I tend to doubt the government’s claim that the
new currency design will be "safer & more secure".

The proper procedure is to handle the bill as little as possible and inform the bank’s Security Officer, who then informs the police and contacts the Secret
Service, part of whose duties include the investigation of counterfeiting.

Q: Why did you start your blog, and why "Bad Money"?

A: Well, as I mentioned previously, I had this HUGE
collection of graffiti currency, and I quickly
exhausted my list of family & friends to bore with it.
Since my ISP gave me 10 meg of storage space for a web
site, I toyed with the notion of displaying them
on-line. My working title was "Harv's House of
Craptacular Currency" and I envisioned organizing them
by type (writing, drawing, rubber stamp, etc.).
However, I knew exactly jack about HTML, so that
project never took off.

Later on, I discovered blogs and thought, "gee, that
might work." As I researched "how to blog", I
discovered that the keys to popularity were "original
content" and "regular posting." I thought that if I
put up one per day with a witty caption, I could give
people a reason to keep coming back. In addition, I
thought I might throw in well-written, insightful
posts about other blogger's entries, so as to get
their attention with linkage.

Results: traffic=me.

I'd originally hoped to write intellectual, analytical
pieces like a shorter Steven Den Beste, but my inner
smart-ass soon grew too big for its britches, and I
started focusing on humor, instead.

"Bad Money" came about as a euphemism for "Craptacular
Currency". I was afraid that using a form of the word
"crap" might reflect poorly on my employer if my blog
were somehow seen as being connected to the bank where
I worked. Turns out I needn't have worried, since the
bank staff is 98% www.computerilliterate.com. The
other 2% are college students who work part-time, and
think my blog is funny. I've also yet to have a
customer ask me, "hey, aren't you that Bad Money

Q: What is the best thing you've ever done for someone

A: It's a toss-up. I encouraged Matt O'Blackfive to
get the hell off Blogspot, and I convinced the
Bartender that the time to start blogging was NOW, and
not "later, when I'm more organized & better
prepared". My gifts to the blogosphere.

Q: What is the worst thing you've ever done to

A: Back in my college days, I was delivering pizza
late one night in a relatively deserted neighborhood.
After the delivery, as I was backing out of the
driveway, I backed into a mini-van parked across the
street. Not a very hard hit, but I left a small dent
in the fender & chipped some paint. Nobody saw me, so
I just left. It was probably the worst violation of my
personal integrity standards that I've ever left

Q: Madfish Willie has been chasing the puppy blender
around for weeks, yet you talk to him on the phone,
take trips with him to Antarctica and meet him at the
mall! Harvey, What kind of sick-o "man-love" thing you
got going with Evil Glenn?

A: Nothing sick about it. It’s just a typical, normal,
healthy relationship between a deranged, overzealous
do-gooder and an embodiment of psychotic evil. Not
unlike what Batman and the Joker have going.

Q: Do you feel all the work the Alliance makes you do
causes you to neglect your own blog in the interest of
feeding Frank J's ego?

A: No, for 3 reasons:

1) The Alliance doesn't "make" me do anything. My work
there is donated freely.

2) My blog doesn't get neglected. Over any given week,
I manage to blog about everything I have bookmarked.
Now, it's true that some of the Alliance housekeeping
that I do keeps me from spending time working on bits
of original content, but it's also true that the whole
Blog War adventure has inspired me to write some
brilliant pieces. Offhand, I'd say it's a wash.

3) The Alliance doesn't feed Frank's ego anymore. Yes,
it was his idea, originally, and he's still Fearless
Leader, but his ego is now more connected to his other
projects, like Front Line Voices and his novel. But
the Alliance still lives and grows, even without his
close attention. I'm always amazed that we've kept the
"filthy lie" & "blog war" memes alive for over 2
months now, and it doesn't seem to be stopping. In
fact, with the introduction of the League of Liberals
into the New Blog Showcase Sponsorship Challenge, I
have a feeling things might start heating up even

Which reminds me. I could REALLY use some help in
coming up with new Filthy Lie and Precision Guided
Humor assignments. Anyone with a suggestion, please
drop me a line. I'm only one man, and, according to my
Sitemeter traffic stats, I'm only about 5% as creative
as Frank. I'll take help from anyone. Alliance, Axis,
hell, even the LoL.

In conclusion, I just want to say thanks to all the
good folks (and bad ones) who submitted questions so I
don't look like a readerless loser, and most
especially thanks to Jen Lars for letting me do my
best Bill Whittle imitation.

Sorry about busting your bandwidth, Jen :-)
(Ed. note: it's not mine; it's Pixy's.)

Posted by Jennifer at 08:28 AM | Comments (4)

*What Do You Know?

About penguins...

I like pengies, so this one is just because it's my blog and I can talk about whatever I want. :-)

Penguins are flightless, but they "fly" underwater using the same motions as flying birds.

Emperor penguins have a unique form of child-rearing. The female lays one large egg, which the parents pass back and forth to incubate. After a few days of this, the female leaves to feed in the ocean. The male shuffles about with the egg on his feet, huddling with the other males to stay warm. If an egg is inadvertently orphaned, a male with no egg will adopt it. Two months after the mother leaves, the chick hatches and is fed by the father. The female returns, but not to her mate. She wandera from male to male until he allows her to take his chick. Then it is the male's turn to feed in the ocean.

Emperor penguins stand about 3.7 feet tall (1.1 m) and weigh up to 100 pounds(45 kg).

Little blue (or fairy) penguins, found in New Zealand and southern Australia, are the smallest penguin species. They are 16 inches (41 cm) high and weigh 2.2 pounds (1 kg).

Chinstrap penguins may be the most numerous of the penguins, with a population estimated at 6.5 million breeding pairs.

There are 17 species of penguins today. Scientists recognize 32 extinct penguin species. One extinct species, Anthropomis nordenskjoldi, probably stood 5 to 5.9 feet tall (1.5 to 1.8 m) and weighed 198-298 pounds (90 to 135 kg).

Despite their waddle, some penguins can walk as fast as humans.

Penguin colonies are usually found on islands due to the lack of natural land predators. Humans have encroached on some of the territory penguins used for millions of years; thus introducing predators such as dogs and cats.

The first documentation of penguin sightings is credited to members of the Portuguese voyage of Vasco da Gama in 1497 along the southern coasts of Africa. The discovery of South America's Magellanic penguin was chronicled during the journey of Spanish explorer Ferdinand Magellan (go figure) in 1520.

In the wild, most penguin species have a life span of about 20 years. In captivity, some have lived longer than 30 years.

Posted by Jennifer at 07:26 AM | Comments (3)

Presidential Fun Fact of the Day

Presidential Last Words.

Martin Van Buren (12/5/1782-7/24/1862): "There is but one reliance."

William Henry Harrison (2/9/1773-4/4/1841): "I wish you to understand the true principles of the government. I wish them carried out. I ask nothing more."

John Tyler (3/29/1790-1/18/1862): "Perhaps it is best."

Posted by Jennifer at 12:01 AM | Comments (2)

*Ask Jen

Reader Jeff wants to know, "Are all animals color blind?"

Most birds appear to see colors, while most mammals are color blind. Apes and monkeys can tell colors apart, but dogs and cats seem to see shades of black, white, and gray.

Reader Troy writes, "How did Napoleon die?"

This has been the subject of some debate, actually. The most widely held belief is that he died of stomach cancer. Other theories have been advanced, including a story that he was poisoned. Sten Forshufvud, a Swedish toxicologist, asserted that Napoleon was the victim of arsenic poisoning at the hands of a household servant who was working for the French Royalists.

Do you have a question for me? You can e-mail it. If I know the answer, I'll answer it. If I don't, I might make something up.

Posted by Jennifer at 12:00 AM | Comments (3)

October 28, 2003

*Random Halloween Treats

Halloween is coming up fast, so here are a few assorted Halloweenish tidbits for you.

Since the seventh century, November 1 has been All Saint's Day in Europe. It was originally called All Hallow's Day, and October 31 was All Hallow's Eve. The Druids believed that on Halloween, the Lord of the Dead (Saman), would summon the souls of those who had died in the previous year. These souls would plot mischief against the people who would honor the saints the next day, taking the form of grotesque animals demanding gifts and threatening harm to those who refused. Trick-or-treaters are pretending to be one of Saman's resurrected souls.

The color black symbolizes mourning because our white ancestors believed ghosts would be hanging out at funerals, looking for a living body to invade. They would hide from the ghosts by painting their skin black...later, black clothing replaced the paint.

In very early times, tombstones were laid onto a grave to weigh down the soil and keep the spirit from escaping. In later years they considered the spirit escaping less of a risk, and tombstones were erected upright to alert passersby not to step on the grave and subsequently be defiled by the impure spirit held within.

A story from the 1560s might be the source of the black cat's reputation as unlucky. As it is told, a father and son were walking along a road in Lincolnshire when they were startled by a small, dark animal running across their path. They pelted it with stones and followed it to the home of a suspected witch. There they saw that the animal was a black cat. The next day the old woman had a bandaged arm, bruises, and a limp. The townspeople concluded the cat had been the witch out for a nightly prowl. Afterwards, all bad luck that befell the father and son were attributed to the witch crossing their path as a black cat.

Margaret James of Charlestown, Massachusetts was the first person convicted and executed for witchcraft in America. She was executed June 15, 1648...almost fifty years before the Salem witch trials.

13 is considered an unlucky number by the superstitious. A lot of people think this came from the Last Supper, which had thirteen attendants. This superstition predates Christ, however, and comes from Norse mythology. Balder, the favorite of gods, attended a banquet of 12 gods. An uninvited guest, Loki, arrived and killed Balder.

And now, a bit of a ghost story...
Chicago's Hull House devil baby: It is the stuff of local legend that on a crisp morning in 1913 a crying bundle was discovered on the Hull House stoop -- but the House's ladies recoiled in horror upon unwrapping the infant: the child had every appearance of being Satanically sired. A tail, skin patchy with scales, pointed ears, hands and feet with a cloven appearance -- the baby was a horror to behold. But Jane Addams soon felt her heart melting, and she resolved to care for the child, keeping him away from a world too cruel and too ignorant to tolerate his appearance. To the public, Addams denied the existence of the boy, allegedly keeping him in the attic for his own protection; though the child was never seen outside the walls of Hull-House, there would be many reports of a fearsome face staring down from the window. By all accounts the Devil Baby died young, having never left his attic lair... but passersby still regularly report seeing a terrifying face in the upper windows of Hull-House.

Posted by Jennifer at 10:27 AM | Comments (2)

Presidential Fun Fact of the Day

Presidential Last Words.

James Madison (3/16/1751-6/28/1836): "Nothing more than a change of mind, my dear."

James Monroe (4/28/1758-7/4/1831): last words unknown.

John Quincy Adams (7/11/1767-2/23/1848): "I am content" or "I am composed."

Andrew Jackson (3/15/1767-6/8/1845): "We shall all meet in heaven."

Posted by Jennifer at 07:28 AM | Comments (0)

*Ask Jen

Susie writes, "Pixy said:'Well, the U.S. version is a puny 110-volt device that would explode if I tried to plug it into our manly Aussie electricity.' Why is Australian electricity more manly than American electricity?"

Because Americans are more energy-conscious (strangely enough) and develop electrical appliances to use as little energy as possible. Or something like that.* Plus those (non-North American) outlets are all misshapen. But you can get step-down convertors and adaptors to travel with you to such strange lands as Australia and Europe. That way you can use your hairdryer. Yay!

*(Actually, the appliances apparently use the same energy...we use twice as many amps as they do. I'm not an electrician, so can't really explain this.)

Reader Jeff asks, "Why don't bears in zoos hibernate?"

Because they are constantly fed by their keepers and their enclosures remain warm throughout the winter. Hibernation only occurs with lack of food and with temperatures below freezing.

Do you have a question for me? You can e-mail it. If I know the answer, I'll answer it. If I don't, I might make something up.

Posted by Jennifer at 12:01 AM | Comments (3)

October 27, 2003

Who's a Big Winner?

This guy! He's a big winner!

(From AOL News) Rob Krueger, 31, of Toronto, was the winner - hands down - of the second International World Rock Paper Scissors Championship on Saturday night, taking home the $3,750 first prize.

Krueger, sporting a wild wig and wraparound shades, triumphed by throwing "paper" to finalist Marc Rigaux's "rock."

The big question...is he available?

Posted by Jennifer at 08:43 PM | Comments (2)

October 27

Today is the anniversary of the Federalist Papers...the first of the 85 essays promoting adoption of the Constitution appeared on this day in 1787 in New York newspapers.

It's also Teddy Roosevelt's birthday, who was born in 1858.

Today is the 99th anniversary of the New York subway system...in 1904 a line running from City Hall to West 145th Street opened up.

And most importantly...John Cleese was born in 1939.

Posted by Jennifer at 07:31 PM | Comments (2)

You Asked, J Fielek Answers

Josh Fielek has answered your questions!

Excellent interview, please click the extended to read about his thoughts on Barbra Streisand meeting ancient torture devices...plus a lot of other things.

Thanks, Josh--well done!

You said Jess will bare her breasts if you top the 2000 mark for daily hits. That includes nipples, right?

Yes. What else did you think I meant by ‘bare’? Unfortunately, we missed the submission deadline for the boobie-thon for the Susan G. Komen Foundation, so this is my self-serving alternative. And Jess volunteered.

Tell the truth, you really liked the Howard Dean thong, didn't you? And where can I get one?

I like thongs in general (I am a guy, after all), but consider this scenario –

You’ve gone to dinner, the movie, and finally, you’ve got her back to your place. A little kissing, a little touching, things are getting warmer and warmer, and you’re feeling lucky. She’s let you unbutton her blouse and her bra is a forgotten remnant hanging loosely by its straps. You place your hand on her knee, nudging her back on the couch with firm kisses. She moans lightly as you kiss her neck and cautiously slide your hand up her thigh. Her legs part, just a little, and you slide a little higher. You can feel her heat against your palm as you lightly touch her mound. You gently slip her knees apart and kiss your way down, unzipping her skirt and sliding it down. You kiss past the breasts, to the navel, across the sexy tummy. She lifts her hips to let you slip the skirt to the floor. You slide your hands around and feel her firm, bare buttocks – you can do that, she’s wearing a thong, you’ve discovered. You move a little lower and nuzzle her thighs. You open your eyes and look up to see the magnificent view offered from between her luscious legs and see “HOWARD DEAN FOR PRESIDENT!”

It’s enough to make Rob Smith’s Robotic Penis go soft.

Ask Howard Dean for one, if you want one. Preferably at a Press Conference.

What advice would you give to someone about to be married?

Listen to your new spouse. It goes both ways – and a lot of time problems that can’t be solved just yet can be handled for the immediate time by getting them into the open.

For the Wedding, Groom-Boy, sit back and relax. The Bride and her mother will handle a lot. Offer to help, but let them lead.

Bride-Girl, at least ask your groom for his input. Let a few of his decisions stand.

And be sure to get the Bridal Suite with the trapeze. It makes all the difference.

Who is your greatest literary influence?

There are several

Stephen King is the most versatile writer I’ve ever read. Nightmares and Dreamscapes has not only the horror stories, but a beautiful homage to Little League baseball written originally for the New Yorker. King can write as well or better than any one out there, without the unnecessary purple prose of the artsy set. He is the epitome of a storyteller.

Robert Heinlein is not only a superb storyteller, but he’s a truly free thinker. He has a libertarian bent, which makes for a good political read, and he’s usually ready to address the hard questions through some unusual approaches, to illustrate a point. He’s fun to read. Starship Troopers, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, and Stranger in a Strange Land should be on anyone’s must-read list for the questions they ask and address about relationships, government, and service.

William Shakespeare sounds clichéd as a literary influence, but on a bet from the school librarian, I read all of his plays in eighth grade, and although the language was sometimes over my head, I got a big kick out of them. It took me a few more years before I realized how strong of an influence Shakespeare had on language and literature, and that got me to re-read the plays and finally read the sonnets. I never fawned and quoted like in the movies, but I did learn a lot about pacing and use of language from the sonnets and plays.

Are you looking forward to the next Star Wars movie? Do you think George Lucas has time to redeem himself?

George Lucas can rot in Hell (Hmmmm… new subject for a Conversation with God!).

Okay, not really. I think he needs to spend some time off of Skywalker Ranch with adults, however. George, you need to spend some time away from the 400 adoptees with someone old enough to appreciate liquor and cigars.

Seriously, I think Lucas fell off the wagon when he settled for Ewoks over Wookies for Return of the Jedi. I know it’s hard to find 4000 extras over two meters tall, but come on, George, use your imagination. And Jar Jar Binks? Great, George, just Great. Wasn’t Willow punishment enough?

That aside, yeah, I am geek enough to be looking forward to Episode III. I have to see where George is taking things. Episode II was pretty decent, way better than Episode I, but it dragged and Natalie Portman was fully clothed (although scantily, at least). The love scenes were trite and just not well executed, and too damn long.

Is that elephant still haunting you?

Shhh… he might hear you.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Tough question. I think it would be Colorado or Utah, somewhere in the West. I’m a native Texan, and I love the West.

You win the lottery. What is the very first thing you do? What is the first thing you buy?

Assuming it’s for millions, the first thing I do is quit my day job. The first thing I buy is a Mercedes SLK for Jessica. Then move West.

How did the impromptu bloggers bash in Norfolk go? Was it so horrible you couldn't blog about it? Is Bill as funny in person as he is on his blog?

It collapsed of midweek weight. It just didn’t come together because of people needing to work. It’ll be moved to a weekend in the next few weeks.

Like a lot of bloggers, your blog seemed to start out with an Instapundit feel to it. When do you think you found your own style?

When I gave up linking. I jammed on links for a while and finally put all that aside when the site became Quibbles-n-Bits. At that point, since I was using almost all-original material, I gained my own style. It’s evolving, as everything does. I have never been one to follow a fashion – Instapundit, IMAO, and Scrappleface are all cool sites and all have a degree of influence, but I like to think that Quibbles-n-bits has its own flavor.

Looking at the American political climate, do you think the 2004 election is going to continue the trend to the right? Why or why not?

The right drift is actually a drift back to the middle. From the 1940s until Reagan, the country was sliding to the left. In the seventies, it slid to far left and the people had to start running to the right to bring back the balance.

If you could tell George W. Bush one thing, what would it be?

Good question. I think I would have to ask him a question -- “Mr. Bush, where do I apply for a license to kill?”

Okay, for real, I’d tell him we need to trim back some of the domestic spending and cut the pork. All over the place, too, not just in the social programs. But I still want a license to kill.

If you could secretly kidnap and torture one "world leader" who would it be and what would you do to him or her? Would you leave them alive or dead?

Barbra Streisand would be my choice, and I’d torment her with hours and hours of the Ramones, The Sex Pistols, The Clash, and other punk bands. Then I’d make her listen to Bob Dole campaign speeches for a few hours. That’s torture for any living being. Next, I’d set a little imp sitting in her ear whispering the fall of the Democrats repeatedly, along the lines of the advisor before the Caesars’ who would whisper “Remember thou art mortal,” just to keep the fall of the Democrats and the rightward swing of the nation on her mind. After that, I don’t know; maybe subject her to re-runs of Reagan speeches, Gingrich speeches, and other right wing political stuff, right up until her head explodes.

I prefer intellectual and emotional torment versus physical torment.

If the speeches didn’t kill her, though, I’d flay her and dip her in boiling salt water. Then I’d hang her from a pike in the town square. Full impalement, from ”cod to sternum,” as the English described it, or in Curly’s terms, neck to nuts.

Otherwise – I’ve always thought breaking to the wheel was a fiercely frightening punishment. What it involves in breaking the limbs between the joints and weaving them into the spokes of a wagon wheel.

Drawing and quartering is too nice, too quick. There is another punishment that I can’t recall the name for, but it consists of seating the subject on the sharp edge of a triangular board and affixing weights to the subject’s legs. The board then slowly rips into the victim at the sensitive juncture, driving between the buttocks and mutilating the genitalia. It’s a slow, painful way to go. They victims usually died of sepsis, not injury.

When I give up on the intellectual, I get brutal. Or at least I have some brutal fantasies.

What was the worst moment of your life? Did it change you?

Worst moment? Probably when my Dad died in late 2000. I was going through a relatively brutal divorce and he was succumbing to cancer. He was not coherent for the latter few months, and seeing him at Thanksgiving a few days before he died was not a good thing. My father was a man with a rapier wit, and an intuitive understanding of all things mechanical and technical. The last few months of his life he was dying from a brain tumor, metastasized from his lung cancer (small cell carcinoma, less than 5% five year survival rate). It took away his intellect, and his strength.

The lung cancer had been there for three years, and even chemo and radiation therapy hadn’t sapped my father’s strength. The initial carcinoma was reduced and apparently eliminated, but the cancer returned and spread. He got three years after the initial diagnosis. It was only the last three months that he was in bad shape – not truly coherent, at first, then degrading to physical and mental disability.

He had a morphine breather that was used to inhale a specific formulation of morphine and a few other drugs to ease his breathing, and I helped him with it a few times. He was on oxygen as well, and my mother’s house looked more like a hospital for a while than a suburban home.

And yeah, it changed me. I can’t specify how, but I have definitely had less of an affinity for working for other folks since then. The divorce is over, I’ve remarried to a wonderful woman, and I’m looking at getting off my ass and getting my writing career going so I can live my life by my rules. I have a five-year plan that should have me in good fettle by 2009.

BTW, here's an homage to my father.

What was the best?

There are too many to pick one best. Here’s the top three --

1. The day I married Jessica.
2. The first day I got published anywhere.
3. This one. I was on the road for a month, alone, with the skies above me and America at my feet. The singular best moment happened on this day, when I took this photo. At that moment, I was 2000 miles form home, with three days of travel beneath my belt, another month ahead with no particular destination in mind, a great motorcycle, camping and cooking gear so I could stop whenever and where ever the whim took me. I was smack dab in the middle of the greatest, freest nation on earth, and I was happy.

Those three things measure well the three major components of life – Love, Work, and Play.

Posted by Jennifer at 08:09 AM | Comments (8)

*What Do You Know?

About the names of the days and months...

Sunday: named after the sun.
Monday: named after the moon.
Tuesday: named after Tiu, the Anglo-Saxon god of war.
Wednesday: named after Woden, Anglo-Saxon equivalent to Odin, the chief Norse god.
Thursday: named after Thor, Norse god of thunder.
Friday: named after Frigg, the Norse goddess equivalent to Venus.
Saturday: named after Saturn, Roman god of agriculture.

Click the extended to learn about the names of the months.

January: named after Janus, a Roman god with two faces. One looks into the past and one looks into the future.

February: derived from the Latin word "Februare" which means to cleanse. At this time of year the Romans performed religious rites to cleanse themselves of sin.

March: honors Mars, the god of war.

April: from the Latin word "Aperio" which means to open. Plants begin to grow this month.

May: after the Roman goddess Maia, and also from the Latin word "Maiores" which means elders. The elders were celebrated during this month.

June: after the goddess Juno.

July: was originally "Quintilis" as it was the fifth month in the early Roman calendar...later changed to July to honor Julius Caesar.

August: was originally "Sextilis" as it was the sixth month. It was changed to honor Augustus Caesar.

September: if you were paying attention to July and August, you can figure this one out on your own. This was once the seventh month, and took its name from "septem" which means seven.

October: See September, except it comes from "octo" or eight.

November: From "novem" or nine.

December: From "decem" or ten.

Posted by Jennifer at 07:43 AM | Comments (1)

Presidential Fun Fact of the Day

Well, I've done "fun facts" for the presidents and their wives. So the question was, what to do next? There were some good suggestions...but I want to keep the "fun facts" presidential for now.

This round...Presidential Last Words. I'll group them together in threes. It'll be a short round.

George Washington (12/22/1732-12/14/1799): "'Tis well."

John Adams (10/30/1735-7/4/1826): "Thomas Jefferson still survives."

Thomas Jefferson (4/13/1743-7/4/1826): "Is it the Fourth?"

Posted by Jennifer at 07:39 AM | Comments (3)

*Ask Jen

Jim asks, "What is the origin of the phrase 'under the weather'?"

According to one source, this comes from sailors...a seasick person would crouch under the bulwarks to get protection from the wind, or weather.

Reader Missy wants to know, "Why do outhouses have crescent moons?"

Back when outhouses were widely used, most people were illiterate, and symbols needed to be used to distinguish the men's from the women's. The moon was used for the women, symbolizing the goddess Luna. Men were represented by a sunburst for Sol...but over time, men apparently had little use for outhouses and found alternate arrangements.

Do you have a question for me? You can e-mail it. If I know the answer, I'll answer it. If I don't, I might make something up.

Posted by Jennifer at 12:14 AM | Comments (3)

October 24, 2003

You Guys Suck Rock

Well, I'm kinda hurt that you would think you have to wait for me to leave to have a party here...but I'm nothing if not a good hostess, so have a good time. I left salsa and chips. BYOB. It's not that I'm cheap; it's just that we used up all the liquor last night.

Thanks everyone who has been sending in questions for me to DMo. From what I hear, they are...interesting. Can't wait!

Posted by Jennifer at 12:09 PM | Comments (22)

Presidential Fun Fact of the Day

Hillary Rodham Clinton.

In September, 1989, President George Bush held a national education summit at the University of Virginia. Hillary was attending and happened to have a serious chat with the President about health care for children.

Hillary told him that America was ranked 17th or 18th in the world for infant mortality. The President didn't believe this was true, telling her, "Our health care system is the envy of the world."

"Not if you want to keep your child alive to the year of his first birthday," Hillary responded. The next day President Bush handed Bill Clinton a note. It read, "Tell Hillary she was right."

(Of course, Hillary headed an attempt to revamp healthcare that failed a few years later. I happen to think her heart was in the right place.)

Posted by Jennifer at 07:23 AM | Comments (1)

You Asked, Blackfive Answers

Here it is, ladies and gentlemen...the Blackfive interview!

Click the extended to read his thoughts on Leg Rangers, Frank J's man-love for Glenn Reynolds, and all the other questions you asked.

Is your friend Joe married?

Yes. But volunteering to go to Iraq caused some real problems at home. He is supposed to be back here this week or next week. I'll know more about his status later. He is a good human being and has saved my ass in a few brawls. In other words, he's a really nice guy but slightly dangerous and unpredictable. Chicks dig him.

Do you have any single friends to hook me up with?

Depends on who's asking. Yes. Lots. Both kinds, country and western. Come to Chicago.

If you could be a sea creature, what would you be?

Pacific White-Sided Dolphin. They get to go really fast, jump high in the air, eat all of the time, and have lots of sex--well, I made up the sex part. Sounds better, though, doesn't it?

Describe your wardrobe in 5 words.

My wife helps me coordinate.


Polo. Tommy Bahama. Nordstrom. Bjorn.

What do you look like? Are there any pictures of you online that I can find?

Average looking Irishman. I'm 5'11" 215 pounds brown hair, green eyes. I have been told that I look sort of like Russell Crowe on a bad day--that or a drunk Pilsbury Doughboy.

There are pictures of me on my site. Either in the photo blog or at my only post on guns. I am also the guy in the Superman t-shirt in the cubicle hurdles mpeg that floats around the internet.

Why do you drink 6 beers at once?


Are you kidding? Actually, at places like Wrigley Field, I order two at a time so that I don't have to wait on the beer guy to come back around to my
section. If there is a good bar tender or waiter/waitress, I don't order more than one round. And I always tip a lot to ensure that my glass is never empty.

Why are you always getting Harvey and Madfish Willie in trouble?

I really like hanging out with those guys. They are a lot of fun but aren't too bright (well, Harvey is really bright but I think he just wants to be baaaadddd). I was always the kid that instigated trouble but never got caught.

If you could beat the living crap out of only one person, would it be MacDiva/JadeGold, Michael Moore, George Clooney, or the kid who stole your lunch (or lunch money) in the second grade, and why?

Alec Baldwin. Damn, I would love to just have a few minutes to pummel the crap out of him. Really. You know where I can find him?

But since he is not on the list, I would kick Michael Moore's fat ass because he is smart enough to sound logical to some people and that makes him more
dangerous than the others. MD/JG just needs attention. George Clooney is an Asshat but not as bad as MM.

As for the kid that stole my lunch in the second grade, well, no kid wanted my lunch. My mom was a hippie so I had all of the natural stuff. No cup
cakes or ho-ho's or fruit roll ups for me. All natural peanut butter. Blech!!! Couldn't even get a trade going!

So, is there any truth to the rumor that you are actually an immigrant French florist named Cinq Noir?

Mon dieu, sacre bleu! Quel abruti a posé cette question? Je battrai son âne!

Who would win between a French monkey and a North Korean monkey in an old fashioned monkey knife fight?

Easy question.

A North Korean monkey, while handicapped by having a poofy hair-do, would win easily because the French monkey would surrender and go back to making Renaults.

What was your most interesting inanimate-target-shooting experience?

My best friend in the Army, Crazy Andy Danwin, had this old Pontiac Bonneville with a skull mounted on the dashboard and an angel for a hood ornament. It
was forest green, old and rusty. The roof had an arrow painted on it and pointed towards the front of the car. It had the word "Destiny" written in front
of it. It had "character", just like Andy.

Andy and I took some friends out shooting in Virginia with some new weapons. We pulled up to this impromptu range on a friend's farm and parked Andy's car right behind us.

I just bought a .357 Magnum and had pachy grips on it. It was SWWEEEEET. I couldn't miss with that pistol. We were having a blast taking turns with each other's new purchases.

At one point, my friends had planned a joke on Andy. When the signal was given, we all turned around and started shooting holes in Andy's car. He freaked at first, then starting pouring lead into his own car with his new .45. His HydroShock rounds almost went through both doors. I put a few bullets through the rear quarter panel and just missed the gas tank. The old Pontiac was riddled with holes. Amazingly, no glass was broken.

You should have seen the look on the face of the gate guard when we pulled onto Bolling Air Force Base (where we were stationed). He definitely wondered
what the hell happened to us.

Andy kept the Bonneville for a year or two after that. He loved that damn car.

Leg Rangers, Blackfive, Leg Rangers. Should they be permitted to exist?

"If I were President and had my way, There wouldn't be a "leg" in the Army today."
- 82nd Airborne running cadence

Absolutely not! No way! No how!

Ah, this one is probably from Donnie. I hate "Legs" like Frank J. hates monkeys. "Leg" means non-Airborne qualified personnel. I have no idea why someone would be a Ranger and not Airborne qualified. Going through
Airborne School is a cake walk compared to Ranger School. What's the point of being a Ranger if you can't be airdropped behind the lines?

Anyway, I thought the Army stopped the Leg Ranger nonsense years ago.

Frank J has gone on record as thinking you make up all your stories. How do you respond?

You know, back in 1991, General Colin Powell accused me of being a liar. Then I beat the snot out of him with my belt. To this day, he won't talk to me. You know where I can find Frank J.?

Why would you want to join the Alliance of someone who thinks you're a liar?

He promised me one meeeelion dollars. Honest. Oh, and all the beer at Madfish Willie's.

If you could kill or incapacitate any blogger and take over their blog without anyone knowing, who would it be and what would you do to the blog?

Well, at first I was going to say Howard Dean. I would put up messages like "I, Howard Dean, am a Monkey. Viva le France!"

But, now, after the last two questions, I think I will incapacitate Frank J. I would start with photoshopping some pics of Howard Dean, John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi, and Michael Moore in Nuke the Moon shirts for the photo gallery. Then I would declare Frank's undying manly love for Glenn Reynolds and end the feud between them.

Who is the most under-rated blogger you know?

Good question. Let me explain. No, there is not enough time. Let me sum up:

There is a lot of good stuff over at Munuvia. I like Angelweave the most. Mr. Green has a lot of potential. I know him personally and have heard his awesome verbal rants. I also account for one of his five visitors. He just needs to get those rants down on "paper". Don Watkins writes really good stuff but would be better if he could just get laid once in awhile--and lay off of the philosophy--and drink more.

I also check out Sanity's Edge. Paul kills me. He is the Hemingway (corpse) that Bill wants to screw--literally.

Anyway, I usually visit every site on my blogroll at least twice per day. I like those blogs a lot.

The most over-rated?

Bloviating Inanitities. Just kidding, Bill! Couldn't help it.

My blog. Seriously. I get emails where folks lop me in with Frank and Misha and say that I am one of the big guys. Are you kidding? Honestly, what are you
thinking? It's a crappy little blog that I wish I could spend more time working on to make it better. It's just that it takes third place to my family and friends, and work.

Please describe a moment of pure terror in your life.

When I was ten, two model citizens pulled a switch-blade on me and my youngest brother who was five. We were walking around the neighborhood after
church and got mugged on a Sunday afternoon in broad daylight.

The scary part was that they said they wouldn't stab me. They were going to stab my little five year old brother if I didn't give them all of my money. At ten
(or any age for that matter), I wasn't ready for that kind of fear. Or responsibility.

Pure joy.

I am the luckiest bastard that you ever met. I am in a really good place in my life right now. Great wife. Wonderful job. Surrounded with friends and family.
Plenty of scotch behind the bar. Sometimes I feel guilty because I have it so good.

But what makes me gets tears of joy in my eyes is when I come home from work and my two-and-half year old son hears me open the front door and comes running into my arms yelling, "Daddy!"

That's heaven.

Posted by Jennifer at 12:27 AM | Comments (10)

October 23, 2003

Presidential Fun Fact of the Day

Barbara Bush.

Barbara's white hair made her look older than her husband as well as older than she really was...Saturday Night Live even had a joke about it in a sketch with Phil Hartman playing Mrs. Bush.

It was in 1953 that Barbara's hair turned white. That was the year the Bushes' four-year-old daughter, Robin, died of leukemia. Still, Barbara was able to joke about her own appearance later on. She once said, "I'm everybody's grandmother. It's the gray-haired ladies who come up and say, 'Gee, you look exactly like my mother' that worry me a bit."

Posted by Jennifer at 08:44 AM | Comments (0)

October 22, 2003

*What Do You Know?

About bestiality...

Sex with animals. I haven't posted anything truly disgusting in awhile, so I'm overdue. To any new readers, my apologies.

It's in the extended. Not for everyone. (But not graphic either.)

A 1948 survey of U.S. citizens found that 8% of adult males had sexual contact with animals...4% of men in cities and 17% of men in rural areas. These sexual acts included vaginal intercourse, masturbation of the animal, and oral sex (mostly with dogs and calves).

In the same 1948 survey, 36% of women owned up to having sexual contact with animals. The split was even between urban and rural women, and mostly involved oral sex with cats and dogs.

Sex between women and animals was common in the Roman circus. Usually the woman was a condemned convict who was penetrated by bulls, donkeys, and large dogs. The women often died.

Sometimes female slaves in the Colosseum were coupled with animals ranging from giraffes to lions to wild boars. The animals were specially trained. Their keepers probably accomplished this by smearing the secretions of female animals in heat onto the human females.

In 7th Century Ireland, bestiality was simply equated with masturbation by Church law. In 13th Century Sweden, bestiality was outlawed. Previously, the perpetrator was only fined if the animal's owner claimed damages. Later in Europe the practice was more heavily penalized...laws against bestiality were often passed alongside laws against homosexual sex.

In 1642 a New England colonist was convicted of sex with a mare, a cow, two goats, five sheep, two calves, and a turkey. The colonist and the animals were all condemned to die, except the sheep. No one could tell the abused sheep apart from the rest of the flock, so they were spared.

Some societies have been rather tolerant of bestiality...it was considered normal in some Native American tribes.

The ancient Egyptians were relatively unfazed...one sect conducted orgies with goats as part of a fertility rite. Having sex with a female crocodile was considered lucky.

The Hittites' code of law in 1400 B.C. declared sex with a cow, sheep, or pig was to be punished. Sex with a horse or mule was okay.

Posted by Jennifer at 11:22 AM | Comments (19)

Presidential Fun Fact of the Day

Nancy Reagan.

Nancy's parents divorced when she was quite young, and her mother married Dr. Loyal Davis when she was seven. She didn't see much of her father and grew so attached to her stepfather that she visited a neighbor who was a retired judge. She told him, "I'd like to know how to adopt Dr. Davis."

The judge told the little girl gently, "That's a little difficult, but I think it can be arranged."

After Nancy left, the judge called Dr. Davis, who was delighted, "I've always wanted that but I didn't know how to approach Nancy or her mother."

Dr. Davis later officially adopted Nancy when she was fourteen.

Posted by Jennifer at 07:23 AM | Comments (1)

*Ask Jen

Reader Amy writes, "I freeze my bread because I can't eat all of it before it goes bad but then it sticks together. So I put slices in baggies but that gets kind of expensive and takes a lot of freezer space. Any suggestions?"

I have the same problem. Besides reusing your baggies, you can use waxed paper to separate the bread slices. Then after you freeze your bread you can remove as many slices as you want. The same trick works for cake or any other baked goods...just slice up the cake/pie before freezing.

Do you have a question for me? You can e-mail it. If I know the answer, I'll answer it. If I don't, I might make something up.

Posted by Jennifer at 05:43 AM

You Asked, Daniel Answers

In the extended entry you will find an excellent interview of Daniel. He inspired a lot of questions on a wide range of topics...from nanotechnology to his, ahem, shoe size.

Please click through and read for yourself...Daniel did a terrific job.

Do you always have fantasies about cute guys in tight pants? Or just ones named after pipe cleaners?

Fantasies about cute guys in tight pants? Pipe cleaners? Did I miss something?

[Ed. note: Jake Plummer. Fantasy football. Let's move on.]

Have you ever publicly or privately worn a baseball cap backwards? If so, can I smack you?

This is something that I have done several times, but it was always only for a few seconds and only to make fun of other fraternity brothers. If I had done it as a serious fashion statement, however, you would be more than welcome to do much more than smack me.

What kind of shampoo do you use?

Wait, one second. Okay, I had to run to the bathroom to check that out. I use Pert Plus (the two in one thing). I also remember having used Head & Shoulders, Herbal Essence, and a couple of other ones. I knew some one once who used that Horse head shampoo.

Grapefruit: white or red?

Red, definitely. When I actually do eat grapefruit. Which isn’t so often. Sorry.

What's your shoe size?

21.5. No, just kidding. I wear a size 10 – about.

Would you ever date and/or marry an older woman? Like, say, Demi Moore or Susie?

Not Demi Moore, but is Susie really offering? Because then…

The biggest age difference I’ve ever had has been around 16 months. That seemed to work fine. When I was last traveling with my brother and my cousin, we met a couple of guys around 40 or so and they assured me that I should date at least one older woman in my life. Though they weren’t the most reliable of sources in the world (or the most moral for that matter), I think that it might be good advice. So I would definitely consider dating and, by default, marrying an older woman. Age isn’t really that much of an issue for me.

Would you consider dating a member of the Alliance?

The last three questions all seem related. Again, is Susie offering?

I would have to think long and hard about this one. I mean, the alliance?! They’re like the heart of all evil. The destroyers of all good. The usurpers of all that is naughty. But… is Susie offering?? Because that might change everything.

Where do you want to be in 5 years? What and who do you want to be doing?

Whoa, what a question. So, in five years I will have finished graduate school by a couple years and if I decide to do a post-doc than that would have finished already also. So I’d be out in the “real world”. The current thinking right now is that I’ll work in a government lab, military research, or an industry lab if research is the way I decide to go or as a science/technology consult if I decide to go that way. I’m also working on several projects that could possibly turn into enough to start a business out of (with several other people) and that would be really exciting – but extremely risky. I’m pretty sure that I don’t want to go directly into academia, as I will still be young enough to be able to take risks with my life.

In personal life, I don’t know. I’m not going to limit myself to the possibilities out there. Especially if Susie is offering…

Who do you think will rule the blogosphere when the dust settles?

I’m not sure the dust will settle. I don’t think that it should. I that already too many people get their links only from Instapundit. The whole point of blogging is that there are so many opinions and views out there. Yes they will get filtered as people tire of blogging and having no one read or as they just get beaten to death by more powerful bloggers. This is a pretty swift evolutionary process. I remember when the web first started kicking and everyone had their own small little web pages that had meaningless “here’s my picture of Bart Simpson’s head on Margaret Thatcher’s body” type picture – wait, that sill happens…

That being said. I will rule the blogosphere. No question about it. I’m just building my base here. Join up now or be the first against the wall.

Which bloggers, if any, influence you?

That’s a tough question. I came a little late in my life to blogging to have too many people that influence my thoughts that much, so the influence tends to be stylistic.

When I first started blogging, the style of arguments that the Volokh Conspiracy presented really impressed me. They do such a great job of arguing in a purely legalistic manner and not participating in the dialogue of partisan politics on a regular basis (except maybe Sasha). Their biases come out over the long run, but even when you know what they are and disagree with them, you have to respect their arguments. They also have a way of making you interested in something that you didn’t know you were interested in. More recently, I’ve been reading Discourse.net (Prof. Froomkin’s site) a lot and he usually provides a very good argument from the other side. In this mainly conservative blogosphere, I think that it is important to read more than one take on issues. He also gets interested in geek things, so that’s always good. Eliana over at YaleDiva.com does a wonderful job of mixing her fashion sense with a good, quick wit in politics. And has a great site design. There are plenty of other ones and I’m sorry that I’ve left some out. Often times I’m inspired by a single subject or some witty saying or something like that. These were just the ones I remembered off the top of my head.

All of the Munuvians influence me. And not just by blogosphere proximity. They provide a lot of levity in the blogging world and have such great fun doing it. Thanks so much to Pixy Misa for giving us all a home here. And Jen for bringing me here.

What's your preferred method of handling comment trolls - starving or beating?

Definitely beating. Very brutally. And then cutting their hearts out. With a wooden spoon. Because it is very blunt and it will probably splinter on the way in. And on the way out.

Is an Instalanche worth all of the trouble?

Well, this question was obviously submitted in the last couple of days. Uh… in short, yes with a strong but. There were 30 some-odd comments left on my site, several hundred extra visitors, and about 40 emails regarding the subject. The commentary has been interesting and at times stimulating. I got to email and discuss philosophical issues with some pretty talented thinkers and the fact that I held my own against the BBA (Big Blogger Alliance) makes me feel pretty good about myself and my writing. I think a few of those who came to my site because of Professor Reynolds will come back every so often, which is cool. That being said, there are some bad sides. Some of the responses weren’t very nice and it can be stressful wanting to respond to comments and emails. After I had made the initial post and stated my positions, I felt responsible for defending them. This, too, can be stressful. I think it’s pretty much over (thanks the the TNR editors), but it was all in all a good thing definitely worth the trouble. Just make sure that you can defend what ever it is you submit to Pro. Reynolds.

And nobody should ever ever join the Alliance of StupidFree Blogs (or whatever they are called).

If you could meet and have a dinner conversation with five people from history, who would they be?

1. Richard Feynman – because he is one of the most brilliant physicists ever and he could get interested in anything. He would have some great stories to tell.

2. Thomas Paine – doesn’t get anywhere near the credit he deserves for changing the entire world with “Age of Reason” and “Common Sense”

3. Alexander the Great – because he started the entire world on Hellenistic culture

4. The leaders of all the Three Kingdoms of China – I know, it’s three, but I always think of those as one.

5. Pythagoras of Samos – the man was an amazing mathematician and he had a cult built around him. That’s just cool.

6. Can I get a cameo appearance from both Wittgenstein and Popper? Just to find out what actually happened during their famous argument. Or maybe Bertrand Russell… shoot – why does it have to be just five?

Have you read "Prey"? Where did Crichton go from possible to impossible in that story?

I have read “Prey” and I thought that it was really good. I currently work in the field of nanotechnology and I have worked in the past with both emergent behavior and Genetic Algorithms (Evolutionary Algorithms), so this book combined three of my favorite subjects. The main place that it went impossible is that no researchers would ever be so careless with what they created as to not have some sort of shut down or destruction command on something so obviously needing of control. Also, there’s no way the things could have evolved abilities so outside the limits of their initial coding and hardware. If I write a evolutionary search algorithm, it isn’t possible for it to evolve to the point that it starts writing Shakespeare. Other than that, I thought it was a really good book. Lawmakers overreact when they read things, but I look forward to the movie.

How did you wind up studying in Georgia?

Everybody should wind up studying in Georgia. The basic story is that Georgia Tech had the best program in the best city with the best professor. Those three things are the most important things about graduate school. Essentially the choice for me, when picking grad school, came down to did I want to live in Atlanta or L.A. Every thing that I had read and every thing that I had been told by other grad students was that the city that you live in is the most important factor in happiness in graduate school. Atlanta is amazing. And the professor that I work with is one of the best in the field and he is very supportive of all of his students.

What's your proudest moment personally?

When I hit the home run that won the title at State. Just kidding. That never happened. My proudest moment personally? That’s tough. I held my own against one of my professors at U of C several times over the issue of moral relativism. After class, we were talking and he said “Very impressive, Daniel”. After that, he would often seek my opinion on things in class. We still keep in touch. But that might be a scholastic moment.

What's your proudest moment professionally/scholastically?

Oh, I have two. The first is when I first appeared on an academic paper/journal both at Chicago and here at Tech. And the second is graduating from the University of Chicago. The ceremony is amazing and full of tradition, with bagpipes playing and they give you the actual diploma when you walk across the stage. It was amazing.

Extrapolate nanotechnology 20 years. What will we be seeing?

Pixy thinks we’ll be at picotechnology. I’m not so sure. The most dangerous thing that we can do when talking about nanotechnology is overhype it. Too much of this has been done already and I don’t want to contribute more to it. That being said – It will change everything. It just might take about 20-25 years, not the 5-10 that some people talk about. We’ve already seen some changes. We have new pants that are stain and wrinkle resistant. We have better sunscreen. In 20 years, we will have unbelievably fast computing devices based not on silicon, but on nanomaterials. The design of spaceships into lighter, more efficient machines, Carbon nanotubes to strengthen steel, nanobelts as gas and liquid sensors, biomedical imaging systems, drug delivery systems, etc. The list just goes on and on and on. Twenty years is enough time, given proper public support, to have many of the initial promises of nanotechnology come true. I just hope I’m still at the forefront.

I am interested to know about alternative medication delivery systems you want to develop...have you done any work on this yet?

Yes, I have done work on this. I can describe the basic idea and if whoever asked this would like to know more, feel free. Here’s the idea. Currently, when you take a pill or drink some medicine, the delivery system is that is travels throughout your entire body and some of it gets to where it is effective and the rest of it goes to the rest of the body – causing side effects and other stuff. But, what if we could tag each antibody or virus killer that we sent in to the body so that it would only attach to diseased or damaged cells? Then we could lower the dosage, increase the effectiveness, and destroy an illness a lot quicker and with much less side effects. This is one of the projects that I’m working on. We’re looking to target Cancer cells and detect cancer when there are only a couple hundred cells. Current technology can only detect when there are millions of cells. So then we can precisely locate the cells and deliver the chemotherapy only to the cancerous part of the body. Then the cure wouldn’t be so dangerous.

One of the great logical exercises of our time involves the question of a dropped object hitting or not hitting the ground. The argument goes: when an object falls, it falls half of the distance to the ground, then half of the remaining distance, then half of that, and so on ad infinitum. Obviously, the object does hit the ground (or your foot), but is it because there are a finite number of halves, or is there some mystical force at play? Second, since an object never hits the ground, Moises Alou could've obviously caught that ball, fan interference or no. Should we still beat the crap outta 3rd Baseline Guy if he should ever cross our path?

Yeah, so Zeno’s paradox. Except it forgets some things. We have to abide by the laws of physics here, not just mathematics. The smallest measurement of length with any meaning is defined by something known as the Planck length. It’s something around 1.6 x 10^-35 meters. There is also a Planck time, which is similar, and is 10^-43 seconds. Since we can’t continually divide the distance in half, the paradox fails and there are a finite (although very large) number of halves. The ball will most definitely hit the ground. Moises could have caught the ball. But then again, so could have Alex Gonzalez. The pitch could have not been wild. Kerry Wood could have not given up seven runs. Dusty Baker could have taken Wood out earlier. And so on ad infinitum. That being said, 3rd Baseline Guy, I’m sure, has already beaten the crap out of himself.

The Big Bang theory essentially states that the Universe came into being out of nothing. Can an effect without cause be a scientific conclusion?

Actually the answer to the question is sort of. Quantum effects predict really strange circumstances where the effect can precede the cause. So the Universe could be some big effect before the cause. But recent findings (put Nature article here) show that Relativity, as usual, may trump Quantum Mechanics (this seems to always happen). So the question of effect and cause is as of yet unsolved.

The Universe might not have “come from nothing”. There are theories that the last big bang happened from a former big crunch. I don’t quite believe that one because this universe doesn’t seem to be heading for a crunch. Other theories are that the universe was created out of another universe, we’re just another membrane in the multiverse, and so on and so on. I have to recommend the book “The Last Three Minutes” if you are more interested in this.

If you had to choose between the life of your own child and the lives of two strangers, which would you choose and why?

Easy one. I would pick my child. Surely there is a number of strangers that I could save that would be worth more than my child (because I know that I would save 6 billion strangers before my child), but two is not even close to that number. I’m even not sure that 1000 is.

I did an internet search on this and came several discussion boards on this where people either claim that there is a time constraint in picking and they would act on instinct or they feel like they have to apologize for their selfish behavior in this matter… weird.

If you could safely clone yourself and raise him as your son, what would you try most to change about "yourself" (the clone)?

Nothing. I’m perfect of course. No, just kidding. I guess I would make my self more extroverted. And more tolerance of brainless people or at least the ability to hide my intolerance of them more. I’m very bad at hiding when I think people are dim-witted. (By the way, Office 2003 rocks!)

If you could be Michael Moore for one day, how would you kill yourself?

1. Get a LOT of explosives. The more the better.

2. Hook up a detonator to an altimeter. Set it for 100-200 feet. That will give me good dispersion.

3. Mix Vaseline and gasoline in a bucket.

4. Find a really tall building that's in a sufficiently crowded area to generate the proper sized crowd.

5. Get an extra large trench coat, ski mask, duct tape and a lighter.

6. Bring your materials to the top of building. Liberally apply the Vaseline-gasoline mixture to entire body. Duct tape the explosives around legs, arms, head and torso. The more the better. Attach the altimeter to the explosives.

7. Put on the trench coat and mask so that the explosives are not visible.

8. Start ranting and throwing things so that you are sure to attract notice. As Michael Moore, I do this naturally. Drag this part out as long as possible. Say anything that comes to mind but try to stay away from real problems. Truth does not make good sound bites. Ask for news cameras from the major networks. Pace around a lot while waving my arms.

9. DO NOT let on that I have explosives on my body. The police will clear the area and I definitely don't want that.

10. When I’ve gotten the crowd to a fevered pitch, when the helicopters are hovering like vultures, whip off the jacket and set myself on fire.

11. Wait until I’m completely engulfed in flame then jump.

12. Try to steer yourself towards the crowd. That way flaming falling body parts will pelt the fleeing onlookers when you explode.

I got this from another website and then made small edits. I think it fits, though.

Posted by Jennifer at 12:01 AM | Comments (12)

October 21, 2003

*Ask Jen, Part Two

Victor asks, "What's the difference between "then" and "than"? I'm pretty sure I've been screwing that up lately."

Ah, good one. The easiest way I can try to explain this is that "then" refers to time. "Than" is a comparison. For example:

We went to the movies and then we went to the bar for drinks.

I'd rather see Tomb Raider than Gigli. In fact, I'd rather have my toe nails ripped out than see Gigli.

Do you have a question for me? You can e-mail it. If I know the answer, I'll answer it. If I don't, I might make something up.

Posted by Jennifer at 06:41 PM

*Ask Jen, Part One

Victor writes, "I notice on your page you proclaim the Axis of Naughty has been, "A monkey-free zone since 2003." Seeing as how the Axis is anti-Frank, and Frank doesn't like monkeys (in fact, he hates monkeys), is that a suggestion that Frank should join the Axis (so that he won't be surrounded by monkeys) and, therefore, hate himself?"

It is certainly not a suggestion that Frank join us. If you'll recall, it was decided by popular vote that he was a Marmoset...a monkey, if you will. That is why we are a "monkey-free zone."

Do you have a question for me? You can e-mail it. If I know the answer, I'll answer it. If I don't, I might make something up.

Posted by Jennifer at 06:30 PM

Presidential Fun Fact of the Day

Rosalynn Carter.

While campaigning for her husband in New Hampshire in 1976, Rosalynn would introduce herself as "Mrs. Jimmy Carter." This invariably led to questions of "Who?"

"My husband is running for President," she would say.

"Oh! Jimmy Cahtuh."

Rosalynn learned to call herself "Mrs. Jimmy Cahtuh" and no longer had to explain "who" she was.

Posted by Jennifer at 05:57 PM | Comments (0)

Crazy Day

You still have time to submit questions for Blackfive. Please e-mail your questions by midnight central time today. His interview is scheduled to appear here Friday.

I am now opening up questions for Josh. Please e-mail your questions by midnight central time Thursday. Hopefully you'll see his interview on Monday.

As for new posts today, I plan to have them up but it'll be later than normal...probably early afternoon unless bad things happen.

You can exchange recipes in the comments. Thanksgiving is right around the corner!

Posted by Jennifer at 07:15 AM | Comments (3)

October 20, 2003

You Asked, Heather Answers

Heather answers the questions you submitted...

Frank J or Instapundit? I mean for real.

Frank J. Instapundit doesn't know who I am! (Nor does he need my support)

Why didn't you join the Axis of Naughty? Do you support oppression by monkey-boys or something?

I thought angering the great Frank J. might not be advantageous. Turns out, he won't update my links, but I didn't know that then.

We all can see which blogs you like by looking on your blogroll...but which blogs influence you?

I kinda do my own thing. I guess you could say Brian because he is my blogfather (and spouse which makes things kinda weird). He's the professional writer of the household. I have a bunch of blogs I read via RSS and probably ought to give some official credit to; I'll do that this week.

Why do you blog?

Because once I got started I can't stop. You?

What is the hardest blogging-related decision you've ever had to make?

Not to post something (which is the decision I made). I really wanted to, but in the end it made common sense not to because it was a bit too personal.

Seriously, why so purple? How about a nice muted lavendar?

Sigh. Feed me a non-pink lavender hex code, and I'll plug it in and see if I like it. No pink!

Describe your daily routine in 20 words or less.

Work, exercise, chores, food preparation, reading, writing, resting, hockey (if applicable).

When lifting weights, why is it important to breathe properly? Also, what is the correct breathing technique?

Breathe out while exerting, and breathe in while returning the weights to the starting position. The importance? In the immortal words of Ana Caban, your muscles need oxygen. Also, you don't want to pass out and drop your dumbbells on the dude next to you (or yourself).

What would be your top three tips to lose weight?

It's a three-in-one. Cardiovascular training, strength training, and nutrition (note I don't say diet). Aim to lose one to two pounds a week, no more. In order to do this properly, you need to know your starting body fat percentage, which means a date with the loathsome calipers. Once you know that, though, you'll learn your maintenance calories. Cut 500 from those, and there's your plan. If you drop 500 a day, you'll drop a pound a week, basically. Exercise is gravy on top of that. The cardio will help you burn off some extra fat, and the strength training will ensure that your new body is taut and strong, not wiggly.

I've had excellent results with a medium carbohydrate, medium fat regimen. That's too simple, though. My carbs are mostly complex (fruits, veggies, and whole grains), and the fats primarily polyunsaturated and monosaturated; meaning few from animal fat and junk. Most of my fat comes from nuts, lean meat, and salad dressing (oil).

One more idea; don't drink your calories. No sugared soda. No alcohol while you're trying to lose. You can treat yourself every once in a while, but these items shouldn't be everyday things (that's what I mean by "no.")

I see that you had a post about fads and cancer cures, I would like to know if you ever tried the coffee enema and if you put cream and sugar with it?

Uh, I'm a health nut; I eschew all fad diets. No cures to cancer, sadly; just preparing your body to do its best to ward it off. Also, no caffeine for me. So, no coffee. Ever. (Where do I post about fads???)

What size shoes do you wear?

8 or 8 ½ wide.

What are the names of your neighbors' 10 gerbils?

Thyme, Coriander, Nutmeg, Cayenne, Basil, Oregano, Rosemary, Sage, Tumeric, and Bob.

If someone didn't know you, what is the one thing they should know about you?

I'm intense.

If you could live anywhere, where would it be and why?

Here. Brian's here. I COULD pretty much live anywhere. Probably not a castle, though. Not full time.

If you died and HAD to come back as a celebrity, who would you be and why?

What are celebrities again? Oh, okay. Paul Kariya. He's a little dude, but he's soooooo fast.

Seriously now, who isn't John Galt?

Pamela Anderson. And JadeGold.

Tell the mustard story, please.

Okay. When I was 22, I was a single female living alone in Columbia, MO working full time and going to grad school. I had a weird-looking neighbor who lived in the apartment above me. The guys, two brothers, who were in the apartment across from me had mentioned to me that the guy was weird.

Often, I'd hear things crashing in his apartment. One morning at about 6:00 a.m., I heard a loud BOOOM! CRASH! I wasn't due to wake up yet, and I was pissy about this, so I yelled "what the hell!"

That night, after work, I was doing some laundry, and the laundry area for the apartment complex was very close to my apartment; just around the corner, really. I was carrying laundry back, and this man emerged from his apartment screaming "I KNOW WHAT YOU DID! I KNOW WHAT YOU DID! AND I CALLED THE POLICE!"

He has this long, gray hair, and his face is all scrunched up, and he's just livid. I think I'm carrying my whites. I don't remember what I said to him, but I went back into my apartment pretty shaken up, set down my laundry, and tried to figure out what to do.

The easy solution was to visit the two guys across the way who had once said, if you ever need anything. So I did. I knocked, they opened the door, and I related the story. One said, call the police.

I did. From there.

The police come. They go and talk to the man. They come back over to the guy's apartment. They say, "He accuses you of putting mustard on his door this morning."

It gets better, but I'm not going to tell you now. I'll post the rest at lunch or after work Monday.

Thank you, Heather! Tune in Wednesday when Daniel answers your questions.

Posted by Jennifer at 12:01 AM | Comments (4)

Presidential Fun Fact of the Day

Betty Ford.

Betty made no secret of the fact that she and her husband shared a bed in the White House. Apparently this shocked some of the more old-fashioned members of the public. Betty once said, "...people have written me objecting to the idea of a President of the United States sleeping with his wife."

She was quite forthright about intimate matters. When asked how often she had sex with her husband, she replied, "As often as possible!"

Posted by Jennifer at 12:00 AM | Comments (0)

October 17, 2003

Happier Days

It was a rough week for Cubs fans...but since it is Friday, I think the last thought should be on happier times.

1906...The Cubs made it to their first World Series. Granted, it was only the third World Series. And they lost. To the Chicago White Sox. Let's move on.

1907...The Cubs win the World Series, beating the Detroit Tigers 4 games to 0. That's ZERO. Ha ha ha!

1908...The Cubs win yet another World Series. The first team to repeat! They do it against the Detroit Tigers, 4 games to 1.

And that concludes today's baseball history lesson. Time to drink.

Posted by Jennifer at 03:18 PM | Comments (3)

*Ask Jen

Jim asks, "Why is water colder from the faucet in the bathroom than it is from the faucet in the kitchen?"

One reason for this difference is because your water source is probably closer to the bathrooms than to your kitchen...bathrooms have more piping and it keeps costs down to arrange them near the water meter. This also means the water out of your kitchen has been sitting in the pipes, so unless you run the faucet awhile, that water will be warmer. Another reason for the cooler water in the bathroom is often you use your bathroom faucet after flushing the toilet; so the water has already been running and is nice and cool.

Bill writes, "I read you everyday. See?"

Dear Scabby, I didn't realize that reading my comments at your blog counted as "reading" me, but I appreciate the thought. Get the flowers yet?

Do you have a question for me? You can e-mail it. If I know the answer, I'll answer it. If I don't, I might make something up.

Posted by Jennifer at 08:13 AM | Comments (1)

You Asked, Frank Answers

Frank J answers your questions...

What were your parents smoking when they named you and where can I get some of it?
Neither of my parents smoked when I was born. I was named after my dad.

Who's your favorite Beatle? (I was gonna say "Spice Girl," but they're old.)
I dunno... McCartney.

Marsha or Jan?
Marsha! Marsha! Marsha!

What does one have to do to get a Frank-alanche?
E-mailing me a worthy link is a good way to start.
Oh, and if you're a cute female, promising me sexual favors.

Why haven't you de-linked me yet?
Same reason I haven't updated the links of those who have moved off blogspot - I'm lazy.

When is Chomps happiest?
When he is angriest.

Who would win in a fight between Chomps and Zatoichi?
Chomps is too noisy to take on the blind samurai. I'm just going to say it would be a tie.

What is the purest form of humor?
Mockery. It's the evolutionary purpose of humor.

Can something be funny if it does not poke fun at someone/something?
All humor can be traced back to mockery of man. Even when you laugh at a dumb thing a dog does, it's because it reminds you of a stupid human. That said, humor can still be used without purpose of mockery, but that is its roots.

Since the number of numbers are infinite, all odd numbers are infinite. But since odd numbers are only half of all numbers, how can 1/2 of infinity equal Infinity? What's the deal?
Any inifinity can be divided into an inifinite number of smaller infinities. That's just how infiinite infinity is. So, if you put an infinite number of monkeys at an infinite number of typewriters, soon an infinite number will write the greatest novel ever written (which would probably resemble the one I'm going to be editing this weekend before I try to shop for an agent).

(shudder) infinite monkeys...

In your opinion, is blogging a legitimate form of journalism?
Not my blogging.

Where will the blogosphere be in 5 years? In 10?
Still on the internet.
Oh, and ruled by me... I mean the Alliance.

What do you really think of President Bush and his leadership abilities?
He's doing fine by my count, but he ain't wowing me.

Are you still available?
Why? Do you know someone?

Do I have to convert to Catholicism to marry you?
Yes, unless you're like superattractive.

How many kids do you want?
Three worked out for my parents. I'll go with three.

Thanks, Frank J! And thanks to everyone who submitted questions (I know who you are).

Tune in next time, when Heather will be answering your questions.

Posted by Jennifer at 12:01 AM | Comments (7)

October 16, 2003

Presidential Fun Fact of the Day

Pat Nixon.

Pat wrote her own epitaph: "I just want to be remembered as the wife of a president."

Even though she hated politics, Pat worked hard for all of her husband's campaigns. She was loyal to him and supported him in all his ambitions...and during his troubles.

Pat was a big believer in volunteerism, and encouraged women who didn't have time to work to spend their free hours helping others. She always made a point of touring hospitals, schools, and orphanages when she traveled abroad. She met with women's groups to shed light on women's progress and plight throughout the world.

A lot of what Pat was able to accomplish was due to being "the wife of a president"...and she made the most of being First Lady.

Posted by Jennifer at 11:20 AM | Comments (1)

*Ask Jen

Sgt Hook asks, "Should you salt your meat before putting it on the grill, or just before taking it off the grill?"

Of course, tastes vary, but I'll answer this from my own experience. You should use a rub to season your meat before grilling. If you just use salt, you should still do it before grilling...let the flavor cook into the meat.

Susie asks, "What is the deeper meaning to the term 'ambient irony'?"

An encompassing, sardonic look at life. I don't know if it's deeper, but the words are bigger.

Do you have a question for me? You can e-mail it. If I know the answer, I'll answer it. If I don't, I might make something up.

Posted by Jennifer at 09:31 AM | Comments (6)

October 15, 2003

*Ask Jen

Jim says, "I have been perplexed about the origin of the phrase 'gilding the lilly'... If you knew the true origin it would solve a long standing mystery for me."

In Shakespeare's King John, the king has a second coronation to try to reinforce his position. A line by Lord Salisbury discussing the king's actions goes, "...to be possess'd with double pomp, To guard a title that was rich before, To gild refined gold, to paint the lily..."

I believe this is the origin of the phrase, although the exact words "gild the lily" did not seem to appear until the early 1900s.

Reader Jeff asks, "Why are worms all over the sidewalk after it rains?"

Their holes are full of water and they're seeking higher ground.

Do you have a question for me? You can e-mail it. If I know the answer, I'll answer it. If I don't, I might make something up.

Posted by Jennifer at 07:35 AM | Comments (3)

Presidential Fun Fact of the Day

Lady Bird Johnson.

The first thing you should know about Lady Bird is that she was born Claudia Alta Taylor. Her nickname was bestowed upon her as a baby when her nurse declared she was "purty as a ladybird!" LBJ normally called her "Bird" for short.

Lady Bird had a reputation as a pushover due to her shy, serene nature...but this was not really the case. When he would get home, LBJ's first words were usually, "Where's Bird?" He talked politics over with her, even interrupting discussions with his associates to suggest they ask Lady Bird what she thought.

In 1943, while her husband was serving in the Navy, she purchased a radio station in Austin. She learned the business and oversaw its expansion into a profitable radio and television enterprise.

In 1955, her husband had a massive heart attack, and Lady Bird was strong for his sake. She took the hospital room next door to his and converted it into an office. She remained cheerful and laughing for Lyndon during his five weeks in the hospital.

Lady Bird tried to change her husband's diet. One night she awoke, hearing a clacking noise from the kitchen. He was eating pudding with a metal spoon. The next day the President of the United States sent an aide to find him a quieter, wooden spoon so he wouldn't get caught again.

Posted by Jennifer at 07:19 AM | Comments (0)

October 14, 2003

*Random Pictures of Trains

A couple of Munuvians expressed (fake?) interest in the pictures I took over the weekend. These are from the Boone and Scenic Valley Railroad visitor's center area. I've actually been on the train, but not this weekend...check the site for some much better pictures.

Picture 1

Picture 2

Picture 3

Picture 4

Picture 5

Picture 6

Picture 7

Picture 8

This was the first "test" of a super-cheap digital camera I got a month ago. It seems functional, anyway. :-)

Posted by Jennifer at 04:58 PM | Comments (1)

56 Years Ago Today...

U.S. Air Force pilot Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier. He was flying a Bell X-1 in California.

Bonus points if you know what character General Yeager played in the movie The Right Stuff.

Posted by Jennifer at 05:45 AM | Comments (3)

Presidential Fun Fact of the Day

Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy.

One day in Manhattan, four-year-old Jackie and her nurse left to go to Central Park. Shortly thereafter, the phone rang at the Bouvier home. Mrs. Bouvier answered, and it was the police.

"We have a little girl here. We can't understand her name, but she knows her telephone number. Could she be yours?"

When Mrs. Bouvier arrived at the police station, little Jackie was chatting happily with the lieutenant. He explained that he saw Jackie walking alone in the park, and when she spotted him she came to inform him, "My nurse is lost."

Posted by Jennifer at 05:21 AM

October 13, 2003

Presidential Fun Fact of the Day

Mamie Doud Eisenhower.

The Eisenhower White House was one of the most social ever. One occasion in particular was quite a sensation...it was a wedding.

In 1959 in the East Room, the Marine Band struck up the Wedding March. A veiled bride in her wedding dress appeared, carrying a bouquet. She stood next to her groom and they repeated their vows. Guests were so moved that sobbing was heard.

The bride and groom? Mamie and Ike Eisenhower, renewing their vows on their 43rd wedding anniversary.

(By the way, Mamie was born in Boone, Iowa.)

Posted by Jennifer at 08:04 AM | Comments (3)

*Ask Jen

Victor asks, "What's a 'penumbra'? Is there ever a time when one is 'practical'? Also, should the question marks go inside or outside of the quotation marks, in the two previous questions?"

The, ahem, dictionary defines "penumbra" as:

1 a : a space of partial illumination (as in an eclipse) between the perfect shadow on all sides and the full light b : a shaded region surrounding the dark central portion of a sunspot
2 : a surrounding or adjoining region in which something exists in a lesser degree : FRINGE
3 : a body of rights held to be guaranteed by implication in a civil constitution

As for their practicality, I have no comment.

Now onto your third question (cheater)--if you were quoting Susie, you used quotation marks correctly. You should not alter a direct quote with your own punctuation.

Do you have a question for me? You can e-mail it. If I know the answer, I'll answer it. If I don't, I might make something up.

Posted by Jennifer at 12:01 AM | Comments (1)

October 12, 2003

Any reason to celebrate

According to the United Nations, today marks the 4-year anniversary of the world's population reaching the 6 billion mark.

Just thought you'd like to know.

Oh, and...Go Cubs!

Posted by Jennifer at 03:16 PM | Comments (4)

October 10, 2003

*Ask Jen

Paige asks, "How do deer know to cross at the 'Deer Crossing' signs?"

Excellent question. The easy answer would be to say that they don't. You've probably driven down the road and seen the apparent evidence of this many times. However, I have it on good authority (my dad's) that this simply is not the case. According to a conversation my dad and I had about a year ago, all young deer attend Deer School where they learn useful skills such as looking both ways before crossing the street and where to cross. The problem is that--much like humans--some deer are overly social with other deer and don't pay attention in class. The bad students are the ones whose guts you see scattered all over the highway. They deserve to get hit. So there you have it.

Reader Stephanie asks, "Why are GrapeNuts called GrapeNuts when they contain neither grapes nor nuts?"

When the cereal was introduced in 1898, C.W. Post declared the natural sweetness of wheat and malted barley "sweet as grapes." The Nuts part comes from the cereal being crunchy as rocks nuts.

Do you have a question for me? You can e-mail it. If I know the answer, I'll answer it. If I don't, I might make something up.

Posted by Jennifer at 11:37 PM | Comments (4)

October 09, 2003

*Iowa Tourism

I think Iowa could use a new tourism slogan. Here are my suggestions:

1. We knew John Wayne when he was named Marion.
2. We don't have potatoes, jerk. That's Idaho.
3. No professional sports teams=Low crime rates!
4. Four hours from Minneapolis.
5. Cedar Rapids was prominently featured in the hit movie Titanic!
6. Field of Dreams filmed here. We haven't shut up about it since.
7. The only place Laura Ingalls Wilder lived but was too ashamed to write about.
8. Five hours from Chicago.
9. Birthplace of nylon.
10. Better get here before we burn the whole place down!

Posted by Jennifer at 04:52 AM | Comments (6)

*Ask Jen

Reader Shawna asks, "What's a lars?"

A LARS is a Light Artillery Rocket System, which began service with the German Army in 1970. It has been almost entirely phased out there, but is currently being used by Greece, Portugal, and Turkey.

The LARS has an 18-barrel launcher attached to a standard 6x6 military truck. The launcher is operated from inside the vehicle cab, but not before the two rear stabilizing jacks are lowered to the ground. The loaded launcher weighs 17.2 tons.

The rocket has a solid fuel motor, and the standard warhead is a high explosive-fragmentation type. The rockets measure 7.42 feet and weigh 77.16 pounds. The warheads weigh 38.14 pounds. The maximum velocity of the rockets is 2100 feet per second, with a maximum range of 15,310 yards.

Do you have a question for me? You can e-mail it. If I know the answer, I'll answer it. If I don't, I might make something up.

Posted by Jennifer at 12:01 AM | Comments (1)

October 08, 2003

*What Do You Know?

About drinking cliches...

This one is a request from the Bartender...and one thing you kids should know is: Take care of your bartender and your bartender will take care of you.

He wanted to know the origins/meanings of these cliches:
Hair of the dog that bit you.
Drunk as a skunk.
Drunk as Cooter Brown.
Blind drunk.
Here's mud in your eye.
Never pet a burning dog.

"Hair of the dog that bit you."

Ancient cures often called for a second dose of whatever caused the problem in the first place. The Latin name for this was similia similibus curantar, which meant "like cures like." If someone was bitten by a dog, the remedy involved placing some of the dog's hair in the wound. The treatment for a hangover was another drink the next morning. The two ideas were combined and the second drink was called the hair of the dog that bit you.

"Drunk as a skunk."

This is probably popular only because of the rhyme. It is unlikely anyone has seen a drunken skunk. Possibly alludes to "stinking drunk."

"Drunk as Cooter Brown."

Do you live in the south? This phrase is mostly a southern one, and originated sometime between 1900 and the 1940s. If there was a Cooter Brown, he has been forgotten. It is possible this evolved from "drunk as a cooter." A cooter is apparently a turtle in the south? Y'all are weird down there. ;-)

"Blind drunk."

If you drink enough, your vision becomes impaired, of course. As early as 1622, poet Jeremy Taylor wrote:

For though he be as drunk as any Rat
He hath but catcht a Foxe, or whipt the Cat.
Or some say hee's bewitcht, or scracht, or blinde.
Which are the fittest tearmes that I can finde.

"Here's mud in your eye."

This one comes from horse racers, apparently. They would use this one teasingly, which equated to: "I hope the horse you're riding finishes behind mine."

"Never pet a burning dog."

I didn't find anything on this one...although a lot of people use it as a funny quote. I think it is fairly recent and has no deep meaning or origination. Just a guess.

Posted by Jennifer at 08:08 AM | Comments (10)

Presidential Fun Fact of the Day

Bess Truman.

Bess's father committed suicide when she was 18 years old. She never spoke about it and would avoid mentioning her father for the rest of her life. The Trumans' daughter Margaret learned about the suicide by accident and when she asked her father about it, Harry told her to never mention it to Bess.

The loss of her father is probably the main reason Bess shirked away from the press and publicity. Margaret believed her mother was afraid the suicide would make its way into the papers; that Harry's political enemies would use the information to sling mud.

The press was quite frustrated by their First Lady. Her predecessor, Eleanor Roosevelt, had conducted her own press conferences for the women reporters, wrote a newspaper column, gave speeches, and was highly visible as well as accessible. Bess was almost a nonentity. She was even able to shop in Washington's department stores unnoticed. She craved anonymity and was nearly successful in achieving it.

Posted by Jennifer at 05:07 AM | Comments (0)

*Ask Jen

Sgt. Hook asks, "What is the maximum velocity of an unladen swallow?"

To which I am forced to respond: What do you mean? An African or European swallow?

Reader Jeff asks, "Why are piggy banks pigs?"

European dishes and cookware were made of a clay called "pygg." When it became customary to save coins in jars made of this clay, they were known as pygg banks. In the 1800s an English potter was asked to make a pygg bank and misunderstood; he thought the request was for a "pig" bank, so he made a bank shaped like a pig. It caught on.

Do you have a question for me? You can e-mail it. If I know the answer, I'll answer it. If I don't, I might make something up.

Posted by Jennifer at 01:57 AM | Comments (2)

October 07, 2003

*Ask Jen

Reader Pete asks, "The question on everyone's mind, Quasimodo or Esmeralda?? And did I spell them correctly?"

Phoebus. And I believe you did.


Do you have a question for me? You can e-mail it. If I know the answer, I'll answer it. If I don't, I might make something up.

Posted by Jennifer at 03:30 PM | Comments (7)

Presidential Fun Fact of the Day

Eleanor Roosevelt.

Eleanor was used to coming and going as she pleased. Via planes, trains, and automobiles, she logged about 80,000 miles of travel during her first two years as First Lady. She drove herself--often unescorted. She attended public events without security.

After the attempt on Franklin's life in 1933, her husband wanted the Secret Service to provide Eleanor with a bodyguard, but she adamantly refused. Many times the subject was broached, but Eleanor insisted, "Americans are wonderful. I simply can't imagine being afraid of going among them as I have always done, as I always shall."

Because of her refusal to have a bodyguard, the Secret Service provided her with a gun. She resisted this too at first, but eventually agreed to lessons at the FBI headquarters so she could learn how to handle the weapon. After a few visits to the FBI firing range, Chief J. Edgar Hoover was alarmed. He told the President, "If there is one person in the U.S. who should not carry a gun, it's your wife. She cannot hit a barn door."

Later on, Eleanor did learn how to shoot the gun, and she dutifully carried it in the glove compartment of her car. Unloaded.

Posted by Jennifer at 07:54 AM

*Ask Jen

Reader Jeff wants to know why Americans drive on the right while Europeans and others drive on the left.

The reason seems to come from the different ways farm wagons were developed and used.

In America, it was common for wagons to be built without a seat. The driver would walk alongside the left or ride the rear left animal pulling the wagon. This put the driver in optimal position to use a whip with his right hand. When the wagon encountered another wagon, each moved to the right to pass; ensuring they did not collide with one another.

In England the wagons were built with a driver's seat and a brake lever which was on the right...forcing the driver to sit on the right side. Therefore, when encountering another wagon, the drivers would move to the left to pass.

When the "horseless carriage" was invented, Americans and Europeans simply continued their own customs.

Do you have a question for me? You can e-mail it. If I know the answer, I'll answer it. If I don't, I might make something up.

Posted by Jennifer at 12:57 AM | Comments (2)

October 06, 2003

*Useless Word Fact

Ever wonder why jeeps are called..."jeeps"?

Because when the vehicles were first delivered to the army, they were called "general purpose" vehicles and had "GP" painted on their sides. This led to them being called "jeepees" which was later shortened to "jeep."

Posted by Jennifer at 06:27 PM | Comments (4)


If nothing else, it's certainly interesting to see the accusations of anti-Semitism and womanizing being flung at Arnold Schwarzenegger. After all, anti-Semitism and womanizing are nothing new to the Kennedy family. Patriarch Joe Kennedy did pretty well in both departments.

While serving as America's ambassador to England, Joe opined the Jews had "brought on themselves" everything Hitler did. He said that Hitler had done "great things" for Germany and that the Germans were thriving.

Morton Downey Jr, whose father was a close friend of Joe's, said, "I think if Joe had his way, Hitler would have succeeded in his annihilation of the Jews....He always found great favor in Hitler. He would have loved to see him succeed."

When Joe's son, Joe Jr, was traveling through Germany, he wrote a letter home that complemented his father's own views. In it, he remarked on Hitler's "sterilization law which I think is a good thing. I don't know how the (Catholic) Church feels about it but it will do away with many of the disgusting specimens of men who inhabit this earth."

Joe was aggressively anti-Semitic. He even lobbied his son John to incorporate attacks on Jews into his political platform.

As for womanizing, I'll just say two words: Gloria Swanson.

Posted by Jennifer at 12:06 AM

*Presidential Fun Fact of the Day

(Dedicated to my fellow Munuvians.)

Lou Henry Hoover.

When Lou and Herbert lived in Tientsin, they kept a cow in order to have fresh milk. One day the cow disappeared, much to its calf's dismay. One of the young Chinese men working for the Hoovers suggested Lou take what he called the "cow's pup" for a walk through the area. When the mother and baby smelled each other, they would moo.

Lou liked the idea, and set out with some friends on a quiet night to find the cow. They suspected German soldiers of the theft, so the group headed for the stockade. Sure enough, the "cow's pup" began making noise and its mother responded from inside.

Speaking the best German she could muster, Lou approached the German sentry to request the return of her cow. He didn't understand her at first, but then had an epiphany: she wanted to reunite the calf with its mother. He took the calf's halter, pulled it inside the stockade, and closed the door behind him.

Posted by Jennifer at 12:01 AM | Comments (2)

October 05, 2003



Cubs win! Cubs win! Cubs win!

Posted by Jennifer at 09:52 PM | Comments (3)

October 03, 2003

What Do You Know?

About military bugle calls...

Bugle calls were meant to signal soldiers and could be heard over the noise of battle and across long distances. There were no words to be sung with the calls.

You can go to this site and hear some bugle calls.

Taps, which has no official words, may have originated as part of the early French call, the Tattoo. The Tattoo was used to summon soldiers from the taverns to return to base. The military police would sound the call, which signaled tavern keepers to shut off the taps.

Here are different "lyrics" to Taps:

Day is done,
gone the sun,
From the hills,
from the lake,
From the skies.
All is well,
safely rest,
God is nigh.

Go to sleep,
peaceful sleep,
May the soldier
or sailor,
God keep.
On the land
or the deep,
Safe in sleep.

Love, good night,
Must thou go,
When the day,
And the night
Need thee so?
All is well.
Speedeth all
To their rest.

Fades the light;
And afar
Goeth day,
And the stars
Shineth bright,
Fare thee well;
Day has gone,
Night is on.

Thanks and praise,
For our days,
'Neath the sun,
Neath the stars,
'Neath the sky,
As we go,
This we know,
God is nigh.

The origin of Taps is still debatable, but the most accepted story is that Daniel Adams Butterfield created the call during the Civil War. At the time, the Union troops were using the French Lights Out call, which Butterfield thought was too formal. He made some notes longer and some shorter, but otherwise made no changes.

Taps was first played at a military funeral when the CO decided the traditional gun salute would provoke the nearby enemy camp.

England's King George III had a call written to wake the troops. It was named Reveille, from the French "to wake."

French Reveille is La Diana, after the Roman legions' use of Diana's Hymn in the morning.

The most common calls used today include First Call, which you may also hear at the start of horse races.

Here is another site you can check for information on bugle calls.

Posted by Jennifer at 09:43 AM | Comments (5)

Cellar Dweller

Courtesy "Great American Scandals" by Michael Farquhar.

"Give me liberty or give me death," Patrick Henry famously demanded on the eve of the American Revolution. His wife, Sarah, might have said the same thing, since she was confined in the basement of the couple's Virginia estate for almost four years. Not that the accommodations were all that bad...partially aboveground, letting in plenty of light and fresh air...Yet it wasn't quite the Ritz, especially when Sarah found herself in a straitjacket. What had driven the poor woman to such an unfortunate state?

It seems her children were part of the problem. She had five of them, starting when she was seventeen, but after the birth of the sixth in 1771, Sarah lost it. She exhibited what Patrick Henry biographer Robert Meade calls "a strange antipathy" toward her children. It might be called postpartum psychosis today. Sarah's "antipathy" became so dangerous that she had to be kept away from the kids. But Patrick Henry was a loyal husband and knew how horrific insane asylums of the day could be. So, the family lived upstairs while Sarah ranted and raved below. It was in this sad state that she died in 1775 at age thirty-seven.

Posted by Jennifer at 05:46 AM | Comments (5)

Presidential Fun Fact of the Day

Grace Coolidge.

Grace was the polar opposite of her reserved, shy husband. She was gregarious and fun-loving, and made a habit of teasing Calvin.

When Calvin was the Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts, he gave a speech to help celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Chickering Piano Company despite the fact he had no great interest in music. Grace loved music and attended the dinner as well. To her amazement, she heard her husband talk knowledgeably about the master composers and their works. Later she laughingly asked him when he had learned about music, and he quickly changed the subject. Grace decided the speech was the only ghostwritten one he ever delivered.

Calvin couldn't whistle, but his wife could do it very well. To call the dogs, Calvin got a little whistle he could blow. Unfortunately, he misplaced it one night and was trying his hardest to whistle for the dogs himself. Grace exclaimed, "What's the matter, papa, don't your teeth fit tonight?"

The Coolidges and friends took a cruise one evening, and two ladies were seated next to the quiet President. They were unable to get him to speak at all. The next morning at breakfast, Calvin asked his wife why the ladies had not come down yet. She explained they were still "exhausted by your conversation of last evening!"

Posted by Jennifer at 05:33 AM | Comments (0)

October 02, 2003

Presidential Fun Fact of the Day

Florence Harding.

"I have only one hobby--my husband," Florence would tell curious reporters. Warren seemed to agree, once saying his car was the only thing "Florence did not have a desire to run."

She had grown up in a wealthy family and was headstrong and educated. She eloped in 1880 with Henry DeWolfe, who ended up being an alcoholic. The marriage soon disintegrated. Florence's father had disapproved of the match and refused to help his daughter when she returned to her hometown, baby boy in tow. So she became a piano teacher and managed to support herself.

When she was thirty years old, she began seeing Warren, who was five years her junior. They married in 1891, and Florence soon took over the business end of the newspaper Warren had bought. She managed the finances very well and made the business quite profitable. Later she was a key factor in Warren's political success, and was no doubt instrumental in his presidential election. Her controlling nature paid off for them both in business and politics.

In their personal life, things weren't quite as rosy. Warren had affairs and even fathered one child with a mistress, but he recognized his wife's contributions to his success. For her part, Florence was protective of Warren when scandals began surfacing in his administration. After his death she sat before his coffin and told him, "No one can hurt you now, Warren." Before she left the White House, she destroyed papers and letters that she thought would embarass her late husband.

Posted by Jennifer at 09:10 AM | Comments (5)

October 01, 2003

Names Revisited

In 1875, future Texas governor Jim Hogg and his wife named their newborn daughter Ima.

Posted by Jennifer at 04:08 PM | Comments (6)

Presidential Fun Fact of the Day

Edith Wilson.

Edith was a widow and a friend of Woodrow's cousin when she met the president seven months after Ellen's death. Edith was having tea with her friend at the White House, and Woodrow arrived unexpectedly. He joined the ladies and began seeing Edith shortly thereafter.

Immediately, Edith was filling the void of Woodrow's confidante...he shared the intimacies of his various political dealings with her. In December, 1915, the couple was married quietly in Edith's home. Following the end of World War I, Woodrow's workload increased and his health deteriorated. In October, 1919 he suffered a massive stroke which left him paralyzed on one side. Edith believed he should resign the presidency for the sake of his health, but his doctors insisted his mind was sharp and his best bet for recovery was to have something to work for.

Edith now shouldered a great deal of responsibility, but she was helped by the fact Woodrow had always discussed political matters with her. Every day she carefully read through the president's papers, chose the most important ones, and took them to her husband. She would then relay his instructions to his associates. The First Lady was an intermediary between her husband and everyone else, including the Cabinet and foreign diplomats.

Woodrow never completely recovered from his stroke, but even his political enemies admitted he was mentally fit throughout his presidency. Eventually he was able to get around with a wheelchair, and even considered running for a third term in 1920, but Edith strenuously objected to that idea. In 1921 they retired to a house in Washington. Woodrow passed away three years later.

Posted by Jennifer at 07:00 AM | Comments (0)