The best part of being a Munuvian, aside from the free fudge cookies (which are even better than the free love, or so I'm told)?
Getting spam in your mailbox and logging in to delete it all...only to find it's been taken care of already.
I love Pixy. And anyone else who may have helped.
Susie once complained that my middle column is too small. I filed that away to be dealt with at a later date.
It's a later date.
I also made a place where I can redecorate all I like while annoying as few readers as possible.
These two skins only work on the main page...I'm not ambitious enough to match individual pages, comments, and whatnot. Plus I don't think there's really a need for it.
When I do finally put up the new redesign*, I'll try to keep myself from messing with it too much. There will be links to all these fun new pages, and I'll try to keep things as simple as possible.
* January 1st, barring any unforeseen mishaps on New Year's Eve.
Just watching/reading the news this morning as the "epic tsunami" death toll continues to climb. Up to 44,000 now according to MSNBC and FOX. CNN has it at 33,000.
Here is a blog set up especially for tsunami relief information.
Salinas, California is being forced to close its libraries due to budget shortfalls. They need $3.2 million to run the libraries for a year.
Too bad no one has that kind of money just lying around, being useless.
For information on the earthquake/tsunami story, The Command Post has an excellent collection of links.
For information on how to help, go here.
"A conservative is one who admires radicals centuries after they're dead."
(at least I didn't go with the obvious "Meowwy Christmas")
Hey, it's up to 9 degrees...heat wave!
This is our island in the sun! Oy! Oy!
Ahem. Anywho...I am off to do some last-minute shopping. Not for me--my shopping is done. For my dad. For my mom.
Have to buy clothes for my mom to come from my dad. You knew what I meant. No Dad-gifts can be purchased more than 24 hours before Christmas Eve, or they get stale, you know.
"A writer writes not because he is educated but because he is driven by the need to communicate. Behind the need to communicate is the need to share. Behind the need to share is the need to be understood."
I have met my fair share of Jennifer Anns, Jennifer Lynns, and Jennifer Maries. I've also known my fair share of Jennifer Larsons. But even though I have an extremely common name, I was lucky enough to get a semi-unusual middle name.
It's not an unusual name, per se, but it's not one you normally see as the middle name.
There's no story behind it. No relative I'm named after. My parents just thought it was pretty. My brother also has a semi-unusual middle name, but my sister got stuck with one of the boring ones I mentioned in the first sentence. My mom has one of those, too. My dad has his father's first name as his middle name. My niece got the same boring middle name as my sister, but my nephew got the (rather bulky) name of his great-grandfather.
Richard Gere's middle name is "Tiffany"...go figure that one out. Maybe it's his mother's maiden name.
"Extremists think 'communication' means agreeing with them."
So here's a picture of the most adorable kitten...
"I learned that it is the weak who are cruel, and that gentleness is to be expected only from the strong."
Most of us agree that an 18th birthday does not magically transform someone from child to adult. So what, exactly, does being an adult--or "grown-up"--mean?
This is what I came up with as a definition...
Someone both capable of and willing to be self-sufficient (providing for their own basic needs and, if applicable, willing and able to take care of their dependents).
With this definition, a 25-year-old living with his parents and not wanting to work would not qualify as an adult. A 25-year-old who keeps changing jobs to avoid having child support taken out of his check would not qualify as an adult, either. A 25-year-old living with his parents while attending school would qualify, assuming he's getting an education to better himself rather than to avoid the "real world".
What do you think?
"We see things as we are, not as they are."
Someone asked if I was going to do some Christmas linkfest thing like I did around Halloween. My answer?
Hell, no, fool. I have things to do. Presents to wrap! Cookies to bake! Probably get stuck putting a bicycle together! Crafts to paint! GoGoGoGoGo!
Now I'm off to the airport! Picking people up!
I'm planning on a busy day today, so I'll leave y'all something to discuss:
"Marriage is not just spiritual communion. It is also remembering to take out the trash."
-Dr. Joyce Brothers
"The most radical revolutionary will become a conservative the day after the revolution."
Before WWII, American lingerie was largely utilitarian...and almost never anything but white. In fact, a young man working for a mail-order company was fired for suggesting they sell black undergarments.
The young man, Frederick Mellinger, joined the Army and was sent overseas during the war. Mellinger happened to notice French lingerie was more colorful and racy, and his fellow soldiers seemed to enjoy it.
When Mellinger left the Army, he opened a retail shop in Manhattan. He had trouble getting his "pornographic" ads into the newspapers. Shortly thereafter, he decided to move to less-conservative Hollywood, where he thought he would meet with more acceptance.
Frederick's of Hollywood was born.
If the South had succeeded in seceding, would I have to go to a foreign country to see a NASCAR race?
"The best index to a person's character is (a) how he treats people who can't do him any good, and (b) how he treats people who can't fight back."
-Abigail Van Buren
Corsets had been popular since Catherine de Medici declared a ban on large waists in her court. Readers of Laura Ingalls Wilder may remember Laura's hatred of the restricting garment.
Today, corsets are no longer an everyday part of our wardrobe, unless we're really kinky. What happened to corsets? Did they simply fall out of fashion?
Corsets were extremely popular until America entered WWI, and a metal shortage required women to give them up. An estimated 28,000 tons of metal were saved!
The corset hung on after the war for a little while longer, but finally met its end when bras and elastic undergarments were popularized in the 1930s.
Tomorrow: How WWII brought sexy lingerie to America.
Today I learned that I have two choices when shipping to Hawaii via USPS...the 3-day service, or for about 15 cents less, the 3-5 week service.
Is there an official USPS canoe out there? You'd think they could at least spring for an outboard motorboat.
Is it possible--or advisable--to completely trust a lover who has blatantly lied to you in the past?
How many times can you forgive someone for betraying your trust?
Even if they make real, tangible changes in their life because they think they've lost you, can someone really change? Or will they revert once they get you back?
"When I bore people at a party, they think it is their fault."
This last election season, there was some press about various singers and songwriters upset about their songs being used politically. This sort of thing was nothing new, as Daniel Emmett could attest.
Emmett wrote three songs you might recognize: "Jimmy Crack Corn", "Old Dan Tucker", and "Dixie's Land".
Emmett wrote "Dixie" in 1859 in New York City. The song quickly became a hit and spread throughout the country. Two years later, it was played at the inauguration of Jefferson Davis and became a Confederate Army marching song.
Emmett--a Union loyalist--was horrified that the South had appropriated his song: "If I'd known to what use they were going to put my song, I'll be damned if I'd have written it."
After General Lee surrendered, President Lincoln asked a band to play one of his favorite songs. Guess which one.
I should probably post something today, eh?
Well, here's a quote:
"There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them."
I'll try to post something else shortly.
The bear's name is "Blue" and he's one of those Ty Beanie things...but not one of the little ones. He's 9 inches tall, sitting like that. The book is a little book of presidential quotes. I bought them both today and now I just need to find a decent box to send them in.
So refer people and win!
Okay, those of you who saw the puzzle banner (I won't bother linking to it, since this process is not that interesting to anyone but me)...I decided it was too busy. So I changed the banner to look much cleaner while still having the same feel:
(click to enlarge if you wish)
What do you think of this one?
(Update: My 3-year-old nephew weighed in: "That's a bird! He's mean!")
(Second Update: My nearly 5-year-old niece saw it: "Look, it's a birdie. (pause) He's mad.")
I like to peruse my SiteMeter stats once a day or so, just to see who's stopping by...see if my stalkers are still watching me...see how many American men are searching Google for "American Women Suck"...wonder for a moment if they mean literally or figuratively...see if a blogger I worship (who refuses to blogroll me) is doing the daily walk-by...and see how many Georgia Tech people are hating on their school.
Oddly, it's usually a "gatech.edu" domain searching for "Georgia Tech Sucks"...why is that? I don't know who your big rivals are, but shouldn't I be seeing "mit.edu" or "uga.edu" or something? (I'm making those domain addresses up, by the way. I'm too lazy to double-check them.)
There are little museums in just about every little town in America. You sometimes don't even notice them, much less stop inside to see what they're all about.
The Bob Feller Museum is about half an hour away, and I'd driven past the sign on the interstate several times, but never got around to pulling off the exit to check it out...until a few weeks ago.
I knew Feller was a Hall of Fame baseball player, and I assumed he was from Iowa, since we have a whole museum dedicated to him, but I learned he was more than that. Feller was an All-Star pitcher who was named the Major League Player of the Year in 1940.
And he walked away from it at 22 years of age.
On December 8, 1941--the Day after Pearl Harbor--Feller enlisted in the Navy. He served for four years before returning to baseball.
The lady working at the museum took the time to talk about Feller's career and the collection, and was very nice. It cost $4 admission, but it was a neat little place to visit. So if you're ever around Van Meter, Iowa, stop by. You can't miss it:
(click to enlarge if you wish)
"Women hope men will change after marriage but they don't; men hope women won't change but they do."
And because it's my nephew's birthday...
"I have nephews...I remember the first time they stayed with us. My sister-in-law calls me--it was after midnight--and she's like, 'Did you have a hard time getting the boys to sleep?' I'm like, 'Sleep? Girl, we're sitting up drinking liquor, playing Nintendo.'"
Someone has pointed out to me that my SiteMeter is well over the 100,000 mark.
This is true.
But that includes 29,864 hits from my old site.
Hits on this site are closing in on 100,000. (98,976 at the moment.)
The rack, for all its effectiveness, was a bit bulky and not exactly easy to transport. If torture on-the-go was required, other devices met the need.
The thumbscrew, as one might imagine, was a ring that fit over the thumb or finger and was tightened by a wingnut screw. It was unsophisticated, but easily transportable and rather painful. Some versions accommodated more than one finger or thumb, and others had sharp spikes inside them to inflict even more pain. This little torture device was seen in Europe from the 14th century until the 18th, but its use was continued at slave plantations well afterwards.
The kittee was a larger version of the thumbscrew, seen in India for centuries before the British colonized it. British tax collectors used the kittee on unwilling Indian taxpayers. The kittee was large enough to be used on hands, feet, genitals, nipples, noses, etc.
Finally, the Scavenger's Daughter (or Skeffington's Irons) was the opposite of the rack. Instead of pulling a body apart, it compressed a body upon itself. Sir Leonard Skeffington invented the iron loop, which held a person in a fetal position...their legs bent and hugged to their chest. An iron clamp on one end was used to tighten the loop until blood came out of the hands, feet, mouth, and nose of the person who failed to confess. The device was invented during the reign of Henry VIII and wasn't used as widely for torture as it was for prisoner transport.
What do Fairbanks, Alaska and Dallas, Texas have in common?
Both were named after vice-presidents: Charles Fairbanks and George Mifflin Dallas.
"Women complain about premenstrual syndrome, but I think of it as the only time of the month that I can be myself."
Who can talk about medieval torture devices and not at least mention the rack? It's probably the most well-known...the one torture device that represents all torture devices.
The rack dates back to Ancient Greece, but was only occasionally employed until the Spanish Inquisition brought it front and center in Europe. In 1447, Constable John Holland, the Duke of Exeter, introduced the rack into the Tower of London. It came to be the most popular torture device in England, and was nicknamed the "Duke of Exeter's daughter".
Now, some people might think the rack can't be all that bad. It stretches you out, and surely we can all use a good back-stretching now and then. But the rack stretched you out far enough to raise you off the ground and dislocate your joints. Your feet were tied to a fixed bar, and your arms were tied to a movable bar. The movable bar was rolled farther away by a series of pulleys and levers until eventually you were a few inches off the ground and all your body weight was up there with you.
After you finally confessed to whatever they wanted you to confess to, you'd probably be too crippled to get on the witness stand or even raise your right hand to swear to tell the truth. Then you'd be found guilty and they'd burn you at the stake or hang you or provide some other form of capital punishment. If you didn't confess, your limbs would be ripped off and you'd die anyway.
The rack was used to its fullest potential in England for about 150 years before it was deemed too cruel. It fell out of fashion in the 1590s, and was outlawed in 1628.
"In passing, also, I would like to say that the first time Adam had a chance he laid the blame on a woman."
-Lady Nancy Astor
Used to be, I'd get one tiny little cold once a year...usually around September. And I only got the flu when I wanted a day off school, if you know what I mean. Now I apparently get every cold and flu within a ten-mile radius.
Why, God, why?!
In other (non-old and decrepit) news, I'd like to point out that someone is claiming to be the Green Santa. Do I have to pay royalties? How does that work?
And...is today the day I'll post about medieval torture devices? Only time will tell.
Kyle said, "The story behind the term '86' might be interesting... go for it!"
The term "86" originated with the food service industry back in the 1920s. Lunch-counter clerks had to communicate with the cook verbally, and they didn't necessarily want the customers to understand everything that was being said. Code words and numbers were used when preferred...such as "86" meaning the cook was out of an item.
The term "86" also came to mean that a customer should not be served, and it made its way in this meaning to the adult beverage establishments. An "86" was a customer who shouldn't be served any more due to intoxication, and removing that customer from the bar became "86ing".
The Viking wants to know if it's true shaved hair grows back thicker and darker.
No, it's not. Think of a tapered candle...with the base being the same size all the way towards the top, but the top coming to a point. Hair is similar in that way. You shave it off bluntly, and lose the tapered end. So the stubble that then grows back out of the skin looks thicker at first, but it's not really.
Victor wants to know why I have one non-red Santa in my banner.
Because one of them is a non-conformist. He's an individual. He likes to stand out from the crowd. He's unique.
But not too much.
"Take your work seriously, but never yourself."
Okay, folks. I've got nothing. What do you want to know about? More old-fashioned capital punishment? Medieval torture devices? How many hatmakers JFK put out of business? The history of the number "1"? The story behind the term "86"?
Give me some motivation, people, or I'll go on a decorating rampage like you've never seen before.
In honor of certain court proceedings in California, here is a brief (very brief) history of capital punishment in general.
Capital punishment is nothing new, and has probably been around as long as human disputes. The first recorded incidences in Europe took place in the 5th Century B.C., and Egyptians were diligently recording their death sentences at least a thousand years earlier.
Crimes worthy of death were quite varied...an Indian man who damaged a dam could be drowned near the scene of the crime; an Egyptian who injured a cat could be killed even though the cat lived; a Roman who sang unflattering songs about high-ranking officials might meet his end; a Babylonian merchant selling bad beer could be put to death; a Middle Eastern trial witness who committed perjury might be embalmed alive; and a Babylonian architect would be held responsible if his poorly constructed house fell in on the owner or his son...although the architect would simply be fined if the owner's wife or daughter were killed.
One thing you might notice if you look at capital punishment is that nobility or others of a high social rank were often killed more quickly/kindly than ordinary peasants. A public and torturous execution was meant to be a deterrent to the masses. After all, a quick and painless death might not seem like such a bad thing to someone struggling to survive on a daily basis.
Those of higher status were often allowed a more gracious exit...Socrates, for example, was given the choice of banishment or death by poisoning. He chose the poison, and spent the day surrounded by his family, friends, and followers. When the poison was delivered, he drank it and died in their company.
As civilizations have become more prosperous, capital punishment has fallen out of favor, or become as painless as thought possible. Life is worth more to society as a whole. Although some places (Texas?) have a high rate of executions, it's still better than, say, England during Henry VIII's reign. During his rule (1509-1547), over 65,000 hangings took place in England. The gallows were the site of weekly family gatherings, drunken revelry, and entertainment. And while the public spectacle was meant to be a deterrent to crime, pickpockets often worked the crowd as the hangman did his work.
Now, even though a prosperous country like the United States allows executions, they are private affairs. And they are not doled out for piddly crimes--they are reserved for those who themselves show no respect for human life.
"Yeah, I called her up, she gave me a bunch of crap about me not listening to her, or something, I don't know, I wasn't really paying attention."
-Jeff Daniels in Dumb and Dumber
In honor of certain court proceedings in California, let's take a look at capital punishment. Specifically, drawing and quartering.
This particular form of capital punishment was generally used on those convicted of treason, and was indeed the official punishment for treason in parts of Asia and Europe. There were two main procedures for drawing and quartering a person.
The first, and original, was used primarily in Russia. The person's arms and legs were tied to four different horses, which were then whipped to run in different directions. Any limbs not pulled off before the ropes broke were dislocated. After the horses had done their damage, the person was usually decapitated.
England developed another way to draw and quarter those convicted of treason. The man would be dragged on the ground by a horse to the site of his execution, where he would be hanged but not allowed to die. While hanging and alive, he was disemboweled. After watching his intestines burn in a fire, he was decapitated. Now dead, his body was cut into quarters.
The English method was intended to make the execution as big a spectacle as possible, in hopes of preventing future treasonous acts. The horse dragged the so-called traitor through town to bring as many spectators as possible to the event, and the quartering after death was clearly just for show.
The first man to meet his end by English-style drawing and quartering was David III, the last native Prince of Wales, who had fought for Welsh independence. In 1283, after being convicted of treason, he was publicly drawn and quartered. This remained the legal punishment for treason until Parliament outlawed it in 1870. Two Irish revolutionaries had been condemned to die this way, but there was a public outcry against such a cruel form of death. The last time it was carried out in England was 1820.
"I'd like the American people to know that we still have two out of three branches of the government working for us, and that ain't bad."
-Jack Nicholson in Mars Attacks
In honor of certain court proceedings in California, let's take a look at capital punishment. Specifically, crucifixion.
Crucifixion, as the Romans used it, was considered to be the most ignoble and painful type of capital punishment. Only slaves and the very worst criminals were condemned to die in such a manner, and if the criminal could prove he was a Roman citizen, he was usually permitted to choose a different form of death. Courts in Rome proper were loath to administer the punishment of crucifixion, but it was more common in the outlying provinces and conquered territories.
The Romans did not invent crucifixion, although they were the more notorious users of it. Instead, it originated with the Phoenicians and was passed on most notably to the Assyrians, Carthaginians (who also used it in sacrifice), Egyptians, and Persians.
Originally, crucifers were simply hung from an upright pole. Eventually, the Romans developed various types of crosses...the well-known t-shape that Jesus was crucified upon, the y-shaped cross, the x-shaped cross (St. Andrew's cross), and a goalpost-shaped cross that wasn't used very often. This last shape was used for hanging the person by one arm and one leg. The most degrading form of crucifixion was to hang the person upside down, as was done to St. Peter.
Emperor Constantine abolished crucifixion in the Roman Empire in A.D. 315, but it was seen in other areas later than that. France used it mainly against Jews and heretics although an assassin was publicly crucified in 1127, and Japan used a form of the punishment as recently as the early 1800s.