Category: Personal

Everyone in America loves guns — even two-year-olds

Screen Shot 2014-09-28 at 6.43.02 PM

A family road trip comes to a frightening end when their two-year-old daughter finds a gun in the back of the car they had rented.

The Davie, Fla. family had just returned home from Cocoa Beach when the gun was found.

The gun — which was still loaded — was found underneath the seat of the Toyota Avalon the family had rented from Enterprise Rent-A-Car.

The girl’s father, Louis Venuto said, “She knew something was wrong. She knew she was doing something wrong. So I didn’t hear her for a second because she always makes little noises and whatnot, so I quickly look back to make sure she’s OK, and she kinda was like, ‘Look what I found.’ I just reached around, and I grabbed it.”

Venuto also said, “She could have easily pulled the trigger is what I’m try to say,” he also added, “She rough houses with my 65-pound dog in there and to pull that trigger would have been nothing to do.”

Davie police were called. They took the gun away and are investigating who it belongs to.

Enterprise said they are also investigating the situation.

Yup, everyone will make certain that gun is returned to its rightful owner.

About these ads

Holding hands for 700 years

Two skeletons were found holding hands after being excavated from a lost chapel in the small English village of Hallaton.

They were found in a grave together with their hands intertwined by a team of archaeologists from the University of Leicester Archaeological Services (ULAS). The lead on the project, Vicki Score, said the two were placed in that position as the grave was large enough for the two to be separated…

In addition to the couple, 11 skeletons have been discovered. Some of the findings include a 46-year-old man who was struck on the head with a pole or an axe, and a man in his mid-20s who showed signs of physical trauma during the first nine years of his life.

The remains of English King Richard III were found in the same county underneath a parking lot in 2012. A recent study revealed how the 15th-century monarch died in battle.

Romantic love wasn’t always common in the “good old days”. It still speaks well to those who believe in love.

Why I hope to die at 75

Ezekial Emanuel
Ezekial Emanuel

Seventy-five.

That’s how long I want to live: 75 years.

This preference drives my daughters crazy. It drives my brothers crazy. My loving friends think I am crazy. They think that I can’t mean what I say; that I haven’t thought clearly about this, because there is so much in the world to see and do. To convince me of my errors, they enumerate the myriad people I know who are over 75 and doing quite well. They are certain that as I get closer to 75, I will push the desired age back to 80, then 85, maybe even 90.

I am sure of my position. Doubtless, death is a loss. It deprives us of experiences and milestones, of time spent with our spouse and children. In short, it deprives us of all the things we value.

But here is a simple truth that many of us seem to resist: living too long is also a loss. It renders many of us, if not disabled, then faltering and declining, a state that may not be worse than death but is nonetheless deprived. It robs us of our creativity and ability to contribute to work, society, the world. It transforms how people experience us, relate to us, and, most important, remember us. We are no longer remembered as vibrant and engaged but as feeble, ineffectual, even pathetic.

By the time I reach 75, I will have lived a complete life. I will have loved and been loved. My children will be grown and in the midst of their own rich lives. I will have seen my grandchildren born and beginning their lives. I will have pursued my life’s projects and made whatever contributions, important or not, I am going to make. And hopefully, I will not have too many mental and physical limitations. Dying at 75 will not be a tragedy. Indeed, I plan to have my memorial service before I die. And I don’t want any crying or wailing, but a warm gathering filled with fun reminiscences, stories of my awkwardness, and celebrations of a good life. After I die, my survivors can have their own memorial service if they want—that is not my business.

First, read the whole article.

Obviously I have a small problem with this article. I’m already past 75. Ezekial Emanuel would say I think I am an outlier – and discuss the realities of that perception, positive and negative. And I love that. It’s materialist, scientific. I think I qualify – at least for the near-term.

Quality of life, what satisfaction I derive from that lifestyle is an all-encompassing determinant. Let me start with the most striking existential differences between Zeke and me. [I hope he doesn't mind me calling him Zeke]:

My family ties are small. My parents and peers are dead. I took care of the question of having children with a vasectomy at the age of 22. No regrets. Not even a look back. I had one close friend most of my life and he died ten years ago. That has been surpassed by the relationship I’ve had with my wife these past twenty-one years. She passed this article along to me to get my opinion – which differs in only a few ways from hers.

In many ways, I’m healthier now than I was when I retired. Mental challenges, introspection, thoroughly examining a dynamic world around us – in the broadest sense – is no less than it has been my whole life. Starting, I guess, when my mom taught me to read by the age of four. Physically, overall, I’m doing better than five or ten years ago. Lighter, stronger, more active – hampered a little by a foot injury for a few years, almost completely healed.

Most of this, again, owed to the dialectic of intellect between my wife and me. I may be doing better than 90% of my age peers. She’s doing better than 99% of her peers. Twenty years younger than I, she’s invigorating in her sharpness. And that’s where the only challenge to my differences with Zeke confront critical agreement. I’m not certain how I would view my life if I lost her.

She’s the one who brought that up. Because she’s already started looking at that consideration just because of age difference. I’m twenty years older. When she would be 75 – it’s not likely I’ll be around at 95. And, for now, she isn’t certain either if she would care to live on without the relationship we share.

As an existential question, I’m fine with living alone. We joke about being a pair of hermits. Only comparison with the depth and fullness of what we share makes solitude less than acceptable.

Ezekial Emanuel has an advantage over almost all of us. He’s a doctor. He can access any medications he deems appropriate to shuffle off this mortal coil and no one other than himself will be found guilty by out-of-date politicians, priests and pundits.

Thanks, Helen

Applying for a job? – You may have to take a meaningless test

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is probably the most widely used personality test in the world…An estimated 2 million people take it annually, at the behest of corporate HR departments, colleges, and even government agencies. The company that makes and markets the test makes somewhere around $20 million each year.

The only problem? The test is completely meaningless.

“There’s just no evidence behind it,” says Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania who’s written about the shortcomings of the Myers-Briggs previously. “The characteristics measured by the test have almost no predictive power on how happy you’ll be in a situation, how you’ll perform at your job, or how happy you’ll be in your marriage.”

The test claims that, based on 93 questions, it can group all the people of the world into 16 different discrete “types” — and in doing so, serve as “a powerful framework for building better relationships, driving positive change, harnessing innovation, and achieving excellence.” Most of the faithful think of it primarily as a tool for telling you your proper career choice.

But the test was developed in the 1940s based off the untested theories of an outdated analytical psychologist named Carl Jung, and is now thoroughly disregarded by the psychology community. Even Jung warned that his personality “types” were just rough tendencies he’d observed, rather than strict classifications. Several analyses have shown the test is totally ineffective at predicting people’s success in various jobs, and that about half of the people who take it twice get different results each time.

Yet you’ve probably heard people telling you that they’re an ENFJ (extraverted intuitive feeling judging), an INTP (introverted intuitive thinking perceiving), or another one of the 16 types drawn from his work, and you may have even been given this test in a professional setting.

RTFA. It goes through the stereotypes, explains why these labels are meaningless — and why no one in the 21st century should rely on the test for anything.

I had fun with the test before I moved to the Southwest. Interested in a job with a dynamic high tech startup, I applied to see what they might offer – and ran into this test. The HR dude was in love with its self-fulfilling prophecies. After all, if you tell people how to define their lives and lifestyle long enough and thoroughly enough – and they follow your so-called wisdom – then, results become appropriate. Even if they’re nothing more than imitation.

I drove him nuts answering segments of the test with two completely contradictory personality styles. He was dying to hire me; but, was equally afraid I might turn out to be an axe murderer.

He gave his parents a present of genetic testing — and then a divorce

I’m a stem cell and reproductive biologist. I fell in love with biology when I was in high school. It was the realization that every cell in my body has the same genome and DNA, but each cell is different. A stomach cell is not a brain cell is not a skin cell. But they’re reading from the same book of instructions. With 23andMe, you get your personal genome book, your story. Unless you have an identical twin somewhere, that genetic makeup is unique to you…

I had spent many years looking at the genes of other animals — particularly mice — but I never looked at my own. Because I was so excited about it, I got two 23andMe kits for my mom and dad as gifts. It’s a lot more fun when you can incorporate your family because you can trace not just the chromosomes but individual alleles on the chromosome so you don’t just see them, but where they came from. Also, I felt I had a good handle on my family’s medical history so I was very interested in confirming any susceptibility to cancers that I heard had run in my family, like colon cancer. I wanted to know if I had a genetic risk.

I found out I don’t have any genetic predisposition to any kind of cancer, which was a great relief to me. But I also discovered through the 23andMe close relative finder program that I have a half brother, Thomas.

…We figured out that at the very bottom of your profile, there’s a little box that says “check this box if you want to see close family members in this search program.”…Dad checked it, and Thomas’ name appeared in his list. 23andMe said dad was 50 percent related with Thomas and that he was a predicted son

At first, I was thinking this is the coolest genetics story, my own personal genetics story. I wasn’t particularly upset about it initially, until the rest of the family found out. Their reaction was different. Years of repressed memories and emotions uncorked and resulted in tumultuous times that have torn my nuclear family apart. My parents divorced. No one is talking to my dad. We’re not anywhere close to being healed yet and I don’t know how long it will take to put the pieces back together.

Sometimes, the truth really can hurt.

RTFA, wander through the twists and turns of this very modern tale. It’s not all unhappy. The anonymous author’s half-brother, Thomas, was adopted and had searched years for either of his birth parents. He has a daughter of his own who wondered about her family’s medical history.

Still…

The coffee genome has been mapped — woo-hoo!

Scientists have now mapped the genome of the Coffea canephora plant species, better known as the Robusta, which constitutes around a third of coffee sold worldwide. The results were published in the journal Science.

Robusta only grows in the Eastern Hemisphere, and it is the parent plant of the Arabica bean. Robusta coffee is known for its use in instant coffees and supermarket coffees, while the more complex Arabica species is known for its use in more specialty coffees.

The mapping of the Robusta species helped the scientists learn how caffeine forms in the plant and how different genetics produce different flavors and caffeine strengths of beans. The study found that plants used for tea and coffee plants produce caffeine through a different biological process.

With the new information, coffee cultivators can identify different ways to breed coffee plants to produce desired results, like disease resistance or plants that can grow in environments they’re not accustomed to growing in.

More coffee, more coffee, more coffee.

This should be one of those accomplishments uniting the Vegetarian Left and Science-Technoids. Unless you’re limiting yourself to Postum. :)

Pic of the Day

survivors
Click to enlargeREUTERS/Dado Ruvic

Five workers killed while rescuers pull out 29 miners alive after an earthquake collapsed a tunnel in central Bosnia-Herzegovina coal mine.

Where it’s dark as a dungeon and damp as the dew
Where the danger is double and pleasures are few
Where the rain never falls the sun never shines
It’s a dark as a dungeon way down in the mine

Start the day with cute!

The Swedish Department for Animal Welfare and Health said an increasing number of Swedes are choosing African pygmy hedgehogs as pets.

Michael Diemer, the department’s spokesman on issues related to pets and endangered species, told The Local.se officials have noted an increase in African pygmy hedgehog ownership amid an overall spike in popularity for exotic pets.

Diemer said it is not illegal to own the hedgehogs in Sweden, but officials are concerned many owners may not know how to properly care for the creatures.

“Pets like these need special environments, special food and specialist vets,” he said. “We have noticed more people getting in touch with us over the past few years and now we are getting calls every week from people who are unsure how to care of these animals.”

The pets sell for $285 to $430 in Sweden and subside on a diet of dry cat food and canned insects…Heidi Permonen, a Swedish breeder of African pygmy hedgehogs, said the animals require less care than some more popular pets.

“I think that people are interested in African pygmy hedgehogs because they are not as demanding as cats and dogs, for example,” she said. “You can cuddle them and they are very cute.”

Are they territorial enough to stay within a fenced yard?

378 in a row – Starbucks drive-through customers pay for next person’s drink

A random act of kindness at a Tampa-area Starbucks set into motion a chain of giving that lasted for nearly 400 customers…Around 7 a.m. a woman ordering from the coffee house’s drive-through paid for her own drink and said she’d like to pay for the customer behind her. Moved by the stranger’s generosity, that customer returned the favor for the next, who did the same.

The chain grew so big that employees began keeping a tally of consecutive customers who chose to “pay it forward.” The tally was over 250 by 1:30…

As the afternoon rush hour came and more and more customers kept the streak going, the baristas entertained hopes of it continuing until closing and perhaps using a gift card to extend it to the following day.

But around 6:00 p.m., customer number 379 crushed their hopes of a fairy-tale ending. An unknown woman driving a white Jeep Commander refused to pay for anything but her own drink — even though it had already been paid for. Starbucks employee Vu Nguyen explained the special circumstances but the woman was unmoved and, in Nguyen’s opinion, visibly unable to understand the concept of paying it forward.

Oh, it would be so easy to identify the politics, personal philosophy of someone who doesn’t comprehend good works. Tempting. But, not enough data.

Now, imagine trying to get the same thing started at a corner liquor store or cigarette shop! Phew.

Not-so-incidentally, this really is a Starbucks tradition. The record was set last December’s holiday season with 1468 customers in Newington, Connecticut…and ran from Tuesday morning the 24th through Saturday evening the 28th.

ERRATIC POSTING – The next few days

Between going to town for annual physical, back again to town for lab work associated with the checkup, assisting in the changeover from traditional hot water storage to an on-demand system, catching up with weekly Wednesday bread-baking – figuring out [this morning] how to remove a bluebird unharmed from our cold woodburning stove after he clambered down the chimney – attendance to my personal blog [and all others] will be irregular for a couple of days.

Eideard