Saturday, December 31, 2005

New Year

Happy New Year everyone, wishing you the best.

1. I hope this year would not find anyone facing the great disasters like the Tsunami or Katrina or the Pakistan Earthquake. In reality we know these things happen continually and may be happening more because of Global Warning (some of them), and if you are the one affected it doesn't matter if the disaster is one on a global scale or only your home. So maybe I should just wish that we all are safe in the new year and that we avoid disasters, and if we do face one that we recover easily and it brings out the best in us rather than the worst.

2. Last year I almost lost my father. But now he is better than he had been in years. I hope everyone gets to enjoy their families.

3. I have been divorced now just over a year, although I've been alone much longer. I hope everyone can find the love they need in the coming year if they don't have it already, and if they do have it, I pray they can nurture it and appreciate it.

4. I hope everyone finds good health this year - mental, physical, emotional and spiritual.

5. I hope if we make it to the end of this year, that we are better than when it started - mentally, physically, emotionally and especially spiritually.

6. I finished my Master's Degree this past year. I pray everyone is able to obtain their educational goals and continually learn and grow.

7. Now I have to pay that school loan! I pray for everyone that we could all get out of debt. Come on, Publisher's Clearinghouse. :)

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Two of my Favorite Easy Everyday Good Things

I've mentioned it before, but it is worth mentioning again.

Almost every town/city/community in the country and beyond has a Freecycle network set up. It is a great concept - instead of throwing away what you can't or won't use, offer it to someone else on Freecycle. Have some canned goods in the cupboard that you're probably never going to want to eat? Someone on Freecycle needs it and wants it. Furniture, pets, duplicate Christmas gifts, appliances, clothes, food, exercise equipment, craft stuff, material and sewing stuff, computers, computer parts, car parts, moving boxes, printers, cell phones, wrong brands of stuff bought by mistake, books, all kinds of baby stuff, toys, holiday decorations and anything else you can imagine is offered - no charge, ever. You may sometimes see something you'd love to have. You may have some stuff sitting around taking up space that would delight someone else.

Just have a look for a few days and think of it next time you go to throw something away.


Also neato:

The Hungersite

Click every day to "donate" free food, mammograms, books, health care, preserve rainforest, care for sheltered animals, etc. (link is also on sidebar)

2006 Postponed by One (Leap) Second

These past few days I've been mostly hanging out with my mom while she ran errands and then hanging out at home reading Calvin & Hobbes, enjoying my awesome new down comforter and my wonderful new sandwich maker. And trying to figure out all the mysteries of life - no new progress on that front....

John Roach
for National Geographic News
December 29, 2005
For those of you counting the seconds until 2006, add one.

The world's top timekeepers will insert an extra second—or leap second—just before midnight in coordinated universal time (UTC) on New Year's Eve. (That's the same as 6:59:59 p.m. eastern time on December 31.) UTC is determined by atomic clocks and is five hours ahead of eastern time.

Earth's rotation is ever so slightly slowing down, but atomic clocks remain unwaveringly consistent. The extra second will allow Earth to stay in sync with the ultraprecise clocks, which mark time based on the vibration of atoms.

The planet's slowing is mostly due to the friction of tides raised by the gravitational pull of the sun and the moon. In fact, a day is now about two-thousandths of a second longer than it was a couple centuries ago, scientists say.

To keep today's atomic clocks synchronized with time as measured by Earth's rotation, timekeepers insert a leap second whenever the difference between the two clocks exceeds nine-tenths of a second.

The International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems, near Frankfurt, Germany, coordinates the additions of leap seconds.

This year's "extra" second will be the 23rd leap second added since 1972. In that year atomic timekeeping became the world standard. Before then, authorities relied on the movement of stars.

The most recent leap second was added seven years ago, in 1998.

"For the last several years Earth has behaved well," explained Geoff Chester, a spokesperson for the United States Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C. Together with the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology, the observatory keeps official time for the country.

But Earth is predicted to slow down "on a nearly exponential scale" in the decades to come as tidal friction increases, Chester says. And this is a conundrum that has sparked debate among the world's clock-watchers.

Abolish Leap Seconds?

As the Earth slows, the addition of leap seconds will be required more frequently to keep the Earth and atomic clocks in sync.For a world increasingly dominated by technology, this is a potential headache for people who have to reset personal computers, global positioning systems (GPS), mobile phones, and the like every time a leap second is added.

"They don't like leap seconds because they are irregular and they are inserted on a sort of as-needed basis," Chester said. "We try to give a six-month warning so they can make plans."

Although the addition of leap seconds has never proven a problem, some scientists are afraid that a glitch somewhere along the line will lead to a catastrophic error.

For example, an un-updated GPS navigation system could cause an oil tanker to run aground and spoil a pristine coastline. To avoid such a mishap, critics are pushing for the abolition of leap seconds.

On the other hand, if the atomic clocks and Earth's rotation are allowed to drift apart, eventually—as in, thousands of years from now—"high noon" will come hours before the sun crosses directly overhead.

Seeking to avoid such a distorted view of time, leap second proponents argue for continued coordination among the clocks.

"It's like on a small scale abolishing the leap year—the extra day. If you did that, sooner or later the months would get out of sync with the seasons," said Mark Bailey, the director of the Armagh Observatory in Northern Ireland, United Kingdom.

Bailey wants to keep the tradition of leap seconds alive.

Leap seconds may be an inconvenience for timekeepers, he says. But the abolition of leap seconds could come with unintended consequences.

Many telescopes, he notes, are already programmed to account for the occasional addition of leap seconds. If the practice were abolished, astronomers would have to reprogram much of their equipment.

Ongoing Debate

The U.S. Naval Observatory recognizes the pros and cons of leap seconds. But Dennis McCarthy, former head of the observatory's Directorate of Time, opposes the added seconds.

McCarthy is part of a group of U.S. scientists within the UN's International Telecommunication Union (ITU) that recently submitted a proposal to eliminate leap seconds to the ITU, which has final say.

For most timing applications, the group argues, the practice of adding the occasional leap second creates more problems than it fixes.

A working group within the International Astronomical Union, which also has some influence in the matter, is reviewing the proposal. The IAU group will report its findings at the union's generally assembly meeting in August 2006.

The U.K.'s Royal Astronomical Society issued a statement on December 23 calling for a "much wider, more informed public debate" on the usefulness of leap seconds before a final decision is made.

Bailey of the Armagh Observatory, who is also a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, added, "It is an interesting question and I think one that deserves wider debate than just among professional scientists."

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas - Christmas and Jesus (as) in Islam

In spirit, most Muslims have no problem with the concept of celebrating the birth of Jesus (as). There are some Muslims who avoid celebrating birthdays altogether. But Shia Muslims as a matter of course find it meritorious to honor and remember the saints and prophets of God on the birthdays, death days and other significant dates.

We now know that December 25 is a wrong date for the birth of Jesus (as) and was chosen to coincide with certain pagan activities to ease their conversions from paganism but allowing them to incorporate some pagan traditions. I guess the more favored date now is sometime in April, around 4 or 5 B.C.

Muslims believe in Jesus (as), and in that sense we are Christians.

1. We believe Jesus (as) was born of the Virgin Mary by a miracle from God.

2. We believe Jesus (as) spoke to people while still a newborn.

3. We believe Jesus (as) performed numerous other miracles through the power of God including having the ability to raise the dead.

4. We believe Jesus (as) was a prophet of God who delivered the message (gospel) about how to get saved from hell and that he was supported by Ruh al Quddus, sometimes called the Holy Spirit. The gospel was a scripture revealed to Jesus (as) to deliver to mankind.

5. We believe Jesus (as) never committed a sin ( and actually we believe this of all prophets).

6. We believe Jesus (as) is not part of a triune God - we believe in a Unitarian God.

7. We believe Jesus (as) is not God in the flesh but is a holy man who prayed to God and carried out God's will on earth.

8. We believe Jesus (as) was not crucified on the cross but was raised to heaven by God.

9. We believe Jesus (as) will return at the time of Armageddon to help establish God's rule on Earth.

10. There is no Joseph as a father of Jesus (as) or husband of Mary mentioned in the Muslim Scriptures.

11. John the Baptist is also mentioned in the Qur'an as a prophet of God just preceding Jesus (as) and a supporter and preparer for Jesus (as).

Some pertinent passages from the Qur'an for Christmas about Jesus and Mary:

So her Lord accepted her with good acceptance and made her grow up a good growing and gave her into the charge of Zakariya; whenever Zakariya entered the sanctuary to see her, he found her with food. He said: O Mary! where did you get this? She said: It is from God. Surely God gives to whom He pleases without measure. (3:36)

And the angels said: O Mary! Surely God has chosen you and chosen you above the women of the world. (3:41)

She (Mary) said: My Lord! Shall there be a son born to me while no man has touched me? He said: Even so, God creates what He pleases; when He has decreed a matter, He only says to it, Be! - and then it is. (3:46)

And most certainly we gave Moses the Torah and We sent apostles after him one after another; and We gave Jesus son of Mary clear arguments and strengthened him with the Ruh al Quddus. (2:87)

Say: We believe in God and what has been revealed to us, and what was revealed to Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and the tribes, and what was given to Moses and Jesus and to the prophets from their Lord; we do not make any distinction between any of them, and to Him do we submit (are Muslims). (3:83)

And We made a covenant with the prophets and with you, and with Noah and Abraham and Moses and Jesus son of Mary, and We made with them a strong covenant. (33:7)

And We sent after them in their footsteps Jesus, son of Mary, verifying what was before him of the Torah and We gave him the Gospel in which was guidance and light, and verifying what was before it of the Torah and a guidance and an admonition for those who guard against evil. (5:46)

And mention Mary in the Book when she drew aside from her family to an eastern place; So she took a veil to screen herself from them; then We sent to her Our spirit, and there appeared to her a well-made man. She said: Surely I seek refuge from you with the Beneficient God, if you are one guarding against evil. He said: I am only a messenger of your Lord that you will give birth to a pure boy. She said: How shall I have a boy when no mortal has touched me nor have I been unchaste? He said: Even so, your Lord says: It is easy to Me, and that We may make him a sign to men and a mercy from us; and it is a matter which has been decreed. So she conceived him, then withdrew herself with him to a remote place. And the throes of child birth compelled her to betake herself to the trunk of a palm tree. She said: Oh, would that I had died before this, and had been a thing quite forgotten. Then the child called out to her from beneath her, 'Grieve not, surely your Lord has made a stream to flow beneath you, and shake toward you the trunk of the palm tree and it will provide you with fresh ripe dates. So eat and drink and refresh the eye. Then if you see any mortal say "Surely I have vowed a fast to the Beneficient God, so I shall not speak to any man today. And she came to her people with him (Jesus), carry him. They said: O Mary! Surely you have done a strange thing. Your father was not a bad man, nor was your mother an unchaste woman. But Mary pointed to the baby. They said: how should we speak to a child in the cradle? But Jesus spoke, and said: Surely I am a servant of God; He has given me the Book and made me a prophet. And He has made me blessed wherever I may be, and He has enjoined on me prayer and poor-rate so long as I live. And He has made me dutiful to my mother, and He has not made me insolent or unblessed. Peace on me the day I was born, and on the day I die, and on the day I am raised to life again.' Such is Jesus, the son of Mary; this is the saying of truth about which they dispute. It beseems not God that He should take to Himself a son; glory be to Him; when He decrees a matter He only says to it "Be" and it is. (19:16-36)

And when you (Jesus) determined out of clay a think like the form of a bird and by My permission then you breathed into it and it became a living bird, and you healed the blind and leprous by My permission; and when you brought forth the dead by My permission. (5:110)

When the disciples said: O Jesus Son of Mary, will you Lord consent to send down to us food from heaven? He said: Be careful of your duty to God if you are believers. They said: We desire to eat of it and that our hearts should be at rest, and that we may know that you have indeed spoken the truth to us and that we may be the witnesses of it. Jesus Son of mary said: O God our Lord, send down ot us food from heaven which should be to us an everrecurring happiness, to the first of us and to the last of us, as a sign from Thee, and grant us means of subsistence, and Thou art the best of Providers. God said: Surely I will send it down to you, but whoever shall disbeliever afterwards from among you, surely I will chastise him with a chastisement with which I will not chastise any one from among the nations. (5:112-115)

And the Messiah (Jesus) said: O Children of Israel! Serve God, my Lord and your Lord. Surely whoever associates others with God, then God has forbidden to him the paradise, and his abode is the fire, and there shall be no helpers for the unjust. (5:72)

And Jesus Son of Mary said: O Children of Israel! Surely I am the apostle of Allah sent to you, verifying that which is sent before of the Torah and giving the good news of an apostle who will come after me, his name being Ahmad (Comforter). (61:6)

Surely the likeness of Jesus is with God the same as the likeness of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him, Be, and he was. (3:58)

And they say: God has taken to Himself a son. Glory be to Him; rather whatever is in the heavens and the earth is His; all are obedient to Him. (2:116)

And they say: The Beneficient God has taken to Himself a son, Glory be to Him, Nay! they (all prophets including Jesus) are honored servants, they do not precede Him in speech and only according to His commandment do they act. (21:26-27)

Certainly they disbelieve who say: Surely God is the third of three; rather there is no god but the one God. (5:73)

The Messiah, Son of Mary is but an apostle; apostles before him have indeed passed away; and his mother was a truthful woman; they both used to eat food (they were humans, not gods). (5:75)

And their saying: Surely we have killed the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, the apostle of God; and they did not kill him nor did they crucify him, but it appeared to them so (like Jesus) and most surely those who differ therein are only in a doubt about it; they have no knowledge respecting it, but only follow a conjecture, and they killed him not for sure. Nay! God took him up to Himself; and God is Mighty, Wise. (4:157-158)

And God said: O Jesus I am going to terminate the period of your stay on earth and cause you to ascend unto Me and purify you of those who disbelieve and make those you follow you above those who disbelieve to the day of resurrection; then to Me shall be your return. (3:54)

And when God will say: O Jesus Son of Mary! Did you say to men, 'Take me and my mother for gods besides God' he will say: Glory be to thee, it did not befit me that I should say what I had no right to say; if I had said it, Thou wouldst have indeed known it; Thou knowest what is in my mind and I do not know what is in Thy mind; surely Thou art the Great Knower of unseen things. I do not say to them aught except save what Thou did enjoin me with; I said to serve God, My Lord and your Lord, and I was witness of them so long as I was among them, but when Thou caused me to leave, then Thou were the watcher over them. (5:116-117)

Sunday, December 18, 2005

I just thought this was interesting.....

It snowed all weekend - big pretty flakes, but coooold. Drove up to the mountains and it was clear there because the clouds were all down low and enjoyed a beautiful view of Pikes Peak from Woodland Park. The birds outside were crazy at the feeder - whenever the weather turns bad, the wild birds want to eat like there's no tomorrow - I think they must need the extra food to try to stay warm and it must be instinct when weather turns to eat up trying to store for the future a little bit.

I read this article yesterday and thought it was interesting....

14-point deer turns out to be doe

The Associated Press

DES MOINES, Iowa — A hunter thought he might have bagged a trophy buck when he shot a 14-point deer in northeast Iowa earlier this month.

Eric Weymiller, 25, of rural Harpers Ferry, started to field dress the animal when to his surprise he noticed it wasn’t a buck at all.

“I noticed right away it was missing some plumbing,” said Weymiller, who shot the animal Dec. 7 in Allamakee County.

He discovered he was dressing a doe sporting antlers with 14 tines, a big rack even for a buck.

“I stopped field dressing the animal and called a DNR biologist,” Weymiller said. “I wanted them to document this.”

Iowa Department of Natural Resources Biologist Terry Hainfield confirmed that the animal was female.

“It is unusual to find a doe with antlers, but what makes this particularly unusual is that the antlers had hardened and grown so big,” Hainfield said.

More research will be required to determine whether the deer’s antlers are large enough to set a record for doe antlers.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


Woman found alive from the Pakistan Earthquake after more than 2 months of being buried in rubble.

I still have the link for free aid to victims of the earthquake at left in the sidebar.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

What's your Childhood Fantasy?

Mine is that I could travel back in time. Not actually being in that time in a way to influence it, but to see how things really were. To see the Saber Tooth Tiger and Giant Sloth. To see answers to mysteries like what really happened to Amelia Earhart or what the Lighthouse of Alexandria really looked like. Similarly, I wished that I could see anything in the present instantly, like where a missing person is or lost money or sunken treasure or the Loch Ness Monster..... And then people would ask me to help them find their lost friends or things and I'd do it instantly for free and make my living off finding some giant piece of gold or diamond somewhere.... So that's my childhood fantasy; what's yours?