Mary: June 2008 Archives

WARNING: falling debris


I'm about to update my MovableType software--ugh. I've been putting it off for a long time. I'll be down for a while; hopefully not for long. See ya.

I love this place


I'm in Salisbury. I gave myself a day here to adjust to the time change before the meetings tomorrow. I've seen Stonehenge and toured the cathedral on previous trips, so today I just went shopping. Tuesday is market day and I've never had a free Tuesday here before, so even "just shopping" has been a new experience. Salisbury is a medieval city; the cathedral is celebrating its 750th anniversary this year. A Renaissance Faire could be scattered among the buildings of the city center and no building or musician would stand out (unless they wore costumes.)

Nothing in the Renaissance Faire can match the 700-year-old Haunch of Venison pub, where I stopped in for a pint when my feet gave out this afternoon. The rooms are tiny, the ceilings low, the staircase narrow, the doors small. I saw (cue spooky music)...the hand. There's a petrified hand in one of the walls, which was discovered during an attempted remodel when some old brickwork was being knocked out. The hand is (supposedly) that of a vicar who was caught cheating while playing cards, and punishment was summarily carried out by the chopping off of his hand as it lay on the table. "Cards" are still visible under the fingers. Hard to believe these slips of paper would have survived being walled up for 700 years, but...oh well. It's a good story, and it's definitely a petrified hand. The place is supposedly haunted, but it's way cool enough with or without ghosts or even (reprise spooky music)...the hand.

The Worst Flight Ever


This hotel has a great shower. I feel like a human being again. A tired human, but a human.

While in the shower I realized that the red-eye flight I took last night was far from the Worst Flight Ever. I mean, no video programming? Who am I kidding? I wasn't even watching it--I was listening to music. And I started to ask myself what the Worst Flight Ever would be. Well, make that the Worst Flight Ever that Landed Safely, because obviously...

For starters, it'd be a much longer flight. United now has a non-stop flight from Dulles to Beijing--that's a 12-hour time change, half-way around the world. So let's say you're on that flight.

There would have to be mechanical difficulties. Let's say you've gone almost half way when the pilot comes on and announces that you're turning around and going back to Dulles. Five hours later you're at your starting point. After sitting on the tarmac for a couple of hours, you refuel and take off again in the same plane because the airline doesn't have another plane available, and the mechanical difficulty is just a loss of air circulation in the coach cabin. Who needs it?

So what else would have to happen for this to be the Worst Flight Ever?
1) The captain never turns off the "Fasten Seat Belt" sign due to heavy turbulence.
2) The lack of air circulation makes the plane hot, and
3) exacerbates all of the following: (you're in a middle seat, of course)
...3a) the person on your left hasn't bathed, and
...3b) the person on your right is eating salami and drinking beer, and
...3c) at least one person on the plane is puking. (Bonus points if the person puking is you.)
4) At least one baby on the plane is crying. (Double bonus points if the crying baby is yours.)
5) The lavatories run out of TP, paper towels, and tissue (Yes, it happens--been there, done that.)

1 and 5 may be incompatible. If you earn bonus points for both 3c and 4, you win.

Did not sleep on the flight to London


So much for melatonin and valerian root. I almost dozed off a couple of times, but that was about it. It was one of the most miserable flights I've ever been on, and would have topped the list were it not for the women sitting on either side of me, who were friendly without being overly talkative--we all had our own headphones and two of us had iPods--and non-territorial where the arm rests were concerned. The plane was a large one with two aisles and a bank of seats in the middle, and I was in the center of the middle bank, in row 30. The way the rows were laid out, seat-seat-aisle-seat-seat-seat-aisle-seat-seat, my seat was the only one in the row that was neither a window seat nor an aisle seat. Which isn't such a bad layout, but sucks for the 14.3% of us who end up in the middle. The reading lights over the center bank of seats weren't working, nor were the call lights, nor, apparently, was there any air. It was hot. The heat of the plane set off my own internal furnace, and I was in a sweat almost continuously. By mid-flight my jeans were wet clear through and my thin knit shirt was clinging to me. I was itchy and fidgety. My back started to hurt. I couldn't sit still for 5 seconds. Halfway through the flight the video programming failed and never came back on. You'd think they might turn the lights back on so people could read, seeing as how we had nothing to watch and the reading lights weren't working, but they didn't, so the only thing left to do was try to sleep. Right. Was there a time when it was fun to fly on a plane? I can't remember. At least they served us a meal.

Happy Summer Solstice


Happy Litha if you're Celtic, or Pagan, or Wiccan. Gather herbs tonight.

Gee, don't I sound relaxed? I slept for maybe 7 hours last night. Interrupted several times as always, but still a good night. I'm flying to London tomorrow for a couple days of meetings in Porton Down, and I was complaining to a colleague about the difficulty I have adjusting to the time change, and how I wish I could sleep on planes. He suggested I stop by the health food store and pick up some melatonin. Might as well give it a try, I thought, and while I was there I picked up some valerian root capsules, which were on the shelf next to it. There's no way to know if they really helped, or if the effect was psychological, or if it was just the relief of Friday having rolled around, or the relief of having taken Saint to the vet to have the staples removed from his incision earlier in the day.

I intended to blog about Saint's surgery, but the pictures I took were pretty disturbing. He's feeling pretty good now though. About a year ago Saint ruptured the ACL, or rather, the CCL, as it's called in dogs, in his left hind leg. I took him to the vet, but he was barely limping and she didn't think it could be a complete tear. Maybe it was, maybe not. During the months that followed it did tear completely. The joint stabilized but became arthritic, and a couple of months ago it got worse. Two weeks ago he had TTA surgery, by which time the cartilege between the tibia and femur had been torn and the knee was severely arthritic.

These are the "before" pics. His surgery was on June 6, so these were taken one or two days post-surgery:

The injury:

The insult:

The icepack (bags of frozen peas):

Not a happy camper.

Here's the "after" pic, taken a few minutes ago:

Still not very cheerful because he can't run and play--I couldn't get him to smile for the camera--but he's feeling fine.

And an hour and a half the night before, as well. Last night I tried all kinds of visualization to lull myself to sleep. Any peaceful thought that arose, I followed it wherever it went. Sometime around 3 am the image of a bubble with a hazy surface popped into my head. It was sitting on the ground and was about 5 inches across. I picked it up and, holding it in my hands, started to grow it in my mind. I decided it was a bubble of non-existence. Inside the bubble there was nothing--no matter, no light, no sound, no time or space. No universe. The dimensions of the bubble were defined by the space outside of it, not by anything within it. It grew until I was lying on the surface of it, arms and legs splayed.

And then I thought--what if black holes are really bubbles of non-existence? We know that matter and light spiral into them and are never seen again. We know stuff is attracted to them by gravity, but what is gravity anyway? A weak force that acts at a distance, sure, but how? We don't really know. We can describe it, but we don't really understand it. And what if the force that attracts matter and light to black holes is something completely different anyway? Why not?

We know the universe is expanding, but expanding into what? Non-existence? Is it necessarily expanding uniformly? Couldn't there have been Rayleigh-Taylor instabilities, or Richtmyer-Meshkov instabilities, or Kelvin–Helmholtz instabilities, that resulted in pockets of non-existence being surrounded by universe? Could the universe be like Swiss cheese, riddled with holes?

Just a thought. Anyway, it failed to put me to sleep.

LOL LOL LOL... and then this


funny dog pictures
see more dog pictures

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