Category Archives: Random Blatherationings

Random Blatherationings for August 30th

What? I haven’t done a Random Blatherationings post for August yet? (If you’ve been fortunate enough to let the “rules” leak out of your brain, they’re here.) Time to fix that! Tonight’s three random seed words are “hemisection” (a division along the mesial plane or one of the parts so divided), “quizzism” (the art or habit of quizzing), and “dietetic” (of or performance to diet or to the rules for regulating the kind and quantity of food to be eaten).

Right, then…

Hemisection My first random Google adventure takes me to the Wikipedia entry for Brown-Séquard Syndrome, apparently because “any presentation of spinal injury that is an incomplete lesion (hemisection) can be called a partial Brown-Séquard or incomplete Brown-Séquard syndrome.” The short version for the non-medical professionals out there (me, first of all!) is that “lateral hemisection” is a fancy medical term for cutting, and when it happens to the spinal cord it shows up as paralysis, and Charles-Édouard Brown-Séquard was the guy who first described this in 1850.

The history of physiology is not my strong point (glad I didn’t get that for the “forgotten final“) but it’s obvious that people knew prior to 1850 that if your spinal cord was cut there was going to be paralysis. (Actually, I’m pretty sure that death in such circumstances was far more common than paralysis.) It seems that what Brown-Séquard figured out was that certain neurological messages were carried in different fibers of the spinal cord, so that if there were partial cuttings of the spinal cord you might lose your ability to feel temperature or pain.

But the real golden nugget of information in the Wikipedia article about our pal is that he was “known for self-reporting ‘rejuvenated sexual prowess after eating extracts of monkey testis’.” If you’re going to have something truly bizarre listed in your biographical material 119 years after your death, I say you should really go for it, and that one’s setting the bar pretty high. Where does one go to find more details on these self-inflicted “experiments”? And why were they necessary in the first place? Granted, they didn’t have Viagra in the 1880’s, but was he really that desperate?

He sounds like an “interesting” guy, for many reasons.

Quizzism Ignoring all of the Google entries that just take you to a definition, the first random web surfing leap takes us to a listing for an e-book from Google. “Quizzism: And Its Key Quirks and Quibbles from Queer Quarters, A Mélange of Questions in Literature, Science, History, Biography, Mythology, Philology, Geography, Etc. Etc. with Their Answers” was published in 1884 by Albert Plympton Southwick.

How interesting. The 2013 internet in all of its randomness has shown us a book from 1884 about “Quirks and Quibbles From Queer Quarters” immediately after an article about a really bizarre physiologist from the late 1800’s.

The mind boggles.

First of all, how can Mr. Southwick’s first and biggest question not be about Brown-Séquard’s monkey testicle diet? I can’t imagine that not being a prime topic of debate in the 1880’s! I’ll have to get this e-book to find the answer. It says the answers are included, right there in the book title that’s 36% too freakin’ long to fit into a 140-character tweet!

(I swear, this is being written in one draft, sequentially, stream of consciousness, totally random, and so on. I only wish I were a skilled enough writer to be making this shit up.)

Secondly, how can I not use the name “Albert Plympton Southwick” as a character in a novel some day? Really? Just let the name roll around on your tongue for a moment and you can practically see him there in the flesh. No doubt to be played by either John Cryer or Rick Moranis in the movie version. And even more odd – there’s no Wikipedia entry for Albert Plympton Southwick, but there is a Facebook account under that name? I have got to meet this dude!

Finally, how much does one have to shell out for this treasure trove of ancient wisdom? It’s free! (Gotta love Google!) But there aren’t any reviews of it yet, at all. (What a huge surprise that is!)

We’ll have to fix that. Now it’s a quest! We’re on a mission from God!

Dietetic No big surprises here, an “I feel lucky!” Google search sends us to the web page for the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics. Good, I’ve got a few choice words about a “dietetic lifestyle”.

I understand that eating double cheeseburgers and fries and ice cream three meals a day with candy and salty snacks in between is bad for you. I’m not an idiot. (No matter what the Long Suffering Wife’s family says!) Despite knowing that it wasn’t good for me, I ate like that for a long time – BECAUSE IT TASTES GOOD! When I got done eating I WAS FULL and all of the little happy receptors in my brain were firing off and I could go into a blissful food coma.

Now that I’m a little older, I’ve had to spend the last fifteen years or so paying the price for that. First it was the salt that had to go, in order to keep my blood pressure under control. Then it was the sugar and sweets, so that I could lose a few (dozen) pounds. Throw in a bunch of exercise and running to help things along. Just when I thought that I was doing a great job and should be getting an “Atta boy!” from the doctor, instead I get told that I have to drastically cut the pizza and the pasta and the bread and the rice and all of the other carbs and even many of the things that I had thought were “good” and “healthy”. (For example, Jamba Juice.) SHAZBATT!!

Now that I’ve lived with that last dietary adjustment (and by “adjustment”, I mean “restriction”) for about two years, eating teeny, tiny portions of anything that might have actual taste and ginormeously huge portions of bland, raw veggys and salads, I’m finally (sometimes) getting my “Atta boy!” from the doctor. I’m exercising more, losing weight, have good blood pressure, and I get spectacularly wonderful A1C results. Despite all of that, most days I would kill for a burger, fries, and a chocolate malt.

Every once in a while, just because there needs to be a teeny, tiny bit of moderation in addition to those teeny, tiny portions, every once in a while I’ll justify “falling off the wagon” just for one meal. Once a month or so if I’m at a ballgame or someplace where there aren’t a lot of healthy dinner choices, I’ll have a couple of hot dogs and an ice cream sandwich. If one of the kids is home or we’ve had a rotten day and everyone’s tired, I’ll let myself have pizza or Chinese food. Just so that I can occasionally remember how wonderful all of that “bad” food is, I’ll allow myself to indulge without guilt.

Here’s where karma bites you in the ass.

That pizza or candy or burger or malt or fast food or whatever that you just KNOW tastes so freakin’ good (and in your head actually tastes even better, like ambrosia, because you can’t have it), that stuff absolutely tastes like crap after your body has adjusted to a steady diet of “healthy” food. Eat it and you will feel like a poisoned slug for days. Despite how “good” it is supposed to taste.

That sucks big time, in a totally cosmic way. That’s just the gods messing with our heads because they can. You take something that you want soooooooo bad, you get it taken away, and when you are finally able to indulge just a tiny bit in order to again experience how wonderful it is for just a few minutes, it turns out that YOU have changed so that the wonderful, wonderful thing is now complete garbage to you. It’s still wonderful for all of the other folks who are still “poisoning their bodies”, and at the other extreme there are the sanctimonious “healthy people” who think that the salads and granola and water are the best thing ever. But stuck in the middle, EVERYTHING TASTES BAD.

I tried once to express this (politely) to a dietitian who was silly enough to ask how I was doing with my new diet restrictions. I got a look of scorn, disdain, and pity that I’ll never forget. She was enlightened and no doubt filled with angelic joy as she ate her salads and drank her 1% fat almond milk. I was a simply a lost soul who couldn’t accept her truth.

Yeah. “Dietetic”. I’ve got a few things to say about that word.

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Random Blatherationings for July 23rd

Feel lucky, punk? (If you’ve forgotten the rules, they’re here.) Tonight’s three random seed words are “disgest” (to digest), “panton” (a horseshoe to correct a narrow hoofbound heel), and “crustaceology” (that branch of zooumllogy which treats of the Crustacea malacostracology carcinology)

Disgest – Google comes up a complete blank on this one, simply assumes that I’m spelling “digest” incorrectly. (I double checked, I’m not.) The unabridged dictionary has it as an obsolete version of digest and cites something by Sir Francis Bacon.

Sir Francis Bacon was a prominent English orator, statesman, author, and scientist in the late 1500’s and early 1600’s. While looking up some facts on him my brain’s still quietly digesting art thoughts from The Getty visit, so what immediately caught my eye in the Google search was an image of a sculpture at the Oxford University Museum.

11465080_1a5dcbbc5a_z Photo by Kevin Walsh (CC BY-NC 2.0)

The “dead eye” thing on sculptures has always freaked me out a bit. I’m guessing that there’s some reason to do it that I haven’t heard of. (Having said that, there was a sculpture at The Getty that had the eyes done in silver inlay on a marble bust – that was even creepier.)

The detail in the stonework on this entire piece is just unbelievable, but the detail on the ruff goes even beyond that. Someone either was a huge fan of Bacon or was getting paid a lot of money for an incredible piece of art.

And I thought that the ruffs made of lace or cloth looked stiff & uncomfortable!

Panton – Google doesn’t find anything relating to horseshoes that I can see and wants to assume that I can’t spell “Pantone”. (Google is very big on thinking that I can’t spell tonight – don’t be so judgemental, Google!) But there are results returned for “panton chair” and “panton valentine leukocidin”. Let’s pick Door #2!

As the old Knight Templar in “Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade” said, “He did not choose wisely.” A CDC article pops up with a whole bunches of $35 words. “Panton-Valentine Leukocidin Genes in Staphylococcus aureus”.

Do you know what “tl;dr” means? I’ll summarize as best I can (i.e., badly). Panton and Valentine were researchers who in 1932 looked at a strain of staph cells that were particularly toxic and a source of all kinds of problems in cuts, injuries, and infections. This 2006 paper is from a group of researchers in Rotterdam that were looking at how infections caused by that strain of staph are currently distributed both by time and location.

What this reminds me most of is the recurring nightmares many college students have where you show up for a final exam in a critical class that you had totally forgotten about and never attended at all. Some time for extra credit your subconscious will have you show up naked and/or late for that forgotten class and final.

Remind me to tell you some time how I finally got rid of that particular nightmare.

Crustaceology – “That branch of zooumllogy which treats of the Crustacea malacostracology carcinology”? Are you freakin’ kidding me? “Zooumllogy” isn’t even in the first two unabridged dictionaries I look in – I finally find it in a scientific dictionary. It’s the subcategory of biology that refers to animals. (Why couldn’t they have just said that?) “Carcinology” and “malacostracology” both refer to zoological classifications of crustaceans, particularly lobsters and crabs. So from context it means… Ooh, look, a butterfly!

Who was the first guy who looked at king crabs and thought that they were edible? Who was the first guy who even saw king crabs? The reality TV shows on Discovery Channel always show these guys out in the middle of the Bering Sea in fifty-foot waves dropping traps down into hundreds of feet of water, so it’s not like someone just stumbled across one of these things.

So, ignoring that, let’s say that somehow you’ve managed to grab onto a king crab and it looks like a huge freakin’ armor-covered spider from the bottom of the ocean. My first response would be to run screaming and worry about getting clean underwear later. What inspired someone to instead say, “Man, if that thing doesn’t kill me, I’ll bet it’ll taste great with some drawn butter!”

It’s things like this that make The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy a much, MUCH better foundation for theology than the Bible. There’s too much just plain freakish and bizarre stuff out there every day that goes totally unnoticed and unthought about for there to be any intelligent design behind it all.

Are we done? Close enough, although we never did find anything relating to orthotic horseshoes, did we? Google that and see what comes up!

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Filed under Art, Critters, Random Blatherationings

Random Blatherationings For July 14th

OK, that was really weird – I had typed “Random Blatherings” into the title and the spell check doesn’t like “Blatherings”, but just to be even more goofy and stupid I changed it to “Blatherationings” and now it seems fine. “Blatherationings” is really, really a word? Really?

OK, this is either not going at all the way I expected or it’s going exactly as it needs to – or both.

Seventy-six consecutive days and seventy-nine posts into this adventure, brain fried, not in a “writing mood”, realizing that it’s exactly today that I most need to get something written, can’t even do an “Odds & Sods” post because I’ve gotten one half-written already with several follow-ups to previous posts but I need to do some actual research to finish that off; I really should be studying my Spanish numbers for tomorrow night’s quiz; it’s too cloudy to go out and shoot more astrophotos of the moon and/or Venus and/or Saturn tonight; and I think that I’ve finally made this enough of a run-on sentence (which I know that I tend to do and I try to limit it but sometimes it’s just my own thematic style, a work in progress) to really piss off my daughter the English teacher…

…so instead let’s do this. Three rolls of the “I’m feeling lucky” wheel on Google, I’ll spout opinion and bullshit, with luck some of you will read it, with more luck some of you will be moved to make some comment on it, we’ll get a conversation going here, and we’ll call it a night.

Going to a random word generator, my three seed words for Google are “unease”, “ichthyoid”, and “exit”. (This is going to be a disaster.)

Unease – I get the definition of the word at The Free Dictionary website. What this makes me think of first is how boring “The Free Dictionary” is despite its usefulness. It’s better than because you don’t have the ads and so on, but a much better site which I dearly love is The Urban Dictionary (guaranteed NSFW!!).

If you want to be uneasy, just get caught reading The Urban Dictionary at work by a prudish, conservative boss. But if you see some term in the press or on Twitter or FaceBook or whatever and you’re thinking, “Huh! Kids these days! I wonder what that means?” then The Urban Dictionary is the first place to go. Just don’t go if you’re easily shocked.

For example, on the front page of the site you’ll get the “Word of the Day”. The word for July 12th was “lane splitting”, a pretty benign term from the motorcycle world that I’m sure you can all figure out. On the other hand, the word for July 8th was “wub one out”, the definition of which contains a number of words that I can guarantee you my mother has never use or has never heard.

Ichthyoid – and we’re right back to the definition in The Free Dictionary (“a fish or fishlike vertebrate”) and whole page of other definition sources, so let’s page through the Google listings for something more interesting (they’re my rules, I just made them up fifteen minutes ago, I’ll trash them as I see fit!) and look at what’s on the “green ‘l’ in ‘Gooooooooogle'” page.

This is…promising. It’s a YouTube video from April of someone dancing in their living room wearing a blue & yellow “fur suit” to the song “Thrift Shop” by (apparently) Macklemore & Ryan Lewis? (Obviously, rap and contemporary pop are not my strong suit!)

First of all, the fur suit is kind of an anime/furry thing and it’s not bad if she (I’m assuming it’s a “she”) is going to ComicCon or something for some cosplay. (“Cosplay” is another term you can look up on The Urban Dictionary…) Or trying out as a mascot for the high school sports teams. The dance routine doesn’t suck and if she’s doing it impromptu to the song she’s doing a good job. Just recording this and putting it up on YouTube shows she has more guts than I would about that sort of thing.

I just don’t think she understands what “ichthyoid” means when she named her video “Ichthyoid Zombie”. She’s not fish-like – she’s a furry critter with a tail, like an anime fox or raccoon. And most of the zombies I see mentioned (except for Brad Pitt’s) don’t dance, they do more shuffling and stumbling. But perhaps I’m subscribing to an outdated stereotype.

What would really be cool (and this really isn’t a “me” thing) would be if I had an army of followers and readers like John Scalzi or Wil Wheaton. Right now this video has 218 views – if I were one of them, in the morning it would have 21,800 views. Wouldn’t that freak her out? THAT would be cool! C’mon, everyone reading this, go to the link if you haven’t already and get some friends to do it too, let’s see if we can double the view count overnight!!

Exit – so just maybe the “I’m Feeling Lucky” choices on Google are sponsored. This gives me the website for the Syfy show “Exit”, which a brief perusal shows to be a brand new (two full episodes available to watch online now!!) reality-television game show of some sort.


I would like to give Syfy some love, but I just can’t. I’ve been a huge fan of science fiction and fantasy since childhood. I’ve been a card-carrying SF fan, going to cons, running cons, publishing fanzines, voting for the Hugo Awards, and so on for thirty-five years now.

I hate Syfy.

I never really hated them when they started out as “The Sci-Fi Channel” (not just because “sci-fi” is what mundanes called science fiction to belittle it while “SF” was what the fans called it) showing nothing but constant repeats of really old, really bad “B-movies”. I just didn’t watch them much.

I disliked them when they started making really bad “B-movies” of their own. I know there are some who think that they’ve now gotten so bad that they’re good (i.e., last Friday’s “Sharknado”) but I’ll say it – the Emperor has no clothes. Their programs suck.

And I really started hating them when they started committing a significant chunk of their schedule to showing “wrestling”, as in WWE or WWF or WWsomethingreallyfreakin’stupid.

Why can’t they be showing “Star Trek” re-runs, and “Twilight Zone”, and classic SF movies, and “Outer Limits”, and hell, even “Lost In Space”, “Time Tunnel”, and “Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea”? The worst episode of any of those shows would be better than the crap they have on there now.

And since they have the name “Sci-Fi” or “Syfy” or however they want to market it this year, that’s what a significant portion of the population thinks of when they think of science fiction. They’re taking something I love as wonderful and thoughtful and intellectual and mind expanding and they’re using it as corporate wrapping paper for stale dog turd and old fish guts.

I hate them. Won’t watch. Ever.

There, that was a pretty good rant, right? I guess maybe this idea worked as a blunt force exercise to jump start my muse for the evening. I like it!

And now to study some Spanish numbers. Uno! Dos! Tres! Cuatro! (Insert “Wooly Bully” here.)


Filed under Random Blatherationings, Science Fiction, Writing