Black hole eats a star

A recent news article on provides fascinating new information on the true dietary intake of black holes.  Using information gathered from three space-based X-ray telescopes gathered over the course of about a decade, scientists were able to provide the first solid evidence of a star being destroyed and at least partially consumed by a black hole.  The idea that black holes could draw in then destroy and consume celestial bodies such as stars has long been a strongly held belief in scientific circles, but little proof has been available to strengthen that belief.  "This is one of the Holy Grails of astronomy," Alex Filippenko, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley, said at a briefing at NASA headquarters.  You can read the entire article and view artist illustrations of the evidence here.

Now only the storm brings me comfort

the wind blows through my broken heart
casting away the memories
of a life gone by
the rain falls on me like lead
knocking me to my knees
in absolute fear of sorrow
emotions paralyze me
making me immobile
I try to run
but am unable to escape
the lightning flashes blindingly around me
the thunder rumbles through the darkness
putting fear in my heart
the ground shakes
the windows rattle
you step out through the door
and I never see you again
now only the storm
brings me comfort

[circa 1994]

Update on Kako’s vet visit

Kako's vet visit yesterday was uneventful outside of her general unpleasantness when outside of her element.  I'm happy to report she's in good health overall and is doing well on the prescription diet that I have all of The Kids on.

She's now caught up on her vaccinations.  Actually, she only got a rabies shot.  I only do other vaccinations every three years as scientific evidence supports the notion that, outside of rabies, yearly shots overmedicate animals and should therefore be done on a more limited basis.

Luckily my vet fully agrees.

There was no sign of abnormal pH in her urine and no signs of infection (debris, blood, etc.).  That's all very good news.

The vet agreed that the diet and lack of stress are both essential in preventing the urinary tract infections that she's had in the past.

So the lady of the house is healthy and legal (it's the law in Texas that pets have yearly rabies vaccinations).

Now if we could only find a way to fix her attitude problem…

Correction to “We might as well dance…”

There are times when I must remind myself of that which I often stress to others — don't believe everything you see or read or hear or … well, you get the point.

When I received an email from my Mother with this seemingly innocent message, I failed to do any background checking to ensure the message was what it was purported to be.

Alas, how often must I learn the same lesson?

As I made mention of in that article, I am notorious for derailing chain letters.  Chain mail is one of those things in life that pushes every button I have.

Well, now I remember why I always take chain letters to task — because they're always garbage.

This one is no less so.

The partial text in the email is an excerpt from A Story To Live By, written by Ann Wells, Los Angeles Times.  As Ann Wells is not 83 years old, I apologize to her for inferring such.

You'll notice by reading below that the text was heavily modified through very selective slicing and dicing (sloppy editorial work, actually).  In fact, the message had been so modified that it no longer told the same story as the original.

And since the email didn't contain the entire text of Ann's message, I'm including it here for your enjoyment.  This isn't something I would normally post here given its religious overtones, but I do owe it to you to correct the record.

My brother-in-law opened the bottom drawer of my sister's bureau and lifted out a tissue-wrapped package.  "This," he said, "is not a slip.  This is lingerie."

He discarded the tissue and handed me the slip.  It was exquisite; silk, handmade and trimmed with a cobweb of lace.  The price tag with an astronomical figure on it was still attached.

"Jan bought this the first time we went to New York, at least 8 or 9 years ago.  She never wore it.  She was saving it for a special occasion.  Well, I guess this is the occasion."

He took the slip from me and put it on the bed with the other clothes we were taking to the mortician.  His hands lingered on the soft material for a moment, then he slammed the drawer shut and turned to me.

"Don't ever save anything for a special occasion.  Every day you're alive is a special occasion."

I remembered those words through the funeral and the days that followed when I helped him and my niece attend to all the sad chores that follow an unexpected death.  I thought about them on the plane returning to California from the Midwestern town where my sister's family lives.  I thought about all the things that she hadn't seen or heard or done.  I thought about the things that she had done without realizing that they were special.

I'm still thinking about his words, and they've changed my life.  I'm reading more and dusting less.  I'm sitting on the deck and admiring the view without fussing about the weeds in the garden.  I'm spending more time with my family and friends and less time in committee meetings.

Whenever possible, life should be a pattern of experience to savor, not endure.  I'm trying to recognize these moments now and cherish them.

I'm not "saving" anything; we use our good china and crystal for every special event — such as losing a pound, getting the sink unstopped, the first camellia blossom.  I wear my good blazer to the market if I feel like it.

My theory is if I look prosperous, I can shell out $28.49 for one small bag of groceries without wincing.  I'm not saving my good perfume for special parties; clerks in hardware stores and tellers in banks have noses that function as well as my party-going friends'.

"Someday" and "one of these days" are losing their grip on my vocabulary.  If it's worth seeing or hearing or doing, I want to see and hear and do it now.  I'm not sure what my sister would have done had she known that she wouldn't be here for the tomorrow we all take for granted.  I think she would have called family members and a few close friends.

She might have called a few former friends to apologize and mend fences for past squabbles.

I like to think she would have gone out for a Chinese dinner, her favorite food.  I'm guessing — I'll never know.

It's those little things left undone that would make me angry if I knew that my hours were limited.  Angry because I put off seeing good friends whom I was going to get in touch with — someday.  Angry because I hadn't written certain letters that I intended to write — one of these days.  Angry and sorry that I didn't tell my husband and daughter often enough how much I truly love them.

I'm trying very hard not to put off, hold back, or save anything that would add laughter and luster to our lives.  And every morning when I open my eyes, I tell myself that it is special.

Every day, every minute, every breath truly is… a gift from God.

A refreshed gallery for Grendel

I finally got some new pictures of The Kids posted.  Well, it's actually a lot of Grendel and one miscellaneous shot.  I'm still working on all of the new pictures I have.

There are plenty of other new photos of The Kids, but it's taking me some time to get through them all to determine what to post and what not to.  As I've been tinkering with my new digital camera quite a bit, I literally have hundreds of photos.  I generally take several photos of the same shot — using different camera settings — so I can learn what works best and under what conditions.

I'm still hoping that getting these updates done will inspire me to get going on the others.

This update was almost entirely of Grendel.  Somehow a single picture of three of The Kids wound up being included.

The one miscellaneous picture is the last picture on this page.  It's a photo of Loki, Grendel and Kako sleeping on the back of the love seat.

As for the updates to Grendel's gallery (the updated pics start with the second picture on page 3), here are some highlights.

Look at that face! (105_0508)

I absolutely love that picture!  As the caption says in the gallery, "Look at that face!"  I had just stopped petting him, so he turned and looked at me just in time for the camera flash to go off.  The result is priceless.

How many people who own cats don't have a picture like this? (105_0513)

If you've ever had a cat and tried to take pictures, you have undoubtedly found yourself in possession of just such a photo as the one above.  In the time it took me to get set and take the picture, he had come about and was heading directly for the camera.

I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but we share everything. (106_0636)

As you can tell, we share everything around here.  A cup of water is always a special treat as you can count on it to be ice cold.

I love this picture! I decreased the shutter speed on the camera and took the picture with incandescent light in the background -- and what a result. Oh, and he's very happy. (107_0712)

This picture was completely unintentional but is one of my absolute favorites.  Using a slow shutter speed with background light, it really turned out well (of course it's not what I was trying to accomplish, but oh well).

A very soft, natural light photo of him looking outside. (118_1865)

I was sitting at my desk when I heard Grendel walk by behind me.  When I turned, that's what I saw — so I grabbed the camera and captured it.  Yes, it's OK to say it was blind luck because that's exactly what it was.

Grendel likes to help with computer stuff; he's very computer savvy. (118_1869)

Grendel likes to help me when I'm using the computer (as do the rest of The Kids).  Grendel's very good with computers and can often solve complex problems that I'm just not able to resolve.  As you can see, he doesn't like for me to disturb him when he's busy.

There are plenty of other new pictures of Grendel starting on page 3 of Grendel's gallery.