Monday, August 28, 2006

Postmodern medicine a philosophically scary thing. I recommend this article to your attention.

What's even scarier than the bad information, bad rhetoric, and bad thinking, is the idea that some of these people may be practicing in a hospital near you.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Quote of the day

"I should say that where the feelings are, there the mind will be also; and that you cannot think with Aquinas unless you can feel with him also."

T.S. Eliot, The Clark Lectures II: "Donne and the Middle Ages"

Definite definition: Pluto is a Dwarf Planet

Sad days. Pluto isn't a planet; it's a dwarf planet, along with Ceres and 2003 UB313. Here's the IAU's official position:

The IAU members gathered at the 2006 General Assembly agreed that a "planet" is defined as a celestial body that (a) is in orbit around the Sun, (b) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape, and (c) has cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit.

This means that the Solar System consists of eight "planets" Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. A new distinct class of objects called "dwarf planets" was also decided. It was agreed that "planets" and "dwarf planets" are two distinct classes of objects. The first members of the "dwarf planet" category are Ceres, Pluto and 2003 UB313 (temporary name). More "dwarf planets" are expected to be announced by the IAU in the coming months and years. Currently a dozen candidate "dwarf planets" are listed on IAU's "dwarf planet" watchlist, which keeps changing as new objects are found and the physics of the existing candidates becomes better known.

The full report of the conference is here.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Near Taos

A former road leads to a former house.
Mud returns to mud.
Green is in this season.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Quote of the day

"We sprung a leak right over the drama section."

--worker at a used book store yesterday, explaining why Shakespeare was in piles in a back room

In other news, my mother is back from Virginia and I have sent out the quote list from last spring. If you didn't get it, let me know.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A planet by any other definition

It looks like there are soon to be 12 official planets in our solar system: the 8 classical ones, three "plutons" including Pluto, and a dwarf planet called "Ceres." (Query: why is a rock way out there beyond Pluto named after the harvest goddess? My classical roots are shriveling with confusion...) Still, it's pretty cool. I like it when we define words and then accept the consequences. :-)

This article from the International Union of Astronomers covers the debate.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Bookshelves and opera

Today I successfully got my mom and sister off. They're on the way to VA.

Then I cleaned all the books off my big bookshelf and stacked them around the room. They always say books expand in volume when they're all over rather than on shelves, and they seem to be right.

I really did have a reason for that, actually: it was all in the cause of decoration. I dismantled the bricks and boards and painted them black on the back patio.

To liven things up, I put on Macbeth: the Opera while I painted. :-D Great stuff, especially once I discovered the libretto and a translation. It's very operatic, in Italian (being by Verdi) and sort of reminded me of a cross between Dante, Shakespeare, and Gilbert and Sullivan. Strange combination. Their Lady Macbeth was a soprano of sopranoes, and the production (for reasons entirely mysterious to me) not only eliminated Young Siward entirely but managed to get Macduff on, Macbeth mortally wounded, and Macduff off again in thirty seconds flat. Then, of course, Macbeth got to sing his dying aria. Then the grateful commoners swarmed around Malcolm singing their undying gratitude for saving them from the tyrant. I like singing along with opera, especially Italian opera theoretically set in Scotland!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

It's a rather relaxed Thursday.

I finished my calling and filing and whatnot around two, and only had the patients to amuse myself with. We had them neatly spaced out at 40-minute intervals, but first there weren't any and then three of them piled up in the waiting room all at once.

While we waited for the first one, we played with the XM radio. Generally we listen to the classical station, but it has a habit of getting stuck on one composer or era and taking several days to recover, and so this afternoon it was time to branch out. We tried the forties station, the Starbucks station, rock, Christian rock, the Disney kids' station, and country, and finally wound up with fifties. We made a brief excursion to the seventies, mostly for the fun of it, but the first song was indecent so we knocked it back to the sixties.

In due time one of the pileup, an adorable elderly lady, finished her appointment. She plopped down in the other receptionists' chair to call her husband, and while we waited, she watched my screensaver. I had pictures on it--pictures that Kay sent me of England and Europe, pictures from Chincoteague and school, and a few pictures from around here. It turns out her husband was stationed in Europe during WWII, so she recognized quite a bit of it. We chilled for, oh, fifteen minutes, and then when her husband turned up she made him sit down and watch the screensaver too! :-)

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

A fairly normal day

My alarm, as is its wont, woke me up this morning before the sun. Tea and toast, and combs and suchlike, and Daddy and I left for work. It had rained all night and scraps of mist still clung around valleys and mountaintops. We took the secure route, which meant a stop at the guard station to show them a badge (in his case) and photo ID (since I'm a non-badge-holder accompanied by a badge-holder). How many dental receptionists have to go through security checks on their way to work, I wonder? As we passed the non-secure route, the traffic was very, very backed-up. They're redoing the road to pretty much everyone's inconvenience.

Dad dropped me off. I started a pot of coffee, listened to fifteen messages, and opened the curtains. The only messages of any particular interest were about a contested late fee. We let them win.

An early patient was late due to the traffic tangle. Four patients missed appointments, which was extraordinarily bad. They weren't teenagers, but otherwise competent adults. Mondays are hard on us. I called all the patients scheduled for Wednesdays and pulled their charts before lunch, which is about normal. It started raining midmorning.

I spent the afternoon going through the mail. Insurance sent me sheafs and sheafs of paper. Frankly, I didn't want it!

Things got exciting about three when the power went out. It really was a splendid rain; it filled the gutters and half the sidewalk, and if I hadn't been wearing a brand-new pair of khakis, I would have gone puddle-jumping. As it was, I was severely tempted. Oh the glories of an enthusiastic rain!

Daddy came to get me and we dashed down to White Rock. I tried to organize a party for Thursday-I've been meaning to do this all summer and now we're down to the last possible moment--with partial success. See, three of the debate bunch have been in three different college productions of Much Ado. So we need to watch them, right? Well, one guy doesn't have a copy. So we thought we'd watch two versions. But then one of the others is only playable on some obscure media player which none of us have. So that leaves the PHC version. And we will watch it Thursday...if people actually make it. :-)

Then the sister and I went to Bible study. It was the best all summer, I think. We did Ephesians 3, and admittedly kept going off on bunny trails, but in between--we talked about grammar. And other things, but it kept going back to the grammar. Ephesians 3 is indescribably cool anyway, and when you combine it with intelligent discussion--oh, great happiness!

Friday, August 04, 2006

Come and mourn with me a while

Today we had our beloved cat Tex put to sleep. He escaped a coyote in single combat, didn't care for cattle, acted as Head of Household Security for fifteen years, and loved us.

Maeror mortis conturbat nos.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The simple things

I took a 4-cup coffeemaker to work, along with my "Final Draft Booksellers" mug, a random spoon I inherited somewhere along my collegiate career, a thing of milk, and a clearance-aisle container full of sugar. I shoved a shelf full of germicides and rubber gloves and odd bits of denture-making machinery aside to make a spot for it, and took over another shelf in the cabinet for the filters and sugar. It made me happy.

I had to fine a great many people, mostly teenagers, for missing their appointments or canceling them with less than 24 hours notice. If you have a teenage child, and send him to the dentist all on his own, and trust him to make appointments, and he assures me on Thursday he'll be there Monday morning, it seems to me he ought to be equally responsible for getting to the aforementioned appointments or taking the consequences in the form of a bill. But there are those who differ. And I do hate fining people. Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice. A simple thing, but one which makes dentists and associated persona very happy!

And I'm in the middle of most amusing book: To Say Nothing of the Dog, by Connie Willis. It's time travel, Victorian, all about a cathedral, and keeps referencing Tennyson, Latin, and murder mysteries. It even talks about Lord Peter and Jeeves by name.