Thursday, March 31, 2011

Stuck On Download

I've been trying to download something onto my phone for the last hour and fifteen minutes. The installation has said 14 seconds and 50% for an hour and thirteen of those minutes.

So I'm wasting time deleting old email and opening email I sent myself but never opened. I found this Christmas greeting so I'm giving it a new home here.

Draw A Pig

This is what happens when someone has way too much time on their hands

Click to view my test results

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Go Inside the Heart of a Tornado in the Thrilling New IMAX(r) Film Tornado Alley, Opening April 1 at Fernbank Museum

Fernbank Museum places IMAX(r) audiences in the heart of a tornado in the new giant screen film Tornado Alley, opening on Fernbank's five-story IMAX(r) screen on April 1. An explosive giant-screen adventure, Tornado Alley takes viewers on a science-driven epic chase through the "severe weather capital of the world."

Narrated by Bill Paxton (Twister, Titanic), the film follows Storm Chasers star Sean Casey and the scientists of VORTEX2, the largest tornadoresearch project ever assembled, on separate missions to encounter one of Earth's most awe-inspiring events-the birth of a tornado. Whirling above the human drama are the storms themselves. These magnificent forces of nature are revealed in breathtaking detail through the magic of the giant screen.

Filmed across America's Plains states, where three quarters of the world's tornadoes occur, Tornado Alley follows veteran storm chasers on two unprecedented missions.

Carrying a ninety-two-pound IMAX(r) camera that belonged to his father, filmmaker Sean Casey and his crew race after storms in TIV-2, a seven-ton armored "tornado intercept vehicle" engineered and built by Casey to withstand the impact of the gale force winds at a tornado's core. The goal that drives Casey into relentless supercell storms is simple: to navigate the TIV-2 directly into the heart of a tornado and capture its beauty and destructive power on film at point blank range.

Leading researchers Joshua Wurman, Karen Kosiba and Don Burgess, along with the scientists of VORTEX2, are also on a quest to penetrate a tornado's inner workings.

But their methods-and their manpower-are different. The most ambitious scientific mission of its kind, VORTEX2 is comprised of over 100 severe-weather researchers from all over the world. No small feat, their challenge is to coordinate and position their fleet of radar trucks, mobile mesonet vehicles and the most sophisticated weather-measuring instruments ever created, so they literally surround tornadoes and the supercell storms that form them. Like Casey, the VORTEX2 team must
face nature's elemental power on their quest to collect data throughout a tornado's entire lifecycle. Ultimately, their hope is to better predict where and when tornadoes will strike, and provide warnings that give those at risk a few more minutes to protect themselves and their families.

Over the course of Tornado Alley, science begins to reveal the unseen architecture of nature's most elusive weather phenomenon, and viewers, for the first time in film history, are taken straight into the heart of an actual tornado. This unforgettable visual journey tracks the paths of a renegade filmmaker and team of dedicated researchers, two very different kinds of storm chasers whose ultimate goal is nonetheless the same: to unlock the mysteries of Earth's most violent storms.

Tornado Alley is a production of Giant Screen Films and Graphic Films. The film is directed by Sean Casey and co-written by Sean Casey and Paul Novros. Major funding has been provided by the National Science Foundation, with additional support from the Giant Dome Theater Consortium.

Tornado Alley shows daily in the IMAX(r) Theatre at Fernbank Museum of Natural History, from April -August 11, 2011. Fernbank Museum is located at 767 Clifton Road in Atlanta.

IMAX(r) film tickets are $13 for adults, $12 for students/seniors, $11 for children and $8 for museum members. (Visitors can add the Museum experience with a Value Pass ticket for only $23 for adults, $21 for students/seniors, and $19 for children-a $7.50 savings over tickets purchased separately.)

Farewell My Liddy Friend


Yesterday I told you a little about my dogs. I adopted them one fateful day fifteen years ago and I believe there was a reason that these two dogs came into my life for a reason.

Ever since I was a little girl I dreamed that one day I would own either a cocker spaniel or a poodle, perhaps even both. What I didn't know was that I wouldn't get my cocker spaniel until I was thirty-six.

My youngest son wanted a dog and I was going to adopt one at the local shelter. What I didn't realize was that I would also be walking away with a dog of my very own, a cocker spaniel no less. When I saw him curled up in the far end of his cage I knew I wanted him for my very own. I asked the shelter attendant if I could see if we were meant for one another. Once out of his cage I immediately realized that there was something wrong. I had never seen a dog whose body sloped before and when he hobbled over towards me I knew something was wrong.

I asked the attendant what was wrong with him and he pointed out that he was missing his front paw. I hadn't noticed it at first because his thick fur covered the small stump. His owner's family had brought him to the pound when his owner had been placed in a nursing home. I knew right then and there that we were meant to be together and I told the attendant I'd take him then looked around for my son who had head over to the puppy area of the shelter.

My son was none to happy about the idea of bringing this "girlie dog" home. As I mentioned before he wanted a dog who would run and play with him and who could blame him. I agreed to getting two dogs despite the fact that I realized that the major responsibility for both dogs would fall upon me. After christening one dog Big Dog I named the other dog Little Dog which morphed into Liddy Dog as I often spoke to them as though they were indeed babies.

Liddy Dog's first walk was a memorable one. Since he obviously seemed to have some difficulty walking I decided to take him to the end of the block and back. At most this walk should have taken five minutes. This would be the longest "five minutes" I'd ever experience. He seemed excited about the possibility but enthusiasm does not always equal ability. He'd walk five or six steps and then stop so he could sniff everything around him. My Liddy Dog was always a dog who immersed himself in things he loved. He'd sniff so loud I thought you could hear him blocks away. When I gave the leash a slight tug and encouraged him to come he plopped down and began rolling around in the grass trying to bring all the scents home with him. This scene was to be repeated again and again and again causing our five minute jaunt to last forty-five minutes. As time went by he got much better at going for walks but he never lost the need for stopping and smelling the flowers and anything else that he happened across.

Liddy Dog's often reminded me of Mr. Kesuke Miyagi (the handyman/martial arts master in the movie The Karate Kid). He loved to sit back and observe everything and was not one to let things bother him. He didn't warm up to new animals very easily, he tried to pretend they didn't exist, but anytime a new person walked into the house he immediately set about to make a new friend.

One of the things I loved so much about my Liddy Boy was how his whole body exuded joy in the things he loved. He didn't so much wag his tail as much as he would wag his whole body. When I would hold a treat in my hand or grab his leash he'd lift himself up on his back feet trying to balance his chubby self in a begging dance. His joy was infectious and it almost always served to brighten my most miserable of days.

Liddy Dog was a lover not a fighter. He loved to jump up on my bed and snuggle up close. In his little world, Liddy Dog never met a person who didn't want to pet him and he was not one to deny anyone this pleasure. He seemed to be able to read me better than some humans and would jump up on my lap and lick my face when he felt I needed it most.

Of my two dogs, Liddy Dog was the one who had more health issues but none of them seemed insurmountable until the last two years of his life. He was like a Timex watch because he could take a licking and keep on ticking this despite the fact that he eventually lost his hearing as well as his sight in both eyes.

Last winter we began to really see Liddy's downward slide. He caught a couple of respiratory infections and his eyes no longer made tears causing a dry crust to build up on his eyes. His vet told me that he also had cataracts and glaucoma. At times he would wander aimlessly throughout the house bumping into things, even though no furniture has been moved acting as though he were lost in his own home. Just three months ago he walked straight into the pool as though he'd forgotten it was there. He was living in a totally dark world, void of any hearing and it made me so sad.

Although never a fast moving dog he really began to slow down and seemed to tire easily. Liddy slept away most of the day waking only to eat or greet me at the door. He began developing a bladder infection that seemed to resist treatment. He was incontinent regardless of the frequency he was brought outside and I was constantly running behind him to wipe up his accidents.

I also noticed that he would sometimes tremble or shake when he was lying down. When I mentioned it to my husband he felt that he was probably having a dream about chasing a rabbit and I was quick to accept that explaination.

I realized that at the age of nineteen he was slipping away from me but as with Big Dog it was easier for me turn a blind eye to what was wrong with him and focus more on the things he still enjoyed like treats and curling up with me.

As I slowly came around to the realization that I needed to have Big Dog put down I began to honestly wonder if Liddy Dog was also ready to leave us. I would have given anything not to have had to make such a decision about the two dogs that had been my babies for so long. I prayed. I cried. I argued with my husband. I breathed the question aloud and regretted having put the question to words. Finally the decision was made and my husband and I decided that it was time but that does not mean that it was going to be easy.

The last morning I spent time with each dog. They curled up beside me and I wanted cancel the appointment again but I knew we had made the right decision. Why then did it hurt so bad?

In a way it was ironic that these two boys who joined my family on the same day would leave me on the same day. They had been almost inseparable from the moment they arrived in my home and now even in death they would not be alone.

Coming home to a house that no longer held my boys left a huge whole in my heart and I stuffed my hurt with food and tears. I can only hope that the confusion and pain I feel will eventually find peace. My heart empty without you Liddy Dog.

A Tribute To A Big Dog


About fifteen years ago we welcomed a special dog into our lives and we were never the same again.

It all began when my youngest son asked me for a dog. I was also interested in bringing a pet into our home and so I was easily persuaded.

That weekend we went to our local shelter where I found a cocker spaniel that captured my heart. When the worker took the cocker out of the cage I saw that he hobbled when he walked and that's the point where I made up my mind that we would take him. I was told that he was about four years old and no longer a cute little puppy add to that the fact that he was missing his front paw I was convinced if I didn't take him he would never be adopted.

My son on the other hand wasn't so hot on the idea of some "girlie dog". He wanted a manly dog and he pointed to a very active puppy declaring that he was "the one". It appears I had gone to the shelter to adopt one dog and wound up with two. The puppy, a Belgian Malinois, became known as Big Dog as opposed to the Cocker Spaniel who became known as Little Dog.

I explained to my son the importance of laying ground rules for the dogs and help them understand that we were in charge. What I didn't seem to realize was that I was only in charge inasmuch as Big Dog allowed me to be in charge.

For example, the Dog Whisperer, would have been very upset at my first walk with Big Dog. Actually, calling it a walk it like calling a Monster Truck a little car. I had no sooner stepped out of the house, leash in hand when Big Dog began to take off like a shot. My hand had just slipped my keys into my pocket when I felt the leash pull my had straight through my pocket actually ripping the seam as my hand flew out.

Looking back it was almost comical as he sped off and I struggled to maintain an upright position behind him. At one point on of my shoes came flying off as I stumbled over the curb then just as suddenly we came to a stop. Big Dog had decided that something was worth taking the time to sniff and so I took advantage of the moment to gasp for air. Getting him to turn around to retrieve my lost shoe was a bit of a struggle but we eventually found a pace for our walk that we both could tolerate. So much for showing Big Dog who was the boss.

It seems Big Dog made his own rules. For example, the dogs were not allowed to lay on the furniture. I was being pretty firm about that. When we were home neither dog would jump on the couch. They waited until we left the house to do that. Big Dog would slip onto the couch, and then leap off the coach when I arrived home. I can't tell you how many times I would arrive home to see his snout pressed against the window anxiously awaiting our return while standing on the coach. I would unlock the door to catch him jumping off the coach to greet me at the door his big tail thumping fast and furious.

"Big Dog," I would ask, "Were you on the coach again?" He would look away and then down as though he were saying, "OK you caught me but aren't you glad to see me?" He always knew that I was very glad to see him and so I could never ever stay angry at him.

I didn't want them to get in the habit of begging for scraps. While I may have mouthed those words this as one of the first rules that we all broke as both dogs knew that my son and I were easy marks.

When my husband and I married Big Dog managed to wrap him around his paw too. He would follow my husband around when he mowed our yard and every night would always conveniently position himself at my husbands feet.

Big Dog may have been big but he wanted to be treated like a baby. He didn't let the fact that he no longer fit in my lap stop him from trying. He was a jealous boy and would use any excuse he could find to get you to pet him.

Big Dog's name may not have been Lucky but he sure was. I wrote a couple of essays about him and one of them won him a year's supply of Hill's Science Dog Food. We had been so amazed about how this dog food had helped him that the essay pretty much wrote itself. Another essay had been about adopting animals from the pound which won him some dog treats. Of course the truth of the matter was that we were the lucky ones because big dog had been such a big part of our lives.

In the last year we've noticed big dog has been having some difficulties. One morning I took him out for a walk and he noticed a cat. Normally he would bark and act like he wanted to pursue the cat but this time he barked and his back legs went out from under him. I tried to get him to right himself but he needed me to help him up. This worried me so he went to the vet.

Our vet gave us the diagnosis of Canine degenerative myelopathy which is a progressive disease of the spinal cord in older dogs. The disease has an insidious onset typically between 7 and 14 years of age. It begins with a loss of coordination (ataxia) in the hind limbs. As of July 15, 2008 the mutated gene responsible for DM has been found present in 43 breeds including German Shepherds, Boxers, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, Rhodesian Ridgebacks, and both breeds of Welsh Corgis. The disease is chronic and progressive, and resulting in paralysis.

We still felt there was time. Still felt there was too much left in big dog to say good bye but we watched as the signs slowly began to appear like dragging both rear paws when he walked. I tried to ignore the signs because I knew that they meant that Big Dog would one day leave us and I was not ready to have that happen. I was not ready to admit that it was finally time to say good bye. How can you say good bye to such a loyal and loving friend?

Finally we could no longer brush aside the painful truth. Big Dog could scarcely manage the stairs, he would become confused at times, and he often had to be helped up so he could go outside. While at some level we realized that the time had come neither my husband nor I could bring ourselves to admit it out loud.

We made and broke three appointments for the procedure. Then yesterday, I finally said goodbye to my two babies. It seems ironic that they came into my life together and left the same way. I decided to write my good-bye to Big Dog today and I will write my good-bye to Little Dog tomorrow. Sadly for us Degenerative myelopathy is a non-reversible, progressive disease that cannot be cured. We hoped and prayed that we would never have to make the decision to put our dogs down but we did. I realize that there will be those who feel that we were cruel to do so but what you must know is that we loved these dogs. We spoiled them and treated them like members of the family.

My husband and I both shared their last moments and we let them both know how much we loved them. Our vet and the employees were so very understanding of just how difficult this was for us and for that we are both so very thankful.

Even though I am suffering from the pain of losing these wonderful dogs I would adopt another dog and welcome it into my heart. I hope others will open their hearts and homes to the unconditional love and joy an adopted pet can bring to your life.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Initial Findings In Knut's Necropsy

WARNING: The video below is very difficult to watch. It is a video of Knut's final moments.

While it will take several days for the final results, preliminary findings from a necropsy performed Monday by an institute in the German capital showed "significant changes to the brain, which can be viewed as a reason for the polar bear's sudden death," according to a statment released by the Berlin Zoo.

More tests have been planned including bacteriological and histological, or tissue, examinations.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Berlin's Beloved Polar Bear Knut Dies

Sad news for the fans of one of the most beloved polar bear, Knut.

Knut rose to fame when he was hand-raised by zoo keepers after being rejected by his mother rejected at birth.

Between 600 and 700 people were at Knut's compound and saw the four-year-old bear die, German news agency DAPD reported.

A post mortem will be conducted on Monday to try pinpoint his cause of death.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

2010 Public Employee of the Year Award Parody

Ever wonder why state employees have become targets of the ire of the American public at large?

While the vast majority of government employees are good and decent people the plain fact is that we are being dragged down by the least of us.

I suppose my Dad was right and it only took me thirty years to realize it. Back when I was a teen I hung around people that my Dad referred to as "Losers and Druggies."

My Dad of course did not seem to see that my friends were at their very core basically good people who just had a difficult life and they need someone to care about them.

I can still remember hanging with some of these friends when they made wrong headed decision that could have easily gotten me in trouble too. For example, one group of people I knew asked me to leave the dance and head over the line to go drinking at a local bar. Something told me not to go so I said no. Two hours later, two of them were dead and one of them became paralyzed.

My Dad, teachers, and guidance counselors would all question my wisdom as to why I chose to associate with "these people". I would sometimes answer, "I want to help raise them up. I want to help them." My Dad then told me, "Cathy, it's easier to drag someone down than it is to build them up." Now that I'm no longer a teenager I actually see the truth in what my Dad said to me that day.

So while there are many people who do a good job and try to help others they are dragged down by those who do not do their job. Everyone is being unfairly with the same brush.

Americans understand that we want to be able to bargain for a fair wage but tax payers resent hearing cases of employees who "work the system". They resent dealing with public sector employees who treat you, the person who pays their salary, as though they are doing you a favor by just showing up that day.

Do I know outstanding teachers? ABSOLUTELY!!!!!!!!!!!!! Do I know teachers who should have been kicked out of the classroom years ago? You bet your sweet BIPPY I do. I bet you do too. I have even seen teachers who were actually rewarded for their bad behavior.

I think this skit from Saturday Night Live actually illustrates some of the frustration that we are all feeling on both sides of the fence. Americans feel that the unions help mediocre workers and many union members feel resentful because these same mediocre workers have become the public face of union members to the general public.

By the way, many teachers work in Right to Work states. That means we do NOT have a powerful union. We PAY for our own pension. I pay for half and the local school system matches that. I also pay social security. Here in Georgia we no longer have tenure. Yet we are still being looked upon as "greedy union workers" by some.

We are not the enemy! Many of us have advanced degrees and could have worked in other industries making much more over the "good years" in the economy but we wanted to make a difference in a child's life, your child's life. Sadly it's the worst of us that people see when they talk about education when there are so many who really are very good.

Screen Legend Jane Russell Dead at 89

Ernestine Jane Geraldine Russell (June 21, 1921 – February 28, 2011) was an American film actress and was one of Hollywood's leading sex symbols in the 1940s and 1950s.

Russell moved from the Midwest to California, where she had her first film role in 1943 with The Outlaw. In 1947, Russell delved into music before returning to films. After starring in multiple films in the 1950s, Russell again returned to music while completing several other films in the 1960s. She starred in over 20 films throughout her career.

Russell married three times and adopted several children and, in 1955, founded the World Adoption International Fund. For her achievements in film, she received several accolades including having her hand and foot prints immortalized in the forecourt of Grauman's Chinese Theater and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She died at her home in Santa Maria, California of a respiratory-related illness on February 28, 2011.


The Outlaw (1943)
Young Widow (1946)
The Paleface (1948)
His Kind of Woman (1951)
Double Dynamite (1951)
The Las Vegas Story (1952)
Macao (1952)
Son of Paleface (1952)
Montana Belle (1952)
Road to Bali (1952) (Cameo)
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)
The French Line (1954)
Underwater! (1955)
Foxfire (1955)
The Tall Men (1955)
Gentlemen Marry Brunettes (1955)
Hot Blood (1956)
The Revolt of Mamie Stover (1956)
The Fuzzy Pink Nightgown (1957)
Fate Is the Hunter (1964)
Johnny Reno (1966)
Waco (1966)
The Born Losers (1967)
Darker Than Amber (1970)
Hollywood on Fire (2007) (documentary