This Memorial Day I honor my grandfathers, who served our country in World War I.

Howard Harlan Langdon, WWI Howard Harland Langdon, 219th Aero Squadron

George Cunningham Smith, Sr., WWI George Cunningham Smith, Sr., 5th Engineers, Co. B

Click here for a previous tribute. (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, May 28, 2006 at 7:16 pm | Edit
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I like to check out Google News every morning, and I'm especially interested in their Health section. Today there were two headlines that caught my attention, and each turned out to be totally misleading.

Flying does not cause blood clots, say experts

Do you feel safer now, as you prepare for your long flight? Do you think you can relax, forget about periodically wiggling your toes, stretching your feet, and disturbing your seatmates so you can get up and walk around? Not so fast! What the article says is that low cabin pressure and reduced oxygen do not increase the risk of blood clots. The damage is done by reduced circulation caused by long periods of inactivity, whether on plane, train, bus, or car. Although the article does not address this issue, I'm guessing sitting at a desk all day isn't a good situation, either.

Considering the relative leg room offered by the other modes of transportation, it's not surprising that the problem appears more often among those who fly. To give the casual reader the impression that he's safe from bloodclots on a long flight is misleading and dangerous.

Nonsmoking Men, Women Face Same Lung Cancer Death Risk

Same as whom? The point of the article is that among nonsmokers, women face no greater risk of lung cancer than men. But the impression I received from the headline itself was that nonsmokers face the same lung cancer risk as smokers, a truly startling (and untrue) finding.
Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, May 17, 2006 at 6:52 am | Edit
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Thomas Edison said that genius is 5% inspiration and 95% perspiration. Anders Ericsson, a psychology professor at Florida State University, would agree. His studies of what makes someone really good at something are discussed in the May 7, 2006 New York Times column, A Star Is Made, by Freakonomics authors Stephen J. Dubner and Steven D. Levitt. (The New York Times requires registration before you can read their content, but it's free and worth the effort.) (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, May 16, 2006 at 1:21 pm | Edit
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When I was in high school, a semester course in economics was required for graduation. I managed to convince the school to accept an advanced physics course instead, so I can't claim to know much economics. Yet being married to a guy who majored in that field in college helps, and in any case the following scenario not only makes no economic sense, it makes no sense at all. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, May 12, 2006 at 1:05 pm | Edit
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I hear it's officially TV-Turnoff Week. Those who know me know I'm more likely to respond negatively to social pressure like that. Still, I'm not about to turn on the television just to be different.

But if TV is a regular part of your life, do yourself a huge favor and turn it off. Start with a week, but don't stop there. What would you give for an extra four hours in your day? More than 20 more hours in your week? Even if you are one of the very rare folks who watches only half an hour a day, think about what you could do in that time. With just half an hour each day you could learn to play a musical instrument, learn a foreign language, read many books, keep in touch with far away friends and family, create your own weblog, spend time in serious, concentrated prayer, get some much-needed sleep, learn to juggle, create a garden, get in shape...and accomplish at least one if not many of those things you say you'd love to do, "but I don't have time." Go for it! You have nothing to lose but your chains.

Here are some more interesting links:

The TV-Turnoff Network

Excerpts from Marie Winn's The Plug-In Drug

Ruben Bolling's fabulous comic, Flowers for Trinitron.
Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, April 24, 2006 at 7:28 am | Edit
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Our local newspaper includes Parade Magazine in its Sunday edition. I find it generally to be a waste of paper. (A judgment almost equally true of the whole paper, now that it has gone to a format that emphasizes pictures over words, but that's another blog post.) However, I ususally find Marilyn vos Savant's column interesting, and this week it was especially so. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, March 9, 2006 at 5:36 pm | Edit
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This Orlando Sentinel column by Leonore Waldrip needs a wider audience. So for the dozen or so of my non-robotic readers, here it is.
Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, January 21, 2006 at 10:59 am | Edit
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While browsing the USPS website for international postage rates, I found it amusing to note some of the items one cannot mail to certain places. Most countries prohibit money and weapons; some countries also have more interesting restrictions: (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, December 12, 2005 at 9:54 am | Edit
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Thank you, veterans.
Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, November 11, 2005 at 9:05 am | Edit
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I'm reading an extraordinarily important and fascinating book: What's Going on in There: How the Brain and Mind Develop in the First Five Years of Life (Lise Eliot, 1999, Bantam Books). I'll probably end up making several blog posts out of quotations from this book, so here's a start. I always wondered why deliberate smiles, such as those manufactured for photographs or in an attempt to look more cheerful than one actually is, usually look so false:

[S]miling is not voluntary. Although you can willfully concoct your face into a smile, this kind of “polite” smile uses only the muscles of your mouth. Genuine smiles, by contrast, also involve a specific muscle that surrounds the eye, the orbicularis oculi, and movement of this muscle is entirely involuntary.
Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, August 12, 2005 at 8:00 am | Edit
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This afternoon, searching for a birthday gift for my nephew, I ventured into long-forgotten territory: a Toys R Us store. Just as a child's growth is more noticeable to one who has been away for a while, so did I find the cultural changes represented by the toys and games to be startling. While there were a few of what I might call generic games, most were branded with characters from television shows and movies. Even the old standby, Candyland, now comes in Dora the Explorer and Winnie the Pooh (Disney version, of course) flavors. Back when I was a more regular visitor of toy stores, there were already a few media-inspired toys, but now the genre has exploded. I did not linger, but left with the impression that I would find more of reality at Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes.
Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, July 25, 2005 at 6:58 pm | Edit
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Like many Americans, we plan to spend this Memorial Day relaxing with friends. As good and proper an activity as that is, we would be wrong not to recognize the true purpose of this holiday. Those who have given the last full measure of devotion to our country died for more substantial freedoms than a three-day weekend.

Here is some information on Memorial Day by the Department of Veterans' Affairs.

And here is a link to our Veterans' Day tribute to all who have laid their lives on the line for our country, including two family members who died in World War I.
Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, May 30, 2005 at 7:26 am | Edit
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Hard, painstaking work is the toll an independent spirit charges itself for self-respect.

John Taylor Gatto

Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, May 2, 2005 at 7:33 am | Edit
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Better yet, who proofreads them?

I was curious to compare the ingredients and nutritional value of the two varieties of soy milk in my refrigerator: Organic Valley Soy Vanilla, and Silk Unsweetened Soymilk. Staring at the nutritional labelling, I couldn't get past the beginning. Two half-gallon containers. Both say "Serving size: 1 cup." The Organic Valley carton says the expected, "Servings per container: 8," whereas the Silk Unsweetened says, "Servings per container: 4."

When kids would come to me for tutoring in mathematics, I would often feed them cookies, claiming this would help their "math brains." I offer the above as evidence that sugar is, indeed, important for correct mathematical thinking.
Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, April 27, 2005 at 1:44 pm | Edit
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When Terri Schiavo dies, there's going to be cheering, and I don't understand why. I know there will be cries of exultation because of the commentary I've heard, and the rude jesting, even from as mainstream a production as National Public Radio's Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me. Perhaps people make light of tragedy in self-defense; I know my family was able to find humor even as our father lay dying. There was, however, an enormous difference: our humor was suffused with an undeniable love for the man and a determination to do all we could for him. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, March 30, 2005 at 8:21 am | Edit
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