Consumed By All I Consumed

I apologize for the late post.  Hopefully most of you caught my Facebook message and were able to do today’s project if you wanted to, but I spent most of the day just exhausted and sick to my stomach (I think lunch didn’t agree with me) and I just couldn’t make it happen till after I had a decent nap, which was hard to get when I was fighting my stomach.  But anyway, today’s project is/was to try a drink you’ve never had before. Bonus points for being something old or obscure.  You know all those glass bottles everyone walks past in the soda aisle? Those are a good place to start.

As far as I’m concerned if you’ve never seen any form of advertisement for it, it counts as obscure.  I decided to go with one I’ve never seen any brand of before and have only ever heard of in westerns and had no idea what it would even taste like, and bought myself that bottle of Sarsaparilla.  Which I never would have even spelled properly, there’s a whole lot going on in that word that I didn’t know was there.

Earp’s Original Sarsaparilla, the one I ended up with, uses cane sugar rather than corn syrup like most sodas, so it’s a way healthier option and also safe for the big portion of the population with corn allergies.  Despite its association with westerns I’m surprised to see it marketed as Earp’s since it’s the drink that would get you beaten up in a saloon if you ordered it instead of whiskey.  But their website informs me that “a beverage this fierce is enough to rival even the meanest, darndest bandits in the seedy saloons of the great yonder.”  They also let us in on the secret that the fight at the O.K. Corral was really about keeping the Earp’s Sarsaparilla recipe “out of the hands of the bad guys.”

In the 19th century Sarsaparilla was sold as a medicine for skin and blood problems.  I have both, so I guess we’ll see if I’m miraculously cured tomorrow.  I have a breakout trying to start on my forehead today, so it’ll be easy enough to see if it clears up any differently than normal.  I’m guessing not, apparently if you take enough of it it makes you sweat, and I only intend to drink the one bottle and don’t tend to have much luck with sweat clearing up my skin anyhow.  Wikipedia advises me sarsaparilla was also used to prevent venereal disease.  I can’t help you out with whether that one works or not, I’m all good in that department.

I also found that Sarsaparilla is still widely available in some other countries, and that some of them, notably Australia, have a much different tasting sarsaparilla than we do here in the states.  I know we have some Australian members and would be interested in hearing more about that.  Ours tastes a great deal like Root Beer.  Evidently US sarsaparilla isn’t made from the actual sarsaparilla plant but was originally made from birch oil and dried root bark from the sassafras tree.  Now it might have original components or it might be entirely artificially flavored.  The bottle I have says only “natural and artificial flavors.”

So while I’m probably not getting the real old-west experience, and doubt I’ll be getting any medicinal benefits, I’m enjoying the soda.  It’s snowing here today (finally) but I can see where this stuff would be AMAZING served super cold on a really hot day.  And I like to try new things. Hopefully you do too cause we’re gonna do lots of that when we can 🙂  Life is after all all about the experiences. Let us know what you decide to try and how it fairs!

A word about music:  We include songs for a reason.  Music helps us deal with the world, helps to soothe the soul, and gives us something else we can focus on when everything is too much.  Listen to the songs we post. Even if you already know them. Listen to them like you don’t. Pay attention to the lyrics. Pay attention to what the instruments are telling you. They all have a message, they all have a purpose, they’re all chosen for a reason.  If you like the song, please support the artist by purchasing the MP3 or Album that features it.
Today’s music can be found on
MP3: Sarsaparilla
Album: Sold for a Smile

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Monkeys That Didn’t Like the Land

I had a very vivid dream years ago about finding UFO wreckage with a dolphin-humanoid pilot.  Which doesn’t really have anything to do with anything except that I’m weird, and so are dolphins. Did you know they have hands?  Sort of.  They actually have hand bones. Inside their flippers.  No joke.

Image Courtesy of


Dolphins are supposed to have evolved from hoofed, land mammals, similar to dogs, called Mesonyx.  The closest modern land dwelling animal to the dolphin is thought to be the pig, though they’re also close relatives to cows, antelopes, and giraffes, and according to some sources hippos.  It always boggles my mind that an animal with flippers that evolved from an animal with hooves somehow managed to acquire hand-bones.  Also, while commonly known to be the only animal whose intelligence is comparable to or even rivals mankind’s, dolphins have been in modern dolphin form for 10-15 million years, while humans have been around for about 100,000.  Does that say more about us or about dolphins?

Dr. David Busbee of Texas A&M University is researching dolphin genetics and has discovered that dolphins and humans are very similar chromosomally.  “Every chromosome in the dolphin has a comparative chromosome in the human.”  So if the dolphins made a choice to go back to the sea, either for food or for changes in environment or because they just damn well wanted to, and managed to breed themselves from a four legged furry land animal into a sleek no legged happy as a clam water mammal, and we are so similar in most regards… is there any possibility that humans will someday do the same?  Our climate is changing and as icecaps melt we’re going to end up with a lot more water in an already overcrowded world that’s only 30% land to begin with.  On the evolutionary scale we have been around a very short time and could potentially turn into anything.  But will we let ourselves?

Humans have this idea, wherever it came from, of being made in the image of their creator and therefore superior to all other beings… will we ever allow ourselves to evolve different features, or are we too set on being already perfect and preoccupied with looking normal that we will be what we are until such a time that we die out?

If we were given a choice to go back to the oceans would you want to?  Does our long held fascination with things like the lost city of Atlantis or mermaids point to some embedded knowledge that that will be our eventual destination? And if we make it back to the water will the dolphins have us?  If we’re both the height of intelligence that the earth has to offer, can we teach each other things and have great underwater civilizations, or do we really need to do more learning from the dolphins about how to have a peaceful, happy existence without worrying about all of the civilization nonsense?

Today I have no answers and won’t propose any.  I just wanted to share some thoughts to ponder about our place in the universe and in our own world, and how much it might someday change.

A word about music:  We include songs for a reason.  Music helps us deal with the world, helps to soothe the soul, and gives us something else we can focus on when everything is too much.  Listen to the songs we post. Even if you already know them. Listen to them like you don’t. Pay attention to the lyrics. Pay attention to what the instruments are telling you. They all have a message, they all have a purpose, they’re all chosen for a reason.  If you like the song, please support the artist by purchasing the MP3 or Album that features it.
Today’s music can be found on
MP3: Dolphins Were Monkeys
Album: Golden Greats

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Chick Chickpea Boom

Today’s little project, barring any allergies, is to eat some chickpeas (garbanzo beans)!   Even if you think you don’t like them.  I didn’t either for years cause the texture made me unhappy, but I was only exposed to them infrequently. The more I ate them the more normal they became, and if texture is a big barrier for you there’s still always the wonder that is hummus.  But you can also eat chickpeas on salad or in soup or I’m sure a million ways I’ve never tried, like mashing them and using them in place of mayonnaise on sandwiches.  I’m pretty sure Wendy’s has a Mediterranean Power Salad or some such thing that has chickpeas in it if you really need the fast food convenience. If you need to treat yourself to dinner out take a look at Indian or Greek options, lots of them love the garbanzo bean.

There are endless health benefits to the chickpea, which can lower your risk of heart disease by virtue of their high fiber, potassium, vitamin C and B-6. All that fiber lowers how much cholesterol is in your blood. Additionally the fiber, which keeps your colon healthy and also helps control your blood sugar levels, is great for diabetics and for getting rid of constipation. They’re also a great source of manganese which is important to bone development (chickpeas also contain calcium, magnesium, zinc, and vitamin K to keep those bones strong) and aids in healing, and are even a big source of folate (B-9) which helps with new cell growth, DNA synthesis and repair, and brain cell communication and even helps to prevent cancer by preventing mutations in the DNA. Also on the cancer fighting front, chickpeas contain Selenium, a mineral that isn’t in most produce but aids liver function and helps detoxify cancer-causing compounds, while preventing inflammation and decreasing tumor growth rates. But we’re not done yet, garbanzo beans also have Saponins, which prevent cancer cells from multiplying and spreading. That vitamin C content mentioned earlier is also a strong antioxidant, which protects cells from free radical damage. Chickpeas are also shown to aid with blood pressure as they’re low-sodium and high potassium. Annnnd, they’re a huge vegetarian source of protein! It CAN be done!

If you need one more reason… The fiber in chickpeas will help you lose weight! They make you feel more full for longer periods and reduce your appetite, thereby decreasing your calorie intake and fighting obesity! If you’re not used to consuming a lot of fiber start slow on just how many chickpeas you start eating, hummus is addictive and it’s easy to eat the whole container if you don’t watch yourself, but going from low fiber to high without gradual increase can set you up for some major discomfort in the belly and digestive tract, so don’t feel like you have to eat ALL of the chickpeas today 🙂 Today they’re assigned, tomorrow you can just eat them cause you want to!

Okay so the song has nothing to do with chickpeas, but I didn’t want to search for a novelty chickpea song and for some reason all day when I was thinking about writing about chickpeas my brain was going chick-chicky-boom, so who am I to argue?

A word about music:  We include songs for a reason.  Music helps us deal with the world, helps to soothe the soul, and gives us something else we can focus on when everything is too much.  Listen to the songs we post. Even if you already know them. Listen to them like you don’t. Pay attention to the lyrics. Pay attention to what the instruments are telling you. They all have a message, they all have a purpose, they’re all chosen for a reason.  If you like the song, please support the artist by purchasing the MP3 or Album that features it.
Today’s music can be found on
MP3: Cuban Pete
Album: Best of Desi Arnaz

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Occasional Reasons To Live

Bleh.  My sincere apologies that I have not been blogging, and sincere gratitude to those of you still hanging on on our Facebook page to answer the Question of the Day.  I don’t even know if I ever updated here as to what was going on but while reading The Zookeeper’s Wife I got a very swollen lymph node on the back of my head which made wearing glasses an impossibility and therefore made seeing impossible.  Besides that I just felt miserable and alternated between mind blinding pain and excess sleep. It also meant taking antibiotics I was allergic to because I was afraid the Z-pack route wouldn’t take care of things since it cropped up after my sinus infection and I needed to make sure I got rid of it so I took pills I was allergic to 3 times a day for ten days, thereby poisoning myself at regular intervals and spending a good portion of the month throwing up with extremely deep body aches as a result.  Once I thought I shook it and was just sleeping a lot to recover I went to a pre-scheduled cardiologist appointment and they informed me I was running a fever. So. Managed to get in with my regular doctor’s office that day to find I now had an ear infection and did another z-pack.  My ear is still bothering me, and I’m wondering if I didn’t rupture an eardrum because of the way it hurts, won’t pop, and if I plug my nose and blow I can feel the other eardrum catch, but not the one that was infected.  Wouldn’t be my first time and not really anything they can do about it, but sucks.  But I’ve been gone too long and genuinely care about this project, so I’m going to try to ease myself back in to dedicated entries, I just might not be as good about pre-planning in the calendar right now. That seems to be the kiss of death when I actually manage to get everything organized out in advance.

For today, I’m going to ask everyone to write a poem again.  Last time I assigned a topic, but this time just write whatever’s on your mind or in your heart or feels like coming out, you choose the topic.  Again, all poetry or writings shared here or in the comments are entirely the property of their authors and all rights are reserved accordingly.  None is to be shared or re-printed in whole or in part without the express written permission of its writer and appropriate credit given.

I’m still trying to get back into the poetry writing habit myself (which is probably why I’m choosing to revisit it on my first day back at the project) and just going to go with what comes, but for the sake of inspiration and getting me started out on a theme I’m borrowing a title from someone who shared a poem with me yesterday.  Otherwise the poems bear no resemblance, just the shared name.


A life of love, of joy, of friendship
A life of pain, of illness, of worry
A life of beauty, kisses, wonder
A life of sadness, tears, heartbreak

Such a life of laughter and brilliance
Chopped down to one small phrase
How can the world know all that you meant
With only an engraving to remember

If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever
If tears could build a stairway and memories a lane…
What we keep in memory is ours forever
Until we meet again

There are no words
There is no phrase
No symbol or rune
No picture or verse

Nothing conveys the life that once was
Nothing expresses the love that’s still felt
Nothing does justice to feelings or memories
Nothing explains what I live without

You are my world
My sunshine, my smile
My rainbows and songbirds
My quiet, gentle night

Your memory lives in my heart and my dreams
The creak of the stairs and the soft summer breeze
The pattering rainfalls that drop on the roof
The flowers, toys, and figures mark how I love you

No stone is written
For it’s never enough
The place between dreams
Is our purest love

And that’s what came for me.  Obviously just freeform scribbling, but it’s what my heart had to say about the inspiration I found to go with.  So that’s your project for today. Write a poem about anything at all.  We’d love to see them shared in the comments, but if you’re on the shy side just write it out in that journal you should still be writing in every night 🙂  Here’s hoping April decides to cooperate with us better than February or March did, we’re going to plan on it, pain or no pain.

As for what you’ll need that I’m going to go ahead and say in advance despite my record of jinxing myself, we’re going to read another book.  So.  If you want to start reading now to be able to converse about it on the day the entry will be made about it, we’ll be reading Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis and writing about it on Wednesday the 5th.  335 pages, so, know your own reading speed in how quickly you care to acquire it.  It’s been a movie for quite a long time and is a classic so hopefully libraries will be more helpful this time to go the free route, but of course book stores and eBooks are always handy choices too.  Otherwise for other entries I’ll just try to have them posted before you’re awake so if you need anything to participate that day you can pick it up since they’ll be less time consuming than reading books.

A word about music:  We include songs for a reason.  Music helps us deal with the world, helps to soothe the soul, and gives us something else we can focus on when everything is too much.  Listen to the songs we post. Even if you already know them. Listen to them like you don’t. Pay attention to the lyrics. Pay attention to what the instruments are telling you. They all have a message, they all have a purpose, they’re all chosen for a reason.  If you like the song, please support the artist by purchasing the MP3 or Album that features it.
Today’s music can be found on
MP3: Sometimes Isn’t Always
Album: Songs From The Neighborhood:The Music Of Mister Rogers


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Your Water Sign Just Lit My Fire

I’m still sick as a dog, so I’m still taking it easy, but today was always scheduled as a learn something day, so, hopefully my brain is in the game enough to make sense.  The post is coming super late though because it takes a long time to research and write when you can’t actually see because you can’t wear your glasses -_-

We’ve talked about sun signs and what they might say about you, but do you know the story of where your sign came from?  You’re gonna today 😉

The zodiac as we know it, and the myths associated with signs come from the Greeks, but evidence actually dates them back to 2900 BCE and originating in Sumeria , and they have even been found in Paleolithic era cave art.  For comparison, Ancient Greece is classified as 800-500 BCE.

But here’s the “official” story of how the constellation your sign is named for came to be.

Aries (March 21-April 19)
The Ancient Greeks tell us that the Aries constellation was created when a god placed the ram among the stars to honor it.  Aries was the winged-ram with the golden fleece, who was the offspring of Poseidon, god of the sea, in ram form and the nymph Thephane (granddaughter of the sun-god Helios) whom he had turned into a ewe.  Aries major story comes in when, in Boeotia, there was a king who had two children with his first wife, the goddess Nephele.  After the King, Athamas, fell in love with and married his second wife, Nephele left angrily and it started a drought in the kingdom. Ino, the second wife, was dangerously jealous of the children and wanted them killed.  She faked a prophecy from the oracle claiming that the son, Phrixus, had to be sacrificed to end the drought.  When the king was preparing to sacrifice Phrixus on a mountain top, Aries was sent by Nephele to carry the children away.  The ram carried the children across the sea, during which Helle (the girl child) fell off and drowned in the strait between Europe and Asia. The ram spoke to and comforted Phrixus, who arrived safely at the East end of the Black Sea, and promptly sacrificed the ram to Poseidon, which seems like a dick move to me, but I guess gods are into that kind of thing. Having effectively been returned to the god who created him, Aries was then placed among the stars.  Phrixus saved the fleece to give to the king of his new home and it is featured in the story of Jason and the Argonauts.

Taurus (April 20-May 20)
The bull has a number of potential origin myths among Greek mythology, but the only one that legitimately fits the formula for constellation creation is the story of Io.  Io was the daughter of the first king of Argos and the nymph Melia (daughter of Oceanus, the Titan lord of the seas and ocean.) She was a priestess of the goddess Hera, wife of the ruling god, Zeus.  Zeus, lustful adulterous god that he was, took no notice of this position and only of her beauty.  Faithful to Hera, Io rejected Zeus repeatedly, but eventually on the advice of the Oracle her father put her out of the house and she was left to the mercy of Zeus.  He transformed her into a heifer in order to hide her from his wife, but Hera saw through the deception and requested the cow as a gift.  Zeus had no excusable reason to deny her, so Io was presented to Hera as a gift as requested.  Hera sent Io to a hundred-eyed giant to be sure Zeus would be unable to further court her.  Zeus was pretty persistent, or possibly loyal, about his lovers once he chose them, and he sent Hermes to distract then kill the giant, allowing Zeus to rescue Io, still in heifer form.  Learning this, Hera sent a gadfly to constantly sting Io to make her unable to rest and forced to wander the world.  Eventually she escaped to Egypt, where Zeus returned her to her human form and she eventually mothered many heroes (some fathered by Zeus, some by an Egyptian king.)  Her grandson returned to Greece with his 50 daughters and eventually their blood line lead to the greatest Greek hero, Heracles (Hercules to the Romans.)  Being mortal, but among Zeus’s favorites, before her death Zeus returned her to bull form and placed her to live among the stars forever.

Gemini (May 21-June 20)
Gemini’s Greek myth revolves around Castor and Pollux, twin brothers who were born to Leda by different fathers.  Pollux was the son of Zeus, conceived when he became a swan to seduce Leda, and Castor the mortal son of Leda’s husband, the king of Sparta.  They lead adventurous lives, including becoming Argonauts on the quest to retrieve the golden fleece, rescuing their sister Helen from Theseus after he kidnapped her, and the final adventure that ultimately lead to their place in the stars.  The twins wanted to marry women who were already promised to their cousins, and as a result abducted them, taking them to Sparta where they each had a son.  Obviously their cousins (also twins) were displeased with this and it set off a lifelong feud.  The four joined forces to conduct a cattle raid on Arcadia, and before dividing the herd they sat to eat a quartered calf.  One of the cousins, the giant Idas, suggested that they divide the herd in halves instead of quarters and grant both halves to whichever set of cousins finished eating first.   Castor and Pollux agreed, but were tricked when Idas ate both his and his brothers portions of the meal.  They allowed their cousins to take the herd, but prepared to plot revenge.  At a later point the cousins came to visit their uncle’s home in Sparta, but the uncle was traveling and left Helen to entertain her brothers, cousins, and Paris, the visiting prince of Troy.  Castor and Pollux saw the opportunity and excused themselves from the feast to steal their cousins’ herd.  Said cousins, Idas and Lynceus, left the feast to return home, and Helen was left alone with Paris who kidnapped her and began the Trojan War, but that’s a different story altogether.  When Castor and Pollux reached the herd, Castor scaled a tree to keep lookout and Pollux started to free the cattle.  Lynceus was able to see in the dark and saw what was happening, which enraged the cousins, who gave Castor a fatal wound, though they failed to stop him from warning Pollux.  Pollux killed Lynceus, and was nearly killed himself by Idas, but Zeus sent a Thunderbolt to kill Idas in order to save his son.  Pollux begged Zeus to save his dying brother.  Zeus gave Pollux the choice to spend eternity on Mount Olympus with the gods, or to give half of his immortality to Castor.  Pollux chose to share his immortality and thus Zeus placed them in the heavens as stars.

Cancer (June 21-July 22)
The crab was placed in the sky for it’s involvement in one of the 12 Labors of Hercules.  Hera, queen of the gods and married to Zeus, had a special hatred for Heracles, who was the product of one of Zeus many love affairs with a mortal woman, and made many attempts to kill him starting in his infancy.  Later in his life, Hera drove him mad and in his insanity he killed his children, and his wife Megara.  Once he regained his wits he was distraught about what he’d done, and went to the Oracle at Delphi to pray to Apollo for guidance on how to atone for his actions.  He was told to go serve his cousin, King Eurystheus, for 12 years and to do whatever labours were beset him, and that he’d receive immortality in exchange.  Heracles was again distraught over having to serve a man he considered his inferior but feared the wrath of Zeus if he defied the order and went to serve Eurystheus faithfully.  The king ordered him to perform ten labours, but two were disqualified for having received assistance or payment in completing them and thus he had to complete twelve in the end.  One of the labors (actually one of the ones that was disqualified for receiving help) was to kill the Hydra, a six-headed water serpent guarding one of the entries to the underworld, which was raised by Hera specifically to kill Heracles.  Heracles attacked the hydra with, depending on the source, either a sickle, sword, or club.  According to most sources every time the hydra lost one head it would grow two new ones in its place.  This lead to Heracles turning to his nephew, Iolaus, for help.  Iolaus was guided by Athena to cauterize the wound with a torch immediately after Heracles severed a head, preventing any from growing back.  Upon seeing that Heracles was winning the battle, Hera sent a giant crab to distract him from his task.  Depending on the source Heracles either swiftly kicked the crab so hard that it landed among the stars, becoming the Cancer constellation, or he crushed it under his foot and Hera placed it in the stars to honor its efforts.

Leo (July 23-August 22)
The Greek myth of the Leo constellation is that it is the Nemean Lion.  This lion, of various purported divine heritage, would abduct maidens and take them to its cave near Nemea, using them as bait to attract warriors to come to their rescue.  When said warriors would enter the lair they would see a woman, generally feigning injury, and rush to her aid.  Once they were close the woman would transform back into a lion and devour the warrior, giving his bones to Hades, because as with most of the quests in Hercules’ 12 Labors, the lion guarded one of the entrances to the underworld.  For background on the 12 Labors see the above blurb about Cancer.  Slaying the Nemean Lion was the first of the 12 labors.  The lion’s fur was entirely impenetrable to attack, but upon discovering his arrows had no effect Heracles trapped the lion in its cave by blocking off one of the two entrances and attacking from the other.  With the lion trapped he was able to beat it with his club to effectively stun it, and then depending on which source you read he either strangled the lion by his sheer strength, shot it with an arrow in the mouth where its fur couldn’t protect it, or grabbed it’s front and back legs and bent them in such a way to break the animal’s back. After defeating the lion, Heracles skinned it with one of its own claws, and wore its hide as armor for the rest of his labours to take advantage of its impenetrable nature.  Some sources say that Zeus placed the Lion in the sky to simply commemorate the event, but the more mythological formula fitting story is the one that holds that the Lion was the offspring of Zeus and the moon goddess Selene.  Zeus was much more likely to preserve his offspring in the stars than to simply commemorate a quest.

Virgo (August 23-September 22)
The Greek myth explaining the constellation of the virgin is best explained as the tale of Erigone. Erigone was the daughter of Icarius of Athens. Icarius had given hospitality to the god of the vine, Dionysus.  As Dionysus was prone to do, he gave Icarius’s shepherds wine, on which they became intoxicated.  This new experience made them think that Icarius had poisoned them and they killed him.  While this was happening Dionysus had taken the shape of a grape cluster as a deception to approach Erigone, with the hopes of seducing her.  However, Erigone found her father’s body, and after his burial she hung herself over his grave.  Angered by the murder of the man who had been hospitable to him and the resulting death of the object of his affections, Dionysus punished all of Athens by inflicting all of the unmarried women with insanity and causing them to hang themselves the same way Erigone did.  The plague ended only once the Athenians held honorific rites for Icarius and Erigone.  Dionysus placed Icarius among the stars as the lesser known constellation Boötes and Erigone as the constellation Virgo.

Libra (September 23-October 22)
The Greeks actually didn’t have an origin myth for Libra, because to them rather than scales Libra represented the claws of the scorpion.  These two identities have been used interchangeably since the origin in Babylon.  Libra officially became it’s own constellation in ancient Rome, where it represented the scales held by the goddess of justice, Astraea, who in some myths was also associated with the constellation Virgo, because to the Greeks she was the virgin goddess of innocence and purity, though closely associated with the goddess of justice, Dike.  According to myth she was the last immortal to live among humans during the Golden Age, and left the earth during the Iron Age.  Humanity was newly wicked and she fled to the heavens to become either the constellation Virgo or the Constellation Libra, depending upon the source.  According to legend she will someday return to Earth and bring back the utopian Golden Age.  Libra is a unique sign in that it’s constellation has throughout history been considered parts of either Virgo or Scorpio, and given those associations I’m not sure why it was chosen to be one of the 12 signs of the Zodiac instead of the alternate 13th Zodiac sign Ophiuchus, which is occasionally presented as a “new” zodiac sign, but has existed since the ancient times with the others, but civilizations narrowed it down to 12 signs to match the 12 calendar months.

Scorpio (October 23-November 21)
The Scorpio (Scorpius) constellation myth is invariably tied to Orion, the giant huntsman son of Poseidon.  As a hunter he was often in the company of Artemis, goddess of the hunt. Orion was said to be a better hunter than Artemis herself, but he humbled himself and insisted that Artemis was superior.  Because of this he was a favorite of hers, but he made the mistake of bragging to her that he would kill every animal on the earth. Despite being the patron of hunters, Artemis was also the protector of all creatures.  In response to his bragging, Artemis sent a scorpion to take care of him.  Orion and the scorpion battled, and the scorpion won.  Both were placed in the heavens both because Artemis honored them, but also to remind men not to have excessive pride.  For the rest of time, every winter Orion hunts across the sky, and every summer he flees as the scorpion constellation approaches.

Sagittarius (November 22-December 21)
There are two Greek identities thought to represent Sagittarius, the most commonly known (though wrong) being that Sagittarius is a centaur, generally the centaur Chiron, son of the Greek god Cronus in the form of a stallion (to hide from his jealous wife Rhea) and Philyra, one of the Oceanids who was so repulsed by the half human half horse offspring that resulted that she begged the gods to transform her to something that wouldn’t have to bear the shame and became a linden tree. The problem with this identity is that there is also the constellation Centaurus, which is also identified as Chiron. Furthermore, centaurs didn’t use bows. The correct identity for Sagittarius is the Satyr Krotos.  Krotos was the son of Pan, but much less wild and more cultured than the other Satyrs. He was known to be the inventor of archery and to frequently hunt via horseback.  He lived among the Muses, whom his mother (Eupheme, the Greek spirit of positive speech) had nursed.  In addition to archery, he also invented applause, and would clap his hands when the Muses sang. They preferred that to any verbal praise and requested that Zeus place him in the sky at his death, for which no details are given.  Sagittarius therefore shows him practicing archery via horseback.

Capricorn (December 22-January 19)
The Capricorn constellation (Capricornus) has been depicted as a hybrid  of a goat and a fish since the Bronze Age, but is frequently only known as a goat these days.  Because of that Capricorn is sometimes thought to be the goat Amalthea, who nursed Zeus as an infant after his mother Rhea hid him in a cave to save him from being eaten by his father Cronos, and whose horn became the first cornucopia.  However the more likely, though less known, Greek explanation is that Capricornus represents the satyr Pan, who was the god of the wild, shepherds, flocks, mountains, fields, groves, wooded glens and rustic music, and has a strong connection to fertility. This myth comes from a time that the Olympian gods were hiding in Egypt from Typhon, the last of the Titans and father to many of the Greek’s most famous monsters.  This last Titan who was seeking revenge for his fallen siblings. Typhon was taller than a mountain and had a hundred dragon’s heads, with fire blazing from the eyes of each of these heads and a cacophony of horrible noises from the underworld of which he was fathered, so he was well worth hiding from.  The gods all adopted various disguises as animals, with Pan’s being a goat. Typhon came upon the gods and Pan tried to escape by jumping into the Nile, but in his fear he only managed to change his lower half, ending up with a goat’s body and a fish’s tail.  During all of this Typhon had dismembered Zeus, but Pan distracted him with an ear-splitting shout (the source of the word Panic), and that gave Hermes time to gather Zeus’s limbs and restore him.  There is debate about whether Pan survived this attack, but he is known to be the only greek god to have actually died, with the cry “Great Pan is dead” surviving to modern poets like John Milton and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Pan dying, or being mortally wounded, in this encounter, particularly sacrificing himself to save Zeus, is ample reason to explain why he would be placed in the stars to live forever.

Aquarius (January 20-February 18)
To the Greeks, Aquarius represents Ganymede. Ganymede was a young man from Troy, son of Tros (the founder of Troy) and Callirrhoe (daughter of the river god Scamander.)  Keeping in mind that in Ancient Greece it was socially acceptable for adult men to have erotic relationships with adolescent males, Ganymede was known to be a beautiful young man, and he caught the attention of the ever insatiable Zeus while tending sheep.  Zeus called upon the eagle Aquila (who carried his thunderbolts) to carry Ganymede off to Olympus to be his cup-bearer.  Zeus paid Tros for the ownership of his son, and satisfied him that his son was now immortal and given eternal youth.  Ganymede created mead, and all of the gods were pleased with him and his presence, except of course Hera, who didn’t like to share her husband and counted Ganymede as a rival.  As Zeus commonly did to protect his chosen lovers from Hera’s wrath, he chose to put Ganymede in the sky as the constellation Aquarius, where Aquila is found nearby, ever ready to carry Ganymede off again.

Pisces (February 19-March 20)
The Pisces constellation takes us back to the story recounted in the description of Capricorn, where there was a time that all of the gods of Olympus had to flee from the monstrous Typhon. Aphrodite (the goddess of love) and Eros (her son, better known by his Roman name, Cupid) hid in the reeds on the banks of the Euphrates River, but wind was rustling the undergrowth and a scared Aphrodite held Eros in her lap and called to the water nymphs for help as she leapt into the river and transformed herself and her son into fish.  In the river, they met two young fish who guided them to safety.  In exchange for saving their lives these fish, along with their mother (the constellation Piscis Austrinus) were placed among the stars, where they can swim eternally, the two younger fish that make up Pisces with their tails tied together so they never lose each other, despite swimming in opposite directions.

And those are all of the constellations we use signs from, so my entry is all kinds of late but took less than 12 hours to write 🙂 and now perhaps you know something new about your sign and where some of your supposed personality traits may have come from in relation to their creation myth.

A word about music:  We include songs for a reason.  Music helps us deal with the world, helps to soothe the soul, and gives us something else we can focus on when everything is too much.  Listen to the songs we post. Even if you already know them. Listen to them like you don’t. Pay attention to the lyrics. Pay attention to what the instruments are telling you. They all have a message, they all have a purpose, they’re all chosen for a reason.  If you like the song, please support the artist by purchasing the MP3 or Album that features it.
Today’s music can be found on
MP3:No Matter What Sign You Are
Album: Gold [2 CD]

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Nature Tries To Defeat Small Blog

Holy crow y’all.  It is not remotely uncommon for me to get sick. But the rapid fire illnesses while not hardly leaving my house is abnormal and beautifully timed, and this one in particular is the most pain I’ve been in in quite a while.

I dunno what’s going on.  I’m on day 3 of a swollen something on the back of my head behind my left ear and omigod it hurts.  I dunno what it is. I thought it was a lymph node. The urgent care doctor I saw yesterday said it wasn’t a lymph node it was a nodular something or other that I’m having no luck finding in google, and it took me hours to figure out he said nodular as opposed to modular… his accent was pretty thick and it’s hard to think with pain so close to your brain.  He put it as Lymphadenopathy, postauricular on my chart… which when I look up what lymphadenopathy is it says it’s a disease affecting the lymph nodes… so.. I dunno, wtfe.

I’ve got a permanently swollen one behind my right ear too that back when I was 16 or 17 and it swelled up to the size of a golf ball and the doctor I went to said it was an ear infection and put me on antibiotics.. when the drugs were gone and the infection over it had shrunk but left a considerable swelling and at that point I was told it was scar tissue and not to worry about it. That would be easier to accomplish if my glasses didn’t touch it and that still equates to pain nearly 20 years later.  Now they match except the new one hurts so much more than I remember the old one ever hurting. Urgent care doctor said these days they think they’re usually viral instead of infections and was gonna send me home just telling me to switch to heat instead of ice.  Intense pain + no solution or end in sight for it = crying. Crying = medication, so now I’m on antibiotics 3 times a day for the next 10 days. I didn’t even think to tell him about how my white blood cell count has been high for a year and no one can figure out why, but he said my ears don’t look infected. I wonder if that 3 pill z-pack wasn’t enough to really kill off my sinus infection of a couple weeks ago.  He said my tonsils were swollen but that he wasn’t worried about it.  I always worry about going to urgent care on weekends because it always means getting seen after they’ve actually closed and my worry is that they’re just trying to go home. He didn’t make me feel like that, but I just also didn’t feel like there was any real effort to find the source of the problem.

My worry is that when my neurologist did those injections in the back of my head she did something wrong. I’ve never even met this woman before, that side hurt a LOT more than the other side, and they definitely haven’t felt like or given me the same relief I got from when my old neurologist (who moved out of state) did them.  But they dismissed that pretty quickly, probably because I got the injections on the 23rd I think.  So it would be a late reaction. But in the end he said maybe the injection sight got an infection that was causing it.

Whatever’s going on the heat compress helps some, while I’m on it, even though it’s burning me horribly.  Glasses are an impracticality and I can’t see anything without them.  Once I finally managed to fall asleep on my right side I stayed that way for as long as I possibly could, having incredibly long, detailed, and multiple dreams about being someone else who so far as I know doesn’t exist, surrounded by people who don’t exist.  I got up from one and went to the bathroom and laid back down and was right back there as the same person in the same world though done trying to figure out the problem that had been plaguing me before getting up.

Once I finally decided I’d slept enough and couldn’t ignore my bladder anymore and my head felt pretty decent I managed to be upright precisely long enough for another trip to the bathroom and posting the question of the day on facebook, and by then I was utterly spent and my head was back to throbbing uncontrollably.  Some part of me feels like my problems would all be over if I could pop my jaw, as I frequently have to do, but it’s not happening.  It gets just close enough to make a tiny little crackle but won’t go far enough to pop.  I’m almost wishing I had gum, though I actually suspect that would be wildly painful.

Today’s plan was to pick whatever the top trending news item was and write about it and encourage discussion.  Here’s what’s in trending news today as of when I woke up:

  • Barack Obama
    Obama denies Trump’s wiretapping claims –
  • David Letterman
    David Letterman: Late night hosts have ‘obligation’ to challenge Trump –
  • North Korea

    North Korea fires four ballistic missiles –
  • Peugeot
    GM sells European brands to France’s Peugeot –
  • United States Marine Corps
    Report: Marines Probed For Posting Nude Photos Of Female… –
  • India National Cricket Team
    Pujara, Rahane keep India afloat in second test –
  • Cabinet of Israel
    Israeli Cabinet Makes Move to Decriminalize Recreational Marijuana Use –
  • Avian Influenza
    Bird flu found in Tennessee chicken flock on Tyson-contracted farm –
  • South Lakes Safari Zoo
    New licence refused for South Lakes Safari Zoo where almost 500… –
  • London
    Are high heel dress codes for the workplace sexist? UK lawmakers debate –

There are frankly none of those things that I’m interested in researching and forming opinions about while in this much pain and without full use of my eyes or my brain.  So Imna go with that last one.  Making women wear high heels – sexist.  Telling women they can’t wear high heels at work – not sexist.  Feel free to use the comments to debate that heavily and tell me why I’m wrong.

Also feel free to do some dream interpretation for me.  Keeping in mind I had no idea that America’s Next Top Model was cancelled last year and then picked up by Vh1 (I have no cable) and have only been thinking “huh, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen that, usually it conflicts with one of my Gordon Ramsay shows, I wonder when it’s on,” so if there’s any similarity to any cast members it’s entirely psychic.  Or my brain has satellite that my TV doesn’t.

So in the dream I was a young, petite but top heavy, light-auburny-brunette girl with maybe a handful of freckles across the tops of my cheeks, and a decidedly not high-fashion tendency to wear my hair mostly down with a small section of it on one or both sides in a loose hanging ponytail. Myself and my pre-existing (but again not real life or resembling anyone I know in real life) muscular manly-man boyfriend had both gotten selected to appear on America’s Next Top Model, but were trying to keep it very secret that we were in a relationship or even knew each other prior to casting.

He was quickly a favorite in the house, and I was more middle of the road, but we sailed through the first rounds easily, while I shared a living room with a slender latino guy and boyfriend shared a real bedroom with other guys in the house.  I guess we got to the part of the show where they go to an international destination cause I just had some vague notion that some host had come in and told us to pack our stuff and everyone ran off to do that. As with every time one of the authority figures or judges spoke though (I didn’t recognize any of them either, though looking at the current panel of judges I wouldn’t recognize any of them if I saw them) I didn’t really hear, understand, or register anything he said so I didn’t know what we were supposed to be doing or where we were going.

Boyfriend and I were getting more relaxed about showing our relationship around the house and just not around the judges, so I kept thinking eventually he’d come talk to me and I could ask, but meanwhile I was watching latino guy and thus gathered we were packing.  He seemed to have a system of dividing things he was going to take and things he wasn’t going to take, but was packing them and sending them downstairs regardless, just separated. I was very concerned about whether things that we weren’t going to take were going to be sent home or just trashed and didn’t want to ask him and let him think I wasn’t listening of taking things seriously, so I just did the packing and separating without sending anything downstairs and quickly felt overwhelmed by stuff as it piled up in bins around me.  I noticed boyfriend had left his shoes in my room and would eventually have to come looking for them so I put them on so he’d have to come talk to me, and around that time noticed the things I’d been packing were all things from around my real house and not things like clothes and shoes and beauty products, and that’s when I woke up to pee and see if it was medication time yet.

It was not.  So once I laid back down I was back in this dream world but we had arrived at the new house at whatever destination we were going to.  The rest of the housemates decided to go get dinner but I decided to stay at the new house because somehow there hadn’t been that mad dash to claim beds that there always is, and I was tired of not being around my boyfriend enough so I wanted to make sure we ended up sharing a bed.  Scoping out the rooms there were two bedrooms with two double beds each and one double bed in the living room.  Despite the public nature of the living room I decided the one bed situation would give us the most privacy and least complaints and put our stuff on it to claim it, and moved everyone else’s stuff to bedrooms dividing them by gender. Cause evidently I didn’t care if anyone else in the house wanted some lovin ^_^

Everyone was surprised that we were officially a couple and sharing a bed, but it went over quietly and he was happy though not thrilled it was the living room, so it all worked.  That night we were lounging on our living room bed drinking champagne with a young MTF transgendered Asian woman with pigtails, and I was feeling cranky about how close I felt like she was trying to get to my oblivious boyfriend, and I apparently made some sort of homophobic slur about George Harrison (????) that quietly really offended her. Apparently I meant it as a term of endearment in someway, but we didn’t really discuss it, and at the next judging the panel was now distinctly aware of my relationship and while claiming it wasn’t related decided to send me home.  In one of those one on one camera interviews boyfriend said something about how he had referred to transgendered woman by a slur as well, but that that was something that we normally did to let LGBT people know that we were both bi and on their team and it was the first time anyone didn’t understand it because no one else ever thought we were the kind of disgusting people that used such terms seriously.

Either way, I went home.  And I stayed there a few days, maybe a week, and then I said fuck that and spent my own money to go back to wherever we were and paid for all my own expenses to still live in the house with my boyfriend and got to watch photo-shoots and things.  After a few weeks during judging one of the guest judges started talking to me about who I was and why I was there and said I shouldn’t have been sent home and that I had more potential than other people still there and somehow despite being a guest judge he reinstated my position among the competitors.  Then I woke up and had to pee again and it was medication time and I decided to at the very least do the question of the day.  And now here we are.

So. I dunno what any of that meant, if anything, but it was a long enough dream it felt significant, and I’m always intrigued about being people I don’t know surrounded by people I don’t know.  It was all probably very boring if you don’t live in my brain, but hey, I didn’t have to do any research and decide if I had any answers to the situation of Donald Trump thinking he was wiretapped and whether or not it matters if he was considering he won the election anyway and if there were nothing worth hearing on wiretaps then who cares and considering he’s in charge of everything now it’s really kind of all up to him at this point if anything is released if it exists… and I dunno what to do about North Korea… so… yeah, my brain preferred not having to do any major thinking or researching cause for real I hurt.  But I’ll try to say something more worthwhile tomorrow.

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If I Conferred With Our Furry Friends

So, as previously mentioned, today’s project is to read The Zookeeper’s Wife: A War Story by Diane Ackerman.  If you’re going to do that and haven’t yet, or haven’t finished yet, stop reading here and come back when you’re done.  I haven’t decided entirely what I’m saying as it just comes when I write it, but I can assure you it’ll be spoilery.  I’m gonna also take this opportunity to remind our younger readers that this book could be perceived as an adult topic because of the accounts of war and execution, and should be read at your own discretion and potentially with parental guidance. If you decided you’re too young for the book, assume you’re too young for the content of this post.

Firstly, let me apologize to the animal lovers in the crowd.  I’m with you. I am so sensitive to animals that I just won’t read books or watch movies with animals in them ever, as they seem to exist entirely for sadness, and I used to have a friend who watched/read everything before me to warn me if it was animal-safe so I’d know whether to just avoid it. I’ve never forgiven the girl who tricked me into seeing Marley & Me. Bleh.

However, I decided that I needed to stop missing out on great or important stories and learn to process animal pain and sure picked a hell of a book to start with.  Some very naive part of me had high hopes before reading that the reason they’d be able to save so many people is because there’s no reason to bomb a zoo.  If it hadn’t been a true story I’m quite sure I would’ve walked away.  As it was I read it straight through because I knew I wouldn’t pick it back up if I stopped. I was right. About halfway through the sheer quantity of animal death was enough that I literally threw up.  But I picked it back up and kept going.  I’m morbidly thankful that she also told us (in much less detail of course) that the allies bombed the German zoo(s?) as well, both because I think it’s important that when horrible things are done by either side, whatever the reasoning, we don’t hide them because the victor was more right in doing them, but also because I would’ve wondered and might’ve ended up googling and finding out more detail than I wanted to know.  I started out reading the book thinking I’d probably see the movie, but I won’t be able to make myself do that unless a good 99% of the animal death is edited out.  I already know it isn’t. I’ve seen pictures of her with the pig. I will not be able to handle the pig. Among many other things, but oh god, the pig.

If you’re less an animal lover and more bothered about the people. Well. I don’t know what to say.  I can’t apologize for World War II. And I don’t think I can apologize for wanting people to be educated about it.  I feel like I know probably as much as the average person on the street (in America at any rate) about most history topics and about World War II, but I knew (know?) very little about the history of Poland’s involvement. All I really knew was they were the first country that Germany invaded. I didn’t know why, I didn’t really know what all that entailed, and I’m not sure my brain translated that into being the last country Germany left.  With the state of our current political situation and all of the accusations of who is or isn’t a Nazi it seems important to have an understanding of what the hell the Nazis were doing before they were actively gassing and burning the Jewish community.

Now I know they were giving not just verbal and written propaganda, but actually physically staging faked attacks against themselves to justify their war.  They were clamoring to return to the perceived former glory days of their childhoods.  They were competing to be the most disgusting man on the totem pole to get in good with Hitler.  And hidden in the notes after the book, they were taking mass quantities of drugs, and giving them to their soldiers, which excuses nothing but makes things more understandable in my brain.  Every time I’ve thought to myself, like I’m sure all people do, what it would be like to be alive in that war, particularly in Germany, what can drive a whole country of people to do such horrible things and would I have been the good person who stood by my convictions in the face of death or not, the only answer I’ve ever had for myself about how to get a whole country to go along with this and at least its military and police force actively carrying it out has been fear. Fear that if they weren’t doing it to others that their superiors would be doing it to them. And while that’s probably very true to an extent, it makes a whole lot more sense when adding in the fact that both the man in charge who decided all of this was not only necessary but a good idea, and all the people under him who were carrying it out, were taking drugs.  Not even drugs that I can identify today’s equivalent, and maybe originally well intentioned drugs if Hitler had Parkinson’s as was theorized, but obviously they did not do what they were supposed to have done to treat it and I can only assume that they drastically altered brain activity and chemistry.  I doubt very much that German soldiers knew what they were taking, and it’s scary to think how easy it is to order your military be medicated.  Now in the modern world they don’t even need to be given all these “vitamins” to take, an injection would probably do just as well.

I think the author would’ve been better served working that into the book and not just leaving it as a footnote that most people won’t ever read.  She made a couple of attempts at reaching for that Anne Frank moment of “I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are still truly good at heart…” and they fell pretty flat, but I think if she had worked some more of the actual motivating factors and mind altering into the content of the book she could’ve gotten there.

There are lots of little details about things I didn’t know.  I would not have ever guessed that people walking the street were being checked to see if they were circumcised or not, or that people had methods to reverse circumcision in that era.  I didn’t know nose jobs were an option back then.  I’d never really heard of the Jewish people hiding in plain sight before instead of Anne Frank style so it didn’t occur to me that people were actively changing their appearance to look more Aryan or eating pork and wearing Christian icons and practicing Christian religious customs to ride out the war.  I knew the Nazis were into all kinds of crazy occult and science shit (and god help me, apart from the experiments on people, my brain lights up like a damn Christmas Tree about all of the rest of it) but I didn’t understand that the Nazi’s were trying to preserve a “master race” rather than create one, and I didn’t have any idea that there had been successful (debatably) back-breeding of extinct animals.

I’m not even sure I had a concept of the ghettos being what they were.  I think I had some idea of Jews going from free people, to people wearing stars and having curfews and carrying papers or in hiding, to concentration camps, to gas chambers.  I don’t think I had a notion that there was this whole separate uprooting of the Jewish people from their homes into sections that were poor, overcrowded, and walled in but still part of the city. I definitely didn’t realize just how much of the Orthodox population was entirely wiped off the face of the earth.

I’m also going to apologize for starting with a “Oh, they’re making a movie out of this, it must be well written” book that somehow made its way onto my to-read list years ago, when it was actually pretty poorly written and badly edited.  It was well worth the read for the content, and when the author could pick what she was doing she did it well, but she seemed to have a lot of trouble with that and wrote big choppy segments of what felt like entirely separate books all interrupting each other.  She had the narrative story that felt like a fictional hypothetical book, but interspersed it with first hand accounts that didn’t fall into any kind of chronological order and were just sort of dumped, with whole chapters cutting away to historical context or lessons on Nazi-Science.  And then there were the moments where she seemed to want to turn it into fantasy about telepathy and that just didn’t go anywhere.  They were all stories that deserved telling, but she didn’t weave them together well or match styles to give it any kind of cohesive flow.  I feel like I do more editing on my average blog post to try to make my thoughts make some kind of ordered sense than she did on the whole book.  Maybe she was just exhausted from all the stories of death and horror and wanted to be done with it.  I’m honestly surprised how many other books she’s written and that one was a Pulitzer Prize finalist.

There were characters I loved deeply. Most were animals and that went very badly for them.  But I also found myself immediately attached to, was it Maurycy?  The spelling of foreign names is hard for me to remember, but I had a great big soft spot for him and was so devastated that he didn’t stop Piotr from drinking.  The story of the orphanage keeper who stayed with his orphans all the way through the end was tremendously touching and probably worthy of its own book and movie.  I can usually compartmentalize and be much less affected by human death than animal death… but that story got me in a big way. A different way, because it was a story of honor and love, but still very deep.

I think I usually think of human being as the frailest of all animals.  The ones that don’t follow the natural inclination to love.  That cat wanted her kittens.  But you give her a family of foxes in their place and she’s going to take care of those foxes and nurse them and raise them and be mother to them in every way.  You throw all of these various species of animals together in one house and they learn to behave and get along like family.  With humans…. you throw a handful of races into the world and we can’t even figure out how to get along as neighbors.  You give us the slightest reason to hurt and we spend our lives devoted to it and the injustice of it and the why and the how to exact revenge.  That’s where this book and others like it become important.  Not all people are like that.  And maybe it takes our biggest suffering and atrocities to take us back to that animal nature to love and nurture and protect and coexist.  To be like the animals and not think of ourselves as heroes and not do things for honor and glory but because it’s instinct that if you see someone who needs help you help them.  You love and nurture like the cat with the foxes, because they’re there and they need you.  And maybe these kinds of books help us to settle our minds and spirits into being more inclined to being like the Antoninas and the Jans of history and living those lives before we have to have the great tragedies thrust us into them.

I lost a certain measurable amount of respect for them when Antonina turned up pregnant.  It’s hard for me to imagine being in such a horrendous situation and knowing that the smallest misstep of anyone involved means the death of your family and existing child and neighbors and everyone you know and love and bringing another life to lose into that.  But maybe we’re closer to the animals than I give us credit for and one way or another life insists on continuing.

One thing that I can say with certainty, is that I spent that WHOLE damn book waiting for badger to turn up alright, and I’m so very very thankful that he did.

A word about music:  We include songs for a reason.  Music helps us deal with the world, helps to soothe the soul, and gives us something else we can focus on when everything is too much.  Listen to the songs we post. Even if you already know them. Listen to them like you don’t. Pay attention to the lyrics. Pay attention to what the instruments are telling you. They all have a message, they all have a purpose, they’re all chosen for a reason.  If you like the song, please support the artist by purchasing the MP3 or Album that features it.
Today’s music can be found on
MP3: Talk to the Animals
Album: If I Were a Carpenter

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I Got a Week Long Thirst

Direct Quote From Camembert

Today’s project, for those of us that drink, is to try 1554 Black Lager with it’s food pairing suggestions, which consist of barbecue or pot roast, and fontina and camembert cheeses.  If you don’t or shouldn’t drink for any number of reasons try pairing the same foods with a fancy Root Beer.

There’s a “Beer Challenge List” app on Facebook that I’m quite sure this beer was on when I decided I was going to try it, cause I dunno where else I would’ve come across it, but it’s now conspicuously missing from the list.  I suspect that whoever made the list thinks it’s out of production because at the time it was called 1554 Enlightened Black Ale, but from all indications I can find, including the source of the name, it’s the same thing.  They should’ve kept the old name, it was cuter, but maybe I’m the only one who worries about cute when choosing beer.  Anyhow, when I pulled beers to try from the list I decided to go all fancy and try them with recommended food pairings.. like wine pairings except more blue collar. Or hipster. I dunno.

1554 is brewed by New Belgium, and according to the label “A Belgian book from 1554 would inspire this Black Lager recipe.  Brewed back to life, 1554 immediately made fans with its surprisingly light taste and dry, chocolatey finish.” Their website expands on that tale saying in 1997, a Fort Collins flood destroyed the original recipe their researcher found in the library. So said researcher and his fellow brewmaster traveled to Belgium “to retrieve this unique style lost to the ages. Their first challenge was deciphering antiquated script and outdated units of measurement, but trial and error (and many months of in-house sampling) culminated in 1554, a highly quaffable dark beer with a moderate body and mouthfeel.”  Beer Critic review sites seem to give it a consistent 3.8 out of 5 stars.

I was fully prepared with my 6 pack of 1554, my fontina, camembert, and a run to the only barbecue place I’ve ever found that I liked for a brisket plate (that is a brisket sandwich that I took the top bun off of for photographing, with Kansas City sauce, a pickle, mac ‘n cheese, and cornbread with honey butter that I forgot to put in the picture cause it wasn’t part of the pairing list.)  Rather than get drunk trying a fresh bottle with everything while I still need to finish reading The Zookeeper’s Wife for tomorrow I decided to pop a bottle and try a bite of everything to see how things went. I tried a solo unaffiliated mouthful first to get an idea of what the beer was like.  As far as comparing it to the major national beers out there it reminded me of Budweiser, but I’m sure it’s better than that. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a Budweiser and I’m only just beginning my journey as a beer connoisseur.

I decided I’d try it with the non-recommended pairings first, the corn bread and the mac ‘n cheese get a thumbs up.  The pickle, while amazing on its own, definitely was not meant to be friends with this beer.  The brisket and the fontina cheese were both fantastic with the lager.  Then I opened up the camembert.

Camembert is not supposed to be a blue cheese. I would not eat a blue cheese.  I don’t know if I’ve ever had camembert before but having googled it it was a nice golden yellow color… this is white and blue.  I read the label and it includes the inexplicable ingredient “Vegetable Ash.”  I don’t know what that means, I don’t know what that is, I don’t know if it’s blue, I don’t know why it’s on cheese, I took a sniff of it and omigod that is a vile substance, so it has been rewrapped and found it’s way into the trash bag.  I hate to waste food, every part of my father that lives in my blood and subconscious is screaming at me that you don’t waste food, but I’m not putting that in my mouth, and I dunno any animal that deserved to have it tested on.  So there will be no camembert pairings in my life today.

I’m always a little perplexed by beers and wines that claim to have a chocolatey finish, I never quite taste it, but really as far as beers go, this is one I’d go back for, and I can’t say that about all beers I’ve encountered (good thing since I’ve got 5 more.)  I’d actually probably even beat the critics and give it a 4.5 out of 5.  I’m partial to wheat beers in general, but if I’m gonna go with a dark this is a good one to go with, I enjoyed it and the pairings are spot on.  Let me know what you think of it if you make it happen.  If not, still make that pot roast or brisket, it’s the weekend, have some warm comfort food in the house.

A word about music:  We include songs for a reason.  Music helps us deal with the world, helps to soothe the soul, and gives us something else we can focus on when everything is too much.  Listen to the songs we post. Even if you already know them. Listen to them like you don’t. Pay attention to the lyrics. Pay attention to what the instruments are telling you. They all have a message, they all have a purpose, they’re all chosen for a reason.  If you like the song, please support the artist by purchasing the MP3 or Album that features it.
Today’s music can be found on
(Note the YouTube version is NOT Garth Brooks and George Jones – Garth doesn’t let his studio recordings appear on YouTube and I couldn’t find a live version. But I already had my heart set on the song.  The links below are the real deal.)
MP3: Beer Run (The duet with George Jones)
Album: Scarecrow

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Should Have Died Out a Long Time Before

I love dinosaurs. I love dinosaurs so much that if I were capable of math and lived a life of opportunity I totally would’ve become a paleontologist.  But I think all science requires math and I just don’t get along with numbers. So, I’m stuck on the non-sciency just reading about them end of things.  And, you know, museums.  We have lots of fossils still being excavated here in Colorado.  They closed down our local Dinosaur Museum & Research Center where you could watch and talk to people working on the fossils because they didn’t have enough room for their collection so they couldn’t charge enough in admission so they’re looking for a new building. Or at least the last I heard about it.  But here’s me sitting on part of a dinosaur leg (cause they told me to, not cause I’m a horrible disrespectful person):

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And here’s my much taller than me buddy standing next to another leg fossil:

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And when you’re around these huge fossils that tower over you and are strong enough to hold your weight you go “sure, the last one was 59 million years before humans hit the scene, I buy that.”  But then you’ve got new species being discovered daily, things on islands and in rainforests that we know nothing about.  We’re still discovering new fossils all the time, new species of dinosaurs that died all these millions of years ago, and if we don’t know even all the dinosaurs that existed how can we legitimately say when they all died out?  Just 4 months ago we got a Jurassic Park moment and found a dinosaur tail preserved in amber and found that an already known dinosaur had feathers.  Scientists are rethinking everything we learned in elementary school about these giant lizards and now thinking that even the T-Rex likely had feathers and that it wasn’t just a late stage evolutionary development like previously thought.  And where did we find this miraculous discovery?  In a market where it was being shaped for jewelry.  So how many more pieces like this are out there that have been entirely unknown to the scientific community while someone unknowingly wears it for decoration?  They still say this particular dinosaur is 99-million years old, but for me it is one more reason to ponder how much there is that we think we know that is going to change dramatically as we continue to explore and discover.

I once had a co-worker send me a random IM out of the blue that simply asked “How do you feel about dinosaurs?”  and that was hands down the best cold-open to a conversation I’ve ever experienced. Enough so that I stole it and started using it with other people when conversations hit lulls.  One person answered that his favorite dinosaur was the Pterodactyl.  Did you know that Pterodactyls (and other Pterosaurs) and prehistoric water creatures like Plesiosaurs and Elasmosauruses aren’t actually dinosaurs?  They’re animals that lived at the same time as dinosaurs. But they aren’t dinosaurs.  I remember telling my sister that when I was 6 (maybe 7, but I think 6), and her arguing and my defense being “my teacher told me.” There was no google back then so she never believed me and made fun of me for the next decade saying that any time I told a lie I backed it up with “my teacher told me”…. well, my teacher told me, and she was right.  Does it matter a lot outside the scientific community? Probably not, but it’s one more misconception that people still hold onto (the person who said Pterodactyls were his favorite dinosaur was a good 10 years younger than me.)

I stopped asking the “How do you feel about dinosaurs?” question when I asked a very religious friend who responded “I don’t believe in them.”  and this thought was so brand new to me that I think I just blinked at him and the conversation fell entirely flat.  The idea of not believing in something that there was actual physical evidence of had just never occurred to me.  I wish I could re-have that conversation with him, because he’s not stupid and not crazy and having had time to process it I have a million questions I wish I would’ve asked, but his new wife doesn’t let him talk to me anymore cause oh no I’m a girl -_-

I have always just assumed that the not believing in dinosaurs ties in with the being ultra-Christian, and that’s possible, but I’d have liked to ask and to discuss things like the Behemoth in the book of Job, and the Leviathan featured in both Job and Psalms.  Obviously there are other possible explanations for these things, but as the website linked to describes, there aren’t modern animals that REALLY fit the description of the creatures described.  Similarly, there are dinosaurs depicted all over the place in the art of the ancient world. How did ancient people know about the existence of dinosaurs?  Undoubtedly some are forgeries, but they can’t all be, some are built into ancient structures in ways that can’t be forged.  Can we assume that ancient people around the world were finding full body fossilized dinosaurs and putting together art and myths based on them?  Are they responsible for all of the worldwide myths of encounters with dragons? What precisely did Saint Columba encounter in Loch Ness?

Even modern folklore depicts “flying snakes” so common in Wales that they were hunted like foxes for being a menace to chicken coops.  In Karl Shuker’s book From Flying Toads to Snakes With Wings he quotes first hand accounts of people who saw these creatures both alive and dead, and who had their hides in the family as trophies but they were common enough to have been discarded after the death of whoever was proud of their kill.  Is it possible that dinosaurs and other prehistoric counterparts lived far longer than we believe they did, and that largely their bones were ground and used for magical or “medicinal” purposes like so many other animals have been throughout human history, but there are some waiting to be discovered in some remote section of the world?  Is it possible that some dinosaur species still survive in even more remote sections of the world?

I’m not saying that they DO.  It’s certainly possible and hugely supported that that comet came along and wiped out the big and the small and the undersea and in the air all the same and they were all long gone by the rise of man.  But to quote Donald Rumsfeld “There are known known. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.”  I think most of the world thinks of dinosaurs as fitting in the “known known” category, but in the end we are still just working with theories, and we are still making discoveries, and I think there’s more left in the “unknown unknown” category than we can imagine.

What are your thoughts?  Do we know everything there is to know about the history of dinosaurs in the big picture? Did it all end in a big cloud of dust?

A word about music:  We include songs for a reason.  Music helps us deal with the world, helps to soothe the soul, and gives us something else we can focus on when everything is too much.  Listen to the songs we post. Even if you already know them. Listen to them like you don’t. Pay attention to the lyrics. Pay attention to what the instruments are telling you. They all have a message, they all have a purpose, they’re all chosen for a reason.  If you like the song, please support the artist by purchasing the MP3 or Album that features it.
Today’s music can be found on
MP3: Dinosaur
Album: Habits Old & New

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When I Dip, You Dip, We Dip

The True Sign of Maturity

Remember back in the post about how to sleep well where I talked about snacking throughout the day so you don’t over eat at dinner and go to bed with a heavy stomach?  That was a tiny portion of the importance of snacks in our everyday lives.  Every healthy diet plan I’ve encountered consists of 3 meals and 2 snacks (and usually a dessert), which sounds like an awful lot of eating, but isn’t so much if it’s done in the proper portions.  Having healthy snacks in between meals gives you more energy and helps you with focus and performance.  They’re super important to replenishing energy after a good work out or trip to the gym.  Choosing healthy snacks helps to meet all of your daily requirements for various nutritional values, and are particularly a strong source for extra fiber, which so many people don’t get enough of and suffer really horrible and painful consequences from.  Snacking also increases metabolism, improves glucose, and controls insulin, all of which helps reduce body weight.

Ideally you want to choose snacks with about 100 calories, and try to change things up so you can get in complex carbs, proteins, healthy fats, and vitamins.  You also want to try to time your snacks to fall halfway between meals.  More than 2/3 of American adults snack twice or more a day, but the problem is that when we’re snacking, we’re snacking on crap.  So today’s project is to make a list of healthy snacks you can use as your go to’s, and prep some in advance to grab throughout the week so you don’t give in to the later temptation of convenience.

Remember to look at serving sizes when portioning out your snacks, but some healthy snack ideas include:

  • Air-Popped Popcorn
  • Apple Slices
  • Baby Carrots
  • Bananas
  • Bean Chips
  • Berries
  • Bran Muffins
  • Carrot and/or Celery Sticks
  • Celery with Laughing Cow Light Cheese
  • Celery with Peanut Butter
  • Cherry or Grape Tomatoes
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Dried Plums
  • Dry Fiber Cereal
  • Edamame
  • Frozen Grapes
  • Hard Boiled Eggs
  • Kale Chips
  • Low-Fat Cheese and Whole Grain Crackers
  • Multi-Grain Waffles
  • Nuts
  • Olives
  • Oranges
  • Pears
  • Protein Bars
  • Protein Drinks
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Sliced Cucumbers
  • Smoothies
  • String Cheese
  • Sugar-Free Jell-o
  • Sugar-Free Popsicles
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Toasted Seaweed
  • Tomato Slices
  • Tuna Salad on Whole-Wheat Crackers
  • Turkey Jerky
  • Wasabi Peas
  • Yogurt

And for today’s “Things You’ll Need” I listed Healthy Snacks with Dip, because just because a snack is healthy doesn’t mean it can’t be luxurious too.  So my trip to the grocery store to stock up on snacks included:

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Fruit with Greek Yogurt to dip it in.  The fruit medley I bought includes kiwi, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries, and I opted for plain yogurt, but flavors that make a good dip for most every fruit include vanilla, peach, and lemon.  Obviously my fruit to yogurt ratio here is disproportionate, but I’m trying to fix a Vitamin D deficiency so I’m working on eating more dairy.

Everything Hummus, Spicy Avocado Hummus, Pita Bread, Rosemary Olive Oil Stone-Ground Wheat Crackers and Classic Round Crackers. Because hummus is amazing.  It’s an awesome source of protein, and with all of that it adds up to fiber and complex carbs too.  The pita bread can be torn or cut into wedges to dip in the hummus and it’s good stuff.  Crudites are also perfect for hummus dipping, I’ll usually opt for baby carrots and/or cucumber slices.

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Veggies and Light Ranch Dressing.  Normally for me this would be broccoli and cauliflower and carrots and celery, but I wasn’t up for a crowded grocery store and hit Whole Foods, but the one by my house is closing down and the produce section is virtually non-existent, so that ended up being a trip to the salad bar and became lunch instead of snacks.

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And because I have heart problems and tomatoes are heart healthy, in addition to spicy-hot being an appetite depressant I opted for chips and salsa which I would not normally deem a healthy snack, BUT if you’re going to do it, this is the healthy way to go about it.  Baked chips instead of fried, sea salt instead of regular (sea salt is lower in sodium), and in addition to the tomato base of the salsa it’s also got black beans and corn, so as far as salsa’s go it’s a healthy one and not high in sugars like many are.

Those are my inspirational ideas for getting together some luxurious but healthy snacks; I look forward to hearing yours!

A word about music:  We include songs for a reason.  Music helps us deal with the world, helps to soothe the soul, and gives us something else we can focus on when everything is too much.  Listen to the songs we post. Even if you already know them. Listen to them like you don’t. Pay attention to the lyrics. Pay attention to what the instruments are telling you. They all have a message, they all have a purpose, they’re all chosen for a reason.  If you like the song, please support the artist by purchasing the MP3 or Album that features it.
Today’s music can be found on
MP3: Da’ Dip (Original)
Album: Controversee…That’s Life…and That’s the Way It Is [Explicit]

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