For the last several days, the aquarium has been looking a bit cloudy. When I first noticed it, I peered into the sump, that 30-gallon tank housed in the aquarium stand that serves as a filtration unit for the entire system. The water in it was bubbling along, and looked clear. How odd, I thought, and promptly forgot about it.
Two days later, yesterday, I noticed that the cloudiness had not gone away. If anything, it appeared to be getting worse. So I looked into the sump again. In the water, nestled against the pipe that brings water back in from the tank, was one of the under-cabinet stick on fluorescent foot-long lights. Ack!
After my momentary panic, I remembered that those two lights were battery-operated and not electric. No power cord was attached. The lights are those slim fluorescent tube ones, with double-stick tape Velcro attachments. The idea is to stick the Velcro under the cabinet, and then you can easily take the light down to replace the batteries. All eight of them. Each.
I opened the other side of the stand to check on the other light. It was also in the sump, next to the outflow pipe, the one that shuttles water back into the aquarium.
Certainly those lights weren't good for the tank and were probably the cause of the cloudy water. I hesitated to pull them out, unsure if the whole water-electric-cord thing applied to battery fixtures.
I called Harry. He told me it would be okay to pull them out, since they weren't plugged in. I told him if I suddenly stopped talking, he should call an ambulance, and thought how we'd make a lovely "dropped call" cell phone commercial.
When I picked the first light out of the sump, it retaliated by dumping out a bunch of really black water. I tried to stop some of it from going back into the sump water by cupping my hand under the flow and rushing to the kitchen sink. All that black water didn't look healthy in my hand, either, so I hurried to clean it off. Then I went back to get the other light, which did the same thing.
I don't remember saying goodbye or when I hung up the phone with Harry.
I checked the tank and the water was really cloudy. All that black water wasn't a good addition. My hand ached, likely a psychological result of having all that icky water in it. I went into the bedroom and did something. (I can't remember what.)
When I came out again, the living room reeked of rotten eggs. Where did that come from? The only change was the lights were out of the sump and in the kitchen sink. Contrary to popular belief, the dog does not smell that bad. The lights, it had to be the lights. I scurried to remove them from the sink and put them outside. Then I opened all the house windows and the back door into the garage (and the door from the garage to the backyard, which let in a decent breeze).
The air in the house cleared and the aquarium water began to clear, too. I called my aquarium guy who told me to put carbon bags into the sump so I called Harry back and had him stop by the pet shop to get some.
Today, the water is much clearer, though we might lose some coral. All the fish are looking fine. Even I survived, though I'm not sure I deserved to. Who knew salt water and batteries made hydrogen sulfide gas? Good thing it smells badly.
Perhaps I should have paid better attention in chemistry class.
Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting.
--Franklin D. Roosevelt
A couple days ago I watched an older movie titled The Collector. I found it to be extremely weird, yet the characters came across (to me) as perfectly understandable. I am now tempted to buy the book upon which the movie was based,
The Collector is a 1965 American psychological thriller film based on the 1963 novel The Collector by John Fowles and filmed at various locations in England. The film was adapted by Stanley Mann and John Kohn and was directed by William Wyler, who turned down The Sound of Music to do it. It starred Terence Stamp and Samantha Eggar.
Fake art can be detected because of nuclear bombs. Strontium-90 and cesium-137 are isotopes that didn't exist in nature before nuclear explosions, so any piece of artwork containing these elements that's supposed to me made before 1945 is a forgery.
On this day in 1994, Susan Smith reported that she was carjacked in South Carolina by a man who took her car with her two small children in the backseat. Although authorities immediately began searching for three-year-old Michael and one-year-old Alex, they could find no trace of them or of Smith's car. After nine days of intense national media attention, Smith finally confessed that the carjacking tale was false and that she had driven her Mazda into the John D. Long Lake in order to drown her children. Apparently, Susan was involved with another man who did not want children, and she thought that killing her children was the only way to continue the relationship. She was convicted on two counts of murder and sentenced to life in prison.
WORD FOR TODAY
democracy [dih-MOK-ruh-see] noun
Democracy is a form of government in which all eligible citizens are meant to participate equally -- either directly or, through elected representatives, indirectly -- in the proposal, development and establishment of the laws by which their society is run.
Michael Boatman is an American actor and writer. He is best known for his roles as New York City mayoral aide Carter Heywood in the ABC sitcom Spin City, as U.S. Army Specialist Samuel Beckett in the ABC drama series China Beach, and as sports agent Stanley Babson in the HBO comedy series Arli$$.
Tracy Nelson is an American actress, writer, and cancer survivor. She is a fifth-generation performer. Her great-grandparents were Hazel Dell (née McNutt) and Roy Hilliard Snyder vaudeville performers. Their daughter was her paternal grandmother Harriet Nelson, the star of the long-running sitcom The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. Her parents were Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Ricky Nelson and actress / artist Kristin Nelson. Her paternal grandparents are Ozzie and Harriet Hilliard Nelson, whose television show The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet is represented in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C.
The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.
"The difficulty of literature is not to write, but to write what you mean."
--Robert Louis Stevenson
Did You Know . . .?
Jets leave a white trail across the sky for the same reason you can see your breath in winter.
On this day in 2003 the super sonic Concorde jet made its last commercial passenger flight, traveling at twice the speed of sound from New York City's John F. Kennedy International Airport to London's Heathrow Airport . The British Airways jet carried 100 passengers, including actress Joan Collins, model Christie Brinkley, and an Ohio couple who reportedly paid $60,000 on eBay for two tickets. The sleek, delta-winged planes could make the trip from New York to London in around three and a half hours, traveling at 1,350 miles per hour. Tragically, on July 25, 2000, an Air France jet crashed after takeoff from Paris and 113 people died.
Citing rising operating costs and reduced ticket sales, British Airways retired its Concorde fleet in October 2003. Air France, the only other Concorde carrier, had permanently grounded its jets in May 2003.
WORD FOR TODAY
decorum [dih-KAWR-uh m] noun
1. dignified propriety of behavior, speech, dress, etc.
2. the quality or state of being decorous; orderliness; regularity.
3. appropriateness of behavior or conduct; propriety
Kevin Kline is an American actor and comedian. He has won an Academy Award and two Tony Awards, and is a 2003 American Theatre Hall of Fame inductee and won Best Actor in a Musical for the 1981 revival of The Pirates of Penzance. He made his film debut opposite Meryl Streep in Sophie's Choice. For his role in the 1988 comedy hit A Fish Called Wanda, he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Other films include The Big Chill, Silverado, Cry Freedom, Dave, The Ice Storm, In & Out, De-Lovely, and My Old Lady.
Katie McGrath is an Irish actress and model. She is best known for playing Morgana in the BBC One television series Merlin. She most recently appeared as Lucy Westenra on the British-American horror drama TV series Dracula,
BD Wong is an American actor. He won a Tony Award for his performance as Song Liling in M. Butterfly. He has also played Dr. George Huang on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Father Ray Mukada on Oz, Dr. John Lee on Awake, Henry Wu in the first Jurassic Park film and the upcoming fourth entry, Jurassic World, and Ngawang Jigme in the movie Seven Years in Tibet.
Literature is the one place in any society where, within the secrecy of our own heads, we can hear voices talking about everything in every possible way.
Watched a new (new to me) TV cop show called The Mysteries Of Laura, starring Debra Messing. You've never viewed it? Don't. It stinks.
Also re-watched last night's PBS Nature special, A Murder Of Crows. Enjoyed it immensely, again. And I learned much.
Here's what TV Guide said about it:
One of the world's most intelligent creatures is highlighted: the crow. The "feathered apes," as one researcher calls them, possess a sophisticated language of 250 calls and at least two dialects. They also can recognize (and remember) human faces, pass knowledge to their offspring and, on an island near New Zealand, use tools (making them one of the few creatures beside humans to do so). Other interesting facts: They mate for life, mourn their dead and raise their young for up to five years.
Later last night, after a week's reading, I finished a curious novel, one that intrigued me greatly. I don't know if I enjoyed reading it or not, but I couldn't stop until I had completed it. It's title is Light From A Distant Star and it was written by Mary McGarry Morris. If you have never read any of her work, I strongly recommend you do so soon, starting with this one.
Did You Know . . .?
The lunula(little moon in Latin), is the crescent-shaped whitish area of the bed of a fingernail or toenail.
The lunula is located at the end of the nail (that is closest to the skin of the finger), but it still lies under the nail.
On this day in 1998, Doctor Barnett Slepian was shot to death inside his home in Amherst, New York, by an anti-abortion radical, marking the fifth straight year that a doctor who was willing to perform abortions in upstate New York and Canada had been the victim of a sniper attack. Investigators in both Canada and the United States believe that James Charles Kopp, known among abortion opponents as "Atomic Dog," was responsible for Slepian's murder. In March 2001, the authorities caught up with Kopp in Europe, and he was extradited from France on the condition he would not receive the death penalty. On May 9, 2003, he was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.
WORD FOR TODAY
charisma [kuh-RIZ-muh] noun 1. Theology: a divinely conferred gift or power. 2. a spiritual power or personal quality that gives an individual influence or authority over large numbers of people. 3. the special virtue of an office, function, position, etc., that confers or is thought to confer on the person holding it an unusual ability for leadership, worthiness of veneration, or the like.
Ryan Reynolds is a Canadian film and television actor. Reynolds is known for playing Michael Bergen on the ABC sitcom Two Guys and a Girl, Billy Simpson in the YTV Canadian teen soap opera Hillside, as well as Marvel Comics characters Hannibal King in Blade: Trinity and Wade Wilson in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. He has starred in films such as Serving in Silence: The Margarethe Cammermeyer Story, National Lampoon's Van Wilder, Finder's Fee, Just Friends, Definitely, Maybe, The Proposal, The Amityville Horror, The Change-Up, Smokin' Aces, Adventureland, Buried, and Safe House.
Nancy Grace is an American legal commentator, television host, television journalist, and former prosecutor. She frequently discusses issues from what she describes as a "victims' rights" standpoint, with an outspoken style that has brought her both praise and criticism.
Dwight Yoakam is an American singer-songwriter, actor and film director, most famous for his pioneering country music. Popular since the early 1980s, he has recorded more than 21 albums and compilations, charted more than 30 singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts, and sold more than 25 million records. Yoakam has recorded 5 Billboard #1 Albums, 12 Gold Albums, and 9 Platinum Albums, including the Triple Platinum This Time. In addition to his many achievements in the performing arts, Yoakam is also the most frequent musical guest in the history of The Tonight Show.
Kaleena Kiff is an American actress, producer, and director. Kiff is best known for her roles in the sitcoms Love, Sidney and The New Leave It to Beaver. Kaleena is correctly pronounced (kuh-LEE-nuh).
Even the choicest literature should be taken as the condiment, and not as the sustenance of life. It should be neither the warp nor the woof of existence, but only the flowery edging upon its borders.
palliate verb 1. make (a disease or its symptoms) less severe or unpleasant without removing the cause; treatment works by palliating symptoms synonyms: alleviate, ease, relieve, soothe, assuage, moderate, temper, diminish, decrease, blunt, deaden 2. allay or moderate (fears or suspicions). 3. disguise the seriousness or gravity of (an offense); there is no way to excuse or palliate his dirty deed.
"I think literature is best when it's voicing what we would prefer not to talk about."
Did You Know . . .?
Tornadoes are invisible; they are just moving air. What you see are the water droplets that form inside the funnel cloud and the dirt and debris picked up from the ground.
On this day in 1944 two liquid gas tanks explode in Cleveland, Ohio, killing 130 people. It took all of the city's firefighters to bring the resulting industrial fire under control. Laboratory workers at the East Ohio Gas Company had spotted white vapor leaking from the large natural gas tank at the company plant near Lake Erie. The circular tank had a diameter of 57 feet and could hold 90 million cubic feet of the highly flammable gas. Ten minutes later, a massive and violent explosion rocked the entire area. Flames went as high as 2,500 feet in the air. Everything in a half-mile vicinity of the explosion was completely destroyed.
Michelle Bridges is an Australian personal trainer, author and TV personality. She is a trainer on the Australian version of The Biggest Loser, making her first appearance in the second season, in 2007, during which she trained the red team alongside Jillian Michaels.
If you've seen The Secret of NiMH, maybe you remember the scene when the tractor starts. "Aaaaaah!" screams Auntie Shrew. She rushes around, shrieking, "Run! It's Moving Day!" (If you haven't seen it or don't remember, well, then the image won't help you any. Sorry.)
Now I know why she shrieked and ran around in circles.
When lives hang in the balance over a move, it's something to shriek about. And rush. And so it was in alaHouse. That day was Moving Day for our aquarium.
When we originally set it up, we ordered the shorter stand. We wanted to still see that little window into the kitchen from the front room, and this was the only way to do it if the aquarium was to live against that wall. For almost two years, it's been fine.
Then the protein skimmer died. Wedged into the 30 gallon sump within the aquarium stand, there was no way to get it out. We tried replacing pieces, but it's old enough the parts were unavailable. The only way to replace it was to take the aquarium apart.
Since that is such a chore, we decided to replace the stand with a taller one. A much taller one, because if we were going to block that little window, we were going to cover it completely. That led to another question, because the lights in the canopy are so bright. What if the lights were visible from the kitchen? You're not supposed to look into those lights, and if they were there, right above the sink, how could you miss? We had plans to cover that space with stained glass or shelving or both, if that was the case.
The guy that services my tank showed up around 9am. One of his co-workers (from the pet shop they work for) showed up just after 10am. The dismantle and setup process took the entire day; about twelve hours. They had estimated six, but they didn't realize the entire infrastructure had been glued. Most aquarium people use Teflon tape and threaded connections, but the guys who set up the aquarium originally used some kind of blue glue. On just about everything. So this time, the guys had to hacksaw the pieces apart and rebuild them. Not a quick process, since they were very careful with everything. They didn't want any damage, or any leaks.
I missed most of the disassembly due to a conference call. Before the phone rang, I watched Greg start taking things out. He had a garbage can for the fish, a garbage can for the rocks, a garbage can for the extra water. He had several kitty litter pans for the coral, the invertebrates and the fish that weren't going back in the tank, plus any extra things that came up. All of these items were new to avoid contamination. Sea life is delicate, and we wanted to avoid stressing them as much as possible. I only got to see the first few rocks moved. Then the call, and when that ended, all that was left in the tank were sand and water.
Though Greg looked carefully, he didn't find our mysterious clicker. (Something clicks in the tank, loudly, and I think whatever it is is responsible for many missing fish and shrimp. I was hoping we could catch it with this move.)
After the water was drained, the guys took things apart. While they were cleaning the tank out front, I cleaned the aquarium corner and wall. Things get dusty when you don't move them for a few years. Then the reassembly began, and I swept the floor about every half hour. The sand got into everything! The hardwood floor would not appreciate having the sand ground into it. (The guys probably think I'm a clean freak or something.)
Finally, the time came to put things back in. I was worried about the fish, who'd been in a garbage can all day, and had a momentary coronary when Greg listed the fish to his buddy. One was missing; my "Fraggle fish," the starry blenny. "What about the blenny?" I asked.
Greg looked at me blankly for a moment. "Was it in there?"
"As of last night," I replied. As one, we turned to look at the garbage can with the fish. Then at the garbage can with the rocks, which didn't have water in it, except for a very small amount in the bottom.
"I didn't see him," said Greg. "He probably hid in a rock."
My poor blenny! I watched the rocks go back in, hoping and dreading to find his poor dried body curled in a hole. We were also taking a second chance for finding the clicker thing. Each rock was picked up and inspected. All visible holes were checked. Drying sea life was removed (mostly pieces of sponge). No clicker. No blenny.
Then when we got down to the small fragment pieces of rock, there was the blenny, swimming around in the five inches or so of water in the bottom of the garbage can. Rescued! I won't ever know if he got lucky by having hid in one of the first rocks to be removed (and therefore in one that was in the water) or if he flopped out after removal to land in the water. It really doesn't matter; he made it!
We found no sign of any clicker thing.
So now it's days later and things have gotten clearer. The water, because we have a new working protein skimmer. The issues, because we also have a thumb-sized glue smear across the front of our tank. The guys say they can remove it, and I asked them if it could happen before our yearly party. We'll see. Other things have gotten clearer, too. The answers, because the view from the kitchen is fine. You cannot see the light bulbs, the aquarium puts a massive amount of light into the kitchen, and the back of the tank is black plexi, so the candles reflect in it wonderfully. And finally, the hearing, because the new chiller is a lot quieter and you can hold conversations in the living room again.
We still have some touch-up work to do, but overall Moving Day was a success. So far, I've not lost any coral or fish, except for the ones I sent away. I've not heard the clicker thing. Everything's still a bit grey, but I think it'll be fine. In a week or so I can start adding things again.
A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it.
In the New York Times Sunday Review, Michael S. A. Graziano, professor of psychology and neuroscience at Princeton, wrote: "I believe a major change in our perspective on consciousness may be necessary, a shift from a credulous and egocentric viewpoint to a skeptical and slightly disconcerting one: namely, that we don’t actually have inner feelings in the way most of us think we do."
Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.
A recent tweet states: "Denver Police warning parents to be on the lookout for pot-laced candy this Halloween."
Paul Rodney McHugh is an American psychiatrist, researcher, and educator. He is University Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the author, co-author, or editor of seven books within his field.
Dr. Paul R. McHugh, the former psychiatrist-in-chief for Johns Hopkins Hospital and its current Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry, said that transgenderism is a "mental disorder" that merits treatment, that sex change is "biologically impossible," and that people who promote sexual reassignment surgery are collaborating with and promoting a mental disorder.
That seems logical and sensible to me. It just makes more sense than does the current 'politically correct' belief that all one has to do is state that he or she is transgendered (even sub-teen children) and then is allowed to use a rest room intended for the opposite sex.
On this day in 1989, the deadliest earthquake to hit the San Francisco area since 1906 struck at 5:04 p.m. and lasted for 15 seconds. The quake measured 7.1 on the Richter scale, and its aftermath was witnessed on live television by millions of people watching the third game of the World Series of baseball between the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland Athletics, held at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. The tremor hit moments before the start of the game, and sportscasters were soon performing the duties of news anchors as they reported on the resulting pandemonium in the stadium. The earthquake killed a total of 63 people, while more than 3,000 others were injured and more than 100,000 buildings were damaged.
WORD FOR TODAY
minim [MIN-uh-m] noun
1. the smallest unit of liquid measure, 1/60 (0.0167) of a fluid dram, roughly equivalent to one drop.
2. Music. a note, formerly the shortest in use, but now equivalent in time value to one half of a semibreve; half note.
3. the least quantity of anything.
4. something very small or insignificant. adjective
6. very small.
Mae Jamison is an American physician and NASA astronaut. She became the first African American woman to travel in space when she went into orbit aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour on September 12, 1992.
Margot Kidder is a Canadian-American actress. She appeared in a wide range of films during the 1970s and 1980s such as Sisters, Black Christmas, The Great Waldo Pepper, The Amityville Horror and Heartaches. She is best known for her role as Lois Lane in four Superman movies opposite Christopher Reeve, beginning with Superman in 1978.
A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.
While watching The News Hour on PBS, I heard a news person describe John Kerry and the Iranian representative being "at loggerheads". Not sure of the phrase's actual meaning, I looked it up.
in stubborn dispute or disagreement. "council was at loggerheads with the government over the grant allocation" synonyms: in disagreement, at odds, at variance, wrangling, quarreling, disagreeing, disputing, locking horns, at daggers drawn, in conflict, fighting, at war; at each other's throats. "the European Union and the United States are at loggerheads over how to reduce greenhouse gases."
The news person probably meant, "No positive results were obtained."
Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.
--John F. Kennedy
The spread of
in the United States
Did You Know . . .?
Beer wasn't considered an alcoholic drink in Russia until 2011. Before that, it was considered a soft drink.
On this day in 1917, the exotic dancer Mata Hari was executed by a French firing squad at Vincennes, outside of Paris, for the crime of espionage. A courtesan as well as a dancer, Mata Hari amassed an impressive catalog of lovers, including high-ranking military officers and political figures from both France and Germany. Under interrogation by French military intelligence, Mata Hari herself admitted that she had passed outdated information to a German intelligence officer.
After a last-minute plea to the French president for clemency was denied, French officers carried out the death sentence on October 15, 1917. Unbound and refusing a blindfold, Mata Hari was shot by a firing squad at the Caserne de Vincennes, an old fort outside Paris.
WORD FOR TODAY
cloaca [klo-AHK-uh] noun
In birds, the cloaca is the terminal chamber of the gastrointestinal and urogenital systems, opening at the vent. The word comes from Latin, and means sewer, derived from cluo, which meant "cleanse".
Birds also reproduce with this organ; this is known as a cloacal kiss. Birds that mate using this method touch their cloacae together, in some species for only a few seconds, sufficient time for sperm to be transferred from the male to the female.
Sarah Ferguson is the former wife of Prince Andrew, Duke of York, the second son of Queen Elizabeth II. Popularly referred to as "Fergie", she is a charity patron, spokesperson, writer, film producer and television personality. Her children, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie of York, are respectively sixth and seventh in line to succeed their grandmother as monarch of 16 independent Commonwealth realms.
Penny Marshall is an American actress, television producer, film producer, television director, and film director. After playing several small roles for television, she was cast as Laverne DeFazio on the sitcom Laverne & Shirley, which ran from 1976 until 1983. Marshall has directed several successful feature films since the mid-1980s, including 1988's Big starring Tom Hanks, Awakenings, A League of Their Own, and The Preacher's Wife. Her older brother is Garry Marshall, a writer whose credits include TV's The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961–1966).