Happy Newtonmas! and De-evolution

I’m really terribly excited about Newtonmas or Gravmas. I had never heard of it until I looked up Christmas on Wikipedia.

Newton’s birthday is December 25 (though if you adjust the calendar to the current Gregorian, it’s actually January 4… but hey, Jesus wasn’t born on December 25 either…).

The Newtonmas tree is an apple tree (because of the apple that led him to gravitational theory), and presents are supposed to be gifts of Knowledge, like books or DVDs, as long as it contributes to intellectual development.

Everybody sing! Iiiiiiisaac Newton’s coming to town! Iiiiiisaac Newton’s coming to town!…

The De-evolution of The Answer to “What Happened To Your Hand?”

Telling 1: “I was pulling a water glass off the shelf when it slipped and fell. Instinctively, I reached to catch it right as it hit the countertop, but instead rammed my hand into a huge glass shard. Put a big gash in my hand from between the index finger and thumb all the way around my thumb. Blood everywhere. Pretty nasty.”

Telling 23: “I dropped a glass and cut my hand trying to catch it.”

Telling 43: “Nothing.”

25% Crucifixion (or) A Left Handed Christmas

a while back i posted about words you can type with one hand… i believe it was decided to call them qwerds.

here are some left handed qwerds:

erase start red great fart greet qwerd aware

i only bring it up because this afternoon as i was thinking how nice it was to have an afternoon with nothing to do, i dropped a glass. as it fell i grabbed for it, and the glass, my hand, and the counter all collided at an unfortunate time. a huge gush of blood and a pile of gauze later, i was in the emergency room with a huge deep cut going from where the thumb and index finger meet across the palm to the side of the thumb.

and when i say deep, i mean deep. the triage nurse, er nurse and doctor were all light-hearted banter until they actually looked at the cut… and the mood changed to quiet awe. “wow… that’s a really deep cut,” they each said.

“i like to be thorough,” i replied each time.

the doctor was very concerned until he could verify i had not sliced a tendon. apparently the angle of the cut was just right to avoid it.

after four hours and a very uncomfortable procedure involving 12 stitches, the nurse was cleaning me up and giving me instructions not to use the hand until the followup on monday (ordinarily, they would just have me back to cut the stitches out in 10-12 days, but as they kept telling me, it is a very deep cut).

Nurse: so what do you do for a living?
me: i am an engineer.
nurse: oh. well, not this week you aren’t.

so, i’m learning to do things left-handed. did you know that it is possible to lather and rinse your left armpit with your left hand in a pinch? also, i did not know that handedness applied to brushing your teeth.

there are many other side stories to this which slow typing prevents me from chronicling, but one tidbit was my doctor used to be a computer programmer but got out of it because he was being pushed into management. i’m not sure quite what to make of that. i’ll leave it as an exercise for the reader1.

i guess those leaves are going to stay in my gutter for another week. i’m all broken up about it.

1 also a qwerd.

150 Year Old Mystery

Before my grandmother died, my Uncle encouraged her to write out her life
story, which was a very good idea. She wrote about 100 pages of her
history, what life was like growing up on a farm in West Virginia, and as
much family history as she knew.

A couple years ago, I transcribed her handwritten sheets and started doing
some genealogical research to flesh out her descriptions. My eventual
goal would be to put it into book form, with copious annotations and a
comprehensive family tree.

There is a particular relative that she talks about a fair amount, and
that is Henry Dunkle, my great-great-great grandfather.

The story she tells is that he was born to a woman whose name was probably
Sarah Edens (daughter of Edward Edens, Sr., one of the first settlers
there) and a man who may have also been named Henry Dunkle. The father
ran off as soon as he discovered “Sarah” was pregnant. Henry grew up to
be a schoolteacher. He eloped with a 15 year old student in a rowboat
down the Ohio in January. She died from pneumonia 3 days after they were
married. He returned to the Davis Creek area of West Virginia and
continued as a schoolteacher. He is mentioned as being the first county
superintendant of the first Barboursville Free School in a history of the
area in 1867. He married a “distant” cousin, Catherine Edens, and had some
kids. He died during the 1913 flood of the area. His journal he had kept
his entire life was washed away in that flood as well.

So that’s my grandmother’s story.

However, on the web, I found someone who had transcribed all the
tombstones in the Edens and Dunkle cemetary in WV, and it says that Henry
C. Dunkle’s (1838-1913) parents were James and Permilia(?). It also says
that his wife, Mary “Catherine” Edens was the daughter of Edward Edens,

So either he married his aunt and they got his parents wrong on the
tombstone, or my grandmother got some wires crossed.

So, I really want to solve these 150 year old mysteries. Who were Henry’s
parents? Did his father skip town? Who was the 15 year old he eloped
with? Why on earth would the school system hire this guy (who ran off
with one of his students to her eventual demise) to be superintendent?
Were they that hard up for teachers?

And if my grandmother is mixing up her stories, who do the stories
belong to?

My first step was to write a letter to the West Virginia Archives in
Charleston, WV requesting a copy of the West Virginia School
from 1867, which is supposed (according to my grandmother) to
have a picture of Henry and an article about him. Perhaps they have an
explanation of why they hired a pedophile.

Book Log – Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

I quite agree with the description “Harry Potter for adults” that I’d heard about this book.

I’d avoided reading this book because I had been given a recommendation by a bookstore person once… “If you like Harry Potter, you’ll love The Thief Lord“, which turned out to be an appallingly bad book. I feared Strange was just another poorly written, pale subsititute hyped to try and catch a little of the Potter sales magic.

But it’s not. It’s very well written, and has a smart humor to it reminiscent of Jane Austen. Set in the early 1800s, it creates an interesting alternate-history where English Magic had died out 200 years prior and chronicles the efforts of two new magicians to bring it back.

I should be surprised if a movie doesn’t come along eventually.

The fire is going to sleep, just like me.

There’s something haunting about the quote in the subject line. Which, of course, came from Roan tonight.

We got a cord of wood delivered today from Georgia Landscape Supply.

Yes, I own a house. Actually, it’s my third. And I have a wife, a job, a child, etc. But there’s something so terribly adult to me about ordering a cord of wood.

And it does make quite a large, imposing pile in the driveway. I simply just can’t wait to beginning labouriously toting it into the back yard, even aided by a wheelbarrow.

But the thing is that the wood is damp. But, excited by the prospect of not having to scavenge for fallen branches in the backyard to make a fire, I tried to get one going anyway. All day I’ve been trying. But it won’t do anything but char and sputter out. My father would have long since dumped motor oil on it to get it going, but that is one of the few ideas where my father and I firmly disagree. Actually, I can’t think of anyone who does agree that there’s nothing like the smell of burning motor oil to make a room nice and cozy. But that’s my father.

So the fire kept dying. Roan became increasingly concerned about it, and even (unfortunately) has overcome his fear of the fire to try to help. That’s also a very adult thing… to have your son take pity on your meager efforts and try to lend his self-professed expertise. Needless to say, I declined his kind offer, and told him to go back to watching Herbie: Fully Loaded1.

So, round about bedtime, I’d given up. I closed the flu and shut the glass doors on the wood stove. And I went to put Roan to sleep.

“What happened to the fire?” he asked, as I turned off the light.
“It’s in the fireplace. It’s gone out.”
“The fire is going to sleep, just like me.”

I know he’s probably not mocking me. But just the same, I’d like that wood to dry pronto.

1Which I liked. I’m a sucker for Herbie movies.

Digital Pack Rat

We’re moving from Lotus Notes to Outlook 2003 here at work today.

My computer has been archiving Lotus emails for something like 2 hours now. The IT people are appalled that I don’t delete email.

IT Guy: (looking at the ongoing archive) Ah, well that’s the sent box. People rarely delete anything in their sent box, so it usually takes
a while to do the archiving.
Me: I never delete anything. In any box.
IT Guy: What?
Me: I have a bad memory, so I never delete anything in case I need to go back and remember what was going on.
IT Guy: (stares in horrified silence)
Me: So this might take a while, huh?
IT Guy: (more horrified silence)
Me: Okay.
IT Guy: (dies)

In other news, today’s conspiracy theory:

: By the same token, I’ll have one extra trivia game this month.
: December has five Thursdays, not four.
: Such inconsistency. Those dweebs who invented the calendar have got something comin’ to them.
: It isn’t their fault the Earth’s orbit is 365 1/4 days long.
: Yes it is.
: They don’t control angular momentum.
: You know this?
: Did you ASK them?
: Well…uh…
: I mean, people don’t…
: Okay, no. I haven’t asked them.
: I’m beginning to think you may be involved as well, seeing as you’re so hot to defend them.
: I have a list of 49 card carrying angular momentum controllers… and you may be on it.
: :-S