Monday, July 31, 2006

The Ilio-Tibial Band

I stole this from somewhere. The "band of connective tissue" is aka a tendon.

What exactly is the iliotibial band? It's not a jazz group whose members tap in time to their music with their tibias. The central feature of the iliotibial band is a key muscle, the tensor fascia lata, which runs down the outside of the thigh just below the hip. Like all muscles, the tensor fascia lata has a band of connective tissue at each end which bind it to bone. The upper band merely ascends vertically a short distance to attach at the top of the hip (thus the name ilio-), but the lower one runs all the way down the side of the thigh before attaching to the lateral side of the tibia, just below the knee (hence the name -tibial).

Overall, the iliotibial band scoots down the outside of the leg from the hip to below the knee, kind of like a broad stripe in one's 'musculo-tendinous uniform'. If you're curious about the muscle's name, the word 'tensor' means 'makes tense', 'fascia' means 'band', and 'lata' signifies 'wide', providing a pretty accurate description of the characteristics of this key muscle.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Sheba poses

Sometimes cats just know they look good! Posted by Picasa

25 Years With My Wife

So we celebrated our 25th anniversary with little fanfare and no blogging, which really reflects the fact that we've been so busy. We got away for a couple of days, saw a RS game (who goes to a RS game on their 25th? We do!), and had a lovely ride home on Route 2, reacquainting ourselves with some old haunts, and, in general, recharging some tired old batteries. But I want to say just a word about having been married for 25 years to the woman of my dreams.

Problem is, I can't put my finger on the perfect word. Thrilling and ecstatic are too transitory in meaning. Thrills and ecstacy don't last very long. Blissful is hackneyed, and bliss isn't really what it's all about anyway. I do like "tickled pink", but it doesn't do justice to 25 years.

It may be that "fulfilled" is the proper term. I get a feeling of tremendous satisfaction in knowing that we've been married for 25 mostly happy years. I'm very proud, in fact, that we've accomplished this, and very, very pleased with the place at which we've arrived after what has been a long journey. I think I'm fulfilled.

And now my wife has spent an entire week working like the devil to pull off a party for the boys. Through it all she's remained cheerful, mostly, and lovely to look at. I stand in awe, and I give thanks for my incredible good fortune.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Wal-Mart goes off the deep end

This was sent to us via e-mail by a person we know well. My heart is broken.


Last October, Walmart CEO H. Lee Scott pledged to transform his sprawling company, which employs 1.8 million people worldwide and ranks No. 2 on the Fortune 500 list, into a lean green machine powered exclusively by renewable energy, producing zero waste, and selling sustainable products. Those goals are so lofty they sound downright deluded, but Scott has followed them up with specific, seemingly achievable commitments and timetables. He aims, for example, to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions at Wal-Mart's existing stores and distribution centers 20 percent by 2012, and invest $500 million in environmental improvements each year.

Andy Ruben, Wal-Mart's vice president for corporate strategy and sustainability, reasons that the 100 percent renewable-energy goal could be met largely with greater efficiencies. "We can use 70 percent less energy to do what we're doing today, and supply the rest with renewables," Ruben suggested at last week's meeting.

The gathering brought forth more green goals from divisions throughout the company. In the area of seafood, Wal-Mart is working with the World Wildlife Fund to identify, and purchase exclusively from, sustainable fisheries. It's moving toward organic cottons in its apparel and bedding lines. The jewelry division is developing a sustainable certification program for the gold mines it works with, and exploring outlets for recycled gold. The transportation division is planning to double the efficiency of its truck fleet, one of the largest in the U.S., within a decade. The construction division is developing prototype stores that are 30 percent more energy-efficient than current stores, and the company also aims to improve efficiency at existing stores by 20 percent. The packaging department is working to eliminate its waste stream by 2015, using reusable, recycled, and biodegradable containers.

The produce division is ramping up its organic offerings, and plans to move toward more local farm purchases in order to save money on truck fuel costs and refrigeration. Ron McCormick, an executive in Wal-Mart's produce division, said he plans to purchase a broader variety of produce based on what's available in each region, rather than insisting on a "monoculture" of produce at stores nationwide. "Our whole focus is: How can we reduce food-miles?"

These internal aims aside, Scott said Wal-Mart's most meaningful environmental impact will be in nudging its 60,000 suppliers toward more eco-friendly practices -- working with them, for instance, to reduce packaging, which in turn would mean fewer raw materials consumed, less energy expended in transit, and, in the end, lower prices for consumers. "Ninety percent of the impact Wal-Mart can have is on the supply chain," he said.

Wal-Mart's Ruben, who this spring testified before a Senate committee in favor of federal greenhouse-gas regulations, also acknowledged that in addition to the 23 million tons of CO2 equivalent that Wal-Mart emits each year, there are an estimated 220 million tons of annual greenhouse-gas emissions in the company's supply chain.

Scott's grand goal, as he explained it in an interview with Grist this spring, is to "democratize sustainability." To wit: He wants to use Wal-Mart's unparalleled economies of scale to put everything from organic T-shirts to compact fluorescent light bulbs to pesticide-free foods within reach of the masses.

Of course, he believes this green push will make the company money. "The benefits of the strategy are undeniable, whether you look through the lens of greenhouse-gas reduction or the lens of cost savings. What has become so obvious is that [a green strategy] provides better value for our customers."

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Games 2 & 3

The game was great, again, with the Sox taking an early lead and then almost blowing it before cracking the game wide open in the 8th, sending all the Oakland fans home early. I predicted a Trot Nixon homerun in his first at bat, and in his 2nd he broke his 0 for 126 at bat streak.

One thing you never see at home is Papelbon warming up. It's especially noticeable in Oakland, as the bullpen is along the side of the field. If the Sox have a lead, Papelbon is up and moving around in the 6th, stretching his legs and jogging a little in the 7th, and waving his arms all around in the 8th. He starts throwing nearly 3 innings after he starts stretching. The Oakland fans mocked him a little bit, mimicking his frantic arm swings and twisting torso.

The Oakland fans were a little less hospitable last night. The frustration with their teams performance and with the number of Sox fans in the stands was palpable. One guy in our section kept chanting durogatory things about New England, including "Chappaquiddick," which I probably just butchered. The guy behind me leaned forward and said "Trot Nixon is gay, you shouldn't wear his jersey, 'cause he's gay." Trot then walked in a run and blew past a stop sign to score from first on a double, which is a very gay thing to do. The Sox won convincingly and all the As fans had gone home by the 9th.

Today's game was less exciting. We got there early for batting practice and Root Beer Float Day, but the Sox skipped BP. We watched Foulke throw a side session from about 15 feet away. He threw ~30 pitches, and he and Nipper seemed pleased with it. He's due to come off the DL next week. Ruth got Jermaine Van Buren to sign my ticket, but I let her keep it. Because it just didn't mean that much to me. In the game, Haren and the As offense managed to appease the As fans, who seemed to have forgotten that they got spanked in the first two games.

Tomorrow morning I'm on an early plane to the east coast, where i'll be visiting some friends before joining the Frey family on Cape Cod for a few days.

What a lightning strike looks like

This happened last night during an intense storm, with the most horrific simultaneous flash and crack and smash that I think any of us have ever heard. The result: the living room TV is fried, as are the satellite TV, a fencer at the barn, and the phone lines in the house and the barn. My office phone line, oddly enough, is fine -- possibly because I just ran that line through a new battery backup system that also kept my computer running without interruption, or possibly just because lightning is a flakey thing.

We don't know where the lightning actually hit -- it may not have been the house itself. It could have been a telephone pole or somewhere on the garage or the barn. We may never know. Whatever it was, those of us in the kitchen did not seem to hear quite as loud an impact (although it was plenty loud) as did Laura and Jason, up in her room -- Jason said he had trouble hearing for a few moments afterward. Everyone is fine, though, and glad that nothing worse happened.

One result is that we did not see last night's RS game and won't see tonight's either -- the DirectTV people aren't coming to fix the system until tomorrow. So, Caleb, we can neither watch for you nor record the games. :-( Please give us especially detailed reports!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Game 1

Zito vs. Beckett was a pretty intriguing matchup, even though the last time the two faced each other the Sox were pummelled 15-3. We had great seats, halfway between first base and right field, about 25 rows behind the Sox bullpen, and were very excited. Beckett did not disappoint, though the Sox bats quickly ended what could have been a great pitchers' duel. Gonzalez hit the first home run, and was really the star of the game. He got to field many ground balls and start a couple of double plays, which were all "ooooh" inspiring for the crowd, which was overwhelmingly full of Red Sox fans. Papi's home run was an absolute laser. I thought it was a single or a lineout to right and it just kept going. He also pegged a foul ball off of the wall above us, which landed about 10 seats away. There were two young A's fans in front of me who grew more and more dejected as the game went on (it was the only game they were going to all season!), so I was trying to get them a foul ball as a souvenir but had no luck.

Tonight: Schilling vs. some rookie. On paper it sounds like a lopsided matchup, but the Sox bats often struggle with young pitchers. Tonight and Wednesday we're in less wonderful seats, but Wednesday is Root Beer Float day (Free Floats Served By Local Celebrities!) and $1.00 hotdog day, so the game will be second fiddle to the food.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Having fun with Google Earth

The arrow is approximate, but close.

Tickets in Hand!

If you wanna see where we'll be sitting, go to:

find the number 24 and follow it toward home plate. When you reach the little purple section, stop. That's us.

Life is good.

Dear Caleb,

I'm having fun at summer camp.

We have bath time . . .

. . . and naptime . . .

. . . and nature study.

I am making new friends . . .

Posted by Picasa
. . . but I miss you. Come back soon!


Wednesday, July 12, 2006


I was granted a medical waiver for my flat feet so I am no longer disqualified from NROTC. Phew!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Queen Sheba

After 10PM, if you go upstairs, Sheba tries to drag you into Caleb's room. She runs toward the room, looking back to make sure you are following. She wants you to lie on the bed so she can lie down, too. Weird cat. Plays fetch, too.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Frontiernet Freebies. But not Completely.

So Frontiernet, our DSL provider, sends a solicitation that says we can have internet security software "free!" just for being a DSL customer. It may have said somewhere in it that there were caveats, but I no longer have the original. I sign up and download the software and a couple of months later see that we're getting billed $4.95 a month for "Internet Security Software". Great. It said free. VERY clearly. Cassie calls, holds for awhile, and then gets a rep who says, "You're right!" and supposedly issues a credit and it's free again. A few weeks later I notice that I'm not getting updates. Cassie calls again and is told this time that we have to have a one-year commitment to get it for free, otherwise there is a "nominal" fee which turns out to be $60 a year! In the newest version of the e-mail you get when you sign up, it states clearly that it is free in the first paragraph. Only if you scroll through the whole thing do you reach the point where you find out that it isn't, in fact, free.

In a fit of pique, I dashed off a couple of lines to Customer support, and got back a couple of lines from Fred T, who was gracious enough to point out how stupid I was to think that the service they said was free, was free!

My first e-mail:

This email says the virus protection is free. Then you start billing us for it. Then we call and you say it was a mistake, and it's free. But instead you take us off it altogether leaving us with no virus protection. If you don't fix the contents of this email, which says it is free, you'll be hearing from us again.

Thomas F. Murphy
Stornaway Jerseys
Earlville, NY 13332

Fred T's reply:
> --
> To Thomas F. Murphy
> Thank you for contacting Internet Technical Support.
> The email clearly states near the bottom you must be signed up for at
> least a "one year term" contract to get this product completely free...
> Hope this helps,
> Fred
> Tier 2
> Frontier, A Citizens Communication Co.

My reply:


Oh, "completely" free! As opposed to partially free?

So by arguing with me, are you saying I'm stupid because I didn't see where it said clearly "near the bottom" (in very fine print and nothing to tell you to read the fine print at the bottom) that you must be signed up for a one year term? Or is it possible that it isn't so clear? Is it possible that where it says AT THE TOP that the service is free is not more than a little deceptive? Do YOU like doing business with people who offer you something for free and then tell you, "Oh it's not free, but the price is nominal", and then the price truns out to be $60 a year?

Here's the leading paragraph from your e-mail:

"Thank you for being a FrontierNet customer and taking advantage of "Frontier Secure Connections," our FREE security software provided by FrontierNet and Computer Associates International, Inc. (CA). Frontier Secure Connections features Firewall, Anti-Virus, Anti-Spam, and Spyware detection and prevention."

It states, clearly, that it is free. It doesn't say "free, but not for you", or "free, but read the fine print at the bottom." It says, "FREE". If it's not free, why does the e-mail state, AS CLEAR AS A BELL, that it is free?

And if it's so clear to you that it doesn't, why were we told by your own employee that it was a mistake that we were charged for the service, that we would receive a credit and it would be free from then on? And, on top of that, why was the service removed without any notification from you leaving our computers unprotected! And we had the privilege of spending half an hour on hold while waiting to resolve the situation.

And because you were nice enough to point out what an idiot I am because I thought that the service that you said was free was free, I've decided to put your e-mails on our blog.

BTW, the first rule of customer relations is: Never argue with the customer.

Thomas F. Murphy
Stornaway Jerseys
Earlville, NY 13332

Farm Losses

I spend very little time feeling sorry for farmers. Most are their own worst enemies. But the truth is that it's a tough business. We have all the farmers we need, and it's a mature industry, so margins are thin and tenuous. The good farmers grow and prosper, but many others are left behind. The floods have put many farmers through a special kind of hell, with flooded barns and fields. Unless these farms are well-capitalized, which is extremely unlikely, they will lose hundreds of thousands of dollars, and likely have to sell. Read:

Luke gets his diploma

. . . while Caleb talks to Alan Ingerto and Mom takes a picture. (Look closely.)

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

It was Thirty Years Ago Today...

that Mom and I met on the porch of the dining hall at Wagon Road Camp. She was Arts and Crafts Specialist, and had been there for the first three weeks. I hadn't planned on going to camp that year, preferring to stay in Hamp and wallow. But there had been problems in Orange Cabin in the first encampment (the cabin leader left for a day off and never came back), and Jan DeGrouchy came to Northampton and begged me to come and rescue Orange cabin. Happily, she was successful, and she drove me to camp, telling me about the terrific new A&C specialist on the way. Meanwhile, Mom was hearing about how Tom Murphy was coming to save Orange Cabin. So, we were aware of each other when we met. I can't figure out whether the porch of the dining hall at Wagon Road Camp seems magical to me because we met there or we met there because it was magical.