Winky winky

from the NY Times, Pagan Kennedy (no, not a typo)

“The first line of my obituary is going to mention the smiley face,” says Scott Fahlman, who would rather be remembered for his research into artificial intelligence. But like it or not, Fahlman has become famous for three keystrokes. In 1982, as a young professor at Carnegie Mellon University, he realized the need for a symbol to temper the bickering that plagued online forums. The Internet was just a baby then, and yet already flame wars raged. Fahlman decided that a smiley face could be useful as a “joke marker” (as he called it) to take the sting out of mocking statements or pranks. And so he hunted around the keyboard for a way to make the face. “But what do you use for eyes?” he wondered. Once he found the colon, the rest was easy. He dashed his suggestion off to friends. “I didn’t even proofread the message,” he says.

The emoticon — perhaps one of the first online memes — spread to other campuses, hitching a ride in e-mails. And as the Web expanded in the ’90s, so, too, did the colon-hyphen-parenthesis. “Wherever the Internet went, the smiley face was there within weeks,” Fahlman says. The symbol has endured because it’s a quick way to soothe hurt feelings or express joy. But Fahlman still hears complaints that it is a hallmark of lazy writing. His critics tend to raise questions like “Would Shakespeare have used a smiley face?” Yes, Fahlman says, if Shakespeare were around today, thumb-tapping a screed “about parking at the Globe Theater, he might say something intemperate. And then he might think twice about it and want to use an emoticon.”


Tyler Schnoebelen, who has a Ph.D. in linguistics, analyzed millions of Twitter messages to understand how people use emoticons.

You found that about 10 percent of the tweets in your sample had emoticons in them. Why so many?
In a full paragraph, you might be able to express how you’re feeling. But it becomes harder in a tweet, where you only have a few words.

What is the difference between people who use 🙂 and people who use 🙂 ?
The people who use 🙂 follow a younger set of celebrities. They swear more, and they use spellings like “sooooo” and “loooove.”

What about 😉 ? Is it a flirt?
Yes, we can assume that. It tends to appear near words like “horny,” “attractive,” “hot” and “dirty.” It doesn’t occur near words like “pleasant” or “irritated.” The world of 😉 is sexy.

Do you use emoticons?
Actually, yes, I’ve become a connoisseur of them. I love the :))) — it’s like saying “I’m soooooooo happy.” But I don’t personally use that emoticon, because to me it looks like someone with multiple chins. And over the last year, I’ve been using the 😉 a lot.

So now that you’ve finished this research on the emoticon, you’re ;)-ing a lot?
Yes, now I do more flirting.


Western-style emoticons often read from left to right, as “sideways faces.” Japanese thumb-typists, meanwhile, have invented their own system.

m(_ _)m

Bowing down in apology






Wearing headphones







more …

o(`ω´ )o


Very Upset



I still can’t get over how much faster time goes by these days.  Draw a breath in, K is zombie walking, blow it out, she’s running faster than I can. Granted, that’s not saying much, but we’re talking about time here, not physical prowess.

I’ve been meaning to put a Gone Fishin’ sign on this website for months now.  Anyone who cared figured out long ago that I wasn’t updating, and I’m blaming time for it.  Thanksgiving is this week and I spent all day dithering with recipes and NOT getting to the store to buy the bird. Wasted time.  I’m in that ‘I can’t stand people especially if they are pushing shopping carts’ frame of mind; dangerous to those expecting not only dinner tonight but all the rest of the week, too.  On a positive note, I DID take a shower and put on clothes, just in case I could talk myself into launching The Season. It is a measure of my fugue state to note that I am updating this page rather than do something, anything else.  That’s bad.

We’d best go out for dinner tonight, and maybe after I can con Bob into going to the grocery store with me.  I’ll use him as a human shield.


GMO labeling is on the upcoming ballot …

Hyperactive Children? Banish Synthetic Dyes from Their Diet

A new study published in the British journal Lancet found that all children—whether they’re predisposed to hyperactivity and attention deficit concerns or not—can be negatively affected by synthetic food dyes. The problem for American parents is the FDA, while acknowledging the connection between hyperactivity and synthetic dyes, missed out on the chance to force food producers to clearly label products that contain these dyes.

So what are parents to do? Well, despite having no big warnings on the front of the label, you can still read the nutrition facts and ingredient list to watch out for these common additives: Yellow #5, Yellow #6, Blue #1, Blue #2, Green #3, BHT, TBHQ and BHA. On the flip-side, you can try to boost your child’s intake of the omega-3 fatty acid DHA to help promote a better attention span.

Autumn is in the air

And that makes me think of APPLES!  I haven’t hit Apple Hill yet, maybe next weekend if it isn’t still 95 frickin degrees.


Exfoliate with Homemade Apple Bath Soap

Packed with flavor and antioxidants, apples are a traditional harbinger of autumn in many parts of the country. Of course, they can be used for so many culinary delights, but fresh apple juice also acts as an astringent on our skin. How? Apples are full of malic acid, which is the key ingredient in removing dead cells from the outer layer of skin. Malic acid is also known to help soothe sore muscles. You can relax your muscles and exfoliate your skin in this homemade Apple Bath soak recipe from The Herb Quarterly:

Apple Bath
1 cup fresh apple juice
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup liquid castile soap
1/4 cup ground cinnamon

To prepare: Stir all the ingredients together and pour into a clean jar.

To use: Shake container to mix any settled ingredients. Pour 1/4 to 1/2 cup into the tub under running water. Store remaining mixture in the refrigerator. Makes 12 ounces.

Source: The Herb Quarterly

You put your right foot out …

The following is from the Washington Post Style Invitational contest that asked readers to submit “instructions” for something (anything), but written in the style of a famous person. The winning entry was The Hokey Pokey (as written by William Shakespeare).

O proud left foot, that ventures quick within
Then soon upon a backward journey lithe.
Anon, once more the gesture, then begin:
Command sinistral pedestal to writhe.
Commence thou then the fervid Hokey-Poke,
A mad gyration, hips in wanton swirl.
To spin! A wilde release from Heavens yoke.
Blessed dervish! Surely canst go, girl.
The Hoke, the poke — banish now thy doubt
Verily, I say, ’tis what it’s all about.
— by “William Shakespeare”

Nora Ephron, RIP

Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.

My mother wanted us to understand that the tragedies of your life one day have the potential to be the comic stories the next.

Summer bachelors, like summer breezes, are never as cool as they pretend to be.

When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.

When your children are teenagers, it’s important to have a dog so that someone in the house is happy to see you.

I try to write parts for women that are as complicated and interesting as women actually are.

The amount of maintenance involving hair is genuinely overwhelming. Sometimes I think that not having to worry about your hair anymore is the secret upside of death.
All from Nora Ephron, 1941 – 2012

She was an amazing woman, putting her finger on the pulse of a generation of people who wanted, above all else,  to be deeply in love.

Tree of Life

What a cool project! I hope they share!

Assembling, Visualizing and Analyzing a Tree of All Life
National Science Foundation (06/04/12) Cheryl Dybas

The U.S. National Science Foundation’s (NSF’s) Assembling, Visualizing, and Analyzing the Tree of Life (AVAToL) program aims to build a comprehensive tree of life that brings together everything scientists know about how all species are related.

The researchers are creating the infrastructure and computational tools to enable automatic updating of the tree of life, as well as developing the analytical and visualization tools to study it. Assembling the branches for all species of animals, plants, fungi and microbes will require new computational tools for analyzing large data sets, for combining diverse kinds of data, and for connecting vast numbers of published trees into a synthetic whole. AVAToL will enable researchers to go online and compare their trees to others that have already been published.

The goal is to automatically incorporate new trees, so the complete tree can be continuously updated. The three NSF-funded AVAToL projects are Duke University’s Automated and Community-Driven Synthesis of the Tree of Life, the University of Idaho’s Arbor: Comparative Analysis Workflows for the Tree of Life, and SUNY-Stony Brook’s Next Generation Phenomics for the Tree of Life.

RIP Ray Bradbury

From now on I hope always to stay alert, to educate myself the best I can. But lacking this, in the future I will relaxedly turn back to my secret mind and see what it has observed when I thought I was sitting this one out. We never sit anything out. We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.

We are the miracle of force and matter making itself over into imagination and will. Incredible. The Life Force experimenting with forms. You for one. Me for another. The Universe has shouted itself alive. We are one of the shouts.

I don’t describe the future. I try to prevent it.

You must live feverishly in a library. Colleges are not going to do any good unless you are raised and live in a library every day of your life.

Write only what you love, and love what you write. The key word is love. You have to get up in the morning and write something you love, something to live for.

My stories run up and bite me in the leg — I respond by writing down everything that goes on during the bite. When I finish, the idea lets go and runs off.

Why would you clone people when you can go to bed with them and make a baby? C’mon, it’s stupid.
All from Ray Bradbury, 1920 – 2012