Thursday, August 31, 2006

Taking Christopher

In response to the very unscientific poll I took, I'm posting an essay I wrote for submission to Guideposts. They declined it at the time, saying they didn't have a place for it. Maybe it just wasn't good enough. However, it's a story close to my heart so I'm posting it here anyway. Hopefully, it will touch your heart too.
Taking Christopher

His hair was the color of a new penny, the same color as mine when I was a baby. So tiny and sweet, Christopher* was a perfect fit in our family. My parents and sister felt it too. I hadn’t realized how fast a bond could form with a child. From the very first moment I held him in my arms, I felt like he belonged to me - but he didn’t. In fact I guess most people would just call me the babysitter.

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I met Christopher’s mother in high school. She and I were both seniors, but Kerri* dropped out after only a few months when she discovered she was pregnant. Her parents disowned her and it wasn’t long until she was bouncing from place to place. Kerri and I weren’t great friends. At best, we were acquaintances. In fact, if you had told me then how our lives would be entwined, I wouldn’t have believed you.

High school graduation came and went. I was seventeen, excited and scared. There were so many decisions to make about my future. I was working in the circulation department of our hometown paper, and earning just slightly over minimum wage. I was okay with that; it wasn’t a lifetime job. I was going to go somewhere and be someone who would make a difference. I just hadn’t decided how.

The call came on a Friday evening from one of my oldest girlfriends.

“Are you available to baby-sit overnight? It’s Kerri’s eighteenth birthday and we want to go out and celebrate.”

I paused a moment to think about it. Did I want to give up my Friday night? To be honest, I had nothing better to do. I said, “Sure”, one simple word that would forever change the course of my life.

They dropped him off around six o’clock. Christopher was only three months old and it was the first time I’d met him. I picked him up out of his car seat and felt the strangest sensation hit me right in the heart.

I fell in love with him.

It was late July and the only air conditioning in the house came from the little window units in our bedrooms. I brought up our old cradle from the basement and set it at the end of my bed. Christopher was a good baby with bad colic and I spent the rest of the evening and half the night rocking him and rubbing his little tummy. Saturday I woke up tired but somehow happier than I could explain. The buzz lasted until he went home and a huge hole opened up in my heart.

I didn’t see Christopher or hear from Kerri again for several months. I celebrated my own eighteenth birthday in November. I was promoted to office manager at the newspaper, received a raise that most people would laugh at, and was still debating college. I stayed at my job with the paper because I didn’t know what else to do. It turned out to be a good thing I stuck around. In February I got a call late in the day.

“Circulation this is April, can I help you?”

“Hi, April, this is Kerri.” She sounded nervous.

“Hi, how are you?” I was a little shocked. She’d never called me before.

“I hope it’s okay to call you, your mom gave me your number at work.” The words rushed out.

“Yeah, it’s no problem. What do you need?”

“Will you take Christopher?” The words fell like lead weights. Take him? Did she mean baby-sit?

“Take him?” I parroted the words in slight confusion.

“I’m living in a drug house in Kansas City because I have no where else to go. We’re sleeping on the floor and I’m afraid someone will step on him. I’ll be okay here, but I’m afraid for Christopher. I didn’t know who to call. I opened my address book and your name was the first one I saw. I knew he would be safe with you.” She sounded close to tears.

“Of course I’ll take him. I’ll keep him as long as you need and you can come see him whenever you want.” I didn’t even think twice. My heart answered long before my head could process what was being asked of me.

She brought him to me two days later. I had scrambled around for baby furniture, borrowing a crib from a friend, and set up a nursery in the tiny spare bedroom next to mine. I had shopped for diapers and all the other baby necessities. I was ready, or so I thought.

It didn’t take long to discover that being a mom is a lot harder than I could ever have imagined. I had never felt so much empathy for those that struggle through parent-hood alone and I wasn’t even alone because I still lived at home.

I had an hour for lunch, so I came home to be with Christopher whenever I could. I didn’t go out much either. I took care of him from the time I came home until I left for work again the next day. The flip side was that Christopher became very attached to my mom, whom he called Nana. So, despite investing the time I had, there were times he preferred his Nana to me. It was hard to accept, but she was the one that cared for him during the day so I learned to deal with it. I never once wished that I could take back my promise to care for him.

Christopher lived with us for several months and in that time we helped Kerri to find an apartment and get set up to live on her own. She signed up for welfare and W.I.C.K. and soon took him home to stay with her. That began a pattern that lasted for quite some time. Christopher would live with me for months at a time when Kerri couldn’t take care of them and then when she’d worked things out; she’d take him back.

I never taught Christopher to call me Mama, but he was confused and called me Mama on a fairly regular basis. I corrected him, but deep down it felt good to hear him say it because that’s what I felt like.

I cried every time he left me and worried I might not see him again. Kerri loved Christopher, but she was still struggling and I was worried for his safety. I spent a lot of time praying for him.

I remember the October after we took him in; Christopher was nineteen months old. We had one of the largest snowstorms the Kansas City Metropolitan area had seen in a long time. Our home received over ten inches and so much ice that power lines and trees were snapping like they were made from thread. The electricity was out for three days. It was freezing in the house, with the only source of heat coming from the fireplace in the living room. The first night I dressed Christopher in baby long johns, socks and a heavy, footed sleeper before tucking him in under thermal blankets. He went right to sleep but I couldn’t. I kept going in to check on him and, like every child, he had kicked off his blankets. It didn’t take long before I decided he would be better off in bed with me. I carried him in, still asleep, and tucked him under the comforter with me. He slept like a log. I, however, spent the night pulling him back under the blankets so he wouldn’t freeze.

Moments like that were scary, but no matter how frightened I was, I knew God was in charge. Knowing that kept me from loosing sight of just who was taking care of whom.

Christopher was my first, but certainly not my last. As the years passed more children joined him. Marie*, Christopher’s half sister through his father came next. Then Kerri gave birth to Rene* and then Kathy*. With each new addition I felt my heart double beyond what I thought it capable of to include them.

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Christopher’s now eleven and all boy. Kerri has a home of her own and the kids stay with us on the weekends. The pressure of being the main caregiver has been eased for quite a while. I’ve pursued college courses and have a good paying job. I go out without worrying. It was a strange feeling at first, but I’ve adjusted. I’m proud of Kerri for working through so much in her life and I’m equally pleased that she chose me to help raise her children. To date I consider them one of the biggest blessings in my life. I love them dearly and it will always feel like in some way they are my own children. I wouldn’t go back and trade one single moment with those babies. I became someone who made a difference. I became a mother.

* Names have been changed to protect the privacy of those mentioned.

Shrek ain't got nothin' on me

Song Stuck on the Brain: Crazy by Gnarls Barkley. This song has been stuck for so long it's driving ME crazy. Good song though.

I had a Shrek moment today. You know the scene in the begining of the first movie where he sits down to eat dinner, sticks his finger in his ear and pull out enough wax to light as a candle?

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Yeah, I'm gonna go there.

My allergies have been horrible lately, so my sinuses are draining into my ears. The last few nights I've had horrible pressure in my right ear. Kind of like a water balloon settled over my ear. Not terribly painful, but I couldn't hear very well and it's really annoying.

Anyway, we sell ear candles at work so I thought I'd give them a try. I've never used them before, but I've heard they work really well. They're about twelve inches long, around an inch in diameter and hollow. The tip narrows down so that it seats just inside the opening of your ear. A paper plate and flame retardent cloth catch any ash that might fall on your head. At first I didn't really notice anything, but then warm air started circulating in my ear. Pretty soon I hear this crackling noise, like cellophane crinkling. Then a tickle as something got sucked up. It only took a few minutes. Mom was helping me since it's kind of hard to watch the flame when it's in your own ear. She doused it and then shook the candle to dislodge what had been sucked out.

Yeah, there's the Shrek moment. It was SOOO disgusting, but my ear felt much better. I did the other ear with pretty similar results. It was amazing how much my hearing improved. I would definitely do it again.

What, you may wonder, would make me look inside the candle? I kind of wonder that myself. What drives us to examine gross things? We know it will be nasty and yet we have to look anyway. Like when you blow your nose. I bet 90% of the population will look inside the tissue when they're done.

Gross, yes. Necessary, no. Probable, absolutely.

It must be something that carries through from our childhood. So now that I've proably totally grossed you out, I'm going to promote my other sites. :)

You know you can't get enough of me, so go check out my music page on Myspace at . It's got three of our songs playing. I also have a personal page on their for those that like the myspace format.

I've also got a family tree project in the works, there's a link on the side bar. Check it out, it's a pretty cool little site that has. I'm still working on uploading pictures, but there are quite a few there now. If anyone is looking at a place to do the same with their family tree, I definitely recommend them.

And lastly, I'm taking a very informal pole. You've probably notice my posts are somewhat eratic at the moment. Part of that is due to work and part is due to lack of ideas at the moment. So I want to know what you'd like to see more of. What do you enjoy reading? Do you have questions about my hobbies that you would like answers to? Are you (gasp) even remotely interested in reading excerpts of my writing? (warning, I don't make any guarantees as to how good it is. Remember, I'm not published.) Let me know in the comments section and I'll try to do my best to fulfill your wishes.

Now, it's off to bed for me because it's nearly 1 am and I do actually need SOME sleep.

Night ya'll,

Monday, August 28, 2006

Strange Confessions

Song Stuck on the Brain: Uptown Girl

I have a confession to make.

I have a secret passion for cute mathematicians.

Oh, is that not a surprise to you? It kind of was for me.

I'm totally addicted to Numb3rs. I've fallen madly in love with David Krumholtz' character Charlie Epps. He's adorable, extremely intelligent without being arrogant or incomprehensible, and still sociable. You could take him out in public and not be mortified. (Where were the geeks like that when I was in highschool?)

Sunday afternoon I found myself watching "Infinity" starring Matthew Broderick as Richard Feynman, Nobel prize winner. It was a love story too. I totally fell for him.

Which got me to thinking about how many of these mathematic types of films I've watched and loved. Here's my list:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting A Beautiful Mind starring Russell Crowe.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting I.Q. starring Tim Robbins and Meg Ryan. A little quirky, but a great chick flick.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Proof starring Jake Gyllenhaal.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Infinity starring Matthew Broderick

Good Will Hunting starring Matt Damon

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting The Mirror Has Two Faces starring Jeff Bridges

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting October Sky starring Jake Gyllenhaal

Then of course there are the T.V. shows:
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Numb3rs, Quantum Leap and Sliders.

What is it about a really smart, attractive, humble guy that is just so darned hot? Probably the fact that they're such a rare breed here in the real world called reality. If I ever do meet one I'll be down for the count. He doesn't even have to be a mathematician. He can be really smart in any field. Although, despite my abhorance of my bookkeeping position, a guy that does advanced math and theory makes me a little weak in the knees.

Okay, stop laughing now and tell me what your secret passion is.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Then there were eight

Okay, this is getting confusing. Pluto is no longer a planet. So now we're down to eight planets. Well, real planets. Pluto is now classified as a 'dwarf planet'. But a dwarf planet isn't really a planet. HUH?!? I thought these definitions were supposed to make things easier?

I suppose it makes those 'name a planet' ideas less appealing. Who wants to tell someone, "Honey, I named a dwarf planet in honor of my undying love for you. Only, it's not really a planet. It's just a round piece of space crap that's too small to be a real planet. Happy Anniversary, Sweetie!"

Nope, just doesn't bear the same weight of importance.

Scientists decide Pluto’s no longer a planet
Planet definition approved, but dissenters plan a counteroffensive
By Robert Roy Britt
Senior science writer
Updated: 12:25 a.m. CT Aug 24, 2006

Capping years of intense debate, astronomers resolved Thursday to demote Pluto in a wholesale redefinition of planethood that is being billed as a victory of scientific reasoning over historic and cultural influences. But the decision is already being hotly debated.

Officially, Pluto is no longer a planet.

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"Pluto is dead," said Mike Brown, a planetary scientist at the California Institute of Technology who spoke with reporters via a teleconference while monitoring the vote. The decision also means a Pluto-sized object that Brown discovered will not be called a planet.

"Pluto is not a planet," Brown said. "There are finally, officially, eight planets in the solar system."

The vote involved just 424 astronomers who remained for the last day of a meeting of the International Astronomical Union in Prague.

"I'm embarrassed for astronomy. Less than 5 percent of the world's astronomers voted," said Alan Stern, leader of NASA's New Horizons mission to Pluto and a scientist at the Southwest Research Institute.

"This definition stinks, for technical reasons," Stern told He expects the astronomy community to overturn the decision. Other astronomers criticized the definition as ambiguous.
The resolutionThe decision establishes three main categories of objects in our solar system.

Planets: The eight worlds starting with Mercury and moving out to Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.

Dwarf planets: Pluto and any other round object that "has not cleared the neighborhood around its orbit, and is not a satellite."

Small solar system bodies: All other objects orbiting the sun.

Pluto and its moon Charon, which would both have been planets under the initial definition proposed Aug. 16, now get demoted because they are part of a sea of other objects that occupy the same region of space. Earth and the other eight large planets have, on the other hand, cleared broad swaths of space of any other large objects.

"Pluto is a dwarf planet by the ... definition and is recognized as the prototype of a new category of trans-Neptunian objects," states the approved resolution.
Dwarf planets are not planets under the definition, however.

"There will be hundreds of dwarf planets," Brown predicted. He has already found dozens that fit the category.

Contentious logic The vote came after eight days of contentious debate that involved four separate proposals at the group's meeting in Prague.

The initial proposal, hammered out by a group of seven astronomers, historians and authors, attempted to preserve Pluto as a planet but was widely criticized for diluting the meaning of the word. It would also have made planets out of the asteroid Ceres and Pluto's moon Charon. But not now.

"Ceres is a dwarf planet. it's the only dwarf planet in the asteroid belt," Brown said. "Charon is a satellite."

The category of "dwarf planet" is expected to include dozens of round objects already discovered beyond Neptune. Ultimately, hundreds will probably be found, astronomers say.
The word "planet" originally described wanderers of the sky that moved against the relatively fixed background of star. Pluto, discovered in 1930, was at first thought to be larger than it is. It has an eccentric orbit that crosses the path of Neptune and also takes it well above and below the main plane of the solar system.

Recent discoveries of other round, icy object in Pluto's realm have led most astronomers to agree that the diminutive world should never have been termed a planet.

'A farce'Stern, in charge of the robotic probe on its way to Pluto, said the language of the resolution is flawed. It requires that a planet "has cleared the neighborhood around its orbit." But Earth, Mars, Jupiter and Neptune all have asteroids as neighbors.

"It's patently clear that Earth's zone is not cleared," Stern told "Jupiter has 50,000 Trojan asteroids," which orbit in lockstep with the planet.

Stern called it "absurd" that only 424 astronomers were allowed to vote, out of about 10,000 professional astronomers around the globe.

"It won't stand," he said. "It's a farce."
Stern said astronomers are already circulating a petition that would try to overturn the IAU decision.

Owen Gingerich, historian and astronomer emeritus at Harvard who led the committee that proposed the initial definition, called the new definition "confusing and unfortunate" and said he was "not at all pleased" with the language about clearing the neighborhood.

Gingerich also did not like the term "dwarf" planet.

"I thought that it made a curious linguistic contradiction," Gingerich said during a telephone interview from Boston (where he could not vote). "A dwarf planet is not a planet. I thought that was very awkward."

Gingerich added: "In the future, one would hope the IAU could do electronic balloting."

Years of debateAstronomers have argued since the late 1990s on whether to demote Pluto. Public support for Pluto has weighed heavily on the debate. Today's vote comes after a two-year effort by the IAU to develop a definition. An initial committee of astronomers failed for a year to do so, leading to the formation of the second committee whose proposed definition was then redefined for Thursday's vote.

Astronomers at the IAU meeting debated the proposals right up to the moment of the vote.
Caltech's Mike Brown loses out in one sense. The Pluto-sized object his team found, called 2003 UB313, will now be termed a dwarf planet.

"As of today I have no longer discovered a planet," he said. But Brown called the result scientifically a good decision.

"The public is not going to be excited by the fact that Pluto has been kicked out," Brown said.
"But it's the right thing to do."

Textbooks and classroom charts will, of course, have to be revised.

"For astronomers, this doesn't matter one bit. We'll go out and do exactly what we did," Brown said. "For teaching this is a very interesting moment. I think you can describe science much better now" by explaining why Pluto was once thought to be a planet and why it isn't now. "I'm actually very excited."

© 2006

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Mourning the loss of another great show

Song Stuck on the Brain: You and I by Crystal Gail and ?

I heard the worst news today. Stargate SG-1 is being cancled. I want to cry. After 10 fabulous years, they are planning to air the final three episodes next year.

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What will I do without Daniel, Sam, T'ealc, Cam and Valla? Or Thor or Baal?

I love the series' spinoff, Stargate Atlantis, but it just won't be the same. I'm hoping for some continued crossovers and guest appearances on Atlantis. Maybe they'll even do some more Stargate movies. Still, it just won't be the same.

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Darn you SciFi channel! The number of really good Science Fiction shows is dwindling rapidly. Once SG-1 is gone, I'll only be left with Eureka and Atlantis. (I just can't get into Battlestar Galactica. They ruined it for me. Starbuck should NEVER have been cast as a girl!)

We need to have a worldwide SciFi uprising among the fans. Bring back Firefly, Enterprise, Invasion, Surface, John Doe... . And I don't mean just in syndication! Seriously, they've got to quit canceling all our shows!

Wave your Vulcan hand if you feel me.

Sci Fi closes 'Stargate SG-1'
Show has run 10 years; studio hoping to continue franchise

LOS ANGELES, California (Hollywood Reporter) -- Sci Fi Channel is grounding "Stargate SG-1," the longest-running science-fiction series on U.S. television to date.

The cable network has decided not to order additional episodes beyond the show's current 10th season, but it has picked up a fourth season of its more-popular spinoff, "Stargate Atlantis."

"Stargate SG-1," based on the 1994 movie starring Kurt Russell and James Spader, spent its first five years on Showtime -- which annoyed the show's producers by demanding full-frontal nudity -- before migrating to Sci Fi. Its 200th episode aired last Friday.

"Having achieved so much over the course of the past 10 years, Sci Fi believes that the time is right to make this season their last on the channel," Sci Fi said.

The show's ratings have softened in recent years and series star Richard Dean Anderson left last season, but it boasts a strong fan base, with as many as nine official conventions taking place worldwide every year. Producer MGM is exploring the possibility of taking the series to yet another outlet.

"MGM has tremendous amount of confidence in 'Stargate,' and we are vigorously working to continue the franchise," studio spokesman Jeff Pryor said.

The final three episodes of "Stargate SG-1" are slated to air on Sci Fi Channel next year. Both "Stargate SG-1" and "Atlantis" also run in syndication.

Copyright 2006 Reuters.
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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

My Epitaph

Take this quiz at

My Obit

'What will your obituary say?' at

Greetings From Earth

Song stuck on the Brain: Jessie's Girl

What we learned in Science class is about to get drastically changed. How weird will it be to acknowledge so many planets in our solar system? Do you think they'll start a "Name a Planet" program like they did for stars? I mean, who wants a star named for them when you could have a whole planet? There should be a planet Bob. Can't you hear it on Star Trek? "Greetings Earthling, I'm from the planet Bob." Would they be a Bobbie or Bobling? Maybe Bobber?


Plan boosts solar system to 12 planets
Astronomers propose keeping Pluto in the club — and adding three more
By Robert Roy Britt
Senior science writer

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This lineup shows the 12 proposed planets, with a wedge of the sun at far left. Ceres, Pluto, Charon and 2003 UB313 are barely visible. The planets are drawn to scale, but without correct relative distances.

Updated: 1:00 a.m. CT Aug 16, 2006
The tally of planets in our solar system would jump instantly to a dozen under a highly controversial new definition proposed by the International Astronomical Union.

Eventually, there would be hundreds of planets, as more round objects are found beyond Neptune.

The proposal, which sources tell is gaining broad support, tries to plug a big gap in astronomy textbooks, which have never had a formal definition for the word "planet." It addresses discoveries of Pluto-sized worlds that have in recent years pitched astronomers into heated debates over terminology.

The asteroid Ceres, which is round, would be recast as a dwarf planet in the new scheme.
Pluto would remain a planet, and its moon Charon would be reclassified as a planet. Both would be called "plutons," however, to distinguish them from the eight "classical" planets.
A far-out Pluto-sized object known as 2003 UB313, currently nicknamed Xena, would also be called a pluton.
That would make Caltech researcher Mike Brown, who found 2003 UB313, formally the discoverer of the 12th planet. But he thinks it's a lousy idea.

"It's flattering to be considered discoverer of the 12th planet," Brown said in a telephone interview. He applauded the committee's efforts but said the overall proposal is "a complete mess." By his count, the definition means there are already 53 known planets in our solar system, with countless more to be discovered.

Brown and another expert said the proposal, being put forth Wednesday at the IAU General Assembly meeting in Prague, is not logical. For example, Brown said, it does not make sense to consider Ceres and Charon planets and not call our moon (which is bigger than
both) a planet.

IAU members will vote on the proposal on Aug. 24. Its fate is far from clear.

The definition
The definition, which basically says round objects orbiting stars will be called planets, seems simple at first glance:

"A planet is a celestial body that (a) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape, and (b) is in orbit around a star, and is neither a star nor a satellite of a planet."
"Our goal was to find a scientific basis for a new definition of planet, and we chose gravity as the determining factor," said Richard Binzel, a planetary scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who was part of a seven-member IAU committee that hashed out the proposal. "Nature decides whether or not an object is a planet."

"I think they did the right thing," said Alan Stern, a planetary scientist at the Southwest Research Institute and leader of NASA's New Horizons robotic mission to Pluto. Stern expects a consensus to form around the proposal.

"They chose a nice economical definition that a lot of us wanted to see," Stern told "A lot of the other definitions had big problems. This is the only one that doesn't have big problems."

Gibor Basri, an astronomy professor at the University of California at Berkeley, said the committee "made the most rational and scientific choices; namely ones which are physically based and can be most readily verified by observations."

Basri made a similar proposal to the IAU in 2003, part of the long-running saga of failed attempts to define the word "planet."

Expect heated discussion
But the IAU draft resolution explaining the definition is more complex, with caveats and suggestions and surprises that some astronomers think render the entire proposal unworkable.

In particular, this aspect was criticized: A pair of round objects that orbit around a point in space that is outside both objects — meaning the center of gravity (or barycenter) is between the two planets in space as with Pluto and Charon — would be called double planets. Alan Boss, a planet-formation theorist at the Carnegie Institution of Washington, called the deliniation arbitrary.

Brown said there will likely be other similar pairings discovered, and it's even possible a "triple planet" would be found, given this definition.

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This graphic compares the sizes of the three proposed additions to the "nine planets" — 2003 UB313, Charon and Ceres — with the size of Earth at far right.

In response to the criticism, Binzel said it was important to distinguish between planets and satellites. He noted that barycenters are used to define and describe double stars and so the concept should apply to planets, too.

"The planet and satellite definition must be universally applicable, to all solar systems, not just our own," Binzel said by e-mail from Prague. "For example: Picture a pair of Jupiters discovered in another solar system. Would one of these Jupiters be a planet, and the other a satellite? The barycenter criterion means that a pair of Jupiters would be a double planet."

Other astronomers saw other problems.

"It looks to me like a definition that was written by a committee of lawyers, not a committee of scientists," Boss said. "I think these criteria are as arbitrary as any other you might come up with."

Asteroid Ceres, since it is round, would be considered a planet. Strangely enough, Ceres was called a planet when first discovered in 1801, then reclassified. It is just 578 miles in diameter, compared with 1,430 for Pluto and 7,926 for Earth.

If astronomers determine that asteroids Pallas, Vesta, and Hygeia are also round, "they will also have to be considered planets," said Owen Gingerich, a historian and astronomer emeritus at Harvard who led the committee. The IAU proposal suggests (but does not require) that these be called dwarf planets. Pluto could also be considered a dwarf, which the IAU recommends as an informal label.

So to recap: Pluto would be a planet and a pluton and also a dwarf.

Boss was bothered by the lack of definitiveness on this and other points.

Boss, along with Stern, was on an IAU committee of astronomers that failed to agree on a definition. After a year, the IAU disbanded that committee and formed the new one, which included the author Dava Sobel in an effort to bring new ideas to the process.

Boss called their proposal "creative" and "detailed" but said it does not hang together as a cohesive argument.

"I'm sure this will engender a lot of heated discussion," Boss said by telephone before his departure for the Czech Republic to cast his ballot. "This is what everyone will be talking about in the coffee shops of Prague for the next few days."

Tally would soar
Given all the nuances in the definition, a dozen other objects would be put on an IAU list of "candidate planets" which, upon further study, might bring the tally of planets in our solar system to 24.

Eventually the inventory of planets would soar.

Stern, the New Horizons mission leader, said there could be "hundreds and maybe a thousand" objects in our solar system that are at least as big as Pluto. That's fine with him. "This is what we do as scientists. You discover new things, you adapt to new facts."

Brown, the discoverer of the potential 12th planet, said the basic definition is fine, but "the resolution itself is a complete mess."

The resolution calls for a new IAU committee that would evaluate other candidate planets. Normally, that's a process that takes place in a scientific journal, Brown said. He called the notion of an IAU gatekeeper "bizarre" and "really a bad idea."

"The IAU should make a definition, then it's up to scientists to go about their business" of deciding what objects fit the definition, Brown said.

But Binzel defended the approach: "The IAU has existing committees that can do this — it is what the IAU does. Someone has to officially bestow names, etc. It is just the way the system works." He added that quality papers published in science journals should and would continue to be part of the process of determining planet status.

Nobody can yet say how the vote will go.

"You're only left with a 'yes' or 'no' vote," Brown said. "And a 'yes' vote makes things ridiculous. A 'no' vote puts us back where we were."

Brown worried that the vast majority of astronomers at the IAU meeting work in other fields, outside planetary science. "They are likely vote 'yes' because they're not familiar with the issue and, mostly, because they're sick of the topic," he said.

© 2006 All rights reserved. More from
© 2006

Monday, August 14, 2006

New Survey Says

Birthday:Nov 22
Birthplace:Independence, MO
Current Location:Independence
Eye Color:Green
Hair Color:Brown
Right Handed or Left Handed:Right
Your Heritage:Scotch/English/German/Native American/Dutch...
The Shoes You Wore Today:Black Flip Flops
Your Weakness:Dark chocolate and men with deep voices
Your Fears:Failure, Mice, Snakes, Spiders
Your Perfect Pizza:Italian Sausage, black olives, mushrooms and onions on thin crust
Goal You Would Like To Achieve This Year:Not go crazy at work and finish my current novel
Your Most Overused Phrase On an instant messenger:LOL
Thoughts First Waking Up:Do I have to get up yet?
Your Best Physical Feature:Eyes or hair
Your Bedtime:one or two am usually
Your Most Missed Memory:my dog raquel
Pepsi or Coke:Neither - Dr. Pepper
MacDonalds or Burger King:Ummm... Taco Bell?
Single or Group Dates:No idea
Lipton Ice Tea or Nestea:Don't care
Chocolate or Vanilla:Depends on what it's in
Cappuccino or Coffee:Cappuccino
Do you Smoke:NO WAY!
Do you Swear:Not normally
Do you Sing:Yes
Do you Shower Daily:Absolutely
Have you Been in Love:Maybe
Do you want to go to College:Did some, have thought about going back
Do you want to get Married:Yes
Do you belive in yourself:Most of the time
Do you get Motion Sickness:sometimes
Do you think you are Attractive:Occasionally
Are you a Health Freak:Occasionally
Do you get along with your Parents:Yes
Do you like Thunderstorms:Absolutely LOVE them
Do you play an Instrument:I try, but I'm not very good
In the past month have you Drank Alcohol:No
In the past month have you Smoked:No
In the past month have you been on Drugs:No
In the past month have you gone on a Date:No
In the past month have you gone to a Mall:No
In the past month have you eaten a box of Oreos:nope
In the past month have you eaten Sushi:No... But I like it okay
In the past month have you been on Stage:no
In the past month have you been Dumped:no
In the past month have you gone Skinny Dipping:no *shudder* trust me, that's a good thing
In the past month have you Stolen Anything:no
Ever been Drunk:no
Ever been called a Tease:not that i'm aware of
Ever been Beaten up:only by my brother
Ever Shoplifted:no
How do you want to Die:Painlessly?
What do you want to be when you Grow Up:A well known published novelist
What country would you most like to Visit:Scotland
In a Boy/Girl..
Favourite Eye Color:Don't care as long as their soulful
Favourite Hair Color:usually dark
Short or Long Hair:don't care as long as it's clean
Height:at least 3 inches taller than me
Weight:don't care
Best Clothing Style:whatever he looks and feels best in
Number of Drugs I have taken:NONE
Number of CDs I own:ummm... 700 something?
Number of Piercings:2
Number of Tattoos:none... yet.
Number of things in my Past I Regret:At LEAST two


Virtual Pets

Meet my new friend. Feed him a banana, swing him through the trees, go ape... Sorry, bad pun.

adopt your own virtual pet!

Friday, August 04, 2006

What Super Hero Are You?

You are Superman

Wonder Woman
Green Lantern
The Flash
Iron Man
You are mild-mannered, good,
strong and you love to help others.

Click here to take the "Which Superhero am I?" quiz...

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Will the real Becky Miller please stand up?

Song Stuck on the Brain: "Puppy Love" by Donny Osmond.

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That would be little Donny. I just got the OsmondMania cd and it has all their families biggest hits. I bought it because I wanted the song "Crazy Horses" done by the Osmond Brothers, but it's got a lot of great songs. Puppy Love wasn't particularly one of my fav's, but I have an old tape around somewhere of Angel singing it. She's like 11. It's hysterical, she was SOOO in love with Donny Osmond.

So anyway...

I finished reading The Secret Life of Becky Miller by Sharon Hink over the weekend. I wasn't sure if I was going to like it, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I did by the time I flipped the last page.

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The book, much like the Danny Kaye Movie "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty", features Becky Miller, a stay at home Christian mom of three who dreams of doing 'Big things for God'. Each chapter starts out with her latest day dream of being a super hero, spy, famous dancer, feeder of the poor or celebrated worship singer. Her life however seems dull and useless in comparison to her dreams and the plans she makes for her life. With every failed plan, Becky searches for God's purpose, all while busily making plan B - or F, G, or H.

At first, the book kind of annoyed me. Becky was a little too intense and driven and maybe even a little whiney. But I stuck with it, and was impressed by the insight and depth the author was able to bring into the story. It was along about the time that Becky was reaching her rock bottom, that it dawned on me why this character bugged me.

She IS me.

Doggone it if I didn't suddenly see myself so much clearer. I can't say it was a pleasant discovery. I'm not completely anal, but I will admit to being pretty driven. I'm a great cheerleader of those around me, but will flog myself mercilessly for failing at a self appointed goal. If I do fail? Well, on to a new plan. I will succeed somehow.

That was Becky. She (and I) tended to forget that some times you have to 'let go and let God'. That not all plans are meant to be and 'Big things for God' can be small things in our own eyes.

What started out as a ho-hum book in my mind, turned out to be a great read.

Maybe it's time to re-evaluate my plans...