The Ancient Roman Centurion

I came across this photo of an historic reenactment.  Somehow it made me very excited. 
I felt like a boy again playing with toy soldiers.
(Click on photo to enlarge it then use the "back" button to return to my blog.)
Here are the details:
Centurion - (ancient Rome) the leader of 100 soldiers.
[from Latin centuri, centurin-, from centuria, group of a hundred; see century.]

Qualities necessary for the centurion:
1. Centurions had to be literate.
2. Have connections (letters of recommendation).
3. Be at least 30 years of age.
4. Had already served a few years in the military.

The centurion in the infantry is chosen for:
-his size, strength and dexterity in throwing his missile weapons and for his skill in the use of his sword and shield; in short for his expertness in all the exercises.

He is to be vigilant, temperate, active and readier to execute the orders he receives than to --talk --

Strict in exercising and keeping up proper discipline among his soldiers
in obliging them to appear clean and well-dressed
and to have their arms constantly rubbed and bright.


I think the uniform is really neat !
I wonder what they used the headdress for?
I bet they used it to clean off the shield and armour (only kidding).

One way to use their sheilds:
The photo below shows three sheilds lined up.  There are 3 soldiers behind them.

Sub-rectangular scuta. Note the curved, semi-c...Image via Wikipedia


Senatus Populusque Quiritium Romanus

(Latin: the Senate and the People of Rome)

Detail from the mosaic floor in the Gallery Vi...Image via Wikipedia

Variations of the To Do List

Sometimes I try too hard to be organized.  I enjoy making lists so much that I never get around to doing many of the items on the list.

I don't really like the name "To Do" for a list. If you put a hyphen to connect the words it becomes a "To-Do" list.  A "to-do is a commotion, fuss, or quarrel." 
Even though to do lists often cause commotions, fusses and quarrels it's not what they're supposed to do.

A "task list" is not any better.   
Here are some definitions for the word "task".
1. a specific piece of work required to be done as a duty or chore
2. an unpleasant or difficult job or duty
3. a difficult or tedious undertaking.

An agenda is even more useless and confusing.  Here are some definitions:
1. things to be done or a list of those things.
2. (functioning as singular) Also called agendum a schedule or list of items to be attended to.
3. (functioning as plural) Also called agendas agendums matters to be attended to.
[From the Latin, literally: things to be done, from agere to do  And so we're back to the to do list.

The word itinerary is not any better.  Here is one definition:
- a plan for actively doing something.

What about just calling it a list?
1. A series of names, words, or other items written, printed, or imagined one after the other.
2. A considerable number; a long series
Not very encouraging is it?

What works best for me is what I call the
-organized activity to accomplish an objective.
Now this is something I can live with. 
So again I've run out of time to actually do anything. 
But at least I had fun thinking about what to call my list.
I guess I didn't even have the time to find the items I wanted to put on my "Action List".

Kryptonite and Superman continued.

Thei video shows some of his powers.  :

A Final Superman Video

On the doomed planet Krypton,
A wise scientist placed his infant son into a spacecraft and launched him to Earth.

Raised by a kind farmer and his wife, the boy grew up to become our greatest protector Superman.

But when astronomers discovered the distant remains of his home world, Superman disappeared.

Aspirin Isn't Always So Good for You

Recently I learned of the dangers of even a baby aspirin taken once a day.  I'd like to share this with you.

The reduction in heart attacks and strokes in people taking aspirin was almost counterbalanced by major bleeding in the gastrointestinal system and the brain.

The researchers concluded that for individuals without previously diagnosed cardiovascular disease, “aspirin is of uncertain net value.” 

Aspirin should not be recommended as an across-the-board option to help healthy people prevent heart attack and stroke.

~from Harvard Medical School newsletter

Here's more from this site:
Aspirin for cancer prevention- promising, but not proven

Romantic Train Ride

This clip gives me goosebumps every time.  I love Billy Holiday's voice.

Let me know what you think.  I trimmed it from a perfume commercial.

How I Get "Organized" (Part One)

Just last night I was looking for some notes, news clippings, leaflets anything having to do with retirement. As I do with my other papers, whenever I find anything of interest I skim it and file it away believing that someday I'll use it.

I knew I'd put the retirement papers somewhere but I just could not remember where. I checked my files. In the folder labeled with a dollar sign "$" there was everything of a financial nature except for retirement. There was no folder labeled "Retirement".

Then I remembered a large loose leaf binder I bought a few years ago at Staples: On the cover:

"Better Binder, Flexible Spine, Lasting performance, Ultra flexible design, Our most durable binder."

 I was so impressed I bought it with much enthusiasm. I knew I'd find something to put in it once I got home. Back at home after playing with the binder for 5 or 10 minutes I filed it on a shelf somewhere happy that if ever I should need one I'd have the best.

  I wondered if maybe I could have punched holes in the retirement papers and put them in that binder. But the only tab labeled in the 8 tabbed folder was "Medical Benefits". I was lost. I had no idea what happened to the retirement notes. A brief instant of anxiety flashed through my mind. What if I threw them away in order to make room and better organize my life?

I sat in my den looking out the window with a blank stare, lost in thought. In my mind I tried to retrace my steps. There had to be more. Then it hit me. Health benefits are very important. I bet I put the retirement papers in the loose leaf binder under the tab "Medical Benefits". I looked into the binder once more. There were no papers under the tab. The whole binder was empty!

In desperation I looked through my file cabinet once more. Towards the back about three-quarters of the way was a file with the label missing. I pulled the file. It was all there all shuffled together in a thick pile. Now in a few hours I would find all the information I needed. It might be too old to use but I would decide that later.

The room, was now cluttered with papers, folders & my empty Staples loose leaf binder on the floor.

How I Get Organized (Part Two)

In my last post I wrote about how difficult it was for me to find some important information about retirement that I filed somewhere but forgot where. In frustration I imagined giving a class called:

"How to Organize Your Life"

"Now class pay attention to the 5 cardinal rules to organize anything in your life:

First: Never put anything back in the same place where you found it.

Second: If something is empty (like folders, papers, empty tissue boxes...) put it back where you found it without making a note or telling anyone.

Third: Never put a label on anything you own.

Fourth: Every so often go back over your possessions and shuffle them around a bit.

Fifth: When possible use the four rules above to "organize" your wife's or friend's things.

How I Get Organized (Part Three)

The other day I sat at my desk overflowing with scraps of paper, bills, notes... My mood was at a deep low. How was I going to get my life together? It was all just too much to handle! If I could only find a book to guide me I'd be on my way. Then I remembered buying a book or two about getting organized but I had no idea where I'd put them. I was sure that if only I sat down and forced myself to study the books; written by supposed experts, my problems would be solved.

I decided to search my house to find the books if they were still there. If I'd not put them in the trash years ago. I spent about 2 hours locating the books. After finding the first two books I had a feeling there might be more so I continued my search. After another hour I found 3 more books. A total of 5 books!

Now 2 of the books looked familiar even though I had no idea what was in them. I was certain the other 3 books were not mine. I wondered if my wife bought them, sort of like a subtle hint to be organized. No, I'm sure she gave up on me after the first few years of our marriage.

The books were now spread out on the floor in no particular order. The task of going through them would take hours of tedious reading.

In a fit of anger I began kicking the books across the room. Then I sat at my desk and began punching down as hard as I could. The PC monitor bounced and started to slide towards the edge ready to fall. I stopped it just in time. In frustration I put my head down not knowing what to do.

That's when my wife came into the room

"What was all that pounding?"

I just kept my head down and shrugged my shoulders.

"Are you alright?"

When I did not respond she touched me on the shoulder.

"Wow, look at all these books. I'm so glad you finally decided to become organized. No wonder you look so tired. Why don't you stop for now. I mean you can't do it all in a day."

I sat up with a puzzled look.

"I know. Why don't we go to a movie? We can grab a quick meal at the diner," she said.

"Okay. I'll just put these books on a shelf and get ready."

How Not to Unclutter

"An organized desk must be a sign of an organized mind."
~ John M

Sometimes I fear that I'm developing an obsession with being organized. I wonder if I'm spending more time getting organized than taking action. Maybe I just enjoy the time spent setting up a calendar, writing a budget, or preparing to clean out a closet. Maybe as long as there is something to "put in order" I'll be happy.

I imagine myself to be some sort of superhero. My goal is to fight the forces of disorder and to remedy whatever is lacking methodical arrangement or function. To remove the complexities, disorganization, and undue busyness of the world.

It's getting to the point where I must leave some place in my life, maybe even many places to keep disorganized. Why? It's like having money in the bank. I'll always have something to rely on when things just become too organized. I need to fight disorder to help give my life some meaning.

Whenever I try to unclutter my life I only make it worse. If I clean up a section of my basement filled with cardboard boxes with items I haven't seen in a decade I become very sentimental. I wonder if I will need one of the items someday. So I move the contents from one box into an empty box only discarding spider webs and rotting papers.

"I thought you were going to clean up the mess. All you've done is move things from one box to another," my wife said before walking away shaking her head.

Now I can understand why the public storage systems are so successful. That gave me an idea. I filled a box with the items I liked best and hurriedly put it in the trunk of my car. Back in the house I told my wife I was taking a box to the dump. I pass a storage lot on my way to the dump. I rented a space at the self-storage lot the week before.

When I opened the space I'd rented a feeling of peace came over me. It was too beautiful for words. With watery eyes I placed the box in the back flush against the corner. I found the solution! My basement would be clean and neat while I could still keep my "stuff" even if  "stuff"  is defined as: "material things generally, especially when unidentified, worthless, or unwanted".

Ancient Roman Pedometer Called a Hodometer

While I was looking for the history of pedometers on the web I came across this illustration of a device used by the Romans.

Here is a closeup:

A description on how it worked:

A gear with one tooth (A) fastened to the wheel

of the cart turned a larger wheel (B) with 399

short teeth and one long tooth (C). The tooth

turned the drum (D) with teeth and holes for

pebbles. As the drum was turned, a rounded

pebble would fall into the metal bowl (E),

indicating that the cart had traveled one Roman


I lost the link to this site but here's a link with more information:

How to Make Notes Without Damaging a Book

I wanted to find a way to make notes in a book without marking it up. A book that has yellow highlighter marks, underlining, scribbling, and folded corners not only looks bad; it makes the book almost useless to the next owner.

It’s even worse if the book is not yours. Library books, books barrowed from friends, are books that should be kept clean.
My system is a sort of code for the location of passages in the book with room for any notes I want to make. I'll start with the simplest case.

1. Use an index card as a bookmark.

2. Write the pages you want to come back to separated by a dash.

3. To the right make notes if needed.

12 - 15 means pages twelve through fifteen.

Here’s how it works if you need more detail than only the page numbers:

1. In the left side of the card write the following sequence of numbers:

Page number followed by a period.

2. Then the paragraph number (1st paragraph = 1, 2nd = 2, etc.) followed again by a period.

Note: a paragraph started on the previous page and ending on this page = 0

3. To the right of the numbers make any comments or notes you want.

110.2 means page 110 the second paragraph.

112.0 means page 112 the paragraph started on the previous page. Use this if you don’t need the beginning of the paragraph.

For even more versatility and detail try:

1. A set of paragraphs in a row is shown with a dash between the start and end.

109.3 - 110.2 means from the third paragraph on page 109 to the second paragraph on page 110.

2. If only one sentence is needed add another period to indicate this.

105.2.3 means page 105, second paragraph, third sentence.

3. If you need only one word, say you don’t know its meaning and don’t have a chance to look it up; just write the word on the index card. (If you want to see again how it was used in the book write the word next to its location number.)

98.1.4 “mind-map” means page 98, first paragraph, fourth sentence, write the word you don’t understand.
In this case it’s “mind-map”.

The index card will be something like this:
1 - 3 author describes his first car (VERY FUNNY!)

12.3 name of his college & location

15.2.3 Not sure what this sentence means

26.3.2 halvareen -no idea what this is
And so on.

Just make sure you don’t loose the index card!

Is it a Coincident?

The other day I was thinking about what is real. I explored some ideas I've come across in my search for reality. I'm not sure if these ideas are from something I've read or seen in a movie or where.

1. There are the physical limits of our perceptions: optical illusions, night vision...
2. Then there are the philosophical disagreements on the actual nature of reality: physical matter only or spiritual only or some combination.

I have a feeling that there is something missing in what we experience.
A thought came to me. The possibility of the existence of events and even beings in the brink between what is assumed to be real and what is assumed to be fictitious is not easy to ignore. I thought about one of my favorite authors Poe who wrote about the strange.

Then by chance or maybe it wasn't chance. Maybe something in the nature of things led me to find while I was at the post office a stamp of Edgar Allen Poe. I bought two stamps. Later I remembered a quote of his. It's under the stamps below.
Coincidence? Or something in the scope of "reality" reaching out to me in response to my thoughts?

All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.
~Edgar Allen Poe

An Easy To Use Yet Difficult To Solve Code

“Nothing intelligible can be written which, with time, I cannot decipher."
Edgar Allan Poe

I've always had a fascination with secret codes but they can get too complicated. I looked for a code that was very easy to use yet almost impossible to decipher. For me that code is the substitution of numbers for letters that appear in a book, magazine or other text.

The only way I can see this being solved is if the people involved know what book, magazine or text is being used. Here is my version:

Both the sender and receiver of the message must have the same copy of text. This means the same book, magazine, etc.

Find the words that you need in your message then indicate their location with numbers.

That's it!

Here's how it works:

First number = the page of the text being used.

Second number = the paragraph on that page.

Third number = the sentence in that paragraph.

Fourth number = the word in that sentence.

For example: If you want to indicate the word "home" which appears on page 3, in the 2nd paragraph, 4th sentence, 6th word. You write:

A sentence may look something like this using an extra space or dash between coded words: - - - -  and so on.

There is a more involved but also more tedious breakdown if you reach into each letter of the word being used to make the code by adding another number.

An easier version may limit the number of pages to 9.  You can use line numbers instead of sentences. A benefit is that you have no need to put a dash or decimal point between numbers making it just as dificult to solve if not more so.
Sequence is page#, line#, word#
324 = page 3, line 2, word 4 (using 4 digit would narrow the code down to the letter)

A line of code would look something like this:

5326 87219111 

Note: each word only needs 3 numbers so when you decipher the code just break up the line like this:
532  687  219 111

While searching for various code systems I came across Edgar Allen Poe who sometimes used to write puzzles for a newspaper.

A short biography which I found to be very interesting:
Edgar was orphaned at an early age, and was sent to live with a foster family but was never officially adopted. He was eventually disowned by the family after years of disputes.

Edgar's life included intense drinking bouts, giving him a bad reputation in 19th century society.
His public image was of an unstable man sitting in a dim room, a bottle at his side, a pipe full of opium, scribbling insane verses.
After the death of his wife Poe fell apart emotionally and died two years later, at the age of forty.

Are Wires Alvie?

The other day I watched a technician from my cable company's internet service install a "wireless" device so my wife could get the internet on her laptop. I also purchased a "wireless" printer. He connected something called a "router" (anyway that's what I thought he said) with a foot long cable to another device which I already had to connect to my desktop PC to the internet (I'm not sure what it's called). This was then connected to another cable that goes outside where it eventually disappears into the ground.

"Why are there so many wires? I thought this was going to be wireless."

"Yeah, it is," he said.

"But I don't understand. You have a wire connecting a device to another device that connects into the cable. Then there is a wire plugged into the electrical outlet. Then the printer is plugged into another electrical outlet. Then the laptop is plugged in so it can recharge its battery. Now I have more wires than I did before."

"I know but there's no wire going to the printer or the laptop," the tech said looking at me as if I was an idiot.

I kept quiet until he was finished. After he left I crawled under my desk to have a look. In vain I tried to see where each wire was connected. The wires were twisted into complicated knots. I'm sure that when I origionally connected my PC I tried to put the wires in orderly straight lines. Now it reminded me of the way ivy climbs a trellis or better yet the twisted vines of a wisteria bush. (See photo.)

My conclusion:
1. Maybe the wires somehow come to life and twist themselves together. I'm sure it only looks like they're alive.
2. Somehow the tension of the metal of the wires cause them to twist together. Maybe the electricity running through them causes a magnetic field that encourages this to happen.
3. It's just another phenomenon of science which has no clear cut explanation.


Smith and UCSD colleague Dorian Raymer ran a series of homespun experiments in which they dropped a string into a box and tumbled it for 10 seconds (one revolution per second). They repeated the string-dropping more than 3,000 times varying the length and stiffness of the string, box size and tumbling speed.
Digital photos and video of the tumbling strings revealed: Strings shorter than 1.5 feet (.46 meters) didn't form knots; the likelihood of knotting sharply increased as string length went from 1.5 feet to 5 feet (.46 meters to 1.5 meters); and beyond this length, knotting probability leveled off.
The complete article link:


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