Pens, Writing Through Thick and Thin

Random Thoughts
Thin line:
-write compactly
-ink seems to last longer
-best for fine writing in limited spaces

Thick line:
-takes up more room on a page
-more ink used
-easier to read
-best for labels

-is slower
-takes more effort because pen must be lifted off paper for each letter
-is easier to read

-is faster
-is easier on the hand
-is more difficult to read
-is unique for each person's signature

Any thoughts?

At the Speed of Flowers

If our perception of time could slow down to the relaxed speed of flowers, 
we could enjoy them so much more. 

Click on video link:

From the Fridge Soup blog


Ancient Roman "Tank"

(This shield looks like something from a science fiction movie!)

I was looking up the shield designs of Roman soldiers when I came upon this interesting fact.
When the Roman army went into battle they developed a strategy called, "Testudo" (it became known as the, ‘Tortoise’).

The command, "As One" was given and each soldier would stand with his shield overlapping the shield of the soldier next to him.

This made an near impregnable battle formation.  It crushed the front lines of the enemy. I've read that this locking shields strategy won many battles.

I'll add more interesting posts about Ancient Rome from time to time.


Empire's Beginning & Continuing

A wolf suckling Romulus and Remus, Rome's legendary founders.

The legend:
Romulus and Remus
--The twin sons of the god of war Mars, were abandoned.
--They were discovered by a female wolf who instead of eating them suckled them until they were found and reared by a shepherd.
--They founded Rome in 753 B.C.
--Romulus killed his twin in a power struggle.

--Rome was named after him

In a cavern 50 feet under the ruins of the palace of Emperor Augustus there is a domed ceiling decorated with colorful mosaics and seashells. At its center a painted eagle, a symbol of the Roman Empire.

“This is one of the most important discoveries of all time,” said Andrea Carandini, a prominent Italian archaeologist. He has long held that the myths of ancient Rome could be true. He said he derived added satisfaction from the cave’s location.

See complete article at:

The symbol of Rome:

Also the symbol of The United States.

Is this the new empire replacing the Roman Empire?

Romulus and Remus by Rubens DetailImage by mharrsch via Flickr

Sensory Perception and God

As I sometimes do, the other day I was thinking about the spiritual life.  I looked over some of the notes I've been making.

I believe God must be experienced and not understood or explained:

To experience God must be like experiencing something directly without thought, like a color or flavor or sensation. How can you explain the sensation of sweetness or the experience of the color red?

To say consciousness of light is only sensory stimulation or a response to wavelength does not explain the consciousness experienced by the individual. This consciousness cannot be called merely subjective or irrelevant because it is the only way we can be aware of anything without being mindless chemical sacks. It is really the only thing we can be sure of without depending on thoughts which are often mistaken.

But with God instead of being a physical sensation it must be a spiritual sensation or feeling even if it is experienced in a physical way.

Just as the experience of the color green in our minds is due to our body’s response to a certain wavelength of light coming from an actual physical object in reality, so also must the experience of a spiritual nature come from our body’s or mind’s response to an actual spiritual reality. Both can be hallucinations or delusions or actually be real.

Just as the experience of hunger or sexual desire is due to our body’s needs, so also must our spiritual desire come from our need for God.

Matter and the physical world we experience can be the illusion with spirituality the reality. Or matter may be made of or contain a spiritual element which increases when chemicals react up to when life evolves and thought and self awareness come into being.

This is my interpretation from various sources.  I lost the original links.
I want to experience God but I only have some vague feelings.

An interesting quote:

"Even if you do not intellectually believe in the spiritual reality
 something deep inside you feels this reality."

I welcome your thoughts.


A few months ago I was considering back surgery for terrible pain I've had for over a year.
See my earlier post about this:

My wife saw a commercial for Cymbalta on TV.  I was sure it would not work.
But I was desperate and willing to try anything.
Now I am completely pain free.

This sounds like a commercial but it was the only thing that worked for me.
I recommend you try this before trying surgery.

Surgery only works for 70% of the cases.
For me it would have been:
3 days in the hospital on IV pain medication.
3 months recovery at home taking more narcotics
Even then I might still be left with some residual pain.

I've found two drawbacks with Cymbalta:
1. Getting used to the side effects which go away after a week.
(Nausea, dry mouth, sleepiness, fatigue, constipation, dizziness, decreased appetite, and increased sweating).
For me it was like a case of food poisoning for three days.  After that I now have more energy and no pain.
It is definitely worth it. 

2. Without insurance it costs about $150 per month.  I pay $60 with my insurance plan.

Here is the company's site:

The Shape of My Heart

The other night I watched the 1994 movie The Professional on TV.  I thought it was an excellent gangster movie.  There could have been a better ending instead of the typical shoot out.
You know the impossible scene with one man killing dozens of others in a prolonged gunfight: 
-his bullets always hit their target
-their's always miss
-his gun never runs out of bullets
-their guns jam
-he's a clever acrobat
-they are stupid and clumbsy

Yet I still enjoyed it, especially the song they played while showing the credits.  It was "The Shape of my Heart" by Sting. Here is the song with its poetic lyrics:

Thinking About Cursive

I've read that schools may stop teaching handwriting!

Cursive takes more room and is less legible than printing.
But it is faster, has a personal style and is easier on the hand.

Here is the link for the original blog post: 
Thinking About Cursive


I feel handwriting is important for children to learn.

It's faster, easier on the hand and has a unique personal style.
The more we learn the better.
I find it can be relaxing if you write as slowly and as smoothly as you can.  It's just the opposite of  sending a text message with your two thumbs jerking back and forth as if having a seizure.  Abbreviating and using numbers for words ( "2" for two or too or to) is not as precise.  It substitutes speed for spelling and grammar.

Here's the blog link:
Is Cursive Obsolete? | Seconds


A toy kaleidoscope tube
A toy consisting of a tube containing mirrors and pieces of colored glass or paper, whose reflections produce changing patterns that are visible through an eyehole when the tube is rotated.

Image via Wikipedia
I remember having these as a child.  It was fascinating and magical for me.
Try this link.  The images move quickly so be prepared.  If you move your mouse it changes even faster!

I found this on the"Aging Gratefully" blog

Krone Pens

Here is a site I found with unbelievably expensive pens. You have to have a look.
Who can be rich enough to buy one of these pens?  If I was that rich I'd donate my money to help build something useful like a hospital wing.
But the ad photos and narrative are fun to watch!
Click on the "Historical" pens like:
The Houdini has a melt of silver and metal from his keys.
The Babe Ruth which has part of one of his bats.
The Lindbergh pen cap has a piece of the motor from The Spirit of St.Louis.
There are no prices listed.  I guess if you have to ask for the price you can't afford the pen.
What a waste of money.
Here is the link

Krone Pens

Guns: Self Preservation or Self Destruction?

A Fantasy

For some unknown reason a fantasy about the "Wild West" combined with feelings from The Godfather movies overtook me.  Here are two photos I found which fit in well with this feeling.

The Brothers "M": Antonio and Giovanni came from Italy to the Wild West.
Armed with their Italian super fast and powerful Berettas, they were no match for anyone who crossed their path.

I then did some research on the Italian Beretta handgun:
This was the gun used by the SEALS in the recent attack on bin Laden.
This is the gun used by James Bond in the 007 movies.
 In April of 1985, the Beretta Model 92 beat out the Colt .45 to become the U.S Armed Forces chosen handgun.
There is a legend about a SEAL motto:
"You're not a SEAL until you taste Italian steel," referring to the Beretta brand's Italian heritage.
Beretta (Owned by the same family for over 500 years)
16th Century Origins
The home of Fabbrica D'Armi Pietro Beretta S.p.A. is the village of Gardone, in the center of the northern Italian valley known as Val Trompia. Iron ore in the hills of northern Italy made the area an iron-working center from the Middle Ages.
Bartolomeo Beretta was born in 1490. The earliest documentary evidence of his forge is a contract from the Doges of Venice, dated October 3, 1526.

Then I found two videos that continued my intoxication:

The second video demonstrates how even an out of shape person can use the gun's lethal power:

This post serves as an example of the intoxicating effects of testosterone.  I'm a quiet peaceful man yet I can understand how at times it surpasses the sexual urge and even the need to eat.

I believe this instinct for self preservation can have the opposite effect of self destruction for the individual and possibly for the entire human race.

Too bad violence is so glorified in the popular media.

What is real?

Poppy - Romneys coulteriImage by sarahgb(theoriginal) via Flickr

Here is a a link to a short video about reality and spirituality. It got me to thinking about what's really important.

The music is soothing and the visual interesting.

Let me know what you think.

Click on this link:  What is real?

7 Ways Articles with Lists Are So Popular

Have you ever noticed how articles listing a number of items are very popular?

For example today on
"9 Quick Tips to Lower Your Cholesterol"
"7 Tips to Keep in Mind Before Paring Up with Another Guest"
"9 Foods That Kill Abdominal Fat"
"365 Things To Do Before You Die"
"10 Off-Road-Ready SUV's"
All of these articles are on the first page!

For me it's a compulsion to see what's on the list.  I'll never find out if I don't read the article.
Take "9 Quick Tips to Lower Your Cholesterol"  How come there are 9 quick ways?  Are the other ways slower?  I know some ways to lower my cholesterol but maybe I should check out the list.  I have to force myself to not look at what's on these lists.

After a while it starts to annoy me but when I realize what's happening I have to smile.

By the way I lied about having "7" ways in the title of this post.  I thought it would catch your attention.  If you like I can make up another six ways to complete the list but I would only be faking it.  I bet many of these articles with lists are faking it.

Funny Auto Commercial

I found this auto commercial on YouTube:

Mind Maps = Concept Mapping

Concept mapImage via Wikipedia

"Idea Graphics" is what I used to like calling "Mind Maps". For me it's a clearer description and includes many other techniques for creative thinking.  
After all the procedure involves ideas not "minds".  It's a visual representation (a graphic) that allows for clarity of ideas and creativity.  It's not always a "map". 
It does not have to be a set method or procedure like using a certain number of colors or using a computer program to set things up for you.
An even better name is "Concept Mapping". But I'll stick with "Mind Map" because that's what most people call it.  

Toy or Old-Tech Stealth Weapon?

My wife found this on YouTube.  It seems like a fun toy but it's too dangerous for children.  I wonder if a terrorist could sneak one of these onto a plane.


A Young Opera Aficianado with an Alternative Ending

It's only a commercial but with the right circumstances I believe it could happen.
The boy is watching from backstage when he sees Pagliaccio.
I love the young boy's facial expression as he feels the singer's sorrow.

Back Trouble

For almost a year now I've had trouble walking for more than 15 minutes.  Pain in my hip makes me stop.  I was diagnosed with some sort of disk fragment pinching a nerve in my spine.  So it was not my hip but a pinched nerve in my back that was causing the pain.
I ignored this for the longest time because when I stopped walking the pain stopped.  That was until a few months ago when the pain was coming whenever I stood up.  I was alternating taking Tylenol and Aleve all day long.
My doctor set me up for 3 spinal injections of steroid & pain killer.

Here is a description:  Allow a few seconds for the film to start. (REMEMBER TO HIT THE BACK BUTTON TO RETURN TO THIS BLOG)

If this does not work he may do spinal surgery.  It involves a 3 hour operation and 3 painful days in the hospital

Here is a description: Allow a few seconds for the film to start. (REMEMBER TO HIT THE BACK BUTTON TO RETURN TO THIS BLOG)

My rheumatologist told me not to have the operation.
- Sometimes the spinal injections work for many years.  Most of the time they need to be done once a year.  Too many injections given too close in time will weaken the spine bones. But they easier than the operation.
-The operation does not always work & is riskier.

I'm not sure what to do.

Another Great GEICO Commercial

This is the latest commercial I've seen.  I wonder if they actually sell more insurance this way or if they just like playing around. 
Now other insurance companies are starting to put out ads that are funny but GEICO still has the best.

Genealogy: Last Class

Last night was my last genealogy class.  I never expected to enjoy what I've learned so much.

Thanks to an excellent teacher-guide a new world of exploration is now open for me.

Genealogy: More Than Just Dates

BATH, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 09:  The sun il...Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Last night in class we went over the point that genealogy is not just a set of dates copied onto a chart or tree.

It's the family events and stories associated with our ancestors.

It also puts a perspective on how the family fits in with the events of history.

Genealogy: First Class Was Great!

Last night was the first class and the instructor asked the nine members of the class about their ancestors.  As I expected, most had English backgrounds from relatives who settled in the USA.

One man had a relative from the "Buffalo" soldiers, a nickname given to the African American regiment which fought against the Native American "Indians".  Supposedly the Native Americans called the black cavalry troops "buffalo soldiers" because of their dark curly hair, which resembled a buffalo's coat.

I was the only one with roots in Italy, being the first generation born in this country.  This may make my search a bit more difficult yet in a way more interesting.

For now I'll have to look over my notes and start the search.

Genealogy: Who Are You Really?

That's the title of  the course I'm taking tonight.  It's at The Center for Lifelong Learning (local adult continuing education). 

I am curious about who my ancestors are.  I've never met my grandparents on either my mother's or father's side of the family so I don't know how far I'll get.
My roots will probably be traceable only back to my grandparents.

Maybe I'm just a "mutt from the pound". 
But they say some of the best tempered and healthiest dogs come from pounds.
It should be very interesting.

Living with Wolves

I enjoy watching these wolves as they were meant to live, out in the wild.

This video gets to me every time.

A Cute Song about a Dog

I came across this video while I was surfing on YouTube.

How to control the Spinning Dancer Illusion

Single frame of Image:Spinning Dancer.gif, sui...Image via Wikipedia

The other day when I was looking again at my post The Spinning Dancer Illusion I found a way to control the direction she is spinning.

Click on link below to see the dancer in motion:
REFLECTIONS- The Spinning Dancer Illusion

If you read any text below the dancer and watch her from your peripheral field of vision she will change direction back and forth then change more slowly if you look directly at her.

Let me know how this works for you.
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The Spinning Dancer Illusion

The Spinning Dancer is a kinetic, bistable opt...

I saw this illusion a few years ago.  At first I suspected the animation caused the girl to alternately spin clockwise then stop and spin counterclockwise.  I tested this suspicion with my wife. We both watched at the same time. 

At first I saw the girl spin the way my wife saw it.  Then the girl changed the direction of her spin for me while not for my wife.  Then she changed again.  Sometimes we saw the same thing other times we saw the opposite. This difference in our view of which direction she was spinning proved it was a real optical illusion and not a trick in the animation.
Here she is:

Image via Wikipedia

Motion Parallax (Part Two)

In my last post I mentioned how when looking out the window of a moving vehicle the passing trees seemed to be rotating on their own turntables. 

Yesterday I payed more attention to the scenery and noticed that when looking out the right side of the car the trees seemed to rotate counterclockwise.  Looking out the left side of the car the trees seemed to rotate clockwise.

Let me know how you see this effect when you travel in a moving vehicle.


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