Wednesday, October 24, 2007

New Earth?

The Guardian reported this past Spring that astronomers at the European Southern Observatory have discovered another planet that could be very Earth-like in its development and could, in fact, contain an oxygen atmosphere and enough water to sustain life as we know it. The article is here.

The planet is called "Gliese 581c" and it circles a red dwarf star about 20 light years away. It's quite a bit closer to that star than we are to our own sun, but because Gliese 581 burns so much cooler than our sun, it all evens out. It's about one-and-a-half times as big as our home here on Earth. The temperature ranges from about 30 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit (or 0 to 40 Celsius).

The thing I found most interesting is that its orbit lasts only 13 days. That's the equivalent of a year in just under two weeks. I'm trying to wrap my head around that.

Using what measurements we know, you'd have to get paid about twice a day. Vacations and holidays would be measured in hours. You'd just be getting over one New Year's Eve party when, whoops, here comes another one!

"Hey, how old are you?"
"About a hundred and twenty minutes!"

At 20 light years and our current methods of space travel, it would only take about 375,000 years to reach Gliese 581c.

Hmmm. Better get started.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Palindrome Blues

Those of you who read "Mark Mail" know that I'm a lover of words. So I'm intrigued by things like palindromes, which are words or phrases that read the same forward and backward. The classic example is, "Madam, I'm Adam."

But Weird Al Yankovic has taken palindromes to the next level with this satire of Bob Dylan's Subterranean Homesick Blues.

That's right, while I'm home recuperating I'm pretty much just spending a bunch of time surfing the 'Net. Catching some pretty interesting - and, hopefully, funny - things in that Web, too.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

At Home with the Cat

So I'm in the second week of my recovery and the brain always seems to be ready to move on before the body, which means a little bit of tedium has crept into my days. At least I have the cat to keep me company, when she's around. Oh, that's "Spot," by the way. Like most cats, I'm pretty much ignored unless she wants some food, or attention. Then she's all over me. I confess the purring is pretty therapeutic. Hers, not mine.

When my wife lays down, the cat wastes no time in curling up right next to her. With me, she might sleep at the foot of the bed or, if I'm lucky, she'll lay down on my desk next to me while I'm at the computer.

Spot is the reason I found this video pretty dang humorous. Enjoy.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Slice. Dice. Very Nice.

I have made it through my surgery. With flying colors, thanks to your kind thoughts and generous prayers. Here it is Wednesday, the surgery four days behind me, and still a couple of weeks recuperation in front of me.

My gall bladder was, my doctors tell me, the worst they had seen recently and it began to break apart as they extracted it. I'm glad I didn't wait until January to have it out, as I was first tempted to do.

They also excised a chunk of scar tissue from a childhood surgery that they had first mistaken for a hernia. That left me with a five-stitch suture along with four other new holes in my torso.

Now, it's just rest, rebuilding my strength - which seems to abandon me after just a couple of hours - and adjusting my diet to make up for the lack of bile the gall bladder normally produces. My friend Larry sent me an article that explains what is going on with my body now.

Instead of concentrated bile excreted by the gall bladder after a meal, now I have a constant small trickle of the stuff produced by the liver. It can't keep up with the fat concentration in a normal diet, so that just turns to liquid and you get...well, let's just say you'd better NOT get far from a bathroom.

So it's low fat from here on out, or at least a couple of months until my body adjusts to this new way of digestion.

Yum. Sounds like fun. Man, getting old sucks.