The Thoughts of a Frumpy Professor

............................................ ............................................ A blog devoted to the ramblings of a small town, middle aged college professor as he experiences life and all its strange variances.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Face

With my recovery from the flu having been a slow process, I was inundated with all things about Michael Jackson on the television. I had been of the opinion for more than the last 15 years or so that Michael Jackson was unfortunately, very mentally ill. Those feelings and opinions were simply based upon his proliferation of bad press in the news. Yet, during the last few days, while I have seen so much of his recent history, it is the earlier imagery that has left me feeling very sad. It is this earlier imagery that makes me feel so much more sad about his life than I had in the recent past. A case in point is in his looks. He literally mutilated himself into something that appeared nearly non-human. This first image represents Michael Jackson BEFORE having plastic surgery on his face. He looks like a normal, handsome young man. His age at this time would be roughly 20. Here is another image of him after untold numbers of surgeries that destroyed his appearance.

I am of the opinion that Jackson likely died from an overdose of narcotics that were exacerbated by severe anorexia in which he began to digest his own heart muscle due to the lack of his consuming food.

It is so very sad. The reality is that he has been "off" mentally for 25 years, ever since he started the process of decapitating his nose and destroying his body. People who were his friends and relatives SHOULD have forced him into a mental health facility to work through whatever it was that was going on in his mind.


Friday, June 26, 2009


This is the worst case of a flu I have experienced in roughly the last 15 years. Fortunately, I am finally feeling on the upswing. I am not over it completely, but I can feel it waning. This makes me very happy.

The sad notes are of course the deaths of Farrah Faucett and Michael Jackson. Both Farrah and Michael had significant difficulties and problems in their famous lives.

Farrah had relationships with men who significantly used recreational drugs. It has especially affected one of her sons, Redmond.

Michael had significant personal issues that drove him to hurt and destroy himself through plastic surgeries and other treatments to his body (eyeliner tattoos as one example).

Yet, both individuals will be missed for their art. Farrah, when she did act, was a very compelling actress. Michael Jackson, with his voice, choreography, and creativity, transformed an entire generation of pop music.

Both will be missed, and both died too young.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Sicker Than A Dog

I have been sicker than a dog since Saturday evening. When I am well, I will write more.


Friday, June 19, 2009

Not Sure

I am not sure what the day has in store. I am feeling nebulous.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Overwhelming Gloom

Wednesday did not turn out well. Emotionally, I have gone into a deep spiral of sadness. I feel like crying most of the time, and even when I try to work (around the home or at the U), the time it takes me to complete anything is about 8 times greater than it should be.

A case in point is to be seen in my trip to Menards. I am attempting to repaint a and remodel a bedroom in our home and needed some supplies (a new grate for the cold air return, a few wall switch plates, wood putty, spray paint, and a few other odds and ends). In my normal state of mind I would have gotten these items and been out of the store in 20 minutes. On Wednesday, it took me very close to two hours to locate the items, pay for them and get back to my truck.

I feel as if the world is about to end. I feel as if I am a failure. I feel as if there is no purpose to anything. I feel alone and lonely. I feel like sleeping all the time.

This morning we had extensive rain and over the course of 3 hours, we received approximately 3.4 inches (8.64 cm)of rain. I went out in the heavy downpour and sat on the back porch with a hat on and smoked my pipe. I turned the bowl of the pipe upside down so the rain would not extinguish the tobacco. The weather befitted my emotions, unfortunately.

I was thinking today about a time when I was perhaps around 12 years old. My mother brought came home with an excited smile on her face. She had been "antiquing" with her sister (my Aunt Aggie) by going around to various old shops looking for finds. She excitedly showed me what she found. It was an old fashioned pepper grinder. I had never seen one before. My beautiful mother delighted in showing me how the item worked, and she brought out some peppercorns and ground them into the little drawer at the base of the device. Her smile is something I so recall, and the beautiful glint in her eyes and she talked about and described the device to me. I miss that smile, and I miss her. I do not recall what happened to the peppermill. I WISH I had it today. The tears are streaming down my cheeks again.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Day 269... If!

If I walk today, it will be day 269. It is raining cats and dogs at the moment, so I am feeling like going back to bed and listening to NPR.

I do not know what the day will bring, but I *do plan* on walking, although not at the moment.

I am trying to not be contemplative today. Life seems happier when I do not contemplate, but instead simply experience. I do not know if that is sustainable, but at least for now, it is better.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Emotions, Who Needs Them?

In many ways, my trip to Chicago was revealing in terms of my emotions. Because of the time frame that we had, I did not really HAVE TIME to dwell on my fears and sadness like I seem to do most of the time. I have mentioned that previously in earlier posts, but I seem to forget that message over time. Yet, how realistic is it to try to stay so hectic and busy that you do not have time to ponder? It is hard to figure out, for I liked feeling happy, carefree, and excited in Chicago, but at the same time, I do not know if that kind of racing around is realistic at home. And, honestly, I am not sure if ignoring the emotions makes them go away, other than temporarily. But, readers, what should I do?

Two restaurant we went to during our stay in Chicago deserve special mention. The first, Athena, was a very classic and classy Greek restaurant that had an absolutely amazing array of side dishes. I was so pleased at the choices, I ended up ordering a salad and three side dishes instead of a traditional entree. One side was GIGANDES, which are baked lima beans in a rich tomato sauce, the second was BRIAMI which is a heaping plate of sauteed vegetables that are then baked with Greek spices, and the third was SPANAKORIZO which is a delightful baked spinach and rice dish flavored similarly to classic Greek stuffed grape leaves. Although not planned, the second resturant of note we visited also ended up being Greek as well. It is called Venus, and it was also a blissful delight of flavors. At this restaurant I ate a traditional Greek salad (with wonderful, fresh feta cheese) and one of their specialty dishes called GEMISTA. This dinner consisted of stuffed tomatoes and peppers filled with pourgouri, rice, raisins and a beautiful range of spices. It was also served with braised, spiced potatoes. The stuffing material, POURGOURI, is a cracked wheat in light tomato and chicken broth.

The food was wonderful. And very nearby our hotel, there was a grocery store called Dominick's. It was a great place for healthy (and not so healthy) snacks, etc.


Monday, June 15, 2009

And You Thought Serotonin Was Just for Mood

The general person-on-the-street, if he/she knows anything about the hormone serotonin, knows about it in relationship to the field of depression and psychology. Yet most people do not realize that hormones typically exert multiple effects in the body. This article is taken from Science News:

Serotonin: What The Gut Feeds the Bones: Chemical Messenger Plays a Surprising Role in Determining the Strength of the Skeleton

By Laura Beil
June 6th, 2009; Vol.175 #12 (p. 16)

Serotonin is produced in the small intestine and then carried into bone, where it affects bone formation and density.

The hip bone is connected to the backbone. The backbone is connected to the neck bone. And lately, scientists have begun to think that all dem bones may be connected to the intestine — at least by biochemical signals. If the current evidence holds up, it means that a chemical better known for influencing the brain may also corrode the internal structure of the skeleton.

Such is the state of research into bone biology: “The more we understand, the more complex it gets,” says Clifford Rosen of the Maine Medical Center Research Institute in Scarborough. Rosen is one of a growing number of researchers who think that the brain, intestine and skeleton are conducting an ongoing biochemical negotiation that affects the ebb and flow of tissue building inside bones. One of the chief currencies appears to be serotonin, a neurotransmitter most famous for its role in depression.

The idea that serotonin might be bad news for bones came as a surprise almost a decade ago. And the notion that the intestine hosts a serotonin-bone command center — first described last fall — was more surprising still. “It’s thrown the field into a bit of an uproar,” says Michael Bliziotes of Oregon Health & Science University in Portland.

By eavesdropping on the crosstalk between the intestine and skeleton, researchers hope to find much-needed ways to help protect bones into old age. More than 300,000 elderly Americans suffer hip fractures each year; one in five die within a year from complications of the injury. Bone-strengthening medications have been hard to come by, largely because bone is simultaneously one of the most simple and most convoluted structures in the body — brilliant and straightforward in engineering, yet owing its construction to an elaborate relationship with internal organs.

It’s easy to perceive bones as dense and dead. But on the inside, bones are not hard like blocks of wood, but airy, like sponges. The internal, honeycomb-like scaffolding allows bones to be sturdy without leaving them too heavy. Strength isn’t determined by density but by the makeup of the matrix within (in the same way a china plate is denser than a plastic one but less likely to survive a drop on the floor).

Neither are bones dead. Throughout life, bones are constantly remodeling themselves, constructing new tissue in some places, clearing out old bone in others. As with hair or skin, worn bone 
tissue is constantly replaced with new in what is called bone turnover. Bones generally reach their maximum strength in early adulthood, after which they gradually wear away. After decades of erosion, bone density sometimes dips low enough to qualify as osteoporosis. That disorder occurs largely because, as people age, cells that secrete new bone, called osteoblasts, don’t work as robustly as osteoclasts, cells that resorb or break down bone, especially in postmenopausal women. Most treatments for osteoporosis slow the loss of bone; the one drug that can build bone costs thousands of dollars a year per patient and isn’t prescribed as a long-term option.

Nutrients and hormones — including vitamin D, calcium and estrogen — are crucial to maintaining a favorable rate of bone turnover. Strength training also tips the balance toward osteoblasts. These aspects of bone biology are clear. But scientists acknowledge that much of the skeleton-building story remains a mystery.

The link between serotonin and bones turned up, as scientific discoveries often do, when researchers were looking for something else altogether. In 2000, scientists at Duke University in Durham, N.C., were conducting studies on substance abuse with mice specifically bred to lack certain brain molecules called dopamine transporters, which interact with the neurotransmitter dopamine. The scientists noticed that the mice seemed to have extraordinarily brittle bones. Bliziotes, an endocrinologist who had been collaborating with the Duke team, began to search for a biochemical explanation.

Serotonin may be best known for its role in the brain, where it helps regulate mood, learning and sleep. But most of the body’s serotonin is made in the gut and never crosses the blood-brain barrier. Eating a meal stimulates the Tph1 enzyme, which makes serotonin in the gut. The signaling molecule Lrp5 can block serotonin production, helping to regulate serotonin levels. Blood platelets move serotonin throughout the body and into bone. Because it binds to serotonin receptor 1b, the neurotransmitter in excess can hinder the formation of new bone cells called osteoblasts. This may lead to lower bone density by upsetting the normal balance between bone formation and loss. In people, genetic mutations in the Lrp5 gene have been linked to bone density problems.

Although they went searching for dopamine transporters in the bones of normal mice, the researchers were astonished to instead find transporter molecules for serotonin, Bliziotes and his colleagues reported in the journal Bone in 2001. And the serotonin transporter molecules turned up in all types of bone cells —osteoblasts, osteoclasts and, later work showed, osteocytes, cells derived from osteoblasts. That same year, a Dutch research team studying chicken embryos also discovered a role for the neurotransmitter in bone. “Before 2001, it wasn’t known that serotonin had any involvement in bone,” Bliziotes says.

In the brain, low levels of available serotonin are thought to contribute to depression. Indeed, the most famous antidepressant in the medicine cabinet — Prozac — works to boost the supply of serotonin available in brain synapses, junctures where neurons communicate. So what was serotonin doing in bones?

Apparently, making them weaker: Serotonin seems to interfere with the production of the bone-forming osteoblasts. Following the discovery of a serotonin connection to bones, Bliziotes and others began to worry about the more than 8 percent of U.S. adults who take Prozac and related drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, to amplify serotonin. In 2007 in the Archives of Internal Medicine, Bliziotes and his colleagues described a study of almost 6,000 older men involved in an osteoporosis investigation. Men taking SSRIs had lower average bone density than those not on the drugs. A related study of postmenopausal women found that bone density declined in those taking SSRIs twice as fast as it did in other women.

“I think the major question right now is — if depressed people are going to be treated with SSRIs, are we subjecting them to risk of fracture?” says Bliziotes. The issue is still under investigation, largely because the studies are difficult to interpret. Among people taking SSRIs, Bliziotes says, “most of them are going to have been put on SSRIs for symptoms of depression. Depression alone has been associated with lower bone density.” And people with depression may have weaker bones not from their own physiology but because of lifestyle changes that can accompany the condition, including poor nutrition and low levels of exercise. “We haven’t done randomized trials,” Bliziotes notes.

To further investigate the role of serotonin, researchers have looked to bone tissue itself to characterize the neurotransmitter’s influence over bone cells. These studies have led to a family of proteins called Wnt. (The name comes from a combination of two genes first discovered in fruit flies — wingless and INT — and is pronounced “wint.”) Wnt proteins have so many functions that a book about them takes up two volumes. Medical researchers have an intense interest in Wnts because the molecules appear to be involved in cancer, heart disease, obesity and many other conditions. But Wnts also orchestrate basic development and maintenance of body parts.

The fruit fly Wnt proteins have human counterparts, including, of special interest to bone researchers, the signaling protein Lrp5. About a decade ago, researchers found that mice with a mutated form of the gene for Lrp5 had low bone density. In people, mutations in this gene can lead to two distinct effects on bone. One is osteoporosis-pseudoglioma, a rare syndrome that affects children, giving them bones often too fragile even for walking, along with vision problems early in life. A different mutation in the gene produces a condition at the other end of the clinical spectrum: high bone mass syndrome, rendering bones unusually dense and protected against osteoporosis. Looking at the effects of these mutations in people, it became clear that Lrp5 had the power to make or break bone.

“Since the discovery of Lrp5, there has been a tremendous effort to study how it works,” says Gerard Karsenty of Columbia University Medical Center. Until last year, most researchers assumed that whatever the role of Lrp5, its importance started and ended in the skeleton. Then in November, Karsenty and his colleagues published a paper in Cell that was, in bone research circles, jaw dropping: In experiments with mice, he demonstrated that Lrp5 affects the production of serotonin in the duodenum, the segment of the small intestine where most digestion of food occurs (SN Online: 11/26/08).

Despite the neurotransmitter’s fame in the brain, 95 percent of the body’s serotonin is made in the intestine, from the amino acid tryptophan, which is a component of dietary protein (and lore aside, is no more prevalent in turkey than other meats). After a meal, the intestine turns tryptophan into serotonin, while platelets from the bloodstream ferry serotonin throughout the body. It’s an entirely separate circuitry from serotonin production in the brain. Serotonin made in the brain stays in the brain, and the two different sources don’t mingle.

Karsenty’s experiments found that Lrp5 interferes with the production of serotonin in the gut. To arrive at this conclusion, he and his colleagues bred mice with gene mutations known to hamper bone formation. Yet when bone cells from these mice were isolated in laboratory dishes, and thus removed from exposure to serotonin, they grew normally. In short, when not exposed to serotonin, the tissue appeared to be just fine. Similarly, when normal bone cells were exposed to serotonin in the laboratory, their growth slowed. According to these experiments, the problem with bone growth seemed to lie outside of bone cells and not in some faulty bone-building mechanism.

That led Karsenty’s team to search for other organs that might affect bone formation. In the Cell paper, he and his colleagues reported that Lrp5 acted in the gut, blocking a key enzyme necessary for the conversion of tryptophan to serotonin. When the intestine is awash in Lrp5, less serotonin gets produced, and bones remain stronger. Less Lrp5 means more serotonin, and weaker bones. “This study uncovers an unanticipated molecular mechanism accounting for the Lrp5 regulation of bone formation,” the researchers wrote.

Key questions remain. Among them: How might all this knowledge one day translate into a medical benefit? Other, broader issues go beyond the skeleton. Serotonin isn’t present just in the brain, intestine and bones. It works throughout the body, tweaking many different systems, including the cardiovascular system and digestion. “If you turn off the main site of synthesis, what kind of bad effects are you going to have?” says Bliziotes. No one can be sure until the cellular machinery is better understood.

Rosen also wonders how the brain comes into this picture. Although the serotonin in the brain and intestine never meet, evidence suggests that the brain may have other effects on bones. Some of that influence may even act through the digestive system. The hormone leptin suppresses appetite but is also implicated in the regulation of bone mass. And Rosen points to other hints of a brain-bone connection. For example, the rate of new bone formation increases after traumatic head injury.

Rosen isn’t surprised that the skeleton would have a connection to the gut. Bones are the body’s biggest storehouse for calcium. Bone turnover slows after eating, probably to keep calcium locked in the bones, he says, and increases during fasting. Through serotonin, the intestine may be cueing bones to slow or to rev up turnover based on the body’s need for calcium. Ultimately, he believes, scientists may find that bones have a more intimate connection to other organs than anyone first thought. “I think we have just scratched the surface,” Rosen says.

For now, scientists are eager to learn more about serotonin and how critical a role it may have in bone structure. More than anything, says researcher Fanxin Long of Washington University Medical School in St. Louis, the new findings are a stark reminder that no organ in the body operates as its own, isolated fiefdom. “It highlights a picture that has become more and more clear,” Long says. “Different organs in the body talk to each other.” In a language scientists hope to one day fully understand.

Serotonin may be best known for its role in the brain, where it helps regulate mood, learning and sleep. But most of the body’s serotonin is made in the gut and never crosses the blood-brain barrier. Eating a meal stimulates the Tph1 enzyme, which makes serotonin in the gut. The signaling molecule Lrp5 can block serotonin production, helping to regulate serotonin levels. Blood platelets move serotonin throughout the body and into bone. Because it binds to serotonin receptor 1b, the neurotransmitter in excess can hinder the formation of new bone cells called osteoblasts. This may lead to lower bone density by upsetting the normal balance between bone formation and loss. In people, genetic mutations in the Lrp5 gene have been linked to bone density problems.

Laura Beil is a freelance science writer in Cedar Hill, Texas.

* * * * *

Very interesting indeed. Many hormones DO have multiple effects depending upon the target tissues. It makes my chosen field of endocrinology so appealing.


Friday, June 12, 2009


Being in a big city like Chicago for a few days is certainly a nice experience. It is fun being a part of the hustle and bustle. It is enjoyable seeing all the crowds of people. It is interesting to just watch and look and listen to all the sights, sounds and happenings.


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Heading to Chicago

I am attending a national research meeting in Chicago this weekend and I am getting ready to go. I thought I would leave you with the lyrics and a song link to a very well written song by John Denver:

Leaving On A Jet Plane

All my bags are packed
Im ready to go
Im standin here outside your door
I hate to wake you up to say goodbye
But the dawn is breakin
Its early morn
The taxis waitin
Hes blowin his horn
Already Im so lonesome
I could die

So kiss me and smile for me
Tell me that youll wait for me
Hold me like youll never let me go
cause Im leavin on a jet plane
Dont know when Ill be back again
Oh babe, I hate to go

Theres so many times Ive let you down
So many times Ive played around
I tell you now, they dont mean a thing
Evry place I go, Ill think of you
Evry song I sing, Ill sing for you
When I come back, Ill bring your wedding ring

So kiss me and smile for me
Tell me that youll wait for me
Hold me like youll never let me go
cause Im leavin on a jet plane
Dont know when Ill be back again
Oh babe, I hate to go

Now the time has come to leave you
One more time
Let me kiss you
Then close your eyes
Ill be on my way
Dream about the days to come
When I wont have to leave alone
About the times, I wont have to say

Oh, kiss me and smile for me
Tell me that youll wait for me
Hold me like youll never let me go
cause Im leavin on a jet plane
Dont know when Ill be back again
Oh babe, I hate to go

But, Im leavin on a jet plane
Dont know when Ill be back again
Oh babe, I hate to go

If I get some free time and Internet access, I will write on Friday.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Day 262

This is my 262nd day of walking in a row without missing a day. I am happy about this. My current weight is 186 pounds (84.4 kilograms). My BMI is 23.9 so I am getting even more into the mid-range of NORMAL body weight. I am only four pounds (1.8 kilograms) away from having lost 100 pounds (45.4 kilograms).

In thinking about how to make a mark yesterday, I began to think, perhaps an EASIER thing to do to get some "fame" and "fortune" would be to write a new diet book. For those of you who are my foreign readers, you may or may not know, but in the United States, the diet book industry is one of the BIGGEST categories of books sold in our nation. The reality about health and weight loss is simple... eat fewer calories than you utilize in a day, drink water, exercise vigorously, and get adequate rest. However, those four little items are very difficult for many of us to follow. Just look at the CDC Map of the Growth in Obesity in the United States.

The reason why diet books are so popular is that they find new, creative, and often entertaining ways to give us the basic message (eat fewer calories than you utilize in a day, drink water, exercise vigorously, and get adequate rest) in a way that makes it seem like there is some sort of magic, special way to do this without having to struggle. The reality is that the vast majority (if not all) diet books are saying the same thing, couched in a different way that is more palatable for people who do not like the real message.... eat fewer calories than you utilize in a day, drink water, exercise vigorously, and get adequate rest. Currently on the best selling list at Amazon are the following diet books:

Overcoming Overeating: How to Break the Diet/Binge Cycle and Live a Healthier, More Satisfying Life by Jane R. Hirschmann and Carol H. Munter

The Incredible Shrinking Critic: 75 Pounds and Counting: My Excellent Adventure in Weight Loss by Jami Bernard

The 20/30 Fat & Fiber Diet Plan: The Weight-Reducing, Health-Promoting Nutrition System for Life
by Gabe Mirkin and Barry Fox

What to Eat When You Get Diabetes: Easy and Appetizing Ways to Make Healthful Changes in Your Diet by Carolyn Leontos

The PMS Diet Book by Karen Evennett

All of the books are similar in the actual message to shed weight, but they are covered by very different, eye-catching images and phrases to grab people's attention. Perhaps I should strive to do the same thing. Perhaps if I did, the catchy titles could be one of the following:

"This Ain't No Damn Diet Book!"

"Diet Through Consistency"

"Healthy Weight By The Numbers"

Who knows, perhaps I could write the next diet book blockbuster!


Tuesday, June 09, 2009

What the Hell Is It All About?

Emotionally draining thoughts swirl around my head. I fear death, I fear life, I fear loneliness, I fear illness. What is it I should do with my life? It is a conundrum that is difficult to make any headway on.

A part of me says... "Just do whatever, do not worry, do not plan, do not strive to make any difference. You will be dead all too soon and none of any of what I do matters a whole helluva lot."

Another part of me says... "You must keep working towards goals, you must keep striving to be a better person, a more helpful person, a better man to your family, you must try to be a better man for society, and you must strive to make something that will last well beyond my physical days here."

A third part of me says... "Should I do this, or should I do that or should I do something else altogether? If I were to "buy into" this idea of striving to make something of meaning beyond my own life, how the hell do I figure out what that is?"

A fourth part of me often says... "Do not think about this sh*t anymore. It is pointless and useless and has no value. Unlike what Socrates says, "An unexamined life is not worth living." perhaps more TRUE is that examining life is a whole helluva lot of waste of a person's time."

I do not really know anymore what to think or do. I feel like I cannot see, I cannot feel or understand what my life should be or what I should do. I feel like I am going through the motions.... doing what I have always done, but not feeling the same joy or passions in life like I used to have, but I do not know how to go about feeling those passions again. All I know is that I love my family, and I wish I knew how to be more deeply with them every moment, regardless of what I am doing.


Monday, June 08, 2009

Interesting Literary News

I just read this essay from CNN about J.D. Salinger:

Lawsuit Targets 'Rip-Off' of 'Catcher in the Rye'

By Doug Gross of CNN

Reclusive author J.D. Salinger has emerged, at least in the pages of court documents, to try to stop a novel that presents Holden Caulfield, the disaffected teen hero of his classic "The Catcher in the Rye," as an old man.
J.D. Salinger has stayed out of the public eye for most of the past half century.

J.D. Salinger has stayed out of the public eye for most of the past half century. Lawyers for Salinger filed suit in federal court this week to stop the publication, sale and advertisement of "60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye," a novel written by an author calling himself J.D. California and published by a Swedish company that advertises joke books and a "sexual dictionary" on its Web site.

"The Sequel infringes Salinger's copyright rights in both his novel and the character Holden Caulfield, who is the narrator and essence of that novel," said the suit, filed Monday in U.S. District Court in New York.

Published in 1951, "The Catcher in the Rye" is an iconic take on teen alienation that is consistently listed among the greatest English-language novels ever written.

Salinger, 90, who has famously lived the life of a recluse in New Hampshire for most of the past half-century, last published in 1965. With the exception of a 1949 movie based on one of his early short stories, he has never authorized adaptations of any of his work, even turning down an overture from director Steven Spielberg to make "Catcher" into a movie.

"There's no more to Holden Caulfield. Read the book again. It's all there," the court filing quotes Salinger as saying in 1980. "Holden Caulfield is only a frozen moment in time."

The filing refers to the new book's author as "John Doe," saying that the name John David California probably is made up.

The first-time novelist's biography on says California is the son of a Swedish mother and American father who was named after the state where he was born.

It claims he is a former gravedigger and triathlete who found a copy of Salinger's novel "in an abandoned cabin in rural Cambodia" and that it helped him survive "the most maniacal of tropical fevers and chronic isolation."

The Web site's description of the book is written in the same choppy, first-person stream of consciousness that Salinger employs as Holden wanders the streets of New York. It describes a character, "Mr. C," who flees his nursing home and "embarks on a curious journey through the streets of New York."

The lawsuit names Swedish publisher Nicotext; its offshoot, Windupbird Publishing Ltd.; and California-based SCB Distributors as defendants.

The Web site for Nicotext advertises such books as "The Macho Man's (Bad) Joke Book" and "Give It To Me Baby," which it describes as an erotic "flick book."

Marcia Paul, Salinger's New York-based attorney, declined to speak on the record, citing her client's private nature.

E-mail messages to Nicotext were not returned Wednesday.

Aaron Silverman, president of SCB Distributors, said the people behind the new book plan to defend it against the lawsuit.

"We believe we have the right to distribute this book and the publishers believe they have the right to publish it," he said.

Silverman, whose company distributes books by about 150 publishers, called "60 Years Later" a work of "social science fiction," saying that California doesn't plagiarize, but sets a well-known character in an alternate place and time -- as literature has done for centuries.

"It's amazing," he said of the book. "If it was something else, or it felt like a knock-off or whatever, I would have told the publisher we wouldn't do it. But it's really just amazing."

Despite his cloistered lifestyle, Salinger nods to the contemporary marketplace in the lawsuit, noting that, as of last week, " 'The Catcher in the Rye' currently sells more copies on than 'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone,' 'The DaVinci Code,' 'To Kill a Mockingbird' or 'Of Mice and Men.' "

A hearing in the case is expected Monday. Salinger's lawyers will ask a judge to freeze publication of the book until a final ruling is made.

The book is already available in Europe and the United Kingdom, and is scheduled to be released in the United States in September. The lawsuit asks that sales be halted and that books already distributed be recalled and destroyed.

The argument is reminiscent of the legal tussle over the 2001 novel "The Wind Done Gone," a parody of Margaret Mitchell's "Gone With the Wind" told from the perspective of a slave.

Mitchell's estate argued that the book, by novelist Alice Randall, infringed upon her copyright. But the 11th District U.S. Court of Appeals ruled in Randall's favor, saying the book was protected as a parody of a well-known work.

Salinger's lawyers say "60 Years Later" deserves no such protection.

"The sequel is not a parody and it does not comment upon or criticize the original," the lawsuit argues. "It is a rip-off pure and simple."

* * * * *

I am not sure where I stand on this issue. I think authors do have a right to protect their work (like Salinger), but I also think authors have the right to write about known characters (like California). In the greater scheme of things, I *think* at this point, I hope that California's book is published as I think that right may be a bit more significant in this particular case.


Friday, June 05, 2009


If all works out, I will go and talk with my father-in-law this afternoon. I hope it *does* all work out for it would be enjoyable.

People, any of you that read, what is it that I should do to garner more readers? I am feeling lonely with minimal comments and a shrinking readership.


Thursday, June 04, 2009


Money and "Honey-Do Lists"

I was very surprised and happy to learn that I *did* win the grant I applied for. I now have roughly $10,000 to play with in my newest research idea. I will be getting materials ordered in the next several days as the expenditure time and work time for this grant is very short (must be completed by September 1st.

I am still in the midst of home renovations. I am painting rooms like a crazy person. I will be glad when I am finished painting and can enjoy the new spaces. But I am very tired of "blue tape" issues. "Blue Tape" is a form of masking tape that is *in theory* supposed to enhance the painting process by allowing one to form clean paint lines and to allow easy removal of tape at the conclusion. Well, unfortunately, the "easy removal" part is not quite as easy as I would like. But, oh well, if I screw up my patience and courage I will eventually be able to get it all done with only limited cursing and frustration.


Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Day 255

The milestone of day 250 was last Friday and my wife and kids surprised me with a gift of some new exercise clothes. It was greatly appreciated. I had been wearing old sweat pants and a sweat shirt from my heavier days since I started and they literally looked as if I were a deflated balloon.

I do not know what you, my dear readers, think about yogurt. I have become a connoisseur of yogurt and relish the cup I have each morning along with my cereal. My favorite flavors of late have been lemon, lime, and cinnamon roll.

A new favorite of cereal that I eat, in rotation with my oatmeal and my high fiber cereal is simple groats. I am very much enjoying the chewy texture of this cereal.


Tuesday, June 02, 2009

In A Rough Patch Emotionally

I am in a rough patch emotionally again. I am overwhelmed with fears of death and dying for myself and for others around me. I seem to have little coping mechanisms available to me to deal with these emotions other than to *try* to ignore them. And, unfortunately, that is easier said than done on many days.

I feel ineffective and useless and have no energy to "pull myself up by my bootstraps" to struggle into a different place emotionally. Instead, I am feeling all I can muster energy wise is to simply exist and to drift through the day until the next day comes.

I am not sure if writing this is valuable or not. My readership has plummeted to new lows. But, oh well. I am to tired to try to drum up readers.


Monday, June 01, 2009

Use of Tools In Other Species

The following article from Science News is about how new evidence shows that Chimps can use a COMPLEX set of tools in their life. This is a significant finding because up until recently, the thought was tool use was rudimentary or simple in other species, but only COMPLEX in humans.

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Extensive Toolkits Give Chimps a Taste of Honey: Central African Apes Use Sets of as Many as Five Modified Sticks to Extract Snacks from Hives

By Bruce Bower

Chimpanzees living in central Africa’s dense forests have no access to a hardware store, but that doesn’t stop them from assembling their own brand of toolkits. These apes use as many as five homemade tools in set sequences to obtain honey from beehives located at least 20 meters high in the trees, in fallen tree trunks and up to 1 meter underground, according to two new studies.

Chimps living in Gabon’s Loango National Park modify tree branches of various lengths and widths to make complex tool sets for removing honey from the hives of different bee species, anthropologist Christophe Boesch of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, and his colleagues report online May 19 in the Journal of Human Evolution. In other parts of Africa, chimps use only one or two tools at a time to obtain honey from hives, crack nuts or hunt small animals.

Near Loango, in a forested region of the Congo Basin called the Goualougo Triangle, another group of chimps also makes and uses different types of tools to open beehives and gather honey, say Crickette Sanz, also of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, and David Morgan of Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago.

Chimps across Africa have developed regional tool-using traditions in honey gathering, Sanz and Morgan propose in the June International Journal of Primatology. In central African forests, hard-to-reach hives and competition for food with nearby gorillas have elicited complex forms of tool use by chimps, the researchers contend. That proposal challenges the traditional idea that advanced behaviors among human ancestors emerged only after they left the forest for wide-open savannas. Forest-dwelling ancestors could have achieved chimplike advances in tool-making as well, in Sanz and Morgan’s view.

The findings further narrow the proposed divide between human and chimp tool use, Boesch asserts. “Specific nest structures affect honey-extraction techniques used by chimpanzees, and the animals are surprising us with the solutions they can come up with,” he says.

Anthropologist Craig Stanford of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles agrees. “Using up to five tools in sequence is startlingly complex, even compared to the degree of technological savvy we know chimpanzees possess,” Stanford comments.

From February 2005 through September 2007, Boesch’s team collected more than 100 honey-gathering tools used by the Loango chimps. Many implements lay in piles at the base of trees or near entrances to underground nests. Boesch’s team also observed more than a dozen instances of chimps, in groups of two to 12, using several tools to extract honey from hives in trees and in fallen branches. In some cases, chimps modified both ends of a stick so that it could be used for two purposes.

Five different tools with distinctive signs of wear on their ends were identified: Pounders are thick sticks with rounded ends that chimps hammer against hives to create an opening. Enlargers are thinner sticks used to break apart compartments within hives. Chimps then dip or scoop honey out of hives using branches with frayed ends that the researchers refer to as collectors. Strips of bark, or swabbers, are also used to spoon honey out of opened hives.

And, though no sightings were made of chimps gathering honey from underground hives, sticks left by those hives suggest an additional tool is used to probe the soil. Long sticks, called perforators, are thrust into the soil to locate chambers before any of the other tools are employed, Boesch suggests. Then the apes dig a narrow, angled tunnel that enables them to reach a buried chamber without letting soil mix with removed honey.

Boesch hopes that video cameras set up in the forest will record chimps gathering honey from underground hives.

Between 2002 and 2006, Sanz and Morgan observed 40 instances of Goualougo chimps using sets of two to five tools to gather honey, mainly from tree hives but also from fallen trees and underground hives. Tool behavior was consistent with Boesch’s descriptions of how Loango chimps employed their implements. Goualougo chimps also make toolkits, not just individual tools (SN:10/23/04, p. 269), for extracting termites from their nests, the researchers say.

Goualougo chimps succeeded in extracting honey from beehives on only half of their observed attempts. Successful hive raids yielded anywhere from a few drops of honey to several handfuls of honeycomb, suggesting that chimps often got a modest nutritional return for their efforts, Sanz and Morgan suggest.

In Loango, chimps frequently took large amounts of honey from hives, Boesch notes.

No evidence of tool use among ancient members of the human evolutionary family, or hominids, exists before 2.5 million years ago. But the new findings suggest that hominids, such as more than 3-million-year-old species that included Lucy, also could have made wooden tools for gathering honey, Boesch says.

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Very interesting evidence indeed. I suspect if we look harder we will see even more evidence of complex tool use.