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I had a girl...

...Donna was her name...

I watched the film "La Bamba" the other night, and like a million other people, I wondered "What happened to Donna?"

Well, here she is.

And here are some pictures of her back in the day.

What did I learn from this, for life? Well, I'm not totally sure... maybe that life is less romantic the older you get, but that's ok... or maybe it isn't...

Jun. 11th, 2009

I'm sorry this comm has become quiet. Real life does get in the way, sometimes, doesn't it?

Anyone else here is free to post, you know... :-)


The Check Digit in UPCs

Universal Product Codes (UPCs) contain a check digit. It's the last digit in the code, and it's calculated with a mathematical formula that uses all of the other numbers in the code:

  1. Add together each digit in the odd-numbered positions (the first number, third number, fifth number, etc.).
  2. Multiply this number by three.
  3. To this number, add each digit in the even-numbered positions (the second number, fourth number, sixth number, etc.) Note: do not add the last digit (the check digit) in this step because that's what we're calculating.
  4. To this number, add the digit that sums a multiple of ten. The added number is the check digit.

Real life example: I have a bottle of Ice Mountain brand Natural Spring Water in front of me. Its UPC is
0 83046 00013 5

  1. 0 + 3 + 4 + 0 + 0 + 3 = 10
  2. 10 x 3 = 30
  3. 30 + 8 + 0 + 6 + 0 + 1 = 45
  4. 45 + 5 = 50, so the check digit is 5.

If you want to calculate check digits a bit faster, note that you only need to keep track of the digit in the ones' place (like the 3 in 183).

After having learned this formula, I've found myself calculating check digits whenever I see a barcode. Maybe you can resist the urge? ;)

Today's word..

... is Arachibutyrophobia.

The fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth.

I kid you not.


LOTR film...

Cross-posted. :-)

Just for you Lord of the Rings fans - have you seen that there's a new short film out? It's been made by fans, for fans, on a budget of £3000 (plus donations, I think).

The trailer looks good. And the whole thing was release yesterday and can be seen on:

I'll probably have a look tomorrow. It has its own IMDB page already, and has been voted 8.6/10....


Hubble pictures

If you haven't seen some of the latest pictures from the Hubble Telescope, check it out:


Mar. 4th, 2009

A friend replied to a post today with otsukare deshita, which apparently means something along the lines of "you worked hard and you must be tired, now relax"...

It got me thinking about words that have difficult translations.

One other I've come across (in a Ronny Cox song) is Mamihlapinatapei, which is in the Yaghan language from Tierra del Fuego and translates as "a look shared by two people with each wishing that the other will initiate something that both desire but which neither one wants to start". Sweet, eh?

The Portuguese word saudade can be translated as "the feeling of missing a person who is gone".

The Kivilan word mokita from Papua New Guinea: "the truth which no one speaks".

Anyone have any more untranslatable words? :-)


beyond the cherry tree

Does everyone already know that George Washington's false teeth were made of hippopotamus bone, and not wood?

Personally, I think that's even more creepy.

Anyway, enjoy your Presidents' Day-- nobody's real birthday, of course...

13 Freaky Facts about Friday the 13th!

Maybe this is just under the wire for those in the UK or otherwise, but for those in the states, it's still Friday the 13th. And here are 13 perhaps otherwise unknown facts about this day:

1. The British Navy is said to have built a ship named Friday the 13th, or the HMS Friday, which on its maiden voyage left dock on a Friday the 13th, and was never heard from again. As LiveScience readers pointed out, however, this story seems to be a legend. The Royal Navy Museum states on its web site that this story, which has been told before, is a hoax. "There has never been a Royal Navy ship named HMS Friday – or after any other day of the week for that matter," the museum states.

2. The ill-fated Apollo 13 launched at 13:13 CST on Apr. 11, 1970. The sum of the date's digits (4-11-70) is 13 (as in 4+1+1+7+0 = 13). And the explosion that crippled the spacecraft occurred on April 13 (not a Friday). The crew did make it back to Earth safely, however.

3. Many hospitals have no room 13, while some tall buildings skip the 13th floor.

4. Fear of Friday the 13th — one of the most popular myths in science — is called paraskavedekatriaphobia as well as friggatriskaidekaphobia. Triskaidekaphobia is fear of the number 13.

5. Quarterback Dan Marino wore No. 13 throughout his career with the Miami Dolphins. Despite being a superb quarterback (some call him one of the best ever), he got to the Super Bowl just once, in 1985, and was trounced 38-16 by the San Francisco 49ers and Joe Montana (who wore No. 16 and won all four Super Bowls he played in).

6. Butch Cassidy, notorious American train and bank robber, was born on Friday, April 13, 1866.

7. Fidel Castro was born on Friday, Aug. 13, 1926.

8. President Franklin D. Roosevelt would not travel on the 13th day of any month and would never host 13 guests at a meal. Napoleon and Herbert Hoover were also triskaidekaphobic, with an abnormal fear of the number 13.

9. Superstitious diners in Paris can hire a quatorzieme, or professional 14th guest.

10. Mark Twain once was the 13th guest at a dinner party. A friend warned him not to go. "It was bad luck," Twain later told the friend. "They only had food for 12."

11. Woodrow Wilson considered 13 his lucky number, though his experience didn't support such faith. He arrived in Normandy, France on Friday, Dec. 13, 1918, for peace talks, only to return with a treaty he couldn't get Congress to sign. (The ship's crew wanted to dock the next day due to superstitions, Fernsler said.) He toured the United States to rally support for the treaty, and while traveling, suffered a near-fatal stroke.

12. The number 13 suffers from its position after 12, according to numerologists who consider the latter to be a complete number — 12 months in a year, 12 signs of the zodiac, 12 gods of Olympus, 12 labors of Hercules, 12 tribes of Israel, 12 apostles of Jesus, 12 days of Christmas and 12 eggs in a dozen.

13. The seals on the back of a dollar bill include 13 steps on the pyramid, 13 stars above the eagle's head, 13 war arrows in the eagle's claw and 13 leaves on the olive branch. So far there's been no evidence tying these long-ago design decisions to the present economic situation.

Hope everyone's Friday the 13th was lucky!!
happy Valentine's day too!!

New word

Paraskavedekatriaphobia - Fear of Friday the 13th!

Do I suffer from it? Not yet...


Jan. 17th, 2009

I was just watching Patriot Games, with Harrison Ford and James Earl Jones. We remarked on how much we like James Earl, and how his voice is so amazing. So I looked him up.

Apparently, he studied acting in order to control a stammer (stutter). He says he still struggles with it, and has to think carefully about everything he says.

Isn't that amazing? His voice is wonderful!



The history of Christmas dates back over 4000 years. Many of our Christmas traditions were celebrated centuries before the Christ child was born. The 12 days of Christmas, the bright fires, the yule log, the giving of gifts, carnivals(parades) with floats, carolers who sing while going from house to house, the holiday feasts, and the church processions can all be traced back to the early Mesopotamians.

-In Scandinavia during the winter months the sun would disappear for many days. After thirty-five days scouts would be sent to the mountain tops to look for the return of the sun. When the first light was seen the scouts would return with the good news. A great festival would be held, called the Yuletide, and a special feast would be served around a fire burning with the Yule log. Great bonfires would also be lit to celebrate the return of the sun. In some areas people would tie apples to branches of trees to remind themselves that spring and summer would return.

-Some legends claim that the Christian "Christmas" celebration was invented to compete against the pagan celebrations of December. The 25th was not only sacred to the Romans but also the Persians whose religion Mithraism was one of Christianity's main rivals at that time. The Church eventually was successful in taking the merriment, lights, and gifts from the Saturanilia festival and bringing them to the celebration of Christmas.

-The Roman's celebrated their god Saturn. Their festival was called Saturnalia which began the middle of December and ended January 1st. With cries of "Jo Saturnalia!" the celebration would include masquerades in the streets, big festive meals, visiting friends, and the exchange of good-luck gifts called Strenae (lucky fruits).

The Romans decked their halls with garlands of laurel and green trees lit with candles. Again the masters and slaves would exchange places

"Jo Saturnalia!" was a fun and festive time for the Romans, but the Christians though it an abomination to honor the pagan god. The early Christians wanted to keep the birthday of their Christ child a solemn and religious holiday, not one of cheer and merriment as was the pagan Saturnalia.

But as Christianity spread they were alarmed by the continuing celebration of pagan customs and Saturnalia among their converts. At first the Church forbid this kind of celebration. But it was to no avail. Eventually it was decided that the celebration would be tamed and made into a celebration fit for the Christian Son of God.


who's ringing the bell?

I'm reading a very interesting book called The Battle For Christmas, recommended by an LJ friend; it's full of information about the development of Christmas traditions.

However, at one point, he talks about men dressed up as Santa Claus ringing bells on streetcorners for the Salvation Army, and states that the Salvation Army still raises money this way today.

In fact, though the Army invented the bell-and-kettle technique-- in San Francisco, as far as I know-- and still deploys their bell ringers every year, the Santa Claus bell ringers are working for the Volunteers of America. The VOA actually started as a kind of Salvation Army schism, but they have been an independent organization for at least a century.

Most of this I discovered when I looked up the history of bell ringers a few years ago. More information can be found here.


You know that flat, handled tool that bakers use to move pizzas (and other foods) into and out of ovens? It's called a peel.

A picture and dictionary definitionCollapse )


Germany, as part of the Treaty of Versailles was required to pay the Allies back for World War I. It is still paying off these reparations and will continue paying them till 2020.

I found this on Useless Facts. :D

Bill Murray...

Actor Bill Murray doesn't have a publicist or an agent.

Murray’s only contact with the film business is through a freephone number. If people need to talk to him - perhaps producers who want him to star in a film - they have to call the number and leave a message. (Of course, they have to find the number first.) If he feels like it, he will call back. Often, he doesn’t. Sometimes, he’ll go for weeks without even listening to the messages. It took Sofia Coppola hundreds of phone calls and 7 months to get him to look at the script for Lost in Translation. Even then, she wasn’t sure he was going to make the film until he appeared on the set on the first day of the shoot in Tokyo. Other directors have apparently been told to leave scripts in a phone booth somewhere near his home outside New York, up the Hudson River. On a recent film, a production assistant who needed to contact him was told to call his freephone and leave a number for a phone that she would not pick up, so he could call her back without having to talk to her. Of course, he doesn't see this as strange or eccentric. He likes to be accessible, he says, but on his own terms.


Found on http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/article512298.ece


Arlene Phillips...

Apparently, Arlene Phillips (one of the judges on Strictly Come Dancing) did the choreography for the over-the-top sequence "Every Sperm is Sacred" in Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life .



Oct. 13th, 2008

I read today that the Spanish word esposa means "wife". (Makes sense - sounds like "spouse".) But the plural, esposas, means "wives", but also means "handcuffs". Lol!

Anyone fluent enough in Spanish know if this is true?


Origin of James Bond

James Bond, known to his friends as; Jim, was a Philadelphia ornithologist and the author of a book called Birds of the West India.

While the bird-watching book may not have been a bestseller, it did catch the attention of an Englishman named Ian Fleming. At the time, Fleming was living in Jamaica and writing a book of his own. It was the story of an as yet unnamed British secret agent who had the code name 007.

One day, as Fleming was sitting at breakfast looking through his favorite non-fiction tide, he found the perfect name for his hero: Bond, James Bond. Interestingly, the name Bond was not chosen because it was strong, exotic, or even memorable. As Fleming later wrote, "It struck me that this name, brief, unromantic and yet very masculine, was just what I needed." Jim Bond didn't know about his fictional namesake until the early 1960s when he read an interview in which Fleming explained the origin of his character's name.
James Bond 007

taken from (http://www.coolquiz.com/trivia/names/names.asp?name=bond)