Welcome to The Funny/Alerts Newsletter. Thanksgiving is next week and I can hardly wait. Mountains of mashed potatoes, gallons of gravy, tons of dressing and my GERD on full alert. Oh, well. Sometimes you have to take the good with the bad. My Gastro-doctor has referred me to a surgeon to assess my viability as a candidate for fundoplication. This surgery will, hopefully, not only fix my "reflux" problem, but also repair the Hiatal hernia I've had for years.
First, though, I have to have several tests for motility (swallowing), gastric pH and proper Gall Bladder function. Although I don't think I'll have any problems with the first two, I'm not so sure about the last one. The surgeon says that sometimes a weak or low-functioning Gall Bladder can have the same symptoms (high acid production, bloating, etc.) and that, if necessary, she'll remove the Gall Bladder while she's in there. I'm a little leery about jerking something out just because it's a little "weak" and would prefer to leave it, if possible. I'll probably do a cleanse prior to the testing in order to flush the Liver and Gall Bladder, making sure that I have the best activity possible.
Bile is secreted by the liver continuously. Between meals excess volume is reabsorbed by the gallbladder and bile is concentrated (to about 5 times). Fat digestion products in duodenum provide strong stimulus for cholecystokinin (CCK - plays a key role in facilitating digestion within the small intestine) release which in turn causes strong contraction of gall bladder. This results in the pain usually suffered by those with Gall stones which are blocking the movement of bile.
Anne had her Gall Bladder removed a couple of years ago because of stones and is generally fine. I'm just looking forward to sleeping better!
Enough about me... check out the link below for "Turkey Tools" and instructions for "How to stuff a turkey". Do it before next Thursday. ;)

Co-Conspirator To Make The World A Better Place



If you can start the day without caffeine or pep pills, 
If you can be cheerful, ignoring aches and pains, 
If you can resist complaining and boring people with your troubles, 
If you can eat the same food everyday and be grateful for it, 
If you can understand when loved ones are too busy to give you time, 
If you can overlook when people take things out on you when, 
through no fault of yours, something goes wrong, 
If you can take criticism and blame without resentment, 
If you can face the world without lies and deceit, 
If you can conquer tension without medical help, 
If you can relax without liquor, 
If you can sleep without the aid of drugs, 
If you can do all these things, 
Then you are probably the family dog. 

[left over from Halloween]

This is actually kinda creepy, move the mouse around and it will follow you. 

[thanks to Barbara Crawford for these two]

The State of the Planet
by David Attenborough, BBC

To tie in with the 2002 Earth Summit in Johannesburg, BBC4 presents a two-hour edition of David Attenborough's State of the Planet. Originally a three part series on BBC1, this is his personal study of the impact that humans are having on the natural world and the future of life on Earth.

The programme investigates the main causes of damage to the planet and how we can help to prevent them. Read an interview with David Attenborough, hear what the experts have to say and find out what YOU can do to help.

There are five main causes of damage to the natural world due mainly to over-population and over-consumption.

Pollution can be local or widespread. Substances dumped into a river will often end up in the sea. The biggest pollution problem is global warming. This happens when greenhouse gases, such as CO2 are released into the atmosphere, trapping heat and causing the planet to warm up. Since species are adapted to particular climates, when the Earth warms up they have to move to keep comfortable. This can be difficult if natural habitats are isolated by human settlements and agriculture.

∑Habitat Loss
Every living thing needs a place to live, find food, and reproduce. When we take over natural areas for our own use, we take away those areas for other living creatures. Habitat loss is the greatest threat to the natural world. We are taking over habitat at an alarming rate to provide ourselves with homes and agriculture as well as resources from forests, and other natural areas.

∑Introduced Species
When new species are introduced to places where they have never existed naturally, they can sometimes cause a real problem for native wildlife. Not only can they affect local species by competing with them for food and resources, or even eating the natives, but they can also be very damaging to crops, people's homes and even cause diseases.

∑Over Harvesting
All living things need resources to survive, whether for food or to provide shelter. Humans are just extremely efficient at getting hold of them. One third of the world's resources have been used up in the last 30 years. One calculation estimates that in 50 years' time, we will need another planet Earth to sustain the world's population if it keeps using resources the way it does today. But people in countries such as America, Japan, and in Europe can use up to 30 times the amount of resources as people from poor countries. We simply catch too many fish, use too much wood and waste too much fresh water.

This is the breaking up of large natural places into smaller fragments or islands of habitat. National parks and nature reserves are some examples. Just as your own back garden is too small for a population of tigers to survive, small areas of habitat cannot hold the same number of species that large ones can. Many of the world's nature reserves could lose their plants and animals gradually over time if they are too small.

How the human species treats the planet over the next one hundred years will determine the future of all life on Earth. We stand to lose up to 50% per cent of species on the planet if we continue using global resources at the current rate. At this crucial point in human history we can still choose whether future generations inhabit a healthy, diverse planet, or a seriously impoverished one. In the final film of this trilogy, David Attenborough looked for hope and solutions. 

"The only way to save a rhinoceros is to save the environment in which it lives because there's a mutual dependency between it and millions of other species of both animals and plants. And it is that range of biodiversity that we must care for - the whole thing - rather than just one or two stars."

"It's not just that we are dependent on the natural world for our food and for the very air we breathe - which is, of course, the case - and that the very richness of the natural world continues to provide us with all kinds of assistance. But it's a moral question about whether we have the right to exterminate species and leave a world that is more impoverished than the one we inherited - simply because of our carelessness and greed - to our grandchildren. People must feel that the natural world is important and valuable and beautiful and wonderful and an amazement and a pleasure."

David Attenborough - who is known to put his pensioner's rail card to good use - raises the fuel debate: 

"There are a multitude of things that the individual can do. There is the present debate going on about petrol, for instance. The fact is that we are poisoning the atmosphere and the less fumes we put in it, the better. And we are using up our fossil fuels."

Using eco-friendly washing-up liquid and recycling the Sunday supplements alone won't save the planet but, he argues, the individual can make a difference: 

"There are things to be done at all levels: from using less power and being more modest about the demands that we put on the environment; to not using CFCs; voting for the right politician, who you think is supporting these ideals; and giving a few pence, every now and again, to appeals. It's about cherishing the woodland at the bottom of your garden or the stream that runs through it. It affects every aspect of life."

If the future of life on Earth depends on our capacity to care, then David Attenborough is certainly teaching by example: 
"It seems to me that the natural world is the greatest source of excitement; the greatest source of visual beauty; the greatest source of intellectual interest. It is the greatest source of so much in life that makes life worth living."


The Reprieve
by Rebekah Van Hansen
Colorado, USA

Fifteen years ago, while dealing with the heartbreak of my divorce, I called a professor to tell him I was quitting his class. Really, this would have led to my quitting graduate school altogether. I didn't want to talk about my reasons, and what I saw as my "weakness" in not being able to finish the class. Yet he talked me into coming into his office to talk the following day anyway.

I went cautiously, not sure of this learned man who was a bit intimidating in class. But because he called me in, I felt it necessary to explain why I would not finish the assignment. Without that assignment, I would ultimately fail his class -- which had led me to believe I should just quit.

He listened to my sorrow around my recent separation, handed me his Kleenex box, and said little.

When I finished telling him why I had neither the energy nor the desire to continue down this path, he told me that he was willing to work within the time frame that I needed to heal. He would allow me to turn in my assignments late, and even take his final the next term, as long as I would agree to "stick it out" and call upon him when I needed.

He believed I could take the "life lessons" from my divorce, and apply them to my degree. You see, I was working on getting my Masters in Social Work, and he didn't want to see me quit on his watch.

This gift of understanding, this reprieve, came from a professor who, while in class, seemed rigid and unbending around his assignments.

I struggled through that semester, never again needing to call upon my professor, and finishing my course work. I even graduated with an MSW. The real lesson from my divorce for me came early, with the understanding heart and sympathy this professor extended to me when I was in deep pain. I really was almost too proud to call upon someone for the sympathy I so needed. He gave me an hour of attention that kept me on track.

It was such a simple thing, and indeed within the realm of his vocation, but it impacted me for years. Isn't that often the case, that what we give so easily, is sometimes the most difficult for someone else to ask for?

I never thanked him, and can't even now recall his name. But his kindness lives on, as I extend greater sympathy to those who seem afraid to ask, to those who need only a little bit of help to make a difference.

51 Fun Brain Teasers



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Much has been made of the various media leaks about Iraqi war planning ó war, no war, big war, little war. Those plans, of course, are not immutable. But what is immutable is the infrastructure of both sides, as laid out in several Web sites, the most valuable of which is John Pikeís GlobalSecurity.org . 

You want satellite photos of targets? John has a nice collection of Saddamís palaces and condos, as well as swimming pools of the rich and infamous. If you fancy yourself a UNSCOM weapons inspector, there are the suspected chemical weapons plants at Fallujah and Habbaniyah. 

Not interested in the targets? How about the targeteers. Pike has assembled a solid portfolio of the U.S. buildup in both Qatar and Kuwait that in some cases show nice side-by-sides of then and now. 

Itís not just about satellite pics. There are a number of critical U.N. documents, like the one on what UNSCOM was looking for at one of Saddamís palaces and a ton of maps as well. 

If Pike and his buddies make you nervous with their trumpeting of whatís where on the ground, you can find a fellow thinker in Laurence Nardon, a research associate at CFE, the French Centre for the Study of the United States, who details what controls might have to be laid down with push comes to shove. 

But some of the most intriguing stuff about prospects of another war in the Gulf is hidden on the Web. One of our most stalwart and shyest allies is Oman. Getting into the sultanate without an official invitation is next to impossible, and one reason why is that the Omanis donít want you to know just how much they are helping us. Hereís a hint of just how helpful: an after-action report from Britainís National Audit Office on an exercise last year involving the movement of 22,500 British servicemen in and out of Oman. The report has some very nice photographs [unlike the American auditing agency, the GAO] but more importantly, nice up-to-date maps of key Omani installations available to British and U.S. forces. 

Original story with active links:


To change our lives we must first change our minds.