Popes’ Names

March 26th, 2009

With the current Pope in the news regarding the condom uproar, I realized I did not know the current Pope’s name. I remember Pope John Paul II, but who is this new guy?

The current Pope is Pope Benedict the XVI. Benedict, huh? How do popes get their names anyway?

According to the History News Network article How Do Popes Get Their Names?

One perk of being pope is that you can pick your own name. This wasn’t always the case. Originally, popes kept their given names, but in 532, when a priest named Mercury assumed the throne, he discarded his pagan name in favor of John II. By the early 11th century, new names were the rule. Marcellus II, elected in 1555, was the last pope to keep his given name.

Various popes have rechristened themselves after apostles or other important church figures; many have taken names that project an image, like Pius, Clement or Innocent. Frequently, a pope will name himself for a distinguished predecessor: in 1831, Bartolomeo Alberto Cappellari became Gregory XVI because he particularly admired Gregory the Great (pope from 590 to 604) and St. Gregory VII (1073-85).

Among the 265 popes are 43 whose names have been used only once. The list includes Linus, Eusebius, Agatho, Sisinnius, Formosus, Romanus and the improbable Hilarius. It’s unlikely that the next pope will choose any of these. It is also all but certain that he will not fashion himself Peter II, after the first pope, whose name is held sacrosanct.

Generally, modern popes name themselves in deference to a Holy Father who helped them rise through the church’s hierarchy or otherwise shaped their careers. Hence, for the last few centuries, the same names have tended to recur.

From 1667 to 1774, 6 of the 12 popes were Clements; after them, 7 of the next 11 were Piuses. In fact, just six papal names – Clement, Pius, Benedict, Leo, Innocent and Gregory – account for every pope from 1590 to 1958, with only four 17th-century exceptions: Paul V, Urban VIII, and Alexanders VII and VIII.

When the reform-minded Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli became John XXIII in 1958, he signaled his break with centuries of tradition by adopting his father’s name. In doing so, he also reached back more than 600 years to his papal namesake, John XXII (1316-34).

Wikipedia states that Pope Benedict XVI, born Joseph Alois Ratzinger,

chose the pontifical name Benedict, which in Latin means ‘the blessed’, in honor of both Pope Benedict XV and Saint Benedict of Nursia. Pope Benedict XV was Pope during the first World War, during which time he passionately pursued peace between the warring nations. St. Benedict of Nursia was the founder of the Benedictine monasteries (most monasteries of the Middle Ages were of the Benedictine Order) and the author of the Rule of Saint Benedict, which is still the most influential writing regarding the monastic life of Western Christianity.

View a complete list of Popes here. And see Wikipedia’s List of Names of Popes for more information.

List of Assassinated Presidents and Nearly-Assassinated Presidents

March 23rd, 2009

The “Which President are you?” Facebook application inspired me to brush up on some American history. The application quiz results claim I am William McKinley, the 25th President who was shot point blank by a Polish-American anarchist.

Assassinated Presidents
Abraham Lincoln
James A. Garfield
William McKinley
John F. Kennedy

Attempted Assassinations
Andrew Jackson
Abraham Lincoln
Theodore Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Harry S. Truman
John F. Kennedy
Richard Nixon
Gerald Ford
Jimmy Carter
Ronald Reagan
George H. W. Bush
Bill Clinton
George W. Bush

Dual Monitors Increase Productivity by 9%

March 20th, 2009

Last night after volleyball, my teammates and I stopped off for a beer. One member of the team is a Lenovo salesman and another is a computer dork, so the conversation often drifts to computers, laptops, monitors, operating systems, proc… Zzzzzzzzzz…

Believe it or not, my ears perked up when I heard that Lenovo has a new laptop with a dual monitor that slides out of the main monitor. That sounds awesome! At my former workplace, we used dual monitors (laptop in a docking station and an additional monitor). I loved working on dual monitors and I miss working in that setup.

Here’s some research from Microsoft and VIBE on the benefits of dual monitors:

The first study revealed that the users’ productivity increased by 9 percent. Further studies showed even greater increases – at times up to 50 percent for tasks such as cutting and pasting. Mary Czerwinski, the VIBE research manager, is excited about her group’s discoveries, asking, “If you’re able to squeeze 10 percent more productivity out, do you know how much money that will save?”

One of the user studies that the VIBE group did required users to navigate through a series of doors, and then back their way out. They wanted to test the user’s ability to remember a series of actions on a small display versus a large display.

“The interesting thing is that they try to get it right. We found that memory capability is considerably improved on a big display over a small display. There’s something about engaging the peripheral vision that improves your spatial memory of what has gone on,” said Starkweather.

Read more about this study here: http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/news/features/vibe.aspx

First Day of Spring?

March 20th, 2009

Today is the first day of Spring. The snow has melted and the weather has been pleasant, but has Spring really sprung in Minnesota?

Farmers in the rural Indianhead of Wisconsin always say that it’s not officially Spring until “it has snowed on the Robins’ tail three times.” It usually holds pretty true for this part of the country and I’m going to test it again this year.

Last weekend, I saw my first Robin, the sure sign of spring, in the Twin Cities during a walk with my boyfriend through Northeast Minneapolis.

Today, my friends in my home state of Wisconsin reported enough snow to cover the streets.

One “snow on the Robin’s tail” down, two snows to go.

Is It Creativity Or Imagination?

March 20th, 2009

Am I creative? While revising my resume recently, I used the word creative, but it just didn’t sound right. “Creative” wasn’t what I really wanted to say…

I stumbled across the following description of “creativity” and “imagination” in Helen Fisher’s book, Why Him? Why Her?: Finding Real Love By Understanding Your Personality Type. I think she accurately describes the difference I perceived in the definitions of the words creativity and imagination. I was trying to describe myself as having the ability to take known data and facts from the past and present and use them to come up with solutions for projects or problems at work. The word I was looking for was imaginative, not creative.

I’ve come to believe imagination is a slightly different brain activity than creativity. People with powerful imaginations combine existing data and ideas, while those who are especially creative generate new data or ideas. We often do both, of course. But I suspect that imagination stems from web thinking. For what is imagination, but the ability to reach into the breadth of one’s stored knowledge, mentally assemble reams of information in new ways and “suppose” how these combinations of variable connect and interact?
(From The Philosopher King – The Negotiator – Imagination)

As I’ve mentioned, I don’t think creativity and imagination are exactly the same thing, although they are often complementary. Creativity often requires some imagination, and imagination is often creative. But you can create a piece of music or develop a theory of natural selection and never daydream about tomorrow or reflect on yesterday. And you can daydream endlessly without creating a song, poem, hypothesis, or gaget.
(From The One – How We Love)

I highly recommend any Helen Fisher book. I was lucky enough to find Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love by chance at a Half Price Books store in Highland Park, Minnesota years ago and I’ve read everything she’s written ever since. She often contributes to news stories as on of the world’s leading experts on the nature of romantic love and attachment. She recently became the scientific advisor for Chemistry.com.

Helen Fisher. Why Him? Why Her? New York: Henry Holt and Company, LLC, 2009.

Sauna vs. Steam Room and How to Sauna

March 17th, 2009

My gym has both a sauna and a steam room. Which is better?

Both saunas and steam rooms are used to eliminate toxins and cleanse the pores and skin through sweat, ease joint pain, improve circulation, and promote relaxation and well being.

The difference is that the sauna uses dry heat while the steam room uses humidity. Sauna temperatures are much higher than steam rooms – sauna temps are around 175°F to 210°F (80°C to 100°C), highly humid temperatures in a steam bath are usually around 105°F (40°C).

Which is better is simply a matter of preference. The hot, dry air in a sauna can be hard for some people to breathe. People with respiratory problems or illnesses my prefer the humid air of steam rooms to the hotter, dryer air of the sauna.

How to Sauna
I personally love to relax in the sauna. Someday, my dream home will have a sauna. For now, I’ll have to use the one at the gym.

Start off with a warm shower to gradually raise your body temperature. Enter the sauna – laying vertical in the nude is ideal, but probably only if it’s a private sauna in your home (especially in America). Nude with a sauna mat or towel to sit on will allow you to sweat freely, but in most societies, you’ll want to wrap a towel around yourself and wear it as you sit upright in the sauna.

Let your body temperature rise for 8-10 minutes. The higher the seat, the hotter the air. When you begin to sweat, put 2 or 3 scoops of water on the sauna rocks. Maintain the humidity in the sauna so that your skin is moist with sweat. If the air in the sauna is not humid enough, your sweat will dry when it reaches the surface of your skin.

Sit in the sauna until the heat becomes uncomfortable – it is not a competition. When it is no longer tolerable, leave the sauna and sit in a cool place, drink cool water, or take a cool water bath or shower to lower your body temperature. Cool down for up to 5 minutes then return to the sauna. Repeat the cycle 2 or 3 times.

Sauna Tips
Remove contact lenses before entering the sauna. The hot, dry air dries contacts, and if you wear contacts you know this is uncomfortable and it will shorten the time you want to spend in the sauna.

Remove all metal and jewelry before entering the sauna. The high temps in the sauna will also heat your jewelry, hair clips, locker key, etc. and might burn your skin. Ouch!

Sauna Sources

The REAL St. Patrick

March 17th, 2009

We celebrate March 17th in commemoration of St. Patrick’s great and noble deed in driving the Norwegians out of Ireland.

Centuries ago many Norwegians went to Ireland to escape the bitterness of the Norwegian winter. Ireland was having a famine at the time, and food was quite scarce. The Norwegians were eating almost all the fish caught in the area, leaving the Irish with nothing but potatoes.

St. Patrick, taking matters into his own hands like most Irishmen do, decided the Norwegians had to go. Secretly, he organized the IRATIONAL (Irish Republican Army To Rid Ireland Of Norwegians At Last).

Irish members of IRATIONAL sabotaged all power plants in hopes the fish in Norwegian refrigerators would spoil, forcing the Norwegians to a colder climate where their fish would keep. The fish spoiled all right, but the Norwegians, as everybody knows to this day, thrive on spoiled fish.

Faced with failure, the IRATIONAL sneaked into the Norwegian’s fish storage caves in the dead of night and sprinkled the rotten fish with lye, hoping to poison the Norwegian intruders. But, as everyone knows, this is how lutefisk was introduced to the Norwegians and they thrived on this lye-soaked smelly fish.

Matters became even worse for the Irishmen when the Norwegians started taking over the Irish potato crop for lefsa to go with their lutefisk.

Poor St. Pat was at his wits’ end and finally, on March 17th, he blew his top and told all Norwegians to go to Hell, and it worked…

All the Norwegians left Ireland and went to Minnesota.

Shoe In or Shoo In?

March 12th, 2009

Shoo in: A candidate or contestant generally agreed upon as the presumptive winner; somebody who is well-liked or widely agreed upon. She’s very popular and good with numbers, so I expect she’ll be a shoo-in for treasurer.

According to The Phrase Finder:

“Shoo in” was originally a racetrack term, and was is applied to a horse expected to easily win a race, and, by extension, to any contestant expected to win an easy victory.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first use of the term in print dates back to 1928. A “shoo in” was originally a horse that was expected to win a race, not by virtue of its speed or endurance, but because the race was fixed. The sardonic “subtext” of the original usage, now lost, was that the designated horse would win even if it were so lackadaisical in its performance that it simply wandered somehow up to the finish line and had to be “shooed in” to victory.

The phrase “shoe in” does exist, but don’t use it unless you’re writing about the score of game of horseshoes.

Speed of the Sound of Loneliness

March 12th, 2009

I’m going to see my favorite local musicians, Matty O’Reilly and John Schjolberg, play tonight at the 331 Club in Northeast Minneapolis.

I first saw Matty O’Reilly (acoustic guitar and vocals) and John Schjolberg (pedal steel guitar) perform Speed of the Sound of Loneliness by John Prine at one of Matty’s restaurants, the 318 Cafe in Excelsior, Minnesota. I loved it so much I told my friends it was like, “Christmas and my birthday all rolled into one.”

You can download a free live version of John Prine performing Speed of the Sound of Loneliness from Glide Magazine here: http://www.glidemagazine.com/free-music-downloads/1012/john-prine-speed-of-the-sound-of-loneliness-mp3.html

Speed of the Sound of Loneliness
by John Prine

You come home late and you come home early
You come on big when you’re feeling small
You come home straight and you come home curly
Sometimes you don’t come home at all

So what in the world’s come over you
And what in heaven’s name have you done
You’ve broken the speed of the sound of loneliness
You’re out there running just to be on the run

Well I got a heart that burns with a fever
And I got a worried and a jealous mind
How can a love that’ll last forever
Get left so far behind

So what in the world’s come over you
And what in heaven’s name have you done
You’ve broken the speed of the sound of loneliness
You’re out there running just to be on the run

It’s a mighty mean and a dreadful sorrow
It’s crossed the evil line today
Well, how can you ask about tomorrow
When we ain’t got one word to say

So what in the world’s come over you
And what in heaven’s name have you done
You’ve broken the speed of the sound of loneliness
You’re out there running just to be on the run

You’re out there running just to be on the run
You’re out there running just to be on the run
You’re out there running just to be on the run

How to Get Rid of Warts

March 11th, 2009

Disgusting and embarrassing topic, I know. Unfortunately, I’ve had plenty of experience with wart removal and if sharing my story helps just one person, I’d be very happy. So here it goes:

I got Plantar’s warts on the bottom of my feet from walking barefoot in the girls’ locker room. Then I started to develop warts around my fingernails on both hands – periungual warts. I was a very embarrassed teenager. When over-the-counter treatments didn’t work, I begged my parents to take me in for treatment.

First, I started going to my local family doctor to get the plantar’s warts CUT out of my feet. The doctor used a local anesthetic to numb the bottom of my foot and a scalpel to literally cut out the wart and pull its roots out of the bottom of my feet. I played all kinds of sports as a youth and my only alternative to not participating was to bandage my feet and take medications to manage the pain.

Next, I started going to a dermatologist an hour away to have the warts on my hands FROZEN with liquid nitrogen or cryosurgery every two weeks. The idea was that the treated skin would blister, crust, and fall off. It wasn’t painful at time of freezing, but by the time my parents and I got home, my hands would be throbbing with the terrible “waking up” feeling you get when blood returns to your hands or feet when they get extremely cold in the winter. The frozen skin around my fingernails would first turn black and then white – I had to hide my hands at school every day.

(As a side note, I think the description of these treatments would be a great way to encourage people to practice safe sex. Genital warts caused by Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) are treated the same way – using cutting and freezing to remove affected cells. It was amazingly painful to endure these procedures on my hands and feet. I CANNOT imagine having the same done to my private parts.)

After a year, the cutting and freezing treatments were too painful, costly, and ineffective. I decided to live with warts. To manage them, I soaked them in apple cider vinegar, filed them down with an emery board, and applied clear fingernail polish or super glue to the warts. This did manage to control the size and spreading for about four years – some of the smaller warts even disappeared.

Due to an unrelated illness, my family doctor recommended I get my tonsils removed my junior year of high school. I had throat problems my whole life and my parents agreed I should have a tonsillectomy.

About two weeks after the tonsillectomy, I noticed something wonderful: My warts were gone! It happened so quickly and painlessly it was like a miracle! I just looked down at my hands one day and they were gone. I check the bottom of my feet and the warts were gone there too!

My theory is that my body was so busy dealing with my tonsils and other health problems, it didn’t have the power to fight the warts. When my tonsils were removed, my body focused on attacking the virus that causes warts and I was cured! I still have scars on my cuticles and the soles of my feet, but I haven’t had a Plantar’s or periungual wart since 1995.