New Year’s Eve is extended

Photo courtesy of hornblowerholidays

Party like you’ve got an extra second!

New Year’s Eve will last one second longer due to a leap second. This coming New Year’s Eve, the radio controlled clocks will, after 0:59:59, instead of jumping to 1 o’clock at the next tick of the second, pause shortly in order to insert a small portion of extra time: a leap second.

Science Daily

This extra second is necessary because official time depends on two
timescales—one that uses atomic clocks and another that is dependent on
the earth’s rotation—and they don’t match up perfectly. The scientific details are here at

What to do with that extra second? Kiss a little longer, cheer a little longer, see one more perfect firework painted against the sky, savor the threshold of 2008 for one last second before rushing into the new year — hold your breath and make a wish; may your New Year’s wishes come true.

Happy New Year!

tanka with kigo
Annette Marie Hyder

new year’s eve is like
the unopened box that holds
new shoes I adore

can’t wait to slip into them
and wear them out of the store

Families left homeless after fire receive $1 million anonymous donation

Photo courtesy Hometown Source

Up in smoke

Dozens of Minnesota families were left homeless after a fire at a
Burnsville apartment complex. They watched as everything they owned
went up in smoke. Intangibles were consumed in the fire as well. Hopes
and plans for the coming holiday; children’s dreams.

In preparation for the holidays, Janice Cotton wrapped a doll for her 1-year-old
daughter and a portable Nintendo video game
system her 4-year-old son. On Monday, she watched the Christmas presents
she had been hiding and everything else disappear in flames.

“Everything — we lost everything,” she said.

More than 120 firefighters from six area departments fought the blaze
for six hours in subzero wind chills after it was reported about 4 p.m.

Those firefighters were not the only heroes.

An anonymous donor contributed $1 million on Tuesday

The dozens
of families left homeless after the fire had a present waiting for them on Tuesday — a $1 million

The contribution
averages more than $15,000 for each of the 64 households left homeless
by Monday’s blaze, which displaced nearly 200 people.

Golden, a spokeswoman for the Goodman Group, said company chairman John
Goodman set up a $50,000 fund at U.S. Bank after the fire. A business
executive contributed an additional $50,000, and countless other
donations also began flooding U.S. Bank locations across the metro area.

More heroes

More heroes, from the article at The Pioneer Press:

Shortly after the fire, individuals,
organizations and businesses flooded the Burnsville High School gym
with donations, including food, car seats, diapers and gift
certificates. The high school girls basketball team was the first on
the scene Monday night, said Ruth Dunn, spokeswoman for the
Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District.

The team was playing a
game in the gym when the fire started. Students sent text messages to
each other asking for donations of toys and wrapping paper. Students
donated more than 500 toys within hours. They stayed up until early
Tuesday morning wrapping them.

The next day, the student council
started a fund drive throughout school. By 10:30 a.m., they had raised
more than $5,000. Teachers canceled health and physical education
classes Tuesday so families could use the gym and volunteers could
collect donations.

Fire victim Rhonda Hayes was waiting at the
gym to return to her apartment Tuesday. She said she was touched by the
outpouring of generosity.

“The way the community came together,
it’s enough to make you cry, more than not having a place to stay,” she
said. “Now you know you can depend on the community. We live in the
right place.”

Click here for the entire article at The Pioneer Press and for information on how to donate.

Amazingly there were no fatalities.

ABC News Coverage

Minneapolis Star Tribune Coverage

Globe News Wire

Even more exciting than Obama shirtless pics


                    Photos courtesy of Library of Congress

Obama to be sworn in on Lincoln’s Bible

There’s been a lot of coverage of President-elect Obama’s shirtless Hawaii pics. The country is agog over presidential pecs. But even
more thrilling I think, for the historical significance, is the fact that Barack Obama will be sworn in
as president on the same Bible that President Abraham Lincoln used at
his 1861 inauguration.  He’ll be the first president to use the Lincoln Bible at inauguration since President Abraham Lincoln himself.

From US News and World Report:

Barack Obama will be sworn in as president on the same Bible that President Abraham Lincoln used at his 1861 inauguration. Learn more about the Lincoln Bible, which hasn’t been used by another presidential inauguration since Lincoln’s, at the Library of Congress’s website. The release from Obama’s Presidential Inaugural Committee:

Facing a nation divided, teetering toward civil war, President Lincoln used his first inaugural address to call for national unity, arguing that our Constitution was created “to form a more perfect Union.” Now, 147 years later, President-elect Barack Obama is echoing President Lincoln’s call in words and in symbolism.  He will be placing his hand upon the same burgundy velvet-bound Bible that was used by President Lincoln at his first inauguration as he is sworn in as the 44th President of the United States.

President-elect Obama is deeply honored that the Library of Congress has made the Lincoln Bible available for use during his swearing-in. The President-elect is committed to holding an inauguration that celebrates the unity of America, and the use of this historic Bible will provide a powerful connection to our common past and common heritage.

US News and World Report

Coffee kick greater for men than for women

Photo courtesy of myrevolution

Not fair!

Men get more from a cup of joe than women do.

Science Daily reports on a study from the University of Barcelona that shows that caffeine has a greater effect on men, and starts only ten minutes after consumption. Additionally, contrary to previous thought, decaffeinated coffee also produces an increased state of alertness:

“Numerous studies have demonstrated the stimulant effects of caffeine, but none of these have looked at their effects in terms of the consumer’s gender,” Ana Adan, lead author of the study and a researcher in the Psychiatry and Clinical Psychobiology Department of the UB, tells SINC.

“Although both the men and women saw an improvement in their activity levels with the coffee, which increased in later measurements, we observed a greater impact among the males,” the Catalan researcher tells SINC.

Full article at Science Daily

Cup O Joe Pincushion Kit

Mug with old fashioned typewriter on it for your joe

Now that’s what I call a strong cup of joe! (cartoon)

68 percent of Americans believe in angels

Photo courtesy of myopera

Victoria’s, snow and heavenly

Angels float over our
winter landscape as imprints in the snow–snow angels; snuggle into our
lingerie drawers courtesy of Victoria’s Secret and ring through our
consciousness at the sounding of bells, thanks to It’s a Wonderful
, where little Zuzu Bailey asserts that “Every time a bell rings,
an angel gets its wings.” Touched by an Angel was watched by 24
million people for nine years. The interest in angels is abiding.

68 Percent of Americans believe in angels

According to a Pew Survey,
nearly seven-in-ten Americans (68%) believe in angels. They believe
that angels and demons are active in the world. Majorities of Jehovah’s
Witnesses (78%), members of evangelical (61%) and historically black
(59%) Protestant churches, and Mormons (59%) are completely convinced
of the existence of angels and demons. In stark contrast, majorities of
Jews (73%), Buddhists (56%), Hindus (55%) and the unaffiliated (54%) do
not believe that angels and demons are active in the world.

The survey can be found here, in PDF form and here as an HTML document.

Another poll found that more people believe in the devil, hell and angels
than believe in Darwin’s theory of evolution:

That very large majorities of the American public believe in God,
miracles, the survival of the soul after death, the resurrection of
Jesus Christ, and the Virgin birth will come as no great surprise. What
may be more surprising is that substantial minorities believe in ghosts,
UFOs, witches, astrology, and the belief that they themselves were once
other people. Overall, more people believe in the devil, hell and angels
than believe in Darwin’s theory of evolution.

The Wall Street Journal

Photo courtesy of

The belief in angels spans cultures and centuries

Guardian angels, supposedly protective spirits, have been common to the religious beliefs of many cultures. The earliest depiction of an angel–or the precursor of angels–may be the winged figure on an ancient Sumerian stele. Other precursors may be the giant, winged, supernatural beings, part human and part animal, that guarded ancient Assyrian temples and so may have served as models for the conception of angels as protectors.

Indonesian guardian angels such as this are hung over infants’ cribs and the beds of small children to supposedly safeguard them as they sleep.

The Skeptiseum

The long history we have with these winged
creatures–real or imagined–continues to shape and inform
interpretations of events and to color world views.


Colleen Hughes, editor of Angels on Earth told CBS News that she
believes most people believe in angels “because too much stuff happens
to us that we can’t explain. There are coincidences that we’re willing
to chalk up to coincidence, and there’s too much that we aren’t,
because we have this feeling that it was something else.”

Tom Elliott and his son Zack believe they met an angel at a San Francisco Giants baseball game and that he gave them tickets:

Zack’s a huge Giants fan, just like his dad, and his dad’s dad (whom they called “Pa”).

“I said someday we’ll be able to see a game together, the three of us, the three generations,” Tom said.

But Pa died before they ever got the chance. They were still in mourning when a friend offered Tom two tickets to a game. But when they got to the box office, the tickets couldn’t be found.

“We backed away from the window, kind of looked at each other in total despair, not really sure what we were gonna do,” said Tom.

That’s when a stranger approached:

“He said, ‘I’ve got 2 tickets for you here,'” Tom recalled. “‘I want your young son to see the game,’ and he just handed us two tickets. And as we looked down at the tickets, he turned around and walked away. Before we could barely even say ‘thank you.'”

But there’s more to the story. The seats were some of the best in the house, right above home plate – and there were not 2, but 3 of them. In a sold-out stadium, one seat stayed empty the entire game.

“I said, ‘Man, what a great seat like that and a great game and nobody sat there?’ And then Zack turned to me.”

“I said, ‘Dad, someone was sitting there the whole time.’ We got to finally watch a game with Pa. That was the best game possible.”

“Is it possible that the guy who gave him the tickets could have just been a nice guy, not an angel?” Smith asked.

“Well, Tracy, what I would ask you is, ‘Does it matter?'” Grinnan said. “I mean, it’s the interpretation of Tom and his son that really does matter. And to them, that man was an angel. He performed an angelic deed, if you will. And his actual origins I don’t think are as relevant as the effect that that deed had on those two people.”

CBS News

From “messenger” to “sweetheart”

The word “angel” comes from the Greek word for messenger. It’s become a term of endearment. Imagine using the terms “delivery person,” or “UPS guy,” or “courier” as a  term of endearment. Yet, the ideas of goodness and superlative beauty that we have come to associate with the word angel perfectly explain the etymology.

Link to names of angels.
Link to angels in film.

You call me angel

Annette Marie Hyder
From the consequence of wings (on angels and monsters and other winged things)

Winter solstice moon

Photo courtesy of mettamusings

The shortest day of the year  

December 21, 2008 marks the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, for those living north of the equator. The word solstice derives from Latin sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still) and the astronomical event takes place two times each year. This years 2008 winter solstice is on December 21st. The official beginning of Winter is also the beginning of the countdown to Spring.

The winter solstice can actually be calculated down to the second and it occurs at the instant when the Suns position in the sky is at its greatest angular distance from the observer. Even though the event is instantaneous, the full 24-hour period is commonly considered the winter solstice. Most in North America recognize the seasonal significance of the longest night as the first day of winter (much of the northern United States has received plenty of snowfall and share of colder weather conditions this month), a time of cold-weather activities like snowman building, skating, skiing, and snowboarding.

Winter Solstice 2008

There’s an interesting article, A Solstice Tribute, Shorter Than the Day Is Long in The New York Times.

Winter Solstice Moon
Annette Marie Hyder
Previously published in Eclectica Magazine

Peering over my shoulder
licking at my skin
like a cat
with its pull
a rasping tongue

and like a cat
hard to predict
what will a moon
like that
do next?