Vegetable Pills

Discovery News has some information about medical practices of 2000 years ago. It turns out that ships carried vegetable pills with them.

Advanced DNA analysis of 2,000-year-old tablets has revealed that vegetable pills may have been part of an ancient travel medical kit, according to a new study.

The kit was recovered from a shipwreck found some 200 meters (656 feet) from one of the most beautiful beaches in Tuscany. The wreck is estimated to date back to 140-120 B.C. and was partly excavated in the 1980s and 1990s by a team of the Archeological Superintendency of Tuscany.

for Dielli


BBC News: Last Sin-Eater Celebrated with Church Service

Sin-eaters were generally poor people paid to eat bread and drink beer or wine over a corpse, in the belief they would take on the sins of the deceased.

Frowned upon by the church, the custom mainly died out in the 19th Century.

It was prevalent in the Marches, the land around the England-Wales border, and in north Wales, but was rarely carried out anywhere else.

Believers thought the sin-eater taking on the sins of a person who died suddenly without confessing their sins would allow the deceased’s soul to go to heaven in peace.

While most of the sin-eaters were poor people or beggars, Mr Munslow was a well-established farmer in the area.

Locals began the collection to restore the grave, which had fallen into disrepair in recent years, believing it would be good to highlight the custom and Mr Munslow’s place in religious history.

Too bad that didn’t work. Wonder how the poor felt. Were they just glad to have the money and food? Or were they concerned about the 1,000 years of purgatory they were adding? Did the vicar really turn a blind eye? Or were the unshriven allowed full rites?


I have been struggling with depression. Usually that’s been a night thing, but the last few weeks it’s been a morning thing.

Mom’s birthday is tomorrow.

I don’t want to grade.

Is that depression or laziness?

Medicines BC

In 130 BC, a ship fashioned from the wood of walnut trees and bulging with medicines and Syrian glassware sank off the coast of Tuscany, Italy. Archaeologists found its precious load 20 years ago and now, for the first time, archaeobotanists have been able to examine and analyse pills that were prepared by the physicians of ancient Greece.

DNA analyses show that each millennia-old tablet is a mixture of more than 10 different plant extracts, from hibiscus to celery.

“For the first time, we have physical evidence of what we have in writing from the ancient Greek physicians Dioscorides and Galen,” says Alain Touwaide of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC.




Tried a Mojito today. I like rum, lime, and mint.

Not all together, apparently.

Remembering the Lost: Laura Gilly

(Reprinted from 2006.)

Laura Gilly, age 32, blonde, technical support at Cantor, was killed in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

That’s the most common information available about her on the net. But that is not the sum of Laura Gilly. It isn’t even a very big part.

Steven Kretytak of Newsday wrote:

Raised in Bensonhurst, [a section of Brooklyn, New York City, ed.] Gilly was a cheerleader at Lafayette High School and always had “an effervescent personality,” her mother said. She went to Kingsborough Community College for two years before joining Tower Airlines, which is now defunct.

“She saw places you could never even think of,” her mother said.

Gilly spent nine years traveling to far-flung destinations such as Kuwait, Russia and Thailand. One of her favorite places was Israel, where she could lie on the beach, Fribourg said.

At one point, Gilly lived in Jakarta, Indonesia, for three months to work strictly on flights ferrying Muslims there on a holy pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

Gilly lived in Bay Ridge with her two cats. She often went out with the young staff at Cantor, usually on Thursday nights and often to Windows on the World, the restaurant on the 107th floor of Tower One.

And she always relished her times at the shore. There, Gilly would always cap a day in the sun with a night at the bars and clubs. Gilly and her two good friends – Fribourg and Danielle Hoffman – knew everybody, and rarely had to pay for anything, especially at Jenkinson’s, their favorite nightclub, they said.

Hoffman said she calls on Gilly’s constant optimism and happiness to get past some of the sadness of losing her.

“She had such a positive outlook. If you were worried about something stupid, she’d say, ‘Just get over it.'” Hoffman said. “She’d say, ‘I have a choice to be happy or not, and I am going to choose to be happy.'”

Laura Gilly had family who cared for her.

Her mother loved her and spoke of her to the NYTimes.

“She wanted a 9-to-5, so she could make plans without breaking them,” said Phyllis Gilly, her mother. “So many times she wasn’t home for Christmas or New Year’s. She was really looking forward to stability.”

And 16 months ago, she found it in a job working in technical support for Cantor Fitzgerald. Life was finally sweet and somewhat predictable, and Ms. Gilly, 32, was enjoying every minute of it, her mother said, recalling a phone conversation she had with her daughter weeks before Sept. 11.

The joy Mrs. Gilly heard in her daughter’s voice has made it all the more difficult accepting the irony of her death. “We spent so much time worrying about her flying here and there, and to have her go like this: killed by a plane as she sat in an office building. All she wanted was a real job at a desk in a building.”

She had an older brother who loved her and wrote her poetry.

A cousin spoke of her in Riverside.

David Wurtzel said his first cousin, once removed 32-year-old Laura Gilly, had been excited by getting out of the airline business – flying with Tower Airlines – in July and landing a job high above New York’s financial district.
It was – and is – a close-knit family centered in Brooklyn. “We always kept in touch. “(Laura) lived in an apartment two floors above her mom’s.” Mom is Wurtzel’s first cousin….

Laura Gilly had friends who miss her.

Like Ricky.

Laura was a beautiful, bubbly, fun to be around, as well as warm and whole hearted person. … She was the type of person that you did not have to see or talk to , just knowing that when you did, it would feel like it was only yesterday that you had spoken to each other.

And Michelle.

I miss you every day. …I have a son now and I wish everyday you were here to see him. I talk to him about Aunt Laura all the time. … just know how much I always valued our special friendship. There is a place in my heart just for you. I will love you and miss you forvever. Rest in peace precious girl and know that I am raising my chocolate martini to you in heaven.

And Patricia.

Laura was the most caring and giving person I know. … If I could see her one last time, I would thank her for being such a good friend, and for helping me through a hard time.

And Theresa.

Laura Gilly was and will always be a beautiful gift to this world. Her smile would light up the darkest room and her laugh would bring a smile to all in that room.

And Phyllis.

Former Tower Air flight attendant Phyllis Fribourg has heart-shaped piece of blue skirt that belonged to her best friend, Laura Gilly, sewn into bodice of her wedding dress; Gilly, flight attendant who later took desk job at Cantor Fitzgerald, died in attack on World Trade Center.

And Peggy.

Laura was an absolute angel from the very beggining! I cherish every memory I have of her!

Laura Gilly had coworkers who remember her fondly.

Like Gregg.

I trained with Laura at Tower Air and flew with her all over the world for years. What a joy she was and she is deeply missed.

And Monica.

She was very funny. There was an ease about her. It was easy to be her friend and it was easy to talk to her. With laura what you saw is what you got and that was my favorite thing about her. I wish everyone could have known her. I’m happy i did.

And Dawn-Michelle.

I worked/flew with Laura at Tower Air years ago. … Laura was a joyful spirit and probably still is. I think of her often over the years (4 years later, I know). I am sure she’s missed by tons more that were closer to her. It is a pleaure to have known her.

And Niva.

It seems like yesterday we were flying together & getting extented somewhere “Awful” like Paris or Rome. Shopping in Okinawa for the best deals & hanging out on the US base somewhere out there. I miss your smile but carry it in my head & heart at all times. I sometimes still think you are going to call & catch up on old times.

And AnneMarie.

I flew with Laura at Tower Air. There were always good layovers with her on your crew.
Those memories make it like it was yesterday.

And Lisa S.

Tower Air was great because of friends like Laura Gilly. I will never forget her.

And Valerie.

I never saw Laura without a smile on her face. I have read the thoughts of those who knew her also, so I know she truly was happy in her life. This was in part due to her nature and,I’m sure, due to her family. She was surely blessed to have had such a loving family. … I sat 2 seats from here in our last Tower recurrent and that still remains with me. I can still picture her laughing there…….She must have been born with a smile on her face!!!! … She will not be forgotten.

And Lily.

No matter what they threw at us, she just found a way to have a good time. No matter how long the duty day or what far out place in the world we were sent.

And Jose.

I remember your bright smile on your face, your strength, your compassion for life and for whoever had a chance to know you.

Laura Gilly had old schoolmates who heard of her loss and grieved.

Like Gina.

You will always be remembered, I went to JR High School with you and just to know that one of my school mates went through that horror, breaks my heart. You are an Angel and will be in our herats forever.

And Lisa.

In H.S. I remember Laura always laughing and having a good time, just hanging out with friends. I haven’t seen Laura since H.S. but I will always remember what a kind person she was. She will be missed.

2,996 tributes.
One person remembered.
Laura Gilly.

Talking to Castro

But during the generally lighthearted conversation (we had just spent three hours talking about Iran and the Middle East), I asked him if he believed the Cuban model was still something worth exporting.

“The Cuban model doesn’t even work for us anymore,” he said.

This struck me as the mother of all Emily Litella moments. Did the leader of the Revolution just say, in essence, “Never mind”?

I asked Julia to interpret this stunning statement for me. She said, “He wasn’t rejecting the ideas of the Revolution. I took it to be an acknowledgment that under ‘the Cuban model’ the state has much too big a role in the economic life of the country.”

from The Atlantic

You would think I would be used to this by now.

My mother died. I found out that the will gave X dollars. There are four of us kids. I figured that meant I got 1/4X. Nope. Turns out I get 1/8X. My kids each get 1/16X. That way no family is getting more than the other. But people are.

And that hurt my feelings immensely. Especially since my brother’s reaction was, “Well, you can’t take care of your kids but [sister who has lots of money] can.” What? My kids have been taken care of fine. And, really, do you want to give an 18-year old more than most people make in a year?

Okay, I eventually got over that. Mostly.

Now it turns out that we aren’t getting money. We are getting stocks. The stocks will be worth X total.

So I will get 1/8x of stocks. Okay.

That’s not money. This stock is solid, if any are. It pays low dividends, but it pays enough that my dad has been able to live off the dividends.

So he’s giving us what he lived off of. Now if we sell it, we will lose the dividends.

I don’t want to sell it. I don’t want to be like those in generational poverty who sell their television to the pawn shop for $50 when they are broke and then buy a new one for $500 when they are flush. That is just crazy. And to me, that seems what we will be doing if we sell the stock.

We will be killing the goose that lays the copper eggs.

R says we will have to sell some to pay off our debts. But we had said we were going to use my salary to pay off our debts. I was good with that. That means we aren’t living on my salary; it isn’t being spent on something that we won’t be able to afford when we move.

I looked at the stock. If we don’t sell it, we will get $1600/quarter. So each year the company will pay us (based on the last five years) $6,400 just for holding on to the stock. That is not enough to live on, but it is significant change that we would be without if we just flat out sold the stuff.

I hate that we are not getting something simple. I know the idea is that this is worth more and it has long term value. But if we sell it, it is not worth more and it doesn’t have long term value.

I do understand how my dad has been living on the dividends though. Because he is giving us what brought him $12,800 each quarter. That is a good salary right there. I wonder if that means he will be going short for this. I hope not.

I can’t imagine that he is. There shouldn’t be an issue of us waiting for the money. So if we are getting the stocks instead, it is because he wants us to have them.

Money was simpler. You can spend money or not. You can put money in the bank. It doesn’t change, except to go down in value.

However stocks are more volatile. And once you sell them, it’s over. You are finished. Yes, I know once you spend money it is gone too, but you don’t sit around going, “If I hadn’t spent that money I would have had Xdollars now.” Well, most people don’t.

But lots of people sit around and talk about how rich they’d be if they hadn’t sold their stock… Folks like my in-laws, who got Walmart stock when Sam Walton was just starting and who sold their stock for a good price, but not as good as it is now.

Darwin and Ecology

Two hundred years ago, Ascension Island was a barren volcanic edifice.

Today, its peaks are covered by lush tropical “cloud forest”.

What happened in the interim is the amazing story of how the architect of evolution, Kew Gardens and the Royal Navy conspired to build a fully functioning, but totally artificial ecosystem.

Read more at BBC News.