Sunday, February 26, 2006


The following is a copy of an email I sent this morning to a home loan company (I've marked out all indenitifying information, and replaced my name with Zen Angel):

Dear Sir/Madam:

My name is Zen Angel. For the past several months, persons from your business have been calling my home up to four times a week or more. They are searching for someone named Andrew XXXX. As I have explained numerous times, we do not know anyone by this name. We do not know how your company obtained our telephone number, but we have no connection to anyone with the name of Andrew XXXX.

I have asked representatives of your company repeatedly to put us on your "do not call" list. I have asked that a notation be made that this is clearly the wrong phone number for Andrew XXXX. Despite this, the calls continue, sometimes the very day after a representative assured me no more calls would be forthcoming.

On Feb. 24, I received yet another call from your company, searching for Andrew XXXX. I once again informed the caller that NO ONE by that name lives here, nor do we know of anyone by that name. I then forcefully said, STOP CALLING ME.

Your representative callde me back two more times in the next five minutes, and proceeded to argue rudely with my child-care provider, calling me a "maniac," insisting that we did in fact know Andrew XXXX and then saying (most ironically) that "all she had to do was tell us politely." Had that been the case, this call would never have taken place at all!

This entire situation is unacceptable. I understand from your website that you are a home loan company. Our home in not owned by anyone named Andrew XXXX. Our telephone number is listed under my name, with the address of our home, which we rent. We have never taken out a home loan, nor are we currently in the market for such. We have had this telephone number for many years. It does not belong to Andrew XXXX, and to the best of my knowledge, it has never belonged to an Andrew XXXX.

I must request that these phone calls stop immediately. Believe me, were I to know the whereabouts of Mr. Andrew XXXX, I would be all to happy to let you have this information, as you are not the only company that has called in regards to him. You are, however, the only company that continues to call despite being informed that you have the wrong number and despite requests to be added to your "do not call" list. Yours is also the only company that has called me names or spoken rudely to my employee.

I am sending this letter via email and "snail" mail. If these calls persist, I will have no choice but to file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau and look into my legal options.

I wish you good luck in locating Mr. Andrew XXXX. He seems to have caused us both a great deal of trouble.


Zen Angel

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

A Nutbag and his "Wifely Expectations"

The following link contains a "contract" written by a man to his wife, consisting of the things he expected of her (including measuring her pubic hair and what kind of underwear she was permitted to wear). He's now being prosecuted for kidnapping and child porn.

Prepare to be sickened:

Sicko Marriage: a Contract for the Ages


Friday, February 17, 2006

My Doctor's Appointment Today

Today, I had an appointment. It ended up being one which I am unlikely to forget.

First, I want to describe my primary-care doctor: she is a young white woman, maybe early to mid 30's, always has great accessories (she has a pair of striped socks I just love) and unlike many doctors in this day and age, she actually LISTENS to my concerns and best of all, she treats pain in a serious and humane manner. She's worth her weight in gold for that alone, as far as I am concerned.

Today, she had a third-year medical student assisting her: a very eager and attractive Asian man; a polite, scholarly type. He had a lot of questions about MS, and kept apologizing for being so inquisitive. I told him it was in his best interests, and in the best interests of his future patients, for him to learn as much as he can. I hope he keeps his curious nature intact; he may be a good one for medical research, or an excellent diagnostician.

Anyhow, I came into the doctor's office today for a few reasons:

1) The baby is finally weaned, so I wanted to go back on amitriptyline for nerve pain. I've had a lot of success with this medication, and I think being without it was one of the reasons why my trigeminal neuralgia has been so persnickety lately.

2) I've been having a lot of problems with naseau lately, and the phenergan isn't doing anything to help. I asked for, and got, a prescription for compazine. I have hopes that it will help put an end to the almost-constant sick stomach I've dealt with for the past week.

3) I'm concerned about how rapidly my MS symptoms are getting worse, as well as the emergence of several new and in my view, severe symptoms, such as momentary paralysis and tremors in my hands.

The first two were easily dealt with: prescriptions were written. The last required a neuro exam.

Neuro exams are part and parcel of the MS experience. It involves a lot of testing of reflexes and variations on "pull my finger," without the unforunate need for air freshener that accompanies your uncle's playing of the game. Basically, it tests your strength and responses.

This is when the appointment took an unpleasant turn. My reflexes in my right leg, which have been weak for years, are now pretty much non-existant. I'm also having some minor strength issues in my right arm, which is completely new for me. And my strength in my right leg? It doesn't appear that I have any. The student would say to me, "Push down on my hand," or "Pull your leg up," and I would do least, it SEEMED like I would do it, but nothing happened. Or, nothing much happened. It was frightening; imagine someone telling you to close your eyes and kick your leg out. Well, you closed your eyes and you kicked your leg out, as far as you were concerned...but no one saw it, and your leg didn't move. Well, that's what was happening for me. It was confusing, and scary, and I can't say I enjoyed it.

It was the worst neuro exam I've had to date.

I didn't really notice until then, just how weak my right leg had gotten. I knew I'd been having a lot of trouble with it: increased muscle spasms, increased weakness when walking. Sometimes, my leg would turn to Jell-O under me, and I've been having some pretty unfortunate falls. My knuckle on my right hand is still healing from the last time it happened, and I fell in the bathroom. I reached out to break my fall, and slammed my hand onto the bathroom sink. Owie.

Logically, I knew all of this. But it wasn't until I was on that exam table, that I really noticed how bad it's gotten, how weak my leg is and how heavy it feels, like lead. Like dead weight.

Dead weight.

The looks on the faces of my doctor and the student were the worst part of it. They looked as if I had stepped in something extremely slimy and foul-smelling and they weren't sure what was the polite way of letting me know about it.

I smiled and joked about it, and made a lot of nervous chatter. I complimented my doctor's earrings. I spoke to the student of the importance of knowing how to treat a patient with MS, as there are many people with the disease. I wonder if they noticed how anxious and afraid I was.

When the exam was over, and the doctor looked at me with that look, the one of "I have some bad news for you, and I'd rather slam my pinky finger in a sliding glass door than tell you this." I spoke up and said, "Look, I think I know what we're all thinking here. I know lately it looks like my MS is going secondary-progressive. I think it's time to see a neurologist again." She very readily agreed, and a referral was made. She then told me she was very worried about this change, about how my MS has quite suddenly taken a turn for the worse and it's not behaving at all like it has for the past 8 or 9 years. She intimated there was some testing I should get done (evoked responses, is my guess), some "issues to be addressed" (my mobility, clearly) and that I really, really needed to see the neurologist again. She was very clear about not being comfortable in treating this herself. That, more than anything else, really sent home the message to me that this is SERIOUS. She also seemed very relieved that I understood about the secondary-progressive issue, and that I've come to terms with it.

Which shows what she knows, huh? Or that I'm just a damned fine actress.

As soon as I came out into the waiting room, Jonathan knew something was wrong. I made it out to the car before I began to cry.

Silly of me, isn't it? I mean, I have known for years that this day was likely to come. I knew that this disease could turn progressive, I knew that my right leg was getting weaker and weaker and that eventually I'd have to consider the "w" word.

So why have I been such a wreck since that appointment?

It seems that knowing something in your mind, and experiencing it emotionally, are two very different things. I thought I was prepared for this, and I wasn't. It feels like it is happening so suddenly, which is quite illogical, as I've had MS nearly a full ten years now. It doesn't make sense to feel this way, but I do. I am ambivalent, I am depressed and I am just plain scared.

Jonathan keeps telling me, "It could be worse." He's right, of course. It could be. But that doesn't help right now. What does help is knowing that he is there for me, and will be there for me through all of this.

And for now, I feel another pity party coming on. Bring on the chocolate ice cream....

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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy Valentine's Day!

I awoke this morning to a beautiful bouquet of flowers and two boxes of chocolate. And my favorite yearly gift: the Valentine's Book. On our first Valentine's together, Jonathan bought a gorgeous blank journal for me. Every year on Valentine's Day, he writes an entry in it for me. Sometimes it's a poem, sometimes it's sweet nothings, and sometimes it's just an affirmation of his love for me. It's the one material possession I treasure above all others.

And he tells me there's still one more surprise for this evening! I love this man.

I hope everyone's Valentine's Day is going splendidly.

And now for some trivia: look at the card pictured above. On a popular television show, who gave this card to whom? Leave an answer in the comments if you think you know....

Happy Valentine's Day!


Monday, February 13, 2006

"Heat Reactive"

This past week, we here in Portland enjoyed an unexpected bout of warm weather. More accurately: some enjoyed it. Others, suffered it.

MS is heat-reactive. This means that heat from any source (weather, fever, even thick clothing) can cause symptoms to exacerbate. Studies have shown that for many people with MS, just one degree can cause problems.

Now, not everyone with MS has a difficult time with heat; there are some who either have no problems with it or consider the problems negligable. I am not one of those people.

I thought I would take a moment to describe just what "heat-reactive" means in my life. I may add to this list as the summer rolls on:

*It means never turning on the heat in my bedroom, even in the winter.

*It means running the air conditioner nine months out of the year.

*It means never wearing a jacket if it's more than 60 degrees outside.

*It means no long-sleeved shirts, unless I'm sure wherever I plan to be is well air-conditioned.

*It means calling everywhere I go, before I go, to make sure it is, in fact, well air-conditioned.

*It means avoiding the places that aren't.

*It means horrible fatigue in the summer, even when I've had the air conditioner on. Somehow, my body knows when it's gotten warmer outdoors.

*It means wondering how my body knows when it's warmer outside but doesn't seem to know I need to go to the bathroom until it's an emergency.

*It means skipping trips to the zoo, the park and the swimming pool with my kids.

*It means feeling guilty because I have to.

*It means being sick to my stomach for months on end, and feeling like I never keep a meal down for longer than ten minutes.

*It means having increased difficulty with my memory, concentration and attention span.

*It means feeling like a prisoner in my own home all summer long.

*It means staying indoors on my birthday, which happens to be in July.

*It means having my food brought to me inside, while everyone else stays outside for a BBQ.

*It means taking a mister with me when I do go outside, and making sure it doesn't hit me in any embarassing, Fergie-from-the-Black-Eyed-Peas areas.

*It means having to choose between the discomfort of the heat or the discomfort of the cooling vest.

*It means having all those symptoms that were just minor irritants in the wintertime become major pains in the ass all summer long.

*It means taking a nap in the heat of the afternoon...because I simply have no other choice in the matter.

*It means making all appointments early in the morning, and hoping it doesn't get hot earlier than anticipated.

*It means bloating up and looking as if I've gained 15 pounds...all while not being able to keep down any food.

*It means drinking water all day, every day...and feeling like I'm dying of thirst if I go more than ten minutes without it.

*It means keeping a carafe on the nightstand and thinking, "My grandmother used to do the same thing."

*It means endless appointments to the doctor, when I should be inside.

*It means endless trips to the ER at night, when I should be inside.

*It means constantly cancelling appointments and plans, because the weather that was supposed to be "windy and partly cloudy" ended up being "hotter than a tin roof in Texas."

*It means being too tired and sick to keep those appointments and plans anyway.

*It means legs that are either too wobbly to walk without a cane, or hard as rocks from muscle spasms.

*It means being constantly worried that you'll end up throwing up a much-needed medicine, which will then make you sicker, causing you to throw up even more.

*It means actually being relieved when a pharmacist tells you, "Yes, we carry that medication in suppositories."

*It means wanting to smack the next person who says, "But you don't LOOK sick!"

*It means hoping they were telling the truth.

*It means not knowing what to say to people when the call and ask, "How are you doing?"

*It means having strangers assume you are drunk, thanks to trouble walking straight and slurry speech.

*It means wishing you were drunk, so you wouldn't care what the strangers thought.

*It means not thinking about getting drunk, because the last thing you need is a hangover.

*It means piercing headaches every single time you step outdoors.

*It means hating anyone who tells you on the phone, "Of course we have air conditioning!" but neglects to tell you that the owners of the place are too cheap to actually turn it on.

*It means always carring with you: a toothbrush, perfume, extra medicine, mints, bottled water, wet naps and extra underwear.

*It means hoping that no one will see the extra underwear and ask you why you are carrying it around with you.

*It means wishing that great outdoors concert was indoors, and then realizing how hot it would be inside a club with a million people right now.

*It means listening to people tell you how great medical marijuana is, when all you can think is, "The LAST thing I want is to be around something else that generates heat!"

*It means having to explain to every doctor, nurse, relative, friend and well-meaning passerby why you're so sick in the summer.

*It means having at least half of them not believe you.

*It means having the other half say, "Why don't you just eat an ice cream cone?"
or, "Wear white, it will keep the heat away."

*It means wishing white really did keep the heat away enough to matter.

*It means having people constantly tell you to move to a "colder climate," not realizing that while cold isn't as bad as, wind and snow are not exactly friends to someone who has trouble walking.

*It means explaining to people that you DID move to a colder climate, and the heat still sucks.

*It means sitting at dinner tables and eating nothing.

*It means having to explain why putting a heating pad or hot water bottle on sore legs is only going to make matters worse.

*It means wishing they didn't.

*It means getting cabin fever in the summer when everyone else got over it in the spring.

*It means finding invitations to cookouts and parties on boats from your husband's co-workers in the trash, because he didn't want you to see them and feel bad.

*It means eating late at night, even though you know it's going to make you gain weight and despite the fact that you must now eat alone, because you're more likely to keep the food down then.

*It means keeping a lot of Lysol in the bathroom.

*It means always knowing where your cane is.

*It means forgetting everything else.

*It means appreciating winter more, and while everyone else is complaining about the rain...smiling and sighing in relief.

*It means knowing that you'll have to go through it all again next year.

*And most importantly, it's knowing who loves you and being glad they do...because with how grouchy you are in the summertime, if they didn't love you, they'd be history.

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Saturday, February 11, 2006

The "Great Name for a Punk Band" Game

Jonathan and I play many games (and some I can't tell you about here, wink wink). One of our favorites is the "Great Name for a Punk Band" game. Sometimes, we'll just hear things on the radio or tv or read about them and say, "Hey! That's a great name for a punk band." We usually get a pretty good laugh out of it. And lucky you....I thought I'd start sharing them every now and again on this blog.

For instance, today I misheard my son Phoenix talking and I thought he said "underpants vampires." So, of course, the game was in effect!

In order to determine whether or not you've got a "Great Name for a Punk Band" and win a point in the game, it must:

A) Be sufficiently cool, silly or weird
B) Cannot be taken by any other band
C) Must sound great when yelled, "We're _____! Thank you, Cleveland!"

Does Phoenix's entry count? Let's see: it's definately weird, and vampires are automatically cool. And underpants are quite that's three for three on the first qualification. We did a google search, and didn't find any bands with the name, so it's cool on the second qualification, too. Sooo......

"We're the Underpants Vampires! Thank you, Cleveland!"

Yep, he definately gets a point in the game.....

Friday, February 10, 2006

The Freaks Come Out in IM

I got two weird IMs yesterday. The things people will IM to total strangers never fails to amuse me. I've changed the names to protect the chronically stupid.

Weirdo #1 [2:18 P.M.]: who the fuck is this?????????????//
Zen Angel [2:18 P.M.]: Excuse me?
Weirdo #1 [2:19 P.M.]: who the fuck is this???????
Zen Angel [2:19 P.M.]: What are you talking about? You IM'd me.
Weirdo #1 [2:19 P.M.]: ok u r retarded
Weirdo #1 [2:19 P.M.]: u dumd ass freakazoid
Zen Angel [2:20 P.M.]: And you're clearly a very immature child. Have a nice day.
Weirdo #1 [2:21 P.M.]: acutually im 18 so haha
Weirdo #1 [2:21 P.M.]: bitch
Zen Angel [2:21 P.M.]: Immaturity has nothing to do with age, and everything to do with behavior. And you're clearly immature. Now kindly go away.
Weirdo #1 [2:22 P.M.]: no thanks
Zen Angel [2:23 P.M.]: LOL. You've no choice. Filtering you now. Have a nice day, little one.

A few things amuse me about this IM: I don't know who this person is, and I've no idea why they wanted to IM me to ask me "who the fuck I am." What is hilarious is that after I said, "Excuse me?" she wrote it LARGER, as if I could not see the question the first time.

Weirdo #2 [5:03 P.M.]: i want u in my pants
Weirdo #2 [5:03 P.M.]: whats a good size to u
Zen Angel [5:04 P.M.]: That sounds like a personal problem.
Weirdo #2 [5:04 P.M.]: whats a good size to u?
Zen Angel [5:04 P.M.]: My husband.
Weirdo #2 [5:04 P.M.]: what size is that
Zen Angel [5:05 P.M.]: That's not really any of your business, now, is it? I'm not into cyber, so kindly leave me alone.
Weirdo #2 [5:05 P.M.]: ok
Zen Angel [5:05 P.M.]: Have a nice day.
Weirdo #2 [5:05 P.M.]: u to mam

As perverts go, this one was at least polite about it....

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Checking In

I've gotten a lot of emails and comments since I posted "What Condition My Condition Is In." I wanted to take a moment to say thank you to everyone. I appreciate your support more than you could ever know.

I threw my pity party, ate way too much chocolate ice cream, and I'm well on the way to acceptance. I'm surprised, quite frankly, at how hard I've taken it. I mean, I always knew it was a possibility, and Jonathan and I have talked about it before. But for some reason, when it happened, I was completely shocked. I know it doesn't make any sense. Perhaps adults retain a tiny bit of that "it won't happen to ME" complex common to teenagers. You know it can happen, you know it might happen...but some part of you is in denial that it will ever happen to you.

I see my doctor in a few days, to discuss this and my treatment options as they stand now. And at least my decision to not take the CRAB drugs is likely to be respected now; they are indicated only for people with R&R MS. I know some people with progressive forms ARE taking it...but that's an "off-label" use. And honestly, I don't want to get into the CRAB drug debate right now....

I'm not upset anymore, so much as I am....I don't know. Grieving. That's not right, but probably the closest word I have to what is going on with me right now.

Anyway, thank you, all, for being there to read my vents and listen to my nonsense. It helps, somehow. And I will take help where I can get it.


Monday, February 06, 2006

Women Get Sick from Door-to-Door Tattoos

My comments follow the article:

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Some women in Springfield are regretting their decision last week to get a tattoo from a door-to-door tattoo salesman. At least one person had to be hospitalized and the others face serious health risks.

Friday night, a man knocked on doors holding a tattoo gun and offering his services. Tamra Eason described the tool as homemade, but still agreed to pay for a tattoo. So did two other women in her apartment complex.

"It was wrapped with black tape, had a pin underneath it, had fishing wire going through it, you could tell it was a homemade gun," Eason said.

The next day, Linda Falls passed out and had to be hospitalized.

All the women have an infection in the tattoo area and have been told to get tested for HIV and hepatitis.

The health department said it's always worth the extra money to get a tattoo from a licensed professional with the right equipment and sterilization procedures.

"Getting a tattoo is like a wound. There's a risk of disease that may be long term or life threatening. It's a serious decision," said Jaci McReynalds, with the Greene County Health Department.

It is illegal in Missouri to give a tattoo without a license, so if several people file complaints with the state, the county prosecutor will pursue the case.

"Beware of deals in parachutes, brain surgery and tattoos," said Miller Cotton, a tattoo parlor owner.

I didn't think this needed to be said, but apparently it does: DON'T GET A TATTOO FROM A STRANGER WITH A HOMEMADE GUN KNOCKING AT YOUR DOOR.

I feel sorry for the women for getting sick from this scratcher, but come on, people. You're talking about a process in which a needle is poking into your skin. Do you really want to trust your health to someone idiot with a duct-tape "gun"?

I am forever amazed by the lengths people will go to put their health and their appearance at risk for a tattoo....and think nothing of it. I hear it all the time: people getting tattooed in garages, or at "tattoo parties," or by a friend of a friend who ordered a "kit" over the Internet.

Tattooing is an ART. In order to do it properly, you must be TRAINED IN IT. No "kit" or video can teach you the essentials of tattooing. To be an artist, you must first be an apprentice...and be prepared to work hard to learn your craft. And remember: just because someone can DRAW nicely doesn't mean they can TATTOO.

In addition to being an art form, tattooing is, as I said before, an instrument piercing your skin. You MUST be vigilant as a consumer. Getting a tattoo from a scratcher does not mean that you'll end up with bad ink also means you could end up with infections, Hepatitis and other serious complications.


Go to a tattoo shop, people. Ask for photos of work they have done (not just flash). Ask what hygienic procedures they incorporate. Ask to see the autoclave (don't just take it for granted that they actually have one). Insist upon new needles opened in your presence, and do not use an artist who dips his needles directly into the ink bottle or re-uses ink from another tattoo (even if it's someone you know). In a shop with proper hygienic procedures, the chances of your having a complication are very, very slim (and despite the popular myth, there has never been one single reported case of HIV/AIDS from a tattoo shop). And the chances of your having bad ink is even lovers everywhere can tell you that they can spot a scratcher tattoo a mile away (think I'm exaggerating? Check out this site: Bad

NEVER get a tattoo from a scratcher; this means no tattoo parties, no garages, no homemade or kit guns. NEVER go to an artist who will tattoo you outside of the law; make yourself aware of the laws in your area and insist they are followed. For example, an artist who will tattoo minors in violation of the law is an artist to avoid. If they are scimping on that, you have no idea what ELSE they are scimping on. NEVER use an artist who is OK with tattooing a drunk or drugged-out person. And, although this should go without saying, never use an artist who is intoxicated himself.

ALWAYS keep in mind that a good artist works in a shop with sterile conditions, uses proper equipment, and makes every effort to keep you and himself clean and safe. A good artist has no problem explaining and demonstrating her hygienic procedures. A good artist has no problem showing you examples of her work.

And for crying out loud, a good artist DOES NOT go door-to-door.

Here are some links. If you want a tattoo, READ THEM. Don't be an idiot....

Are Tattoos Safe?

Identifying a Safe Tattoo Parlor

The Secret to a Great Tattoo

Tattoo and Body Piercing Laws by State

Tattooing and Health Risk: What the Statistics Say

The Legend of the Nastiest Scratcher on Earth


Saturday, February 04, 2006

UPDATE! Tin Gods with an Audience

Some time ago, I made a post about Celebrity Tin Gods, namely: Dr. Phil, Dr. Drew and Dr. Laura.

I have updated the post today, and
you can read the updated version here.

Two reasons for the update:

1) Dr. Phil has once again demonstrated a flare-up of Tin God Syndrome, and made a pretty ignorant series of remarks (both verbal and on his website) about Asperger's and Tourette's Syndrome.

2) The original Celebrity Tin Gods post has been linked on a well-respected website, Tourette's Syndrome-Now What?. I wanted to take a moment to not only point that out (ok, brag is more like it) but to also thank TSNW for the mention.

So please, take a moment to read the update. Thanks!

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The Bigger the Balls, the Smaller the Brains

The bigger the balls, the smaller the brains
In bats, that is

By Lester Haines
Published Thursday 26th January 2006 15:49 GMT

A Syracuse University research team has discovered something quite remarkable, if not immediately useful in everyday life*: bats belonging to species where the females are promiscuous have bigger testicles than those in species where the girls are more family-oriented.

There is, however, a price to pay: the bigger your 'nads, the smaller your brains, according to team leading biologist Scott Pitnick, who quipped: "It turns out size does matter."

Pitnick's research, which according to AP features in last December's Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Science, concludes that males in some species "make an evolutionary trade-off between intelligence and sexual prowess", as bat-mating expert David Hoskens of Exeter Uni explained.

Pitnick's team examined 334 bat species, finding that in those with monogamous females, males had testes ranging from 0.11 per cent of their body weight to 1.4 per cent. In contrast, in species with promiscuous females, the testicles ranged from 0.6 per cent to 8.5 per cent of the males' mass. Rafinesque's big-eared bat was apparently the species with the league-topping testes.

"Bats invest an enormous amount in testis, and the investment has to come from somewhere. There are no free lunches," Hoskens illuminated. The reason your bat might be obliged to invest so much in the trouser department is simple. "If female bats mate with more than one male, a sperm competition begins. The male who ejaculates the greatest number of sperm wins the game, and hence many bats have evolved outrageously big testes."

Naturally, if you've put all your energy into record-breaking nuts because the girls on your block are putting it about, you might have an "adaptive advantage", but there simply is not enough energy left to invest in a bigger brain.

Bat chaps are not the only males who walk bow-legged with a vacant expression on their faces - chimpanzees too are promiscuous and their cojones are much bigger than those of gorillas, where one bloke controls several females without fear of competition.

* Oh, alright then - it's a real dinner party show stopper: "Yes, it's true: the poor thing had bollocks like bowling balls but was as thick as ten short planks nailed together..."

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The Luck of an Irishman: Scientists Discover Descendents of Niall

Scientists discover most fertile Irish male
By Siobhan Kennedy

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Scientists in Ireland may have found the country's most fertile male, with more than 3 million men worldwide among his offspring.

The scientists, from Trinity College Dublin, have discovered that as many as one in twelve Irish men could be descended from Niall of the Nine Hostages, a 5th-century warlord who was head of the most powerful dynasty in ancient Ireland.

His genetic legacy is almost as impressive as Genghis Khan, the Mongol emperor who conquered most of Asia in the 13th century and has nearly 16 million descendants, said Dan Bradley, who supervised the research.

"It's another link between profligacy and power," Bradley told Reuters. "We're the first generation on the planet where if you're successful you don't (always) have more children."

The research was carried out by PhD student Laoise Moore, at the Smurfit Institute of Genetics at Trinity. Moore, testing the Y chromosome which is passed on from fathers to sons, examined DNA samples from 800 males across Ireland.

The results -- which have been published in the American Journal of Human Genetics -- showed the highest concentration of related males in northwest Ireland, where one in five males had the same Y chromosome.

Bradley said the results reminded the team of a similar study in central Asia, where scientists found 8 percent of men with the same Y chromosome. Subsequent studies found they shared the same chromosome as the dynasty linked to Genghis Khan.


"It made us wonder if there could be some sort of Genghis Khan effect in Ireland and the best candidate for it was Niall," Bradley said.

His team then consulted with genealogical experts who provided them with a contemporary list of people with surnames that are genealogically linked to the last known relative of the "Ui Neill" dynasty, which literally means descendants of Niall.

The results showed the new group had the same chromosome as those in the original sample, proving a link between them and the Niall descendents.

"The frequency (of the Y chromosome) was significantly higher in that genealogical group than any other group we tested," said Bradley, whose surname is also linked to the medieval warlord. Other modern surnames tracing their ancestry to Niall include Gallagher, Boyle, O'Donnell and O'Doherty.

For added proof, the scientists used special techniques to age the Y chromosome, according to how many mutations had occurred in the genetic material over time. The number of mutations was found to be in accordance with chromosomes that would date back to the last known living relative of Niall.

Niall reportedly had 12 sons, many of whom became powerful Irish kings themselves. But because he lived in the 5th century, there have been doubts the king -- who is said to have brought the country's patron saint, Patrick, to Ireland -- even existed.

"Before I would have said that characters like Niall were almost mythological, like King Arthur, but this actually puts flesh on the bones," Bradley said.

When international databases were checked, the chromosome also turned up in roughly 2 percent of all male New Yorkers.
Here's hoping that King Arthur will soon be found to not be
merely "almost mythological" but as real (and maybe, as prolific?) as Niall....


Oh, My

I found this whilst surfing the ol' Internet this lovely morning, unable to sleep thanks to too much pain and the futility of pain medications. I am without words for it, really....except maybe "oy vey."

I'm afraid to ask what "punk" songs are on this....