Syndromes study continued

Ah, today’s featured oddness is a rather strange, startle syndrome associated with logging camps in Maine. The Jumping Frenchman of Maine Syndrome. For those of you who want to investigate further as the Wikipedia article lacks substance, here is a more involved explanation. Most experts agree this condition was psychologically rooted because of where these men worked and its origin was not neurological. Jumping Frenchman’s malady actually had a significant role to play in the ultimate discovery and diagnosis of Tourette’s Syndrome.

I guess not too many individuals would have suffered from the Jumping Frenchman’s syndrome, thankfully, only about eight. Can you imagine what would happen if one of those lumberjacks had held an ax in his hand? Oddly enough, my family has accused me of having the Jumping French Woman’s from Montana Syndrome. I don’t react well to people coming up behind me while I’m running the vacuum. Everyone who lives here knows this but still it’s a shock to both parties when I suddenly turn around and someone is standing right there in the hallway and I didn’t know they were there! Maybe they should call mine the Shrieking-Jumping-Frenchwoman’s Syndrome, except for the fact that when this happens usually both people jump.

A photo and Jane Goodall


I am currently reading Jane Goodall’s autobiography “A Reason for Hope”. I don’t know what took me so long to find this gem of a book but I can thank my friend, her name is also Jane, who loaned it to me. The subtitle is called: “A Spiritual Journey” and so far I understand exactly why she chose that title. It is not often that a scientist, and a renowned one at that, will speak freely about their scientific disciplines and their spiritual journey together, as companions along the path of life. What an amazingly humble, bright and interesting person is Dr. Goodall. I have long respected and admired her.

This photo of Matthew’s taken just two evenings ago at sunset reminded me of something Dr. Goodall writes in her book:

“For those who have experienced the joy of being alone with nature there is really little need for me to say much more; for those who have not, no words of mine can ever describe the powerful, almost mystical knowledge of beauty and eternity that come, suddenly, and all unexpected. The beauty was always there, but moments of true awareness were rare.”

FeeBay Facts

eBay owned or partially owned companies:
Craigslist * EachNet
GittiGidiyor * Gumtree
Internet Auction Co. (IAC)
Lokau * Loquo *
MercadoLibre * Opus Forum
PayPal *
Skype * StubHub
Tradera *

My source for this list is from an eBay seller’s thread I am reading which was started about three weeks ago when eBay decided to increase final value fees and basically eliminate the old feedback system. Also for some sellers, PayPal will hold onto their payment funds until the buyer decides to leave positive feedback. There is an extended boycott planned for the first week in May when most of these new, albeit unpopular, policies will take effect. There is some scuttle that eBay is attempting to weed out the smaller sellers in favor of the Power Sellers who bring them in more money. The smaller folks are just taking up space and making eBay look like a virtual flea market. eBay says they are trying to discourage sellers with poor ratings and make the market friendly to buyers while promoting the sellers with great feedback. There is merit to arguments from both sides of the auction aisle and I can see both views.

Last week there was a boycott of sellers and buyers both which CNN Money writes reduced listings by 17% the first 3 days of the boycott. There are quite a few alternative auction sites popping up all over the place but some of them are really not “alternative”, as eBay either owns them or owns shares in the sites such as Craigslist which is 25% eBay’s investment. That creates a rather sticky wicket for small sellers seeking a more friendly venue. I found it interesting that last week on the first day of the strike I received an invitation from to become a seller on their site. Whoa, I feel so special. Amazon might be careful of that ever present, possible looming threat of corporate take-over by eBay. I’m kidding of course, although there have been rumors that Google plans a competitor auction site in the future, but I don’t see how that is going to help any smaller sellers. Google is still big and they will most probably act big.

Some folks sell on Etsy, which I don’t see on the above list – yet. As I continue to read the eBay forums thread I will be paying attention elsewhere in the news for a hint that perhaps the eBayers discontent is making an impact – or not. I take an interest in this because many years ago I started selling our music on eBay and it concerns me to see the upheaval taking place brought on by a new CEO who really doesn’t seem to understand why the site was started in the first place.

Accent of the week

I keep meaning to mention this site which we have had quite a bit of fun with – the Speech Accent Archive. I know, it is rather obtuse but there you go. I wish they had more southern US examples which I love listening to, but I can always call up Matthew’s cousin and his wife if I want to hear ‘southern speak’. Interestingly, their older daughter, either through media or intention on her part, has nearly no accent whatsoever – to our ears. The loss of some accents moving into the next generation is one purpose for the Archive. You will be interested to hear how non-trans Atlantic some speech in Ireland will sound. And in Edinburgh, Scotland I just love the way he says “Stella” and “train”.

“This website allows users to compare the demographic and linguistic backgrounds of the speakers in order to determine which variables are key predictors of each accent. The speech accent archive demonstrates that accents are systematic rather than merely mistaken speech.



Our son Aly captured this Bohemian Waxwing in the Rosehips. There was a massive flock of them eating the juniper berries in our yard near the windows. The cats became very excited, transfixed by the numbers nearly, but we kept our furry friends inside for the afternoon. I ran out and gathered in my laundry quickly when we saw the Waxwings landing in the trees and bushes, because they sometimes leave a bit of a mess. This flock pretty much cleaned up our crab apples and most of the dogwood berries too. I noticed the same-sized flock this morning in our neighbor’s yard, across the street, cleaning up remnants of her mushy apples which had fallen under the trees. There is a definite hint of a warmer season in the air today. We had two inches of snow yesterday, but this morning it is nearly all melted. Spring approaches!

Gathering winter light


Winter day reflects
in its myriad colors
night sky happenstance.


In honor of One Deep Breath’s final prompt:

old tree gathers light
dusk-rose in inky branches
silhouette of Spring.


I am sorry to see ODB going the way of all things, but it appears that Sandy & Andree are offering an alternate haiku prompt site next week. Thank you so much to the ladies at One Deep Breath.


Since I am not feeling all that serious this morning here is a Friday fun video which will make you either groan, smile, or laugh out loud. Hopefully two of those three will occur. This is a golden oldie dedicated to Mr. Mathlete. I loved Beaker when I was a teen.  Watch out for those banana-flavored equations!  My thanks to Revland on the Mod Blogroll.


Stendhal Syndrome

“The Italian city of Florence harbors the richest trove of art treasures in the world. Its many museums are hot spots for outbreaks of a rare psychological disorder. Foreign tourists sometimes experience breakdowns while standing in the presence of the tremendous beauty, and are rushed to the psychiatric ward of Florence’s Santa Maria Nuova Hospital.

“Many visitors panic before a Raphael painting,” reports Reuters. “Others collapse at the feet of Michelangelo’s statue of David.” Psychiatrists have referred to this pathology as the Stendhal Syndrome, named after the French novelist who wrote about his emotional breakdown during a visit to the city’s art collection in 1817.” From writer Rob Brezsny

I guess they should warn people to take their Toprol that morning before visiting the art museum. It is somehow oddly comforting to know that we humans can still be so touched by art and beauty. Being “touched” that extremely where one ends up in the ER would be bad of course, but to be touched by art very profoundly, in that the moment transports one into a transcending, transfixed experience of enhanced perception seems to suggest not a syndrome so much, as an illumination. I remember once getting an episode of rapid heartbeat during one of the final pieces of Handel’s Messiah performed in an old Munich church when I was living in Germany. The late afternoon performance of this entire work took place right before Christmas in Munich’s Altstadt. The orchestra was large and very good; the acoustics in the balcony were superb. I experienced this extended Fermata in time, where I felt my hearing was acutely enhanced; all the parts played and notes being sung made perfect sense to me, on multiple levels. (I didn’t drink caffeine in those years, so I know it must have been the space and the music.) The buzz I felt leaving the church lasted for hours afterwards, late into the evening.

It makes me wonder how many perfect moments we all unknowingly walk by, perhaps not every day nor even every month, but more often than we realize: are they small epiphanies of wonder which we miss, not comprehending where or what they are. Does it really require a visit to Florence and Michelangelo’s David, or a seasoned orchestra playing the great German masters to completely grab our attention and hold onto us – entranced and motionless, causing our hearts to beat a little more quickly? Perhaps tonight’s lunar eclipse will help me consider this riddle further.