Category Archives: miscellaneous

The Rise of the Transgenic Queen

The Rise of the Transgenic Queen by Antonio Zamora is now available for Kindle devices.

The story depicts the evolution of mankind after a genetic experiment gets out of control. The directors of a new genetic engineering firm seek to make large profits from a new type of diet therapy. The brief escape of one of the laboratory animals causes Ludmila, one of the female scientists, to accidentally become infected with a virus vector carrying hymenoptera genetic material from a small gene therapy research project. The physical changes from the expression of the genetic modification have unforeseen consequences that transform Ludmila into the Transgenic Queen, thus altering the biological evolution of mankind.

HTML and CSS Scrolling table with fixed heading


In web design, you often have to display a table that is too long and ruins the aesthetics of the page.  The ideal thing to do is to scroll the body of the table while leaving the headings fixed.  The design of the HTML didn’t quite get it right.  You would think that the following code would solve the problem by just scrolling the body enclosed within the <tbody> tags, but it does not work in any browser.

This code does NOT work:

<table cellspacing="0" cellpadding="1" border="1" width="300" >
  <thead>
    <tr>
      <th>col 1 heading</th>
      <th>col 2 heading</th>
    </tr>
  </thead>
  <tbody style="height:48px; overflow:auto;">
    <tr>
      <td>col 1 data 1</td>
      <td>col 2 data 1</td>
    </tr>
    <tr>
      <td>col 1 data 2</td>
      <td>col 2 data 2</td>
    </tr>
    <tr>
      <td>col 1 data 3</td>
      <td>col 2 data 3</td>
    </tr>
  </tbody>
</table>

There are solutions posted on the Internet that solve the problem by using JavaScript to cope with browser idiosyncrasies, but they are not general solutions.

It is possible to have a table with a scrolling body and fixed header with only HTML and CSS. The solution is to use three tables.  An outer table consists of two rows.  The top row contains a table for the heading and the bottom row contains a <div> containing the table for the scrollable body.  The outer table and the <div> container  have to be 25 pixels wider than the tables for the heading and the body to allow room for the vertical scroll bar.  The column widths of the tables are defined through CSS.

The following code works for all browsers (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Opera):

<table cellspacing="0" cellpadding="0" border="0" width="325">
  <tr>
    <td>
       <table cellspacing="0" cellpadding="1" border="1" width="300" >
         <tr>
            <th>col 1 heading</th>
            <th>col 2 heading</th>
         </tr>
       </table>
    </td>
  </tr>
  <tr>
    <td>
       <div style="width:325px; height:48px; overflow:auto;">
         <table cellspacing="0" cellpadding="1" border="1" width="300" >
           <tr>
             <td>col 1 data 1</td>
             <td>col 2 data 1</td>
           </tr>
           <tr>
             <td>col 1 data 2</td>
             <td>col 2 data 2</td>
           </tr>
           <tr>
             <td>col 1 data 3</td>
             <td>col 2 data 3</td>
           </tr>
         </table>  
       </div>
    </td>
  </tr>
</table>

Look at the code for the table above

Fear of Friday the 13th

triskaidekaphobia

Fear of the number 13 is called Triskaidekaphobia.  Although the origins of this superstition have been lost in antiquity, they still persist in our modern world.  In Hispanic and Greek cultures Tuesday the 13th is considered an “unlucky” day, but in English folklore it is Friday the 13th.  The superstitions about the number thirteen are so ingrained in society that they even affect architectural decisions.  The building in which I live does not have a 13th floor, as you can see in the elevator panel above.

Yesterday, was Friday the 13th, and I had a particularly unlucky day.  Actually, it could have been worse, but I am glad that it wasn’t.  It all started with my usual TGIF celebration which consists of going to a restaurant for dinner and having a relaxing evening at home.  But not last night.

The French food was a complete disaster.  I ate only half of the food because it was too much, but nevertheless, I woke up in the middle of the night with a stomach ache.  I don’t think that the food was bad, it was just too salty and my organism is not used to so much salt.  I probably had dehydration cramps.  My girlfriend ordered something that had some crab meat and something else with a strange French name.  She should have heeded her instinct when the waiter asked if that was what she really wanted and whether she had had it before.  She asked “What is it?”, the waiter explained that if she liked sardines or anchovies she might like it.  mmhhh…  At this point I thought that she would change her mind, but no, she is an adventurous gourmand.

Too bad.  During the middle of her culinary adventure, it seemed to me that she looked a little bit green.  At about this time she offered to let me try her dish.  Having once been duped into tasting a horribly vile fishy morsel, I politely declined.  Then she confessed that she really didn’t like the dish, and that the mystery ingredient with the French name seemed to be some kind of raw roe or organ which was too fishy and unpleasant.  We left the restaurant in a less than pleasant mood.

But Friday the 13th had not worked its full magic yet.  The worst part was about to happen on the way home.  The first sign of trouble sounded like a pop as we passed a car that had been stopped by a police car.  I did not realize then that my rear tire had blown out and was leaking slowly.  As I turned into the cloverleaf to get on Washington’s outer belt, Route 495, I felt the car sway in an unusual way.  The steering became harder, and then I realized that I had to pull to the edge of the road.

Fortunately, the blowout was on the right wheel along the curb of the road, otherwise I would not have been able to change the tire without risking my life.  I fiddled in the dark with the jack and the spare tire while my girlfriend held a flashlight.  The flashlight gave up the ghost after a few minutes.  I managed to get the spare tire on in the dark.  When I tried to get back on the road, there were some strange noises from the wheel that I had changed.  I could not drive.  I called the Mercedes help line, and a knowledgeable assistant asked me if I had changed the tire myself.  When I said yes, he mentioned that the spare tire uses shorter wheel bolts than the regular wheels and suggested that this might be the problem.

I looked back through my toolkit using the cabin light of the car and there I found the five shorter bolts that I needed.  I jacked the car up again and replaced the bolts in the dark.  Now the car could move, but there was still some drag.  I drove home slowly, which was eight miles away, and I could hear that the rear brake calipers were dragging on the disk.  Evidently, the longer bolts had bent something.  The tire was under warranty.  I changed it on Saturday, but it cost me $101 Dollars to replace it after credit for residual value.  The brake repairs will have to be done on Monday, and they will probably be a lot more expensive than the tire.  This is a Friday the 13th that I will not soon forget.

The Case for Sex Education

Sarah Palin and Bristol Palin
Sarah Palin and her daughter Bristol

Republican presidential candidate John McCain has picked Sarah Palin as a running mate, and everybody is talking about Sarah’s 17-year old pregnant daughter, Bristol.  Sarah and her husband Todd Palin made a public disclosure about the pregnancy saying:  “Our beautiful daughter Bristol came to us with news that as parents we knew would make her grow up faster than we had ever planned.  Bristol and the young man she will marry are going to realize very quickly the difficulties of raising a child.”

There have been reports that Levi Johnston, the 18-year old boy who made Bristol pregnant, does not want to get married, but this is probably beyond his control.  Republicans have sought the support of religious groups and it would not look very good for the Vice President’s daughter to be an unwed mother with a bastard son.  It will be a shotgun wedding and probably an unhappy marriage.  Poor kids.

You reap what you sow.  Republicans have been against sex education for a long time and have withdrawn money from programs that teach about contraception.  According to the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, half of Americans have lost their virginity by age 16.  If children are not educated about sex, they will follow their instincts and make more babies.  It is well known that only teaching sexual abstinence is not an effective way of preventing teen pregnancies.  Today’s world is filled with many sexually alluring images in fashion magazines, movies, videos, and the internet.  Many teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases are the result of ignorance, lack of effective communication with parents, and not knowing how to deal with temptations.

Lack of sleep may cause accidents

Chesapeake bay bridge

Last Sunday, a 19-year old driver fell asleep at the wheel as she was driving on the Chesapeake bay bridge.  The bridge has two spans which normally carry one-way traffic in different directions, but on this day, there was two-way traffic because one of the spans was closed for repairs.  The car with the sleeping driver drifted unto the oncoming traffic and a collision involving several vehicles sent an 18-wheeler tractor-trailer plunging into the Chesapeake Bay.  The driver of the truck was killed.  The sleepy driver was hospitalized and was reported to be in good condition.

Sleep deprivation may cause paranoia, hallucinations, as well as cognitive and psychomotor impairments. In one experiment, people who drove after being awake for 17-19 hours performed worse than those with a blood alcohol level of .05 percent, which is the legal limit for drunk driving in many western European countries.

Always get a good night’s sleep before you drive or operate machinery.  If you feel tired while driving, stop to rest and take a nap.  Think of the consequences.  What kind of life will you have after an accident?  If you survive, you may end up disabled or feeling guilty for the rest of your life for having injured someone through your negligence.

Goldfinches in my flower pots

goldfinches

This morning, I woke up to the cheerful chirping of some goldfinches in my flower pots.  In the springtime, I harvested some lettuce from these flower pots.  When the lettuce was trimmed, I found some Thai basil growing from seeds scattered by the wind.  I let these plants grow around my petunias.

Every time that I water the pots, the basil releases a wonderful sweet aroma.  Both the petunias and the basil stems are a great attraction for the bees, but now that the basil blooms are forming seeds, finches are perching on the stems to feed.  The birds probably scatter some seeds as they feed, and this is how the basil came from the penthouse to the flower pots in my balcony.  My neighbor downstairs will probably have basil in her flowerpots next year.

Running out of gas – My lucky day

I have only run out of gas twice in my life.  The first time, I had been moving from one apartment to another, and I had a very busy schedule.  I completely forgot that cars ran on gas.  Lo, and behold, as I was driving down the street, my car started to sputter.  Dazedly, I looked at the gauges, and sure enough, the gas tank was completely empty.  This was in the days before there were red little warning lights on the gauges that let you know that your gas was low.

Fortunately, it was my lucky day!  The car stopped right in front of a house where the owner was mowing his lawn and he had a can of gas right there.  Seeing my predicament, he poured his gallon of gas into my tank and would not take any money.  Of course, gas cost about 50 cents per gallon in those days.  It was not a major investment like today.  I thanked him profusely and went on my merry way – directly to the gas station.

The second time I ran out of gas was because of an accident.  I was driving in my Buick Century down a freeway with my son, and all of a sudden, the car in front swerved to the left.  By the time I realized why he had swerved, I was on top of a big chunk of metal that probably had fallen off a truck.  Clink! Clank! Thunk! These were the sounds that I heard as the metal hit the underside of my car.  My tires were OK, but as I continued further, I noticed that my gas gauge was dropping quite fast.  I looked back in the mirror and saw a trail of gasoline.   My first thought was “I hope the car doesn’t catch on fire”, as I kept going.  There was an exit coming up.  I ran out of gas as I entered the exit and coasted right into a gas station that was in the right place at the right time.  I was really lucky!  The gas station specialized in gas tank repairs.  I called a neighbor to give me a ride home and lived happily ever after.

Scientific Psychic passes 7-million visitor mark

Scientific Psychic Statistics

The domain ScientificPsychic.com has been active since February 15, 2001.  The web site has continued its original goal of providing educational material and entertainment.  Some of the most popular pages are the optical illusions, games, diet calculator, verb conjugation, and hygiene.

ScientificPsychic.com averages approximately 6000 visitors and over 16,000 page views per day.  Most of the traffic originates from English-speaking countries like the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and India, but there are visitors from many parts of the world where English is spoken such as Singapore and the Philippines.  This is an example of the country of origin of the visitors.

Scientific Psychic Statistics

Some of the web pages have been translated to other languages and it is not unusual to have Google refer French queries to the French version of the verb conjugation page.  The recent translation to Spanish of the diet calculator, and the pages about carbohydrates and hygiene already is attracting visitors from Latin America who search the web in Spanish.

Scientific Psychic® is registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office with registration number 3,088,970.

A Memoir by Jeff R. Noordermeer

Antonio Zamora and Jeff Noordermeer in 2007

This is a picture of me and Jeff Noordermeer in 2007 celebrating his 74th birthday. Some time ago, Jeff had mentioned that he had written the memoir of fifty years of his life. I asked him if he was going to publish the material and he said “no”. After I read what he had written, I was fascinated by how Jeff survived World War II during the bombing of Rotterdam, Holland. Jeff has had a life with many interesting adventures. He is an optimist who is always looking for the positive things in life.

I would like to thank Jeff for allowing me to post his memoirs on my web site. I think that many readers will find Jeff’s perspective of life refreshing and humorous.