Archive | April 2015

Radioactive Oatmeal Experiments Conducted on Troubled Youths

From 1946–53, at the Walter E. Fernald State School (originally known as the Massachusetts School for Idiotic Children) in Waltham, institutionalized boys who joined the “Science Club” were fed oatmeal enriched with radioactive calcium. Needless to say, neither the boys nor their parents were told at the time. The highest dose was 330 millirem. See also: “Studies in calcium metabolism; the fate of intravenously injected radiocalcium in human beings.”, J Clin Invest., Jan 1956.


Radiation levels (mrem) from various sources
6: Chest X-ray
9: Dental X-ray
10: Annual USA dose from consumer products
120: Abdominal X-ray
200: Head CT
300: Annual USA average dose from all natural sources
366: Annual USA average from all sources
640: Annual High Background Radiation Area (HBRA) of Yangjiang, China
00: Chest CT
20,000,000: Hourly dose for some Chernobyl workers

Source: Wikipedia. (Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.)

From the April 2011 issue of Happiness Pony. [PDF]

From the Eyes of a Zombie

Most of us are probably familiar with the topic of this article, zombies. But are you familiar with their vision? Yes zombies are not as sharp eyed as most creatures, but the real puzzle is: why? One explanation is that they are unable to properly focus & open their eyes due to the loss of muscle control brought on in the infected. Another is that when a human transforms into a zombie their irises are mutated by the infection leaving the zombie partially blind. Although zombies can’t see very well, they have an advantage at night when vision is not as large an advantage for humans. This explains why zombies prefer to come out at night rather than the day. In any case a zombie’s eyes are not it’s most useful attribute, but their teeth . . . that’s another story.

From the April 2011 issue of Happiness Pony. [PDF]


Tell you what
I’ll divulge:
off the edge of this paper
there’s a huge
orchard. Apples.
If you don’t eat
them, they’ll
still grow.
If you do,
your belly’s full.
All the same


From the April 2011 issue of Happiness Pony. [PDF]

Movie Review: Zardoz

First you have to ask yourself if you can watch an hour & a half of Sean Connery in red hot pants. If the answer is yes, you’re in for a rare experience: a movie that attempts to address serious questions about youth & immortality with an extremely limited budget & even more limited plot. Connery plays a man who is stuck in a world run by folks who’ve found the secret to immortal youth & make everyone else live as slaves. When he’s not wearing the aforementioned hot pants (& worshiping a disembodied head), he’s wearing a wedding dress & avoiding becoming romantically involved with Charlotte Rampling. If you’ve ever wanted to know what it’s like to be on LSD but don’t want to break the law, “Zardoz” is the movie for you. It’s definitely odd but strangely moving & sticks in your head. Like a really bad dream.


From the April 2011 issue of Happiness Pony. [PDF]

Salt for the Unsalted

uncommon wisdom from Bruce “Snow Ghost” Russell

Hey Bruce: What was Nicola Tesla’s greatest invention?

My evil laugh.

Hey Bruce: Any thoughts on Vincent Price?

Vincent Price . . . how much did it cost to invent gin? Probably no more than it cost to invent his name.

Excuse me sir: Would you like ice in your water?

Only if it’s i.c.-d.c.!

Bruce: I’m giving up movies for Lent. What should I watch on Easter?

I have a couple movies for you on Easter. You could watch “The Ten Commandments.” Or you could watch a nor’easter!

Hey Bruce: I borrowed a friend’s truck & hit another truck. I don’t have enough money to pay for the body work on the other truck. What should I do?

Go to a body shop & explain the situation. See what they can do. If it still costs too much, how about some body language!

Hey Bruce: What do you call a funny song by Ray Kurzweil?

A sing-hilarity!

From the April 2011 issue of Happiness Pony. [PDF]

Worcester is an ancient place.

Not just in some textbook, geologic sense of glaciers, fossils, & continental drift. It is an ancient place of generation after generation of people & their intimate relationship with the place we all live out our daily lives.

Long before the small village was re-named after an English city, before Amerigo Vespucci’s name was attached to any map giving name to these continents, where we live was home, both shelter & provider of sustenance, to the Algonquian Nipmuc.

What is most incredible is that the names that the land gave to them are still here all around us and we use them every day, but usually without thinking about the old relationships they describe between them and their home.

Quinsigamond is the name of a lake, a river, & a village for us today. For the Nipmuc it was the location of a village, or sachem. More importantly it was a place of fishing for pickerel as food. The Nipmuc word for pickerel is bound up in the lake’s very name!

Asnebumskit today is a road & a major hill in central Massachusetts, with radio towers for WTAG & WSRS, as well as incredible views of Mount Wachusett, Mount Monadnock, & Mount Watatick (all Algonquian place names as well!). The hill is so large that it comprises portions of Holden, Paxton, & Worcester. For the Nipmuc it was a source of “small stones” & the second of the three sachems of what is today’s Worcester. They lived on its south-eastern flank in Tatnuck, & the area indeed is full of small stones.

The village of Tatnuck & the brook that runs through it in north-west Worcester is also a Nipmuc place name. Lincoln Kinnicutt, in his Indian Names of Places in Worcester County Massachusetts, has Tatnuck as “at the place of the great hill,” with that hill being the largest in these parts, Asnebumskit. Even today we gather around the base of Asnebumskit and live along the waters flowing off of that hill.

Packachoag is home to Holy Cross College, the playing field for the Tornadoes, & a major curve in Interstate 290. For the Nipmuc it was a “turning place” as well, but for the river at its base. Today’s Middle River & the hill it curves around were both called Packachoag. This was the third, and the largest, of the three sachems of Nipmuc in today’s Worcester.

These are some of the names we use day in & day out for where we live, & they still describe those places in surprisingly useful ways. If we think about them & reflect on them, our relationship with the land around us is richer & more makes more sense.

There are more Nipmuc place names for where we live, ones that aren’t used as much, & we might be better served to bring them back into common usage. Our Blackstone River was once called the Kattatuck, or “great river” of these parts. It still is our great river.

Broad Meadow Brook Wildlife Sanctuary, Holy Name High School, & the wind turbine are all up on a ridge and that ridge’s name is Sagatabscot. Sagatabscot is “the place of the hard rock” and we still heartily agree as we have named the street that runs its length Granite Street!

There are more of these place names, and if you get the chance stop by the library and look for Mr. Kinnicutt’s book! But more than that, use the old names knowing that they are more than randomly assigned labels. These places are where we live & speak to how the land impacts us & our lives every day.


Quiz Corner

Q: In the latest Census data, Boston is the only city in Massachusetts to rank among the  most populous in the nation. A century ago, in the 1910 Census, no fewer than 12 Massachusetts cities ranked among the top 100. How many can you name? (Answers below.)

Quizmaster Adam Villani won Ben Stein’s Money, but lost to all-time champion Ken Jennings at Jeopardy! From the April 2011 issue of Happiness Pony. [PDF]

A: (In descending order) Boston, Worcester, Fall River, Lowell, Cambridge, New Bedford, Lynn, Springfield, Lawrence, Somerville, Holyoke, & Brockton.

Source: twps0027/twps0027.html

Bonus: Search the source for tables from years farther back in the 1800s to see Massachusetts cities or towns such as Salem, Gloucester, Charlestown (which has since been annexed to Boston), & even Newburyport make the list.

The Hanged Man Isn’t Jesus, It’s Worcester

Tarot, the 300-year-old method of cartomancy & occult meditation, originated as a set a layman’s gambling cards in the 1500s. The 22 cards of the Major Arcana depict archetypal images that have received every conceivable shade of interpretation: planes of existence, states of mind, steps to enlightenment, a kind of MapQuest for the soul. Perhaps no card has been open to more misinterpretation than the card known as “The Hanged Man.”

“The Hanged Man” portrays a man strung up by the feet, but with a look of illumination on his face. Many scholars of the Tarot, including the late renowned British mystic Aleister Crowley, have painted this card as symbolizing forced sacrifice, martyrdom, & suffering, even inviting comparisons to Jesus Christ. In my study of the Tarot I have found it to mean none of these things.


The Hanged Man is not suffering. He seems to be enjoying himself. The Hanged Man symbolizes the understanding that comes from letting go of your old worldview & your old view of your place in that world. What hangs on that cross is only his ignorance & with that gone he is free to do as he likes. For me, he symbolizes the City of Worcester.

Worcester isn’t about ambition or success. In some ways it’s almost off the map. Neither the Hanged Man nor Worcester are into following the mainstream; they’re doing their own thing. When you drop out & flip your mind, you see things you otherwise wouldn’t have. The Hanged Man is the original, keeping it real, & at its best, this City is too.

Image: “The Hanged Man” by Aiden Duffy. From the April 2011 issue of Happiness Pony. [PDF]