Monthly Archives: December 2007

My Favorite Links of 2007

Just “a few” of my favorite links from the past year, mostly from the old, broken down version of this blog.

The Website at the End of the Universe – You gotta love that title.

Tatjana van Vark – weird inventions.

Strange Maps – a blog featuring fictional and antique maps.

Zyra – a links site

Photos of Kamchatka

Mona Lisa after one week in L.A.

A Few Words On the Soul

Strange Lamps

Birdtank

Faces

Water Figures

Water bears

Scroll

Insects

Obsolete.com – various odd stuff

Velociraptor Attack Prevention

Slice of Pi

Fruit and vegetable story

Flaming Cursor

The Church of Google

Fresh air 404

Blogger Play

Snowglobe

Jean-Leon Gerome 19th century artist

Suzy Scarborough – contemporary artist

Native Art Network

Entrance to the Caves, Lego art

Microorganisms – 19th century illustrations

Chickens – a Webshots collection of vintage illustrations

Andrew Lewandowski, artist

Rafael Saldarriaga, artist

Magic Landscapes by Michael Kraehmer

Philippe Guillerm, sculptor

Karlsruher Tulpenbuch – 18th century watercolors

Sergei Aparin, artist

Zeljko Djorovic, artist

Kolja Tatic, digital art. Possibly my favorite art discovery of the year. Many more here.

Pavel Zacek, artist

Boris Artzybasheff – illustrations. Whimsical machines.

Brian Despain, artist. More here

Atlas of Plucked Instruments

Weird materials

Satellite image, Alberta, Canada.

All Known Bodies in Our Solar System Larger than 200 Miles in Diameter

Hubblesite.org

The Cloud Appreciation Society

Vintage space art

Astrona – more space art

Quotes From Here and There

Life is not always rosy, and it’s not always black. Mostly it’s featureless gray with rare splashes of absurd color.here

Personally I think that the best cure for environmental catastrophe is to be very rich.there

Remember, Michael: even Brady Satan’s ACL isn’t made of steel!here

This is like being told that i stopped being before e fifty years ago, didn’t your grandparents get the memo?there

It’s nice to be 36 and still get toys for Christmas.here

“The soul cannot be coerced.”there

A Few Links

Helloooooo…? Anyone out there? It’s been sort of lonely around here since I’ve been back in action. (Well, not all that much action; maybe that’s the problem.) Anyway, here are a few sites I bookmarked before the power failure. Most – but not all – are blogs.

Anglo-Saxon Riddles from the Exeter Book Manuscript – original texts and translations.

Flipseek – links to online catalogs, organized by category. Not as good as the old Catalog City site, which I was unable to find but not bad.

Hibernia Girl – a blog focusing mainly on Irish news and politics.

Neojaponisme – a blog about Japanese culture. Very nice. A cut above the usual “weird Asian stuff” sites.

John C. Wright’s Journal – Science fiction, religion, philosophy, politics. I disagree with a lot of his opinions but he’s thoughtful and rather intriguing.

Metapsychology Online Reviews – book reviews from a mental health perspective.

Long War Journal – War news. Not exactly a blog.

The Page 69 Test – A slightly unusual approach to book reviews.

American Art

California Impressionists – a brief introduction and a few examples. And a silly question. Artsy people can be so amusing, getting all worked up over the question of whether a work of art is actually good according to some vague, elite and ever-changing definition of quality.

Ice Storm ’07

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The weather event itself wasn’t what most people would call a “storm”. It was just rain. But it happened to fall at a time when the temperature was at, and later just below, the freezing point of water. The rain froze as it hit tree limbs and power lines, growing increasingly thick and heavy until they broke under the weight.

The rain started on Saturday, December 8th. The TV cable was the first to go and we spent Sunday bummed out about not being able to watch football. Later we were awakened in the middle of the night by the sound of tree limbs, and sometimes whole trees, cracking and crashing to the ground. As expected, the electricity went off sometime late Sunday night or Monday morning. By the time I got up the waterbed had started to cool noticeably.

My husband left for work just a little earlier than usual. A few minutes later he was back to get his chainsaw to clear trees out of the roadway. All day Monday limbs continued to crash to the ground, one every few minutes. I’ve never heard anything like it before. That evening we went out to eat. The road we usually take from our house to the main highway was almost completely blocked, with only low narrow tunnels cut through the fallen trees to drive through. By Tuesday morning the limbs had almost stopped falling and the sound of chainsaws had taken over.

Our house is “all electric” but our primary source of heat is a woodstove. The furnace only cycles on when it’s very cold outside. Lacking heat for the waterbed, we had to sleep in the guest room. We don’t normally call it that because we don’t have guests, just family who live elsewhere most of the time. Something between fifteen and twenty years of sleeping on a waterbed has made me almost incapable of sleeping on a normal bed, or so I thought. Actually it’s just motel beds that I can’t sleep on. Our extra beds (a daybed containing two twin beds) are somewhat softer than granite (unlike motel beds) and I actually slept quite well.

Power was back in most of the Nearby Small Town in just one or two days. We continued to eat out most nights. On Wednesday or Thursday (I forget which) we went to see Beowulf. One night I tried to heat soup on the wood stove, another night, pasta. That didn’t work out very well. It’s made for heating, not cooking. The top of it gets hot enough to almost boil water.

In the evenings we would sit around and stare at candles and listen to KOOL 106.1 on a small battery powered radio. (We can’t get my favorite station inside our house.) In the daytime I read a lot. I started and finished Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds – very good book – and tried to catch up on the last few issues of Smithsonian Magazine.

One day I finally had to take one load of laundry to the laundromat. I hate those places. Generally you see two types of people in laundromats: normal-looking young people who will probably be able to afford their own washer and dryer someday and creepy, inbred-looking people whom you wish you didn’t have to be in the same building with even though they’re probably not all that bad if you get to know them. There were not enough dryers and there were several people waiting so I took my clean wet clothes home and hung them up.

A couple of days before the power came back on one of my husband’s co-workers loaned us a generator. He had gone out and bought the generator and returned home just in time to see the lights come back on. We ran the refrigerator and two lights for the price of approximately 10 gallons of gasoline a day. Ouch. So I got some stuff to go in the refrigerator and we had sandwiches for a couple of meals. I won’t go into the ordeal of cleaning out the refrigerator. You can just use your imagination.

The power finally came back on Thursday afternoon, December 20th, then some idiot driving too fast hit a pole and it was off for another three hours. My husband and the neighbor were a little annoyed because the person he talked to at the power company wouldn’t tell us where the incident had occurred so they couldn’t go have a talk with the aforementioned idiot. The TV cable was back by Saturday morning. The phone was only out for three or four days.

What was it like being without electricity for 10 days? It’s hard to say. I’ve already forgotten. It was so unreal. After a couple of days there were houses within two miles of us that got their power back and for a little while I was expecting the lights to come back on “any time now” but it didn’t and for a while I felt like it would never come back – that this was the way life was going to be from then on. After the first week I even stopped reaching for the light switch every time I entered or left a room. Now… life’s back to normal and it’s almost like that week and a half never happened. Except that there are broken trees laying all over our yard, including the top of one of my favorite small trees. Most of our trees came through okay though. We have a lot of big, strong oaks. Once we get things cleaned up our place will look normal again.

There are still some people without electricity. We were lucky to get it back on before Christmas and on Sunday we had the little gathering that we had been planning since before the power outage.

My sincerest thanks to all the power linemen out there – truly everyday heros, working in the cold for up to 20 hours a day to get our lights back on.

Pizza

A most awesome pizza! There are just a couple of things I might change. I might use a different kind of pepper; maybe banana peppers. They’re not as green but that many bell peppers don’t appeal to me. And is that broccoli I see? That definitely has to go. Okay so it needs some work but I love the basic idea.

Tagged For Christmas

I’ve been tagged by the House of Eratosthenes. I’m a little late getting around to this so I won’t tag anyone else.

1. Wrapping or gift bags? – Both. Mostly wrapping but I use some gift bags too.

2. Real or artificial tree? – Artificial. I like real trees. I like the scent of a real tree and… well, actually, other than the scent I guess I just like the idea of a real tree. They drop needles so bad it seems like it takes until July to get them all swept up. We bought a live tree one year and planted it outside after Christmas. It died. I felt terrible about that. We killed a living thing just so we could have a pretty, nicely scented decoration. (Mostly joking about that last bit. I didn’t actually feel terrible about it, just annoyed.)

3. When do you put up the tree? – We’re not consistent about it; anywhere from one to three weeks before Christmas.

4. When do you take the tree down? – Sometimes as early as the day after Christmas, sometimes as late as January 1st or 2nd.

5. Do you like eggnog? – Not really. The taste is okay but it having eggs in it really bothers me.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? – hmmmm… None really stand out above the others. Maybe the stuffed red and white clown doll I got when I was four years old. I lost that before I got tired of it so I remember it more than a lot of my other toys. (I want my clown back. [sob])

7. Do you have a nativity scene? – No. I wouldn’t mind having one but most of them I’ve seen don’t quite look good enough to suit me. I’m not sure where I’d put one anyway.

8. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? – I can’t remember anything really bad.

9. Mail or e-mail Christmas cards? – I haven’t sent any kind of Christmas cards for several years. Just lazy I guess.

10. Favorite Christmas movie? – I can’t think of any that I liked a lot. On the other hand, there are none that I hate either. (Oh wait… Yes there is. I really hated Bad Santa. ) But favorite? Polar Express is the first that comes to mind so I’ll pick that one. Very cute movie.

11. When do you start shopping for Christmas? – I have started shopping online as early as late October but usually not until November for online shopping and not until after Thanksgiving for local shopping.

12. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? – Pies, fruitcake, country ham, sweet potatos… just everything.

13. Clear lights or colored on the tree? – Multi-colored.

14. Favorite Christmas song? – Currently, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, the recording by Loreena McKennitt.

Back In the 21st Century

We have electricity! Finally! It’s been so long I hardly know what to do with it. I was planning to write a long post about the ice storm and power failure as soon as the electricity came back on but now it’s only a few days until Christmas and I have a few Christmasy things to do as well as getting re-acquainted with some household appliances, in particular the washer and dryer so you still might not see much here until after Christmas. But on the other hand I might have a few minutes to waste now and then so keep checking anyway.

UPDATE: My son, whose electricity came back on several days before ours did, has some useful tips for coping during a power failure and looks on the bright side.

I Want POWER!

Electricity that is. Haven’t had it since sometime in the wee hours of Monday morning. But we are luckier than some people. We have heat and we don’t have a hole in our roof. I’ll tell you all about our adventures in the dark later when the power comes back on sometime next week. (I hope) Right now I’m at my son’s house so I’ll keep this short. He gets cranky if anything keeps him away from World of Warcraft for very long.

The Last Rose of 2007

I took this photo the day before Thanksgiving. There were also several promising buds that day but soon after this the weather started turning cold, near or below freezing, so this was the last fully open rose of the year.

‘Tis the Season to Procrastinate

Do you trust weather forecasts? I think I do, maybe too much. Yesterday I thought about going shopping but it was cold and windy so I looked at the weather forecast for today and it was supposed to be a little warmer and sunny so I decided to wait until today. Well, today it’s colder and raining. Doh!

I seriously need to go grocery shopping and Christmas shopping. I haven’t done much Christmas shopping and I’m starting to feel some urgency and little bit of creeping panic over what to buy certain people. Number One Son is the easiest and most fun person to shop for that I know. I could go overboard if I let myself. Everyone else… I just don’t know. But I have to think of something soon.

I look forward to Christmas more for seeing other people open their gifts than for getting something myself. I suppose I’m hard to shop for. I don’t know why. I like a lot of different things. I always get something nice but never any of those things that would make perfect gifts because I would not likely buy them for myself because it would seem too self-indulgent. Things like knick-knacks (which I don’t have any place to display anyway) or art books. Things that are not practical.

Don’t take this wrong. I’m not really complaining. Giving really is the most fun. And I seriously need to hurry up and get started on having some fun so I don’t end up in Wal-mart at 6:00pm on December 24 buying something lame.

Random Linkage

Astrona – a space art journal. (thanks, Scott)

Marketing oops. Can you imagine the uproar if they had advertised that particular item for Ramadan?

Unphotographable – a “photoblog” without photos. (via Extra Extra)

Blogging the Russian election – translations from Russian Livejournals.

Carnival Culture 2: the Folksinger

Bacon flowchart. (via Ectoplasmosis)

Cabinet of Wonders – a blog about strange and fascinating things.

Oldest known color photograph. Nice.

Meet your daemon. Mine is an ocelot.

Shoe art

Calories Are What Makes Food Taste Good

Calories are strange, annoying little units. Most of us don’t really understand calories. We just think of them as a measurement of how fattening something is but, on the other hand, we instinctively think in terms of volume and calories simply refuse to match up with volume. How can that itty bitty candy bar have over two hundred calories and a large apple have only 110 calories? The little kid that lurks in each of us wants to cry, “It’s not fair!

Do candy bars seem terribly small to you? They were about right when we were 8 years old but now only the “King Size” seems like enough. Those are (Yikes!) 400 calories or more. It’s not… Uh… anyway… Have you noticed how tiny serving sizes in general are, as indicated on food packaging? A single serving of Ruffles Sour Cream and Onion potato chips has 160 calories. That doesn’t seem too awfully bad until you look at the serving size: 1 ounce or “about 11 chips.” What lunatic decided that? It was the government, right? Only the government could come up with something that insane. Who counts out just 11 chips or weighs out just one ounce and eats that and no more?

But I didn’t start this intending to rant about the government, although it would be helpful if packages would tell us how many calories are in a realistic size serving. What always gets me are the small packages that are obviously intended to be single servings but say they contain two and half servings or something like that. So there’s one serving for you and one for a friend and… What are you supposed to do with that half serving?

Anyway… I don’t really know where I was going with this. I was just thinking about how odd it is that some things that are so small could have so many calories. Even though I sort of understand why it’s that way, it still just doesn’t seem right.

Looney Court

‘Toons ordered to the witness stand:

In what lawyers believe was a clerical error worthy of a Looney Tunes cartoon, a court in Naples sent a summons to the characters ordering them to appear Friday in a trial in the southern Italian city, officials said. They were summoned as damaged parties in the criminal trial of a Chinese man accused of counterfeiting products of Disney and Warner Bros.

“Instead of naming only the companies and their legal representatives, clerks also wrote in the witness list the names of the cartoons that decorated the toys and gadgets the man had reproduced”

Real Life

Real life is not like CSI:

Real life does not have intensely focused brilliant people who seem to only have one case to solve and computers that would have made the 1950′s Batman jealous of their computational ability. Real life has fairly bright people who want to care, but are overwhelmed with the number of terrible things people do to other people every day and are doing their best just to write it all down.

Worthwhile to Remember

The Diplomat Knows, a great list. Just a sample:

Nothing is trivial. Great loves have been won or lost with the slightest gesture or intonation.

It may take more than 20 years to determine who really won a dispute.

If you are truly powerful you don’t need to raise your voice.

Very hard messages can be delivered in a very polite manner.

Thirteen more. Thanks, 2 Blowhards.