Monthly Archives: February 2008

Uh oh…

There is a very good chance that I might exceed my bandwidth limit for this site before the end of the month. If that happens, no big deal. I’ll be back up on Saturday. I probably won’t post much, if any, today and tomorrow.

I’m thinking I might remove a bunch of photos from the old blog. It’s still getting about 90 visits a day, almost all of them from Google image searches. I’ve also been thinking that I might start a Flickr account and post some of my best pictures there. I don’t know if I want to do that or not. I’m strangely possessive about my photographs. When I post them here it’s like I’m just showing them off to a few friends. Obviously anyone can find them and use them for whatever but it still feels like I’m just showing them off to friends. If I post them on Flickr, on the other hand, that would sort of feel more public somehow. Anyway… I’m thinking about it.

Random Linkage

Garden creatures. Very nice post about the Cleveland Botanical Gardens, with several links and photos.

Almost invisible people. Interesting art. The political comments at the end of the article just made me roll my eyes. Not that I totally disagree; it’s just that I’m an art for art’s sake kind of art fan. (via Bifurcated Rivets)

Fossil letters. Weird.

A delicious alternative religion.

A visit to Salzburg Cathedral

Coffee flavored green tea.

Did Hubbard steal Scientology? Veeerry interesting.

Beautiful British landscape photography (via Dark Roasted Blend)

A collection of strange photos

World’s most dangerous tourist hiking trail. I don’t think I’m up for that one. (via dm)

Record collection for sale. Really, really BIG record collection. (via Dirty Beloved)

Abandoned Russian village. An interesting wooden building. So sad that it’s left to crumble.

Transistor radio collection. What was once cool high-tech stuff is now cool retro stuff. (via Grow-a-Brain)

Garfield minus Garfield. Oddly enough, they still work. (via In4mador)

Cats help you live longer. You can find a study to prove pretty much anything you want to prove so I don’t necessarily take this seriously but we cat people can never pass up another excuse to feel smug. (via Look At This…)

A cool optical illusion.

Weather Extremes

Charles mentioned this Oklahoma weather record

November 11, 1911. 11/11/11 is the only date left in the record books on which the existing record high and record low temperatures were recorded on the same day. An Arctic front, also known as a “Blue Norther,” roared into the state and plunged the temperature reading at Oklahoma City from an afternoon high of 83°F to a midnight low of 17°F. The temperature fell to 14°F on the morning of the 12th – a drop of 69 degrees in less than 24 hours.

When you put it like that it sounds impressive and unusual but it’s actually only a little more extreme than our typical winter weather. It’s not at all unusual to have a temperature around 70° in the afternoon and drop to around 20° that night. Not necessarily the same day since the low is usually after midnight but we’re still talking about a big drop in less than 12 hours.

There are some more interesting Oklahoma weather records at that last link. Last December’s ice storm did not make the list. (There was an ice storm worse than that? Yikes!) The two to three inches of sleet we got last April, which was one of the weirdest things I’ve ever seen, is not mentioned either.

UPDATE: Oh. Now I see that the title of that page is “Oklahoma’s Top 10 Weather Events of the 20th Century.” That’s probably why those two recent events aren’t included.

White Stereotyping

Brian linked to this odd blog: Stuff White People Like. It’s actually more a list of what urban liberal yuppies like. There is very little there that is in any way related to my life or interests. It is sort of amusing. My guess is that the intention is to make a statement about stereotyping minorities by deliberately stereotyping white people.

A Brief Rant

Message for the State of Oklahoma: Fix your damn computer network! Every other time I go to the tag agency I’m told that they can’t do whatever I went there for because, “The computers are down for the whole state.” I know people who work on computers so I fully realize that 100 percent up time is not possible. But really! Am I really so unlucky that I always just happen to show up on the one day a year when the network is down? My guess is that the state cannot afford either a good computer system or computer techs who are competent enough to keep one running.

And another thing. Why don’t they have a work around? Thirty years ago they managed to issue and renew drivers licenses and vehicle registrations without computers but nowdays if the computers are down they’re paralyzed. You know, there are all these sci-fi movies and books about a future where computers have taken over and rule the world. Well, that future is already here. We don’t have sentient computers yet but they are already ruling the world. If the computer’s down everything stops. Don’t get me wrong. I like computers. I love computers. But they do have problems so we really ought to have back-up plans so that life can go on while the computers are down.

Cat Door Solution

A commenter on this post posted a link to The Flo Control Project. That is very clever! To be honest though, I don’t think I like my cats enough to go to that much trouble.

Actually, it’s not all that much of a hassle to let them in and out. Most of the time they’re asleep. Whenever they get in one of those moods when they want to go in and out every two minutes I just make them stay outside. Hey, they’re cats! Where do you think they lived before they had humans to build houses for them? At night they’re either in or out for the whole night and I’m asleep so I don’t worry about where they are and what they want.

An Important Announcement

This would be easier if I was as eloquent as Barack Obama or as experienced as Hillary Clinton. How does one begin when making a huge, highly important announcement? Oh well, I am who I am so out with it, I guess.

I am running for President of the United States. That’s right. America’s first woman president will not be Hillary Clinton. It will be me. I want to start by telling you exactly where I stand on the issues which I realize is a rather unusual approach but…

What? Do I hear laughter? Why would you not take me seriously? What is so funny about me running for president? Is anyone laughing at Ralph Nader? Oh, wait. I guess we are laughing at Ralph. Again. Never mind.

The Evils of Tea

Quote found at Epeus’ Epigone

“Newsreaders still feel it is worth a special and rather worrying mention if, for instance, a crime was planned by people ‘over the Internet.’ They don’t bother to mention when criminals use the telephone or the M4, or discuss their dastardly plans ‘over a cup of tea,’ though each of these was new and controversial in their day.” — Douglas Adams

That is so true and it’s the reason why there are millions of people running around out there who are scared of the Internet and seriously annoying those of us who get it.

Names

Author Name Pronunciation Guide. Recordings of authors saying their names. Unfortunately none of the authors I read are on the the list (I did read one book by Neil Gaiman) but it’s a good idea. Maybe they will add more authors in the future.

Found here, which I think I found here but I can’t remember for certain.

Fabric Snobbery

I find this quite amusing. Apparently, it’s now okay for proper, fashionable people to wear polyester.

Nature lovers, have no fear, there are still some natural fabrics that are fashionable. I’m very interested in seeing some bamboo fabric myself. I suppose it’s fashionably rare and expensive. Well, not too bad but there’s an extremely limited color selection.

Rambling, Reading and a Little Craftiness

Wow, is it Friday already? Where did the week go? What did I do all week? Well, mostly I tried to stay warm. We had a couple of almost nice warm days but most of the week it’s been cold and cloudy. We have run out of dry firewood so it’s really hard to get a good fire going and our central furnace just doesn’t quite do the job by itself. Right now it’s snowing just a little bit but I don’t think there will be much and it’s supposed to be above freezing later.

Blog pet peeve: You know something that really annoys me? Well, lots of things. I suppose I’m easily annoyed though you probably wouldn’t realize it. But specifically, what’s bugging me at the moment is bloggers who don’t know how to post links and instead post URLs as text, like this: http://blog.wired.com/wiredscience/2008/02/evolution-wins.html (That’s the link from the last post just for an example) I can sort of understand when people do that in the comments or someone who’s new to blogging but if you’re going to stick with this blogging thing, you really should learn to post links. Most blog platforms have a button for that but even if you’re using something so primitive that it doesn’t have a button it’s still not difficult at all. In fact, it’s so easy I don’t even bother to use the button.

Reading: Monday I finally finished reading Green Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson. It was pretty good overall. It was mainly about the political aspects of building a new world with the terraforming in the background but that’s okay; politics can be interesting though it’s not one of my favorite subjects for a novel. I got impatient with parts of the book – whole chapters, one of after another, of almost nothing but one character’s thoughts. I like books that let you see inside the characters’ heads but after a few pages, at most, I expect to get on with the story. Although there were moments when I thought, “Somebody please put me away where I won’t hurt myself if I ever pick up another book by Kim Stanley Robinson,” I will read Blue Mars and likely some of Robinson’s other books. I can hardly wait, in fact. Maybe I’m just a glutton for punishment.

Right now I’m reading Mission of Gravity by Hal Clement. Quite a difference in style and at first it’s a bit of an effort to switch mental gears. I’ve been shopping for my next batch of books. I want to get more books by Vernor Vinge and by China Mieville. Problem I’m having with that is that several of the books I want to read are not yet available in “mass market paperback”. It seems like I’ve been waiting forever for Iron Council. Now, it may sound like I’m just being a cheapskate, waiting for the paperback and maybe that’s part of it but the main reason is that the standard paperback is the perfect size. It’s comfortable to hold. Last year (or maybe the year before; it’s been a while) I accidentally bought The Scar in the large size paperback. At the time it did occur to me that the price was a little high for a paperback but prices are always going up so I didn’t think much about it. Then I get this near phone book size paperback. I felt like I needed to be a weightlifter to read it. On the positive side, it’s a better quality binding than most paperbacks and I really wish standard size paperbacks were made better. I have many that have lasted for years but I’ve gotten a few that start falling apart before I’m halfway through the first reading and those poor quality bindings seem to be getting more common.

Craftiness: I’ve started another quilt. I had a lot of really old scraps, some from the 80s left over from making kids clothes so they’re very colorful. I decided to put those together in a sort of semi-random design. Not all of the scraps are from the 80s; a few are more recent but they’re all colorful, mostly abstract, and sort of go together. Or not. Maybe it’s just a mess. But anyway, it’s all put together now and I’m into the fun part: the actual quilting. There’s something about hand quilting. I hate when people throw around the word “zen” but that’s the only way I can think of to describe the feeling. Quilting is very zen.

A Victory In Florida

Creationists support teaching “the scientific theory of evolution”.

The Florida Board of Education officially upheld evolution yesterday.

The board didn’t quite mean to do that, of course. In a 4-3 vote, the Board accepted a proposed curriculum that replaced all references to evolution with the phrase “the scientific theory of evolution.” In so doing, the board inadvertently made evolution central to public school science education, and also, almost incidentally, mandated education on just what constitutes a “scientific theory.”

[...]

The 4-3 vote was obtained by including a last-minute amendment to the standards. Suggested last Friday by religious conservatives and dubbed the “academic freedom proposal,” the amendment required that the curriculum’s references to “evolution” be replaced by the “scientific theory of evolution.”

The amendment’s supporters called the language change a victory — and it is, though not in the way they imagine.

Not only will Florida’s students learn about evolution; they’ll also learn that the scientific definition of a theory is different from the everyday definition, referring not to wild-eyed speculation but to a vast body of observation and testing that confirms a hypothesis so strongly that it might as well be considered fact.

Beautiful! Don’t you just love it when the other side does exactly what you needed them to do and they don’t even know it?

Via The Daily Grail

The Amber Room

German treasure hunters believe that they have found The Amber Room. I’m not getting excited yet. We know how these great discoveries go. Until you actually see the treasure, there is no treasure.

The article includes a nice little photo gallery (8 images) of a reconstruction of the room. I can’t decide whether I think it’s beautiful or gaudy. Beautiful, probably. I suppose we’re just not used to seeing such richness.

Via AMCGLTD

Changes of Leadership

Interesting things are happening in the world. They might even be good things.

I always expected that the day that Fidel Castro was no longer president of Cuba would be a huge event – a “Where were you when…” kind of event. Instead, it seems barely worth notice – a mere formality. Fidel’s brother is officially in charge and Fidel himself is still around. There might be some token reforms but no radical overnight change.

I can’t help but think about the possibility of the next US administration opening diplomatic relations with the government of Cuba. That would be the big, Earth shaking change. I’ve always had doubts about the embargo. I’m not sure whether I agree with it or not. It should have been obvious after a couple of decades that our policy of ‘You’re mean so we’re not going to play with you,’ would not convince Fidel to play nice. And why trade with China but not Cuba? On the other hand… well I don’t know exactly what the other hand is except that it doesn’t like the idea of dealing with dictators as if they were legitimate leaders.

On the other side of the world the citizens of Pakistan have voted for change. How much change will there actually be? I don’t know. Maybe not much but it’s encouraging that the people overwhelmingly voted against the Islamist parties.

Of course, I can’t talk about changes of leadership without mentioning our own upcoming presidential election. I’m trying not to get too excited or to hope for too much but this is the first time in several elections that I have felt there will be a real choice, not just a choice between, “Anyone but him” and “Oh hell no.” Still, I’m always of the opinion that anyone who actually wants to be president probably isn’t fit to do the job.

We still don’t know who the Democratic nominee will be. There are things I like and things I dislike about both of the candidates but I would be somewhat satisfied with either. My big problem with Clinton is that I feel that if we elect her we will be electing a couple for president and that couple has already been president for two terms. Hillary meddled in Bill’s presidency and it’s a sure bet that Bill will meddle in Hillary’s presidency if she is elected. But is that really very important if she is the best candidate for the job?

Obama has charisma. He gets people fired up and inspires hope. It takes more than personality to be a good president but personality should not be entirely dismissed. He lacks experience but I tend to consider that a good thing. I would vote for a waitress or a truckdriver for president if they were obviously intelligent and I liked what they had to say. In fact, I would really like to see a waitress or a truckdriver elected president.

But anyway, back to the real candidates. Clinton and Obama are actually not that far apart on the issues. I think Clinton would be better for foreign policy and national security but that’s just a feeling. I’m not sure about either of their health care plans. I fear that whatever the government does about health care it’s going to be screwed up. The government takes things that are very simple and makes them very complicated so when it comes to something that is complicated in the first place, like health care, you know it has to end up very seriously screwed up. The economy? I don’t know. That’s another complicated issue and I doubt the president can do much about it. The economy seems to be a beast that goes its own way no matter what any individual tries to do about it. The other day I read this about Obama and the economy. It sort of surprised me, in a good way.

But we must not forget the Republican candidate. All along I’ve been feeling that our next president will be either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. I want to think that. On the same blog as that last link I read this interview with an associate of John McCain’s. In some ways I think McCain might be better than our current president but I keep reading things about him that creep me out and frankly, just looking at him creeps me out for some reason. You know, sometimes you just get a feeling about someone. I do not want McCain to be president but I have to keep reminding myself that it’s possible. On the bright side, at least Huckabee is out even if he won’t admit it.

Oops

87 Predictions that turned out to be wrong. Some you’ve probably heard over and over again and possibly some you haven’t.

“I see no good reasons why the views given in this volume should shock the religious sensibilities of anyone.”
— Charles Darwin, in the foreword to his book, The Origin of Species, 1869.

“It will be gone by June.” — Variety, passing judgement on rock ‘n roll in 1955.

“With over fifteen types of foreign cars already on sale here, the Japanese auto industry isn’t likely to carve out a big share of the market for itself.” — Business Week, August 2, 1968

“Ours has been the first [expedition], and doubtless to be the last, to visit this profitless locality.” — Lt. Joseph Ives, after visiting the Grand Canyon in 1861

“Such startling announcements as these should be deprecated as being unworthy of science and mischievous to its true progress.” — Sir William Siemens, on Edison’s light bulb, 1880

“What, sir, would you make a ship sail against the wind and currents by lighting a bonfire under her deck? I pray you, excuse me, I have not the time to listen to such nonsense.” — Napoleon Bonaparte, when told of Robert Fulton’s steamboat, 1800s