Monthly Archives: June 2008

Cleaning Up Mercury

Researchers have developed a cloth that can absorb mercury from broken florescent bulbs.

I’ve been wondering about the florescent bulb mercury danger issue recently. The old-fashioned long tube florescents contain mercury also don’t they? I have rarely, if ever, heard anyone worrying about the mercury in those. I remember when someone broke a couple of long florescent tubes in the place where I used to work and it was no big deal. They just swept up the glass and that was it.

Our New Young Overlord

Actually that should be Overlady.

I wasn’t expecting to get her until at least next week when I will be seeing the person I got her from anyway but she called me last night and I brought the little one home this morning. She’s very quiet and affectionate. I haven’t made a final decision on a name yet. Here’s another pic just to show off how beautiful she is.

She seems so tiny and fragile. I’m just about as nervous and worried as a new parent.

UPDATE: It’s official. Her name is Dax. She had her first visit to the vet today and she was very good.

UPDATE II: More about Dax. And thanks for the link.

Why? How?

It happens every summer – someone leaves a baby in a hot car and goes shopping. The guilty parents always claim they just forgot about the child but how could you? I really don’t see how. Anyway, it’s no excuse. It’s your responsibility to remember that you have the child with you.

And you know… I suppose it’s wrong to judge people by appearances but doesn’t that woman just look like someone who would do something that stupid and irresponsible? They don’t always show the person on TV in these cases but when they do, almost always, they have that unmistakable “trailer trash” look. Of course not everyone who lives in a trailer is trash and not all trailer trash live in trailers; some live in nice homes. It’s an attitude, a lifestyle.

Oklahoma has a shockingly high rate of child abuse and neglect. What can be done? How do you get through to people who would do something like leaving an infant in a hot car on a summer day?

Quotes From Here and There

1968 called! They want their graphic design back!here

I don’t normally go in for swear-blogging, but there are times when only swear-blogging will do. there

Very quickly now the date approaches where the holes in the future meet the present.here

I’m not living in the moment, I’m living in September. That’s a problem since it’s not September.there

Random Linkage

Canadians for Global Warming

Creepy illusion (via Bifurcated Rivets)

Great t-shirts. Science and “Teach the Controversy”.

A collection of innovative designs. The rocking chair is interesting but I’d be afraid I’d rock all the way back. Not my style anyway. The flexible cell phone is a neat idea. I like the aquarium sink. (via Dark Roasted Blend)

Mythbusting at Ectoplasmosis. I’m not buying it either.

Vintage seed catalogs – Beautiful!

Light fixture – ugly but interesting

Of the Allure of Clay – Very worthwhile.

Manga career counseling

9 Health science links

Spanish pulp covers – Awesome

A lovely, soft color painting

What is it?. I don’t know either but it’s a very cool steampunkish looking thing.

Lollyphile – lollipops in maple-bacon and absinthe flavors plus more “pretty incredible flavors” promised for the future. (via Puppies and Flowers)

Nancy Kress

Interview with fantasy and science fiction author Nancy Kress. I’ve never read anything by Kress but after reading the interview I am definitely interested.

…very little about my career has been planned. As time went on, my “soft SF” turned to medium-viscosity, then actually hardened. What interests me now about hard SF is that this is the future we will be living in, and not that long ahead, either. For some reason, knowing that enables me to create characters that feel more real than those I created for fantasy.

[...]

Genetic engineering intrigues me so much because it’s the most intimate of the sciences, impacting our bodies and brains and those of our children. Whereas quasars, say, are happening millions of light years away. The other “aspect of our progress” — or lack of it — that concerns me most is managing the planetary environment, including food crops.

That sounds interesting and timely. I actually prefer science fiction that features spaceships and weird alien planets but authors seem to be getting more interested in Earth and its near future, which can be interesting.

There are also a number of wonderful fantasy art images in the article, with links to the artists’ sites. Lots to explore.

Reading

Late last week I finished reading Saturn’s Race by Larry Niven and Steven Barnes. It’s an entertaining conspiracy theory with some mystery and even a bit of romance.

I noticed that several of the reviewers at Amazon were disappointed because it was nothing like Niven’s other books. That was not off-putting to me at all because I’m only a lukewarm Niven fan. I usually enjoy Niven in collaboration more than Niven alone. On the other hand, I’ve only read one of Barnes solo efforts – Lion’s Blood – and found it to be fairly good but not my cup o’ tea.

I suppose I would have to agree that Saturn’s Race is not a great book but I did find it entertaining and it took me less time to read than I typically spend reading a book. I wanted to keep going to see what would happen next and to me that is a good book, if not great.

A Few Odd Videos

One of the coolest things about the Internet is all the delightfully odd things you find. (Of course there’s also a lot of gross, disgusting and sick oddness but we’re not going to talk about that right now.) Youtube is home to all manner of oddness. Among all the copyright violations, political videos, cute kittens and mostly lame amateur attempts at entertainment, if you look long enough, you will eventually stumble upon something odd, delightful and even artistic. Yes, these are art. A couple of them might even be beautiful. (In a very odd way of course.)

BOXeD

Fly Away Penguin

Me and My Goldfish Swimming With Sharks

Me and my goldfish were going to the pub

The Piano

Just Take a Deep Breath

Is everything really this bad? Really? It’s true that all those things are happening – flooding in the Midwest, high gas prices, home foreclosures and so on – but when they throw it all together that way doesn’t it make it seem worse than it actually is? Or is my family just one of a lucky minority of families that are doing okay?

It is the job of the media to get people to pay attention to them. Maybe you think their job is to inform us but what do you think happens if everybody stops watching a particular network or stops reading a particular newspaper? If the situation can’t be corrected quickly somebody gets fired. Their job is to get as many people as possible to pay attention to them and the easiest way to do that is to create drama.

There’s always something bad going on somewhere in the world and it’s good to be aware of it as we go about our generally comfortable lives but it’s not good to be in a constant state of panic and despair. We all need to take a deep breath, take a good look at our own lives and what’s going on in our communities, help our neighbors as much as we can, then relax and just live. The sun still rises, flowers still bloom, children still play, kittens are still cute, music still moves us, books still take us away. Take time off from worrying to enjoy some of the good stuff.

George Carlin

By now you’ve probably heard that comedian George Carlin has died. I’m not sure what I can add to what many others have already said. To be honest, I often found him both annoying and offensive but he did sometimes make a good point and I liked some of his observations about how we use words. This will probably seem a little strange but I enjoy reading what he said more than watching and listening to him say it.

Here are a whole bunch of George Carlin quotes. And I will add two of my favorites:

“We will never be an advanced civilization as long as rain showers can delay the launching of a space rocket.”

“I love and treasure individuals as I meet them; I loathe and despise the groups they identify with and belong to.”

Goodbye George and thanks for all the laughs.

“Retro” Kids Cereals

Scott linked to this list of “Retro Kids Cereals. First of all, I want to make it perfectly clear that anything that first went on the market after I became an adult is NOT “retro” so this list is just wrong. Second, why didn’t I ever get any Pink Panther Flakes? It’s not fair! I want some Pink Panther Flakes!

Adventures In Home Improvement

Murphy’s Law states that, “Nothing is as easy as it looks, everything takes longer than you think and if anything can go wrong it will.” Most people, when they think of Murphy’s Law, only remember the last part but yesterday we managed to prove all three points as well as a related adage, “Every home improvement project requires three trips to the hardware store.”

For a long time we’ve been talking about putting a ceiling fan in our bedroom. We hadn’t done it yet because it never seemed like a high priority, just something that might be nice to do someday, but it recently occurred to us that it could also help us to correct another situation that we are not happy with. A while back we replaced the intermittently malfunctioning old style florescent fixture in our kitchen with one that takes three standard base bulbs. We wanted to try some of the super efficient LED bulbs but they turned out to be not as bright as advertised – okay for some living areas, perhaps, but not bright enough for a kitchen. And of course they were much too expensive to simply discard. We got the idea that we could use the LED bulbs in the bedroom so we made sure to get a ceiling fan that had a light that uses three bulbs.

My Other Half was off yesterday because he worked all weekend so we went to Lowes to pick out a ceiling fan. They have them on display way up high so you can see what they would look like in your house if you had a twelve foot ceiling. We picked one like this. My husband is highly competent at all things electrical. We both expected this to be, at most, a two hour job.

We got back home and started the project at about 10:00am. The husband got the old light down in practically no time and started doing his magic with the nest of wires in the ceiling. Trip number two was to get the right size Romex connectors. He went to Ace Hardware because it’s closer than Lowes and faster to get in and out. By the time he got back from town it was almost noon so we took a short break for lunch.

I didn’t do much myself other than hold a flashlight and hand up parts. From a watcher’s perspective the only thing that seemed difficult at all was getting the ceiling brace in place. We have no attic access so that had to be done through the small hole that the wires come through. For some reason everything just seemed to take a long time but we finally did get done. As we were putting up the light kit we noticed that it requires candelabra base bulbs not standard base. DOH! We can’t use the LED bulbs from the kitchen. The third trip to town was to get the right bulbs. (Ace Hardware again.) We bought three compact florescents that look almost like normal candelabra bulbs. We got back home about 3:30pm.

I do like the new ceiling fan. We even talked about putting some in other rooms. Overall, I guess it was a pretty good day.

Brown Before Green

This week’s episode of Dirty Jobs was a special titled “Brown Before Green.” It featured clips from earlier jobs related to the environment. I had seen most of it before but what was interesting to me was Mike Rowe’s narration in between clips. It’s tempting to call it an indictment of the whole “green” movement but actually the point was that there are a lot of people who are working to help the environment in ways that are not part of the “green” litany of feel-good practices and products. He calls this other environmental movement “brown” because to really clean up you first have to get dirty.

Here are some quotes from the show.

When people are motivated instead of lectured they’re more likely to do right by the environment.

That would seem to be obvious but apparently not to some people. I suppose the lecturers actually believe that lecturing is the way to motivate people. Or perhaps the only people they want to motivate are members of Congress.

Green sees a mess like this and says ‘we’ve gotta clean this up because it’s a just cause’. Brown sees the same mess and says ‘we gotta clean this up because it’s an opportunity.’

Oh the evils of capitalism – actually making money off environmental clean-up.

And one more. This was his introduction to a segment in which he helped to demolish a small concrete damn blocking a trout stream.

You know what else bugs me about green? It’s the idea that everyone can contribute equally to saving the planet. It’s just not true. Sure we can all drive hybrids and remember to turn the lights off when we leave the office but how come nobody ever talks about the 12 hour days of back-breaking manual labor? Where in the green manifesto does it talk about pain, sweat, blisters? Look, brown understands that there’s no substitute for brute force and when it comes to getting the environment back to where it belongs it’s not about picking up one of those curly little light bulbs; it’s about picking up a sledgehammer.

So let’s have a little more respect for brown.

Quotes From Here and There

Dickensian novels should be written … about ghastly tasks like this. Dothecalls Hall, presided over by a brutal taskmaster with a truncheon who forbids any deviation from the despicable drivel in the script. here

One time I caught about 50 baby water frogs and put them in a shoe box. During the night they somehow got out and my mom about killed me when she woke up to find all of them plastered to the windows.there

An Earlier Web

The Web that Time Forgot. The World Wide Web was invented in 1934. Well, sort of.

In 1934, [Paul] Otlet sketched out plans for a global network of computers (or “electric telescopes,” as he called them) that would allow people to search and browse through millions of interlinked documents, images, audio and video files. He described how people would use the devices to send messages to one another, share files and even congregate in online social networks. He called the whole thing a “réseau,” which might be translated as “network” — or arguably, “web.”

An interesting story. As happened with many other projects, World War II got in the way and Otlet and his idea was forgotten. But it’s unlikely that his vision, if it had been carried out, would have led to anything like the Web we have today.

The archive’s sheer sprawl reveals both the possibilities and the limits of Otlet’s original vision. Otlet envisioned a team of professional catalogers analyzing every piece of incoming information, a philosophy that runs counter to the bottom-up ethos of the Web.

Via Twisted Spinster

More Links

The true face of childhood

And on the same blog, a knitted Cthulhu

Food art – some of these are pretty weird

Now this is what I would call “an inconvenient truth”

Desktopography – I like both of those pictures but especially the first one. The second one almost looks like it could be somewhere in my neck of the woods.

Leave the Yeti alone. Also on that blog, a beautiful pair of photos.

Homer’s snowdome. No, not that Homer.

Graffiti Creator. (via Spiral Pocus)

Antique photos in 3D. More. I’m not sure it’s worth it. The 3D effect is sort of cool but the wiggling images are annoying.

Top 10 Historical Hoaxers

Colorful ancient cities. Lots of great photos. (via Neatorama)

Things that shouldn’t go boom, but do

Eco Designs

7 wonders of the future – real and conceptual designs. I like the Lilypad. The book I’m reading has something similar to that. (At least it’s a floating city, other than that, probably not all that similar. More about the book some other time.) Very cool idea. I expect that Japan will be the first to build something like this.

Some other neat ideas there too. The Bahrain World Trade Center is interesting. I sort of want to hate it and sort of like it. Mostly like it, I guess.