Monthly Archives: July 2008

Things to Look At

Some interesting photos and links. I like the “gothic machinery” and the shadow photo. Among the links there’s this list of exotic fruits. I might be willing to try some of those. What a food looks like definitely has a lot to with whether or not it is appetizing but I also shy away from fruits that are a lot of trouble to eat, like those that have too many seeds. And this bit of fence conversation is sort of interesting. (Keep clicking on the photos)

Yay, Sharks

It’s Shark Week on the Discovery Channel. Normally that would not excite me at all. I’m not a fan of Shark Week, unlike a certain 8-year-old I know. But we haven’t watched anything on the Discovery Channel for over a month since they turned it into the Crab Fishing Channel with nothing but Deadliest Catch every night so anything new is exciting. Best of all, there are two new two-hour Mythbusters. (I watched the one last night.) Who cares if it’s about shark myths? It’s the Mythbusters!

Top 10 Most Annoying Things Heard on HGTV

1. Some people are afraid of color – Oh no! Oh no! Don’t let those scary colors in here!

2. Warm earth tones – formerly known as neutrals. Currently popular in kitchens and bathrooms. These designers should get together with the people-are-afraid-of-color designers.

3. Some people are afraid to paint brick. – No, some people are smart enough to realize that brick is a beautiful, durable material that does not need painting and that if you paint brick you are giving up a major advantage of having brick.

4. Go outside your comfort zone – There’s a reason why it’s called a “comfort zone”. It’s what we are comfortable with. We want to feel comfortable in our homes. If you mean that some people are reluctant to try new things just say that.

5. Utilize – Have you ever noticed that people on HGTV never simply use anything? They utilize spaces, utilize color, utilize plants, utilize materials. Everything is utilized. I’m sure that “utilize” is a perfectly good word in its proper place (wherever that is) but it’s silly to utilize things when you can simply use them.

6. Glam – While some designers never pass up the chance to use three syllables when they could use one, others can’t even seem to manage two. Please don’t give me any glam. That’s the ugliest word since the word “blog”.

7. We don’t want everything to look too matchy-matchy – Oh for crying out loud… talk like an adult, why don’t you! Since when did they start having 3-year-olds host design shows?

8. “These are not the colors we agreed on.” – “This accessory doesn’t go with our design.” etc. – I remember one designer on Curb Appeal who was literally almost in tears when he found out the homeowners had decided to paint their house a different color from the one he had tried to talk them into. Some designers get way too possessive of other people’s houses.

9. Water feature – If it’s a fountain, call it a fountain; if it’s a waterfall, call it a waterfall. The term “water feature” is only excusable if, in the early stages of the design process, you know you want something with water but haven’t decided exactly what. Once you have decided, call it what it is. A couple of times I’ve even heard “fire feature”. Fortunately that one hasn’t caught on yet.

10. Green when it’s used to mean “Earth friendly” or “environmentally responsible” – I’m extremely tired of hearing this everywhere, not just on HGTV. I have no problem with people wanting to be environmentally responsible, within reason, but green is a color, the color you get when you mix yellow and blue, to be specific, the color of grass and leaves in summer but, strangely, most “green” products come in “warm earth tones”. If the bamboo floor or the countertop made of old toilets or the new lightbulbs are not literally green don’t call them green.

Dishonorable mention: Pop – as in, “These colors really pop.” For a long time this one didn’t bother me at all but like most buzzwords it gets annoying after you’ve heard it 5,000 times.

A Few Links

The Rule – sounds like a pretty good rule to me except that I don’t especially care whether or not a movie has at least two women in it.

Teeth – OMG! OMG! What the…!? Weird, crazy, messed up… What kind of sick minds… I probably shouldn’t link to this but I can’t unread what I have already read so I’m going to make you suffer along with me.

Do it yourself Droste Effect – well, that is if you’re geeky enough to figure out how to use GIMP, which I, apparently, am not.

Stained glass for gamers and geeks. Links to more in the comments.

More Droste effect photos

10 things you can stop worrying about – Well, that’s a relief. I’m a little bummed about #1 though. I like carbs better than fat. Unless the fat comes with carbs. (via Neatorama)

Revisiting a Lost World

Slight SPOILERS ahead.

Way back in the late 70’s when my husband and I were newlyweds we frequently went to a small library that had a fairly impressive collection of science fiction. The most memorable book I read in those days was The Ice People by French author René Barjavel. (English translation by Charles L. Markmann) For years I looked for the book in stores – not a great effort of searching, just always hoping to find it someday. It was only recently that I thought to look for it at Amazon. They had several used copies in hardback and several more paperback copies. I bought the hardback.

In The Ice People an international group of researchers find a chamber buried deep beneath the Antarctic ice. Inside are two people who have been frozen at near absolute zero for nine hundred thousand years. They succeed in reviving one of the people and through her memories we see the last days of a highly advanced civilization of Earth’s past.

I had wondered if I would still like the book as much as I did when I first read it. Some things don’t survive time and experience very well but, except for a couple of complaints, I still do like it a lot. In fact, it’s one of my all-time favorites. It is a romantic tragedy and a protest against the arms race of the 20th century. It was originally published in France in 1968; the English translation in 1971. It feels just a little dated in some parts (computers still use punch cards) but mostly it still works because it’s more about people than technology.

The complaints? The love scenes read like laughably bad soft p0rn – not that I’ve ever read any kind of p0rn, at least not on purpose, but I can say that these scenes do not turn me on or make me feel romantic; they make me feel like laughing and that does not go with the rest of the book, which is otherwise a tear-jerker. Maybe you have to be male or French or both to get it. Fortunately there is very little of that sort of thing. My other complaint is that it gives away its own ending with an “if only we had done things a little differently” statement near the beginning of the story. I hate when authors do that. However, I nevertheless found myself “on the edge of my seat” rooting for the soon-to-be victims and desperately hoping that what I knew was going to happen would not happen.

But in spite of these faults I still feel that it is a great story. It is unique and haunting and feels important somehow. The book is only 182 pages long. The story could have been filled out a little more and I almost always prefer longer books but I don’t think this one could have been improved by adding to it. I’m not a fan of tragedies at all. Too often the tragedy seems senseless and easily preventable and therefore stupid. I think what I find haunting about The Ice People is the idea of a civilization that existed 900,000 years ago. It’s such an intriguing idea and there is enough left to the imagination that it remains intriguing.

White Knight Two


It looks like the Mojave Desert is once again the center of the private space industry, with Richard Branson and crew on hand to unveil Virgin Galactic’s WhiteKnightTwo spaceship carrier as promised. This craft (only the first of more that are promised) has been named EVE (after Branson’s mother) and, with a 140-foot wingspan, it’s apparently now officially the largest all carbon-composite aircraft ever made. Eventually, it’ll be used to help carry the the yet-to-be-completed SpaceShipTwo craft in orbit although, as Burt Rutan himself tells, that’s still a little ways off…

It has to do a lot of test flights – at least 40 – but I’m already excited. This is what private industry can do: They don’t just build spacecraft, they make them beautiful too.

Take a look at this gallery of photos and illustrations.

Books! – A large collection of public domain books. A wide variety of stuff from classics to the obscure. There are magazines too, for example, several issues of The Atlantic Monthly from the late 1850s to early 1860s. Just browsing through the titles is fascinating.


Everyone has been linking to this video so, in the time-honored copy-cat tradition of the blogosphere, I’m going to link to it too. I can’t decide whether it’s very clever or really stupid but it amuses me.


Can’t keep up with what all the different color awareness ribbons mean? Here’s a list. Looking at it makes me a little tired. It’s not exactly that I don’t care anymore, it’s just that the overwhelming number of causes represented by a few colors makes the whole ribbon thing seem silly. What if you agree with one cause represented by a particular color but disagree with another? I suggest that everyone go back to wearing big tacky-looking metal buttons so we can all tell what people really care about.

Fantasy Maps

Fantasy Cartography (via Quiddity) – Very cool! I love maps and even non-existent places need maps.

On the other hand, although I do like when sci-fi and fantasy novels have maps, they can be annoying and distracting. I can’t resist turning back to the map over and over again while I’m reading. And I hate maps that are incomplete or difficult to read. The most annoying maps I’ve come across recently are the ones in in Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars trilogy. There are lots of locations in the story that are not marked on the map and it’s not like the map is too crowded it’s mostly empty. It seems like the map maker was more interested in preserving that feeling of vast emptiness than in helping readers visualize the story.

Quotes From Here and There

Get over it. The great ones are always a pain in the (Not that I necessarily agree completely with the article. More on this subject some other time.)

Starbucks is in the process of closing 600 stores nationwide, while Dunkin’ Donuts — that oh-so-unhip place where you can pay less money, get good coffee, much less attitude, and even a sinful doughnut if you dare — is opening 500 stores. Draw your own conclusions…there (via)

Frankly, I don’t think it’s an oil shortage we need to be worried about, but a shortage of thinking caps!here

First off, I’m thinking of a movie that started with a long battle sequence that’s so gigantic and filled with mayhem and destruction that it’s “impossible for the brain to follow”, and that sequence is uniformly hailed as filmmaking genius.there

Incontrovertible proof that aliens have visited the Fredölawn. here

Weird, Silly Cat Dream

I had another one of those dreams where the impossible seems perfectly logical, reasonable and normal. I dreamed that when we got Dax we also got two other kittens at the same time. One was a black and white male who was a delightfully mischievous little scamp and he could talk. This wasn’t surprising at all. It seemed perfectly normal that he could talk. The others couldn’t talk yet and I thought how clever he was that he learned to talk sooner than the other two kittens but it didn’t seem the least bit strange. (until I woke up)

The two kittens I just dreamed up didn’t have names yet. I was thinking about what to name them and the clever little talking kitten asked me something about his name and I asked him what he would like to be named and he said, very enthusiastically, “I want my name to be Diesel.” Now where the heck did that come from? I have never thought of that as a cat name. That’s as weird as talking cats.

How Photos Lie

Photoshop beauty tutorials. This post has links to Photoshop tutorials and, for those of us who don’t necessarily want to learn how to do it ourselves, lots of photos showing what can be done. Be sure to show this to any teenage girls you know. Never believe magazine photos.