Monthly Archives: January 2011


We are expecting real “OMG-the-world-is-coming-to-an-end!” snow, tonight and tomorrow – about 10 -12 inches. I feel like I should rush to the store and buy stuff but I look around and I can’t see anything that we’re nearly out of and that we will have to have in the next day or two. On Christmas Eve we were talking about people rushing to the store and buying out all the bread and milk and one of my sisters-in-law remarked that she didn’t understand this impulse to buy bread and milk when it snows, that if she was going to be snowed in for three days she was going to stock up on Twinkies and Ho-Hos. Makes sense to me.

We are running rather low on peanut butter so I’ve been trying to convince myself that I should be a responsible, proactive person and go buy some even though we are not critically low yet. I don’t even have to go all the way to town anymore. There’s a new little store on the highway a few miles from my house that has most of the basic essentials of life. Yay! Anyway, if I decide to go buy peanut butter and I just happen to notice something in the Twinkies/Ho-Hos food group maybe… But no, the fact that I might be tempted is another reason not to go to the store.

Actually, I’m not a big fan of Twinkies and Ho-Hos myself but I’m sure I would see something tempting. It seems a waste (not very “green”) to drive five miles just for a jar of peanut butter.

Not Forgotten

I did not forget that Friday was the 25th anniversary of the Challenger tragedy. I thought about writing something about it but I didn’t really know what I wanted to say. Still don’t. When I remember it, what I always think of was that an engineer warned NASA officials that it would not be a good idea to launch that day and that government officials are still ignoring the advice of engineers and other people who know more than they do. But that’s not the best thing to think about on an anniversary of this kind. Our thoughts should be about the people and what we lost. (such as our will to explore space)

That particular space mission was a big deal at a time when space missions had long since ceased to be a big deal. There were shuttle launches several times a year, I think, and they got maybe ten seconds of time on the evening news if they were even mentioned at all. But this one was supposed to re-kindle our enthusiasm for space. It was the first time an ordinary person – a teacher – would go into space. It was the first space mission to be televised live in years. What a cruel trick the universe (or fate, or whatever) played on us, that the disaster had to happen on that shuttle launch.

Since the end of the Apollo missions I have been hugely disappointed in the space program and obviously a lot of other people have been also. Space exploration ended decades ago. We peek out the window at space, afraid to walk through the door and go and truly explore it. We have so many practical things that came from the space program but to be a kid, glued to the TV, watching human beings walk on another planet, knowing that it is not fiction, that it is happening on the very day you are watching it – that is where dreams begin and dreams are the beginning of even more inventions, both great and practical. And I think merely having dreams, whether practical or not, makes us better people.


Often, what I want to eat for breakfast and what I want to make for breakfast are very different things. Cold cereal was out of the question anyway because we’re out of milk and we don’t have any good finger cereals like Fruit Loops or Cap’n Crunch. We have Cheerios but I hate Cheerios.

What I really wanted anyway was grits which requires standing at the microwave and stopping it every 10 – 15 seconds so it doesn’t boil over and make a mess (My life is so hard [/sarcasm]) so after several minutes of trying to think of something quicker I started making the grits – measure the water, the grits, add a dash of salt and a dollop of butter, (Country Crock spreadable butter, just to help you get the picture right in your mind) put it in the microwave, put the butter back in the refrigerator, go back and watch the grits. When it was done I was going to add a couple of spoonfuls of the sharp cheddar cheese spread that we have in the refrigerator and then put it back in the microwave for a few seconds to melt it, so I walk back to the refrigerator (I know… I could have gotten out the cheese when I put away the butter.) grab the cheese spread and spoon some out into the bowl of grits and…

… Dammit! It wasn’t cheese. I had grabbed the butter again by mistake. So, I went back to the refrigerator, put away the butter and got the cheese and went ahead and added that. The good news is, the grits were really, really good. The bad news is, well, you know the bad news. That was way more butter than I needed. I’ll have to make up for it at lunch by having just a fruit cup and fat free yogurt.

Quotes From Here and There

The Oscars awards show I can do without but I do find it entertaining to see what a small group of people were bribed sufficiently to say is the best of their

The entire enterprise of science is based on the idea that the final arbiter of truth is a close interrogation of nature.there

UPDATE: Found one I had to add:

We believe even those who believe we are too suspicious in our beliefs must share our belief – nay, unimpeachably rigorous deduction – that assertions about governmental belief are unfalsifiable, unhelpful, credulous, propagandistic

Made Me Laugh

My favorite animated gif ever. Not only cute but geeky too. I know… I could post it here instead of sending you over there but I’m feeling lazy this morning. And besides, if I did someone (probably someone who’s never commented before) would tell me how much they hate animated gifs. More importantly, I’m always happy to share the love and send a little blog traffic someone else’s way. Okay, I’m starting to make excuses; just go.

In the Dark About Lights

Wow. My brain is tired. I think I need more caffeine. Or maybe a snack. Have you ever set out to search for something you thought was simple but it turned out to be a lot more complicated than you expected? I was going to write something that seemed quite clever half an hour ago but now I’m feeling a little bit lost.

Start at the beginning I guess. In a comment over there I mentioned one of my little pet peeves – that manufacturers of LED bulbs lie about the brightness of those bulbs. For example, I had a catalog from Heartland America (I get tons of catalogs) and noticed this Ultra 60W LED light bulb. First of all, it’s not 60 watts; it’s 4.4 watts but we’re supposed to believe that it gives out the same light as a 60 watt incandescent bulb. But it only has 340 lumens output. I happen to have a package of 13 watt, “60 watt equivalent”, CFLs and they have a light output of 825 lumens. According to this chart a 60 watt incandescent has a light output of 890 lumens. Hmmm… the CFL is close enough I won’t quibble but 340 lumens = 890 lumens? I don’t think so.

What I had planned to say before I started searching is that we need to stop thinking in terms of watts as a measurement of light output. It’s not. It’s a measurement of electricity. But that’s not going to be easy for most people. Lumens is too large a number. So this morning I was thinking, “What about candlepower?” I have no idea how much light equals one candlepower but it sounds pleasant and friendly so I was wondering if it might give us smaller, friendlier numbers so I searched, hoping to find a nice, easy lumens to candlepower conversion chart.

What I found is that it’s not that easy. In fact it’s quite confusing and it makes my brain hurt. It involves (Oh the humanity!) math! It’s not just that it involves math though. Lumens and candlepower do not measure exactly the same thing so it’s not just a matter of direct conversion from one unit to another.

Candlepower is a rating of light output at the source, using English measurements.
Foot-candles are a measurement of light at an illuminated object.
Lumens are a metric equivalent to foot-candles in that they are measured at an object you want to illuminate.
Divide the number of lumens you have produced, or are capable of producing, by 12.57 and you get the candlepower equivalent of that light source.

I had forgotten all about foot-candles. Just what I need – another unit of measurement. That’s an entertaining article, by the way, even if it is slightly confusing for the tech challenged or the insufficiently caffeinated. But anyway, now it sort of makes sense how LED bulb manufacturers can get away with saying their bulbs are brighter than they actually are. I also learned that candlepower is obsolete and the new term is “candela” which is okay but I like candlepower better. I say we start a movement to bring back candlepower. We can define it any way we want to. Why not? If LED manufacturers can say 340 lumens is equal to 890 lumens why can’t we pick our own favorite units and define them any way we like?

Stupidity On Two Sides

Nicole reacts to the latest cheap high. First of all, I must say that if you use illegal drugs or drink, sniff, snort or smoke household products to get high you’re an idiot. However, we can’t ban or put behind the counter everything that idiot people’s idiot kids discover they can use to get high. Like Nicole said, “You can’t stop people from wanting to get high.” Seriously! What will it take to get lawmakers to figure that out?

And I just had a radical thought: If people insist on getting high wouldn’t it make sense to find or invent a substance that would give people a relatively safe high and make it legal and widely available? Of course, nothing is completely safe but I can’t help wondering if someone getting high horrifies some people more than someone dying.

Aside: Somebody help me. I’m afraid I’m not as nerdy as I’d like to be. What are the two chemicals mentioned in this post, in the third line after the quote?

Insulting Spam

It’s not bad enough that they try to use my comments section as a billboard; now they’re being insulting too. I deleted the following a few minutes ago.

The next time NFL Jersey I read a blog, I hope that it doesnt disappoint me as much as this one. I mean, I know it was my choice to read

The underlined text was a link, of course. Interesting strategy – fake insults instead of fake praise. We are slightly amused.

All This New-Fangled Stuff

Do we all eventually reach the point where we can’t deal with any more new stuff? I hope I’m not embarrassing Steph when I say this was sort of inspired by her comment here. I’ve thought about this before but that’s what got me started this time. Her comment:

All this new technology is a bit complicated for me, I\’m discovering (a sure sign of getting old). I\’ll just buy my coffee with cash, thank you.

I run into that all the time – someone near my age who finds new technology too complicated and I wonder what’s different about me that I still get excited about new gadgets and new ways of doing things. I have to admit that I sometimes find things unnecessarily complicated – like they could have made the gadget do the same things but simpler to use. And then there are the unnecessary extra functions that some things have because they try to stuff as many “features” as possible into every gadget. One of the things I like about the Kindle is that it’s made for just one thing – reading books – and doesn’t have a lot of extra bells and whistles.

I guess I’m complicated, myself. In some ways I cling to the old but I also tend to be impatient for the next new invention to come out. Sometimes progress seems so slow and almost always way too expensive. And I’m not just talking about gadgets. Scientific breakthroughs are one of my biggest pet peeves. You read about some amazing breakthrough that is going to change everything and you wait and wait… and nothing really changes. I’m ready for change. I want to see this wonderful new world they keep promising me and I want it now and I want it to be cheap enough that I can afford it. I don’t have an infinite number of years left to enjoy all this new stuff so come on! Let’s have it!

Where I tend to be a curmudgeon is in social change and fads. All these kids running around with their underwear showing and people – even people old enough to know better – wearing pajamas in public, and profanities emblazoned across t-shirts and tattoos actually being considered acceptable! I don’t know how much more I can take. What’s next? How much crazier can it possibly get out there? Actually, crazy I wouldn’t mind so much – it’s sloppy and indecent that makes me want to go all prissy-old-lady on everyone.

So anyway, am I getting too old to deal with new stuff? Paying for stuff with my phone? I’m ready if they set it up right. But for heaven’s sake everyone pull up your damn pants.

Future Shopping

Soon we will all be paying for our purchases with our phones. What I like about Starbucks’ new system is that you have to link to a Starbucks gift card. I think linking it to your credit or debit card would be a bad idea, but if you had accounts with each of your favorite stores, that you could load with only as much money as you feel you should spend there every month it could be a great budgeting/spending control tool as well as being convenient. Hopefully you wouldn’t have to buy an actual, physical gift card each time you wanted to reload.

Quotes From Here and There

I am convinced that messy closets send out brain disruption (Oh! So that’s my problem!)

Wow, watching St. Tom Brady the Overrated pout when he gets beat really never gets old, does it?there

It’s a book for those willing to look at life through the eyes of a child and realize that what the child was seeing clearly, was the true reality of life without the cataracts that blur our sight as we (I haven’t read that book yet, BTW)

“You Cannot Outsmart Crazy.”there

Random Linkage

Istanbul – some interesting photos more

Vintage sci-fi – short blog post that includes links to two old sci-fi stories

Weird movie – I bet you thought they didn’t make them like that anymore.

Anatomy ballgown – Want to stand out at your next fancy shindig?

Floriated Ornament – Some pretty designs from an 1849 book. Of course my first thought was that some of them would be lovely on quilts.

Out of Context Science – Different and interesting.

Kuriositas – a blog featuring many photos of fascinating places and things – art, architecture, nature and more

Things Real People Don’t Say About Advertising

Utopia and Terra – German sci-fi magazine covers

Crocheted cacti

Russian bus stop art

Animal links – a collection of interesting links

Gadget Lust

Oooooooo! This looks interesting. You know… when I bought my Kindle I knew that something better would come along within a year or two. That’s okay though. I’m happy with my Kindle and by the time it has to be replaced (hopefully not for many years) gadgets like this will cost less than they do now.

By the way, it amuses me that they decided to call it the “Adam”. Anyone remember this? We had one of those.

Multicultural Commercial

I was looking for a very strange Taco Mayo commercial that has been airing lately. I didn’t find it but I did find this one, which is very similar. The one I was looking for has a woman singing, same tune, different words, same hick accent. But that’s not all – notice the voice over guy’s accent. (Scottish?)

Disclaimer: I don’t recall if I have ever eaten at a Taco Mayo (maybe once, years ago) so this is not an endorsement.


*I don’t feel good. I have a cold, which seems to be a little better this morning but I never can tell. My colds sort of come and go until they’re completely gone. What’s worse is I have a muscle (or maybe a group of muscles) in my back on the lower left side that is being extremely hard to get along with. Stupid muscle. I swear I didn’t do anything to it. It just up and decided, “Ha ha, I’m going to be a brat for a few days. Yeah, that’ll be lots of fun.”

*Almost forgot to mention this. We got a call from the Neilson TV ratings people. They had sent us a card a couple of weeks earlier saying that they would call. I wasn’t too excited about it. I figured we would probably miss the call because we almost always let the answering machine screen our calls but Sunday a little bit before noon the phone rang and since I was expecting Number One Son I picked up in case it was him calling to say he had car problems or something. Instead it was Neilson. I think I managed not to cuss but man are they ever pushy! The woman on the phone never asked me if we wanted to participate; it was like, ‘We are Neilson! You WILL do this!’

Now I’m sort of torn about what to do. I’ve always sort of wanted to be in the Neilson ratings thing – to feel like my opinion counts, just a tiny bit – but now my instinct is to refuse to participate just to show them I will not be pushed around. And I know that can be a self-destructive instinct but it really drives me crazy to be treated that way. Maybe I will participate and send them back a nastygram along with the TV watching diary.

*I actually heard two good performances of the Star Spangled Banner this weekend, at the beginning of two of the NFL playoff games. I’m posting this one because it’s the first one I found; I don’t really have a favorite of the two. These guys are not perfect and polished sounding but they sing it, to the best of their ability, the way it was written and so it is better than all of the twisted celebrity renditions. Please, NFL organizers, give us more like this.

The Thirteenth Sign

There is now a new zodiac sign. Of course astrology is a bunch of hooey. I don’t believe even the least little bit of it but I grew up around people who, to varying degrees, did believe it and as far back as I can remember I’ve been aware that my sign is Taurus. Now, my sign might be Aries. Or does that only apply to people born after the addition of the new sign?

It doesn’t matter. I’ve never even liked my sign but it’s my sign, even if it doesn’t mean anything. This is almost like waking up one morning and finding that I have blue eyes instead of the brown that they’ve always been. Or maybe not really like that. And it’s not a bad thing at all. Aries is a much cooler sign than Taurus. Somehow I’ve always known that deep down I’m cooler than people think.