Monthly Archives: February 2011

Random Linkage

Fun with tech support – I could never work in tech support even if I new all the necessary technical stuff but if I was a tech support person this would probably make my day. (via)

Interesting old books and a few other things. Beautiful cover on that first book and an intriguing stamp inside the last one.

Etti-cat – Hah! Very cute. Better than LOLcats. (via)

Toodledo – A to do list app

A bit of (American) football history – Wow. Too bad you can’t “embigen” the image. I’d like to be able to read the small print.

How to Look at Modern Art in America

Lizzie Lawson – Several very charming illustrations

Flying Carpet – The hovercar, as imagined in 1958. The future looked so much cooler back then, all curvy with chrome and tail-fins and such.

Tokyo Marathon – If I was ever going to run in a marathon this would be the one I would want to be in.

Eccentric – Hah! I’m way more eccentric than that guy! (via)

Just Showing Off

Here I am in my latest creation:

New Flannel Shirt

This is the second shirt I’ve made using this pattern (McCall’s 4922) and I think it might be my new favorite shirt pattern. For a long time I avoided princess seams because I was a afraid they would emphasize my worst physical characteristics. It does make me look rather matronly I think but that is what I am. It’s not my vision of what I would like to look like in a princess style shirt but it actually doesn’t look as bad as I had once feared.

I think the colors will look appropriate throughout the fall/winter/early spring season. They look just slightly off in the picture. The blue is actually a little brighter and is more of a turquoise color and it doesn’t show very well in the picture but there are thin lines of a darker turquoise.

Quotes From Here and There

…the guy got his master’s degree at Harvard. I find it hard to believe he doesn’t know why the tide comes in and out.here

You can learn 95% of what you need to know about American politics by reading HL Mencken, PJ O’Rourke, and Will Rogers.there

As always, there is contention, which means plenty of folks wind up being surprised and annoyed when the simple act of explaining their point of view does not make the other person immediately agree.here

The theatre may be the one place where we hope our trust in authority figures will prove to be misplaced.there

They taught you this in third grade so that you wouldn’t have to take anyone’s word for it: you can do it yourself.here (True, but some of us are very glad someone invented pocket calculators.)

“Important” News

I’m actually embarrassed to be posting this but it’s so ridiculous I simply couldn’t resist. Here’s proof that Hollywood exists inside a bubble from which light can get out but no light can get in.

It is, unquestionably, one of the most important stories of our time…

“One of the most important stories of our time.” And what do you think that might be? If I had first seen that sentence without the headline and the pictures my guess would have been the events in the Middle East. But no, there’s something more important than that.

…Justin Bieber’s decision to cut his gloriously swooping hairstyle into a close-cropped new ‘do, and the social ramifications thereof.

Wow. That just makes my head spin, trying imagine the kind of person who would write something like that. But then, I’m the kind of person who, for months, every time I signed in to Twitter, kept wondering “Who the hell is Justin Bieber and why is he still trending?”

Yeah, I was 13 once myself but even then I think I had a more realistic concept of the relative importance of things.

Four Harps

This morning I listened to a couple of string quartets by Alan Hovhaness, which went very well with the rain, and thought I’d like to share a bit of one of them (SQ #2 mvt. 2) but I found this slightly strange piece, which I hadn’t heard before, and after listening to it immediately decided to post it instead.

People Bug Me

I really hate when I have the misfortune of crossing paths (in this case semi-regularly) with someone who is subtly but definitely insulting but not blatantly enough that I feel I can call them on it, not that I would, necessarily, anyway because doing so is almost always a waste of time. But sometimes I really just want to slap someone. Or say something that is such an awesome put-down that the other person is either so shocked or so deeply chastened that they are rendered speechless. You know… just like in the movies.

Life would be so much easier if everyone had to follow my script.

(edited)

Never, Ever, Ever, Ever Give Up

Wow! That surprises me quite a bit. To be honest I already have given up. I gave up when I saw how Serenity ended. I thought, “Well, that’s that. Damn.”

I’m really skeptical about anything ever coming of this. Maybe another movie, at most. But I love the Internet and I love it when people “take up arms” against the big media powers-that-be. Perhaps it’s a bit silly. Perhaps it was “just a TV show”. But it still feels like it was more than just a TV show and even if all fans can do is give Fox executives headaches all this activism will be worth the effort.

Going Nowhere

It seems there was an article in the NY Times about the alleged decline of blogging. To be honest, I didn’t click through to the article. I don’t feel like I need to. I’ve been seeing articles declaring that blogging is out for several years. But here is what I find interesting:

They observe that there was a 2% drop in blogging last year for 18-33 year olds.

[...]

What they don’t say in that headline – and this is where the “amused or annoyed” comes in – is that blogs by 34-45 year olds increased by 6%, by 46-55, by 5%, and 65-73 year olds, 2%.

Anyone who looks at these numbers and concludes that blogging is in decline is obviously very bad at math. What these stats say to me is that blogging is actually healthier than ever and will continue to be around for a long time. Things that are popular with teens and twenty-somethings are often dropped when the next new thing comes along. That’s why those who are trying to sell new things (and the media that their advertising supports) like young people. When we older (over 35) people find something we like we tend to stick with it longer. We are open to new things but it’s a little harder to convince us to drop something that works for us and take up something new.

Anyway, was blogging ever really a youth fad? It first became popular right after 9/11 when a lot of people – mostly adults, including many respected professionals – started blogs to share news and opinions. Later special interest and “my-ordinary-life” blogs started becoming increasingly popular. Now, granted, I don’t pay much attention to what kids are into but I don’t remember a time when “everybody” had to have a blog, in the same way that now “everybody” is on Facebook, or whatever the the kids are into these days.

The Blues

We are going to remodel our kitchen very soon. The main thing wrong with our kitchen now is the cabinets: they’re ugly and there aren’t enough of them. We’re going to slightly change the layout of the kitchen which will give us about another 18 inches of cabinets and enable us to have one of those nice lazy susan corner cabinets in a currently almost unusable corner.

Two things I like about our kitchen are the countertops, which you can see in this photo and the floor, which is actually a bit bluer than it looks in that picture. We will be able to save some of the countertops and the last time I checked (which was recently) that color Formica is still available. Unfortunately, the flooring is not and neither is any other blue vinyl or laminate floor covering. AAARRRRRGGGGGHHH!!!!! I Must! Have! A Blue Floor! In My Kitchen! The fate of the universe depends on it!

Okay, really? I suppose the universe will survive but this is hugely disappointing. The vast majority of tile, sheet vinyl and laminate flooring available is dirt colored. (a.k.a. “warm earth tones”) That’s crazy! Why on Earth would anyone want a dirt colored kitchen floor? Well, I guess I do know why. Some of you want a dirt colored floor because it sort of hides the dirt so you can wait a little longer to clean it. But for me that’s a bad thing. I’m not instinctively a good housekeeper. I need for the dirt to be really noticeable so I will realize it needs to be cleaned before it gets too terribly disgusting. Besides, I want blue. It’s part of the vision I have in my head.

After some desperate searching I found this laminate. I was delighted. All was right with the universe again. It looks almost exactly like the kitchen floor I have now but it’s laminate which means there will be somewhat less cussing involved in the installation, though of course no home improvement project is ever completely profanity-free. However, knowing that colors in photos online (or anywhere) are often not accurate, we went to Home Depot this past weekend to look at samples in person. Oh woe! Despair! Hopes shattered and stomped upon! It was gray! Very gray, not the least bit, not even by the most extreme stretch of the imagination, blue.

But that’s probably going to be our new floor. I’ve seen a couple of samples that were dirt colored with generous streaks of blue and I briefly considered those but I really want a lighter, cleaner look. And the gray really isn’t bad. I think it will look fine with everything else. I will adjust as always. (Dammit!)

I don’t know exactly when we’ll get started on this project but it will be soon. We will keep all our current appliances except maybe the dishwasher but I’m not sure; we might keep the one we have for a while longer. I’m excited and eager to get started even though it will be a huge, stressful ordeal. We will be without a real kitchen for probably several weeks but we have both a microwave and a countertop convection oven that we can plug in anywhere and I’m sure we’ll find somewhere to plug in the refrigerator.

Of course there will be pictures. Stay tuned.

Discovering New Blogs

Bitterness and Gin – Very good, not too bitter. I don’t know about the gin.

How to be a Retronaut – Lots of interesting old stuff; not just new retro stuff but actual old stuff.

Bitten Nails Design and Illustration – All sorts of interesting things. I first came upon this quite strange and hilarious Edward Gorey book.

Tube Tales – People-watching on London subway trains. Unexpectedly fascinating.

Agence Eureka – I first came across this one several years ago but it somehow dropped off my radar. Still excellent.

Female Persuasion – Featuring female artists.

Lobster and Canary – With a name like that you just have to click, right? And the adventuresome spirit is rewarded with art, literature and a little science. Excellent.

Quotes From Here and There

Sorry, kids. Us older folks are getting our grubby hands all over your shiny toy. Huzzah!!! here (Yeah, I love when that happens. Grab every shiny new toy that comes out; make the “cool” kids work harder to stay ahead.)

I don’t see a community forming around owning a Celine leather tunic (maybe I’m just hanging out in the wrong places? And in the wrong clothes?) but people are still congregating around the Butterick Walk-Away Dress…there

The savvy investor must ask himself, “How can I invest my money in the federal government so as to maximize the return on that investment?” For this purpose Dr. Boli recommends the purchase of a congressional representative.here

For all practical purposes, our elections are like voting for a choice between tan and beige, and occasionally ecru: whatever color we’ve decided to paint the basement this year. there (Actually, that’s not entirely a bad thing. I don’t think many of us would be happy if we painted the basement… oh… blaze orange, for example.)

The Weather, the Weird West and Random Bits

I hesitate to start with the weather, I’ve been talking about it so much lately, but wow. A week ago today it was -21°F and we had over two feet of snow on the ground. This morning it’s 63° and the snow is almost gone. There are just a few small patches where there were drifts or snow pushed up to clear roads, driveways and parking lots. The overnight low was 58°.

I am always fascinated with the endless variety of different genres, sub-genres and variations on a theme that talented and imaginative people manage to come up with. Just one example: Weird West, which is an American West variation on Steampunk. It’s not really new, of course. The Wild Wild West debuted long before steampunk but as I remember it, in the original series the weirdness was a bit more subtle. Anyway, it seems that The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. was ahead of its time. Sad that.

Don’t miss the article Anarchocapitalism in the Old West. An interesting argument I’ve been seeing all my life is, “Was the wild west really as bad as they show it in the movies or was it worse?” I’ve seen articles that, like this one, say it wasn’t all that bad and other articles that say it was worse. I lean toward the “not all that bad” side but I wouldn’t want to live there myself. I like electricity and indoor plumbing too much. But I think we could do with a little more of the spirit of the old west these days – freedom, opportunity, self-sufficiency and all that.

I prefer straight steampunk myself but I have to confess that I’m mainly interested in the visual. What I really like are all the brass, wood, and leather, the clockworks, gears and gauges and such. When it comes to reading science fiction, give me spaceships.

These are good days to be outside. As I suspected there were crocuses under the snow – not blooming yet, but soon. On early spring-like days I feel like there should be flowers and it’s hard to wait to start planting stuff but we must wait until late April for most stuff. Still, I must spend some time outside while the weather is nice even if it’s only walking around the yard and planning things in my head.

For now I have lots of quilting and other sewing to do. I’m almost finished with another flannel shirt, a white turquoise and brown plaid. I have one more piece of flannel but I’m thinking I might save that for next fall. I have the fabric for another jacket which I want to go ahead and make even though I might not get to wear it very much before next winter. Ha! I’m hoping I won’t get to wear it much. I also have some nice spring fabrics and several alterations I need to do which are always less fun than starting something completely new. I’m not certain what I’m going to start next.

Random Linkage

Chocolate covered squid – Yummy. That was a sarcastic “yummy” of course but the presentation is strangely attractive.

Mactini – It is possible to make electronic gadgets that are too small. (I could have done without the laugh track, myself.)

A Valentines Day birthday – and a Magritte that I hadn’t seen before.

Map of the Mississippi in the style of a subway map.

Old Book Illustrations – Fantastic! I must spend some time exploring that site.

Floating Dream Worlds – Beautiful surreal and fantasy art

Recent Discovery

I found a link to Brad Blogspeed at Bioephemera a few days ago and quickly got hooked. I thought I had linked to it already but I can’t find the post so I guess I didn’t. I meant to link to this cool video that he made, which turned out to be unexpectedly controversial.

And then I was going to link to his great post about conversation. And then there were these colorful posters that are allegedly “retro” but those of us who were there know beyond a shadow of a doubt that 70’s stuff is not retro and the 80’s certainly is not retro. But anyway…

Every post in between those is awesome too. I just want to keep linking and linking but I’ll leave some for you to discover for yourself.

And then there were nine – Again

These days one must always be prepared for the nature of the universe as we know it to change. While some people are still lamenting the “demotion” of Pluto scientists think there may be a gas giant larger than Jupiter hiding in the Oort Cloud.

If you grew up thinking there were nine planets and were shocked when Pluto was demoted five years ago, get ready for another surprise. There may be nine after all, and Jupiter may not be the largest.

The hunt is on for a gas giant up to four times the mass of Jupiter thought to be lurking in the outer Oort Cloud, the most remote region of the solar system. The orbit of Tyche (pronounced ty-kee), would be 15,000 times farther from the Sun than the Earth’s, and 375 times farther than Pluto’s, which is why it hasn’t been seen so far.

But scientists now believe the proof of its existence has already been gathered by a Nasa space telescope, Wise, and is just waiting to be analysed.

To be honest, I don’t miss Pluto myself. I think it’s cool that there are only eight planets because it means that Gustav Holst’s The Planets is complete again. But another gas giant way, way out there? That would be pretty cool too. And I like that name, Tyche.

In honor of the eight planets, especially Jupiter which might someday be bumped from its honorable position as the largest planet, here is Jupiter. By the way this is not one of my favorite pieces of music but it’s the Planet that I’m most familiar with because they used to play it on the radio once or twice every week. My favorite part begins at about 2:54.

Thanks.

In Case You Missed Me

I’ve been having difficulty commenting on a couple of blogs that require you to sign in to comment. I totally blame Google. No one at Google is going to read this of course but if they did this is what I’d want to say to them: Get your crap together. You have deliberately tried to make yourself ubiquitous. You’re into everything. That’s fine. It makes it convenient for us but it also means that you have a great responsibility. You are now like water. When we turn on the faucet we expect water to come out of it without fail.

Retro Geek Art

Six minutes of awesomeness to brighten up your Monday. (Or, perhaps, just a little something for the easily entertained.)

Thanks. I like this comment on Youtube: “I suspect this will be the anthem for the new world when the robots take over.” Right there with you.