Monthly Archives: October 2012

A Picture and Conversation

This idea was fairly successful last week. Eight comments and fewer than half of them were mine! So I’ve decided to try to make it a weekly feature. Of course that means I will have the challenge of taking or finding an interesting enough picture every week.

I took this one early this morning and cropped it so the moon would be big enough to be noticeable. (This tree lost its leaves during the summer.) A full moon on Halloween seems so appropriate. The actual full moon was two days ago.

Halloween morning

Suggested topics of conversation: the moon, Halloween and related stuff, and maybe even dead trees.

Judging a Cat By Its Colors

From The Smithsonian blogs:

In a new study published in Anthrozoos, researchers from California State University and the New College of Florida set out to discover our hidden kitty biases with an Internet-based survey of nearly 200 people. They asked the participants to associate 10 personality terms (active, aloof, bold, calm, friendly, intolerant, shy, stubborn, tolerant and trainable) with five cat colors–orange, tri-colored (tortoiseshells and calico cats), white, black and bi-colored (white and anything else).

Some trends appeared in the data. Orange kitties were perceived as friendly and rated low in the aloof and shy categories. (They were also considered more trainable than were white cats, although the idea that anyone considers a cat trainable is kind of funny. Or am I betraying my own bias here?) Tri-colored cats rated high in aloofness and intolerance, and white cats were also considered aloof, as well as shy and calm. And bi-colored cats–which could have been any color, really, in the participants’ minds–were thought to be friendly. The data for black cats, however, was a bit muddier and no clear trends emerged.

The article goes on to say that there is no link between cat behavior and coat color. I don’t know. Based on my experience of living with cats for my entire life, I have noticed that tabbies, like my little buddy, seem to be the friendliest and best behaved cats, long furred cats are the quietest, and three-colored cats usually have “issues” of one kind or another. Our calico was extremely timid, scared of everything, often just plain nuts and, worst of all, loud. My tortie is very clingy and needy and when I won’t hold her she eats or just stands around looking confused and she often cries a really awful, bloodcurdling cry, like she is dying. Trust me, three-colored cats are nuts.

I once had a multi-colored tabby who had a very sweet personality. I don’t count her among the three-colored cats though because she literally had at least five different colors. Her head and body were gray and black striped with little splotches of orange and flecks of white and her legs were brown and cream striped.

I’ve had good luck with black cats too. We had one who stayed with us for five years and he was always nice and friendly and laid back when he was around, which was only when it was cold outside. In nice weather he insisted on being outside and only occasionally came in to eat. My mother’s favorite cat, one we had when I was elementary school age, was a long-furred black cat.

Finally, our favorite cat ever was a long-furred orange or yellow tabby, our dear departed Spot. (Yes, named after Data’s cat on Star Trek: TNG). I have pictures of her somewhere but not on Flickr, I don’t think. She was almost a person. Very independent but friendly, never mean, except to other cats. She really hated other cats.

A Better Metaphor

I have never liked the saying, “The cream rises to the top,” meaning that those who are the best at what they do will get noticed and reap the rewards of their talent and hard work, whether the talent happens to be playing the piano, writing books, acting, writing a blog or whatever. I can’t say definitively what causes one person to rise to the top while so many others continue in obscurity their whole lives but I believe that, in addition to having talent and working at it, one must have connections and be in the right place at the right time.

The cream rising to the top metaphor doesn’t describe what is happening in the real world. Instead, imagine a field of rocks that is representative of all the rocks on Earth. Most will be plain brown rocks, mostly having little or no value and not very interesting to anyone, though a few may get a lot of attention due to their unusual size or shape. But among all the plain brown rocks there are a few precious gems, small, possibly hidden underneath the plain rocks, waiting to be discovered by someone willing to dig for them and perhaps to be brought to the attention of more people if discovered by the right person and promoted at the right time.

The problem with this metaphor is that it doesn’t translate easily into a catchy phrase. We’ve all heard that, “There are hidden gems out there waiting to be discovered,” but somehow that’s not as appealing to most people as, “The cream rises to the top,” perhaps because it’s just too much work to go digging for gems.

Monday Morning Randomness

It’s winter! Well, technically, it’s still autumn but the weather has turned cold, down to freezing at night. The weather guy on TV says it is unseasonably cool but this is close to what I expect for late October. I’m not sure how they figure “normal” – something to do with a 30 year average, I think. We’ve finally started using the wood stove. I have mixed feelings about it. I like being warm and it does a much better job of warming up the house than the electric furnace and it saves us money, which I also like, but it’s messy and I can’t quite get over the worry about having a fire in the house. Also, because it warms up the living area so well that the furnace never comes on, it makes the bedrooms very cold.

In just a few more days it will be November. Yikes! I am probably not going to get the quilt finished by Christmas. I don’t know how it could be taking so long to finish. I’ve been working on it all year and I do work on it almost every day. I guess I haven’t been spending as much time every day on it as I should. If I worked on it for two or three hours every day maybe I could get it finished but am I going to do that? I doubt it.

I have several other things I want to make for Christmas, which I should be able to finish in November. None of them will take more than a few days to finish but I am starting to get a bit anxious about getting all the things done in time. I’m considering a trip to the fabric store in Tulsa. I have an old family photograph that I need to take and get a copy of for my brother and thought I might go to the fabric store at the same time but I’ve been procrastinating because I’ve developed something of a phobia about driving in Tulsa. I used to drive there frequently but not going there very often anymore plus driving a car that I consider fairly nice has made me a little afraid. I do need to get over it though. I think I would feel more comfortable driving the pickup there but it’s over 15 years old now and while it still seems like it could go for another 15, it makes me nervous to think it about possibly breaking down far from home.

It’s almost Christmas shopping time. In fact, I’ve usually started by now but so far I don’t have any ideas except for the things I mentioned above that I’m planning to make. I’ve started to get the usual increase in the number of catalogs I get but I’ve barely taken time to look at them. Maybe now that it’s getting cooler I’ll be more in the mood. It’s hard to think about Christmas when it’s 80° outside.

We finally bought a new printer. Our old one, a Kodak, had only been printing very faintly for a long time and replacing the cartridges didn’t fix the problem. It was over 8 years old, which I thought was a pretty good life for a printer, so we bought another Kodak.

Quotes From Here and There

Taking relationships with others for granted is a symptom of Entitlement, much like when one believes they deserve to get paid at a job just for showing up.here

“A story is a Swiss watch timed to a beating heart.”there

I had already decided that I was going to be a professional writer when I grew up, because when you’re fifteen, you can make decisions like that, fully ignorant of what such a decision entails.here

(I had four quotes but then I realized that I had linked to one in the Random Linkage post the other day. Darn.)

A Picture and Conversation

This is what folks call a weed. Each of these little daisy-like flowers is no more than half an inch in diameter. You probably wouldn’t even notice it, but if you look closely it’s a delicate and beautiful flower.

Just a weed

It’s been sort of lonely around here lately. So talk to me. It doesn’t even have to be about the flowers. Just say something. But be nice.

Random Linkage

Intuitive Sewing Machine – It’s pretty but I’m quite attached to my 100+/- year old machine. And I don’t know how “intuitive” it would be for me since I’m used to either a treadle or a foot pedal. I never had any of the beginner problems the woman in the video talked about.

Scrap Quilt – I like this. I need to make a scrap quilt to use up all these scraps I’ve been collecting over the years but I keep getting ideas for perfectly planned quilts that require specific colors of fabric.

The Phantasmagorical FourThe Fantastic Four in the style of H.P. Lovecraft.

Elephantine Talent – Indeed!

The importance of math – Hah!

Bandwith breakthrough – Or “The Importance of Math II”. The big question (or at least my big question) is, will this ever make it to the real world? (via)

7 Worst Coca-Cola Flavors – I have tried two of these, the Coca-Cola Blak, which was not bad but not great, and of course, “New Coke”, about which, the less said the better. None of the others sound particularly horrible and I would actually really like to try the Orange Coke.

Roller Coaster Stair – Nifty!

Guiltless Excuses – It’s a smartphone app. (Insert curmudgeonly “what’s the world coming to” rant here)

Crack Shot – How to win at a laser shooting gallery [edited for clarity]

Vintage Alphabets – Examples: An Alphabet of Flower Symbolism, Alphabet of Women of the Future, Computer Names in Fiction

Pin-up Cats – Cute but possibly, slightly NSFW.

Pixel People Portrait

Timepieces – I probably shouldn’t admit that I remember watching the guy in the first picture on TV when I was a little kid. I love the camera clocks and the steampunk clock.

Lego Inferno – Dante’s Inferno in Legos.

Oh my! Can you believe the singer in this video is Brent Spiner? Really.

All I Really Want…

Immediately after I wrote the last post I thought, “All I really want from the future is to live to be at least 150 and be healthy, weigh what I weighed when I was 30 and never have any more wrinkles than I have right now.” And of course for all my family to be there with me to enjoy it. That’s the main thing but then I thought of some other things that might be nice…

What about those thin, flexible, paper-like displays like we saw in Firefly? Then we could have an e-book reader that looked and felt like a real book with pages you could turn but what was on the pages could change so you could have a gazillion books in one.

A small, lightweight, affordable, super battery that could power cars, our houses, everything, and last at least as long as the average watch battery. It wouldn’t have to be as small as a watch battery of course; maybe the size of a lantern battery or, to power cars and houses, I guess something the size of one car battery wouldn’t be bad at all.

Star Trek style medicine. Just lay on a bed and the computer tells what’s wrong with you; the doc waves a little hand held device over the affected part and you’re cured.

The ability to design any product (shoes, appliances, etc.) and have it created exactly as I want it and have it delivered. I guess I just described the replicator but it wouldn’t even have to be instantaneous. Just to be able to get exactly what I want, even if I have to wait a week or two, would be enough.

A really big space station, spin for artificial gravity, with comfortable hotels, restaurants, and other tourist facilities. Even if I never went there myself it would make me happy just knowing it existed.

What about you? What’s on your technology wish list?

Next Generation

I get the impression that many people think that the days when world-changing innovations could come from someone’s basement or garage are long gone. Well just look what some people are doing in their basements now. I’m not sure how I feel about some of this stuff. Brainwave headsets are okay but when you start implanting stuff… Well, it sounds cool when you read about it in one of Neal Asher’s books but to think about it in reality… I just don’t know.

Little Black Dress

October 19th was Little Black Dress Day. As I’ve mentioned before, I have never owned a little black dress and don’t have any need for one. Once in a while I think maybe I should make one, “just because” but then I read something like this: “While the LBD is a staple in every woman’s closet…” I really hate those “every woman” kind of statements, but at the same time they make me kind of proud, because I can say I am not Every Woman.

But the little black dress… I had an idea a week or two ago. I think I might make a very casual black denim dress so I can say, ironically, “This is my little black dress.”

Thanks.

It Will Be Okay

The election is just two weeks and a day away now. I know who I’m voting for and if you’re voting I’m sure you know who you’re voting for too. I’m not going to try to change anyone’s mind because I know it would be impossible, just as it would be impossible for anyone to change my mind. I am a little nervous and worried and if my candidate doesn’t win I will be very disappointed, and still worried. But I try to keep reminding myself of something that I have said to other people: Everything will be okay. That’s not to say it doesn’t matter who wins. Of course it matters. A president can make things better or worse. But no matter which candidate wins, America is not going to turn into another North Korea or another Saudi Arabia. America will be okay. Life will go on. Get a grip.

I really hate the way so many people act like politics is a team sport and can never admit it when the “other team” has done something good or when “their team” has done something not good. It’s always “Ra ra! Yay, our team; boo your team!” And yes, I know, “good” means different things to different people but even when “the other team” does something that they have already been saying should be done people will find a way to deny it or dismiss it. As to that, I would like to tell the whole world to just stop it! Grow up! But of course no one would listen to me even if I could talk to the whole world.

Quotes From Here and There

How about “no”? Does “no” work for you?here

The way you can tell when you’re sewing the last dress of summer is that it takes a real effort to finish it. When you started it, you were excited to get it finished so you could wear it, but then at some point … you slow down. You start to fondle pieces of corduroy in your fabric stash, and think about what might look good with boots and leather jackets. You work on it, not because you want to hasten the wearing of it, but because you need the cutting table for something that has sleeves, or is mustard-colored, or that is plaid (or all three).there

Even in temporary defeat, I don’t get the compulsion to garment rend, but go ahead and do it if you must. Get it out of your system. And then grow up and move on.here

The fact that I enjoy my gas station vending machine coffee-related liquid candy experience more than I enjoy a genuinely excellently handcrafted coffee beverage that actually tastes of coffee will no doubt shock and horrify coffee purists and enthusiasts, but I am all right with that.there

Bach

I bought this album last week. I’ve been trying to think of what I want to say about it but I’ve finally decided that, except to say that I love it, I’ll just let Bach speak for himself. That’s always best, isn’t it?

I want some more please

All week I have been very up about the skydive from space and it has made me realize how hungry I’ve been for a really exciting historic, scientific event. Progress happens all the time. Just look at us now compared to 20 years ago, or even just ten. But progress has been coming in a lot of small, unexciting steps and the fact that they come along practically every day helps to make them even less exciting.

While Neil Armstrong’s first step onto the surface of the moon was “a giant leap for mankind,” Felix Baumgartner’s skydive from the edge of space was a literal giant leap but, in the big picture of scientific progress, I suppose it was really just another small step. I don’t know… first person to fall faster than the speed of sound? That seems pretty big to me. But, again, maybe it’s just because I want it to be big… because I’m hungry for something big.

There is a robot on Mars digging up shiny bits. Why can’t I get excited about that? It is interesting but it’s not the same as seeing a human being do something that has never been done before.

Felix Baumgartner Mission to Edge of Space

I also wanted to say something about corporate sponsorship. Some people are not happy about Red Bull’s involvement, calling it a necessary evil. I do not agree that it’s evil. Some endeavors are so expensive and risky that only a government can attempt them. But government is very inefficient so once they have taken the first few steps it is best for private industry to take over. Otherwise nothing will ever come of all the expense and risk taking other than the ability to say, “Look what we did.”

The commercialization of space is, in itself, exciting. It means we’re going to the next level. Finally. I would have happily gone out Sunday afternoon and bought a case of Red Bull to celebrate but, frankly, energy drinks sort of scare me a little bit.

Random Linkage

Vintage Japanese Magazine Covers – The one with the blonde woman is intriguing.

Stuff to Blow Your Mind – A blog of weird and interesting stuff. I love the giant chickens!

Disinformation – More strange and interesting stuff.

Lindsey Kustusch art – Very nice.

Binders Full of Women – Hah! You knew someone had to. (Seriously, keep scrolling; some of these are hilarious.

Like Living Organisms – Creepiest “Fashion” Ever! (Hey PrettynPink, I bet nothing in your Wearable Wednesday series can top this.) Video is NSFW.

Failure – There was an International Day for Failure. I missed it but I’m glad I found this article. It’s interesting and has links worth checking out.

Hedgehogs vs. Politicians – Just a little election year silliness.

Movies stars and such – 12 entertainment links

Firefly alcohol labels – Shiny! Also, That’s Nerdalicious. Both via Neatorama.

Top 5 Representations of Roman Britain – I haven’t seen any of these.

Abandoned Island Fortress – Looks like an interesting place to visit. (or perhaps to take over and start your own country)

Oh No! Old Lady Shoes!

I got a new Foot Smart catalog this week and I was attracted to these shoes but then I was afraid that they might look a little too much like these, even though they’re not lace-ups. Yikes! I’m looking at Old Lady Shoes and thinking they look cute!

If I was in my 20’s I could wear those and they would be fashionable. But at my age that Old Lady Shoe connection is a little scary, even though I’m still thinking, “Those are really cute”. I wouldn’t have bought them anyway because I rarely wear heels. In the last couple of years I have been seriously hooked on Kalso Earth shoes to the point that I really hate to wear anything else.

I suppose I’m more conservative than most women when it comes to shoe shopping. Quickly counting them up in head, I think I have fewer than 12 pairs and I always feel a little guilty when I feel like I have to buy another pair. Like right now – I’ve been thinking I really need a pair of casual black shoes that will go with dresses. But then I think, I have a couple of pair that will do. One is a pair of plain, low-heeled Rockport dress shoes (though probably not what most people would consider “dress shoes”) that are quite comfortable for dress shoes but I want to keep saving for the rare dress up occasion. The others are Hush Puppies that are comfortable enough but for some reason walking in them feels odd, like there’s something wrong. So I’ve been looking at a couple of pair of Earth Shoes – these and these – but hesitating to buy them because (I tell myself) I don’t really need them. I kind of like the first ones better but I’m leaning toward the second ones because sometimes a strap over my instep bothers me. I really wish they still had the cute little t-straps. I bought a brown pair and they are my favorite shoes but they came in black too. [sigh]

UPDATE: and I have a pair of black “tennis shoe” style Earth Shoes that are great but I’ve been thinking they don’t go with dresses but I might try wearing them with a dress anyway. I could say I’m being ironic.

The Magic Flying Fingers

Roger Green answers the technology questions, “What piece of technology would you hate the most to lose? Which piece of technology do you wish would just disappear?” and so does Jaquandor, and the topic turns to word processors and typing.

I can’t remember if our Adam computer came with a learn-to-type program. I have this vague notion that it did but maybe not. I definitely remember getting a program called Typing Tutor for our first real PC. That’s how I first learned to type. The last time I used it it said I typed 20 WPM. Then I got a job that required using a computer but not necessarily to type very fast. So I got some practice every day. And of course we continued to buy newer, better computers every few years and then in the mid-90’s we got connected to the Internet and that’s when I started getting lots of practice.

I still can’t do the top row, the numbers and symbols, without looking but I think I do pretty good. But let’s see. Here’s a Typing Test. It said I type 40 WPM. I probably do a wee bit better than that when I’m just normal typing, not copying something and not doing a test. But I’m neither surprised nor disappointed.

I like typing. It’s sort of a funny thing. I just think words and sentences and my fingers go to the right keys without me even having to think about what the fingers are doing. Like magic, almost. Sometimes my fingers do funny things though, like typing a short word twice so I end up with something like “my fingers go to to the right keys”. And sometimes they will leave out a word. When I go back and proofread I find that a sentences is missing an “I” or an “a” that I was sure I typed. Even weirder than that, sometimes they will type completely the wrong word. I will think one word and my fingers type a completely different word. I can’t think of an example right now. It’s really freaky. But mostly I do okay. Typing is like a part of thinking. It sort of fascinates me the way it seems to just happen.

Now to go back to the questions: What piece of technology would you hate the most to lose? That is a really difficult question. I don’t want to loose any of it. If I had to pick just one thing I guess I would have to say Internet access. That’s not “a piece” of technology but, you know… all the pieces that enable me to get on the Internet.

Which piece of technology do you wish would just disappear? I can’t think of any technology that I wish would disappear. There are several that I would like to change in some way. The biggest thing is that I want everything to stop beeping at me. My microwave beeps loudly four times to tell me it’s done. I’m glad it has a signal to tell me it’s done but couldn’t it be something more pleasant? A nice little bell like the older ones had? It also beeps each time I push a button. That is totally unnecessary. I know when I’ve pushed a button. I don’t need a beep to tell me I just pushed a button. Whenever I have to reset the clock on my range it beeps once for each time I press a button. So if the power has been off for 30 minutes I have to listen to 30 beeps as I reset it. My washer and dryer also beep but at least I can choose to have those not beep. But the default is to beep so every time I change the setting on the dryer I have to tell it, again, that I do not want it to beep. Beep beep beep. Everything these days beeps. I am so tired of all the bleeping beeping!

There are other things too. Little details of the way things function. And printers. Don’t get me started on printers. Someone needs to re-invent the printer and build one that actually works all the time and for more than a few months. But no, I don’t want any piece of technology to disappear. I just want them all to work better, to work more the way I want them to work. I want to have freedom of choice. I want to be the boss of the machines instead of having the machines be the boss of me.