Tuesday, December 29, 2009

GIF from Hell

I am often amazed at the creativity and skill of people who make GIF images.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

happy holidays!

I guess its a little late to say Merry Christmas, but I'll say it anyway: Merry Christmas! and Happy Boxing Day! Happy New Year (2010!), too, a little early.
Hope everyone's holiday seasons are going well...I, for one, am feeling proud of myself for roasting a turkey (okay, a turkey breast, but still). And not going overboard on the holiday baking. Although I have a new cupcake cookbook...
Unfortunately we didn't get anymore snow for Christmas, and now its raining. But we're headed up to Montreal for a couple days so maybe we'll see some more snow then.
Happy holidays and all that fun stuff.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

By the Grace of God

Upon further investigation, it appears that my Beethoven Fidelio DVD was ordered on Dec. 16 and shipped the 17th thereby falling not on Dec 23 but instead in the middle of Chanukah 2009.

Still further investigation leads me to suspect that Seinfeld is an apostate and that Festivus is an alien holiday that all good men should abjure. My right arm thus invigorated and skilled, I, with all other men good and true, shall endeavor to smite the alien impediments to the restoration of the Tabernacle of God.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

High on the Hog interim snow depth report

As of 1 PM or so, our weather station in Ranson WV reports 15 inches, the Greenbelt station 11 7/8 inches, and the Southern Md station 12 inches.

More reports later. All stations report snow continuing to fall heavily.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Buy low, sell high

There is a hot new investment on the Somali stock exchange. Be careful about investing though. You might need to walk the plank.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

No Sunspots for 13 days

Twice this year the Sun has made a feeble attempt to resume the solar cycle. Both times the sunspots fizzled. We now have had no sunspots for 13 days.

I predict we are going to have a cold, cold winter. This past October was said to have been one of the coldest on record. The recent snowfall in Louisiana is said to have been the season's earliest on record.

Buy some long underwear. Stock up on wood as a backup for your regular heat. Buy a generator in case an ice storm knocks out the power. Propane generators are best because of the storeability of the fuel. I have the generator, but haven't done the electrical hookup.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Jane Austen

There is an interesting discussion on the web about speculations as to the cause of Jane Austen's death. Even more interesting is the following quote from her at the end of the article:

"Seldom, very seldom, does complete truth belong to any human disclosure; seldom can it happen that something is not a little disguised, or a little mistaken."

She certainly had an amazing capacity for discourse, the like of which is seldom encountered in our modern authors.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Dalai Lama

While surfing the net, I ran across an interesting set of quotes from the Dalai Lama:

“All major religious traditions carry basically the same message, that is love, compassion and forgiveness ... the important thing is they should be part of our daily lives.”

This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.

Other philosophical traditions have similar ideas. Judaism has a tripartite concept of forgiveness:

1 mechilá, forgoing the other's indebtedness, the crime remains; only the debt is forgiven

2 selichá. It is an act of the heart. It is achieving an empathy for the troubledness of the other. Selicha, is simply reaching the conclusion that the offender, too, is human, frail, and deserving of sympathy.

3 kappará This is a total wiping away of all sinfulness. Kappara is the ultimate form of forgiveness, but it is only granted by God.

The terms and conditions for granting the first two forms forgiveness are a bit complex in that tradition but are entirely sensible.

Christianity's concept of forgiveness is embodied in several quotations of Jesus with a general emphasis on love, compassion and understanding toward failures of others.

All of these traditions have useful things to say.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Pie Funnel

Just when I thought I had heard of everything, something new pops up. It seems that to make the perfect pie crust, you need something called a pie funnel. Basically, it is a piece of ceramic that vents steam from the pie while cooking, and also supports the top crust.

In general, the web site on which this appears, Interesting Thing of the Day, has many good and interesting articles. Read the archives.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Orderly Universe

It is only natural that people like to make order out of their perceptions of the universe. It is this inborn trait of people that leads them to disbelieve things that are true but are strange. Sometimes true stories are falsely turned into mythical legends by those who want to make order of their universe. Such is the case of the legend of the alligators in New York sewers. It is actually true that it happened. Inevitably, the deniers started writing that it was an apocryphal legend. Eventually the alleged apocryphal legend turned into a "hoax" and "wholly false story" suitable for the gullible. As the link above shows, the legend is a true legend, not false.

There are other reasons for this strange human trait to refuse to examine the evidence. One of those reasons is that no one wants to be thought of as a fool. This is a consequence of possessing an ego. In order to not appear a fool, it is best to not believe the tall tales you hear.

On the other side of the coin, some people do indeed exaggerate or lie for the purpose of humor or monetary gain, so, disbelief also has a basis in human nature. In the end, there is no substitute for actually examining the evidence and making your own decision. In examining evidence, it is necessary not to rely on other peoples ridiculing opinions of the evidence. Only by a detailed examination of the evidence by yourself will do.

Brooklyn Adventures

Megabus got into NYC about a half hour late, which isn't too bad. My bus back to DC was right on time, in fact, we got to Baltimore half and hour early (but I guess DC traffic slowed us down).
On Saturday I went with my friend Jen and some of her friends from Pratt to this Score Swap.. Basically you paid $3 and donated a couple things and then you could take whatever you want. The swap was hosted by Bust and Nylon magazines. There were people there taking pictures. We all got a bunch of stuff, mostly clothes, but Jen got some 45s and I found a Polaroid camera...now I just need to find some film for it!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Home Arthritis Cure

Today I had some time on my hands so I decided to cure a persistant ache in my thumb joint. The picture shows the cure in progress and the medium of the cure is a bee sting. I have had great success with this on other body parts (knees, neck) and after about a week of trying to get relief with Capsaicin cream I decided to go for a better cure for my thumb problem. I got a jar and punched some holes in the lid. I drove over to Uncle Jon's and had a look at his bee hives. Bees are scarcer this time of year but I spotted a couple on the outside of the hive. I quickly put the jar over them and slid a piece of paper under the jar opening to lift it off, trapping 2 bees. Then I slipped out the paper after putting the lid in position. If you will want to keep the bees alive for a length of time, you should add a bit of wet paper towel to the jar. When I got home I numbed the area of my thumb with an ice cube, then grabbed bee number one with some tweezers, setting her bottom on the base of my thumb. I didn't have to command her to sting; bee instinct takes care of that. The stinger will keep pumping venom after initial contact so you can control the dose. I did the same with the second bee and now have only to await the cure. My hand is a little more swollen than expected, so I guess one bee would have been enough. One theory about how this works is that it works by stimulating the body's own immune system to localize in a problem area. You can see by the photo that that is what happened. I expect when the swelling goes down to have no more pain in my thumb. My father has also used this technique to get rid of warts.
Warning - Some people are severly allergic to bee stings and the safest way to do intentional stinging is to get a doctor's prescription for a Bee Sting kit to have on hand in case of a severe adverse reaction.
A side note - I've heard that there is a repetitive stress injury that young people are getting in their thumbs from too much texting that I imagine this would also be good for.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

More on the Climate Debate

This October is said to have been the third coldest October on record. I can't verify this, I just read it somewhere. Here is an interesting presentation:

Deconstructing Global Warming
Richard S. Lindzen Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Sciences Massachusetts Institute of Technology
CEI October 26, 2009

Friday, November 20, 2009

Megabus Adventures

*$8 to New York City. yes!
*Free WiFi!
*Green lights
*On time (only left 3 minutes late!)

Lets hope I don't jinx the rest of the ride...

Edit: Things to do with free WiFi
*Read historical tweets
*play sporcle
*of course, Facebook

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The wit and wisdom of Jon V. Powell


Politicians, Lawyers, Talk show hosts,
works of some master poet ?
Rorschachs upon my arse-wipe,
to the lee I throw it.

D.I.Y. Why ?

Once inside my junkyard dreary
as I hammered weak and weary,
on many a dud munition of Days of Yore,
There came
water heater, your thermal embrace,
intimate calorie giver.
But your elements Fail. You jilt me now,
by thus & such I shiver,
but, cometh the plumber, with tradesman skill,
and so, our love renewed,
yet by him, not you, with Sum and Bill,
am I consumately screwed.

After writing these, Jon commented: I should cut back on my caffeine.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Vitamin D deficiency is linked to depression and heart disease

Here is a comprehensive article on the importance of Vitamin D to mental health and cardiovascular health. This is well worth reading.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Vitamin D might prevent H1N1 flu

There is evidence from a private physician in Georgia that high dose Vitamin D supplementation seems to prevent H1N1 swine flu. This makes sense since it has also been observed elsewhere that Mexicans seem to be more susceptible to the flu than light skinned Americans. Vitamin D is synthesized in the skin and lighter skin permits more synthesis of the vitamin. Nonetheless, because many light skinned people don't get enough sun, it probably makes sense for everyone to supplement.

Friday, October 30, 2009

How to remove shells from hardboiled eggs

Sometimes WikiHow has some interesting tips. Some are useless, others pretty handy. Judge for yourself on this one on how to remove shells from hardboiled eggs.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Facts and Myths about swine flu

Here is a very useful article in New Scientist about the swine flu. The bottom line is get the vaccine when available for your risk group.

The New Scientist is well worth bookmarking on your browser.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

My excellent halloween costume

It occurred to me as I was assembling this costume that the costume is at its best when considered abstractly. When considering how it looks in the real world, it loses some of its cachet, a lot of it in fact. I should have just left you with a mental image of my costume, and leave it at that.

Recall its components: bald wig, Bearcats shirt, Military intelligence patch, dress pants, barefoot running shoes, fingerless gloves. For the party, I also brought along some sweet and sour chicken and non alcoholic beer, with plastic silverware (not pictured).

As for the party itself, no one took one look at me and said "you oxymoron, you". Only upon explaining that the elements function independently of another, and not to try to figure out what kind of costume the ensemble looks like, did some people, not all, get it. Even after they figured out what I was, they didn't understand what I had on my head. I didn't go through the trouble of trying to make it look authentic by using putty to 'blend' it into my forehead, and so people thought I was wearing some sort of latex hat, not a bald wig.

I have actually tried the barefoot running shoes a couple of times. Once walking in the woods over some bumpy terrain, and once running on a treadmill. The jury is still out on that.

This concludes the blog. Thank you for your suggestions and to Lona for the fingerless gloves.


Massive Sewage Dump in Accokeek

Beware people of Accokeek, the Prince George's County Water and Sanitary Sewer Commission has advised that there was an estimated 130,000 gallon discharge of untreated domestic sewage into Piscataway Creek this morning for about four hours. They are advising down river folks to refrain from the consumption of fish caught in the surrounding waters for four weeks.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Drones and Pirates

Here is a link to the use of drones to combat Somali pirates. It is a good article, but fails to mention that a limited number of drones have also been deployed that are capable of accurately shooting the powerful .338 Lapua cartridge. These are typically shot by snipers for especially long range sniping, but putting them aboard a drone provides a significant capability not previously available.

It is sometimes claimed by the pirates that they are forced to take revenge for foreign fishing in their waters. That claim, believed only by gullible westerners, is both false and specious. The pirates are not the people harmed, the ransom money goes to wealthy patrons. Further, the foreign victims of piracy are innocent and are almost never fisherman nor dumpers of pollution. The entire claim is just an excuse for greed by the wealthy patrons. The low level pirates are indeed unemployed otherwise, but so are many people who don't engage in crime.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

One tough fellow

Here is a link to an article about Sam Carlson who I had to honor to meet at Quick's house a few years back. We all hope you come back safely from Afghanistan Sam.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Creepy Shoes Club Critique

I got the exact same shoes in the mail today! How cool is that? After finding my size in the store I found some used vibram fivefingers classics on ebay for $50 with no signs of wear. I just got back from my first run in them and thought I'd share my review.

They remind me of rubber palmed work gloves for your feet and their construction is essentially the same with a bit more structure. So like gloves, they can be squished or rolled up which is a bonus when you want a light and compact shoe for packing. I ran a an 8:52min mile on the treadmill with them. What I liked about them is it was like running barefoot, which encourages you to keep off your heels. They felt springier than when I run in socks. I also have the problem with socks where the soles will get hot from friction against the treadmill belt. This was not a problem with the fivefingers which I suspect will save me blisters.

Now for the bad:
My first complaint is more of a personal problem. I am only 5'1" and thus my pants are often too long. I count on my shoes for the lift to keep my pants off the ground and dry. My pants were a soggy mess from walking in the wet parking lot though the shoes themselves stayed dry. My other complaint is after the run I noticed uncomfortable rubbing on my left inner heel cause by stitches. This would have become a blister had I worn them longer. There is a thread end I'll try to snip out or if that doesn't work, a fabric bandaid applied to the inner heel has always fixed this.

Other things to consider are the fit of the shoe. They literally need to fit like a glove. This is a minor issue for me since they don't make a size small enough to be snug on me in the bottom on the heel. Fivefingers must be tried on in person to find your size as their sizing does not reliably convert into your standard shoe size. Also abnormality in your toe shape can cause discomfort. Brian probably doesn't want me spreading this on the Internet, but two of his toes are webbed halfway up his foot. The shoe construction puts a lot of pressure on his mutant toe web.

All in all, I think it's a very exciting innovation in footwear which will no doubt lead to better foot health. I used to have to wear orthotics before I started barefoot running. I can remember having pain in my unusually high left arch ever since I learned to walk. Now I've beat my foot issues into submission by training on a treadmill. My hope is that these shoes will let me transfer that success into trail running.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

My excellent Halloween costume

Progress report:

I have finally made a financial commitment to this endeavor. Over the weekend, I bought a military intelligence patch and a University of Cincinnati Bearcat T shirt. It was over the internet, so they haven't arrived yet. Today I went to a real store to buy some Barefoot Running Shoes/Foot Gloves (this item is a twofer oxymoron), the vibram five finger shoes. I didn't realize it until I went to the store, but these things have quite a following. It made me more confident in my $85 investment. I chose a modest black pair. They do have some that were more outlandish looking, really looking like the foot equivalent of those "Mule" work gloves, gray with green trim. I thought that would make more of an impact on my Halloween costume, but I also figured that on November 1, I'd be happy to have the pair that I think look better.

I need to get the bald wig soon. The "dress pants" I have. Dottie suggested "fingerless gloves", I always associate them with the Fagin character in Oliver Twist, and I do think that is worth looking into. Sweet and sour chicken w plastic silverware, what else? I think the costume is complete enough that unless it's just too good to pass up, I will forego spending anything more than a nominal amount of money for anything else.

One more thing: the wearer of the cardboard belt. Did someone get that and I missed it? It was Zero Mostel, playing Max Bialystok in the original movie "The Producers" with Gene Wilder. Which brings me to another question, far afield now from clothes or oxymora: what was Gene Wilder's film debut?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Climate change

Anyone who thinks there is a consensus on global warming should read this BBC article. Also interesting is that spaceweather.com says that on 78% of the days this year the sun has been free of sunspots. That is not exactly a resounding endorsement of a resumption of the standard solar cycle. As I've been saying all along: I don't know what is going to happen.

Friday, October 9, 2009

UV fluorescent ripe bananas

It is often surprising how many easy-to-make observations there are that no one tried. The recent discovery that ripe bananas fluoresce blue under ultraviolet light is an example.

It is easy to do just by shining a UV light on them, but apparently no one who had tried, if there was anyone, had previously reported it.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

My excellent Halloween costume #5

I am aware of the dangers of overexposure, and I can't help but notice that the commenters chatter has died down. But I did want to get all my preliminary discussion out of the way, because this weekend, I will start to assemble this. Remember, the party is a whole week before Halloween.

I think I have it all now except for the accessories. When I think of accessories, I think of the cardboard belt (trolling for comments, new trivia: tell me 'who was that who wore a cardboard belt?')

Much as I would like it to be, I can't make that out to be an oxymoron. So what I have is:

This being a party, I should be bring some food, as previously suggested "sweet and sour chicken" served with plastic silverware. I was also considering wearing plastic sunglasses.

And my last thing is a play on the classic oxymoron "military intelligence". On the internet authentic military intelligence patches can be found, but usually they don't say that. I can find "Air Force Intelligence" as the next best thing.

So this weekend, I think I am going to try to find a place to buy some of those "barefoot running shoes". If I like them, I will buy them and use them. For most of the rest, I will start scoping out what's available online. I probably won't be buying sweet and sour chicken online, although I am sure it can be done.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


A new finding just published indicates that a pregnant woman eating licorice in excess of 100 grams per day has an increased chance of bearing a child with low intelligence and also health problems.

An older finding is that adults who eat too much of it sometimes develop cardiovascular problems and high blood pressure. Too bad, I like the stuff, but I'm don't eat too much.

Monday, October 5, 2009

My excellent Halloween costume #4

Shirt and pants

One of the cleverest oxymorons I came across, and so easy come by was "dress pants" - I preferred the idea of wearing that to wearing "tight slacks". Now it may not be so easy to recognize as an oxymoron, but certainly can be explained in two words.

What I really wanted for my top half was a sweatshirt or t-shirt for the Guilford College (or University of Pennsylvania, or some other schools) Fighting Quakers. I have yet to locate one that actually says "Fighting Quakers", and if I would just wear one that says "Guilford College" that would involve too much explanation.

So if I can't get one of those, a back up is a sweatshirt or t shirt of the University of Cincinnati BearKats. I haven't seen that on any sanctioned list of oxymora, but since a bear can't be a cat (or even a Kat ) it counts in my book.

So there is some room for alternatives to make the costume if anyone can think of any.

My plan is to have one more post on accessories before the week is out, and this weekend decide on a plan and then start acquiring these things

Thanks for all of your comments so far.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Excellent Halloween Costume 3

Oxymoron Halloween costume

I was at the beach this weekend, so a couple of valuable days have gone by, and by now it's even too late for much of a post. Today's topic is headwear, and a discussion about "crisp"

I said previously that the oxymorons for the costume should be crisp, and here is what I was thinking. I am actually going to wear these for a party - that's the plan - and I could imagine this happening: me coming in with some random looking effects , and eventually people would discern the unifying theme. "You're an oxymoron". Anyway, having gone through that and having to explain the oxymora, one by one, multiplied by a dozen times, would pretty much suck all the enjoyment out of the party. So if the oxymoron is clever enough, one or two obscure ones would be OK, but you wouldn't want a whole ensemble like that.

So my headware choice is a very good exemplification of "crisp" A bald wig. It speaks for itself, there is nothing I can add to it. It's oxymoronic nature is crystal clear.

Now a bald wig doesn't preclude a hat of some sort, if you have any suggestions, please chime in.

I noticed my pictures didn't come through on my last post. I will try to fix that tomorrow.

Finally, I got a remark about these Vibram Five Finger shoes being actually comfortable and functional. If that is so, maybe I will get some. After Halloween I can wear them with my cooling vest.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Caturday News of the Adorable Update

Mr. Bumble, a British Skunk has grown to an obese 14 lbs due to overindulgence in bacon. The tame skunk was turned over to the SPCA where he's been placed on a vegetarian diet.

In heart wrenching news, a lost Rottweiller gathers clues to find the family she was separated from in a car wreck. The story is worth reading here.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

My excellent Halloween costume -2 footwear

I was delighted to see that when I googled "Excellent Halloween Costume" Oxymoron, my entry came up first, which suggests I am on the right track, and am quickly establishing this blog as ground zero for excellent Halloween costumes about oxymora.

I said I would get to my footwear today, and I even got a couple of suggestions from the commentators. I recalled Lona's entry in this blog about running barefoot, and so the first idea I got was

something called "barefoot running shoes" that a company called Vibram has started to make now

They apparently don't really call them barefoot running shoes, but that's what they're for.

How do they stack up as costume material?
Pros: They certainly look odd enough so you could build a costume around them.
Cons: Since they don't really call them Barefoot running shoes, you have to explain what they are and what makes them an oxymoron. I'd prefer something a little more crisp.
Major con: They cost about $70

Candidate number two :Foot Gloves
Not to be confused with Toe Socks, this was a yoga product sold in Amazon dot com

ref=dp_image_x_0.jpg They weren't exactly inexpensive, around $15, but since September 19, when I originally identified them, and now, they are no longer for sale at any price on Amazon.com. And no wonder. Only one star out of five.

So with neither of the first two candidates viable, I am pleased that my readership has already chipped in a couple of suggestions.

Lona suggested unshoes, which I need to look into. She says they look like you are wearing shoes, but you are really barefoot, confounding those "no shoes no service" people. But so far when I looked for unshoes on the internet, I found these

theshot.gif.jpg which don't fit the descriptions, so I need to do some more research. Tara suggested "Loud Sneakers" which was pretty cute, 'cept I originally thought she said "Loud speakers". Contemplating wearing those, I thought of this trivia question: Whose sandals were "herring boxes without topses"?

So the footwear category is wide open. So keep those suggestions coming in, and also think ahead to the next category, which will be HEADWARE.

Since when do books have trailers?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

My excellent Halloween Costume

I always wanted to blog, but I thought you needed a reason!

I am invited to a Halloween party on October 24, so I need a costume. I have an idea for it, but assembling it is kind of a ‘process’ and something that I think will blog well. I am to go as an oxymoron. The idea is to collect and execute all the wearable oxymorons I can come up with.

I actually had this idea about six months ago. At the time, I went onto oxymoron.com, or some such site, and offered up my idea for comment and suggestions to the oxymoronic community. They totally let me down without a single comment, helpful or otherwise. Maybe Halloween was to far away at the time to get their attention, but they had their chance, and I will not be favoring those geeks with updates on my progress, or any further opportunity to comment. I will favor you , instead.

This did not stop me from trolling oxymoron sites for ideas. After satisfying myself that an oxymoron costume was doable, meaning at least one or two items for each of the basic categories, I will now enlist your help in making it the best it can be.

As I see it, the parts of the costume are: (1) footwear (2) headwear (3) clothes (4) accessories and (5) props. Props are not wearable in themselves, but if for example, if I thought carrying one of those invisible dog leashes would enhance an oxymoron costume, (and I don’t) it would be in the props category. In order to not run out of all my material at once my next entry will just focus on the footwear.

A couple of more items 1. this party is a full week before Halloween, so I need to keep this on a slightly accelerated schedule. 2. I have not set a budget for this costume (maybe I can talk about that later) but I am not opposed to spending a modest amount of money for this, particularly if it is for items I think I will have a use for later.

Sometimes my perceptions about what will be useful in the future are a little off. For example, last year, I was Donald Trump. I had to buy a wig of course, and I got a power suit at the thrift store at a reasonable price. However, I had to wear several layers of clothes to bulk up and I thought I would get hot. So I bought one of those cooling vests that those people who dress up in school mascot costumes wear for about $60. At the time I thought I would find no end of uses for it. Oh, well…

Finally, one interesting thing I did get from those sites was the fact that the word oxymoron itself is an oxymoron: from oxýmōros sharp-dull, equiv. to oxý(s) sharp + mōrós dull.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

National Book Festival 2009

Yesterday was the National Book Festival on the Mall. It was busy, and started raining pretty hard mid-afternoon. However, this did not deter people (me) from waiting in line to have authors (Lois Lowry) sign their books (Number the Stars). I also got Jeannette Walls to sign my copy of The Glass Castle, which we just read in my college writing class. Jodi Picoult and John Grisham I think won the prize for longest lines...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Tips for making your thrift store purchases look great

WD40 removes tape sticky-ness

Grease pencil price marks can be removed with:
  • soap and water
  • a dry rag
  • WD40
  • Mr. Clean Magic Erasers (works on paper, plastic, wood, stainless steel, ceramics, vinyl baby doll feet)
Many clothing stains can be removed by washing and letting it dry in the sun. For stubborn stains, try adding a little lemon juice and leaving it in the sun. Those UV rays work great.

Monday, September 21, 2009

How to Govern

With malice to none and charity to all, here are some opinions on how to govern.

First, delegate responsibility, both to spread the burden of decision and also to spread the burden of taking the heat from the governed. A corollary of this is that the delegated person must be given overall policies, and have the authority to make subsidiary decisions with little second guessing by the executive.

Second, humanity, for whatever reason, detests sudden change. The implication of this is that when great change is required, it should be undertaken incrementally.

Third, a cheerful positive outlook encourages all.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Cougars in Maryland

There have been over 500 cougar sightings in Maryland in the past few decades. One of the most recent was in "Lagrest swamp on Charles/St. Marys County Line off of Rte 235 as recently as October 10, 2008 was by a Maryland State Trooper." The quote is from John Lutz of the Puma Research Network. There are also credible testimonies of cougars around Sugarloaf mountain and elsewhere.

Cubs have been sighted in the northern east Cheasapeake Bay area, thereby establishing that there is a breeding population, not just wandering males. The white-tailed deer is the cougar's favorite prey. Only rarely will they eat a young child.

It is believed that cougars might have survived from a remnant Delaware/New Jersey population and were never truly extirpated. It is also known that people are breeding and releasing them.

Greetings from DC

Today one of my roommates and I went to the Target in Columbia Heights to look for various things. We decided the mugs they had were expensive and boring, and the pots (saucepans) altogether too expensive. Although there was a very cute one egg frying pan.
Our activities fair finally happened this past Wednesday, so I went and signed up for the yearbook club. The first meeting was also Wednesday. They have nice Canon DSLRs that yearbook photographers get to borrow for shooting assignments.
I also found a job and got my work permit. Getting the work permit was way more difficult than it needed to be...it involved lots of running around and one long wait in an empty office (but that's what Jane Austen books are for, right?)
Maybe Andelle will tell us how its going for her in Massachusetts soon?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Here is my health care plan

Here is my health care plan that I have already long ago communicated to health care leaders. From general revenue, pay for emergency trauma care, obstetrics, and certain vaccinations. The first two coverages are for time urgent issues, while vaccinations are intended for prevention of general disaster. It is no accident that coverage for the first two issues resembles the compulsory care that hospitals are required to provide to all patients whether or not they can pay.

The result of this is that health insurance premiums for other care would decline since the hospitals would no longer need to "tax" other care. The burden would be more fairly distributed by the ordinary income tax system. Thus fairness would increase at the expense of general taxes increasing.

Current Congressional proposals are dishonest because they don't want to call anything a tax. In other words a big layer of insurance administrative overhead would be added simply to afford politicians a cop-out from their no tax pledge.

Many people would be delighted to receive the coverage proposed here. They would feel free to receive trauma care when unconcious or unemployed without hassle from the hospitals billing departments over whether or not they can pay. As for other coverage such as cancer or cirrhosis of liver, let people rely upon their own resources, including insurance. All this achieves maximum liberty, while providing care for the unconscious.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Taxing the air we breathe

Well, they finally did it. Except it is disguised as a tax on being alive. This seems to be the gist of the government's latest health care plan. We are going to be required to buy health insurance whether or not the individual wants it. Some people would rather self insure.

Of course this is all a subterfuge to get healthy people to pay money to subsidize those at risk. They will call it anything but a tax, a three letter word worse than any four letter word. Why don't we just call a rose a rose, not another name.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Congratulations April

April passed the very difficult NCLEX exam she needs to become a licensed Registered Nurse. Next is finding a job.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Not beyond reasonable doubt

The coroner has ruled Michael Jackson's death a homocide. He seems to have overlooked the possibility that the desperately addicted Jackson might have awakened during Dr. Murray's bathroom break and injected himself with an additonal overdose of propofol. Thus it could have been an accidental suicide. Alternatively, a member of his family could have done it.

I'm sorry to inflict you with yet more of the endless comment on Jackson, but this seems instructive in how to evaluate evidence.

Week One

Classes are over for the week. Or, at least, mine are. Techinically, one of my classes doesn't get out for another hour but the professor let us out early because today he was just introducing the class. My classes seem fine so far, and I don't have too much work yet (knock on wood!), just some reading. German class is probably my favorite, which is good because it meets three days a week and my other classes meet once or twice.
It raining hard and I forgot my umbrella (and I usually have it!), so right now I'm in Bender Arena waiting to see if the rain will let up. Yay for wireless campuses.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Pre-eclampsia figured out ?

Pre-eclampsia has sometimes been linked to genetics, but a new clue comes from a study that finds that it might be related to eating unpasteurized dairy products infected with a fungus such as a particular type of mold. I don't know whether they mean something like Camembert or what, but, maybe more information will come out.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

World's longest yard sale

Route 127 from Ohio to Alabama is the site of the world's longest yard sale. It starts the first Thursday in August through to the following Sunday. It is too late for this year, but info about next year is available.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Julia Child sells out

Predictably enough, after the fine movie "Julie and Julia" hit the theatres, Julia Child's cookbook is the number one hit in book sales, after 50 years in print. Julie Powell's book is doing well too.

Out Foxed

The fox got most of our remaining chickens, including super-rooster. The strange thing is that instead taking just one, he got a bunch of them at once. Maybe it was a gang of foxes. Or, maybe it was a coyote. I don't know of coyotes in this area, but they are elsewhere around DC, so, maybe.

Foxes and coyotes don't get along. Basically the coyotes are stronger and munch on foxes, although they prefer cats. So, it is either a fox or a coyote, but not both.

The arms race is on. I'm going after 'em. In my opinion, a keeper of domestic animals has an ethical duty to protect domesticated animals from the wild ones.

Community Supported Agriculture

There is an interesting concept around called community supported agriculture. The way Lance Estevez works it is for around $20 per week (price could vary next year), he delivers to your house, organic produce from his farm. He tries to get at least 3 people in each locale so he can justify fuel costs.

So far he is covering only the Waldorf, Accokeek, Oxon Hill area. He grows the usual vegetables and also provides eggs. He has more business than he wants, but has agreed to include us for next year if we can find a couple of neighbors to include. Lance has a bad back and is limited in his activities.

I intend to ask him to include a season-long supply of fresh basil. That will be popular for sure.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Drink Beer for Better Bones

Women who drink beer regularly have increased bone density.


Does anyone know a good bookstore (used/new/or both) accessible by the DC metro? Or does anyone have any thoughts on Capitol Hill Books? For reading books, not textbooks.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Animated knot tying

There is a website on knot tying where the process is animated for your instruction. One of the more interesting ones, under the category of boat and utility, is the trucker's hitch. I didn't know about that one before. The nice part about it is that you tighten it by pulling down on the free end. The free end provides one tension, the double loop provides another two tensions for a total force amplification of three.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Boo got shot

An interesting thing just happened that left me reflective on how we perceive things. I was walking to my car in a deserted shopping center at 11pm. A black SUV starts driving towards me, a little faster than normal which makes me nervous. As is approaches me I hear a deafening *POP*. I duck because I think someone is shooting at me. As the car drives away I see they ran over a soda can and feel silly.

First Impressions

So far, college feels like camp. Of course, classes haven't started yet, and I'm participating in a 4 day community service program. My group is working at a community center in southeast DC called THE ARC. Today we did some painting for them.
I moved in Sunday, and both my roommates are here as well. All of our stuff seems to fit into out room, which consists of a bunk bed, a loft bed, 3 desks, 3 bookshelves, 3 dressers (2 of them in the built in wall storage). We have a tiny micro fridge (microwave and fridge issued by the school) and a TV and DVD player which we haven't hooked up yet. I have the top bunk. Our room faces northwest, so I can watch the sunset through the window. The view is ok-- as long as you don't look directly down to the parking lot below.
Classes start next Monday.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The surgeon's knot

Various knots are designed for different purposes. A handy knot to know is the surgeon's knot. It is just like tying a square knot, except that the first twist is done twice instead of once. This helps maintain tension on the secured object while the next twist is tied. Click on this link for a picture.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Give me a regular haircut

Today I got a haircut. For men this is easy to specify. Most men ask for and all barbers understand the "regular haircut." I don't know how the term originated. Maybe it referred to meeting Armed Forces "regulations." In any case, it is now a deeply embedded part of American culture. Sometimes the order might be modified with "a bit long" or "on the short side".

Of course, the barbers will also take special orders such as "flat top", "Mohawk", or "mullet". Most men don't care, so they simply say "give me a regular." Oftentimes, nothing is said, both the customer and barber say nothing and the cutting proceeds.

Today was a bit unusual, at least for me. Most barbers will quickly clip the excess ear hair characteristic of old men, and that happened. But what was unusual is that he also went for my right eyebrow and clipped the wild straight, often gray, hairs also characteristic of older men. I didn't particularly want it done, but it was too late to complain. Of course the left one had to be done for symmetry, so I said nothing. Now I look young ... heh.

The barber appeared Filipino. Maybe eyebrow customs are different there.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Trying to think of mechanisms

Is there any plausible way to connect solar activity with Earth's climate ? In the visible region of the spectrum, sunspots make only a minor difference in solar output. But in the ultraviolet, a 6% decrease due to no sunspots is significant.

Smog, created by the action of UV on atmospheric pollutants, almost certainly acts as a greenhouse gas. Decreasing the amount of UV would plausibly decrease the amount of smog and hence decrease the amount of greenhouse effect, leading to cooling.

Atmospheric pollutants are sometimes human caused. Sometimes the pollutants are natural in origin, such as, the emission of hydrocarbons by certain kinds of trees. The Great Smokey Mountains are said to have a "smokey" appearance precisely due to tree emissions.

It therefore seems plausible to me that an absence of sunspots could lead to cooling. Detailed calculations are in order (but I'm not going to do it).

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Continued Strangeness of the Sun

It is now been 31 days since a sunspot has appeared on the sun. This is at a time when the next solar cycle is long overdue. At visible wavelengths the solar irradiation has dropped only a small amount, while at ultraviolet wavelengths, a 6% drop has occurred. For more info see this NASA link.

Meanwhile, back on Earth, the National Snow and Ice Data Center, reports that this summer's ice coverage in the arctic is between the former long term average and what occurred during the ice coverage low of 2007.

Whether this is related to the Sun's behavior no one knows. We do know that increased CO2 in the atmosphere should increasing global warning, but the Sun is also an important factor.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Microchipping your pet.

A subject I had never before thought about popped up today with a news article about microchipping your pet. This involves inserting an RFID chip under the skin of the animal. Both veterinarians and animal shelters commonly scan a lost animal for a chip in order to determine whether it has an owner.

The procedure costs about $50 but varies from veterinarian to veterinarian. Someone with 37 chickens, 2 dogs, a pig and a donkey faces a formidable cost. The cost escalates still further if you have a pet hornet nest, and, worse, I'm not sure whether the chip would fit into each hornet. If you have only one or two pets, it is affordable.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Beer Summit at the White House

According to the news, there will be a beer summit this Thursday at the White House. All three of the protagonists, Obama, Gates, Crowley have substantial Irish ancestry.

Now any time you get three Irish together drinking, a fight is bound to break out. OK, so Obama has a longer reach, Crowley has police training, Gates is a little guy. This suggests that Gates could be the big loser in event of fisticuffs. His best strategy would be to take sides with one of the other guys.

So, if you were Gates, who would you side with ? The cop would likely know a lot of judo, but Obama has a longer reach plus has literally an entire army as a backup. Take your pick, but in the short term I bet on the cop, then after the noise of the row becomes obvious to the Secret Service, Obama will obviously win in the longer term. So, if you were Gates, a good strategy would be to first side with the cop, then switch sides.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Trapping Pythons in Florida

Non-native pythons are becoming a problem in Florida. The state has now authorized capture by professional herpetologists, but not using guns, or traps. How they are going to wrestle a 26 foot python is beyond me. It doesn't seem possible. In any case, only 10 hunters are currently allowed.

Here is an idea for catching them. Create cages that are warm. In the winter the pythons will seek warmth. It is already the case that in winter they go to asphalt roads to sun warm themselves. That is how the herpetologists find them.

Monday, July 20, 2009

No Sunspots for 9 days

After picking up some sunspot activity after a long lull in spots, the sun has gone spotless again. This is all very unusual behavior. The solar cycle should be in full upswing now, but it isn't. This could very well have a cooling influence on the climate.

Any such change would take a long time, but, for what it is worth, the National Snow and Ice Data Center shows that there is a good bit of ice left in the Arctic. Ice cover has definitely increased 2009 over 2008 and it now appears some of it will last into 2010.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Born to Run

I really like books that turn your whole thinking upside down like Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. I didn't even know it was possible to run 100 miles at a clip but the people in this book do it. The big revelation for me was that running shoes are actually bad for your feet! It turns out that studies show that foot impact forces are actually lightest in bare feet, heaviest in Nikes. A doctor is quoted in the book: "If I put your leg in plaster, we'll find forty to sixty percent atrophy of the musculature within six weeks. Something similar happens to your feet when they're encased in shoes." The fancier the running shoe, the worse it is! Putting support under the arch weakens the whole structure and padding, especially under the heel, causes the extra impact as the feet push through the sole in search of a hard stable surface. Some runners in the book are sold on running barefoot but a good compromise is to run in cheap old fashioned unpadded sneakers. I've been doing this for about a week and my feet feel better than they've felt in a long time. The naked toe manifesto is presented:
Shoes block pain, not impact!
Pain teaches us to run comfortably!
From the moment you start going barefoot, you will change the way you run.

This is all good stuff and it isn't even what the book is really about. It reads more like an adventure story that culminates in an ultra race in Mexico's Copper Canyon against the indigenous Tarahumara indians, the fastest long distance runners on earth.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Foods poisonous to dogs

I recently learned that Lynnis and Brian's dog Runcible Spoon is quite ill with liver failure from eating onions. Hopefully, Lynnis will keep us updated on that. I looked up foods poisonous to dogs and they include:
  • Onions
  • Chocolate
  • Xylitol sweetener
  • Mushrooms
  • Grapes fresh or dried (raisins)
I'm always learning something new.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Did you really graduate from Law School ?

Copied from elsewhere:

These are things people actually said in court, word for word, taken down and now published by court reporters who had the torment of staying calm and quiet while these exchanges were actually taking place.

ATTORNEY : When is your birthday?
WITNESS : July 18th.
ATTORNEY : What year?
WITNESS : Every year.

ATTORNEY : What gear were you in at the moment of the impact?
WITNESS : Gucci sweats and Reeboks.

ATTORNEY : This myasthenia gravis, does it affect your memory at all?
ATTORNEY : And in what ways does it affect your memory?
WITNESS : I forget.
ATTORNEY : You forget? Can you give us an example of something you forgot?

ATTORNEY : How old is your son, the one living with you?
WITNESS : Thirty-eight or thirty-five, I can't remember which.
ATTORNEY : How long has he lived with you?
WITNESS : Forty-five years.

ATTORNEY : Are you sexually active?
WITNESS : No, I just lie there.

ATTORNEY : What was the first thing your husband said to you that morning?
WITNESS : He said, "Where am I, Cathy?"
ATTORNEY : And why did that upset you?
WITNESS : My name is Susan.

ATTORNEY : Do you know if your daughter has ever been involved in voodoo?
WITNESS : We both do.
ATTORNEY : Voodoo?
WITNESS : We do.
ATTORNEY : You do?
WITNESS : Yes, voodoo.

ATTORNEY : Now doctor, isn't it true that when a person dies in his sleep, he doesn't know about it until the next morning?
WITNESS : Did you actually pass the bar exam?

ATTORNEY : The youngest son, the twenty-one year-old, how old is he?
WITNESS : Uh, he's twenty-one.

ATTORNEY : Were you present when your picture was taken?
WITNESS : Would you repeat the question?

ATTORNEY : So the date of conception of the baby was August 8th?
ATTORNEY : And what were you doing at that time?
WITNESS : Uh....

ATTORNEY : She had three children, right?
ATTORNEY : How many were boys?
ATTORNEY : Were there any girls?

ATTORNEY : How was your first marriage terminated?
WITNESS : By death.
ATTORNEY : And by whose death was it terminated?

ATTORNEY : Can you describe the individual?
WITNESS : He was about medium height and had a beard.
ATTORNEY : Was this a male or a female?

ATTORNEY : Is your appearance here this morning pursuant to a deposition notice which I sent to your attorney?
WITNESS : No, this is how I dress when I go to work.

ATTORNEY : Doctor, how many of your autopsies have you performed on dead people?
WITNESS : All my autopsies are performed on dead people.

ATTORNEY : ALL your responses MUST be oral, OK? What school did you go to?

ATTORNEY : Do you recall the time that you examined the body?
WITNESS : The autopsy started around 8:30 pm.
ATTORNEY : And Mr. Denton was dead at the time?
WITNESS : No, he was sitting on the table wondering why I was doing an autopsy on him!

ATTORNEY : Are you qualified to give a urine sample?

As for the last!!!
ATTORNEY : Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse?
ATTORNEY : Did you check for blood pressure?
ATTORNEY : Did you check for breathing?
ATTORNEY : So, then it is possible that the patient was alive when you began the autopsy?
ATTORNEY : How can you be so sure, Doctor?
WITNESS : Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar.
ATTORNEY : But could the patient have still been alive, nevertheless?
WITNESS : Yes, it is possible that he could have been alive and practicing law.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Climate Report Indicted

It is now claimed by a whistleblower that the EPA report on the climate did not take into account his doubts about the rise in global temperature. It is a fact that global temperature has declined the last few years, and, those are the years omitted from the climate report. This is exactly the same discrepancy in the report that I earlier noted. I was unaware of the whistleblower's comments. His views are disputed by others, but evidence based science should be based on evidence. Duh.

So, what is the truth ? I think that this summer's survival, or not, of arctic ice will be a telling thing. Last winter was really cold, arctic ice built up, the polar bears are thriving, and this spring's melt was delayed. Let's wait until September to see whether the new ice will become old ice or water. The resumption of sunspots has been delayed but has now started. Something is going on in the sun.

As if we didn't have earthly matters to be concerned about, there is now concern that the supergiant star Betelgeuse might soon go supernova. When I was in graduate school in astronomy there was a lot of concern about the issue. Most people think the effects of a Betelgeuse supernova will not affect us too much, others are not so sure. Eta Carina star might also soon go supernova.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Copyright infringement

Why is it that journalists are outraged when someone illegally infringes copyright on their own work, but seem to think it is OK to copy Gov. Sanford's private email's and publish them?

Hypocrisy and infringement of privacy are not admirable.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

National Report on Climate Change

The recent report issued on climate change is excellent. About the only thing I would caution against is that not all of the graphs are up to date, nor are the trend lines all that clear. Read the legends accordingly.

As you would expect, both benefits and detriments accrue from climate change. Less winter heating fuel will be required. In the summer, northern states might experience up to 30 days of over 100 degree F weather in the summer with attendant need for air conditioning for elderly safety. For the most part, agriculture will benefit, however, cold weather crops like apples, blueberries and cranberries will suffer. There will be increasingly inequitable distribution of rainfall with heavy downpours in some areas and drought in others. That suggests to me that construction of colossal aqueducts might be a good idea.

One of the report's unexpected predictions is that increased lightning protection will be urgently required. It costs only $100 or so to install in your main panel a surge protector for the entire house. Many firms install lighting rod systems for reasonable prices. I would guess that less than $500 would do most houses. Remember that it is too late to shut the barn door after the horse escapes, so, do it now, especially if you live in a wood frame house.

The basic strategy for lightning protection is to install ground rods catty-corner across a house, run wire up the eaves, then along the ridge of the roof with a few rods along the way and especially at the peak ends. You can buy the supplies yourself and do it inexpensively. Special lightning wire provides minor advantages, heavy stranded wire will do the job in most places. Use no less than #4 bare copper stranded for a minimal installation, with heavier wire being advised. The ground rods should also be connected to the ground rod of your electrical service entrance and also to any structural steel girders at their ends.

The only way the predicted climate change can be avoided is if the Sun changes character, and, that is not impossible. The Sun has proven variable in the past. In any case, increased carbon dioxide will acidify the oceans with carbonic acid with attendant biological effects.

Hilarious video

People of all political persuasions will be rolling in the aisles with laughter after seeing this video.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Localized weather phenomenon

Tuesday, June 16, 2009, 14:00 EDT, Accokeek, Maryland

Today a slow moving very localized tropical downpour sat over the Bryans Point Road and Accokeek Creek area of Accokeek. That happens to be centered over my house. Flash flooding occurred all over the local area, but 2000 feet away, there was hardly any rain. I risked life and treasure to cross our causeway. The fast moving stream could have easily swept away the car with Scot and me in it. Accokeek Creek, now a swift river, had stopped up the Apple Valley Road culvert and the water rose almost to the height of the road. I thought the road would be totally washed out. As it was, damage was done to our drive way and to nearby parts of Apple Valley.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Arctic ice cover

A graph of ice cover in the arctic during the month of May for a range of years is available. The data and graph are from the National Snow and Ice Data Center. Whether the recent upward trend will continue is unknown. By fall we should have a better idea.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Wobble Pin

Here is something all aspiring engineers should know. When you want to design a mechanism to give fine precise control to a moved object, use a wobble pin to match between the moving screw and the object to be moved. A wobble pin is needed because a screw is never precisely centered or precisely directed, nor, is the object to be moved. In particular, the tip of a screw will always be off-center by a small amount no matter how precisely it is made.

In the illustration is shown, in green, an object to be moved. In this case it happens to be a lever attached to a pinion. A screw shown in orange, is intended to impart fine motion to the lever. The wobble pin is shown in blue and it fits into hollow cones at the end of the screw and on the lever to be moved. If the screw is off-center, and, it always will be, the wobble pin will wobble with it while the other end remains stationary on the lever to be moved. When required, a spring can be used to keep the object moved firmly located against the wobble pin.

In practice, the cones can be a simple hole drilled with a drill. Some set screws already come with a cone on the end. The wobble pin can be either machined, or, more simply, can be two spherical bearing balls glued to the two ends of a hollow tube. More crudely, the wobble pin can use conical ends itself and simply fit into dimples created with a pin punch. In a more refined version, the cones can be replaced with roller thrust bearings. All these things are refinements and variations. The important thing is to keep in mind the basic concept of a wobble pin. Failure to use it, and instead drive directly with the screw, will result in scoring and friction on the object moved.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Horology 101

Last month I bought a 400 day torsion pendulum clock at an antique store. They are more commonly known as an "anniversary clock." After setting it up at home, it would not tick more than a few times. After a bit of investigation on horology web sites, I measured the timing of the ticks on either side of neutral point when it is doing nothing. It turned out that the swing on one side was much greater than on the other side. Making the swing equal is known as setting the beat, and, is essential for making the clock to run accurately or even to run at all.

It turns out that none of the web sites show how to set the beat. Finally I figured out that the thing from which the pendulum torsion wire is suspended can be made to rotate by first loosening an adjacent screw. I turned it until the tick swing was about equal to the tock swing. Now it runs and now you know how to get an anniversary clock running.

Sometimes someone starts an anniversary clock with too much swing and this kinks the torsion wire. In a case like that the wire must be replaced, and that is expensive. My clock did not require a wire replacement and all it needed was to set the beat. It now runs fine, and, I am now in the process of adjusting its timing.

Setting the beat on a swing pendulum clock is similar to setting the beat on the torsion pendulum. Make the tick equal to the tock by tilting the clock. Then adjust the setting so it will do that while level. Move the setting toward the high side of the tilted clock.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Friday, May 22, 2009

How Climate affects Energy which affects National Security

Although some people have disputed the reality of climate change it is a certainty that minimizing CO2 emissions will have the very desirable effect of encouraging greater energy efficiency and resort to alternative energy sources. Indeed, one could reasonably suspect this is the hidden motivation behind concern about the climate.

We really need improved energy efficiency and alternative sources. It is the nature of industrial change that it takes a long long time to implement for the simple reason that it takes a long time for existing infrastructure to become too worn for use. Typically this means a lifetime for infrastructure of around 20 to 40 years. Thus the sooner we start the better. Wind and solar both have the potential to supply a lot of energy, but is will be too late if we wait until an emergency. Quite simply, the security of the nation depends upon starting energy change as soon as possible.

We are lucky that the 1973 oil crisis has already had some good effect on conservation. More is needed. Most critically, that change is needed in the personal transportation sector. Basically that means resort to electrical propulsion. Here is a link to a recent bill in Congress that establishes CO2 emission goals.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Greenbelt Farmer's Market - Opening Day!

Today was the opening day for the 2009 Greenbelt Farmer's Market.  It is in its second year, and is bigger and better then last years, dispite today's soggy weather.  In addition to fruits and veggies, vendors were selling honey, jelly, bread, plants, soap, ice cream, cheese, meats, eggs, coffee and crafts.   Everything is produced within 100 miles of Greenbelt, Maryland.  The Farmer's market is located in the Roosevelt Center parking lot and is open from 10am-2pm on Sundays, except for Labor Day weekend.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Our Somewhat inactive Sun

Sunspots have finally returned to the Sun after a long absence. There had been concern that the recent prolonged absence might mean the start of centuries long inactivity such as the Maunder minimum of the past that was associated with severely cold weather.

Even with the return of spots, the now commenced Sunspot Cycle 24 is predicted to be weak with relatively fewer spots. That might mean some cooling influence, or, maybe not. If there is any cooling influence it is unclear at the present time whether that will offset the warming influence of increased CO2.

Climate predictions are difficult due to the complexity of the many effects from physical, astrophysical, geomagnetic, solar, biological aerosols, clouds, particulates, biological and soil surface reflections, and anthropogenic pollutant influences. Climate modelers try their best to take it all into account, but the biological influences on the climate are near impossible to model, in part, because the climate influences the biology ! As someone who has done his share of computer modeling, I don't have a lot of confidence in it. As one British scientist put it, it is time to abandon a consensus prediction on the climate. We don't know.

If you would like to keep track of space weather, including sunspots see this link to space weather.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

to all mothers

Happy Mother's Day!
GangangGrandma Jo
Luella (Jo's mom) and her sisters

Olga (Grandma Carlson)

(I could upload even more photos but I figured I should probably stop here or you all might get bored)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

A cure for obesity ?

Since the Ohio trip I have been feeling great. Even better, I've lost 10 pounds and expect to continue losing. I don't know the cause of all this, but one possibility is that the road vibration from the long trip was vibrating all my fat and reset the metabolism. I have heard of such things. I feel too good to suspect cancer as a cause for weight loss.

After arriving in Ohio, someone asked if my new Honda Fit had a lot of road vibration. I had not previously noticed it, but, on the trip back paid attention, and yes, perhaps there is a little bit more rumble than average, but nothing obnoxious to my personal sensibilities. Anyway, if the vibration hypothesis is true, buy a Honda Fit if you want to loose weight. It is probably the best car I have ever owned. I love it and recommend it to anyone. The new engine loosened up on the trip, and now it gets over 37 mpg with further increases expected.

Excerpts from France

It is evident that Jon is not the typical tourist. He speaks French and also has close contacts with the aborigines. Here are a few excerpts from an email:

we went to the ghost village of perrillios out in the desert not
far away: fairly well preserved tiny village with its own church:
restoration under slow way and things are locked unlike last time when
i visited church: little graveyard and wonderful view over over
valleys to mountains and far distance: the last time i played guitar
under a fig tree for the last nights operation of La Lizard bistro

Apparently life is pretty good there:

lourant and i played into the night after dining on
medeteranian muscles and crab:::::: life is tough but someone must
do it

And so it goes in France. I haven't heard much about what Jake is doing.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Y2K bug strikes 9 years later

It seems that some of the alleged global warming can be attributed to a Y2K bug in software of sensors that gathered data circa 2000. Here is a link to this bizarre basis for a multi-trillion dollar policy decision based on a computer programming bug.

This is not to say there might not be other data that support global warming. It might exist.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The bugs are attracted to purple

Purple Traps for Emerald Ash Borer Survey Being Hung in Trees Along Western Maryland Roads

Lanterns cont.....

I managed to capture a picture of the newest purple lantern at high speeds. It appeared to have some kind of home office printed label on it.

In other news, there was a lone Canada goose in my donkey field this morning calling to my other geese. He was either trying to persuade them to fly north with him or to let him into their gaggle.

Jon and Jake hit the mountains and party life

Herewith is a (sanitized) part of Jon's email to me from France:

these party animals had me out till
3:::::::::up in the mountains at another ancient home,
pictureslllllllstill cant find the keyboard period::::::::::::it was a
goat trail to get therellllllllwild dogs, wild pigs; the man needs a
rifle, has nonelllllllllthe wind power here is well developed, many
massive units to be seen, like war of the worlds things on the
horizon:::::::::::::::i was told that since carolina has a license to
practice in england that since its all now the eu that would be much
easier for her to work here::::::::::::fresh oysters and muscles
yesterday from saltwater farm:::::::::::not cheap; but the muscles
were especially good:::::::::::::were drinking wild thyme tea to ward
off the flu::::::::::::abnormal amounts of rain; but welcomed in this
climate:::::::::i seem to be the only party surviver; only one up at
10 morning::

He must have been posting on a sub-mini netbook that the old guy could barely see or type upon. I wonder what ::::: and lllll mean on that computer ?

Monday, May 4, 2009

Mysterious purple lanterns

For the past month or so I have been taking note of these mysterious purple paper lantern shaped installations hanging from trees. I have noticed them in Fort Washington, MD; Hillsboro, VA; and Kearneysville, WV. There are always two within close proximity to the road. Has anyone else noticed them? Does anyone know why?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Super Rooster

At Chickstock Lynnis sold a lot of chickens and also bought a Rhode Island Red super rooster to give to Soren for his birthday. Soren and Chrissy's flock is also comprised of RIRs so it was appropriate. Super rooster was on the job very quickly yesterday. Today he was proudly herding his harem of 18 hens with plenty of crows to warn off any other (nonexistent) roosters. He looks a bit tired, but, hey, it is all in a day's work for an ambitious chicken daddy.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

I'm passing into another dimension

This a pic that is definitely not copyrighted by someone else. It is me the blogger.

Friday, April 24, 2009


Tomorrow is Chickenstock 09! Other crazy chicken people and I will be at the Martinsburg WV Tractor Supply Co on queen st 4/25 from 10am til 2pm hocking birds. Y'all come, I even got tested for bird flu for the occasion!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Updated Adventures of Jon and Jake

Already a gypsy pickpocket tried to get Jon's wallet. He foiled them somehow. Pickpockets are ubiquitous in Europe. They almost don't exist in the US.

Jon and Jake are now on the way to the south of France. I sent Jon an email with this pickpocket advice.

Avoid kids with signs, they use them to hide their hands. Likewise swaddled infants in mom's arms.

ATM machines: they insert a sleeve into the slot so your card jams, then observe you enter PIN. They retrieve the sleeve with its tab and your card.

If someone in a uniform asks to count your cash, its a scam. Ask to see their ID.

Keep your passport especially safe. Below the belt money pocket is better than above the belt. They razor it out.

Another good idea is stitch the bottom of all pockets to the clothing. Pickpockets don't reach into your pocket, instead, they lift up the lining until they get what they want.

Don't Forget to Barter

I know a lot of people are trying to save money in these uncertain economic times - but you can still get the things you want by bartering.  Craigslist has had a 100% increase in traffic on its barter boards lately, and there are a lot of other online sites you can use to find people to trade with, if you can't find someone locally.

I just traded some cloth diapers  for a snazzy MP4 player and both of us are very happy about it.  All it cost us was the postage.

Have you bartered anything lately? Do you want to?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Here is a good article by a scientist engaged in anti-aging research.

The gist of it is that sirtuin, controlled by the SIRT1 gene is influenced by resveratrol, a substance now available in most health food stores due to that author's research.

Remarkable Events

Here is a website about remarkable deaths. It is mislabled as smart people who got the Darwin award. Actually Aeschulus did not deserve his fate.