Sunday, December 26, 2010

Sears 4500 tractor

Today I learned that the Sears lawn tractors are useless in the snow without wheel weights and also chains. So.... we went to Sears to buy both, but, it turned out that the chains will not be available until Tuesday. Scot put the weights on and I found that the chains really are needed also. When I tried to go up a tiny hill, the wheels spun. So until the chains become available, it is no go.

I needed the little tractor to go feed the neighbors horses despite the snow that ordinarily stops my perambulation. Fortunately, after I became exhausted from the tractor no-go, Lona volunteered to go do the job of feeding the horses.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Snow removal

I bought a Sears model 4500 lawn tractor and snowblower attachment. It arrived too late for the attachment mounting process to be completed before the expected snowstorm. Later this week, Quick and I plan to take all parts to his garage where we hope to figure out the complexity and also to work in comfort. But it looks like we are going to be snowbound until then.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Domesticating bears, raccoons, pandas

Wolves were domesticated long ago as dogs. Wolves, bears, raccoons and pandas are closely related evolutionarily. It therefore seems like an interesting experiment to try moving the dog domestication genes into related animals. A friendly panda would be very popular to be sure. Best of all, the foregoing are different sizes, so, specialized friendly brutes can be created for both useful purposes and for fun.

If anyone is wondering why I haven't been posting lately, it is because I'm working on some heavy duty physics stuff that is taking full time.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

new blog

...not like i need another one...

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Barisol Guns

In India along the coast there are sometime booming sounds of unknown origin called the Barisol guns. A similar sound occurs in North Carolina, New Jersey, Delaware and Virginia called the Seneca guns. Yesterday, in the afternoon and evening of 26 June 2010 both my wife and I heard the phenomenon in Accokeek, Maryland for many hours. It was not thunder due to lightning as no lightning was visible. The sky was totally clear, and of course, it was only a few days after the summer solstice. As it happens, it was also only shortly after a lunar eclipse.

I have long noticed various strange electrical phenomena a few days after the summer solstice. I attribute this to the solar wind dragging electrical charge into the North magnetosphere and out the South magnetosphere toward the outer reaches of the solar system. That the recently eclipsed moon would also have been directly away from the Earth from the Sun, also suggests that, in the case we heard yesterday, that the moon might have been the target of all that charge.

Although a humid atmosphere discharges local charge, it is a dry atmosphere that best for long distance charge transport. The reason for this is that water molecules adhere with electrons and consequently bind and slow them during transport. Consequently, it is a dry completely clear atmosphere that would best fast transport charge from the Earth's surface up to the magnetosphere, and, thence, to outer space.

It is fun to stay up at night after the summer solstice and and await the astronomical midnight. On most occasions there will be observed a phenomenon usually termed "heat lightning" in a completely clear sky. Astronomical midnight is when your local longitude is exactly away from the sun. Therefore in computing astronomical midnight you must both take into account both daylight savings time and your exact longitude within the longitudinal time zone. Here in Accokeek I seem to recall it occurs around 1:20 am daylight savings time. A more exact calculation is possible, but an exact calculation isn't necessary to observe the phenomenon since it occurs at a wide range around astronomical midnight. I attribute the midnight heat lightning to the same cause as the Seneca or Barisol guns. Notably, heat lighting shows no visible lighting stroke anywhere, the sky just flashes.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Sunspots and the Climate

There is increasing doubt that the current solar cycle will be normal. Instead many fewer sunspots are expected. It is also becoming increasingly clear that global warming was due to previously high solar activity. With low activity expected for this solar cycle, we might well see global cooling for a very prolonged period. Watch out for another cold snowy winter, especially in Europe.

I have added the link below which puts fake email addresses into spammers searching the web for email addresses.
Anti Spam Blocker - Help Fight Spam Email!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Legionnaire's Disease and Windshield washer fluid

Recent research indicates that use of windshield wiper fluid (mostly methanol) prevents Legionnaire's Disease from breeding in your wiper fluid compartment. In other words, do not use ordinary water.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Reducing your oil use

Here is a good article with tips to reduce your oil footprint:

Reducing your oil use � Always Well Within

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Ruffled Feathers


My rooster with the famous tail was cornered in the garage and attacked by some vile creature. Amazingly enough he is fine. The funny thing is he shed his tail like a skink. I never would have imagined that tail might serve a functional purpose but it was enough of a subterfuge to allow him to escape. Feathers were going from the front to back of the garage in large clumps. If they hadn't left the feathers I would suspect a hatmaker.

Poor little man wanted to go to bed early. His tail used to touch the ground when he was on his perch.

I could make some really impressive hats or fishing flies.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

pizza pizza pizza

Tonight's dinner was: shaved asparagus pizza. With goat cheese and caramelized onions. And, of course, a more traditional pizza with chicken sausage and mushrooms. But the asparagus pizza was the highlight. Who would think to put asparagus on pizza? Not me! (although its definitely a better idea than ziti--what is the point of putting pasta on top of pizza?) I never would have thought to shave asparagus either. Apparently you can also shave eggplant and zucchini, and probably yellow summer squash, too.

We followed this recipe with a few changes. Mom made whole wheat pizza crust, and it was a larger pizza than 12". After shaving the asparagus, not only did I toss it in olive oil, salt, and pepper, but also a splash of lemon juice and some crushed red pepper. I used about 3 oz of mozzarella and 4 of goat cheese, along with some romano (maybe a little less than a quarter cup? I didn't really measure anything). The asparagus itself was yummy, I think I'm going to try making a salad with shaved asparagus and grape tomatoes sometime this summer.

Hopefully all you homemade-pizza-lovers will try this sometime!

To make and bring to a bbq tomorrow: deviled eggs (with avocado? depends if it magically ripens overnight!), blueberry cornmeal cupcakes, and something else TBD. Happy memorial day!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Going to the Amish grocery store

Having heard from my brother about an Amish grocery store near Charlotte Hall, MD, I decided to visit and see what it was like. The prices were astonishingly low for many things. A loaf of bread was $1.29, a jar of raspberry jam was $0.85. Some other things like coconut were relatively expensive, but on the whole, it is a wonderful place to shop. I picked up a big jar of peanut-butter for $2.30 or so, but upon arriving home, immediately heard complaints that it contained "transfats". OK, so maybe not all is well, but they also had transfat free peanut butter for about $3.35 a jar according to Jon. I didn't read the labels so I didn't know or care. The best deal of all was a can of oyster stew for $0.85 cents.

After the visit, I read up on Amish culture and saw the following advice: no photographs, don't stare, allow them to keep their distance. It is advised to wear suspenders, a mono-color shirt, preferably black. Women preferably should wear long dresses with no ornamentation. The Amish regard ornamentation and bright colors as a lack of humility.

Hallie would enjoy visiting in order to practice her German. These days the Amish also speak English well.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Guten Abend!

Ich bin mit meiner Mutter in Düsseldorf. Morgen gehen wir nach Köln.

Dienstag sind wir von New Jersey nach Amsterdam geflogen und Frietagmorgen sind wir von Amsterdam nach Köln geflogen. Dann sind wir mit dem Zug nach Düsseldorf gegangen (ich habe im Zug geschalfen!). Heute haben wir nach ein Museum gegangen. Auch sind wir nach einen Markt gegangen.

Morgen ist Mutterstag...Herzlich Mutterstag! Und heir in Deutschland die 13 Mai is Vaterstag...


Monday, April 19, 2010

Friday, April 16, 2010

Free Beer

Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.

The fifth would pay $1.

The sixth would pay $3.

The seventh would pay $7.

The eighth would pay $12.

The ninth would pay $18.

The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.

So, that’s what they decided to do. The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve. “Since you are all such good customers,” he said, “I’m going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20. “Drinks for the ten now cost just $80.

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes, so the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free. But what about the other six men – the paying customers? How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his ‘fair share?’

They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody’s share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer. So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man’s bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.

And so -

The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings).

The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33%savings).

The seventh now pay $5 instead of $7 (28%savings).

The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings).

The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 ( 22% savings).

The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).

Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to drink for free. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings.

“I only got a dollar out of the $20,”declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man,” but he got $10!”

“Yeah, that’s right,” exclaimed the fifth man. “I only saved a dollar, too. It’s unfair that he got ten times more than I!”

“That’s true!!” shouted the seventh man. “Why should he get $10 back when I got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!”

“Wait a minute,” yelled the first four men in unison. “We didn’t get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!”

The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up. The next night the tenth man didn’t show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn’t have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!

And that, boys and girls, journalists and college professors, is how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.

David R. Kamerschen, Ph.D.
Professor of Economics
University of Georgia

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Startling new astronomical discoveries are expected

Now about half way through its all sky survey is the WISE infrared telescope. It has already discovered near Earth asteroids that were otherwise difficult to discover because of their individual dark nature. Many more asteroid discoveries are expected when the project is complete.

Even more interesting are possible unknown planets, stars, or even black holes in the vicinity of our solar system. The planets might include some much closer than the nearest star, the Alpha Centauri triple system only 4.3 light years away, but well beyond Sedna and other recent discoveries of the Outer solar system. It has long been expected that a massive planet might be out there that is the cause of disturbing comet orbits. Long term 25 million year periods between catastrophes have been noted from the Earth's geological record of meteor hits, and that surmised, so far undiscovered, planet in a similar period orbit might be the cause. Its discovery would be a breakthrough. Some have called it "Nemesis" (if it exists).

Equally interesting, there could be a so called "brown dwarf" star out there doing the same thing. A brown dwarf was recently discovered only 10 light years distant.

We should start hearing news of all this from the WISE observations in less than a year or so.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Michael Jackson and Dr. Murray

The long time readers of this blog will recall my previous post concerning the possibility that the desperately addicted Michael Jackson might have supplemented Dr. Murray's propofonol with an additional injection by himself (Jackson).

I wrote to the Texas legal team concerning this possibility. I don't know whether they paid attention or not to specifically me, but now there is a news report that Dr. Murray's legal team is considering using exactly the defense I proposed.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Be careful with your email.


This one is priceless...A lesson to be learned from
typing the wrong email address!!!!

A Minneapolis couple decided to go to Florida to thaw out during a particularly icy winter. They planned to stay at the same hotel where they spent their honeymoon 20 years earlier.

Because of hectic schedules, it was difficult to coordinate their travel schedules. So, the husband left Minnesota and flew to Florida on Thursday, with his wife flying down the following day.

The husband checked into the hotel. There was a computer in his room, so he decided to send an email to his wife. However, he accidentally left out one letter in her email address, and without realizing his error, sent the email.

Meanwhile, somewhere in Houston , a widow had just returned home from her husband's funeral. He was a minister who was called home to glory following a massive heart attack.

The widow decided to check her email expecting messages from relatives and friends. After reading the first message, she screamed and fainted.

The widow's son rushed into the room, found his mother on the floor, and saw the computer screen which read:

To: My Loving Wife
Subject: I've Arrived
Date: February 16, 2010

I know you're surprised to hear from me. They have computers here now and you are allowed to send emails to your loved ones. I've just arrived and have been checked in.

I've seen that everything has been prepared for your arrival tomorrow. Looking forward to seeing you then!!!! Hope your journey is as uneventful as mine was.

P. S. Sure is freaking hot down here!!!!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Another good one from Nat

God was missing for six days. Eventually, Michael, the archangel, found him,
resting on the seventh day. He inquired, "Where have you been?" God smiled
deeply and proudly pointed downwards through the clouds, "Look, Michael.
Look what I've made." Archangel Michael looked puzzled, and said, "What is
it?" "It's a planet," replied God, and I've put life on it. I'm going to
call it Earth and it's going to be a place to test Balance." "Balance?"
inquired Michael, "I'm still confused."

God explained, pointing to different parts of Earth. "For example, northern
Europe will be a place of great opportunity and wealth, while southern
Europe is going to be poor. Over here I've placed a continent of white
people, and over there is a continent of black people. Balance in all

God continued pointing to different countries. "This one will be extremely
hot, while this one will be very cold and covered in ice." The Archangel,
impressed by God's work, then pointed to a land area and said, "What's that
one?" "That's Virginia, the most glorious place on earth. There are
beautiful mountains, rivers and streams, lakes, forests, hills, and plains.
The people from Virginia are going to be handsome, modest, intelligent, and
humorous, and they are going to travel the world. They will be extremely
sociable, hardworking, high achieving, carriers of peace, and producers of
good things"

Michael gasped in wonder and admiration, but then asked, "But what about
balance, God? You said there would be balance..." God smiled, "Right next to
Virginia is Washington , DC . Wait till you see the idiots I put there."

Friday, March 26, 2010

Dismantling Machu Pigchu and growing potatoes

The Hog of High on the Hog has chronic skin problems. In an effort to control disease I had to dismantle her life's work, what we refer to as "Machu Pigchu". She built Machu Pigchu with her hooves and bulldozer snout out of straw, leaves, sticks, detritus and extension cords. She is always rearranging and adding to it. She had it so tall she had to kneel to actually get through the door of her house.

After 4 or five full wheelbarrows this it what it was underneath:

I plan to use the ruins of Machu Pigchu to grow potatoes and yams. I take a piece of fencing and roll it up like a big tomato cage. It is even better if you can line the sides with newspaper. Use the materials you have, if you don't have fencing maybe you can stack old tires or drill holes in a trash can. Add a nice layer of organic matter. Add seed potatoes, these can be the eyes you were generous in cutting off in cooking. Each eye needs an inch of flesh to be viable. Cover with more organic matter and water. As the vines sprout through the top, repeatedly add more matter. By the end of summer you should be able to tip the hole thing over to collect your crop without digging. Plus you have great compost.

Craigslist / Ebay scam

There is someone who uses Craigslist, purportedly a woman, but probably not, who advertizes bobcats skid loaders for an extremely cheap price as though it is local and easy to pick up. They respond to inquiry by saying that it is on ebay. Then then "open a ebay case" for you, soliciting information. They have a fake ebay site with a false IP address, but genuine "name" information on the email/website. It looks just like the ebay protection program.

They then offer to deliver it to your door. JUST SEND MONEY. (of course). I notified both craigslist and ebay about the scam, but that won't help since nothing actually goes through them except the initial suck-in ad on craigslist. I did not get taken but I wonder how many people have sent their money to a Russian or Nigerian bankaccount and received nothing.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Living bridge made of tree roots

In Cherripunji, India the natives make bridges across streams with the roots of a variety of the ficus tree.

They simply string the roots across the ravine, allow them to grow and become stronger, then in about 15 years, they are strong enough to support people as traffic.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Cicero and the budget

My friend Nat sent me this:

What have we learned in 2,064 years since the Roman Empire?

So here it is. What have we learned in 2,064 years?

"The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled,
public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be
tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should
be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt. People must again learn to
work, instead of living on public assistance."

- Cicero - 55 BC

Friday, March 12, 2010

you just don't get food like this on campus

Today for lunch i made "fried rice" with leftover rice, chicken sausage, onion, apple, red pepper, and mushroom...yum. then I made vegan chocolate spice cupcakes, adapted from the kitchn. i put a chocolate glaze on them which was not vegan but could easily have been. they are more spice-y than chocolate-y...but that could be because i had to use "sipping cocoa" in place of some of the unsweetened cocoa.

Vegan Chocolate Spice Cupcakes
2 c white whole wheat flour
1 c white flour
2/3 c cocoa
2 t baking soda
1 t salt
1/2 c raw sugar
1 1/2 c brown sugar*
1/2 t cinnamon
dash chili powder
1/4 t cloves
1/4 t cardamom
1/4 t mace
1 T fresh grated ginger
3/4 oil**
1 3/4 water
4 T cider vinegar

mix the dry ingredients together in one bowl and the wet ingredients in another, then mix together. bake at 375 for 18 minutes. makes about 24 cupcakes.

glazes are really easily to make but i usually regret making them because i usually have trouble getting them to look pretty...

*this was supposed to be 2 c raw sugar but i didn't have that much
**theres probably a way to cut down this amount, e.g. with applesauce, but i wasn't that ambitious.

Torrential rains and floods predicted for East Coast

This weekend's forecast predicts heavy rain and flooding. If the temperature were lower it would be another monumental snow storm. Most likely wind, rain and soggy soil implies a lot of trees blocking everything.

I prepared by buying a cordless chain saw. I have too much difficulty starting a fuel powered saw, so the lithium ion battery type seemed best. I had planned to buy a Makita brand for about $239 or so, but the unexpected nature of the storm mean a quick trip to Home Depot where only Ryobi brand was available for half the price. Ordinarily Home Depot carries Makita in other tools. The salesman kindly pointed out the need to also buy chain oil. Done.

The battery pack is charging now. Boy scout motto: Be prepared.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Florida Python mismanagement

Well, the State of Florida regulators have wised up to the idea that it is a good idea to have hunters out there killing pythons. The stupid part of it though is that they are actually charging hunters $26 for a permit to do so. They should be paying the hunters to do it, or, failing that, at least allow them to hunt for free.

Maybe this is all just bureaucratic stupidity, but it is also possible that the regulators are constrained by laws passed by the legislature. If that latter possibility is the case, it is time for the Florida legislature to get on the ball and do the right thing.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Family Tradition gone mainstream

I was just reading this NY Times article about how it really makes more sense to skip directly from 10th grade to community college and couldn't help think of what seems to be some sort of family tradition. I thought this might be a good forum for sharing. I have not actually finished the article, so hopefully it's not too weird:

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Mechanical Monsters

Having been forbidden to purchase a walk-behind snow blower, my attentions turned to vehicles that can be ridden. A wheel steerable front-end loader would be nice, but they are quite expensive. So, my attention turned to skid-steer loaders. Buckets, snow-plows, cable-layers, roto-tiller, back-hoes and other attachments can be mounted on the things.

I'm thinking of an inexpensive end-of-lifetime used machine with at least a few hours left on it. A snowplow can also be attached, or alternatively an specialized snow-plow vehicle could be purchased. Since I would like to pay for the machine by doing local driveways, it seems like the skid-steer would be the basic all around option. A truck with snowplow would be too hard to turn in driveways.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

"LOVE is worth seven points in scrabble."

The New York Times invited their readers to define love. Most are posted in the comment section of the Weekend Competition.

Several humorous definitions were submitted:
"Love is something silly that women invented over thousands of years while men were out there building the world...Like women, it is undefinable."
"Love is how your dog looks at you (not too be confused with longing, which is how she looks at your sandwich)."

There are many that are plays off of famous sayings:
"If music be the food of love, what's for dessert?"
"For a polygamist, love is a many-splintered thing."

There are deeper definitions:
"That which makes life worth living, makes man worth knowing, and makes woman worth touching."
"Love itself never dies, and never goes away. True love never does, and it is never wasted."

And there are confessions:
"I don't know what love is. But I do know, unmistakably, when I feel it."
"I love a good cheeseburger and I love my wife and my children. On a really good day, like my birthday, I can have all of them at once. If I have to choose, I'll take the wife and the children over the cheeseburger, usually."

Shakespeare said:
"...Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.
O no, it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand'ring bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,I never writ, nor no man ever loved"

And he also told us that "loving goes by haps".

But whatever the real definition of LOVE is, lots of it to the Carlson Clan. Happy Valentine's Day.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Herring Run on Mattawoman Creek

Nowadays, the herring population is depleted, but I remember a fishing excursion in the late seventies when you could practically reach your hand in Mattawoman Creek and pull out a fish. Herring are anadromous fish, meaning they live in the ocean but come into freshwater creeks to spawn.
In those days, in the early spring you could tell when the herring were running by numerous cars parked on the side of the road where the highway crosses Mattawoman Creek. Gordon and I spotted this one day and decided to catch some fish. We rummaged in Gordon's barn for an old herring net that his grandfather had made. It was big, at least six feet tall and shaped like a fish. Two cedar branches were connected by their small ends at the fish nose and then bent around until they crossed to make a fish tail. A third branch also went from nose to tail, looping out, to give the net some depth. The whole thing was covered with rusty chicken wire. We picked up Gordon's mother, Hilda, and went down to the Creek.
There was a path along the shore that we had to follow until we got to a spot that hadn't been taken yet. The way I remember this trip, it was at night. There were a lot of campfires that we walked past and numerous jovial crowds with all kinds of nets. Some looked storebought, but most were very homemade looking. A popular type seemed to involve a Y shaped stick in the ground with a long stick with a net attached to it balanced in the crook of the Y. The people would use the stick like a lever dipping it again and again. Each time they brought it up there would be fish in it. There was so much excitement in the air - never was it so easy to live off the fat of the land! We dipped our net into the water, holding it by the tail. Immediately you could feel a bump in the net. Lifting it out, sure enough there was a fish! Hilda was beside herself with happiness. We dipped again and again, putting the caught fish in our bucket. After a while we made our way back down the dark path, all aglow with our success. In the years since, I have tried to recreate this experience a couple of times, but so far have never succeeded.
Despite my inability to recreate my old time fishing success, Mattawoman Creek remains the best fish nursery in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Mattawoman Creek is seriously threatened now by the Charles County Connector proposed highway. Find out more about how to help preserve this resouce at the Mattawoman Watershed Socity website at
Gordon has posted instructions on how to make the net at

3.5th snow day

The National Guard have been called in to clear streets here in DC.

According to NOAA the weather conditions are "life threatening."

Has anyone ventured outside today?

Update: a walkway between two buildings partially collapsed.

P.S. Everyone should like my FB status...its important.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Sunspots resume

It looks like the solar cycle is finally cranking up after much delay. A big radio emitting spot is now on the sun with some other less active ones. It is too late for this to have much effect on the climate this year, but in 2011, if sunspots have an effect on climate as many suspect, then things might be a bit warmer than the so far bitterly cold 2009-2010. Overall though, some people are predicting 30 years of cold weather due to internal Earthly climate cycles.

In any event, the big sunspot now there will create auroras on Earth. Look in the sky tomorrow night and next for an aurora, particularly if you are located in a Northern latitude. Radio Hams are already reporting lots of static due to the big sunspot.

Beer and Bones

There is a new finding that beer is a major source of silica in the American diet. Silica boosts the chances of having healthy bones.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Snow in Accokeek

It looks like the driveway will be impassible for quite some time. Many of the holly trees caught a lot of snow and are broken and bent over.

Eww - Chewing gum is made from plastic

Chewing on Plastic? Yum! | Fake Plastic Fish

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Snowmageddon 2010

We got about 26 inches in Greenbelt, the December 19th storm pales in comparison. We lost power for about 5 hours but fortunately the temperature inside stayed in the 60s.

Our Car - I thinkOur street
The backyard

Piles of snow easily exceeded Linnea's 32 inch height.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Budget Craziness

This just in: The Treasury Department said Wednesday it expects to hit the government's debt ceiling by the end of February, putting pressure on Congress to raise the limit from its current level of $12.4 trillion. How much is that divided by the population of the country. Let’s see – a trillion is a 1 with 12 zeros after it. According to a census website the population of the US today is 308,616,606. So we can do the math of the debt divided by the population and get the per person total: $40179 for every man, woman and child in the country. WTF!!! Yikes! This is crazy! And even crazier is that no doubt congress will raise this ceiling so we soon will owe even more. In our bizarre political system – the largest part of the spending – so called “defense” spending – that includes thousand dollars a day contractors in war zones we have created, and pricy equipment only suitable for WW II type warfare - is not part of the spending freeze that the President is recommending. The new budget of $3.8 trillion in the current budget year assumes that we will borrow 40 cents for every dollar spent! Who thinks this will end well? At least House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said that if we are looking for savings, military spending should be on the table with the rest of the budget. Since the US total military budget nearly equals what the whole wide rest of the world spends on its militaries in total — this spending should not only be on the chopping block, it should head the chopping block list. And we should look at a way to use diplomacy to deal with our enemies. The current strategy, while it is certainly enriching the military industrial complex, is bound to also be creating as many enemies as it destroys.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Lit 101

In my college writing class, we have to read Sarah Vowell's Assassination Vacation, in which she visits all these sites related to the assassinations of U.S. Presidents. She visits Dr. Mudd's house. This amuses me, probably more than it should. Especially the part where she gets lost on the way there.

Post-polio syndrome

Last year fewer than 1600 people got polio and most of those were concentrated in India and Nigeria. There is hope that the disease will be completely eradicated in about 2 years, maybe 3.

Few people in the Western world remember the ravages of the disease except the victims of it, most of them in their sixties and older. Subsequent to the active disease, many decades later, the neuron-muscle synapses wear out leaving the victims fatigued and often unable to use limbs or their breathing diaphragms. This is called post-polio syndrome.

Warm Springs, Ga was discovered by President FDR as a therapy center with mineral waters and he subsequently purchased it with his own funds for therapy of other polio survivors. Not everyone survived the initial disease.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Blind woman catches 214 pound catfish

She is registered blind but has a little bit of sight and was in Spain along the Ebro river when this monster Wells catfish bit the hook.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

National Geographic special

Now we know why the Oregon police are mentally ill:

Nat Geo Channel : Sunday Jan 24th @ 8p: Airing in primetime: "Sasquatch, The Wild Man."

Details are on this link.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Income Tax made easier

A reminder: About now, your income tax interest and earnings statements will be coming in. At tax time everything will be easier if you put all these statements in one place. So, keep an eye out on the mail this week.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Alarming incidence of mental illness among Oregon Police

It seems that the Oregon police have an alarming incidence of mental illness. Everytime they report a bigfoot/sasquatch sighting on an official report form, they are sent to a shrink.

It also seems that an amazing number of ordinary Oregon citizens are having their driving licenses suspended for the same reason.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Disaster Rescue ships

The recent earthquake disaster in Haiti deserves help and all should contribute what they can.

More generally, the world needs more disaster rescue ships. They should be of several types: hospital ships of multiple drafts for different harbors, emergency electrical power ships, communications ships in addition to whatever emergency communications might be standard on the other varieties of ships, emergency sanitation and shelter ships capable of deploying temporary sewerage and water systems and civil reconstruction vehicles such as bulldozers and cranes.

Rescue aircraft are also desirable, but they can do less because of the limited cargo capacity on devastated airfields. Most of the world's population is near the sea. Disaster aid by rail is also possible and it could be done by keeping modules ready for loading on flat-cars.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Kiwi Fruit Alcoholic Transformation

A kiwi fruit had been sitting around the kitchen counter longer than it should, perhaps two weeks, when I found it in a bit of a flabby state but decided to eat it. It was distinctly alcoholic in a pleasant way. There was no fermentation taste whatsoever, it was just alcoholic.

It was a nice discovery and I can't explain it. Did some fermentation bacteria do it or did the fruit itself perform the transformation ? If bacteria did it there was no evidence that was obvious to sight or taste. To all appearances it looked like an ordinary kiwi fruit, just a bit flabby on the outside.

This could be the start of something BIG.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Silver lining in every dark cloud ?

The intense cold this winter has extended into Florida. I wonder if this means that the pythons might be frozen ? Some of them might survive in the cities, but most are likely to wish they were back in Burma or Africa as the case might be.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

H1N1 is worse when coinfected with Streptococcus pneumoniae

It seems that severe morbidity from H1N1 is a result of simultaneous infection with Streptococcus pneumoniae . I don't know of any easy way to protect against Strep but such a means might exist. Alternatively, just get the H1N1 vaccine. The H1N1 is now widespread in only 4 states, including New Jersey and Virginia. The CDC says that another wave of flu is possible later in the year if it mutates.