Thursday, September 30, 2010
It took me about four minutes to figure out where I knew the music from. Now I think that it's my favorite version of this song.
(Love the music but the video is only so-so.)
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Orbiting a nearby red dwarf star called Gliese 581 are 6 planets. One of them is a rocky ball, bigger than Earth, in the "habitable zone" where water is liquid and temperatures are human-friendly. It's possible we could live there.This is only about 20 light years away. (Well 'only' is quite the word here. If we could travel at the speed of light it would still take a 20 year journey to get there. Moving at 1/100 the speed of light, which is much faster than we can currently go, it would take a mere 2000 years. Which is a lot. Still, in stellar terms this is pretty close.)
Unlike Earth, this planet called Gliese 581g, is "tidally locked" to its star. That means one side of the planet always faces the sun, and the other faces darkness. Temperatures on the two sides would be dramatically different, with the livable area in the "terminator" between day and night. Living on Gliese 581g would put you in an eternal twilight, which doesn't sound bad at all. Temperatures in the terminator area might be between -24 and 10 degrees Fahrenheit (-31 to -12 degrees Celsius), which is the average temperature of the planet's surface. So things would be a bit chilly, but if you could always visit the perma-sun on dayside if you needed a dose of red dwarf radiation.
Ok, as I was saying this is only 20 light years away and it's interesting as it suggests that Earth-like planets might be plentiful. And every time we find one of these nearby planets we should devote some resources to studying for signals of population. This means radio, but it also means detecting methane and CO2.
This article does contain two of my pet peeves when it comes to exoplanet reporting. First of all, we have no idea if this planet is tidally locked. It was widely believed that Mercury was tidally locked with one side constantly staring into the sun while the other was believed to be the coldest spot in the solar system. Back in '65 we were finally able to train a radar on it and we discovered that it was indeed rotating.
The other thing that bugs me is the idea that we have some solid idea what the true temperature range is. All that we know so far is the distance from its sun and its mass. We don't know the atmospheric composition and that's a very important piece of the puzzle. We haven't been taking a global temperature of our own planet for very long and somehow we think that the process is mastered enough to give us absurdly precise estimates. Maybe we'll have instruments soon that can give us these figures but we don't have them yet.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
- We're about three months away from Christmas so please update your Amazon wish lists. They make it so much easier when looking for gifts. Thanks!
- And also, we're only about a month away from the start of NaNoWriMo. I'm looking to make up for my failure last year. The story is cooking away in my head and ready to come out! If you have ever wondered about ability to meet a hefty task, this is your chance! If, no when you finish, you'll be immensely proud.
Monday, September 27, 2010
The weather started cool this morning. At least in our house. It lacks windows to the east and the southern exposures are pretty well covered so it stays very cool in the morning. Unfortunately this causes me to assume that it's about twenty degrees cooler than it is. So I dressed the kids for sleet and we went somewhere indoors.
I don't want to name the location. I'm afraid someone from there will see this on Google. Which wouldn't be good. Anyway, we went to a mall that has an honest to God play area. It's not a place I'd been to before but I'd heard of it. So we went and walked around and finally found the area. Felix had fallen asleep so I got out the Kindle and let Relia play with the other little girls that were there.
After about an hour she said that she might need to poop. Every experienced parent knows that the distance between 'might' and 'will' is very short. I hustled her out of there to the very near restroom. On the way I asked her if she already had and she assured me that she hadn't.
Into the bathroom and she shut herself in the lone stall. We were the only ones in there. I asked her how it was going and she said, "it's kind of a mess". My spirits sank and I asked if she'd already gone. "A little," she said. I mentally wrote the panties off and wondered just how bad this would be. Then she told me she needed help and I had to talk her off the potty so she could unlock the door for me.
Holy. Cats. I didn't know that one little girl could hold so much poop inside of her. And it was all over. The panties were a huge mess. As was her pants. And the front of the toilet. And her legs. It was the Poop-apocalypse. My mind raced and I realized that all of this poop was now my responsibility.
That really is the true definition of this period of parenthood. 'The time when you are responsible for all of someone else's poop and pee.' You can't run from it. You can't hide from it. The best you can hope for is to coax it into the proper receptacle.
Which obviously hadn't worked this time.
I had her stand still and I cleaned her as best I could with the half-ply paper that was on offer. I fished clean panties and pants out of the diaper bag and set them aside. And then found a different pair of backup panties that could be used to actually do the wiping.
Just as I started there was a knock at the door from a mall employee who wanted to clean up in there. I asked her to come back and sent the biggest mental 'I'm sorry!' that I could. Eventually I got her as clean as I could and into the other clothes. There would be a bath at home and both sets of clothes would need to be washed. But she was at least presentable while we made an absolute beeline to the car.
While I wouldn't have wished for this (and dearly hope that it isn't repeated) it felt good afterwards. Life handed me a tough situation and I was able to parent my way through it.
But please, no more tests like this for a very long time, ok?
Sunday, September 26, 2010
McDonalds = McO'Donalds (I love that she felt the need to Irish this up somehow.)
Wendys = Girl McO'Donalds (This makes sense to me but it had never occurred to me before.)
Sierra Mist = Sanitizer (At least this was her reaction after a taste test at Target.)
Death = The process by which we lose friends. (She's exploring the idea of mortality and the results are, um, interesting to say the least.)
Friday, September 24, 2010
Anyway, the noise is quite startling the first time you hear it. It starts from the stairway area where there is nothing obvious making it. The sound bears a resemblance to some kind of low pitched alarm as well, making you wonder if you've done something wrong.
I still remember the first time I heard it. The FP Gal was used to it and acted like nothing had happened. I had to ask she'd heard that too. Then she explained it and I calmed down. Knowledge is power, after all.
This morning Relia heard it for the first time. I told her what was happening but I'm not sure she believed me. Should be an interesting day . . .
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
When I think of October I think of warm afternoons and evenings that tend towards chilly. The occasional bit of rain and at least one bout of wind that knocks down all of the pretty leaves. First snow right around Thanksgiving but can be a bit earlier.
However, do you remember when the first snowfall in Minnesota was last year? Well, according to my blog it was October 12th. To quote myself:
It looked like a March blizzard. Beautiful, if totally out of place. Or at least out of time. The second week of October shouldn't feature snow that actually sticks to the ground.October 12th. Which, if you're scoring from home, is less than three weeks from now. Holy cats, I'm not ready for snow!
But it would make for beautiful TV . . .
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
It takes a bit before everything clicks into place but man, no one puts as much into a smile as our little/big boy.
I thought this was maybe my computer but I've been hearing other people complain about the same things. Which leads me to think that maybe Firefox is going through some kind of problem phase.
So I'm wondering if anyone out there is using Chrome? And if so, are you happy with it? I'm also open to other browser suggestions if anyone has any . . .
Monday, September 20, 2010
Sunday, September 19, 2010
I'd like to mention supper. Now, let me first say that my cooking skills are somewhat meager. I'm very good with toast and frozen pizzas. It's been a long time since the morning when I burned my Cheerios (true story), but I'm still no great shakes.
But I'm working on it. A few weeks back I got a cookbook based on use of Campbells soup. Each recipe is simple, having a half dozen or fewer ingredients and only four or five steps. It's not Julia Child but it is a step up from drive thru.
I had the FP Gal look through it and mark the meals that looked good for her. If I had done the same thing there would have been few matches. In fact, it's a good thing that the FP Gal and I didn't rely on some sort of culinary internet dating service. We never would have met. Some of the ones that she choose were based on chicken.
I've never cooked raw chicken. It scares me. Beef you cook until it's browned. Ham and turkey until warm enough. But chicken is deadly and will kill everyone within a three block radius if prepared incorrectly. Yer darn tootin' I'm scared of it!
Anyway, long story short (too late!), tonight I made a meal that included chicken breast with tomato soup and spices. There was baking and mozzarella sprinkled on top. These were served on a bed of macaroni. And they were good! And no one is dead! (At least yet. If there are no posts tomorrow you can be duly concerned.)
Yes, I'm feeling very homey.
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Thursday, September 16, 2010
- In the past the FP Gal and I have been part of an office pool where we randomly select a Survivor before the season starts. That didn't happen this year so we randomly choose two people on our own. Our condolences to Holly and Chase since we've doomed both of your chances.
- Before I forget, here is Jeff Probst's first blog post about last night. There is a link in there to the Immunity clue if you want to try and puzzle it out.
- Last night was the first bit of Survivor in a year that didn't include Russell. Not the first season (or not just the season) the first episode. That's kind of amazing.
- There was a brief glimpse of Russell during a commercial. It was a collection of former Survivor contestants with a plea to fight cancer. I love the idea and the show really has committed itself to this over the years. However . . . when people like Boston Rob and Russell ask me to do something, even something like fighting cancer, well, I start to wonder what their angle is.
- Absolutely gorgeous camera shots. No one does more for HD than Survivor. It absolutely pops. The FP Gal tells me that there is a ton of color correction going on and she's probably right. I wonder why Amazing Race doesn't have as nice camerawork?
- For one episode at least, waaaaay too much Jimmy Johnson. I heard years ago that various celebs had tried to get on the show and were turned away because the insurance would be too costly. (Which makes me wonder if Johnson offered to carry some of that freight.) Now I'm thinking that the inclusion of someone famous might ruin the dynamic as we get to know people. We'll see.
- From time to time I hear non fans complain that the show would be better if they actually were fending for themselves in a more complete way. I disagree completely. The survival aspect of the show looks brutal enough. And the scheming part is easily the most entertaining!
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
This story follows a young man named Jacob de Zoet. He has gone to the Far East to gain his fortune so that he can be worthy of the woman he loves. Young de Zoet has also been tasked to help clean up the incredible amount of corruption that has taken place here at the far end of Dutch influence. His honesty quickly makes him a pariah amongst his fellows.
Through his work he chances to meet a young woman who has been given the almost unheard of privilege of scholarship. Miss Asigawa was burned on one side of her face and is largely thought of as unsuitable for marriage, but de Zoet takes a liking to her. When her father dies she is spirited away to help settle a debt. He never forgets about her or stops trying to save her from a terrible situation.
This era is fascinating to me in part because we don't really have a modern equivalent. The Dutch workers are virtually imprisoned on a small island, only a few yards away from the country that they work with daily. Some of them resent it and can only look at the Japanese as inferior peoples. Others are charmed and entranced by the nearby nation and go so far as to fall in love with it.
And it goes a bit further than that as well. One of the conditions that the Japanese imposed was that there be no sign of Christianity whatsoever from the Europeans. Severe penalties were imposed for any crucifix of rosary beads and especially for any written materials. Japanese who came into daily conflict with them had to periodically prove that they had no love for Christ by stamping on an image in the floor.
Meanwhile, the Dutch were also incredibly cut off from all news. One trading ship would appear each year from Batavia. If that ship sunk or was waylaid then there was no contact whatsoever. Later in the book when an English ship sails in uninvited, they have to rely on their enemies to give them news from back in the fatherland.
It's also easy to see why corruption abounded. Even strongly virtuous men would be tempted when authority was so far away and so easily fooled. Books were easily manipulated and official records were only vaguely similar to actual shipped materials.
Mitchell does a strong job here with some fascinating material. Apparently he stumbled upon the Dejima museum while working in Japan. He'd never heard of the island or it's legacy before. (I hadn't either.) He took a bunch of notes and some years later whipped them into this book here. It took him four years and he worked very hard to get the details correct. I'm not anywhere near knowledgeable to judge his accuracy but the story feels true.
'1000 Autumns of Jacob de Zoet' was longlisted for the Booker prize. That means that it was one of the ten novels selected for consideration as the best English language novel from the Commonwealth or Ireland. It did not make the cut when they cut the list down to five novels though. Having read a number of previous Booker winners I can say that it certainly wouldn't have shamed their company if it had won. It's a bit more 'straight' story and a bit less 'literary' than I expected. Which isn't meant as a criticism. I'll be curious to see what the winner is. It will have a hard time being a better read than this.
The title is interesting to me. Apparently one of the ancient names (well nickname I suppose) for Japan is 'Land of 1000 Autumns'. Isn't that beautiful?
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
It's been a strange season. They were plain awful back in April and May and then they just turned it around and went on an incredible mid-season run. Then came the All Star Break and they seemed to have lost a bit of their mojo.
A tip of the hat to the Twins. They've been consistently better over the second half. Makes me wish that the Sox had been smart enough to resign Thome (grrr!).
Oh well. Bring on October . . .
Relia: No! I want peanut...
Me: Peanut toast? [This is our code for something with peanut butter.]
Me: Ok, do you want it warm or cold? [Toasted or untoasted?]
Relia: (thinking) Uh...I'd like it...wet.
Me: (rolling eyes) Ok, you'll get it warm.
After the slice was done and prepared I was chastised for 'not putting a top on it'. One more piece toasted and all is well.
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Me: (sheepishly lifts shirt) Ok.
Relia: I think you're going to have a baby!
Me: Uh, no. I mean I could stand to lose a few pounds but I'm not going to have a baby.
Relia: (thinking) I'm going to have a baby in my tummy.
Me: Not for some time kiddo!
Relia: I'll have a baby. I'll go to school and you can stay home and take care of it!
Well. I guess my role in the family is settled now.
Saturday, September 11, 2010
Thursday, September 09, 2010
- I'm excited for the season but I'm still not a fan of the extended opening weekend. In the next five days we'll have football games in no fewer than six slots. That's for sixteen total games. You can't help but water down the product by splitting it that much. I get the Thursday night game (though I'd rather go back to a Sunday noon start). The real problem is the two games on Monday night. It's too much.
- How confident am I in the Vikings this year? Not a lot. Mostly that's just the big roll of bad karma that they've been having throughout preseason. Then I take a step back and remember that they still have a very good defense, a top running game and a competent passing game. Then I feel better.
- Which doesn't mean that they'll win tonight. Preseason trades and injuries have left their secondary paper thin. The Saints will have a bunch of post Super Bowl energy going. Still . . . if the defensive line gets to Brees and the Vikings somehow avoid turnovers, they can absolutely win this game.
- This whole targeting Favre's ankle thing is beyond stupid. Yes, it's a great strategy for beating the Vikings. But that same strategy holds true for nearly every good team. How good are the Saints if someone blows out Brees knee? Is this really a game that they should be playing? Shouldn't they good enough to win without playing dirty?
- This was a very tough week of games to pick. Either the game featured two balanced teams or the better team is on the road. Ugh. Survivor Leagues will suffer massive casualties.
- The above note assumes that we know which teams will be good and which ones won't be. I don't think that's true for week one. Every year we see teams improve and fall apart. We never know which ones it will be until about week four. Week four at the earliest.
- Yes I'm excited!
Wednesday, September 08, 2010
Tuesday, September 07, 2010
"No!" she insisted, "they're in the little refrigerator!"
We have 1) a normal refrigerator in our kitchen, 2) a large freezer in the basement and 3) a mini-fridge that the FP Gal took to work a couple of weeks ago. I didn't think that the mini one had come back home but stranger things have happened. So I asked her if she could show me.
She took me by the hand and led me into the kitchen. There she strained on her tiptoes . . . and opened up the freezer. Which she decided was 'the little refrigerator'.
Monday, September 06, 2010
Man, do I want to watch that again right this minute...
Sunday, September 05, 2010
I have strong memories of his 30th birthday and I can't believe that it was 10 whole years ago. (That must also involve some kind of time paradox but I don't know what it is.) Anyway, when Hans turned 30 he was down in Jacksonville and most of his friends were away and it sounded like a pretty sucky time. His posting changed shortly after that and he moved up to St Paul, only a couple of blocks away from where Jodi and I were living. (He lived in a bizarrely slanted apartment where the doors had been cut into non-rectangluar shapes so they could shut. True story.)
Anyway . . . we felt bad about his lonely three oh and decided to make up for it somehow. So we threw him a half birthday surprise party. Chris and I went to a movie with him so that his apartment would be clear. On the way back in we discreetly buzzed his door to warn the partiers. He opened the door and got a big 'Surprise!'. His answer, "for what?"
There is no better way to really surprise someone than to throw a party for them on the wrong date. Especially when it's a good six months wrong. He was a bit floored. But happy.
Anyway, Happy Birthday Bro!
I liked both books quite a bit. 'The City & the City' is kind of a fantasy noir which takes place in two strangely nested cities in some fictional part of eastern Europe. 'The Windup Girl' takes place in a future Thailand after oil has run out and global trade has collapsed. Both were utterly readable and compelling. It would have been hard for the Hugo voters to embarrass themselves this year and they didn't.
Saturday, September 04, 2010
Relia: What is 'die'?
Me: (stalling for time) Like to color things? Or when you're dead?
Relia: When you're dead.
Me: Uh, it's when you stop living. And you go away.
Relia: (pause) Well, you'll die.
Me: Not for a long time sweetheart. Don't worry about it.
Relia: (pause) You'll be old and I'll shoot you with a gun.
Me: I hope not. I hope you never have to shoot anyone. Especially me.
Relia: And then I'll be friends with mama.
The conversation drifted quickly as I changed the subject. I have no clue where this subject came from. It sounds like she's been watching 'Logan's Run' or something. I know that the sex and death conversations are inevitable. I was just hoping to get a little more prep time.
For every $22 spent in the airport, adrenaline junkies (or really brave little kids) get tokens for two rides on the slide. Visitors who don’t want to travel at the speed of 19 feet a second, can take a ride down the shorter, one-and-a-half-story tall slide located at Terminal 3 Basement 2, which is free.There is video at the link. It looks like a ton of fun. With all of the controversy between the two Twin Cities airports I wonder if they should have explored a big long twisty slide as a way to get between the two terminals. They even could have left the ice on it during the five months of winter and enhanced the ride!
There is a down side to the Singapore airport experience though:Veteran readers spotted the problem right away. It seems that they don't have enough insectivorous plants and the butterflies have overrun the garden. The horror, the horror!
The attraction is the latest addition to a long list I like to call, “ridiculously amazing things to have in an airport,” including a movie theater, a rooftop swimming pool, and the Butterfly Garden (which is also home to a collection of 200 carnivorous or insectivorous plants).
Friday, September 03, 2010
Got to break out the 'at home sweatshirt'. Got to wear a blanket on the couch. Which Ozzie loved too. Sleeping was great and with any luck tomorrow morning will be more of the same.
Last September was a cool one and I hope that we this one is too.
And yes, Nyjer Morgan really does seem like a major league jerk.
Thursday, September 02, 2010
The whole column is worth reading.
Ok, cute anecdote from today? Had NFL Network on today and they were showing last week's Viking game. Relia noticed and was excited to see the Vikings on. She asked me, "What do Vikings eat?".
"Uh, the players? Or actual vikings?"
"Well, they eat the same stuff that we do. Hamburgers, pizza steak. Some of them probably eat salad."
"Do they eat cheese?"
Me grinning broadly, "You bet they do!".
To be honest I'm not sure what I would have answered if she said 'actual vikings'. Lots of fish? Lefse? Krumkake? (My spell-check doesn't like either of those words, by the way.)
I've looked around a bit for a child sized Viking Helga hat for Relia and have had no luck. It's hard for me to believe that no one is selling such a thing. Seems like a natural thing to me. She sounds excited to watch some football with her old man. I hope that enthusiasm lasts.
Here is how the same group fared at the end of the season (team, points scored, rank):
Jet 348 16th
Saints 510 1st
Packers 461 3rd
Titans 354 15th
Eagles 429 5th
Patriots 427 6th
Seahawks 280 25th
Bears 327 18th
Cowboys 361 13th
Jaguars 290 23rd
Obviously some strong teams there but some fell off quite a bit. Only four of them stayed in the top ten. The problem with using team performance in the preseason is that there are so many more variables than in the regular season. The most obvious being that not every team is trying to actually score points and win games.
If you're curious the Vikings ended last season with 470 points, the second highest total. In last year's preseason they scored 78, which would have put them in 15th place.
Wednesday, September 01, 2010
I'd like to recommend the sections on 'Utopias/Distopias' and 'Science Fiction as Political Philosophy'. They really show the seriousness behind the writing. The genre is easily dismissed as popcorn and fluff but that isn't a fair judgment. Anyone that gives these books a fair reading would see that.
The reasons are obvious enough. The change in my work status has made the last couple of weeks feel very vacationy. And I'm unplugged from the computer. Well, not really. But I'm not spending half the day in front of it. Which means I'm not finding blogging material as readily.
Another thing that has changed is the comments from you, the audience. I don't know if August was just a very vacation month and people were away from their computers or what. But I'm not getting much bounce back from readers. Which is fine, and I'm not trying to beg for feedback. But it is a bit of a let down.
Anyway, no promises but I think this month will be better. I guess we'll see.
- The show where they were fixing the boy.
- Not a real show, a cartoon.
- There was a red octopus and robot.