Monday, December 24, 2007

Start Your Reindeer!

Four hours until Norad Tracks Santa 2007 officially kicks off the Santa tracking for the year. I'll probably catch up with the trackers in the morning. All the interesting things are happening when I'm asleep lately, but since I all but hibernate through the winter, that doesn't take much.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Happy Solstice

I'm a little late on the Solstice well-wishing, but only because I was asleep at 1:08 a.m. EST today. Hooray for more daylight! It's all uphill until June.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Just how dumb do shoe saleswomen think I am?

Thanks in part to my new daily walking regimen (more on that some other time), I found myself in need of new daily-wear shoes. Being as I am taller than average, I have correspondingly larger-than-average feet. Being as I am of Swedish heritage, those larger-than-average feet can be called "boat-like." Both of those add up to it being easier for me to find sneakers in the men's department, but that is neither here nor there in this instance. In short order, I had found a pair to replace my worn out ones, and headed to the checkout counter. The saleswoman rang up my purchase, and I swear, actually said, "That will be $24.99. Are you sure that will be all? If you spend $35, you can get $7 off."

Let's gloss over for a moment, as my brain did, the fact that I had actually managed to find a comfortable and not entirely ugly pair of sneakers in under 5 minutes and had settled on purchasing them in almost record time. In fact, my brain was so busy glossing over that tidbit that it failed to catch the next thought, which actually made it out of my mouth, "Spend $10 more to get $7 off? The math just doesn't add up there."

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Plea for Fruit Related Help

I have recently developed a taste for grapefruit. However, I failed to concurrently develop an innate knowledge of grapefruit-eating technique, and online instructions to "scoop out the sections with a spoon" are not as helpful as they may seem (for instance, do you scoop from the membrane side or the peel side of the section?). I started off trying to scoop the sections out of a halved grapefruit with a teaspoon. This was almost as effective as using a citrus reamer, so I switched to an iced tea spoon, which is narrower with a shallower bowl. I've managed to work into a technique of forcibly digging out one section, tearing the membrane between the missing section and the adjacent section, then working the spoon around the point of that section and wedging it off the peel. This, too, has given unsatisfactory results, unless one of the unsung benefits of grapefruit juice is as an eyeglass cleaner. Around the time I proved that it is, in fact, anatomically impossible to lick grapefruit juice off one's own elbow, I remembered that there exists a utensil helpfully called a "grapefruit spoon," and I procured a set of two. These do not come with instructions.

So, I am asking for help. I know at least two of my readers have extensive grapefruit eating experience. Does someone want to step up with some detailed instructions?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

International Animal News

British trout make a run for the border.

Having realized that, to predators, they are the proverbial fish in a barrel (or just following their natural mating instincts), farm-raised trout in the UK have been photographed leaping out of their farm pond into a narrow culvert supplying the pond with fresh water. From the Big Leap, the trout have a 30-foot swim against the current before they get to the watercress fields on the other side, where apparently there are otters who see the opportunity to get both the fish and salad courses in one fell swoop. Out of the frying pan, into the fire.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Penguinal Synchronicity

We stopped in the craft store today to pick up one quick item. The second display that greeted us on the way in the store was a wall of these

The image is a tad on the small side, so to save everyone from squinting, it is a decorate-your-own cookie jar, and the one on the box is decorated to say "I (heart) Mom, Love, Janet."

In the words of Sheldon, from The Big Bang Theory, "This is one of those events that people unfamiliar with the law of large numbers would call a coincidence."

Monday, December 10, 2007

Universe to Solar System: Get Bent

Voyager 2 made its way past the solar system's termination shock--the beginning of the end of the solar system--some time back in August, and NASA has finally crunched enough of the numbers to discover that the solar system is bent.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

How Geeky Am I?

This is the opening of my new favorite TV show, The Big Bang Theory (and if the WGA and the AMPTP can come to a mutually acceptable agreement, I can subsist on more than 8 episodes of it).

Now, the fact that this is my favorite TV show might make me slightly geeky. Really, watch the show--8:30 p.m. Mondays on CBS. Stepping up on the geek ladder, I TiVo the program. That leads inexorably to using the TiVo's frame-by-frame advancement feature to go through the flashing montage of images, and once I did that, it was just a hop, skip and a jump to indexing them. The full opening sequence is 20 seconds long, 13 seconds once the zoom through the solar system to Earth is done. In those remaining 13 seconds, 108 images flash. I was only completely baffled by 9 of them.

  1. Cells undergoing mitosis
  2. Two-cell stage zygote
  3. micro-organism, type unknown
  4. Volcanoes
  5. Plant, large palm
  6. The emergence onto land
  7. Rocky coastline, possibly with seals
  8. Dinosaur
  9. Stegosaurus and apatosaurus
  10. Mammoth
  11. Chimpanzee
  12. The Neanderthal part of The Evolution of Man
  13. Stone wheel
  14. Cave painting of hunters with deer-like game
  15. Stonehenge
  16. Moai, aka Easter Island statues
  17. Stone carving of face, possibly South American
  18. Machu Picchu
  19. Olmec statue
  20. Mayan pyramid
  21. Giza plateau
  22. The Sphinx
  23. Hindu goddess in high relief
  24. Mosaic of face
  25. ????
  26. Statue of Zeus
  27. The Parthenon
  28. Jesus with crown of thorns
  29. ????
  30. Great wall of China
  31. Notre Dame de Paris
  32. The Taj Mahal
  33. The Leaning Tower of Pisa
  34. Statue by Michelangelo (maybe the David?)
  35. Da Vinci's “Vitruvian Man” (the genitals have been removed)
  36. Old map, not sure of where
  37. Viking Longboat
  38. Crusader
  39. The purchase of Manhattan
  40. Joan of Arc
  41. Napoleon charging
  42. Pilgrims landing
  43. Boston tea party
  44. Great Seal of the United States
  45. Declaration of Independence
  46. Abraham Lincoln
  47. George Washington
  48. The Constitution of the United States
  49. Presidential portrait of Grant
  50. General U.S. Grant on horseback
  51. ????
  52. Covered Wagon
  53. Photo of a Civil War amputation
  54. Locomotive
  55. Old West newspaper office
  56. Man panning gold
  57. ????
  58. ????
  59. A Russian cathedral
  60. Parade float for Prohibition
  61. ????
  62. Lightbulb
  63. London Bridge
  64. Eiffel Tower
  65. Statue of Liberty
  66. Four women on farm equipment
  67. Elizabeth Cady Stanton
  68. ????
  69. Horse, with a man on some sort of horse-drawn transportation
  70. 6 people in an early automobile
  71. ????
  72. Teddy Roosevelt
  73. Biplane
  74. Mount Rushmore
  75. WWI soldier
  76. Einstein
  77. Group of 6 P-51 Mustangs
  78. “E=mc2” on a chalkboard
  79. Dribbled paint painting, possibly Jackson Pollack
  80. Aerial view of a subdivision
  81. Wood-paneled soft top convertible, postwar vintage
  82. Two people at a jukebox
  83. Astronaut on a spacewalk
  84. Space Shuttle liftoff
  85. Pack of birth control pills
  86. Surgeons in a modern operating room
  87. Computer chip
  88. Bank of magnetic tape computers
  89. 3.5 inch floppy
  90. ????
  91. Subway train
  92. Hollywood street sign
  93. Martin Luther King, Jr. illustration
  94. Disco ball
  95. Rollerskates
  96. Sony Discman
  97. Computers with 5.25 drives
  98. ????
  99. Old cellular phone
  100. Satellite Dish
  101. Guy on a skateboard
  102. Berlin Wall
  103. Bullet train
  104. Guy on Snowboard
  105. Kids playing with the original Playstation
  106. Oil pump
  107. Digital camera display with a picture of a woman
  108. Fireworks