Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Five Things Fast Food Restaurants and Strip Clubs Have In Common

  1. The product looks much better in the ads
  2. Stupid, yet practical (for the job) dress code for employees
  3. Both take care of basic biological needs in the most unsatisfying way possible
  4. In spite of bad reputations, they manage to stay in business
  5. Los Angeles is limiting where the establishments can be located.

The fast food restaurant folks are not any happier about #5 than the strip club owners are.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Marmota Brought A Friend

Woodrow has been making daily foraging runs to the orchard lately, and he seems to have found company. This morning, I looked out the window and saw a skunk wandering across the side yard.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Greetings, ICBD Readers

Since Emp. Peng. pointed the internet to me as the Rookery's resident expert on the Large Hadron Collider (and I would like to point out that, outside the Rookery, I am not much of an expert on the topic), I figured I should provide the rundown of the reasons that the LHC will not annihilate the planet. Actually, I will provide a link to an actual astronomer who has actually gone to the LHC, explaining why the LHC will not annihilate the planet. And a link to his followup post. While I am at it, I'll give a tip o' the beak to Phil Plait, my favorite blogger to whom I am not married. He has a marvelous way of making physics and astronomy comprehensible to those of us who decided not to take calculus.

There are two main reasons some people think the LHC may obliterate the planet. First, the collider may create little black holes, and having one of those on Earth is probably not a good idea, as far as the continued existence of the planet goes. For the second potential doomsday scenario, the collider might create theoretical particles called strangelets, and if too many strangelets get together, it will be like the Tribble episode of Star Trek, except that instead of William Shatner getting buried by Space Gerbils, all matter in the vicinity--including William Shatner, us, and any space- or Earth-based gerbils--gets converted into theoretical particles. Neither one of these is a cause for concern, though. The folks running the LHC, who would be right in the thick of any annihilation, aren't worried about it, and they understand the math behind why they are not. Since I do not understand the math, I will defer to them. The non-math-intensive reasons they are not concerned:

1. The physics that would allow for the creation of black holes in the LHC also require that the black holes evaporate. The physics that would allow for a black hole to not evaporate instantly do not allow for the creation of black holes under the circumstances that the LHC will provide. Either we get black holes that go poof! or no black holes at all. Whichever way it ends up, we are pretty much safe from finding out firsthand what spaghettification feels like. And, yes, "spaghettification" is the technical term for what happens when you are subjected to a massive gravity fields and your feet get attracted to the gravity well faster than your head.

2. No one is entirely certain strangelets are real. In the event that they are real, better circumstances than the LHC for creating them exist naturally on the Moon. Since the Moon has not been converted into Theoretical Space Gerbil Particles, odds are we won't be either when the LHC gets up to speed.

Now, Here's An Interesting Development

The key ingredient for my Scoop of Bliss grows wild at the fringes of my yard. I'm looking at taming some into a hedge, but that is not the point of this post. The point of this post is that I discovered recently that my primary black raspberry patch is conveniently located directly inside a patch of poison ivy. The strange thing is, I discovered this by identifying the vines running 25 feet up adjacent pine trees and noticing that the same stuff was growing in a much shorter form in the berry patch--the berry patch I have been wading knee-deep in for two weeks now, wearing shorts until a few days ago when I got tired of the thorn scratches. I have gotten scratches and mosquito bites aplenty picking the berries, but nary a hint of any sort of painful, blistering rash.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Random Conversations over Overpriced Gas

After filling my tummy with a soft pretzel at Sam's Club--for reasons yet to be determined, Sam's has the best soft pretzels this side of Philly--I headed over to fill up the car. I have no idea how people with huge cars deal with that task. My Prius has a 10 gallon tank. Any bigger than that, and I would have to bring along a sudoku to the filling station. Today, the job of alleviating my pump boredom fell to further observances of fuel cap placement as it relates to the automobile's country of origin. I am in a long-term observational project to determine a pattern to whether a gas cap is placed on the driver's or passenger's side. I was so engrossed in contemplating the Ford behind me that--contrary to most of my observations to date--had the gas cap on the passenger side, that I did not notice the man in his early 60s on the opposite side of the pump from me, staring at my chest.

Guys staring at my chest is not usually a blogworthy occurrence. I get that a lot (thanks, Mom, wink). This guy was different, though. Rather than trying to pretend he did not see me noticing what he was up to, he actually initiated conversation with, "I was just reading your shirt."

I had to look down to see which shirt he was talking about. After all, who remembers what shirt they put on? This morning, in my pre-coffee bleariness, I had pulled on my shirt advertising Austin Grossman's novel, Soon I Will Be Invincible. On the front, it has emblazoned in big letters, "This is what a supervillan looks like." Emp. Peng. has the other one in the set, "This is what an evil genius looks like." I borrow that one for Mensa meetings sometimes. The man in the Men's Garden Club baseball cap continued, "So that is what one looks like."

Yup. A gal pushing 30, leaning against an aqua Prius and shaking the last remnants of a brain freeze from the 4-berry milkshake that didn't taste half as good as the black raspberry ice cream. The quintessential supervillian. I answered with the only thing I could come up with on short notice. "Of course. If we looked like we look in the comics, people would find us."

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Scoop of Bliss

This works best (read: at all) if you have access to fresh or frozen blackcaps. They grow wild here at the Rookery. With fairly constant access to the main ingredient for several weeks, I am starting to resume my former penguinesque physique. I won't say it is necessarily worth it, but it is gooooood.

2 cups black raspberries (if using frozen, thaw and keep the juices)
1 squeeze lemon or key lime juice
3/4 cup + 3 tablespoons sugar
2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 eggs (or 1/2 cup pasteurized egg-in-a-carton if you're going to be a wuss about salmonella)
1 splash (about 1/4 cup) milk

Toss the raspberries with the lemon or lime juice and 3 tablespoons sugar and let sit for 1 hour. Raspberry juice will start to leak out. After an hour, stir the berries and run them through a blender for a few seconds to get berry puree. Set the puree aside for a moment. Run 2 eggs through the blender until well beaten, then add 3/4 cup sugar and pulse for a few seconds longer to combine. In a medium bowl, combine the egg/sugar mix, the whipping cream, and the splash of milk. Add the berry puree. Freeze in an ice cream freezer until the paddle stops spinning. Serve with a side of defibrillator paddles.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Marmota Watch Update

After an extended absence that made me wonder if he had succumbed to predation, Woodrow has shown his fuzzy snout again. Seems that he was just waiting for the midsummer buffet to start. Yesterday, he was perched under the apple tree nibbling the June drops. He even made a foray over to the pear tree, looking for his preferred foodstuff--when both trees are dropping fruit, he keeps the area under the pear trees clean enough to eat off--but seeing none, scampered back to his den. Lucky for me, Woodrow does not seem to have figured out that groundhogs can climb trees. That, or like so many of the varmints around here, he is just inherently lazy and figures he can wait for the fruit to come down to him. That is much the same strategy as I used when deciding whether I should bother to learn to walk.

Emp. Peng. Has a Blog

Check it out. Now I will definitely have to start posting more regularly. He is not instituting the PG-13 rule I have here at Penguin Perspectives, so be prepared for some occasional Language We All Use Yet Pretend People Are Too Delicate To Hear.