Friday, January 22, 2010

2758 Bear Cam!

Friday, January 22, 2010

The ultimate test of a relationship is to disagree but hold hands.
-- Alexander Penney --


At you'll find a real-time web camera in a hibernating bear's den. She's giving birth today, they think.

Firefox seems to object to the necessary addons, but Internet Explorer works.

2757 Who posted the party flyer?

Friday, January 22, 2010

The best helping hand that you will ever receive
is the one at the end of your own arm.
-- Fred Dehner --


It's not yet noon, but I've already had 25 unique visits from 8 different countries today. What the devil happened? I've always been comfortable with a small tight group of "known" visitors. They're not coming from Blogspot's random "next blog". They're coming direct, or from crawlers and aggregators, or from specific searches for this blog's URL. Those're the scariest ones. Where did they get the URL? I purposely don't use tags, to be less interesting to aggregators and crawlers.

With strangers come spammers and trolls. Sigh. Well, welcome, please wipe your feet, sit down and have a cuppa and a cookie, no, it's ok, the kitty is merely a bit shy. Just behave yourselves, ok? Please don't make me hide again.

2756 Incompatible

Friday, January 22, 2010

The art of life is to show your hand.
-- E. V. Lucas --


Ever have two completely incompatible ideas in your head at once? Somehow, I have decided today is Saturday. I have been surprised several times already this morning that it's Friday, yet I persist in thinking it's Saturday.

I was surprised that the "wrong" morning programs were on TV. I worried over it for a moment, then I realized, no, it's Friday.
I was thinking of someone I was supposed to call before the weekend, and was feeling bad that I hadn't called her yesterday, then realized, no, today is Friday.
I've scheduled "Precious" for my Meetup group on Sunday, and was starting to panic because I had not yet checked with the theater about reserving seats, because like 6 people have signed up, and it's a tiny theater that will fill fast and early on Sunday. Oh, ok, I have another day.
I started to pack up the recycle stuff for the Saturday morning trip to the recycle center. Oh, yeah, tomorrow.
I was thinking about what The Man would be doing today, then realized, no, he's at work today.
When I go to the recycle center, I listen to "Car Talk" on NPR on the car radio. I wasn't going to the recycle center (I guess I forgot why), but I turned the house radio on, and was annoyed that "Car Talk" wasn't on.

I KNOW today is Friday, but somehow my body/mind is in Saturday mode, and I can't seem to reset it. I think this is going to give me trouble all day.


I found an amusing blog: The lady writes cringeworthy Craigslist personals, and posts them, including some of the responses she gets from Craigslist prowlers. She makes some very funny video-dating clips. She posts profiles on dating sites, and when she gets a sniff from some poor unsuspecting guy, her response would, well, either attract a guy with an exceptional sense of humor, or make the average guy immediately delete his profile and hide quivering in the corner. (In her blog, click on the Craigslist text, then click again to enlarge it.)

It reminds me of the time I was looking for a friend's profile on a certain dating site which would not allow me to search unless I created a profile myself. So I described myself as a bald obese 94-year-old looking for a strong young man to assist me in bathing and colostomy care, along with "other expected benefits".

Here's one of her videos:



I just had a quick flash of panic - glanced at the clock and thought "OMG, I'm missing 'Car Talk'!" Toldja it was going to bite me all day....

Thursday, January 21, 2010

2755 I may regret this

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Hold a true friend with both hands.
-- Nigerian Proverb --


I just did something I may regret. On the other hand, if it turns out I could have done it, and I didn't do it, I definitely would regret it.

I'm getting older, and I've noticed that the inevitable deterioration is speeding up, so I don't have the luxury of putting things off. If I want to do it ever, do it now, before I can't.

I just put down a deposit on a trip to, well, here's the short version of the itinerary:

Day 1 (Thu- 10/28): Group flight departs JFK at 6:10 PM.
Day 2 (Fri - 10/29): Arrive Delhi, India.
Day 3 (Sat - 10/30): Day tour of Taj Mahal.
Day 4 (Sun - 10/31): Fly Delhi to Kathmandu.
Day 5 (Mon - 11/1): Free day in Kathmandu.
Day 6 (Tue - 11/2): Fly Kathmandu to Lhasa.
Day 7 (Wed - 11/3): Lhasa tour. (B)
Day 8 (Thu - 11/4): Lhasa tour. (B)
Day 9 (Fri - 11/5): Lhasa to Gyantse. (B)
Day 10 (Sat - 11/6): Gyantse to Shigatse. (B)
Day 11 (Sun - 11/7): Shigatse to Xegar. (B)
Day 12 (Mon - 11/8): Xegar to Rongbuk Monastery. (B)
Day 13 (Tue - 11/9): Mt Everest Base Camp visit. (B)
Day 14 (Wed - 11/10): Rongbuk to Nyalam. (B)
Day 15 (Thu - 11/11): Nyalam to Kathmandu. (B)
Day 16 (Fri - 11/12): Fly Kathmandu to New York (JFK).
Day 17 (Sat - 11/13): Arrive New York (JFK) at 12:40 PM. Trip Ends.

I am going to Shangri La.

[Meetup trip announcements here and here. Travel company description (more complete) here. Eighteen people in the group, from two Meetup groups, from Albany and NYC. The price mentioned is misleading - that's just the deposit.]

2754 The cheese, the fox, and the scale

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The fragrance always remains
in the hand that gives the rose.
-- Heda Bejar --


Rocky, the (random! really!) quote is for you.


I found a pound container of cottage cheese with pineapple in the refrigerator. I couldn't remember when I'd bought it, but I knew it had been sitting there for a while. It's been cold, so I haven't been walking, so I've been avoiding calories. I love that stuff. I decided to check it, or throw it out.

The expiration date is on the lid.

It said March 24, 2008.

Almost two years? I suddenly felt very old, and very sick. I didn't want to open it because I was sure it was solid green, but I didn't want to drop the container in the garbage because, well, it was so heavy, and the container is recyclable. I opened it outside, on the way across the driveway to dump it in the woods.

It was pristine.

I smelled it. It smelled good. I stuck my finger in it and tasted it. It tasted not just good, but absolutely fresh. It didn't even have that "last week" tang. I took it back in the house, and ate some. It was good. I didn't die.

I don't understand.


Have you noticed that the evening schedule on Fox is geared to attract very young people? Vampires and teen soaps. And Fox news is scheduled early, 10 pm around here, an hour earlier than the other networks.

Is that coincidence, marketing plan, or a conservative plot to indoctrinate them young?


My next youngest brother is a fidgiter, which used to drive me crazy. He couldn't simply walk down the street without practicing his bowling approach, softball throw, bouncing, snapping fingers. Never sat still. Wriggle. Jiggling legs. Clicking pens. He also ate enormous quantities, almost constantly. Half a box of cereal with three cups of milk at breakfast.

And he never gained any excess weight.

Me, on the other hand, I'm still. I am the quiet smile in the corner. The calm in the eye of the storm. No excess movement. I am burgundy wine.

I'd had no problem with weight gain, though, because I never ate much. The weight problems came with menopause. By 2005 I was a good 50 pounds overweight. I lost 40 in 2005-2006, then gradually gained 25 back. In 2009, I lost 15 of those pounds, and then got stuck. I figure I need to lose 15 more, but my body rebelled.

I won't walk in the cold, I hate gyms, and the treadmill is so boring I can't motivate myself to get on it. I decided I needed to start fidgiting.

I've been fidgiting for three weeks now. Sitting at the desk, I jiggle my legs on my toes. Walking through the house I take tiny steps and lift my knees high. Washing dishes I wiggle my hips. I stand and walk in place to watch TV or read. When thinking, I roll my shoulders. If I catch myself being still, I move something.

It's working. I've lost five pounds over the three weeks, and it seems to be holding firm.

With all this jiggling, my typing has gone to hell. All the backspacing and correcting makes everything take twice as long, but if that's the cost of 10 more pounds, I'll pay it.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

2753 Blue Whale Trivia

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

No matter how much you push the envelope, it'll still be stationery.


Blue whale songs are getting deeper. All over the world, the songs of blue whales have dropped in pitch by 31% since the 1960s. There are a lot of possible explanations, but none are convincing. Story at

Caution - the end of that article has a list of links that can drag away an entire afternoon, like

2752 Grazer Trivia

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The hand is the cutting edge of the mind.
-- Jacob Bronowski --


This is cool. I had noticed that cattle grazing in a field almost all seemed to be facing the same direction. I'd always thought it was just that they were all moving the same direction.

The folks at Princeton have discovered that the direction is always north/south.

From the paper "Magnetic alignment in grazing and resting cattle and deer", 04/2008, at
We demonstrate by means of simple, noninvasive methods (analysis of satellite images, field observations, and measuring “deer beds” in snow) that domestic cattle (n = 8,510 in 308 pastures) across the globe, and grazing and resting red and roe deer (n = 2,974 at 241 localities), align their body axes in roughly a north–south direction.
That's magnetic, rather than geographic, north/south.

This observation was followed by an Oxford paper, "Extremely low-frequency electromagnetic fields disrupt magnetic alignment of ruminants", 02/2009, at
Here, we show that extremely low-frequency magnetic fields (ELFMFs) generated by high-voltage power lines disrupt alignment of the bodies of these animals with the geomagnetic field. Body orientation of cattle and roe deer was random on pastures under or near power lines. Moreover, cattle exposed to various magnetic fields directly beneath or in the vicinity of power lines trending in various magnetic directions exhibited distinct patterns of alignment.
So, power companies, want to tell us again about how power lines don't affect bird migrations, or bee navigation, or cattle health, or development of children, or leukemia, or autism, because they "obviously" have no effect on any living tissue?

An unaddressed thought - A lot of cows don't graze loose in fields, but are fed in barns or from bins next to the fence. For happier cows, should we arrange the "table" so the cows are facing north or south when they dine?

2751 Perspectives

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

You can't shake hands with a clenched fist.
-- Indira Gandhi --



In my humble opinion, people who are against any kind of health care reform fall into at least one of the following groups:
  1. don't understand what the problem is,
  2. don't understand what the possible solutions are,
  3. profit under the current system,
  4. are heardhearted SOBs who figure I've got mine and anybody who didn't manage their lives as well as I did can't have any of mine 'cause I ain't giving anything away, (and yes, they exist, I know personally three people who have expressed that opinion).
The current proposal is a piece of crap that attempts to appease all four groups. I am annoyed because there has been no attempt to educate people. Sob stories is not educational. If anything, sob stories just harden number fours.


I watch "Antiques Roadshow". When someone has something special, appraised at some large number, like a 150-year-old quilt at $25,000, my first thought is "Wow, that's a lot!" Then my second thought is "That's less than one year at an ivy-league college."

Folks are running all kinds of benefits for Haiti now. I heard that some local concert had raised $300,000 dollars, and I thought "Gee, that's a lot!" It had to come from people who have it to give, right?

I wondered, if Haiti hadn't happened, why couldn't charity concerts like that be used to help people who have lost jobs, who are losing houses? Not everyone in foreclosure bought more house than they can afford. Three months of unemployment can lose the house. You can do everything right, and still get shot in the foot. It's not a personal failing. I've heard that health care costs is one of the leading causes of personal bankruptcy.

But I guess bragging that you gave for Haiti has more cachet than saying you helped save a house for a family of five - even though the family had no more control over what happened to them than the Haitians did.

And then there's Scott Brown, the guy who won Ted Kennedy's seat. He campaigned on a promise to kill the healthcare reform bill. Campaigning is very costly, and yet he has several million left over! Those were donations, from people who have it to give. And they gave it to stop health care reform. Guess which group(s) above they probably fall into.

I'm getting the impression that Americans, who like to think they are very generous as a people, will give only for the kudos, or to protect what they have. They'll buy praise, or they'll protect their asses, but they don't give to whoever needs just because it's needed.

I don't understand.

Go kiss someone working in a soup kitchen. They may not have it to give, but they give anyway.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

2750 Crystal Columns

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Love is the only game you are sure to lose by declining to play.


Cave, full of huge translucent crystals. Fascinating story with amazing video:

Further detail:

2749 Old Photos

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully
as when they do it from religious conviction.
-- Blaise Pascal --

---------------------------------------- | History in HD is a vintage photography blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.


It's snowing. I hate winter.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

2748 Mumps?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Barbara Kingsolver's character Adah in The Poisonwood Bible points out that God created vermin and microbes as well as humans, and "He's not necessarily rooting for just the humans."


I'm eating coffee yogurt, and something very odd is happening. With every spoonful, I get biting pain under both sides of my tongue. The glands under my jaw are swollen. I've heard that the test for mumps is to feed the kid a sour pickle, and if it hurts, it's mumps.

Is it possible I have mumps? That would explain the pain around my left ear. Counting back the incubation period, I would have picked it up New Year's Eve.

I don't remember ever having had mumps. I remember chicken pox and measles, I don't remember mumps, but I doubt it was possible I escaped mumps.


2747 Better

Sunday, January 17, 2010

From "A Chorus Line":
I thought about committing suicide, but in Buffalo, suicide is redundant.


I felt a lot better when I woke this morning, just a tired feeling remaining between my shoulder blades and in my arms and legs. As the sun is going down, however, the coldness is coming back, and the heavy feeling in my middle. Whatever it is, probably a virus, my body seems to be fighting it well.


I get the Mensa Bulletin every month - a 46-page glossy magazine - and I almost never open it. It usually goes straight into the recycle bag. There's rarely anything of interest in it, and frankly, much of the writing, from people who seem to think they're fascinating, is annoying. The fiction is especially bad.

Yesterday, for some reason, as I was about to discard it, I flipped it open, directly to an article on handling problem members, and it just so happened that the specific problem on that page was people who can't seem to figure out how much their portion of the restaurant bill comes to, often stiffing the host.


So I read it.

The author recommends handing out envelopes at the table. As each person orders, they are to write what they ordered and the price on the outside of the envelope. At the end of the meal, they total it up, multiply by the tax plus tip, put the money in the envelope, and pass it to the table host. That makes it easy to check that all items on the bill are claimed and paid for.

You know, I don't think that would go over too well with the Meetup groups. It sounds good, but the very people who cause the problem would think it silly, and be insulted that they're being treated like children, and probably forget to write down the wine and dessert anyway. Consider that one of the problem women said loudly, when the money was short by quite a bit, and it turned out she was the one who was short, "Don't you hate people who pull out calculators at the table?"

As usual for Mensa, logically sensible, but socially unworkable.