Monday, May 31, 2010

Sherlock Holmes- the Movie

Suprisingly fun. You expect nothing less from the always-entertaining Robert Downy Jr., but the movie was a fun summer flick. Rather restrained for a Guy Richie flick.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Deep Thought

Memorial Day really brings out the bad drivers. On our way to and from Connecticut today, we not only were continually cut off and almost sideswiped, but it seemed that ever other car needed some serious body work. Fun on the road!

What Atrios Said

How true:
Over the years I've been a bit surprised by the willingness of many smokers, even ones who would never consider littering otherwise, to just throw their butts everywhere.

Friday, May 28, 2010

First Line of Anansi Boys

It begins, as most things begin, with a song.

- Neil Gaiman

Modern Privacy

The death of privacy has been announced many times, and while there are still ways to keep your personal business to yourself (mainly through use of cash instead of credit cards and transponders), the trend has become clear: in the modern world, you are expected to give up your privacy in exchange for convenience. As Kevin Drum puts it (after a discussion of the true purpose of those awful supermarket "loyalty cards"):
In the future, the poor and middle class will essentially have no privacy in their day-to-day life. They will have sold it away, because in practical terms the poor and the middle class simply can't afford to give up a 5-10% discount on everything they buy. Only the better off, who can, will have the option of maintaining their privacy.
Maybe this is OK. I don't like it, but plenty of people seem fine with the idea. But there's a reason that all this information is so valuable, and it's not because marketing firms and consumer goods companies are genuinely interested in your welfare. This is a brave new world we're stumbling into.

Ain't that the truth. A co-worker was just telling me this morning about new software that can search all of the audio files on a computer and identify which ones contain any word you like. Of course this software was developed by the military, so it could even identify the desired word in multiple languages. There are thousands of examples like this one.
My point is that living in this electronic wonderland has its costs. Turning everything into ones and zeros not only reduces possibilities for ambiguity (just ask those who prefer albums to CDs; those poor, neglected Luddites) but also increases the potential for controling not only the data but also even the potentialities of how it can be used and controlled. It's almost quaint sounding now, but Thomas Pynchon, far-sighted as always, sounded the alarm back in 1997 in his excellent introduction to Jim Dodge's Stone Junction. Here's a taste (although you should read the whole thing):
The other day in the street I heard a policeman in a police car, requesting over his loudspeaker that a civilian car blocking his way move aside and let him past, all the while addressing the drive of the car personally, by name. I was amazed at this, though people I tried to share it with only shrugged, assuming that of course the driver's name (along with height, weight and date of birth) had been obtained from the Motor Vehicle Department via satellite, as soon as the offending car's license number had been tapped into the terminal -- so what? ...
One popular method of resistance was always just to keep moving -- seeking, not a place to hide out, secure and fixed, but a state of dynamic ambiguity about where one might be any given moment, along the lines of Heisenberg's uncertainty principle. Modern digital machines, however, managed quickly enough to focus the blurred ellipsoid of human freedom even more narrowly than Planck's Constant allows.
Equally difficult for those who might wish to proceed through life anonymously and without trace has been the continuing assault against the once-reliable refuge of the cash or non-plastic economy. There was a time not so long ago you could stroll down any major American avenue, collecting anonymous bank checks, get on some post office line, and send amounts in the range "hefty to whopping" anywhere, even overseas, no problem. Now it's down to $750 a pop, and shrinking. All to catch those Drug Dealers of course, nothing to do with the grim, simplex desire for more information, more control, lying at the heart of most exertions of power, whatever governmental or corporate (if that's a distinction you believe in).

It's not one I believe in, and why I try to remain as private as I can, although I'm as bad as anyone since i'm not currently willing to give up the convenience of my FastLane transponder, or the savings that come from my "loyalty card."

Poem of the Day

Desert Places
Snow falling and night falling fast, oh, fast
In a field I looked into going past,
And the ground almost covered smooth in snow,
But a few weeds and stubble showing last.

The woods around it have it--it is theirs.
All animals are smothered in their lairs.
I am too absent-spirited to count;
The loneliness includes me unawares.

And lonely as it is that loneliness
Will be more lonely ere it will be less--
A blanker whiteness of benighted snow
With no expression, nothing to express.

They cannot scare me with their empty spaces
Between stars--on stars where no human race is.
I have it in me so much nearer home
To scare myself with my own desert places.
- Robert Frost

Random Childhood Memories

I was in 3rd or 4th grade, and we were studying geology in class at Founders Memorial School. I already had a decent rock collection, but on my way to the bus stop that February morning I found this intriguing golf-ball sized blue rock that looked like it would be a nice addition, so I tossed it in my backback. However, in class later that day, the rock was gone! Where could it have gone? Of course, my rock wasn’t a rock at all but simply an abnormally large chunk of Road Salt.

No idea why this memory resurfaced, but I still remember thinking that the light blue color of the rock was really cool. God knows what that stuff consisted of in the 70s.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Mental Health Break

The clouds over Mt. Marcy, as seen from Mt. Basin, about 4:00 on Saturday, May 22nd, the High Peaks region of the Adirondacks.

Stealth Ben Horne

So i'm listening to Nordic Lounge Vol. 2 today as i'm working, and discovered that the name of one of the bands on the CD is called "Ben Horn."

Twin Peaks is everywhere!

(As an aside, Volume 2 - IMO - is not nearly as successful as the excellent volume 1. Volume 2 has too many traditional vocals that turn promising tunes into AM-style easy listening. Having said that, there are still some great tunes, and would be worth the price of admission for Plej's "Blue" alone: an excellent groove that once inspired my son to dance in his underwear.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Oil Corruption

There's a lot of amazing information coming out about the horrific regulatory situation in the aftermath of the BP oil spill. This AP report is - to date at least - the most damning. Money quote:
Staff members at an agency that oversees offshore drilling accepted tickets to sports events, lunches and other gifts from oil and gas companies and used government computers to view pornography, according to an Interior Department report alleging a culture of cronyism between regulators and the industry.

Seriously? Who looks at pornography at work? What kind of clown show are they running over there?
The sad thing that is that the cozy relations between the oil industry and the federal agency intended to regulate it is extremely damaging in more ways than one, but it’s not surprising considering how addicted the US is to oil. This addiction leads us to subsidize the oil industry, which hides the true cost of gasoline (somewhat analogous to what I was writing yesterday about the true cost of owning a car). As Kate Sheppard writes:
The government spent $72.5 billion on fossil fuels between 2002 and 2008, an analysis from the Environmental Law Institute found last year. The government directly spent $16.3 billion on petroleum, natural gas, and coal products, and gave the industry another $53.9 billion in the form of tax breaks. In the same period, it spent just $29 billion on renewables (and if you subtract the subsidies for corn ethanol, an alternative fuel of questionable environmental benefit, from that figure, the government spent just $12.2 billion on renewables. Shifting subsidies away from oil and other fossil fuels should be an obvious place to start reforming our energy system.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The True Cost of Owning a Car

It's much more then you think.

One of the best periods of my life was when I was both working and living in Waltham, MA, and walking to work every day. Fun, relaxing, and cheap. Ah to revisit those days. I'm close in that I only work ~5 miles from my house, but Route 9 in Framingham is too scary to ride a bike on, so i'm stuck with my car for now.

Radio Silence BROKEN

I've been massively busy at work, and took the weekend off to get out into the woods - specifically, the Adirondacks, and even more specifically, Mt. Saddleback and Mt. Basin. Pix here. But i'm back now, so watch out.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Random Signs

I've lived in Boston's Metrowest area for seven years now (!) and, as such, spend an inordinate amount of time on Route 9.

So you'd think that i'd have seen it all, but yesterday as I was - surprise! - stuck in traffic, I looked over and noticed a small sign in the median announcing that I was on the "Ted Williams Highway."

Wikipedia tells me that "In Framingham, Route 9 is officially the "Ted Williams Highway", named after the Red Sox sports legend Ted Williams, who sported that number."

Massachusetts specializes in random signs like this. When I was living in Brighton, every other intersection was a "square" named after some random person. What's your favorite example of a random sign?

Quote of the Day

One of the most fun songs I've ever heard:
We know someday mankind will travel to the stars
But it will not be done in tiny compact cars
The interstellar trip would take a hundred years
And we don't want to cramp your pretty legs up, dears

So I will pick you up about a quarter to
And we will pick up speed as we hit the hill
And then I'll drop the caddy into overdrive
And we will take right off into the starry skies

We got a million dollars worth of Ethel gas
And a reservation for the room
Tonight we're gonna fly the Eldorado to the moon
We're gonna fly the Eldorado to the moon

I know the Soviets, They must be most upset
Because they cannot build a car like me El D, yet
It's got the fireplace
It's got the swimming pool
If we need extra space, it's got the backseat, too

We got a million dollars worth of ethel gas
And a reservation for the room
Tonight we're gonna fly the Eldorado to the moon
We're gonna fly the Eldorado to the moon
- Michael Nesmith

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Tiny Little Flash in a Damaged Universe

The question for me was not, then, how does one read to write, but how does one read to live? I conceived early on the conviction that one should lead one’s life as if one were the protagonist of an epic novel, with the outcome predetermined and chapter after chapter of edifying, traumatic and exhilarating events to be suffered through. Since the end is known in advance, one must try to experience as much as possible in the brief time allotted.
The protagonist of “The Death of Ivan Il’ich” died moaning, in agony, overcome with the realization that he had wasted his days on earth following social conventions. He lacked l’esprit frondeur, and he paid for it. Conventions now are hardly less pervasive than they were in Tolstoy’s day; we’re pressured to start a career, build our résumé, earn a certain amount of money, and so forth. But remember: None of us gets out of here alive. So don’t fear risks. Rebel. Be bold, try hard, and embrace adversity; let both success and failure provide you with unique material for your writing, let them give you a life different enough to be worth writing about.

- Jeffrey Tayler
As you can tell from what I write on this blog, I try not to limit myself to a single subject, writing about whatever happens to cross through my brain on a given day. Given the time demands of work, kids, family, energy-level and other interests, this is often just a quick cut and paste of a quote or something else that caught my eye or is floating around in my head. I sure wish I had the time and energy to live my life like Tayler describes, because I’m sure it would be a lot of fun but also would lead to me having much more (and better!) ideas for writing.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Quote of the Day

Watching how some of my colleagues continually work through the weekend reminded me of this quote:
Being a human being, she sought vindication for the choices that had made her lonely....
Jonathan Lethem. Chronic City. Page 333
Now, it's possible that all this weekend work doesn't affect them, but I know that it would kill me...

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Poem of the Day

Please bring strange things.
Please come bringing new things.
Let very old things come into your hands.
Let what you do not know come into your eyes.
Let desert sand harden your feet.
Let the arch of your feet be the mountains.
Let the paths of your fingertips be your maps
and the ways you go be the lines on your palms.
Let there be deep snow in your inbreathing
and your outbreath be the shining of ice.
May your mouth contain the shapes of strange words.
May you smell food cooking you have not eaten.
May the spring of a foreign river be your navel.
May your soul be at home where there are no houses.
Walk carefully, well loved one,
walk mindfully, well loved one,
walk fearlessly, well loved one.
Return with us, return to us,
be always coming home.
- Ursula LeGuin

Beetle Mating

This video is fantastic:
The most fun you’ll ever have watching a Darwin’s beetle get laid, guaranteed.

Friday, May 14, 2010


Over the last few days, it's been a joy to watch the Celtics dismantle the Cavaliers in the NBA playoffs.

I had given up on the Celtics this year. They looked old, slow, and disinterested. Rasheed Wallace - the subject of an incredible, and accurate, Bill Simmons takedown - was a bum, and Kevin Garnett looked like his injuries had spelled the end of his all-star career.

Nothing about the playoffs had shown me that the Celtics had changed anything, other then the fact that they were able to ratchet up the intensity level when need be. While the first two games of the Cavaliers series were much closer then I expected, with the Cs pulling out a victory in game two, I wrote them off again after the Cavs demolished them at home in game three.

Then came game five. Wow. This was team basketball at its best, Pierce and Rondo driving, Garnett and Allen hitting open jumpers, and excellent team defense. I've never seen a team break quite in front of me the way I did the Cavs in this game. I mean, the Lakers in Game 6 of the finals in '08 were beaten, but not broken.

Last night's game was more of the same. The way the Cavs didn't even try in the final few minutes told the entire story. The Celtics issued a beat-down and in the process raised serious question marks about Lebron James, questions that never existed before this week. Wow.

Grammar Lesson

Okay, I'll make this simple. There are only two times you should use an apostrophe:
1. To indicate possession. For example: "This is Hunter's toy."
2. For contractions. For example: "The Cavaliers aren't going to the Conference Finals"; as opposed to "The Cavaliers are not going to the Conference Finals."

Knowing this, the advertising flier I received yesterday touting "100's of bargains!!!" is just wrong, wrong, wrong.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Oil Mass

Fallows points us to tools that can - somewhat - help us envision the scale of the disastrous oil spill in the gulf. Awful.
Update: Turns out that estimates of the spill were underestimated. Great...

Too Many Cooks...

There were a lot things floating through my mind when I was pondering if I wanted to have children, including the standbys of "do I want to be a father" or "will I be able to provide for them." One reason against having kids, lying in the background, was the question of if it made sense to bring a kid into a world that may not be able to support him.

What I mean by that is that all signs are pointing toward overpopulation being a major problem. Mother Jones reports from India, where overpopulation is a huge problem. A sample:
As recently as 1965, when the world population stood at 3.3 billion, we collectively taxed only 70 percent of the Earth's biocapacity each year. That is, we used only 7/10 of the land, water, and air the planet could regenerate or repair yearly to produce what we consumed and to absorb our greenhouse gas emissions. According to the Global Footprint Network, a California think tank, we first overdrew our accounts in 1983, when our population of nearly 4.7 billion began to consume natural resources faster than they could be replenished—a phenomenon called "ecological overshoot." Last year, 6.8 billion of us consumed the renewable resources of 1.4 Earths. ...
The only known solution to ecological overshoot is to decelerate our population growth faster than it's decelerating now and eventually reverse it—at the same time we slow and eventually reverse the rate at which we consume the planet's resources. Success in these twin endeavors will crack our most pressing global issues: climate change, food scarcity, water supplies, immigration, health care, biodiversity loss, even war.

I decided to have children, mainly because - as cheesy as this sounds - I wanted to experience the cycle of life from its beginning, and grow up all over again with my sons. However, it's sobering to realize that my kids standard of living will most likely be much less then mine - and we're the lucky ones!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Quote of the Day

time carves me into this shape
the random currents of flux
ready to let go
come and take it
spirit come and take me now
my eyes hurt in the cold electric light
reality has set in it has congealed
the room is warm
i glow dull red
my sins screaming after me
they demand my anxiety
i cough up my brains
i visit the houses of the dead mornings
no you dont wanna be me
no you dont wanna be you
no you cannae do what ya like
but no you never do what you must do
i give up
i surrender
things are going well...

- Steve Kilbey

Sunday, May 9, 2010


My Dad's coming in town for a visit, so expect radio silence here until Wednesday.

Happy Mothers Day

In honor of mother's day, here's an excellent Pablo Neruda poem:


Only the most ancient love on earth
will wash and comb the statue of the children,
straighten the feet and knees.
The water rises, the soap slithers,
and the pure body comes up to breathe
the air of flowers and motherhood.

Oh, the sharp watchfulness,
the sweet deception,
the lukewarm struggle!

Now the hair is a tangled
pelt criscrossed by charcoal,
by sawdust and oil,
soot, wiring, crabs,
until love, in its patience,
sets up buckets and sponges,
combs and towels,
and, out of scrubbing and combing, amber,
primal scrupulousness, jasmines,
has emerged the child, newer still,
running from the mother's arms
to clamber again on its cyclone,
go looking for mud, oil, urine and ink,
hurt itself, roll about on the stones.
Thurs, newly washed, the child springs into life,
for later, it will have time for nothing more
than keeping clean, but with the life lacking.

More here. Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Bumper Sticker Ranting

On my lunchtime walk today (it's a beautiful day with the smell of flowers in the air), I passed some massive SUV with a bumper sticker stating: "Honk if I'm paying your mortgage". Cute. I'm assuming that this person is feeling like "his" tax money is going to pay off mortgages for "irresponsible" homeowners. And there were people who bought homes irresponsibly! But this attitude neglects to take into account that there were also predatory lending practices, whereby someone who didn't do their due diligence (or perhaps weren't that intelligent - not everyone is a genius) didn't realize that they were being irresponsible. I believe that being guided into a bad decision shouldn't ruin the rest of your financial life, but that's just me.

Having said that, I'd also point out that I'm unaware of any programs where taxpayer money is going directly towards paying down consumer mortgages. But I also wonder how bumper-sticker guy would react if they lost their job because the collapse of the housing sector took town the entire economy? I love how these people always rail against "bailouts" but never have any solution to the problems that would arise in the absence of such bailouts.

IMO, this person's ire would be better directed towards poor stimulus ideas like the Homebuyer Tax Credit... which is quite simply a giveaway to the middle class that did very little to stimulate people to buy houses that weren't already looking to buy.

In short, criticism is easy. Providing constructive ideas is hard. A free subscription to Thought Ambience for the first person that can come up with a bumper sticker containing a solution to our financial woes!

Chart Porn

Two amazing charts i've come across recently:

Europe's Web of Debt. This explains pretty powerfully why Greece, a relatively small country with a relatively small amount of debt, is threatening to collapse the whole house of cards. Short Story: Everyone owes money to everyone, so if one defaults and everyone else starts trying to settle up, it's game over folks!

The second chart on this page detailing the job situation in April 2009. Puts the relatively good numbers in today's job creation report in perspective. The employment situation is still really, really bad, even if the general situation is looking much better.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Does the Wii Get You Fit? asked professional athletes to try different programs and let us know.

Butterbean Update

Trey's 4 month checkup was yesterday (a bit late due to an ear infection). He was measured at 27" long, which is huge, the 90th percentile of all babies his age. He weighs 15 lbs, 9 oz., which is just about average for his age. So, like Hunter, he's tall and skinny.

Video Time!

Two videos to start your day:

1. Digby provides us a link to Robert Rodriguez's hysterical response to Arizona's new "show us your papers" immigrant law: Machete!

2. The first Star Wars trilogy as told through legos.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Mark Knopfler Playing the Orpheum

I took the train (my old friend!) into Boston last night to catch Mark Knopfler at the Orpheum with Adam and Norb. I've long wanted to catch this dynamic guitarist in action, getting into him back in the Dire Straits days but also a big fan of his 2nd and 3rd solo albums Sailing to Philadelphia and The Ragpicker's Dream.

The show was all I hoped it would be. MK led an eight-piece band through their paces for a two-hour show that covered his entire career. He's always worked with amazing musicians, and their command was on full display last night. They played groove rock (“Coyote”), ballads (the gorgeous “Prairie Wedding”) , blues (“Hill Farmer’s Blues” and “Marbletown,” both off of The Ragpickers Dream), and hits (“So Far Away,” “Romeo and Juliet”). And of course, examples of the MK specialty that I call the "slow-burn" genre, here expressed with "Speedway at Nazareth." This NASCAR-inspired toon starts off relatively simple and slow, driven by locomotive brush drumming, but slowly builds up to an incredible rocking crescendo. In short, the band often expressed its power by holding itself into a groove, but when called for could cut loose and rock out, anchored by MK’s clarion guitar.

I was familiar with a large majority of the songs that he played, which I like because I'm able to hear how they songs get tweaked in a live setting. For instance, a flute and violin gave an Irish touch to a few toons (esp. “What It Is”). I also got a kick out how many of the musicians changed instruments as the songs called for it, although I think that every musician picked up a guitar at one point.

As for MK himself, he’s so talented it’s hard to say much about his guitar playing that hasn't been said before by writers better then I. It was notable that he was limited to performing from a stool. Just after Norb and I pondered if his 61 years had caught up with him, he announced that he wasn't doing his normal "struts and leg lifts" due to having a pinched nerve. Indeed, he seemed to be in some pain during parts of the show, and he was unable to leave the stage for the typical multi-encore end-of-show set (instead, the roadies brought out drinks for everyone and so we clapped and watched them pound water for a few minutes).

All in all, it was an excellent evening. Well worth the price I’m paying in brain-dead exhaustion today.

Quote of the Day

Surely a culture is enhanced, rather than disgraced, when men of talent and passion undertake anonymous and secondary tasks. Excellence in the great things is built upon excellence in the small.

- John Updike
Thinking this sure makes me feel better about all the time I spend doing grunt work...

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Deep Thought

Most thinkers, Nietzsche maintained, "write badly because they  
communicate to us not only their thoughts but also the thinking of their thoughts."

Quote of the Day

James: What are you doing? You don't smoke...
Donna: They say that smoking relieves tension. 
James: Since when are you tense?  
Donna: Since I started smoking.
Twin Peaks, Season 2, Episode 1

Earth Day Cleanup

This Saturday, Hunter and I cleaned up the woods near where Green St. meets Hilldale Road here in Ashland. Here's a picture of all of the recyclables we collected (not including trash):

As you can tell, that's quite a haul! We must have picked up at least 75 nips. And all while avoiding Poison Ivy. A nice showing for Hunter's first active Earth Day.

Hating on Fall Be Kind

One of the bands I forgot to mention in my new music post the other day was Animal Collective. At the recommendation of Jonathan Lethem, I picked up the Fall Be Kind EP and was blown away by it. Fun listening!

Reading up on the collective, though, was an exercise in bizarre hipstersm prose. Few, if any, people writing about the music spoke to the music in terms of listening to a group of songs. Instead, they wrote about how the music "fails to build upon" past successes (i.e., the earlier albums are always better) or talk about how annoying Animal Collective fans are (as if you should judge music by who listens to it).

As an example, Ben Graham's excellent review for the Quietus looks at the EP from the perspective of politics and punk and finds it lacking:
...Alternative America was able to settle back into its spaced-out hippy comfort zone, as hazy as the fog over the San Francisco Bay. Just ... sit and listen to this new EP by Animal Collective, who have developed their 'Brian-Wilson-with-a-sampler' sound over the last decade to become the cherished darlings and freak-flag bearers of the whole contemporary scene. ... It's always seemed to me that Animal Collective have more in common with these mellow, close-harmonising spiritual children of David Crosby than with the electronic avant-garde they're more usually linked with: frequently wonderful, and groundbreaking and innovative in many ways, Animal Collective nevertheless seem bound to a late 60s musical and cultural aesthetic which is often anachronistic and even unhelpful in a 21st Century context.
... At the close of 2009 this kind of head-in-the-sand navel-gazing is even less acceptable, no matter how physically impressive it would be if you could actually carry out that mixed metaphor as a literal action. The fact is, Animal Collective are highly educated young people from the richest nation on earth, wearing masks and pretending to be pandas while effectively pissing around in a sandpit. The patterns they make are often exquisite. But it's not enough.

While this is interesting, I find it lacking in several respects:
- What is "enough"? Producing more angry music? Inserting deliberately political lyrics into songs that may not be able to support them? The end here is vague and the criticism suffers as a result.
- Again, the defining of the music by its audience. Who cares what scene they're part of? All that you should really be judging is the music that enters your ears.

Anyways, at the end of the day, I love this little album and find myself continually listening to it. I'm not reading the lyrics for deeper meanings or exploring what their audience says about them. I'm just enjoying the good songs.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Seven Years

It was seven years ago today that I somehow convinced my lovely wife to give up her single life in favor of my old bones. I came out on top of that deal! For those of you that don't know her, she's a dynamic, powerful, beautiful, and endlessly joyful woman that keeps finding new ways to make me happy. She even gave me two sons! In short, she's an amazing woman, and I'm looking forward to her keeping me laughing and singing until I'm old and gray.

The Failure of the Rose Kennedy Greenway as Open Space

Robert Campbell offers suggestions on how to save the Rose Kennedy Greenway. Amen.

I used to walk down the Greenway every day when I left my office near North Station and walked to South Station. While infinitely better then walking down narrow city streets or the horror of the old elevated highway, the stark barren spaces are really quite intimidating. There's almost no activity there, and the winds can get quite ferocious when the weather is right. Now having said that, when it was hot out, the kids would crowd around the fountains, and there were usually a few Frisbee games going on near Quincy Market. But the southern portion of the Greenway was always vacant and sad, with the notable exception of the open space directly across from South Station that would occasionally host a farmers market.

Why Can't We Just Burn It?

Pablo explains why we can't just burn off the oil slick:
Unlike the gasoline that is distilled from it, crude oil has a relatively high flash point of 140°F. The flash point is the temperature at which a substance can vaporize to form a ignitable mixture in air. In order to sustain combustion the crude oil must be maintained at or above the flash point. Unfortunately the sea surface temperature near the oil spill is in the mid to low 70's and the air temperature is only slightly higher. This means that the additional heat to maintain the combustion needs to come from the combustion itself. Since the oil slick is spread out and quite thin, this surface layer does not contain enough chemical potential energy per square foot to sufficiently heat the oil adjacent to it.

This just looks uglier and uglier every day.

How to tell when a Tree is Dying

You see both a Downy Woodpecker and a Red-bellied Woodpecker working on it at the same time. I'm looking at them attack the Maple in my front yard as I type.

Sure wish why someone called the Red-bellied Woodpecker that when it's head, not stomach, is red. Who's the marketing genius that came up with that one?

I Knew It Made Me Uncomfortable... but Killing Me?

Business Weekly claims that my office chair is killing me. Yikes.

I know that I find the average chair to be really uncomfortable after a few hours. And trying to get a comfortable chair in the average office is next to impossible. At my current company, people kept stealing my comfortable chairs and replacing them with awful chairs that didn't adjust and had too much lumbar support (like most modern Honda car seats). I finally ended up with an acceptable chair, but it was a struggle.

And I can't imagine working standing up, much less walking while I worked. When I draw or paint I work on a tilted table which is nice but my back gets even more tired on my stool then it does an office chair.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Quote of the Day

I love eating apples. They taste so clean. - Kelly Vaast