Saturday, May 30, 2009

Caturday: The Fine Art of Lap Sitting

Hot weather is here, and Ozma isn't as keen on lap-sitting until it cools down later in the evening, but she does want to be where I can't really avoid paying attention to her. Solution: the shelf I use as a mouse surface.This explains why my mouse behaves in extraordinary and erratic ways from time to time: the optical window gets filled with cat hair. Nuisance, but until a couple of weeks ago I thought yet another mouse was dying.Of course, if she keeps knocking it off onto the floor, it will die. And when it finally does cool down, this is really where she'd rather be.
As you can tell from the odd positioning of the hind leg, she has not mastered the traditional feline art of lap sitting. She has, however, come up with a very workable solution. For her. Note the way her right leg is wrapped over my left arm. Her left leg is wrapped underneath it. She has learned to anchor herself to the hoomin's forearm...
Once she goes to sleep, I can support her legs with my left hand, which leaves my right hand free for computer games and allows her to retract her claws. But until she does, she doesn't like that position, and immediately reverts to the above posture if I try to put her hind legs up on my calf. So the price I pay for having a cat that has learned she actually does like sitting on my lap for a few hours each evening is a few minutes of pins and needles. And having a left arm that looks like it has a minor case of road rash.

It's worth it.

Tocatta and Fugue in D Minor: The Dance

This has been kicking around for a few days; I have just been "marking it as unread." After a certain amount of time, my reader looses track of these sorts of items if I don't get back to them. But Saturdays and Sundays are slower RSS-wise, maybe a third to a half the quantity of stuff as weekdays. So I've spent a good part of the afternoon going through and watching the vidclips, and reading longer articles that looked interesting. This was a fun one. As I implied in the post title, the thing that impressed me was the grace that was required, not just demonstrated, but required, to pull this off.

It reminded me of "Billie Jean," by Michael Jackson, and this hilarious send-up by Steve Martin. The grace is umm, less pronounced in this one, and the lights are not as cooperative...

For Dean Wormer

I've seen this clip around in a few places, but it's an excuse to initiate a new tag: Dedications. This one goes out to Dean Wormer at The Dean's Office. (He's an alum of the University of Oregon, home of the Ducks)

Followup: The brunette is Kate Micucci, and I think she's just cute as a button. If all her work is this good, I look forward to seeing more of it.


A few hours ago, some kind soul from Poland graced my humble blog with its ten thousandth visit. Well, its ten thousandth counted visit... as you can see from the bar graph, I didn't add my counter until July. But based on the growth curve, it seems unlikely that the number of visitors prior to that time would shift the arrival of #10,000 by more than a few days.No biggie, really... many of the blogs I read get 10,000 visitors per day. So this isn't much of an accomplishment, but more of a milestone that I've been pleasantly anticipating.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Mmmmm... Water!

It has been brutally hot the last couple of days, at least for May: low 90's. That's not unusual during July and August (though not "normal-" normal is probably low to mid 80's). This has been a very bimodal year so far with respect to temperatures. It's either been really cold, or really warm. As a result, no one is acclimating very well to the changing seasons. There's a few heatniks who have loved the last couple of bakes. There's a few (like me) for whom mid-60's and cloudy isn't that bad... but we'd like it a little warmer and maybe some sunshine, too. But there are very few of us who've really enjoyed the end of this week.

As a result, many of us have been purchasing less coffee here, and turning instead to ice water.

Bill, I think your decision to hold off on the AC may have saved you on your power bill, but I think you would have more than made up for it in sales. Though come to think of it, I'm sure sales of iced drinks are way, way up. I used one of my freebies (Interzone has cards that get marked for each drink purchase; buy 9 get 1 free) for an iced blended latte with a touch of vanilla earlier this afternoon. It was good, but the ice melted too fast. I'm feeling seriously ice deprived right now, despite having consumed at least six pints of ice water in addition to two cups of coffee and the latte.

At any rate, I came across this earlier. I can relate.
funny pictures of dogs with captions
see more dog and puppy pictures

It's supposed to be a little cooler over the weekend, then down into the 70's early next week. I can hardly wait.

Woman of Labrador

I was leaving a comment on driftglass' 2000th post (pop over and wish him well), and Figgy Duff's Album "After the Tempest" came to mind. The lead song is a musical adaptation of the wedding blessing from Shakespeare's The Tempest.

Honour, riches, marriage-blessing,
Long continuance, and increasing,
Hourly joys be still upon you!
Juno sings her blessings on you.

Earth's increase, foison plenty,
Barns and garners never empty,
Vines and clustering bunches growing,
Plants with goodly burthen bowing;

Spring come to you at the farthest
In the very end of harvest!
Scarcity and want shall shun you;
Ceres' blessing so is on you.

I couldn't find this on the YouTubes, but I did find this Woman of Labrador, from their next album, Weather Out the Storm. Now there's a few things you should know about this song:

1) Pamela Morgan has one of the most beautiful voices that has ever graced mankind, possibly the most.
2) If I was to compile a list of songs that I think capture the essence of feminism, this would be in the upper part of that list.
3) The beauty, power, sadness and strength of this song combine in such a way that I simply cannot listen to it without crying (and crap, I apparently can't even write about it without crying). Consider yourself warned.

If you like celtic/folk with a contemporary sound, Figgy Duff, though not as well-known as they deserve, were some of the pioneers in this sub-genre, and I don't think anyone has done it better.

Yeah, Me Too

Stolen without remorse from Pygalgia. You'll have to click over to see why it's particularly pertinent today... in addition to being broadly pertinent every day, as the rethug talking heads try to slime my principals and beliefs, attempting to make "liberal" a swear word.

Turn Off the Saw, Already

Came across this and was reminded of the recent travails of Utah Savage, another blogger buddy. (See here, here and here)

Congratulations on your successful tree removal, Utah!

P.S.- Utah has a link for a petition to tell the truth and clarify exactly what happened regarding the tortured detainees, being run by I've signed it, and would like to encourage you to do so as well.

Alone in the Universe

I generally shy away from certain topics here; as much as I dislike the phrase "family-friendly," that is my intended milieu. Every now and then I'll drop a four-letter word, but I try to keep it to a minimum. However, I came across this hilarious video yesterday, and just have to share...

(Hat tip to Pharyngula) Apparently the artist, Jon Lajoie, has quite a few songs out there; I expect I'll go track some more of them down sooner or later. He's very good and very funny. (Lyrics here- Useful if you missed some euphemisms)


Skimming through my NYT e-newsletter, Sotomayor is all over the place. My feeling is that she the politics surrounding her nomination is being given a ridiculous amount of vitual ink. One way of looking at it is the standard, "Conservative Spokesperson has Opinion: Is News." Whatever absurd statement a conservative spokesperson makes is reported as if it's relevant and important, with next to no analysis of its validity.

Nominee's Links With Advocates Fuel Her Critics
Sonia Sotomayor's work as a board member of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund may become an issueduring her confirmation hearings.

Sotomayor's Sharp Tongue Raises Issue of Temperament
Conservatives opposed to Judge Sonia Sotomayor's nomination see her demeanor on the bench as a potential vulnerability.

Buzzwords Shape the Debate Over Confirmation
After Judge Sonia Sotomayor's opponents made an epithetof the word "empathy," her
supporters have begun using terms like "judicial modesty."

But the hype over the last few days has really gotten on my nerves, and it occurred to me that there may be a better metaphor.

Have you ever witnessed a friend or acquaintance go through a seizure? I have. It's scary. And you want to help. And you want to look for "a message," a signal that the person is in there, trying to express what he/she needs help with.

But there is no message. Just rolling eyes, gnashing teeth, aimless, but incredibly powerful limb-swinging. Eventually, after a few seconds or a minute or two, your friend comes out of it, but is disoriented, confused, and, being human, ashamed. The shame is not really valid or earned, but it is very real.

The current convulsions in the republican party remind me a lot of that kind of situation. There is no signal, no sign of conciousness in there. Just mindless flailing and teeth gnashing. I'm afraid the best I can do is stand back and wait for it to pass. And when, like a nasty storm, it does, the republicans, being human, will feel disoriented and ashamed.

But in this case, that shame will be earned.

What I Think

Context here and here.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Same Same Sex Marraige

I think I support it.I'm not going to embed the video, but you can watch it here. The above is a screen capture from the closing seconds of NOM's new advertisement. So those adamant folks who want to reserve "marraige" (cripe, I can't even spell that) for one man, one woman, can have their way. And my gay friends can finally get acknowledgement that they have a right to marriage. (Hat tip to Sadly, No)

I guess my concern is that it may require more enunciation skills than the supporters of marraige are generally able to muster. So here's my contibution: "mair-idj" is a good phonetic approximation of "marriage." This new thing that NOM is proposing should be pronounced "mair-rage." Sort of like "air raid," but with emphasis on "rage."

And speaking of "NOM," here's what I'm hypothesizing.

Followup: No, I don't support "Same Same Sex Marraige." That's the whole point... marraige is supposed to be between a man and a woman only, AND in that order: man first. Whew! It's pretty difficult to keep up with the mental machinations of those darned republicans!

Followup 2: (Friday, May 29) Awww... the video at the link above "has been removed by the user." Wonder why?

What I Think

Context here and here.

I know what you're wondering... it's 8 point Arial, name bold, occupation italic, quote normal. Anyone else want to play?

So Simple...

Mentioned this to friend a little while ago. Classic...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Wednesday Words

No players in last week's round, so here's a couple of my daffynitions...

numpars: an adjusted number of strokes expected to get the ball in the hole during particularly cold weather.

calever: a simple machine that exchanges distance for force, used to affect tectonic events. "Give me a place to stand and a calever, and I'll shove that liberal state into the ocean."

And here's the next set for your pondering and perplexity...

What I Think

Context here and here.

Followup: What does it say about me that I can spell "speleological," but not "chief?" I could fix it, but I find this somewhat amusing...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Wolf! Woooollllffff!!!!

Hey Ben! Towels are out!

Social Studies

I just came across the above comic at Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, and it reminded me of the following track from David Byrne's 1985 Album, Music for "The Knee Plays." This is a largely unknown, and nearly impossible to find, solo work by Byrne as he was taking his first projects independent from Talking Heads. And I just found out that it's been re-issued on CD with 8 bonus tracks and a DVD. Maybe it isn't impossible to find anymore. Between Wikipedia, Google, YouTube and something synonymous with "raging currents of fluid," you can find anything. The pertinent monologue is in the first two minutes, but the remaining three minutes of instrumental music are pretty excellent, IMHO.

This concept does hold true for geologists, in point of fact. Go on a few field trips. Eat and drink everything the geologists do. Before you know it, you too will be a geologist. However, it does not wear off. Even after the groceries are gone, you'll still be a geologist.

What Do You Think?

I have been a fan of The Onion's "What do you think?" feature for decades. If you're not familiar with the format, a summary of a real news item is provided, followed by the question above. Then the same three people (though with varying names and jobs) offer their asinine takes on the event. The above is from here, and the front page is here. Previous posts are listed below the current one. Often I want to add my own voice to the mix, so today I will.

I think I may make this a recurring topic... "What I think."

Ends Yesterday! We Mean It!!!

Just saw this ad for the first time in GoogleReader. The above is a screencap I took after I brought up the calender-clock. So that circled note in the ad is original; I didn't add it during cropping and saving.

Google, I used to respect you. I could have told you that the end result of trying to know everything was general incompetence. sigh....

Bueller? Bueller?

Apparently, the Pork King of Chicago has fallen on hard times. His house is for sale. (Photo Gallery, too.) At $2.3 million, it's a wee bit out of my bracket. But I'd love for Mia Sarah to help me spoof the realtor, and get a tour. "The Rock King of Corvallis? Well, he's about fifty, fat and balding... and really unkempt... in a dreamy sort of a way."

Monday, May 25, 2009

Reporting From the Upper Atmosphere, the Weather is...

Okay, I'll grant this is more a trick of perspective than anything else. But this photo of a brachiosaur skeleton towering over the puny humans is pure, petrified awesome. From here, hat tip to Dots in Deep Time. The blogger at the latter site, Ville Sinkkonen, points out that the little itty-bitty dino down there with the people is a mere diplodocus. The stats I'm finding seem to be maximums, which I don't want to quote. But suffice it to say, diplodicus was no weeny. Unless you compare it to a brachiosaur.

Finding Fault

The BBC has an article in what appears to be the first of a series: Quake zone diary: Out to sea. Here is the top-of-the-article summary:
BBC environment correspondent Richard Black is the first journalist to visit the research ship Chikyu while it is drilling for rock cores from the quake-generating Nankai Trough to explore what causes tremors.
I wrote a teacher's guide for an ODP educational CD-ROM (~225 Kb pdf) some years back, and was impressed with the elegance and power of deep sea drilling, so I'm looking forward to further posts from this project.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Sunday Funnies

Hey Boys and Girls! Do you know what time it is?That's right! It's time for Sunday Funnies! I adore the clock on the right, and the one on the left isn't bad either. From Dark Roasted Blend. (The posts there are lonnngggg... so you'll need to scroll down a ways to find this picture.)
As I mentioned in my previous post, it's also time for outdoor recreation; the above (From Saturday Bulletin) depicts an all-too-common version of Oregon watersports when the still winter-cold water of our streams and lakes is mixed with air temps in the upper 70's, sunshine and intoxicants.Lots of people are cooking outdoors. Some will undoubtedly feel ill afterwards. (From Criggo, of course)
Santa is on Vacation, too. All 30 of him. Isn't cloning da Bomb? This is from "Picture is Unrelated," (front page here) which, as I mentioned last week, is best thought of as a surreality show. Some of the site's selections are actually kind of disturbing, but many are just weird. In a funny way. From this post. I sort of pity that poor woman. She probably has to deal with this every night.

I ended up picking three pictures from that site this week...
You can't really appreciate Spider Man unless you read the comics in the original Hindi. For example, in the original version, Peter Parker is not only bitten by a radioactive spider, he's mauled by a mutant elephant. (From this post)

Speaking of surreal...
...this could be more so, but it'd be difficult. For example, I think that putting it between a pair of buns- bread buns, that is- would actually make it seem more, not less, reality-challenging. (From This is Why You're Fat: The Pattie LaBurger, a triple bacon cheeseburger with deep fried patties as buns.)

E.B. Misfit found a hilarious light switch advertisement,
and you really should click over to read the precaution she posted.

gDub was in the news again this week for talking about cleaning up after his dog to a bunch of schoolchildren. I have to say, it's a relief to hear from him rather than Darth Cheney. As I've commented before, I don't like posting others' work in entirety; I'd rather pull an excerpt and forward readers to the original author for the real punchline (as I did with E.B.'s picture above... seriously, go read the punchline). But sometimes it's just so short and sweet that you can't capture any of it unless you grab all of it. Such was the case in a post from Library Grape earlier this week. Good Blog. (Front page here)"Bush says cleaning up his dog's droppings is a sobering reminder that he's no longer president.

Obama says cleaning up the Bush administration's droppings is a sobering reminder that he is."

And before I forget to mention it, I don't often drop real news into my humor posts, but the Guardian's Hadley Freeman wrote a hilarious, yet informative, analysis of Cheney's unfamiliar eagerness to get in front of the cameras, after eight years of hiding in an "undisclosed location."
Cheney accomplished much during his time as vice-president. But perhaps his most extraordinary feat has been pulled off since he emerged from his bunker. He has managed to make George Bush – the former fratboy who once nearly choked to death on a pretzel – look the very model of a dignified statesman. Now that's what I call supporting your president.
Another thing I don't do too often is post advertising; it has to be either really appealing to me (most often, that means funny), or for a cause towards which I feel strongly supportive. Jen at Cakewrecks hit a double with the following: She posted some new clothing items and logos today. I L'dOL. (L'dOL looks like something a French Homer Simpson would say.) What? Yes, of course that logo is based on a real cake...
Abstruse Goose will undoubtedly be responsible for inumerable broken computer monitors:Given that Sunday funnies almost always happen on Sunday, I think it's appropriate to ask "Is sacreligion really a valid religion?" And if you don't think that's a brave question to ask, Bob Tzu at Duhism would like to inform you, "The opposite of bravery is not cowardice, it's yrevarb."political-pictures-becky-fisher-word-christ
see more Political Pictures

Speaking of sacrilege, Stephen Colbert has that quality nailed...
stephen colbert
see more Political Pictures

...and so does this kitteh:
funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

XKCD posits ways in which we can get children intersted in science. Click here for a less squint-worthy, embiggened version.All the science bloggers were posting this PhD comic earlier in the week, but it's really not all that funny...
...because it's too goddamn true. Case in point...
ida, darwinius masillae
see more Political Pictures

The first news I saw of this was in a NYT article (which I will try to track down), talking about the enormous, coordinated effort to bring an unprecidented media blitz down at the same time the studies on this fossil were published. I'm recalling here, so this might not be verbatim, but one scientist said the experience "felt like a banjo picker trying to jam onstage with Pink Floyd." I was pretty sure then that the whole thing would be a fiasco. To see a comic illustrating the accuracy of the above caption, see this BizarroBlog comic. And as long as you're over there, take a look at these two to prepare yourself for the next funny.
funny pictures of dogs with captions
see more dog and puppy pictures

I still need to get a post or few up about Ben's going away party Friday evening, but Ben had a going away party Friday evening. I'm sure several people (including Ben) felt this way Saturday morning:
funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Have a good week at work. In these tough economic times, bosses and the corporate overlords executives are likely to think favorably about the peon employee who makes a serious effort to constrain costs...
speed racer
see more Lol Celebs

And this device might help you meet the above objective. Just sayin...
Yes this is a real product.

The Study Ball gadget is a prison-style ball and chain that you can program to keep track of how much time you spend studying. Once you’ve selected the desired duration, you chain the ball to your ankle and the manacle won’t come off until the schedule study time is up.
Not clear whether there's a corporate version with a twelve-hour minimum, as opposed to the student version with a four-hour maximum.

Doing Great, Thanks. Haven't Read the News Yet.

That was my response to someone earlier when they greeted me with, "Hey Lockwood! How's it going?"

Well, now I have. Here's the gist: "OMG! It's a holiday! People get drunk and do dumb things and die!" We have car accidents, and drownings, kid falls out of a second story window at a party and dies (don't think C2H5OH was implicated in that one). I expect I'll hear about a few cases of ding-a-lings trying to light their barbeques with gasoline, but they'll most likely be in burn units, not in morgues; they'll just be wishing they were in morgues. I can't wait 'til tomorrow afternoon when we get the body count.

I had forgotten that this is what constitutes news on Memorial Day, July 4, and Labor Day. Thanks media. I feel ever so much better informed now. I'm pleased and proud to know that you regard me, the consumer of your product, as an emotional vampire who wants nothing so much as to feed off the sorrow and suffering of those who have lost so much, on a weekend that should have been happy and carefree.

Thanks ever so much.

Freedom Isn't Free

I basically consider myself a moderate liberal. I suspect some of my readers think of me as a sociocommunifascislamic nut case, but that's not really so. I do get all bent out of shape by some of the nonsense I see coming from the far right, and can react with a fair amount of, ummm, acid, but here's the thing: I start with a number of liberal predispositions. Then I try to temper that with the best, most sound analysis I can muster using actual facts as building stones.

I just commented to Iris this morning that both parties are very good rhetorically, but their arguments are, all too often, based on "common wisdom" rather than established and verifiable observations or "facts." And common wisdom, by and large, is neither.

I have previously pointed out Becky at Just a Girl in Short Shorts as a person who I disagree with more often than not. And sometimes she downright irritates me, as with her rants about all us Obama worshippers... an attitude that seems to qualify as "common wisdom," but in my experience bears no resemblance to the actual attitudes of real live liberals.

And every now and then, for me at least, she knocks the ball out of the park. In a simple, succint, and factually based argument, she forces me to reassess my beliefs, and even from time to time to actually (gasp!) change my mind.

Trying to come to grips with Obama's speech this week, I felt that in this day and age, the creation of a court that could pre-emptively detain a suspected terrorist made a certain kind of sense. I think that in most cases where such detention would be justified, a traditional court setting should be able to convict on a charge of conspiracy. But it was concievable to me that in some cases the evidence could be so senstive that a special process, a special court, might be necessary.

Becky makes a very strong- convincing to me- case, poignantly in the context of Memorial Day, that Freedom isn't free. That part of the cost, the risk of an attack, is necessary to maintain our Constitutional Freedoms. Creating a special "terrorism court" extends the power of the government over the freedoms of "We the People." Thus, part of the "cost" of freedom is to reject the false security of believing that bad guys who would harm us are being quietly and antiseptically removed from freedom. That same quiet, antiseptic incarceration could be applied to anybody, for whatever action the government deems to call terrorism. And that the cost of freedom, in this case, is to accept the risk that some bad guy might kill me or someone I love.

This is why I love to listen to people I disagree with. Please read the post and see if you don't find yourself pretty convinced by her arguments. Thanks, Becky.