30 January 2009

I Remember When...

... I had to walk to school in snow three feet high!

KRON, San Francisco, 1981

How our lives have changed over the past 30 years. back then, those 300-baud modems (and the computers to connect them) were incredibly high-tech and not cheap. I remember telling people that even the cheap computers i was selling back then (the Apples, the Ataris, the Commodores) were more powerful than anything the US government had perhaps 15 years before. Hard drives and Random-Access Memory were very expensive options. Not quite a year before this video was taken, the DEC Micro-Nova system in the back of our store came with 10 total megabytes of disk storage (5 fixed, 5 removable), and 64k per user in memory: sticker price was $25,000.

Interesting to note:
  • we have devices many orders of magnitude greater than those capabilities in devices smaller than thumbnails given away as toys today.
  • the same newspapers experimenting with such tech back then haven't been able to monetize their experimentation; many are dying or dead.
  • my regular morning wake-up to the world starts by reading bits from 15-20 newspapers (and occasionally TV from the BBC) scattered around the globe, from Seattle to New York to London / Paris to Tokyo, complete with text, photos, and (increasingly) real-time video.
All hail Moore's Law.

29 January 2009

Super Bowl Tail Gate Recipe?

I have to say, deep-fried twinkies and oreos have nothing on the following: Bacon Explosion. If you are looking for a way to commit suicide by coronary thrombosis and artherosclerosis, you could hardly pick a better recipe. While the NYTimes article says this "treat" has about 5000 calories, I have to believe four pounds of pork, plus rub, plus sauce, has at least 2-3 times that number, almost all of which are pure fat.

Call me when it's done. :)

Well, It's a Mystery

anyone know who Charlie Crone is, preferably as referenced in the comic "Shoe"?

For the last five years or so, each comic drawn for 29 January has had a reference to Charlie in some fashion, usually as "Charlie Crone Day"... Googling this particular phrase brings up a few other people wondering the same thing, but no answer...

Anyone know the MacNelly family? :)

25 January 2009

To Kill a Mockingbird

based on the award-winning novel of the same name, To Kill a Mockingbird is simply a tour-de-force combining deft dialogue with subtle and sure performances from the entire cast.

the story carries two simultaneous story lines:
  • life in a small southern town for a six-year-old tomboy named Scout, her older brother Jem, and a visiting acquaintance nicknamed "Dill";
  • the trial of Tom Robinson, a young black man accused of the rape of a white woman. Tom is defended by Atticus Finch, the father of Scout and Jem.
what better way to spend a snowy winter afternoon than to be reminded of the best of human nature in the seemingly-eternal effort to defeat the worst.

i have to admit being surprised by the number of actors who were, or were on their way to, becoming household names: gregory peck, robert duvall, paul fix, alice ghostley, william windom, and brock peters as Tom.

odd trivia:
  • the author, harper lee, was a longtime friend of truman capote.
  • so far, To Kill a Mockingbird is her only published novel
  • it was a pulitzer prize winner that was later made into a movie, which itself was nominated for eight oscars, winning three...
the infallible 0-10 opinion scale:
  • 9.0 for acting
  • 8.5 for writing
  • 9.0 for cinematography
  • must watch == TRUE
  • must own == SHOULD
final note: for all of the idiots who believe the book should be banned from schools for its language (as has been "huck finn", etc), with requisite context it is my considered opinion it should be required reading by age 15, required viewing by age 12...

24 January 2009

First Day

Just relaxing here in the living room, watching "my" neighbour birds visit the suet and seed feeders on the porch. Most of the regulars have braved the chill temperatures and made their appearance: Chestnut-backed and Black-capped Chickadees, Red-breasted Nuthatches, Dark-eyed Juncos, woodpeckers Downy and Hairy, Steller's Jays, Spotted Towhees, etc...

New to the feeder, this morning, this winter: Fox and Song Sparrows...

A quiet morning for reflection, cat sleeping nearby in the hazy sunshine filtered through the greenbelt trees.

I have to say I've been pretty lucky this past year working with the Surface group. Such an incredible collection of passionate and knowledgeable people, it's sad to watch such a fantastic page turn not knowing how future pages will unfold. If 2008 was any indication, the world is a better place for these people.

L'Chaim, my friends!

21 January 2009

For Those Who May Have Missed It

"I. -- Barack Hussein Obama I solemnly swear Barack Hussein Obama do solemnly swear. That I will execute the office of president of the United States faithfully -- execute. Get off faithfully the president the office of president and -- I just -- the United States -- wheels. -- the best of -- ability and will miss my children. Preserve protect and defend the constitution of the United States. Preserve protect and defend the constitution of the United States so help you got so homey."

-- The presidential oath of office, as rendered in the automatically generated transcript accompanying the Fox News video (bearing the understated disclaimer that it "may not be 100% accurate" - click on the PLUS (+) sign just under the video)

Calorie Bombs

You have to wonder what these companies are thinking... To quote just one of the items:

Hardee’s Monster Biscuit
710 calories
51 g fat (17 g saturated)
2,250 mg sodium
37 g carbohydrates

When they say “Monster,” they mean it. This 700-calorie behemoth should be enough to scare anyone: It contains nearly a full day’s worth of sodium and saturated fat.

Hmmm... and this one is #20 on the list...

14 January 2009

Condom Sex

I'll bet this isn't what you are thinking... :)

13 January 2009

Shadow Man

Wired Magazine is sponsoring a photo contest at the moment, with the theme of "shadow". Here is my submission for this particular theme:

My friend here is a Siamang Monkey, and he was (may still be) part of a primate exhibit at Woodland Park in Seattle. At the time, a friend and I were touring the park looking for photo opportunities when we arrived at the monkey exhibit.

In front of us were a number of teenaged idiots who were doing the stereotypical "monkey" acting, complete with screeches, elbows akimbo and flying, banging on the glass enclosure, odd faces, etc... What appeared funny to them made not the slightest impression on our friend here.

When they drifted off, I captured this moment as he watched his tormentors move off. Looking at the image, I'm sure you don't need me to translate...


later edit: if you can find me, feel free to vote :)
http://www.wired.com/culture/art/news/2009/01/submissions_shadows, with the title "siamang monkey"

the right stuff?

you have to hand it to the enterprenurial ability of folks to fill niches. as it were:

ahh, yes, a product the world is lining up for...

09 January 2009

inadvertent ice sculptures

i thought our recent weather was bad, but this photo, taken 11 years ago near Montreal, shows what four days of accumulated ice and freezing rain can do to even well-constructed power poles... even though these support pylons were designed to easily handle the average (and pretty regular) ice storm, this storm dumped almost twice as much ice and freezing rain as had been recorded before.

over 4 million people were left without electricity, many of those for over one month.


06 January 2009

Uncle Jay's 2008 in Review

If you haven't heard of Uncle Jay, you are in for a wonderful treat... Here, he disassembles 2008 for those who may have been sleeping last year... :)

04 January 2009

weather 10, weasels 0

one would think the seattle area had more than enough of the white stuff a few weeks ago.

apparently not... it's been snowing outside my door for the last 4-5 hours, and given the latest weather reports from the local accredited weasels, it will stop about an hour ago.

not sure, but i think this reminds me of a weather report from the late 60s, where the on-air weasel said "... there is a 10% chance of precipitation for the next few hours, and as i look out the ol' weather window, i can see that it is 10-percenting quite violently right now..."

oh: the pink is where the radar thinks there is mixed rain and snow, and the blue is where it believes there is nothing but snow. i can tell i'm going to love tomorrow morning's commute.

yes, i will... :)

01 January 2009

2009.01 Desktop Calendar

Bud Anderson's raptor banding location at Entiat Ridge was, for years, one of the best places to see raptors up-close. The expertise, the birds, the location, it was all a wonderful learning experience.

On one of those day-long expeditions, I was given the exquisite privilege of releasing a merlin back to its native skies. Cradling this later rendition of the dinosaurs in shaky hands, for about two minutes both of our hearts were beating like Tito Puente conga drums in an excited cha-cha.

Then, with a quick wingflit and nary a look back, the merlin was airborne and gone.

The photo here, which would look great on your computer's desktop screen, was taken about an hour earlier, a Sharp-shinned Hawk in the same situation with another visitor. Perhaps it is getting used to having new jewelry on its leg, or simply enjoying a silent moment before returning to the path that intersected ours for such a brief time.

Please feel free to download this photo for personal use on your computer's desktop. To download, just click once on the image, which will bring up the enlarged image on a new webpage. Then, right-click on the image and follow your operating system's instructions for pictures / images.

I hope you enjoy :)

[edited later to add:] I've been told the hand belongs to Sharon Ross... Thank you, Sharon, for the moment :)