Looks like I spoke too soon with all my good news. That same day, right after I finished the post, I got two slamdunks. One, a massive forest fire is threatening my hometown of Los Alamos, New Mexico, and two, my brother (the one that’s not a geek, or rather, not quite as much of a geek. We’re all geeks because we were raised in Los Alamos) was in a car accident in Montana. Thankfully, he’s fine. But the fire is not. It has burned over 60,000 acres so far and as of last night, was zero percent contained. The town’s best kept secret, its awesome ski hill, is starting to burn. It’s horrible and dangerous and devastating. UPDATE: as of 5 hours ago, it’s now 3% contained. Current info is available here. This morning, I did the usual. Early morning chat with my newly-appointed CTO, aka my brother Dave. click here to read the whole dang post [...]
Good news: I don’t have a brain tumor after all! I just got back from a visit to the GP and all my blood work is stultifyingly normal. His conclusion: my high blood pressure is a gift from my parents. We have wrestled it back into the normal range with the help of a white pill called Lisinopril. I guess I can swallow this, given all the other great stuff mom and dad bequeathed, not the least of which is my stature. Those extra inches are most welcome when scanning crowds, reaching for things on top shelves, and overindulging in food and/or drink. I know it’s not fair. Perhaps the blood pressure is the price I must pay for possessing what is otherwise an excellent jelly belly and margarita processing apparatus. Of course the doctor is speaking French, saying “ah, tension” which is French for “ah, blood pressure,” and I click here to read the whole dang post [...]
When the first snapping turtle surfaced, village authorities were surprised. It got its picture in the paper, and an expert from the Lausanne Vivarium came and hauled it off, saying the turtle had probably been living there for ages, unnoticed. Great trepidation in Renens. These things can bite off your arm! Then a second, younger, turtle was found. Judging from its shell, the expert said it had probably been released quite recently into the pond. In a sidebar entitled “l’Italie colonisée”, we learn that snapping turtles are endemic to the Everglades, and that large established populations have been found in Alaska and in Italy. They can walk up to 40 km looking for food, weigh up to 40 kilos, and will eat anything that they come across. Birds, fish, rats, children… Thursday, a third turtle, the same size as number two, was fished from the pond. They could be sisters, said click here to read the whole dang post [...]
Art is what you can get away with. – Sometimes, instead of imitating life, art imitates art. This is more commonly known as forgery. If you can get away with it, I suppose you’re an artist of sorts. Here’s a real-life story of some forgers that didn’t. The picture on the front page of Thursday’s local paper caught my attention: a man in a suit, wearing a “scream” Halloween mask, climbing the steps to the Lausanne courthouse. “The colorful theories of a gang of forgers,” the headline blared. I wanted to wear a DSK mask, said Christian*, but they asked me not to be provocative… Leonard*, aka Johnny, wasn’t as circumspect as he posed for the photographers: It’d be a shame for me to hide this handsome mug. Christian, Leonard and five others are accused of running a forgery ring, selling at least 120 forged paintings over a five-year period, for more than 400,000 Swiss francs. click here to read the whole dang post [...]
“There’s someone in my head, but it’s not me.” – Pink Floyd Where do ideas come from? How many of us wake up in the morning and say, “Gee, I think I’m gonna to have myself a great idea today!”? Not me. In general, the harder I try to think up something original, the slower my brain goes until it ultimately screeches to a stop and I have to go play a game of Scramble or eat jelly bellies to get it going again.
I keep returning to the idea of stereotypes. Or perhaps the idea keeps finding me. As the poet John Donne so aptly put it: No man is an island; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; That’s the human dilemma, isn’t it? We’re alone, yet not alone. We each have our own unique perspective, the way things look from the island of moi. And yet we want so badly to belong, to make sense of all those other islands whose views are so unlike our own. On that geographical note, I thought I’d share a series of maps designed by Bulgarian-born London-based “graphic designer slash illustrator” Yanko Tsvetkov. He has taken the idea of stereotyping up a notch, with maps that stereotype how different people stereotype each other. The whole idea is wildly politically incorrect, yet … You’ll see what I mean. I’ve attached just a click here to read the whole dang post [...]
Those who visit this space frequently know I have a thing about weeds (see my Weed Manifestos I and II). I like control and order, so these uninvited invaders offend my sense of decorum. I’m also lazy, which means I don’t want to do the actual physical labor involved in removing them. In short, I’m torn. Recently I lightened up a bit and decided to let them have their place in my garden. At least until Oscar comes and digs them all up. Today, a whole bunch of things came together that made me think again about weeds – and more generally about what constitutes an “undesirable.” In a press release from the University of Arizona, I read this: The recent field of invasion biology faces a new challenge as 19 eminent ecologists issue a call to “end the bias against non-native species” in the journal Nature. The group is questioning the automatic (and click here to read the whole dang post [...]
My apologies for the long dry spell. I had a couple of riveting novels to finish reading, and I was so disappointed in the new nutrition guidelines that I couldn’t get up the energy to write about them. One, the dinner plate looks nothing at all like a Rothko painting, and two, there is no dessert on it. Not even a single jelly bean. There was so much gnashing of teeth about the old guidelines and how horrible they were that I admit I was expecting something a little more inspiring. At least in the old ones they drew little pictures of food, for those who were unclear on what constitutes a ‘vegetable’ or what counts as ‘dairy.’ “Whaddya mean I don’t eat enough fruit? I had two bowls of Froot Loops for breakfast!” The guidelines also imply that you should drink milk for your dairy, which I find blatantly click here to read the whole dang post [...]