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February 14, 2009

Open thread 119
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 05:55 AM *

From Basin and Range, by John McPhee

I once dreamed about a great fire that broke out at night at Nasser Aftab’s House of Carpets. In Aftab’s showroom under the queen-post trusses were layer upon layer and pile after pile of shags and broadlooms, hooks and throws, para-Persians and polyesters. The intense and shriveling heat consumed or melted most of what was there. The roof gave way. It was a night of cyclonic winds, stabs of unseasonal lightning. Flaming debris fell on the carpets. Layers of ash descended, alighted, swirled in the wind, and drifted. Molten polyester hardened on the cellar stairs. Almost simultaneously there occurred a major accident in the ice-cream factory next door. As yet no people had arrived. Dead of night. Distant city. And before long the west wall of the House of Carpets fell in under the pressure and weight of a broad, braided ooze of six admixing flavors, which slowly entered Nasser Aftab’s showroom and folded and double-folded and covered what was left of his carpets, moving them, as well, some distance across the room. Snow began to fall. It turned to sleet, and soon to freezing rain. In heavy winds under clearing skies, the temperature fell to six below zero. Celsius. Representatives of two warring insurance companies showed up just in front of the fire engines. The insurance companies needed to know precisely what had happened, and in what order, and to what extent it was Aftab’s fault. If not a hundred percent, then to what extent was it the ice-cream factory’s fault? And how much fault must be — regrettably — assigned to God? The problem was obviously too tough for the Chicken Valley Police Department, or, for that matter, for any ordinary detective. It was a problem, naturally, for a field geologist. One shuffled in eventually. Scratched-up boots. A puzzled look. He picked up bits of wall and ceiling, looked under the carpets, tasted the ice cream. He felt the risers of the cellar stairs. Looking up, he told Hartford everything it wanted to know. For him this was so simple it was a five-minute job.

One day I want McPhee to dream about software testing.

Comments on Open thread 119:
#1 ::: sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 06:11 AM:

Oh good, an open thread!

So I recently bought a new house, and said new house has a back yard that is a mess. It's a small back yard, about 40' x 60' with a concrete pad over a quarter or so. My goal is to not mow said yard, to have it be as low maintenance as possible, while still growing useful things. This probably means an herb garden and possibly a veggie garden. That still leaves the question of appropriate ground cover.

does the flurosphere have any suggestions? My first thought was Mother of Thyme, but I'm open to any suggestions of hardy zone 5/6 ground cover that doesn't need much trimming and can hold up to minor amounts of trampling.

Also, suggestions of your favorite seed catalogs/websites are also appreciated.

#2 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 06:43 AM:

sisuile @1:
Can you give us some geographical/climactic information? A solution for New England is a mess in Southern California; what thrives in Denver may die in Missouri.

#3 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 08:41 AM:

Zone 5 to 6 hardy ground cover? hmmmm....

#4 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 08:46 AM:

Here, try this gadget. Do tell if you lose a limb.

#5 ::: Monte Davis ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 09:04 AM:

I've been rereading Annals of the Former World, the 1998 compilation and expansion of McPhee's four 1980s books on North American geology. This is one of my favorite passages; see also the brilliant set piece, pp. 608-620, on the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989.

The rereading was prompted by recent drives through northern California and the west coast of Oregon, when I realized how deeply McPhee had influenced my "reading" of landscapes and what shapes them. He's one of the best expository writers of the last half-century.

#6 ::: ken ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 09:07 AM:

The botanist in me wants to say "let nature take its course" Unless you live in a desert then something will grow there naturally. Just wait for it to turn up and cut it back when it grows too high.

Of course I live in Britain, and we have a different climate, so what do I know? A very different climate - in US terms most of Britain, including the North of Scotland, is in hardiness zone 9 - that's the same as New Orleans or Houston. The advantage of an oceanic climate.

Over here the hardiest thing is ivy. Rreal ivy - Hedera helix - not any of the many things some people call "ivy". And that will cover ground. Or anything else!

Do you grow runner beans? (if you do you probably call them something else) That's a great way to get a garden started.

My other cognitive dissonance is the idea that 40x60 feet is a SMALL yard. I'd think of it as a medium-sized or even large one. It's larger than that of any of the six or so houses I've lived in with gardens and larger than the ones behind my brother's house, my sister's house, or my Mum's.

#7 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 09:11 AM:

I've often thought those who plant ivy should be tied to a stake with a sprig planted at their feet. Mercifully swift anyway.

#8 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 09:54 AM:

I want McPhee to dream about software testing

And then I woke up.
What a dream!

If I wrote about software testing, the title would have to be "No Good Deed Goes Unpunished".

#9 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 10:24 AM:

One of the books I packed with me to Iraq (well, Ok, Kuwait) was, "The Founding Fish". I love McPhee's geological writings. "To Control Nature" is astounding, and "Assembling California" is great.

One of my joys in Iraq was a finding a six month old Atlantic, with a piece by him about long haul trucking in it.

On a different note, the seatbelts thread is behaving oddly. I'll click on the newest entry, and when the page is done loading I am still at the top, and that entry isn't on the page. I have to reload from there, at which point all is apparent,

#10 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 10:29 AM:

sisuile, 1: FWIW, I link you to this.

#11 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 11:00 AM:

Terry @9:
Re the seatbelts thread: Browser + OS, please? It's looking fine on FF3/OSX and Safari 3/OSX.

#12 ::: Lauren Uroff ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 11:05 AM:

John McPhee is my favorite science essayist, ever. The first time I read Rising From The Plains, he replace Isaac Asimov in my heart. I give every newcomer to Southern California that I meet a copy of The Control of Nature so that the circle of debris basins around Los Angeles becomes understandable.

Quality assurance in software seems to me to require a peanut butter cup mentality. First, you have to have the analytical approach to testing, but then you must followup with the wild, blue sky, emotional understanding of where software gets messed up. I've loved doing it for many many years!

#13 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 11:09 AM:

How is your Hugo Preliminary voting? I've already turned my ballot in. Not a full roster in the novel and novella categories, but I had way more short-story titles that I wanted to nominate than I could list. My favorites were novella "Truth" by Robert Reed and short story "On the Bank of the River of Heaven" by Richard parks.

#14 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 11:35 AM:

The one-cell lock-up next the village square
must boil at noon and drive the inmate mad:
his voice is loud, although the tone is sad,
but not a one who passes seems to care;
just one more sound in heavy midday air.
Red seam on black will show itself not glad
and no one wonders just what choice he had
while portly sergeant might look out and glare.
You wait for court-day does not fall this week
though custos might stop by to use the phone
and compliment the lowly rank and file.
the man who's in the box has no mystique,
though close to people he's the most alone
with words that hurt and curse, hate and revile.

#15 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 11:43 AM:

sisuile (#1) "a small back yard, about 40' x 60'" [~13m x ~20m]

<yorkshire accent>Small yyarrd! Small? That be a palace! Graaandeeeuurrr. Aye loooke faard tu be back in mayne oon sooone, strretching oot tu 8' x 25' [~2.5m x ~8m]. That be'ynt a fayne brooad yard fer owt part o' town. And with a frrront gaarrrden (8' x 8') — there's loooxoory.</yorkshire accent>* (Hello ken #6)

* for values of 'yorkshire' which extend to extraplanetary locations

#16 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 11:43 AM:

Symbolic violence in lecture-room
subjected to analysis till dry,
but no one listening expects true doom

to fall upon their heads, so they consume
their scraps of knowledge and launch thereby
symbolic violence in lecture-room.

The hard coiled words give off a heady fume
while the old teacher is arcane and wry,
but no one listening expects true doom

since every year the purple flowers bloom
although unhappy scholars may let fly
symbolic violence in lecture-room

no youthful head believes there can be gloom
although they're told about the cloudy sky
but no one listening expects true doom.

Each palace has been built upon a tomb,
we struggle to defeat the ancient lie:
symbolic violence in lecture-room,
but no one listening expects true doom.

#17 ::: sara_k ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 11:53 AM:

sisuile #1

How about White Dutch Clover? Mine grows to about 4 inches and then falls over. It tolerates drought and low cutting. It's great for the soil. It encourages honey bees to visit and pollinate (unless that is a problem for you).

This is a cached version of the Cornell page

#18 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 11:53 AM:

I'm currently reading John McPhee's article on fact-checking. His description seems so removed from what, in my imagination, passes for actual fact-checking in the media today (our local Belgian paper doesn't even run a spellcheck on a regular basis).
Discounting sloppy grammar and spelling, and short of verifying the contents of a given article on line, is there a quick-n-easy way of determining whether or not a news source has a reasonably decent fact-checking system in place?

(Still grumpy about "Manila, Indonesia" error made on Belgian evening news)

#19 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 11:54 AM:

Sisuile @ #1, my 3 favorite seed catalogs:

Seed Saver's Exchange--dedicated to preserving endangered heirloom varieties. They also have the most beautiful catalog in the business.
Pinetree Garden Seeds--they have a basil mix, a pepper mix and a lettuce mix. Great fun.
Le Jardin Du Gourmet--offers 35-cent "sample" packets of herb seed, which is a much more reasonable amount of seed than you usually get.

#20 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 12:00 PM:

Oh, and one piece of advice, sisuile--talk to your county extension agent, and to a local Master Gardener if you can find one. This will help you avoid planting horrid invasive monsters, and will give you a heads-up on any local watering restrictions or other rules that might trip you up if you plant first and ask later.

Add me to the John McPhee lovers. For gardening books, I strongly recommend Ruth Stout's How to Have a Green Thumb Without an Aching Back, Mel Bartholomew's Square Foot Gardening, and Frieda Arkin's The Essential Kitchen Gardener.

#21 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 12:10 PM:

Though I know a lot of you are thoroughly sick of snow, *big* storms are fairly rare here in Central AZ, and the local paper online has a couple of photo galleries for Monday's 8 inches. The official one is here, but the Reader Photos (linked to onsite) are better and more extensive, with local landmarks and some wildlife (well, birds).

If you're sweltering (or worse) in Australia, or just curious about Arizona as it looks between Phoenix and the Grand Canyon, you might want to check them out.

#22 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 12:33 PM:

If you have small children, sisuile, one excellent idea is a bean tipi. Use scarlet runner beans and poles long enough to make a decent footprint to play inside. They grow fast.

#23 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 01:00 PM:

Takuan @22: we did that last year. Good fun for the kiddos.
Early on and later.

#24 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 01:07 PM:

You've reminded me that once again I've loaned out The Control of Nature and haven't got it back. This makes six copies, over the years. Must get to a bookstore and see what's there.

#25 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 01:15 PM:

I am trying to compose an answer to sisule's question at 1 which is not equally compounded of snark and pompousness, but let me say, for the moment, that groundcovers in general are hell to maintain and suppress only the most easily discouraged weeds, and the more efficient a plant is at keeping weeds out, the more certain it is you will eventually view it as a weed itself.

I speak from the position of a person with a quarter acre (and counting) of self seeding oreganos where once bearded iris grew.

#26 ::: Daniel Boone ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 01:20 PM:

This seems a fine place to mention my one personal contact with literary history. While writing the portion of Coming Into The Country that discussed the people in and around my home town of Eagle, John McPhee spent several days sitting at our dining table drinking my mother's home brew and interviewing my parents (although it looks more like "shooting the shit with" than "interviewing" when he does it). We all found McPhee to be a fascinating conversationalist, and he taught me (age about eight or nine) a mathematical card trick he claimed was first taught to him by an inmate in a federal prison.

By a strange open thread synergy, one of the seed catalogs mentioned in #19 was also my mom's favorite; namely, Seed Saver's Exchange.

#27 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 01:26 PM:

Lovely pictures Eric! I can't find mine quickly, but we used bamboo and made it eight feet tall.

Some times I think a warning list for new gardeners should be compiled. All the plants you DON'T want. Start with comfrey.

#28 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 02:21 PM:

sisuile @ 1 ...
does the flurosphere have any suggestions? My first thought was Mother of Thyme, but I'm open to any suggestions of hardy zone 5/6 ground cover that doesn't need much trimming and can hold up to minor amounts of trampling.

Sisuile - it'd help to have some idea of which end of zone 5/6 you're in, and whether you've got sun, shade, part-shade, dry or wet land.

Also, there's a variety of plants that are both non-native and aggressively invasive (periwinkle in California, ivy, bamboos in many places, for example) that are often sold as ground covers, and should be run away from, screaming.

To be honest, it sounds like you're almost going about this bass-ackward, by deciding on a ground cover before sorting out how you want your garden laid out -- I've actually ended up with almost nothing by way of ground cover, but a fair number of beds, mulch, and a few paths between them.

Also, suggestions of your favorite seed catalogs/websites are also appreciated.

Veseys and Richters are two decent sites -- I've had good plants from Raintree Nursery in the past.

#29 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 03:08 PM:

Pasture grasses can make decent groundcovers. Try the short-grass prairie/plains types. (More of 'talk to your local extension-service agent'.)

#30 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 03:24 PM:

Here's a question for a community collectively more well-read than I am:

I recently read Swan Song by Edmund Crispin, one of his Gervase Fen mysteries. At one point a journalist asks Fen for an interview. She's doing a series on famous detectives: "I'm hoping to do H.M., and Mrs. Bradley, and Albert Campion, and all sorts of famous people."

I didn't immediately recognize the first two names, but Albert Campion is Margery Allingham's series detective, who in 1947, when Swan Song was published, was still appearing in new books. Google revealed that "H.M." was John Dickson Carr's Sir Henry Merrivale (which I should have known), and Mrs. Bradley starred in a nearly forgotten (but intriguing-sounding) series by a third author.

This was interesting. I've seen writers make use of public-domain characters, and I've seen covert in-joke references to their colleagues' work. (For example, as I recall at least one of Randall Garrett's Lord Darcy stories had characters obviously based on Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin.) I haven't often seen a writer explicitly and unilaterally connect his own fictional universe with one created by another contemporary writer. In fact, I can think of hardly any. Two things come to mind: a Star Trek tie-in (Ishmael, by Barbara Hambly) that apparently crossed over with an old TV show I've never seen, and a recent post on The Valve about a 19th century hack who tried to latch onto Charles Dickens's coattail by taking a melodramatic trunk novel, slipping in a couple of cameos by Dickens's Paul Dombey, and calling it Dombey and Daughter. (This kind of thing must have happened more often in the days of loosely-observed copyrights; it's possible I've heard of, and forgotten, similar incidents from the period.)

Does anyone know of any other examples?

#31 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 03:38 PM:

(Although, as an addendum to #30, it occurs to me that that last example wasn't a good one... it's a cynical appropriation by a hack, and the bit from the Crispin novel was more of a friendly gesture from one equal to another--the kind of thing more usually expressed as an in-joke.)

#32 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 03:45 PM:

Wesley, I don't understand your distinction between the in-jokes and the connection-to-universes. To me, they're all homages and intertexts.

#33 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 03:58 PM:

Faren @ #21, thank you! Those are lovely.

#34 ::: Kayjayoh ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 04:03 PM:

Serge, still pondering my Hugo nominations. There are a couple of things I am trying to finish reading, and a couple of others that I am trying to classify.

On the subject of Worldcon: this is a bit far in advance, but if any Flourospherians are going to be in at Anticipation and wishing to hold a party, but a uncertain as to what to do about party food in Montreal, I know an excellent caterer in the city. She makes great food, has a very scalable, customizable menu, and she is a wonderful small-business woman.

I'm not going to spam her contact info, but if anyone is interested, let me know and I'll get you in touch.

#35 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 04:05 PM:

Faren Miller @ 21

Nearly two weeks ago we had 8 - 10 inches in London (England). Paralysed the place because we're just not set up for it. Looked lovely, but the trains were not running (so my husband had to work from home the first day) and I spent a fair amount of my week off helping other people get their cars off the kerb onto the road - the small sideroad we live on was not gritted. Our car stayed home. My neighbour said she'd not seen that much snow in London since 1963. Schools were closed for a few days.

See: e.g. if you're interested (sorry, I don't know how to make the link active).

#36 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 04:14 PM:

Faren @ #21, you've succeeded in making me think about Prescott as a retirement possibility again. I like Hawai'i and its greenery, but those southwestern red rocks have some kind of pull on me.

#37 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 04:15 PM:

Wesley @30, the first name to come to mind is Gary Larson, if that counts.

#38 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 04:32 PM:

Does anyone know of a good place on the Internet to sell old SF magazines? I have lots of books now listed on Amazon, and I am seeking something similar for magazines. I found one site, but it had all of four Analogs listed, so I felt that wouldn't be the right place.

I am in possession of a reasonable complete set of Analog from about July 1960 to present, in varying condition. And I have a few Asimov's as well.

#39 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 04:46 PM:

#1 - we get a lot from Cook's Garden, a specialist vegetable and herb seed seller. Lettuce is one of their strengths - they advertise 50+ lettuces, including funky ones like Forellenschluss. And herbs and flowers, and quite a few tomatoes. Not a lot of bean varieties, though.

#40 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 04:48 PM:

Pendrift @ 37... Gary Larson's Far Side has had poor-sighted Mister Peabody run over Sherman while driving his car out of the garage. Another had Rocket J. Squirrel wind up as a taxydermy display. I think Popeye showed up, and the Creature from the Black Lagoon. And Mister Scott. And there's the time that Moby Dick , while driving in a city, accidentally rear-ends a car that turns out to be driven by Captain Ahab.

#41 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 04:52 PM:

Kayjayoh @ 34... Kathryn from Sunnyvale, who held Denvention's ML party, is planning to do it again at Anticipation. You might want to write to her. I'll help in any way I can, but I don't think I'll be able to bring Christmas lights this time. I wonder if Abi will join us again, Max Headroom style.

#42 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 04:54 PM:

Re: #38

You wouldn't happen to have ROF #1, would you?

#43 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 05:17 PM:

Herb garden, medicine garden, kitchen garden, flower garden... how about psychoactive plant garden? All the obscure stuff they haven't got around to making illegal yet? Or a poison garden? Purely for literary research of course. Carnivorous plant bog garden?

#44 ::: Allen Baum ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 05:24 PM:

I thought I was the only one that thought Annals of the Former World is one of the best nonfiction books ever written.
I first read it in bed, a little bit each night, and kept poking my wife (who was trying to sleep) every couple of pages, to say "listen to this!".
I have a USGS topographical map of the US on the wall outside my office (the same one that is used for the section heading in the edition I have) and I get to point out interesting features & recommend the book whenever someone stops & looks at it (which they do quite regularly)

#45 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 05:45 PM:

TexAnne, #32: I don't understand your distinction between the in-jokes and the connection-to-universes.

I tend to think of in-jokes as disguised references--one way to put it might be "references with plausible deniability." The reference in the Crispin novel openly established other contemporary writers' characters as real people in his own fictional universe, which I haven't often seen; to use a modern SF analogy, it was as if Miles Vorkosigan went to a party and heard some gossip about what Jernau Morat Gurgeh was up to over in Culture territory.

#46 ::: J MacQueen ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 05:45 PM:

Faren @ #21, it's not sweltering here to the north of Sydney just now (lots of rain, instead), but I appreciate the photos anyway. The snowman made me grin.


#47 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 05:56 PM:

Serge @40 and Wesley: I started hunting for a list of Far Side references and came across this list of comic book references in science fiction.

It would be fun to make a list for Larson if one doesn't exist. A cheat sheet would come in handy sometimes. The "cow tools" one need not appear on it.

Those who don't know Sidney Harris may want to check out his science cartoons too.

#48 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 05:59 PM:

Wesley @ 30... I haven't often seen a writer explicitly and unilaterally connect his own fictional universe with one created by another contemporary writer.

There is Alan Moore's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which comprises Allan Quartermain, Mina Harker, Mister Hyde and others, but which turns out to be but the most recent incarnation of a group founded by Lemuel Gulliver. Or was it by Father Syn?

#49 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 06:04 PM:

Pendrift @ 47... I notice that the list's section for Peanuts doesn't mention the Far Side in spite of the cartoon where Lucy van Pelt is the oldest example of hominid ever discovered. Madonna also appears wearing a conical bra, which should be ok, except that she's in a liferaft and falls forward, punching twin holes in the raft.

#50 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 06:09 PM:

Abi wanted to know if there was anything special about 119. It's the product of 7 and 17, both primes, and is also the sum of five consecutive primes: 17, 19, 23, 29 and 31. Psalm 119 is the longest psalm in the Bible. As noted on open thread 112 it's commonly used as the emergency number in parts of Asia. Anyone else care to pitch in?

#51 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 06:27 PM:

KeithS @50:

According to this fun list, it's the smallest number n where either n or n+1 is divisible by the numbers from 1 to 8.

Serge @48, I thought of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen too, but isn't Wesley looking for the literary equivalent of Ursula Buffay?
I can't think of anything specific, but have a vague recollection that members of an informal literary group - Bloomsbury? Algonquin Round Table? - would refer to elements of each other's works in their writing.

#52 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 06:36 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @16: Most of the current class is flunking out? (I had a drawing teacher in art college that once flunked out an entire class. The administration went around him to pass the class, and put him on suspension. Thereafter, his only requirement for a passing grade was to show up.)

#53 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 06:39 PM:

In one of Laurie King's 'Mary Russell' novels, Mary meets Peter Wimsey at a party. It's done with some obliqueness, but anyone who's read enough Sayers picks up on it very quickly.

#54 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 06:51 PM:

Rob Rusick #52: No, but crises may not seem real to the young.

#55 ::: sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 06:53 PM:

Ok, so the new house is on a "standard" city plot of 40 x 125. I actually got the tape out today and I've got 40 wide by about 35 deep in back. Which, while palatial by some standards, isn't by midwestern ones. I live in St. Louis, so my soil is primarily a clay. We've got wet springs and early summers and hot (95-100/33-37) July/Augusts. I have no idea what my sun conditions are going to be, but I'm betting about a third will get full sun, a third or so will be partial/mostly shade, and the area with the patio will be full deep shade. But my trees don't have leaves yet, so I'm still not sure. Much of this is idea gathering, given that I won't really know what I've got until mid-March at the earliest.

Takuan @ 4 OOH! a new toy!!

Ken @ 6 I will never plant English Ivy in my garden, even though it's a wonderful dyestuff. I've seen too many homes destroyed by it and gardens lost to it. It ranks up there with Kudzu in my book.

TexAnne @ 10 I am not a fan of my local Agrigiant and what they're doing to farmers around the world with their business practices and the genetically altered seeds. None of the companies are very good, though. Asgrow, Pinoeer, and co. pretty much hold the strings for your average midwestern farmer, simply by availability in the area through their local dealers. You buy what you can get, what works well in your cropland, and with your needs. Dwarf Soybeans are a prime example of this.

Lila @ 20 Thankfully, I live about half a mile from Shaw's Gardens, an invaluable resource. Everything I plan is getting run past them first so I don't get any nasty invasives that will push out

xerger @ 28 I'm avoiding the obvious nasty invasive non-natives (ivy, mint [including the native varieties. They're still madly invasive], periwinkle, etc.), but I have some areas where it's just not feasible to put beds. Entertaining has a tendency to flow outward and down from the back deck, so I want the areas near the paths/around the deck/around the patio to be something sittable that I don't have to mow. I do have both an herb garden and a veggie garden planned more out of the shadow of the house. Unfortunately, mulch is not an option for me. I have a pathological hatred for both termites and carpenter ants and an allergy to pine. The suggestion for a dwarf clover might work too.

I'm really just brainstorming what I might want to do in a couple months as we approach frost-free.

#56 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 07:02 PM:

Lauren Uroff @12: John McPhee is my favorite science essayist, ever.

The only thing of his I can recall for certain reading was The Rising Curve of Binding Energy, but I was quite impressed with it.

Briefly, it was a biography of Ted Taylor, one of the physicists who worked on the Manhattan Project. It obviously covered his work at that time, but also how he came to physics in the first place (he credits playing pool in Tijuana for developing his intuition for particle reactions), and his later work on nuclear reactor design, atomic rockets (along with Freeman Dyson), nuclear weapons proliferation, and ice.

The latter was interesting to me; living in a place which snows frequently, I've regarded snow as 'negative solar energy'; it has always seemed that there should be some way to put it to productive use (beyond sliding down piles of it with waxed slats strapped to your feet). A couple of projects were described: a water purification system for a town in Northern Quebec that used a freezing pond run through the winter months to purify and store water for the town's yearly needs, and an insurance company in Buffalo that stored snow under an inflatable tennis court and used it for summer cooling.

The curve of binding energy was an interesting concept too. Iron was the bottom of it. Anything lighter than iron can create energy by fusion. Anything heavier than iron can create energy by fission, and will eventually decay into iron. IIRC, in something like 10 ^67 years, all the matter in the universe is expected to have decayed into iron.

#57 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 07:04 PM:

KeithS, #50: The 1914-1917 serial The Hazards of Helen, which according to its Wikipedia page (for whatever that's worth) is believed to be the longest film serial of all time, had 119 12-minute episodes.

#58 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 07:26 PM:

Serge, #48: There are lots of Extraordinary Gentlemen-type stories, using public domain characters, but it's unusual for a writer to openly use someone else's roughly contemporary character.

Although, now that you mention it, The Black Dossier might be a good example--Moore almost doesn't even bother to disguise still-copyrighted characters like James Bond and Emma Peel. (And is Harry Lime in the public domain, or not? The film The Third Man is in the public domain, but I think Graham Greene's novella, written solely for the purpose of the film adaptation and not published until 1950, is still copyrighted.)

#59 ::: Lauren Uroff ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 07:37 PM:

Rob #56, if you wanted to expand your McPhee reading, jump to The Control of Nature next, since it is three short essays on civil engineering, including the one about Iceland's struggle to save a good harbor, which is called Pissing on the Lava. Save Annals of the Former World for a couple of months when you want to dive into geology. It's an assembly of four books written about geologists, the history of geology as a science, and the geological history of the United States as it exists along I-80 from the Delaware Water Gap to San Francisco. I read each of the four books as they came out, but the combined volume (which will break your foot should you drop it thusly) is a tour-de-force of geological yumminess.

Or skip the hard sciences entirely, and go to Giving Good Weight which is a series of essays, including one on the people who run the New York farmers markets.

#60 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 07:38 PM:

I've just remembered one more answer to my own question: Donald Westlake's Drowned Hopes crosses over with Joe Gores's 32 Cadillacs. I've only ever read the Westlake novel, but an encounter between the authors' characters is apparently described from a different POV in each book.

#61 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 07:42 PM:

Also, the one-volume version of Annals of the Former World has a short section on Iowa geology in it, that I don't think appears anywhere else.

#62 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 08:07 PM:

sisuile @ 55

I will never plant English Ivy in my garden, even though it's a wonderful dyestuff. I've seen too many homes destroyed by it and gardens lost to it. It ranks up there with Kudzu in my book.

Thank you for not destroying your biome. There are still idiots here in the Pacific NW who plant english ivy, despite that it's busily trashing our forests. When I bought this house 4 years ago, every tree on the property was under attack by ivy; the largest of the Doug Firs, which is right next to the house, was completely covered for the first 40 or 50 feet. That ivy had vines 2 inches thick; it took more than a month for it all to die off after I cut and pulled out the roots. Yes, it's as bad as kudzu.

#63 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 08:30 PM:

As we rip the English ivy out of our yard, I'm using it to dye yarn. Might as well get some good out of it!

#64 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 08:30 PM:

Blog For Darwin

That link takes you to a site dedicated to blogging about Darwin for his 200th birthday. Posts on the subject are still being written; the window of opportunity is 2/12 to 2/15. There are links to literally hundreds of blog posts by bloggers known and unknown. It gave me a bit of fanboy squee to find that the link to my own humble effort was right next to a link to a post by Eric Drexler, author of "Engines of Creation" and father of nanotechnology.

#65 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 08:34 PM:

I'll bite; how do you render the dye from ivy?

#66 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 10:23 PM:

DeCamp noted in an introduction to The Incomplete Enchanter that, in an otherwise forgotten novel by L. Ron Hubbard, Hubbard killed off Harold Shea without permission from him or from Pratt. At first they tried to dream up a way to get Harold out of it, but then they figured the best way to handle the situation was to ignore it.

#67 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 10:40 PM:

L. Ron Hubbard was really one of the more ethics-free individuals who ever lived, wasn't he? Both in the little things, like that, and in big things (like that monstrous scam "church" he founded).

#68 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 10:49 PM:

If I was An Actress of A Certain Age I would try like hell to get the rights to Mrs. Bradley just like Emma Thompson went out for the rights for Nanny McPhee and for the same reason: based on the info at the link above she'd be a hell of a character to play.

One literary pastiche I'd pay very heavy money to read would have a scene where Lord Peter Wimsey is foolish enough to try his silly ass routine on Nero Wolfe. Archie would love it because of his feelings about royalty, and I as a reader would love it because my favorite parts of the Wolfe books are when Wolfe gets annoyed enough to break out his verbal flensing knives--and Wimsey in silly ass mode would be just the thing to start Wolfe's mare to dance.

#69 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 10:52 PM:

#66: de Camp wrote a story for a "shared world" Harold Shea anthology (1990s, I think) in which he did get Shea out of Hubbardland.

#70 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 12:17 AM:

Didn't Diana Rigg do the Mrs. Bradley Mysteries?

#71 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 12:38 AM:

abi Windows XP (media edition... the release version after, "pro"), using FF 3.0.5. That seems to be the only thread with that quirk.

re McPhee: With the exception of, "Coming into the country", which I've been readig desultorially, I've devoured everything of his I've been able to find. "Annals of the Former World" does have a new section, on the "craton" of the North American continent. As I recall I made a specific trip to the Great Gorge on the Arkansas River, crossed the bridge (which seemed to me as though I were walking The Pattern... once started it was sheer willpower to keep moving but to stop would be fatal), so I could touch the oldest exposed rock in the United States.

#72 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 12:38 AM:

takuan @27 Ours were alder branches, which was what we had hanging around after taking down some alders. The main part was about 6', with a couple feet sticking out the top.

#73 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 12:49 AM:

Synchronicity: Basin and Range was one of the many books I hauled to Powell's today. The local library system is great; if I have a yearning to read it again I'll borrow it. But the other McPhee books would come first.

My book selling has hauled in $381, and emptied two book cases. (Which I left out on the landing with TAKE ME notices. Took about an hour for them to disappear.) All of the Heinlein juveniles went, as did the Vance novels. (Including two book club editions, which are usually dogs.)

I have one first edition of The Old Man and the Sea which used book department told me to bring back in a month or so.

I need to resist the urge to use the money on more books.

#74 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 01:35 AM:

Wesley @ 58... What about Jules Verne's Le Sphynx des Glaces, his sequel to Poe's Arthur Gordon Pym? Also, I think Alexandre Dumas wrote a novel called Le Mohican de Paris. I don't know if this was a sequel to Last of the Mohicans, or just a cheap way to tie in to the latter. (In French, the word 'Apache' used to refer to the leather-clad bad boys often seen in movies of the 1950s.)

#75 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 01:49 AM:

abi: To clarify (I just tested it again).

When I hit the latest post in the seatbelt thread, it opens as if I had clicked it from the front page (i.e. at the top).

The last post on the page is the last post I clicked, when the page was open.

If I want to see the more recent posts, I have to refresh the page.

#76 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 01:49 AM:

My two favorite McPhee books are "A Sense of Where You Are" (1965) and "Levels of the Game" (1969. The first is about Bill Bradley; the second about Arthur Ashe. I would also recommend, for those who like McPhee, damn near any piece of writing by John Jerome.

#77 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 01:57 AM:

Xopher @ 70: Yes, she did.

ObIvy: We hates it, Precious. Hates it. Nasty, evil, tricksy ivy.

#78 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 01:59 AM:

@74 Serge: la danse?

#79 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 02:22 AM:

takuan @ 78... Apparently, that type of dance was also called 'valse chaloupée', which roughly translates as 'long-boated waltz'. Don't ask. By the way, Apache's French meaning originated in the late 1800s and referred to a member of the Parisian underworld.

#80 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 02:56 AM:

takuan, #7, for the ivy around my condo and the rest of the development, you'd have to do that to birds. I suppose you could then roast them.

Fragano, great poetry!

#81 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 03:08 AM:

Stefan Jones @ 73

Which Powell's store did you take them to? I need to get some McPhee; it's been 35 years since I read anything of his. Also, it's almost time to recharge on SF; I've got a good stack of nonfiction by the bed, with plenty more in the basement office, but not enough fiction.

#82 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 03:15 AM:

Sisuile, #1: Indeed, it's very important to make sure that you don't accidentally plant an invasive pest. If your local cooperative extension is directed toward market gardeners--some are--then see if there is a local, or at least regional, gardening column in your paper and contact the author. Or Google "[yourtown] Garden Club." Or find out if your local wildlife refuge, state park, or Fish and Wildlife office has pamphlets about invasive plants.

Personally, I recommend ordinary white sweet clover gathered from one of those microplots of grass that are used to divide some parking lots or separate the sidewalk from the street. It's very tough, hardy, doesn't mind being trodden on, grows just tall enough to feel nice under bare feet, and spreads quickly. Also, most parts are edible. However, you will be visited regularly by bees if you plant it.

Speaking of search engines, BTW, can anybody recommend one that still does Boolean searches? I used to go to Altavista Advanced Search if I needed more precision than Google Advanced Search can provide, but they dropped their Boolean function. I need ("search engine" AND Boolean) AND NOT ("specific field of research" OR "specific area of interest"). I know that nothing turns up as many hits as Google, but I need a better filter on my results.

#83 ::: VictorS ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 03:54 AM:

Sisuile@1: I'm surprised nobody has mentioned Johnny's Selected Seeds. They're by far my favorite seed catalog, though I've gone to them mostly for vegetable seeds. They have a nice selection of thymes, though propagating thyme from seed is a pain.

#84 ::: Carl Caputo ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 04:21 AM:

Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers), I'm going to guess Stefan Jones took his books to the City of Books, the downtown store, at approximately eleven o'clock in the morning. I will guess further that he carried them in multiple Fred Meyer bags, and wears a short beard and glasses, because I suspect I walked right by him as he was entering the store. I noticed some Heinleins peeking out of the bags.

#85 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 08:23 AM:

Happy Birthday to you

#86 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 08:23 AM:

Happy Birthday to you

#87 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 08:23 AM:

Happy Birthday to you

#88 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 08:24 AM:

Happy Birthday, dear Abi
Happy Birthday to you

#89 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 08:24 AM:

And many more!

#90 ::: Janet K ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 08:51 AM:

John McPhee (Web site) is my favorite nonfiction writer. He can make anything and anyone compellingly interesting to me. Yes, a whole book about oranges!

I have Uncommon Carriers on my TBR pile. I seemed to have missed the Irons in the Fire collection. But other than those two I think I've read all of his books, starting many years ago with the marvelous The Pine Barrens.

The Curve of Binding Energy, The Survival of the Bark Canoe, and The Deltoid Pumpkin Seed are early McPhees that delighted me.

#91 ::: sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 09:22 AM:

happy birthday abi!

#92 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 09:24 AM:

Happy Birthday abi!

#93 ::: Laina ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 09:55 AM:

Happy Birthday, abi!

#94 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 10:02 AM:

and Happy Birthday Abi!

#95 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 10:25 AM:

Happy Birthday, abi!!

#96 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 10:26 AM:

abi... Keep it up :)

#97 ::: Velma ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 10:38 AM:

Scraps update:

If all goes well, on Tuesday he graduates from using the wheelchair to using the hemi-cane in his room, and, presumably, while going out! WooHOO!

We were out yesterday, and he demonstrated that he can use a four-footed walker, but he prefers the hemi-cane. We still need a wheelchair for distances and such, but this means we can go places with stairs on our own.

#98 ::: Tony Zbaraschuk ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 10:38 AM:

Anything McPhee writes is worth reading. Finding a copy of Oranges in a Pasadena used book store was wonderful, but most of his stuff is in print. I got a copy of the transportation essays for my uncle for Christmas and two days later he was scouring the essay section at Borders looking for more stuff by this guy...

#99 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 10:56 AM:

Go, Scraps!
(I bet the feeling is somewhat like my mother's after her knee replacement, where she was able to walk instead of scooting around backwards on a wheeled walker.)

#100 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 11:05 AM:

Velma/Scaps: Whoo-hoo.

#101 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 11:18 AM:

Yay, Velma and Scraps!

#102 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 11:31 AM:

Happy Birthday, abi!

It's takuan's birthday, too, though it's not clear what that means to a mollusc. Happy Hatching Day, Tentacled One!

Velma - That's great news! Yayyy!

#103 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 11:52 AM:

Happy birthday, abi, and another big WOOHOO for Scraps!

#104 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 12:03 PM:

Happy birthday, Takuan!

Takuan, also known as Takuwan, is a popular traditional Japanese pickle. It is made from daikon radish. In addition to being served alongside other types of tsukemono in traditional Japanese cuisine, takuan is also enjoyed at the end of meals as it is thought to aid digestion.
#105 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 12:03 PM:

More thoughts on Sisule's garden:

Plant what gives you joy; plant what interests you. Don't get hung up on "easy maintenance" because if you don't get emotionally and physically involved with it, it's going to be a mess. The only tidy parts of what was once an acre of maintained garden at my house are the perennial bed between the laundry room door and the clothesline and the bed between the SW corner of the house and the upper patio (which is, on the house side, behind a thirty-inch maintaining wall). I spot-weed the one in five minute intervals all year, and can access the other without bending. The entry yard is a mess because I often go from weekend to weekend without going out that door- the steps are too steep for me these days.

Put your vegetable garden in raised beds; if you can't afford the good stuff (the best stuff is recycled plastic lumber, since it doesn't release chemicals into the soil nor does it provide root-room to weed seeds) use whatever you can get; broken driveway concrete is nice, although one of the best raised gardens I know was edged with stacks of newspaper in grocery sacks. Whatever you use, make it so that it can be taken apart easily, because there is nothing on earth less fun than having to use a shovel to get to a subterrainean yellowjacket nest.

Plant what you like to eat, with this disclaimer: corn doesn't do in anything under about 100 sq ft plots, and is most productive in 1000sq ft and above (and even then draws racoons, crows, possums and rats out of nowhere). Tomatoes, peppers, basil (oh, Ceres Pomona, basil) cucumbers, chives... and pole beans, Blue Lake for the purist, all do well in short space, bear heavily enough to make a difference in your diet, and are not cheap at the store even in summer. Zucchini and other summer squashes are the contrary- space hogging, overly productive, and cheap in the organic section. We mostly grow squash because we can feed the oversized ones to the cattle. If you want pumpkins, there are articles everywhere about trellising them, and it's a good kid project.

Plant what makes you rejoice. If you want roses, please don't decide one day at the grocery store to buy 1 1/2 grade whatever because they're three for ten dollars, unless you are utterly OK with treating them as annuals. Walk around your neighborhood and see what grows well for the neighbors, and on a sunny early spring day when there are weed-piles growing on the sidewalks, stop and talk to people with interesting yards about what of their stuff pleases you. I have yet to meet a gardener who doesn't like to talk about plants. Taking to the people who are closest to you in soil and climate is the source of the best ideas and often handsfull of gift plants.

However:Do Not Plant Anything You've Been Given Unless You Identify It and Are Sure You Want It. There is nothing more destructive of an easy-to-maintain garden than the wrong plant innocently introduced. Anyone who offers you Claridge Druce geranium, Alstromeria aureas, Campanula rampunculoides, Greek Oregano, or Southernwood should be considered a manifestation of the trickster god, garden division.

Get a good garden reference book and use it.

Spend more money on compost than granular fertilizer. Spend time laying down soaker hose for any perennial plantings. Be as generous as possible with water, but mulch the heck out of everything and keep the soil cool with healthy well grown plants, which are their own water conservation mechanism.

Give yourself dry places to stand in the winter and spring- gravel walks are nice, but problematic next to mown areas; recycled concrete, again, is dandy stuff, as are the cheap ugly concrete pavers from Home Depot. If you want to get into yard art, there are mutiple places online giving instructions in making your own pavers; google is your friend.

There will be wasps. There will be weeds. If you are lucky, there will be lizards, toads, snakes and bumble bees. If we are all lucky, there will be honeybees. If any of those freak you out, gardening may take some mental adjustment.

Also, Burpee sucks. Territorial Seed is good, as is Nicholls Garden Seed and Seed Saver's Exchange. Raintree Nursery, Burnt Ridge Nursery, Joy Creek, Heirloom Roses al have given me good plants, but again, talk to your neighbors about plant and seed sources. Call Master Gardeners and ask, too, but remember the name is misleading; that organization is a self-selected sample of people who garden, and are not actually "masters."

(Hitting post in the certain knowledge that, even after four previews and a half hour, there will appear grammatical, spelling, or compositional enormities which I will see before this actually posts. This is why God made editors).

#106 ::: 'As You Know' Bob ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 12:04 PM:

Wesley @ 30... I haven't often seen a writer explicitly and unilaterally connect his own fictional universe with one created by another contemporary writer.

Obligatory SF reference: In The Dark Dimension, A. Bertram Chandler's Commodore Grimes has an adventure that bumps him up against Poul Anderson's Dominic Flandry.

I seem to recall that this was done with full permission.

#107 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 12:09 PM:

Native Seeds is another worthwhile seed catalog. The parent organization is a lot like Seed Savers Exchange, except that they're dedicated to heirloom species for the Southwestern US.

#108 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 12:22 PM:

JESR @ 105... Here and here are some of my raised beds. They're not used for veggies, but they could be.

#109 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 12:23 PM:

Three great movies about Art on TCM this afternoon: Moulin Rouge, Lust for Life and The Agony and the Ecstasy.

#110 ::: Lauren Uroff ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 12:31 PM:

Happy Birthday, Abi. And many more!

#111 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 12:35 PM:

Serge 104: Wow, I think I've made takuan! If it's pickled in soy sauce and vinegar, as opposed to that other stuff.

Hear that, takuan? I can break you just as easily. :-)

Hey, I just found out that takuan and abi also share a birthday with Harold Arlen (composer of The Wizard of Oz).

#112 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 12:53 PM:

sisuile: Congratulations on wanting to avoid grass! Will children or pets be using the yard? If you've got a dog like mine, which is a fervent "coverer", it would destroy most ground covers in no time. I do use bark dust myself (hemlock only), but can understand an aversion to it. Have you considered gravel? I've helped maintain a garden with gravel paths, and quite liked it. You do need to get a fine grade so it's nice and smooth. Seeds do adore gravel -- you'll get lots of things germinating -- but it's trivial to keep cleaned up with a scuffle hoe.
JESR @ #105 is so right about passion, and access. Some areas of my garden are often immaculate, while others never are. And right to beware of free plants. The things that people have to give away are virtually always pests. Mind you, I choose to grow some pests, but it's important to know in advance! Pests I love include verbena bonariensis soaring out a flower bed (probably the most non-ground cover plant possible) and Lady's Mantle (grown between a fence and a path that's never watered).

Stefan Jones @ #73: The Powell's book compression algorithm: Sell books back, get credit, buy fewer more expensive books. ;^) You can also spin some of the credit off onto separate cards to give as gifts.

#113 ::: Monte Davis ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 12:59 PM:

Just one quibble, not meant pedantically, on the use of "essays" for McPhee's work. Based on a few of his talks I've attended, I think he'd much prefer "reporting" -- and that matters. Yes, the essayist's freedom and felicity of association is there, but there's also a deep, strong skeleton of listening hard to people who really know basketball or citrus culture or plate tectonics, and working hard to make sense of it for the reader. In that "dream" Abi quotes, the whimsy is just a skin: there's a lot of finely articulated modeling of geological processes going on.

#114 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 01:28 PM:

re universes: As I recall Joel Rosenberg's Emil and the Dutchman meet a creature (Drambons?) which are rolling toroids, which is how they circulate blood. James White used them in one of the Hospital Station stories. I was about 14 when I read whichever I read second (I want to say the Rosenberg) and it was a shock. They did it together, in some wise, as I remember later explanations.

re gardening. Some things are tolerant of pots. Some things require pots. What will thrive where you live sometimes affects this. I have greek oregeno, in pots. If it gets away, it requires a little maintenance to make it to adulthood. Los Angeles doesn't get enough water for many seedlings to survive the germination.

To me, geraniums are a pest. Rosemary is a valuable weed. Peppers are hardy, tomatoes overwinter and allysum is evil.

If you have the space, there are sqaushes which are worth growing. Having lots of compost makes for a good sqaush planter. A trickle of water (see again, about climate) and the butternut and delicata went wild. I was able to harvest them for months. So many butternut we left them in the yard, and fed them to guinea pigs.

You say you have a clay soil. Add sand. If you can get access to horse manure (or lots of compost) put that in raised beds (pegs to hold 2x4/2x6 boards are good; so you can pull the pegs to get at the boards when/if you want to rearrange things). Add the sand, set the pegs, drop in the boards, fill with compost.

In a year, or two, pull the boards, turn it all under, re-peg, re-fill and repeat. The yard, as a whole, will improve.

Those who like McPhee might want to look into Harold Petroski. Really good writing on engineering. The Pencil and, The Evolution of Useful Things are great, as is, To Engineer is Human.. heck, read 'em all.

#115 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 01:28 PM:

Xopher @ 111... I'm not sure how easily you could break Takuan as it " made by first hanging a daikon radish in the sun for a few weeks until it becomes flexible..."

How nicely put.

#116 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 01:32 PM:

Xopher @ 111... takuan and abi also share a birthday with Harold Arlen

...Susan B Anthony, Ian Ballantine, Claire Bloom, Cesar Romero, Matt Groening and Galileo Galilei.

#117 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 01:33 PM:


They celebrate birthdays in The Netherlands?


Well then. Happy Birthday, abi!

#118 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 01:48 PM:

Re: universes, Diane Duane had The Doctor appear in her Young Wizards novel High Wizardry, and also had a technician playing with a bit of old Doctor Who video in My Enemy, My Ally, one of her Trek novels. And also tied her Young Wizards universe to the Trek universe in Dark Mirror, another Trek novel.

#119 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 01:53 PM:

Serge, I envy you the red blocks, especially because they are so infinitely flexible and restackable (and, unlike recycled concrete, not in need of chinking and lining).

Although I've got hundreds of feet of retaining walls, there are almost no photos of them; the one at the corner of the house is "backstage" for that planting and the space it faces is less than six feet wide. All of the ex-iris now-oregano garden is terraced behind 18inch retaining walls, as it was originally built to restore a system of swales my father built to keep the wells from flooding. Certain male relatives who I neither married nor gave birth to destroyed the swales with a bulldozer to "tidy up" the area after putting in a new pump. That act, followed by five inches of rain in twenty-four hours, led to the formulation of Smith's first and second laws of civil engineering:

1. Water flows downhill.

2. Never create with a bulldozer a problem you will be forced to solve with shovels.

#120 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 02:09 PM:

A gardening rule my mother has figured out: sometimes, nothing will grow there.

We have a big limestone planter taking up a pretty sizeable chunk of yard. There's a maple tree just to the west of it. The planter doesn't get enough sun for anything, but we're not willing to take down the tree because oh, shade, lovely shade for reading books in. We've gotten things to grow just about everywhere else we've tried, including full shade, but the planter defies us.

My garden, because I'm in an apartment and don't trust the soil (I park on it): nine 13-qt plastic pots, each of which will get some worm compost once I harvest it and at least one bell pepper plant. Reading about gardens has reminded me to put in my seed order and/or count the pepper seeds left from last year. At least this year I'll know to put the space heater on them to make them sprout.

#121 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 02:25 PM:

Joel @ 118
Also the (unnamed but recognizable) Sulamid wizards. (She enjoys the linkages, I suspect!)

#122 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 02:32 PM:

My favorite soil amendment: Perlite. Yes, add all the good organic stuff, too, but in the damp Pacific NW, that organic material breaks down in no time, and you're back to pure clay. Sand is good, but it's incredibly heavy and hard to add enough to make a difference. A huge bag of perlite is cheap, lightweight, and will add grit and air to your soil for years to come. Ask for it at a good nursery in the same area as the bagged soil amendments. A bag bigger than a middle-schooler should cost less than $20. (Beware of tiny bags sold along-side indoor plant potting soil.) I add it generously, along with compost, every time I dig over a bed. I also add some every time I tuck in an individual plant. After 5 or so years of using it in raised beds, I could forgo a trowel and plant with my bare hands.
If you haven't used it before, when you add it you will be aghast to see obviously unnatural white pellets in your lovely dark soil. Don't worry, they promptly get dirty and blend nicely.

#123 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 02:38 PM:

JESR @ 119... they are so infinitely flexible and restackable

When I started carving out what originally was a slope, my wife said that everything could be taken out except for the bushes that you see in the picture. I basically made things as I went, but I was quite glad for the flexibility of those bricks.

#124 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 02:40 PM:

BTW, just realized that I've only commented on the gardening aspect of this thread. (Any talk of gardening is guaranteed to get my soil nuttiness going.) Just wanted to say I love, love, love John McFee madly. It would be amazing if he reported on software testing!

#125 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 02:43 PM:

—Happy birthday!

—Agree with the John McPhee love. Good stuff, including some stuff I didn't know. (For context, my mother was raised in Laramie, fell in love with geology, and studied paleontology at the University of Wyoming under Dr. Samuel Knight.* She actually knows one of the people in the Wyoming section of the books. So when we were kids, we'd go on vacations and look at rocks.)

—I was not happy with the idea of ethanol (wasteful to raise corn just to convert it) until somebody pointed out that they're working on developing ethanol from "trash" biologicals... kudzu, ivy, other invasive species. Can you imagine kudzu ethanol? Now that's a renewable resource!

*Dr. Knight is the person who, among other things, created the copper statue of T. Rex that sits on the campus. He hand-hammered the copper for the skin and gave Mom a piece.

She now has three pieces. It's a wonder my brother survived.

#126 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 03:12 PM:

Thank you, Serge, sisiule, Michael, Laina, takuan, Debbie, Terry, Xopher, Lila, Lauren, Linkmeister & B Durbin!

Happy birthday, takuan-san, on this best of days to be born!

Many good gifts, including some from the 'Sphere (thank yous to be despatched privately). My daughter gave me a bracelet, my son a box in which he had placed a kiss and a cuddle to act as infinitely reproducing "seeds", so that I have a perpetual supply, whenever I need them.

I threw a party, of sorts. I got all shy and waited too long to invite people over, so there were only a few who could come. But people seemed to have fun, and gave me some thoughtful gifts to remind me of the day.

I'm now baking a cake to bring to the office tomorrow, but it turns out we have no eggs in the house. So I've turned a 2-egg cake into a no-egg cake, adding 1/4 c extra oil and 1 tsp vinegar. It seems to have risen well, but the sponge is weak and soft; it's clearly a fallback adaptation rather than a good recipe. But hey, it's chocolate, so people will choke it down.

All in all, a good day.

#127 ::: sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 03:18 PM:

It's slightly warmer today, so I was out pulling weeds out of my trees - I've got kudzu and milkweed, and it looks like one of the neighbors has ivy, since I had a few sprouts.

Using English Ivy as a dyestuff

Now I just need plumbing and bookshelves before I can move in. Minor things. ;)

#128 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 03:44 PM:

My parents read us many adult books as we grew up, including Basin and Range and Rising from the Plains. McPhee was an outlier, in that his work isn't fiction.

I can never assemble a complete list of what they read to us; every time I do, I miss something forehead-slappingly obvious. But here is a partiallist, not in chronological order:

Basin and Range
Rising from the Plains
The Hobbit & LOTR (twice)
The Chronicles of Narnia
The Once and Future King
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
Murder on the Orient Express
Genesis and Exodus
The Odyssey
The Last Unicorn
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
Watership Down
The Wind in the Willows
The Hound of the Baskervilles
The Left Hand of Darkness

(Interestingly enough, my parents do not identify as fans.)

#129 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 03:53 PM:

sisuile @ 127 ...
Now I just need plumbing and bookshelves before I can move in. Minor things. ;)

... and things that must not be confused ;)

#130 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 05:00 PM:

Happy birthday, to all who are celebrating such, and happiness as well to those who are celebrating other important milestones!

Poem delivered* to Our Hostess Teresa upon meeting her, for the first time in person, at Boskone:

This is just to say
I'm one of the commenters
On your blog

Which, really,
Probably covers half
The people here.

Forgive me
I thought you might
Appreciate having a face
To go with a name

The Internet can be
So shiny
Yet so cold

* Partially, because I got lost halfway through, but it served to break the ice as was intended. :-)

Also from the con, unexpected problems of modern technology department, I had to restrain myself from using my shiny new smartphone to Google or search Amazon for the names of everyone I talked to who seemed vaguely familiar -- while I was talking to them, no less -- so I could be sure to know if I was talking to an author or other notable-type person whose name I should recognize. I want my iris-implanted heads-up display, dammit. ;-)

#131 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 05:26 PM:

Belated happy birthday to abi & Takuan, and well... just general good wishes to everybody.

I'm a big McPhee fan too. One of the interesting things I recall from reading his geology books, if you read them chronologically, is to see how much progress the discipline has made over the course of his writing career. The earliest book or two contain some geological information - I can't recall what exactly - that was the orthodoxy back then, but is just plain wrong, and nutty wrong by today's standards. (Plate tectonics was crazy marginal stuff when I was a kid; just a few years later it was solidly proven and part of the new orthodoxy.)

#132 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 06:22 PM:

Did I forget to say Happy Birthday to abi? I suspect so; once I get started thinking about gardening, the rest of my brain just goes away.

janetl, the thing about perlite is that it increases tha albedo of the soil, which for most of the year in the PNW is a very bad thing. Last year it would have been bad for the whole summer, too, when the weather left soil temperatures low. Of course I'm on the functional opposite end of the glacial sediments chain from clay: sorted outwash sediments, which in my case means Nisqually Silty Sandy Loam. Spanaway series soils are even less in need of perlite, since they're mostly gravel.

Which reminds me, sisuile, mulch doesn't necessarily mean organic material; I use fist-size and bigger rocks as mulch on slopes (sand and three feet of slope in ten feet of run is a tricky kind of gardening environment). Anything river-rock size (2 3/8 inch screen) or larger also keeps the squirrels from digging up bulbs. The nice thing about rock mulching is thatyou can pick up the rocks and stuff like quack grass and sheep sorell roots are laying on the surface of the soil, much easier to get rid of than otherwise. Of course having to go out and scrounge rocks after learning my gardening on Spanaway series soils is pretty ironic.

#133 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 06:23 PM:

One thing to check into on the ground cover front is a line called Stepables, which is almost certainly available somewhere near you. They offer all kinds of low-growing things which can handle varying levels of traffic. If nothing else, looking at their website can help make you aware of the kinds of plants that can be used.

Now I have to disagree with the person who said that ivy is as bad as kudzu. Nothing else that will grow in the USA is as bad as kudzu. There are a couple of south-facing banks along the reservoirs that were planted in kudzu back in the '30s-'40s, and the only thing that keeps them in check is that the winter weather here is cold enough to kill them back to the ground every year, which helps make up for the multiple inches (if not a foot) a day they grow in season. Ivy isn't nearly as bad; mainly you have to keep it away from trees or anything else where it can get high enough to go arborescent. (I understand in that in the Pac. NW it is a different story.) V. minor isn't really that bad in most places either; just don't plant it in the woods. Vinca wants part or full shade, though, so it's not likely to be what's wanted here anyway.

Anyway, we seem to be having a slight divergence of purpose here which does make a difference: some of us are thinking "ground cover", and some of us are thinking "lawn". It makes a great deal of difference which. White clover makes an adequate lawn if you don't mind the bees, but it's not really a good ground cover.

As far as seed companies are concerned: one of the things I've seen is that the price of seed packets from many of the name companies has gotten high, and the selection has dropped (particularly badly at Park's). Pinetree has held the line, which is one of the reasons I buy from them. I also like Botanical Interests, which has a good retail presence as well. Both of them have a wider range of vegetable seeds than some.

#134 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 06:47 PM:

Jenny Islander #82:

I may be misundertanding you but I thought you could do all that with Google.

It still accepts "OR" as operator, you can put "exact phrases in quotes", otherwise it just looks for pages that have all of the individual words. You can also exclude pages that have certain words by using the minus sign, e.g. "-apple" to exclude sites with 'apple'.

grape banana apple -> 270, 000 hits

grape OR banana OR apple -> 524, 000, 000 hits

"grape banana apple" -> 191 hits

grape banana -> 1, 720, 000 hits

grape banana -apple -> 626, 000 hits

#135 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 06:49 PM:

Adds to chorus of birthday well-wishes.

#136 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 07:07 PM:

#81: I actually went to the downtown AND Beaverton Powell's yesterday. It is more likely that Basin and Range got sold at the downtown store.

#84: Almost certainly, except I don't have a beard. A don't-shave-on-the-weekend O'clock shadow at best.

I was in a hurry that morning, and managed to drop a bag twice. Only had 75 cents to feed the meter. Made it back with 7 minutes to spare, which I used for a pee break in the Powell's Technical bookstore (closest parking spot I could find). It was quite a temptation to buy something there with the wad of cash in my pocket.

I offered my parents a cut of the book money; my father bought the mainstream ones after all. (The Elmer Gantry first edition cost him a dime at a garage sale!) They said no.

#137 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 07:09 PM:

Happy Birthday to abi & Takuan.

For that matter, happy anniversary to my parents. (And an aunt and uncle . . . dual wedding.)

#138 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 07:20 PM:

re perlite: The only perlite I know of is the "popped" stuff, and I don't like it, as it tends to rise up. Small pumice, that I like. It helps that it comes in lots of colors (well, four, or so... white, dirty brown, red, and black), and in variable sizes.

It gives lots of surface area for cilial roots. Oddly it increases both drainage and water retention (the things one learns doing bonsai.

C. Wingate: re kudzu. Lots of things are as bad (blackberries in the PNW. Mustard, in some regards, in the California Coast). Aggressive ground cover which outcompetes its competition is horrid. Me, I hate, with a bone-deep loathing, "iceplant" which chokes out natives, is murder on the soil, ugly (though the flowers are decent), and almost impossible to deal with. Absent gloves, machetes, mattocks, shovels and lots of hands, you can't get rid of it.

Morning glory and bouganvilla are about as bad. In California both are weeds. The latter will overgrow just about anything, and rip your foundations apart. The former is aggressive enough to kill off bouganvilla. I have seen it devour houses.

#139 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 08:26 PM:

Many thanks to all for the good wishes! I spent most of the day fighting ivy. And losing. A simpler yard this year, time to give up on lawn altogether.
Is perlite asbestos free?

#140 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 08:29 PM:

JESR @ #132: I'm not entirely sure what you mean by the "albedo of the soil". Googling suggests that you mean the paleness of the perlite will reflect more sunlight, lowering the temperature of the soil. Definitely not a Good Thing in western Oregon. However, a moderate amount of perlite, well dug in and watered, doesn't seem to me to change the color of the soil much. It's a tiny percentage of the soil, and it turns a muddy brown color promptly. I also usually mulch a bit with dark compost (as well as digging compost in).

Terry Karney @ #138: Yup, one area's tender wonder is another's invasive nightmare. I don't recall seeing bindweed in the east or midwest, but it's a nightmare in Portland. I grow annual Morning Glory 'Heavenly Blue' ipomoea tricolor because it is the most perfectly celestial color there is. It's slow to bloom here — soil's not warm until July sometime — but I think it's worth the wait. The locals tend to react with horror when they see my plants, thinking that I'm deliberately coddling perennial bindweed. I assure then that it's a tender annual that just happens to look similar, but they doubt me.

My brother-in-law loves blackberries, and wondered why we didn't plant some, until he saw that they can cover barns in this part of the world. That's the Himalayan variety that was introduced, of course.

#141 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 08:43 PM:

takuan @ #139: I just googled "perlite asbestos" and it looks like there's a lot of reading one could do. (sigh) There are claims that it does not contain asbestos. The situation is complicated a bit in that perlite and vermiculite get combined with other materials into insulating products for construction. I do buy horticultural grade perlite, which may make a difference.

Terry Karney @ #138: On the subject of bonsai, have you ever visited the Weyerhaeuser Pacific Rim Bonsai Collection‎? A tad bit ironic, obviously, but it's amazing. It's located near I-5, just south of Seattle.

#142 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 08:44 PM:

A lot depends on where you are. Bougainvillea is tender and therefore we don't have to worry about it on the east coast. Morning glory is an annual here and isn't too bad, though its relative bindweed is really nasty. Brambles are annoying everywhere. In the SE USA, none of them can even begin to compete with kudzu, which doesn't so much climb trees as simply envelop them. Most herbicides hardly touch it and one of them acts as a growth stimulant.

Wasn't iceplant planted as a firebreak in much of So. Cal.?

The other side of the coin, though, is that anything that is a worthwhile ground cover has some tendency to spread and crowd things out. And for that matter, ornamental garden plants (other than trees, which as long as they aren't beset by pests grow where they are planted, and certain tender annuals whose seeds won't survive the winter) have some tendency towards being "invasive" just because people are going to grow things that need constant life support to survive.

#143 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 08:58 PM:

We've got a hedge of bougainvillea on the street side of our house in Hawai'i. Trouble is, when the rains hit the leaves get wet and fix themselves to sidewalks. You almost need a pushbroom to get them off, but they're slick enough that they can be dangerous if you don't.

#144 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 09:45 PM:

here's another fun contender that some have innocently cultivated because it looks like it's from Mars: (not a ground cover, but interestingly nasty because it can blind you)giant hogweed

#145 ::: dilbert dogbert ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 09:59 PM:

Thanks for the McPhee post. The Curve of Binding Energy scared the hell out of me as it told how easy it is to build a nuke. It is a wonder that the mafia doesn't have a store of them.
The Deltoid Pumpkin Seed brings back memories of the main guy of the story. I met him while working for NASA and doing a study of whether there was an optimum ratio of aerodynamic lift to gas lift. Long story short: Flying things just want to be airplanes if you want them to do any reasonable task.
I think airships would make wonderful cruise ships for very wealthy tourists.
I get to see the latest version flying about the SF Bay Area. Long Live the Helium Heads!

#146 ::: joel hanes ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 10:00 PM:

I'm surprised that none of the John McPhee fans have mentioned Encounters With The Archdruid, in which McPhee goes on backcountry trips that combine David Brower (deep environmentalist, former leader of The Sierra Club) and "some of his natural enemies". With Floyd Domini, the dam-builder at the Bureau of Land Management, McPhee and Brower float the Grand Canyon. With Prof. Park, mining geologist from Stanford University, they backpack the northern Cascades (where a National Park may or may not contain a great deal of copper ore).

McPhee seems to respect and enjoy being with all these intelligent and engaged men, and his neutral reporter's voice is perfect for the inevitable disagreements.

#147 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 10:00 PM:

sisuile: going to do bees and chickies?

#148 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 10:00 PM:

C. Wingate: Yep. Here Morning Glory is undying.

janetl: I didn't manage to make it when I was stationed at Ft. Lewis. On the occasions I had the time it was closed.

takuan: Depends on the perlite (since some is made from vermiculite). I don't know that janetl's use of horticultural makes much difference. I suspect that just means the vermiculite was well washed. There was a mine, in Colorado, which sold asbestos contaminated vermiculite to places making it into perlite (I looked into this when we were deciding on incubational media for snake eggs), and the real problem was that, once into the production stream, it was almost impossible to trace more completely than, "sold to this company".

What we did was try to make sure the places we bought from hadn't ever gotten supplies from them. Since the mine was closed a decade ago the odds of that mine's contaminated output still being in the queue is slim.

#149 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 10:12 PM:

Happy Birthday Abi and Takuan!

Kayjayoh @34,
Making Lumière II: the Mirth of Con will be on Friday or Saturday. Right now it is in its protoplanning stage.

#150 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 10:13 PM:

I'm happy to know I've missed so many McPhees. All I ever read was the Curve of Binding Energy so it's good to have all these other titles to look forward to.

In a semi-geological vein, did any enjoy Tim Flannery's The Eternal Frontier (An Ecological History of North America and its Peoples)?

#151 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 10:24 PM:

re: perlite/vermiculite/asbestos; I ask since my attic was filled with Zonolite insulation (the house was built in 1911 or so), most of which I vacuumed out twenty five years ago or so. zonolite

#152 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 10:46 PM:

Soon Lee #134:

Google can't do this:

((Kodiak NEAR bear) AND tourism) AND NOT (trophy OR attack OR garbage).

Google Advanced Search doesn't accept all of the Boolean search terms.

#153 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 10:54 PM:

On a completely different topic, what are middle-class people on a newly tightened budget, who only have access to a supermarket, eating in the UK these days? Our cheapest beans are whole brown lentils, split green and yellow peas, black-eyed peas, navy beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, Lima beans, black beans, small white beans, and red beans (tofu, nuts, and unsweetened peanut butter are out of range); meats, whole turkeys, whole chickens, ground turkey, and dark-meat chicken and turkey cuts, plus hot dogs (fish is out of range except for locally canned salmon); fruits, apples, oranges, bananas, canned pineapple, and raisins; veggies, mature potatoes, red and green cabbage, yellow onions, carrots, and celery. Rice is much cheaper than dry pasta and fresh pasta is not an option. Of course I shop sales religiously, but these are the year-round staples. Also, a plain loaf of home-baked bread costs about 40 percent as much as the cheapest decent store brand.

#154 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 10:56 PM:

Forgot to mention eggs.

#155 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 11:09 PM:

eggses,we likes the eggses

#156 ::: Kayjayoh ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 11:24 PM:

Happy Birthday to Takuan and Abi.

<clears throat>

This is your birthday song,
It isn't very long.

Kathryn from Sunnyvale @149

Well, if at any point in the planning process you find that you would like Chantilly's contact info (that's my caterer friend) then let me know. If you find you neither want nor need such a thing, no offense shall be taken. :)

#157 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 11:35 PM:

Oh... re McPhee and geology: I don't know that I'd say the things he discusses are "nutjob", but somewhat out of date. One of the interesting things is looking at the (still extant) questions about how plate tectonics works; which is different from the idea that some say it's not a real thing.

I do recall when it was breaking into the public conciousness, and the oddities of how it was receieved.

#158 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 11:51 PM:

We've got blackberries in the yard, but they're not so invasive that you can't manage them with appropriate application of bladed weedwackers, lawnmowers, and rototillers. And they're tasty. That's not to say that ignoring them for a few years is a good idea though. We've also got scotch broom, but that's also vulnerable to mechanical implements and fire.

The fake morning glory was the bane of my existence in my last house after the previous occupants left a root in the compost pile. And I wasn't going to use chemicals. Thankfully, there's none of that at this house.

#159 ::: Susie Lorand ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 12:31 AM:

I commend to the attention of McPhee fans _The Crofter and the Laird_, about his ancestral island and mine, Colonsay. Still hope to get there eventually - but the ferries don't run every day, so it takes planning.

#160 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 12:36 AM:

I gots the BESTEST birthday prezzy (from Arkie!)

#161 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 12:43 AM:

takuan @ #160, that's just . . . disturbing.

#162 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 12:56 AM:

Isn't it Great! He made it especially for me! Sound and all! It's the mascot and logo for our old team: The Deadly Zombie Chiuauau Moderation Squad. (Though I still hold out hope for Mother Teresa's Littul Kittons)

#163 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 01:06 AM:

Happy Birthday to abi and takuan!

#164 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 01:29 AM:

Happy birthday and many returns to abi and to takuan!

And a loud W00T! to Scraps and Velma. There's just no stopping that man!

I just love having things to celebrate. Please, all of you, keep them coming.

Terry @ 140
Second the Petroski recommendation. It's just amazing to find someone who can describe so well what engineering is about to people who have no experience of it.

And speaking of celebrations ... we went to a friend's 60th birthday party yesterday. She's a teacher at the local community college, and her husband is probably the last Marxist economics professor not in captivity. There was a houseful of their friends, and I was reminded again of how nice it is to be among smart, funny, and politically-aware people. There aren't too manhy places where someone could remark on how progressive someone's political views are, and I could truthfully say, "Well, but aren't we all?"

Like I said, I love having things to celebrate.

#165 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 01:46 AM:

A familiar story for any software testers, designers & users here. News story from late last year about “QPRIME”, used by the Queensland Police.

Police avoid arrests due to time-consuming QPRIME computer system
“It's difficult to navigate because it's not a matter of following steps in a logical manner. You go from A to G then back to A, then C, then H,” he said. “It's a nightmare. … There was an occasion where two people were arrested on multiple charges. It took six detectives more than six hours to enter the details”,23739,24723327-952,00.html,23739,24723327-952,00.html

#166 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 04:12 AM:

Jenny Islander #152:

Looks like the only Boolean Operators Google accepts are AND, OR and NOT. AND is on by default. It also looks like nesting works. The exclude (-) can be used for as many terms as required. NEAR also appears to be a Google default.

With your example (and working within Google's limitations), have you tried:

Kodiak bear tourism -trophy -attack -garbage

#167 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 04:23 AM:

Jenny Islander at 153: My cynical guess would be "badly".

Personally - I add parsnips, green lentils, chickpeas, and coconut milk to your list. I eat a smaller selection of beans & meats than you do, though I do keep half a dozen kinds of bean in the cupboard - must dig them out. I'm cooking for one, and I have a kickass cooker (six gas hobs and an electric oven large enough to feed 20 from - and I have) but almost no freezer space, so I tend towards roasts and three-day stews.

Speaking of roasts, the best combination of £/kg, tastiness, and relatively low food miles I've found is a shoulder of lamb. (I shop at Tesco for such things, so should be generally available.) I do constrain myself to not eating battery anything, and as local as is possible without actual effort, so that skews the cost curve a bit.

I tend to go heavy on spices, because they're dirt cheap for the effect they have. Mind you, here in East London I've got (to a close approximation) 37,682 ethnic food shops within half an hour's travel, so that's easier for me. Note also that soy sauce, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, sushi vinegar, and Thai fish sauce all count as spices. Mustard oil is also good - incidentally, I've noticed that they've stopped labelling it as "not for food use" now.

#168 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 07:09 AM:

Arggggh-- meant to say "that aren't going to need life support...."

#169 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 08:10 AM:

A curious side note on food: my gut was messed up by antibiotics after my accident, and I was plagued by voluminous farting, until I did some cooking for myself, using spices.

I know some people recommend natural yoghurt. There are likely other solutions.

So was Major Bloodnok's situation misleading?

#170 ::: sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 08:11 AM:

JESR @ 135 Really? Stops squirrels? How much gravel? dig hole for blub, surround bulb with gravel, cover with dirt?

I hate squirrels.

takuan @ 147

No, no bees or chickies. Not even a 'real' garden. By the time I get to summer, the 'day' job often does 10-12 hr days and is 6-7 days a week. I don't want everything to die from neglect or have foods that are going to rot on the vine because I don't get outside for a few days (the exception being fresh tomatoes). Squashes and root vegetables are what I'm concentrating on, I think. Probably edamame. One (1) red raspberry cane and one (1) gold raspberry cane, in pots. Raspberries and blackberries will go nuts here if not strictly controlled.

I am exceedingly lucky that my back windows look out on the site of one of the local summer farmers' markets. They close in Sept, though. I need more carrots, parsnips, leeks, beets, and hard squashes than they provide.

#172 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 08:45 AM:

Happy birthday to abi and takuan, and my apologies for all the other comments like this I've missed making lately (Terry left the Army, JESR lost someone dear to her, Scraps continues crawling out of the hole he fell into with gritty determination). My best wishes to all, even the ones I don't remember right now.

The world is a busy, interesting, somewhat sleep-deprived place just now. (Background noise: two little boys chattering at each other over something, while the baby cries and the dog tries to beg/steal food from one of the boys.)

#173 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 08:54 AM:

sisuile: timer, solenoid valve, plastic pipe,drip emitters = profit!

#174 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 08:58 AM:

I'm also a McPhee fan. He has a way of basically chatting with some interesting people in depth, hanging out with them, and then telling their story in a way that gives some wonderful insights into their worldview. Reading The Curve of Binding Energy or The Deltoid Pumpkin Seed or Survival of the Bark Canoe was like happening to spend a week or two hanging out with some weird and interesting group of people, except that McPhee is *way* better than I'd be at drawing out their deep insights and the odd, interesting parts of their worldviews.

People who like his work may also enjoy Tracy Kidder's work. Soul of a New Machine captures an aspect of high-pressure, you-bet-your-company high-tech projects better than anything else I've ever read, and this is something I've experienced enough to know what I'm talking about. (Pretty much everything about the technology used is now far, far out-of-date, and the company involved is (I think) long since either shut down or gobbled up by some other company. But the insights into what the world looks like inside that kind of project are accurate w.r.t. modern projects, in the same way that you can still learn a great deal about (say) the stresses of being in combat from good reporting from WW2.) I found Hometown to also be really fascinating and interesting, and also Among Schoolchildren. My sense is that Kidder is a bit more inclined to spread his attention out among more people in his books, but there's a lot in common between the two.

#175 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 09:01 AM:

Current background noise: My boys are singing to the baby to calm her down, and she's stopped crying. (They're singing a Suzanne Vega song I often sing to them when I'm putting them to bed. One of these days, we should read through _The Odyssey_, as they already know one small part of the story now....)

#176 ::: Adrian Smith ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 09:29 AM:

I hate squirrels.

You just haven't found the right recipe yet.

#177 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 09:37 AM:

FMy favorite line from 1943's No Time for Love, which TCM showed last night, in the scene where photographer Claudette Colbert asks tunnel-digger Fred MacMurray what his job title is:

"We don't have titles down here. We're all Democrats."
#178 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 09:54 AM:

zucchini cam? Time lapse of the drama?

#179 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 09:58 AM:

More open-ended journalism question:

I recently watched a youtube slot from an MSNBC interview of Taleb Nassim and Nouriel Roubinni, which was amazing in its embarassing unintentional humor. (One of the commenters on Felix Salmon's blog said it was like watching the cheerleading team interview Henry Kissinger on foreign policy, and that seems about right.) A link to this interview can be found from Krugman's blog, here.

This made me think of the amazingly funny last Hillary/Obama debate, where the "journalists"[1] asked a bunch of questions that I swear could have come right out of an Onion or SNL piece. The NYT has the script for that skit transcript from that debate here.

The thing that's hard is, the talking-head TV news shows are pretty much always like this. Sometimes, the talking heads are chattering with someone who's both smart and informed enough that the talking heads will, simply by their own stunning ignorance, end up looking really stupid. Most of the time, though, either the smart/informed interviewees will be playing the game with the talking heads (pretending their inane questions aren't really quite as inane as they are, answering their did-you-stop-beating-your-wife questions in a nice, measured way that makes it sound like there was a real question asked), or there won't actually be anyone in the discussion who's bright enough to see how dumb the talking heads' comments/questions/assumptions are. Sometimes, the smart-but-not-verbally-quick interviewees will even come off looking dumb or evil to people who don't know anything about the topic of the interview.

Now, at the other end of the universe from that is something like what McPhee does, or even what Charlie Rose does.

It's interesting to ask why most of that talking-head style journalism is so mind-hurtingly stupid, and why so little is sensible. I guess one part is that most viewers aren't all that bright or interested, so Larry King interviewing some pro wrestler gets better ratings than Charlie Rose interviewing Nouriel Roubinni. I suspect, but can't prove (and don't really know) that another cause of this is that serious discussion of issues is much more likely to offend someone important: advertisers, corporate parents, administration officials who retaliate against unfavorable stories by denying access or leaking to friendlier journalists, interest groups capable of bringing in large numbers of complaint letters/calls, etc.

[1] In most cases, this ought not to be taken as an insult, but in this context, the term is somewhat less favorable than "drunken beligerent bum screaming at the little voices to be quiet."

#180 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 10:07 AM:

Jenny @153: ... a plain loaf of home-baked bread costs about 40 percent as much as the cheapest decent store brand.

Unfortunately, I tend to eat quite a bit more home-baked bread than store bought. I consider enjoyment of good bread to be worth the increased cost. And potential weight gain.

Actually, our home made bread cost is quite a bit less than 40% of store bought, thanks to bulk yeast and a 25 pound bag of bread flour for $8 from the local warehouse club. Can you get a similar price at your friendly local Evil Empire Tesco?

For Christmas I got Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day and we absolutely love it! Mix up a big batch of dough -- no kneading -- store it in the fridge, and pull off grapefruit-sized hunks to bake. If you store the new dough into the same container you just emptied, a nice sourdough effect happens. Two people easily go though that smallish loaf in a day. The grapefruit-sized hunk makes a loaf about the same size as the small loaves in the front.

#181 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 10:17 AM:

Wesley, way back there up at #30 -- the Spring/Summer 2008 issue of Mythlore has an article on Sara Paretsky (by Joe Christopher) with an appendix listing all the little cross-overs and shout-outs she give to other mystery writers and their creations throughout the V.I Warshawski series. She references Holmes, Wimsey, Sam Spade, Miss Marple, James Bond, and so on -- generally referring to them as real people.

#182 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 10:29 AM:

I guess other people have also noticed that grocery costs have gone up quite a bit lately (referencing Jenny Islander's comment above). Oddly, I haven't seen this discussed much in the media, though I consume relatively little media other than blogs just now, so maybe I'm just not paying attention. (I see some CNN/Fox/MSNBC talking head shows at the gym sometimes, and usually listen to the BBC's Noticias en Español podcast while working out, but that's about the extent of my MSM exposure.)

I wonder how much of this reflects more people eating at home rather than eating out, and the resulting shift in demand.

#183 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 11:31 AM:

Tesco doesn't do bulk yeast. I've had good results from their own-brand flour, but protein quality (important for breadmaking) seems erratic. No,they're not in the warehouse club business.

Pre-mix breadflour for baking machines saves a little money over store-baked bread I prefer the Lidl product, which is good for non-ordinary breads.

The recipes provided with the machine work well.

Tesco in Brigg isn't so good for fresh vegetables. I have a feeling that surpluses in the supply chain are getting squeezed, so stores tend to run out of stock at the end of the day.

#184 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 11:42 AM:

Today brings some mostly good news on my injuries. I may never escape some back pain, but my back has healed without complications. I've been given a formal OK to taper off my use of the back brace I've been wearing, and the plaster cast on my leg should be finished with in a couple of weeks.

People will still be stuck with my sensitive fannish face, but I don't have to look at that.

#185 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 11:44 AM:

Dave Bell @ 183... Tesco in Brigg isn't so good for fresh vegetables

...while, in Copenhagen, it's not so good for little mermaids.

#186 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 11:47 AM:

Kayjayoh @ 156... Say, are there convenience stores near the con center where one could buy fresh fruit, bread, stuff for cheap meals?

#187 ::: sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 11:57 AM:

Tracie @ 180 I heard the NPR/Splendid Table segement on that book. Is it really worth it? How much fridge space are we talking about?

Bread is so important...

#188 ::: Ken Brown ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 12:11 PM:

Jenny Islander @153:

The larger supermarkets in UK do loss-leader cheap lines. So if you have the presence of mind to go in and ONLY buy what is cheap that week you could eat for very little money. It varies from week to week. Tins of processed peas and own-brand baked beans are often very cheap - almost never more than 15p each and sometimes only 8 or 9p.

For some reason carrots are very cheap at the moment. The week before last I bought 1.5kg for 88p (about one dollar of your earth money) Thats more carrots than I and my daughter are likely to eat before they go off. On the same day I bought 2.5 kilos of decent white potatoes for about 1.30 - I could have got 5 kilos for only about 12p more but that was more than I wanted to carry home in my bag.

As you said beans are cheap. Peanut butter is still pretty cheap round here I think - though our food is usually more expensive than it is in America, so 60p or 70p for a small jar might seem a low price to me but a high price over there.

"Rice is much cheaper than dry pasta..." Yes, and if you can buy larger bags - say five kilos or ten kilos - you can get real basmati rice for much the same price as the cheaper stuff in a supermarket. Cheap luxury! As is tea of course. Everyone ought to drink a variety of teas. Made with real tea leaves not teabags. Its much cheaper than coffee, or juice, or booze, a little cheaper than fizzy pop, or tea made with teabags. So you get the gourmet experience at less than the cost of the mass-market stuff.

"fish is out of range except for locally canned salmon" Not my experience at all here. The fish counters of the large supermarkets sometimes sell fresh sardines and mackerel astonishingly cheap. The cheapest canned fish is sardines, if you look around you can get a small tin for less than 30p (Tesco's and ASDA are advertising sardines online at 18p a tin). Mackerel and herring are slightly more expensive than that as is tuna (though sometimes tuna gets sold cheap on some promotion or other) Even the cheap cans of pink salmon cost more than tuna or mackerel, and the more expensive red salmon much more, maybe three times as much.

I don't buy or cook much meat other than fish - much les than once a week, sometimes not even once a month - so I'm not up on prices, and when I do buy it I tend not to buy the cheapest. I think the lowest prices in supermarkets these days are for imported chicken. And in the street markets for ex-battery hens. I've seen them on display at 99p for two birds in Deptford and Lewisham. I've never bought one of those but I expect that you would be making soup or stew, not roasting or frying them. If you are willing to cook it slowly gammon/ham/bacon joints can be quite inexpensive I think.

Making your own bread is cheaper than buying it as you said, though in practice I almost never get round to it. The price of flour is very variable. Posh organic wholemeal stonegound strong flour is usually well over a pound a kilo, but own-brand is often more like 50p-80p & sometimes less. I think plain flour is usually about 50p a kilo these days but I've seen it for 30p recently. Self-raising can be cheaper than plain, which is weird. Once upon a time not so long ago I saw flour for 9p a kilo, which is weirder. When the supermarkets were selling crusty bread at 60p a loaf and white sliced at less than 30p there wasn't that much price incentive to bake your own but now the white sliced has gone up to 70-80p and decent crusty bread seems to have almost disappeared except in ethnic shops or very expensive organic places. And I still have qualms about spending three quid for a small loaf, however nice it is.

For vegetables, the street markets are on average cheaper than the supermarkets, but they aren't really open at times I go shopping :-( If I was really broke, or if I was unemployed, or if I worked nearer where I live, I would use the street markets more. And the ethnic corner shops are often cheaper than mainstream supermarkets for larger packs of dry beans or rice or spices - there is a Turkish supermarket that sells better bread than Tesco's does for less money. Living in South-East London I can get most stuff from corner shops though they usually have either lower quality or higher prices than supermarkets. (Our local corner shops are almost all run by Tamils & so have a South/South-East Asian flavour - I can get ginger or curry leaves or lemon grass (or even betel nut not that I ever use that) from closer to my front door than sisuile is to the end of her or his garden)

As for ivy in gardens - I think I didn't realise it wasn't a North American native. I thought it was circumpolar. Oh well. Please don't think I want to recommend planting invasive aliens.

Being a Brit - even one who has studied botany - I have no real idea what kudzu is. From the way Americans talk about it it sounds almost as evil as Japanese knotweed. Almost but not quite. Nothing could be quite that bad. I think Japanese knotweed must have been what Tom Disch had in mind when he wrote The Genocides

#189 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 12:37 PM:

Serge @177: Reminds me of a cartoon. I think it had originally run in The New Yorker; I had seen it reproduced in a Time/Life book chronicling the 30's or 40's.

Two guys deep in a gloomy coal mine, the only lighting their helmet lamps. One looking at something down the length of the tunnel; grinning, comments to his co-worker — "It's Eleanor Roosevelt!"

#191 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 12:48 PM:


Japan invades. Far Eastern vines
Run from the clay banks they are

Supposed to keep from eroding.
Up telephone poles,
Which rear, half out of leafage
As though they would shriek,
Like things smothered by their own
Green, mindless, unkillable ghosts.
In Georgia, the legend says
That you must close your windows

At night to keep it out of the house.
The glass is tinged with green, even so,

As the tendrils crawl over the fields.
The night the kudzu has
Your pasture, you sleep like the dead.
Silence has grown Oriental
And you cannot step upon ground:
Your leg plunges somewhere
It should not, it never should be,
Disappears, and waits to be struck

Anywhere between sole and kneecap:
For when the kudzu comes,

The snakes do, and weave themselves
Among its lengthening vines,
Their spade heads resting on leaves,
Growing also, in earthly power
And the huge circumstance of concealment.
One by one the cows stumble in,
Drooling a hot green froth,
And die, seeing the wood of their stalls

Strain to break into leaf.
In your closed house, with the vine

Tapping your window like lightning,
You remember what tactics to use.
In the wrong yellow fog-light of dawn
You herd them in, the hogs,
Head down in their hairy fat,
The meaty troops, to the pasture.
The leaves of the kudzu quake
With the serpents' fear, inside

The meadow ringed with men
Holding sticks, on the country roads.

The hogs disappear in the leaves.
The sound is intense, subhuman,
Nearly human with purposive rage.
There is no terror
Sound from the snakes.
No one can see the desperate, futile
Striking under the leaf heads.
Now and then, the flash of a long

Living vine, a cold belly,
Leaps up, torn apart, then falls

Under the tussling surface.
You have won, and wait for frost,
When, at the merest touch
Of cold, the kudzu turns
Black, withers inward and dies,
Leaving a mass of brown strings
Like the wires of a gigantic switchboard.
You open your windows,

With the lightning restored to the sky
And no leaves rising to bury

You alive inside your frail house,
And you think, in the opened cold,
Of the surface of things and its terrors,
And of the mistaken, mortal
Arrogance of the snakes
As the vines, growing insanely, sent
Great powers into their bodies
And the freedom to strike without warning:

From them, though they killed
Your cattle, such energy also flowed

To you from the knee-high meadow
(It was as though you had
A green sword twined among
The veins of your growing right arm--
Such strength as you would not believe
If you stood alone in a proper
Shaved field among your safe cows--):
Came in through your closed

Leafy windows and almighty sleep
And prospered, till rooted out.

James Dickey

#192 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 12:49 PM:

eric @138, ease of controlling blackberries and scotchbroom is inversely proportional to length of time the land has been in cultivation and proximity to the earliest introduction of the invader. My great-Grandmother accepted free Himalaya blackberry plants from the extension service sometime around the time my grandfather was born here in 1895. I'm less than ten miles overland from one of the pre 1840 ground zero introduction point for Cytisus scoparius, which was in the return packet from the one which sent "Pinus douglasii" (Pseudotsuga menziesii) to the Royal Botanical Garden in Edinburgh.

There are two mechanisms involved with the difficulty of eradication of most plants: seed load and subterranian structure. Both apply to blackberries: to exterpate an old infestation, you have to dig up each and every burl, some of which can be as deep as six feet down in loose soils. And then you have to pull, mow, spray, burn et'c every sprouting seed until they stop sprouting or you're back where you started before you know it.

Anyone who thinks keeping Himalyas under control is a snap is welcome to take on the ones growing at my place, in sand, on an artificially steep and thence eroding slope. Above the well, so we are all averse to using chemicals.

Scotch broom depends entirely on seed-load, but specializes in producing hard, decay-resistant, inedible seeds.

sisuile @170; use the river rock (specified because this works best with nice skipping-stone sized and shaped; I need to get a yard of 2 2/3 screen drainfield rock, which can be the same stuff but needs inspected to be sure: crushed rock doesn't work) at least two layers deep on top of the soil; it is slithery and hard for squirrels to dig in.

I am with you in the pure white-hot hatred of the rampant Eastern Grey Squirrel, destroyer of orchards, consumer of everything. Humans, starlings, brown rats, and eastern grey squirrels would be even more destructive if feral cats and coyotes weren't around to keep them honest.

I was awakened today by starlings and redwinged blackbirds in chorus in the oak trees, and opened the curtains fully expecting both seed feeders to be entirely empty; the flocking birds sit in the oaks and wait their turn at the feeders, and can empty two pounds of black sunflower seed out those twelve, half inch, holes in a half-hour or less. The seeders were full, and the flocking birds gone, while the resident gold-crowned sparrows, juncos, song sparrows, rufus sided towhees, white crowned sparrows, purple finches, goldfinches and English sparrows were making short trips from the the shrubbery into the feeder and then back to the shrubbery to feed. By which behavior I deduce that the merlin is around; nothing like a falcon of any size to make the travelling birds decide that the pickings are easier elsewhere and the residents decide to have breakfast quietly at home. If it were one of the accipterines, sharp-shinned or Cooper's hawk or goshawk, all the birds would be flocking close-round to harass it and fill the air with the ratchetting hawk warning.

(There is nothing so dignified as the way tiny birds ignore eagles).

#193 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 12:52 PM:

Huh. A long comment about invasive weeds and squirrels and birds is being held for review. No links. Oh, well, life is odd some days.

#194 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 01:19 PM:

Rob Rusick @ 189.... Heheheh.

I also like this one from The Day The Earth Stood Still:

"Why doesn't the government do something, that's what I'd like to know."
"What can they do, they're only people just like us."
"People my foot, they're Democrats."

#195 ::: Glenn Hauman ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 01:31 PM:

Re: "I haven't often seen a writer explicitly and unilaterally connect his own fictional universe with one created by another contemporary writer."

Three jump to mind very quickly:

1. Larry Niven putting the Kzin in Star Trek.

2. Roger Zelazny borrowing John Gaunt a.k.a. GrimJack for his Amber novels. (See also the dozens of appearances of Munden's Bar, and comic book multiverses in general.)

3. Tommy Westphal - A universe explored which links over 280 TV shows into one continuous tapestry. Prepare to spend some time, even though it's only supposed to be a three hour tour. A three hour tour.

#196 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 01:32 PM:


You got caught because one of the birds you cite (g0shawk) contains the name of an obnoxious spammer from a week or two back.

I'll check whether it's stopped and may remove the string from the filters if so.

#197 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 01:33 PM:

Am I really the first one to mention Silverlock?

albatross 175: My boys are singing to the baby to calm her down, and she's stopped crying.

May I point out that this bodes well for future intersibling relations?

#198 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 01:39 PM:

Crossovers... Comics artist John Byrne had Larry Niven's Puppeteers make a cameo in the late 1970s's "Starlord". He had the Fireball XL-5 make a cameo in "She-Hulk".

#199 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 01:42 PM:

albatross @ #174, the company Kidder described was Data General, eventually subsumed into EMC. I agree with you; it really is a fascinating book.

#200 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 01:53 PM:

(There is nothing so dignified as the way tiny birds ignore eagles).

ON the other hand, having seen Anna's hummingbirds eye-to-eye with hawks (probably swearing at them, but I wasn't close enough to hear), dignity doesn't always enter into it.

Last June, as I was going up the street to vote in the state primary, a Cooper's dropped on the flock of Brewer's blackbirds on the school field. (We were all startled by each other.) When last seen that evening, the hawk was carrying off the bird it caught, followed by several members of the flock.

#201 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 02:14 PM:

Albatross no. 175:

Ooo, ooo, I know which song!

My brother has a book of feminist poetry that includes a haunting little lyric of dual soliloquies as Odysseus sails away from the nymph's island; he is looking over his raft in amazement, cataloging all the things she did for him, while she is on shore lamenting the selfish stupidity of men. It ends (IIRC):

"Her own hands twined the cords, she wove this wool--"

"For Man is a brute and a fool."

#202 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 02:27 PM:

PJ Evans @200, hummingbirds are ever and always an exception; they seem to have no sense of proportion at all. Even still, I've yet to see one pay much heed to a bald eagle, as long as the big 'un stays out of their nectar trees.

Mobbing accipterines, though, must have some adaptive use (although it may just be that it instills a sense of solidarity). One of my fondest memories from my son's first month was sitting and nursing him at dawn and seeing every adult swallow in the big old hay barn next door stream out in pursuit of a sharp shin carrying one of their number.

#203 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 02:56 PM:

JESR @ 202... Got Rufus hummingbirds around your place? Bunch of little it's-all-mine-mine-mine avians, aren't they?

#204 ::: K.C. Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 03:05 PM:

About the character crossovers, Tolkien seems to be fair game in a quiet way. One of Pratchett's books (can't remember which one at the moment) has the witches encounter a Gollum-like creature on their trip through a mountain cave, at which point Nanny dispatches it calmly with an oar. And Diana Wynne Jones has a dwarf named Galadriel in Dark Lord of Derkholm, which I always thought was particularly funny. (One of the characters wonders what the dwarf's mother was thinking.)

#205 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 03:06 PM:

When a flock of birds is attacked while on the ground, the females and dominant males flee first; the subordinate males delay for a few seconds. They're spares from the flock's standpoint.

I suspect mobbing has a similar dynamic.

#206 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 03:07 PM:

Jenny Islander @ 153, Dave Bell @ 183

I live five minutes walk from a Tesco. Save money by going over there at about the time they put stuff on "Final Reduction" (usually 20 or 25% of original, occasionally 10%). Hasn't been as much recently - I think they're getting tighter in the stocktaking and running out of things instead.

What I want to know is why is wholemeal flour, which takes LESS processing, more expensive than white flour? We make our own bread (bread machine is my friend!) so we can have nice bread without paying too much for it - but for people really strapped for cash, I'm not surprised they end up eating the "plastic" (but cheap) stuff.

They've a big bag of Basmati rice on cheap at the moment - may get one, but not sure where to store it. Also, rice may be cheaper than pasta, but it's got a less-good protein to calorie ratio - so when I'm trying to watch the calorie intake (not at present, having lost weight while overworking) while still keeping my protein intake up (and I'm a vegetarian, so I do count protein grams, aiming for 35 - 40 grams per day), it's less good.

Mung daal has an excellent protein to calorie ratio, and is relatively inexpensive.

#207 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 03:09 PM:

Serge @ 203
I Texas, in the fall migration season, we sometimes had four or five of them, every one claiming sole ownership of the feeder. I sometimes wanted body armor in order to mow the lawn - there was a war going on above my head.

#208 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 03:09 PM:

White flour keeps longer than wheat flour. You don't have to keep white flour refrigerated (or wheat flour either—unless you want to keep it for a long time).

#209 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 03:12 PM:

Had a triple eagle gyre directly over the house yesterday, most auspicious for a birthday.

#210 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 03:20 PM:

Squirrels. I hate squirrels. We just spent two days without central heat, and for why? the danged big-tailed rats had eated throught the furnace wiring in the garage. They've eating my cruise-control wiring twice. It's always a gamble whether my windshield washers will work or not. Every time I pull a spare appliance out of storage in the garage, the cord's been eaten through by squirrels.

The dogs and cats are useless. Birds and moles and field mice they'll bring me, but never a perfect dead squirrel.

So, any ideas out there in the Fluorosphere for stopping the **%^&#($) things?

#211 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 03:23 PM:

Although food prices aren't worrying me excessively at the moment, the global economy is making me anxious in the long term.

Maybe I'm reading too many doomsayers, but both the Hub and I are suddenly fearful of the future. Some of it we can tackle by improving our disaster preparedness, but some of it just lurks, incurably.

I find myself planning the purchase of that hand-operated sewing machine I saw in that second hand shop, and stocking up on thread. (People will need clothes more than books.) Maybe get another couple of hot water bottles, in case we can't heat the house in the future. That sort of thing.

I want somebody to tell me it's going to be all right.

#212 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 03:30 PM:

abi @ 211 ...
We're in the long watch that ends the night -- that deep darkness that seems endless, but heralds the glowing dawn.

It -is- going to be alright. You have talents and friends and family, and an ability to communicate with and to others that's only going to become more valuable over time.

#213 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 03:33 PM:

K.C. Shaw @ 204 -- Re: a dwarf named Galadriel, Terry Brooks' Sword of Shannara had an elf named Durin, so I guess that turnabout is fair play.

dcb @ 206 -- I can buy "no name" whole wheat flour at the local supermarkets for the same price as their "no name" white flour, but the quality is poor; the bran is very coarsely ground, though the rest of the flour is fine. The whole-wheat flour that I prefer to buy, which has the brain finely ground, seems to have quite recently become unavailable except in much smaller (and proportionally more expensive) bags. There may be some extra processing involved in grinding the bran properly; I'm not sure.

#214 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 03:35 PM:

The gardening thread on invasives: I ripped out Marionberries once. Dug down about 2 feet, pulling out all the roots I could find. Spent the next 3 years ripping out the fresh new shoots that came up. Then I moved. I'm going through the same thing now with a wisteria. I think it's about year 6 since that stump was ground down.

Janet Croft @ #210: Over the years, my dog has proudly dropped 2 dead squirrels on the back porch. I don't know if she actually brought down a healthy critter, or just picked off the dead and dying. I didn't enjoy getting rid of the corpses, but did feel a certain pride for her on behalf of dogs everywhere.

Hummingbirds: During the Snowcopalypse (or was it Snowmaggendon?), with temperatures in the 20s, I'd swap out a thawed hummingbird feeder for a frozen one, and get yelled at. I don't think we'd find hummingbirds so cute if they were any bigger!

Jenny Islander @ #201: On the subject of feminist viewpoints on Odysseus, I highly recommend Margaret Atwood's "The Penelopiad".

#215 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 03:37 PM:

Storage is less of an issue than you might thing. The flour mills work year-round, converting storable whole-grain into flour.

But, certainly for bread-making, the protein content of the flour does matter, and the bran has relatively little protein.

So wholemeal flour has to be produced from grain with a higher protein content, which is more expensive.

#216 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 03:39 PM:

dcb #206: Mung daal has an excellent protein to calorie ratio, and is relatively inexpensive.

I don't think I would be comfortable eating anything that had "mung" as part of its name. heh.

#217 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 03:42 PM:

Joel Polowin @ 213

But can you get cheap wholemeal strong bread flour?

#218 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 03:45 PM:

For your viewing pleasure:

Lady Helen Todd, aviator

#219 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 03:55 PM:

A random question, and its context: my father and I were talking about cavepeople and food, the big mammoth hunt, the feast, what parts of the mammoth would be particularly good.

Where does the trunk fall on the edibility scale? Is it good because there are no bones? Bad because you have to skin it inside and out?

#220 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 03:56 PM:

Abi @ 211... It is going to be all right.

#221 ::: sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 04:20 PM:

xopher @ 200 - Silverlock is the meta-crossover.

abi @ 211 - locally, the real estate market is coming back. I'm waiting with baited breath for NAR's January numbers to see if the tally jives with our experience. December's numbers did.

Multiple offers, homes going to "highest and best," prices starting to go back up...we're through the bottom here, at least. God willing. Where we lead, others follow, up or down. I think we just might be in that final darkness before the dawn.

#222 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 04:26 PM:

xeger @ 212 and Serge @ 220, do you mind if I also use some of this reassurance? (abi, you're not alone. At the very least maybe that's worth something.)

#223 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 04:37 PM:

Caroline @ 222... Please do. I might not have felt that way before November 4, but sanity has made something of a comeback. If you want to know how I felt before that date, read Robert Reed's novella "Truth".

#224 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 04:41 PM:

sisuile #221:

Where are you?(just generally is ok.) We have recently managed to sell our house, but multiple offers were *not* involved. I'm not sure whether it's all getting better, worse, or both around here; DH and I are in agreement that it's going to be an interesting year.

#225 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 04:46 PM:

On the hummingbirds -- I presume that the ones where I lived in California had made the connection between the ape fiddling with the empty feeder and the feeder being full again, because I got told off a couple of times for my failure to do so promptly.

#226 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 04:46 PM:

#211: Fear is the mind killer.

It never hurts to have a few days of food set aside. Learning to live thriftily is a good thing.

But there's a mental state where the process of preparedness become obsessive and counterproductive.

At its worst, you get normally sane people holing up in the woods and waiting for the hordes of _____ to come after their bunker full of nitrogen-preserved porridge mix. These folks know a lot about guns and knives but little about the most important survival tool, a community.

Not quite as bad, but becoming thoroughly tiresome: Gurus who see [Ebola / Y2K / avian flu / peak oil / credit crunch / 2012] as a way of pushing their cranky social agenda. Oh, and to sell their books. And sell tickets to speeches. And, yeah, to revel in the glow of reverent attention from scared people.

The followers get a self-righteous buzz of their own. They know what the sheeple do not; they enjoy rattling people with authoritative sounding pronouncements. (How many times was the U.S. about to bomb Iran because the latter was going to start their own Oil Bourse based on the Euro?)

Apocaphilia, James Cascio calls it.

Don't give these emotional tapeworms a victory. Stop being afraid.

Unless Mighty C'thulhu returns. Then we're fucked.

#227 ::: spoonfork ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 05:06 PM:

Diatryma @#219,

If I can offer a suggestion about mammoth cookery based on utter ignorance?

Since elephant trunks (which is as close as I could find to mammoth trunkology in a five minute search) are made of approximately 40,000 muscles, grouped around the nose tubes, once the outside is skinned, and the inside tubes scraped (presumably) of whatever Proboscideans might have in there, wouldn't you end up with approximately 40,000 red meat tenders?

Except they might be more stringy than tender, due to the amount of work the trunk does, and there might be a lot of connective tissue . . .

So, perhaps several gallons worth of mammoth trunk soup? Like Gramma Og used to make?

I don't know as mammoth trunk would be worth the trouble to me personally, even if it was cleaned and portioned and offered on foam trays at the megamart, but I expect your average mammoth-hunter wouldn't have been too choosy about his protein . . .

#228 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 05:09 PM:

Ken, #6: Around my neck of the woods, "letting nature take its course" isn't a viable option. In most of eastern Texas, the result you'll get is big thicket growth, which is not conducive to having a yard.

B. Durbin, #125: I'm with you in theory on the notion of kudzu ethanol. In practice, though, I don't think it would do much to solve the invasiveness problem, because (for example) harvesting the kudzu that's overrunning Interstate highway roadsides all over the Southeast wouldn't be economically practical. OTOH, perhaps that could be made into a WPA project for people left unemployed by the current depression...

#229 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 05:16 PM:

Dave Bell @ 215
Okay, a sensible explaination!

Earl Cooley III @ 216
But the lentils (dahl) are nice, and nutritious, and don't need to be soaked before cooking.

#230 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 05:18 PM:

Thank you for the reassurance. I went off and sewed the headbands on my Latin grammar, which has been sitting half-bound for over a year now.

Make things. Fix things. Do the work that falls under one's hands. This is the real answer, I guess.

Or sleep. Which is next on the agenda.

#231 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 05:29 PM:

John Myers Myers' Silverlock.

Phillip Jose Farmer's Wold Newton books.

Farmer's A Feast Unknown is related to the Wold Newton concept, but it's really not crossover so much as professionally published slash. I got my copy from a dirty book store around the corner from the Andrews Hotel, I think it was, at some early Minicon. The clerk near the door tried to keep me (an innocent young lass) from going in. "Excuse me, miss," he asked nervously. "Do you know what kind of bookstore this is?" "Yes," I replied with a perky smile. "It's that kind of book." He still didn't want me to come in, so he agreed to go look for it. He was soooo embarassed to sell it to me.

#232 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 05:29 PM:

I went off and sewed the headbands on my Latin grammar

For some reason I picture a bunch of little kids standing around in "Indian" headbands, as in grade school circa 1966, and saying things like "Ugh! De gustibus non disputandum est!"

#233 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 05:29 PM:

Caroline @ 222 ...
xeger @ 212 and Serge @ 220, do you mind if I also use some of this reassurance? (abi, you're not alone. At the very least maybe that's worth something.)

Not in the least :)

abi @ 230 ...
I'm sluggishly trying to put things into more permanent locations, or back in their permanent locations, or simply set them into bags for appropriate disposal, and thereby make more space for doing.

I'm rather amused to find that wine glass racks (the chromed wire sort that IKEA appears to have stopped carrying) make quite reasonable file-and-hammer-and-screwdriver storage.

#234 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 05:46 PM:

Sisuile, I think the book is worth it, particularly if you get it as a gift or at a discount. Or free. There are a couple of copies in the St Louis public library system. Just start out on the first recipe. The loaf is hearty and the crust is so crunchy. Or, for review purposes and in the spirit of fair use, I can send you the first recipe, which is the one we use the most. Or should I post a ROT-13 version? Anyway, my dough container is a little bigger than a gallon of milk.

For lunch today I hacked off two goodly slabs of that white bread, slathered it with mayo and sandwiched it around a very nice tomato. A little salt and pepper ... mmmmm I can't wait till tomatoes grow in my back yard again.

#235 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 05:46 PM:

Oh yeah. They pick up on that one really fast!
We had a feeder hanging outside the kitchen window once, and the owning bird (the 'backyard bird' as we called it) would come over to the window to make sure we noticed the state of the feeder. (Best moments: watching it check out red plastic clothespins. Or watching it harass the resident cat by hovering just out of reach.)

#236 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 05:48 PM:

Reassurance: I'm old enough to remember the 70s and how the Energy Crisis meant the end of the world as we know it. And was in college in Michigan in the early 80s when every other car had a bumpersticker that read "Will the last person to leave Michigan please turn out the lights?" And so on. I certainly don't intend to take on any big debt right now, but then I don't do that normally anyway. This too shall pass, and the solutions that come up this time may be surprising, too.

#237 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 05:49 PM:

takuan, way back @144 -- we have Giant Hogweed here in Germany (pics here and here). Scary stuff. I always thought they looked like Triffids. Heaven help us if they become sentient. I've seen them overrun entire fields and valleys. The roots run subterranean, and the seeds are rumored to remain viable for something like 7 years or longer.

#238 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 05:56 PM:

Mary Aileen @ #190: nice kudzu site. I take issue, however, with the "very pleasant fragrance"; that's only true if you regard the scent of grape bubble gum as "very pleasant".

#239 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 05:58 PM:

Regarding unusual plants... Has anyone ever noticed the far-future plants with tall feathery stalks in George Pal's The Time Machine? There's one growing in my backyard.

#240 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 06:00 PM:

dcb @ 217: But can you get cheap wholemeal strong bread flour?

I don't know; I don't buy different kinds of flour for bread and for other purposes. I find that "ordinary" flour (usually half white / half whole-wheat) works well enough for bread, muffins, whatever, and nobody seems to object to the desserts that I make with the regular white flour either. I've sometimes wondered why I have so much trouble getting a half-white-wheat/half-rye flour bread loaf to rise; perhaps I should try a higher-protein white flour for that.

#241 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 06:06 PM:

I'm hoping somebody in the collective fluorosphere might know the answer to "how do I disassemble my shears".

The shears[0] are definitely in need of a bit of adjustment, and based on the photos in this similar ebay listing I reasonably expect that this is both possible and plausible.

Unfortunately I can't seem to find the correct combination of tools/angle/something that'll allow the slightest bit of movement.

I've applied substantial amounts of penetrating oil, to address the plausible rust/gunk, as well as tapping with a wood mallet -- have tried various combinations and permutations of hex keys/levers/right angle pliers -- but no joy (or movement). I've tried for a gentle bit of wiggle in either direction, just in case it's not the standard sort of screw the ebay images suggest -- again, to no avail.

I'm wondering if there's a specific tool required, or if it's one of these "everybody knows that the shears have to be [open|closed|upside down]" sorts of things, and hoping somebody here knows...

[0] Newly mine, hence the rather abused look...

#242 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 06:16 PM:

Adrian, #176: That line, in that context? Best. Use. Ever.

dcb, #206: We've found that rice is best stored in sealed plastic containers for long-term usefulness. One of our kitchen cupboards is full of repurposed peanut-butter/trail-mix jars filled with different varieties of rice. For a big bag (how big?) you might need a couple of 5-gallon plastic buckets with lids.

joann, #224: Houston is generally not as bad off as a lot of the rest of the country, partly because we had a big housing crash, back in the 80s during the oil crisis, and the housing economy never completely recovered from that. Still, new-housing starts nationwide have taken a precipitous drop -- and that's a trailing indicator, signifying that we're already in a depression. It's going to be a long, bumpy ride back out, and the Republicans in Congress are NOT helping. They'd rather see Obama fail even if it means taking the country down with him.

xeger, #233: We are "making lemonade" here -- which is to say, having finally gotten all the roof and ceiling repair from the Ike damage done, we're triaging the stuff we had to move out of the back rooms as we move it back in. Amazing amounts of things-we-don't-need are being sent to Goodwill, freecycled, or just thrown away. The goal is to get to the week before this year's Chocolate Decadence party NOT in a state of frantic cleaning-up-sorting-out-and-throwing-things-into-the-back-rooms for once.

#243 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 06:26 PM:

?? I thought housing starts were a leading indicator?

#244 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 06:39 PM:

I buy five-pound bags of rice; it takes a few months to use it all. I learned that one of these Folgers coffee containers holds the entire content of the rice bag. It seals up well, which was the whole point, but if you buy rice in larger sizes you could stack 'em.

#245 ::: sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 06:43 PM:

Joanne @ 221 I'm in St. Louis. I do know that Minneapolis is not doing nearly as well, as I talked to my realtor up there last week. We're still waiting to put my house back on the market, because it won't sell. Which reminds me - I need to print out flyers for MarsCon and MiniCon. *grins*

Part of it is spring - when it gets warmer, people want to go out and look at houses. That was the last couple of weeks here and we're seeing the corresponding annual uptick. "Spring Market" starts somewhere Feb 15-Mar 1 here, Mar 15-April 1 in Mlps. It's a different time everywhere, corresponding to when it usually gets warm. This is esp true right now, because most of the people and movement we're seeing in the market are first time homebuyers, who set their leases to end when it gets warmer. No one really wants to move in the cold.

This is aided this year by epically low interest rates. I've seen under 5% interest for a 30yr fixed rate loan advertised, no PMI. There are people who didn't want to buy when prices were high and now feel like they can get a good deal. Many times they've saved a decent down payment.

Last month, the National Association of Realtor numbers were really good. Prices were down from the last year but up from Nov., home sales were up, inventory was down, and time-to-clear the inventory was down. Next week, we should know about January's numbers.

Tracie @ 234 They had the basic recipe in the Splendid Table segment. I'll go grab that and try it while waiting for the book to show up at my library.

We discovered a small Bosnian bakery a couple weeks ago, and now I stop in whenever I'm in that part of town (it's 2 blks from Big Lots). Today, I picked up a small knot as a snack, bit into it, and was in heaven. Salt bread.

#246 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 06:50 PM:

Lila (238): I didn't actually read the page, it was just the first one that game up in Google with lots of pictures of overrun buildings. :)

I never noticed kudzu smelling of anything in particular, but I mostly saw it along the highway as we were driving by.

#247 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 06:52 PM:

me (246): that's "came up in Google"

Why do I never see the errors until I've already hit 'post'?

#248 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 07:17 PM:

xeger @241 pin spanner?

#249 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 07:26 PM:

takuan @ 248 ...
Huh, neat! I'd been looking at retaining ring pliers, and don't think I've seen a pin spanner before... hmmm....

#250 ::: VictorS ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 07:29 PM:

dcb @206 -- Xopher and Dave Bell have noted some factors on pricing plain versus wholemeal flour. Also, the plain flour process produces wheat bran and wheat germ as co-products -- the former popular, and the latter valuable and expensive.

In re "wholemeal has less processing": this may not be the case in practice. I believe that modern milling processes aren't set up to grind without separating. This may relate to the too-large bran question -- a canny producer might mill plain flour, then add (less-milled) bran and (some portion of the) germ back in.

#251 ::: K.C. Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 07:29 PM:

Mary @ #246 Kudzu doesn't smell like anything until it flowers (late August/early September here in East TN). The flowers do indeed smell just like grape bubble gum. I think it's delicious, myself, but I can see that not everyone would like it.

#252 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 07:34 PM:

#243: Usually housing is a trailing indicator, since people start to have problems with paying the mortgage after losing a job. This one's different, however: since this housing boom was caused by shady financial practices (the roots of which go back thirty years, so don't go blaming any one party) it's actually a leading problem, which is unusual. I've been following this bubble for YEARS over at the Housing Bubble Blog, which has some fairly accurate predictors.

And why did I find that blog? Because I live in California, and was extremely frustrated at seeing all these people at my job level affording houses when I couldn't. It was an immense relief to me to find out that they couldn't; it was all funny money.

—I'm not in favor of the stimulus plan for several reasons, but two stand out:

1. Every recession since the 1940s (which is as far back as you want to go, since the monetary policy was completely different prior to FDR) started at a certain date and ended at a certain date, as understood in retrospect. Every single stimulus plan brought about by the government took effect after the end of the recession.

2. The stated goals of this plan are exactly what didn't work for Japan in the 1990s, and in fact seemed to prolong the recession to a fifteen-year doozy. They finally tried something different— what this plan is trying to prevent— and have started to climb out of the hole.

#253 ::: VictorS ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 07:38 PM:

Joel @ 240 -- Rye flour has a much lower gluten content than wheat flour, inhibiting the rise. You should get better results swapping bread flour for the white whole wheat, but it's not going to rise as much as a pure wheat loaf would.

#254 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 07:47 PM:

xeger: penetrating oil, vibration, tapping, hammering on bolt/stud end(moderate), heating with creme brule torch, (what I use for my crack pipe),alternate freezing, torque with pin spanner (alternate rocking both directions), more penetrating oil, time,repeat all, repeat again, patience, repetition, more oil, more repetition and repeat again. Imagine you are restoring something expensive.

#255 ::: Adrian Smith ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 07:55 PM:

So, any ideas out there in the Fluorosphere for stopping the **%^&#($) things?

There are squirrel traps available online. They talk about trapping and "relocating" the buggers, I personally would relocate them to another plane of existence rather than make them someone else's problem.

#256 ::: Adrian Smith ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 08:01 PM:

2. The stated goals of this plan are exactly what didn't work for Japan in the 1990s, and in fact seemed to prolong the recession to a fifteen-year doozy. They finally tried something different— what this plan is trying to prevent— and have started to climb out of the hole.

*Had* started to - but this time they won't have a US boom to carry them along and out of it. Exports are down by really shocking numbers.

Could get ugly.

#257 ::: Andy Brazil ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 08:19 PM:

#188 Ken: Kudzu is the same thing as Japanese Knotweed, different names for the same evil. On some of our reserves we've had good sucess with eradicating it by cutting it to stalks about 4" high and then injecting neat weedkiller into the stumps. Labour intensive though, so only viable in reserves.

Of course, reading about complaints about ivy makes me realise that almost anything can be invasive if it's in the wrong continent. Conversely, in the right place it's wonderful: Ivy is a major foodplant for Comma and Holly Blue butterflies here in the UK, and a major source of nector in autumn for all butterflies.

#258 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 08:34 PM:

Terry Karney @138: Morning glory and bouganvilla are about as bad. In California both are weeds. The latter will overgrow just about anything, and rip your foundations apart. The former is aggressive enough to kill off bouganvilla. I have seen it devour houses.

I momentarily read that as 'devour horses', and the image was startling.

#259 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 08:41 PM:

What is the definition of a weed?

A plant in the wrong place.

#260 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 08:55 PM:

Andy Brazil (257): Kudzu is the same thing as Japanese Knotweed

Enlightenment! Thank you. Much becomes clear.

#261 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 09:04 PM:

Ah laik pie:
"This recipe was by Nova
Squirrel Pie
Clean, skin and cut two squirrels into small pieces. Soak in salted water, or water with a little vinegar added, changing water several times. Drain, dry and roll in seasoned flour. Sauté in pork or bacon fat until slightly browned, then place in greased pie dish or bowl, add two cups liquid (made up of wine, cider, beer, crushed fruit , or a little vinegar, and water or stock), salt and pepper, one thinly sliced onion, herbs of your choice. Cover and cook on top stove for 1 ½, or in moderate oven for two hours. Remove and thicken the stock with a little flour. Take out part of the gravy and add tomatoes, sauce or catsup, to serve with the pie. Meanwhile, cover meat dish with pastry or biscuit dough, slit for steam to escape, and bake for 20 minutes in hot oven. "

#262 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 09:11 PM:

though there is always this
as well as this, to say nothing of this

#263 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 09:15 PM:

use this and this

#264 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 09:16 PM:

though this is safer

#265 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 09:44 PM:

Frell! I didn't know kudzu was the same as Japanese Knotweed! We have that in our yard. The people in the building next door let it grow out of control in theirs.

takuan, we have a custom here of giving some hint what links are about. I know this is not your habit on Boing Boing.

#266 ::: mcz ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 09:49 PM:

Kudzu (Pueraria montana)and Japanese knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum) are actually different plants: the former is a legume and the latter is related to buckwheat.

These horribly invasive plants can probably be exploited as feedstock not only for cellulosic alcohol but for pharmaceuticals as well. Kudzu is a source of genistein, and Japanese knotweed is a source of resveratrol.

#267 ::: cmk ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 09:50 PM:

Steady the Buffs: Japanese knotweed (genus Polygonum) is not the same thing as kudzu (genus Pueraria). Google will clarify this better than I have time to do.

#268 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 10:26 PM:

surely the context is blatantly obvious!

#269 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 10:28 PM:

alas, as not a member I shall remain ignorant of genistein and resveratrol. (is it worth signing up? They don't ask for money do they?)

#270 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 10:34 PM:

ah Xopher, you recall our last meal?

#271 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 10:37 PM:

xeger @241: me, I'd go with oil, vice grips and a vice. A real one, bolted to a worktable that is itself fastened to something approximating the Earth and all therein.

You'd want to keep a sharp eye on the shears, to be sure whatever you're doing isn't actually damaging them. Especially if, once you have the vice grips gripping on the nut, you wale away on them with a hand sledge. Should you choose that route, do fix in your mind the difference between 'clockwise' and 'the other way' as they relate to the nut. I get that stuff mixed up all the time, is why I mention it.

Failing all attempts to crank that nut off, and provided you have a replacement nut/bolt, you might consider drilling the thing out.

#272 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 11:01 PM:

takuan's mysterious links all have to do with my squirrel problem. I like the flame thrower and hazmat suit, but since much of Oklahoma has been under an intermittent burn ban, I feel that might be a bit risky... And I'm not sure I'd want squirrel stew after reading about rabies, bubonic plague, and hantavirus, but cross-threading this very thread, if groceries keep getting more expensive it may come to that.

#273 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 11:05 PM:

there is always the nuclear option

#274 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 11:22 PM:

re parsnips: They aren't the best thing in quantity. Something toxic, but I forget what.

re squirrels: I hate them too. My solution is less pacific than rocks (as I am trying to stop them eating the fruits on the trees). Sadly I don't trust them for eating, so I just bury them. Brillat-Savarin said they were wonderful when braised in madiera. Sadly madiera is to expensive for me to use it in so profligate a manner.

albatross: When the media deigns to notice price migration it's either to bemoan the cost of fuel, or to blame the consumer for not spending money better, and so keeping the price down.

Ken Brown: How small is that jar? Because the "cheap" peanut butter is something like $2US, here in Los Angeles (he says, as he replies from Ottawa).

P J: Hummingbirds (on the wing) fear nothing. Thank God they are so small. There are Anna's, and Allan's and Rufous in the area, and they are nasty. If it flies, and looks to be in the area they've claimed... kitty bar the door.

But that makes them easier to photograph.

When it come to feeding them... the food coloring in the commercial mixes kills them. Their livers have to process it, and it gives them chirrosis; the thing to do is just mix up clear sugar water. They don't care what color the nectar is, the blossom is what they look for.

Re mobbing: I can't say for non-corvids, but in them (and crows especially), it seems to be a showing off behavior. Serves several functions. They drive off the raptor. They show how brave/smart they are to the local females (because in crows it's a male behavior), and it keeps the raptor busy if any of the others want to leave. Every so often the hawk/eagle gets pissed off enough to catch one, but that's part of the game, apparently.

But corvids are really smart, so they don't get bagged often, and probably weigh the odds (for smart, there is a group in Japan (as I recall) which has learned to use cars to crack nuts. When the cars pull up to the stop sign, the birds hop up and place a nut in front of the wheel. They know the next car will have to stop, so they will have time to retrieve the nutmeats).

dcb: Whole wheat flour costs more because it goes off faster (the oils in the germ go rancid) so it has a higher loss rate (in manufacture, as well as sales; because unless flour is aged (by bleaching, or time), it doesn't behave properly). The oils also make blending the streams (to balance the protein level) tricker, and more labor intensive. That, and most wholemeal/whole wheat flour is made by reblending the brand and germ back in (again, more labor intensive).

janetl: When we were killing off elms we found the trick was to have a barbeque. We built a pit (cinderblocks) around the stump and kept the coals going for about three days. No more regrowth.

Earl Cooley: No bean sprouts for you (made from mung beans)?

Diatryma: I'd think it tough, but tasty (lots of work for the muscles, and the fibers are long), but the thing to do is to research the pygmies, and see what they think of elephant trunk.

The invasive plant I hate around here is "golden sumac". It's a tree. It sends runners. The damn thing is... the runners can radiate from the parent for about 100 meters. I used to think the hundreds of seedlings in the yard were from the mimosa. Nope... golden sumac, two yards and three walls away.

Joel: The reason your loaves don't rise so well is that rye has very little gluten. I notice from the breads I'm buying here the protien is 9-10 percent, which is, "soft" to start with; which isn't helping you. If you want the loaves to rise (and this works for the softer wheat flours as well), buy some pure gluten (sometimes sold as "essential wheat gluten", or just plain, "gluten flour").

About a tablespoon in the dough will stiffen it up, and help the crumb hold more air.

xeger: It looks as though the shears are held with a peened pin. Which means the won't come apart without 1: a file (to remove the peened portion) and 2: a replacement, and the means to peen it. Best to take them to person who knows how to sharpen them. It might be there is a special tool which will hold the pivot in place, but I don't think so. I think the nut was set, and then the pivot "upset" into it, so the pin won't drift out.

I'm sorry I didn't have the time to write a shorter letter

#275 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 11:25 PM:

from the sidebar:
caffeinated jellybeans found at a rest area?

Won't that stop people from resting?

#276 ::: Rainflame ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 12:06 AM:

Joel Polowin@213

"The whole-wheat flour that I prefer to buy, which has the brain finely ground..."

Someone always finds a way to bring zombies into the thread.

#277 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 12:21 AM:

Zone 5/5

Hidecote lavendar and Munstead lavendar--they are surviving in my yard and have been there a few years, spreading very very slowly over time.

Various types of thyme, spreading at different rates. The woody thyme, very little remains of--the central woody stem died out, and a couple small outside ones that had grown up from roots or woody area sending down roots, may have survived. The other types aren't woody. There's one type that's in about a 3 foot diameter circle now, after years....

Oregano -spreads-, oh wow does it spread, however, bees and butterflies love it... and it's quite amusing to watch them bouncing off one another (except, the bees have been getting clobbered by whatever is killing off the honeybees....)

What else--blueberries, there are two growth habits, "high bush" and "low bush" generally which are the type that are "wild blueberries." They like shade and acid soil. Also, there's wintergreen, which the leaves and flowers look a lot like blueberries, though the berries are quite different looking. The leaves of wintergreen can be used for flavoring, along with the berries.

Santolina is inedible, but is useful for dissuading insects.

Any sorrel that pops up, is susceptible to having me pick it and eat it, and the same is true of dandelions.

Sand plums grown slowly and are shrubby.

I have a number of volunteer trees, including a number of flowering crabapple trees, one of which has yellow crabapples rather than red, and there's one with purply leaves(except, it's under a butternut tree--the butternut tree was growing slowly, then one year decided "I think I'm ready to be a grownup!", doubled its height, and started bearing... and from then on, it's gotten a LOT larger... the leaves of the crabapple tree aren't much purply in the shade of the butternut tree).

Do not not NOT put in rosa rugosa rose if in New England, not not NOT NOT!
(Massachusetts has a pest plant list... google on Massachusetts pest plant and it should be present in the Googling results.)

If having shade, there's mayapple (which I forget one of the other names of)--even though mine have never fruited (the fruit is edible). It spreads somewhat, but there is spacing between the shoots, and each shoot really only has one (large) leaf. There's also Canadian ginger, asarum canadesis or something like that--Europe ginger isn;t hardy around here--but it also wants to be in a moist area, and survival otherwise tends to be dubious.

What else... hollyhocks, gayfeather/liastris (not herbs....)

I fail to understand why people will pay $4.00 for 6 ounces of raspberries but will relentlessly eradicate any raspberry canes appearing in their yards....

Daylilies (which are also edible in both flower and tuber, though the raw flowers tend to be -strong-.... they get used in hot and sour soup, before they open)
Yucca--and if it flowers and somehow gets pollinated, the fruit is edible I've read. Yucca is TOUGH, it grows on mountainsides in the Rockies....
Clary sage--I have a plant growing under a rhododendron. It wasn't originally under the rhododendron, the latter grew and sprawled, to where the clary sage is under the rhody. While clary sage is SUPPOSED to be a biennial, the plant might be a decade or more old... it likes being under the rhody!
Regular sage--I've had a few sage plants, which haven't survived more than three or so years though. Unlike the kept in the shade (and particular under a rhody is shady!) clary sage, the regular sage was in full sun. Hmmm...

I have had (may still have) lady's mantle... it';s a barely surviving plant, but then I don;t have it in much shade, either.

Scented roses don't really thrive in my yard... one sort that I planted that isn't a scented variety, has stuck around.

Oh, garden pinks--they're relatives of carnations. Big showy carnations don't tend to be hardy in zone 5/6. I did find some hardy carnations once, which lasted two or three years. Some types of pinks will last longer than others, also.... the flowers are edible, and some of them are scented.

"Jerusalem artichokes" are a member of the sunflower family with small edible tubers. I may have some in the yard, clumped from tubers I stuck in--I didn;t dig any up in the fall to check....

Mint does not go invasive in my yard, bee balm/mondarda doesn't either (edible for teas and such), lemon balm tends to die off and so mostly does perennially chamomile, some onions will survive and grow new bulbs, chives survive and spread. Asters may survive--the wild volunteers are hardy, the domesticated strains, however, are much less resilient.

Hazelnut trees eventually establish and even bear. The single surviving Chinese chestnut gets pollinated by insects from one or more native American chestnut trees (judging by the volunteer offspring that have sprung up) in the area.

#278 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 12:21 AM:

Every once in a while, the local crows will alert me to a hawk. There was a nice redtail perched on the side of a building once that I never would have seen if a crow hadn't been harassing it.

#279 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 12:42 AM:

Paula Lieberman @ #277: Mint does not go invasive in my yard

The mind reels! I'm going to have to go lie down with a cool compress on my forehead....

#280 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 12:47 AM:

Paula, #277: I fail to understand why people will pay $4.00 for 6 ounces of raspberries but will relentlessly eradicate any raspberry canes appearing in their yards.

Because when you buy raspberries, you get just the amount you want at the time you want it, they don't take over your yard, and there are no damn THORNS to deal with!

I used to have some thornless (commercial) blackberry canes at my old condo. They didn't seem to be terribly invasive, and sometime shortly before I left, the management cut them all down. But wild blackberries and raspberries are a completely different story.

Wild strawberries are nice, although the fruit isn't especially edible. But the leaves are pretty, and they smell like strawberries.

#281 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 01:50 AM:

sisuile, #170, I didn't know there were gold raspberries! They came up in the series I'm reading, Moon's Vatta's War, and I thought they were something futuristic!

Tracie, #180, I'm now #10 in the hold queue for that book (the three copies are out) at the library.

Dave Bell, #184, more good news!

Ken Brown and others, Jenny lives in Alaska. While it's not entirely frozen waste, a lot of food has to be shipped there.

Julia Jones, #225, when the feeder is empty, the squirrels will come stand with their paws on the window and look in, insisting that I come put more seed in. (I like squirrels, although I don't eat them anymore.)

Stefan, #226, when we were kids, my brother and I had to memorize books of the bible because the bad non-believers were going to take away the bibles and chase us into the wilds.

Linkmeister, #244, but what would I do with the coffee? Actually, I have a lot of tupperware. I gave some away before I had to have stuff packed to put the laminate down, but I kept more than enough to manage.

#282 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 01:52 AM:

janetl, #214, I ripped out Marionberries once.

DC is ripping out Marion Barry, too!


Oh well.

#283 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 01:56 AM:

pericat @ 271 ...
xeger @241: me, I'd go with oil, vice grips and a vice. A real one, bolted to a worktable that is itself fastened to something approximating the Earth and all therein.
Failing all attempts to crank that nut off, and provided you have a replacement nut/bolt, you might consider drilling the thing out.

That'd be a bit of a technical detail -- the company that made those shears hasn't existed since 1875... [0]

Terry Karney @ 274 ...
xeger: It looks as though the shears are held with a peened pin. Which means the won't come apart without 1: a file (to remove the peened portion) and 2: a replacement, and the means to peen it. Best to take them to person who knows how to sharpen them. It might be there is a special tool which will hold the pivot in place, but I don't think so. I think the nut was set, and then the pivot "upset" into it, so the pin won't drift out.

1: Hmm... I hope not - and it'd be a hell of a peen to produce this[1].
2. ... and I'm waiting for a call back[2] from the recommended person who knows how to sharpen such things, but being both impatient and eager to edjumacate myself in the interim.

[0] I've also just realized that I probably failed to include anything useful by way of scale; those shears are around 15" long -- the pivot itself is a bit over 1.25" wide[3]. This is a picture of somebody elses hand with them, for scale.
[1] Possibly more usefully, but rather large, all the pics bundled together
[2] Have been for a bit, and will try leaving a message again...
[3] ... at least it's 7/8" between the centers of the two holes, plus a rough guesstimate at the margins, instead of going downstairs to measure.

#284 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 02:23 AM:

Lee @ 280

But wild blackberries and raspberries are a completely different story.

A horror story. I am in perpetual war with the damn things because the part of my south side neighbor's lot next to mine is a designated native plant wetland reserve, which is chock full of blackberries we're not allowed to eradicate. Best I can do is kill off what I find in my yard every year, and hope they're not tunneling. It's getting a lot harder these days, though; I don't have the strength left in my bad leg to do more than an hour or 2 gardening in a day, 1 or 2 days a week at most, and that's not enough to stay ahead of both the blackberries and the ivy. I'm starting to think about goats. And I'm inside a large city.

#285 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 02:25 AM:

Latecomer to the thread:

A friendly amendment to Terry Karney in #114 - it's Henry Petroski, not Harold.

Seconding the Tracy Kidder, and also suggesting Witold Rybczynski for engaging and educational non-fiction, mostly around architecture, urban planning, and design.

I'd never heard of John McPhee and am now really looking forward to checking him out.

#286 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 03:21 AM:

I just recently devoured all of Naomi Novik's "Temeraire" books like popcorn, and am rather sad that there aren't any more. (I am glad that I had the fifth ready to hand when I finished the fourth.) There's a nice little crossreference in the fifth:

"Darby, sir, but Janus they call me," the seaman said, "on account of a surgeon we shipped in the Sophie, a learned bloke, saying I saw both ways like some Roman cut-up by that name;"
It's been a while since I read the O'Brian books -- does anyone remember whether there's actually a seaman in them named Darby, called Janus?

#287 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 03:57 AM:

Lee @ 280

"Wild strawberries are nice, although the fruit isn't especially edible"

Wild strawberries are beautifully edible. Very small, compared to the commercial varieties, but full of flavour - more flavour in one of those tiny wild berries than in a whole punnet of the commercial types. I keep meaning to get some going in our garden. I do get to pick the odd one from the planters outside the British Library, in season.

#288 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 04:27 AM:

Lee @280, dcb @287 -- I've seen a small ornamental plant with fruits that look like strawberries. AFAIK they are tasteless and harmless, but I don't know if they are true strawberries. Fragaria vesca (woodland stawberry, European strawberry, Alpine strawberry) is a true strawberry, with tiny jewels of fruits and the most amazingly intense flavor and fragrance. They also spread like crazy. Fortunately they are easy to rip out, but I'm on the fence as to whether they're a plague or a boon.

#289 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 06:03 AM:

In the spirit of open-threadiness:

I just read this article about changes to Facebook's terms of service and find myself inordinately upset about it. I feel violated but can't quite put my finger on the reasons why.
Brain says "If you put it online, it's out there and you can't take it back, Facebook or no Facebook. If you don't want to deal with this, don't put your stuff on the internet."
Rest of me says "But it's mine!!!"

Why does this bother me so much, when I have other stuff that's gone into the interwild without making me feel twitchy?

#290 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 06:14 AM:

PS to 289:

Facebook responded to the furor. I am somewhat mollified, and logical me knows that the same fate awaits most of my online work (=obscurity) regardless of location. Nonetheless, my initial Noooooooo! reaction surprised me. If I had a blog, I could probably get a good 2000 words out of said initial reaction.

#291 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 07:21 AM:

Julia Jones @225: On the hummingbirds -- I presume that the ones where I lived in California had made the connection between the ape fiddling with the empty feeder and the feeder being full again, because I got told off a couple of times for my failure to do so promptly.

Something similar was reported in the news just today (okay, it wasn't the news, it was the funny pages).

#292 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 07:27 AM:

Re 241: Those things definitely come apart with a pair of pin spanners; you might try oil of wintergreen to weaken the corrosion. Drilling them would be a sin against Edwardian fastening technology, IMO. I'm not sure which adjustment they might need, but I think your scissors sharpener probably has better advice on doing that than we can provide.

re 284: Here in the east, if you have birds, you have blackberries. Another really nasty prickly thing is Rosa multiflora, which has huge masses of powerfully scented little flowers, but which will turn into this impenetrable mass of briar. R. gallica is also a bit of a garden pest: as roses go, it's especially spiny, and it spreads. And, then, of course, there's poison ivy. I found out in my 20s that I'd become desperately sensitive. And again, if you have birds, you'll have it.

#293 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 07:42 AM:

For your open-threadalicious edification: In the alt text to Teresa's latest particle, she mentions a rest stop "on the Hutchinson Parkway in Connecticut." The Hutch in New York, of course, becomes the Merritt Parkway when it crosses the state line.

This in no way reduces the win of caffeinated jelly beans.

#294 ::: sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 09:57 AM:

Paula @ 277 Mint? Not invasive? good god. I've already been informed by a friend down the street that lavender will take over a yard here and don't plant it. But garden pinks...I could use those in the corner...Thank you for your suggestions. I'll probably be incorporating several of them into the long term planning.

Marilee @ 281 Golden raspberries taste like raspberry honey. They're light and delicate and I love them. They also tend to be not quite as thorny.

The next project is to find a online, free, landscape design program. This garden needs to be aesthetically pleasing from above as well as straight on the side and ground level. It's 4 ft above street level on the corner, and 6 ft below my back door. And my office and bedroom look out over it. *sigh* This is the part where I get to unrealistic and demanding, because there is no way I can get into the dirt for another month. And the space is small enough that I really need to make a cohesive whole.

#295 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 10:29 AM:

debbie @288 I've seen a small ornamental plant with fruits that look like strawberries. AFAIK they are tasteless and harmless, but I don't know if they are true strawberries.

Perhaps Fragaria chiloensis? In sun, it's flatter and denser than the other strawberries, and covers the ground better. The flowers look like strawberry, the (occasional) fruit are small, seedy, and pretty tasteless.

Or it could be a Potentilla, some of which have strawberry-like fruits. Their flowers are yellow, rather than pink or white.

#296 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 10:30 AM:

sisuile @ #294: I look down on my back yard, too. It's quite small. The only window looking back is the kitchen's sliding glass doors. There's a shallow back porch, and then about 6 steps down. I grow vines up all the walls, have some shrubbery around the edges, and put in geometric raised beds. Think knot garden. Seen from above, it's quite pleasing in the summer. Winter, no so much, as it's all deciduous.
I employed a carpenter friend to build the raised beds, as the pattern is a bit complicated.

Oh, and I adore golden raspberries! Fortunately, one of the regulars at the downtown farmers market offers them.

#297 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 10:47 AM:

xeger @283 Oh, ho! My aged eyes were entirely mistaken as to the nature of the fastener holding those shears together and led me into folly.

You could, while waiting for the callback from the sharpening expert, soak the whole unit in a dish of [penetrating oil of your choice]. Three days to a week of that just might do the trick.

#298 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 11:02 AM:

Janet Croft @ 272:

Perhaps a giant pitcher plant would help with your squirrel problem? Alternatively, you could always try squirrel fishing.

Terry Karney @ 274:

I saw a video on YouTube a while back of a crow cracking a nut using traffic in Japan. It waited for the light to change before hopping out to get it. They really are smart birds.

#299 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 11:12 AM:

Pendrift: If it makes you feel better, the "new" rules, are exactly the same as the old rules. The way things were phrased.... all you stuff was Facebook's forever already (unless they never backed anything up, and were relentless in purging all servers of all things which didn't replicate the information you have up now).

I don't know that the license is required for the transmission. If it were I think I'd see something like in for Lj, or Flickr.

I recall ranting about it, last July, and deciding then I wasn't ever likely to use facebook, for precisely that reason.

The problem isn't the archiving. It's Facebook saying they have the right to use, in any way they see fit, anything you use their service to transmit.

You hereby grant Facebook an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to (a) use, copy, publish, stream, store, retain, publicly perform or display, transmit, scan, reformat, modify, edit, frame, translate, excerpt, adapt, create derivative works and distribute (through multiple tiers), any User Content you (i) Post on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof subject only to your privacy settings or (ii) enable a user to Post, including by offering a Share Link on your website and (b) to use your name, likeness and image for any purpose, including commercial or advertising, each of (a) and (b) on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof.

That's more than just a tool to transmit information. That's a rights grab.

#300 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 11:15 AM:

Sisuile @55:

Mulch does not equal "pine."

Gravel or pebbles CAN be used as a mulch, and often is to lovely effect in a knot garden.

Straw is a mulch, and there is one on the market made from cocoa bean husks.

There is also a mulch available that looks like wood chips but is really shredded tires. It's supposed to last forever!

#301 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 11:23 AM:

I'm looking at the Connecticut list and see that they have at least two native plants listed; it's getting a bit theological to claim that the black locust shouldn't be in CT when it is "native" as close as PA. (Not that I would recommend planting it, unless you're into making honey; it's a trashy tree.)

Here's the fed list, with links to state lists (many of them broken).

It would help if we knew what state we're talking about, as zone 6 in NE is way different from zone 6 in the plains.

BTW, Paula, the Canadians have developed lines of extrahardy roses, many of which are scented. Most of the better-scented old roses are also pretty hardy.

#302 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 11:37 AM:

Diatryma @120:

Will the limestone planter hold water? Does it get any sun?

If it gets 4-6 hours of sun a day, you could turn it into a water garden. If it gets less than that, it would be wonderful for impatiens or ferns.

#303 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 11:44 AM:

Xopher @ 265
It isn't the same plant (knotweed is Polygonum, and kudzu is in the bean family). It's as bad as, though.
I've met one of the knotweeds - not Japanese knotweed, but one of its cousins - and I refer to it as 'weed from Hell' because it's so hard to get rid of.

#304 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 11:53 AM:

I do have Rufus hummingbirds at my house, Serge, and many an afternoon has been lost and sunburn acquired by watching the males dueling in the highly illegal buddleia. I don't put feeders out by reason of inability to cope with the hygeine requirements, and haven't seen Anna's here although both my sister and my late favorite aunt have/had them in winter. Both of those houses have protected southern exposure and lots of firs, while I'm open to the NE wind and surrounded by deciduous trees.

Yesterday I was faced, again, with the fact that taking pictures of birds here is a very poor abstract of the experience. Video recordings with a dB meter display might be useful, although still limited. Yesterday the flocking birds- redwinged and Brewer's blackbirds, damned dirty introduced starlings, and robins- were hanging out in the oak trees (and here I'm talking thirty or more, hundred foot tall, Oregon White Oak, in a climate with no ice storms so that the canopies stretch 1.5X the tree's height) and singing in chorus. Yesterday the first Crocus tommasinianus were blooming and spring seemed possible, even though there are still piles of snow where my son shoveled the tricky bits of the driveway.

Also, Raspberries: I grow mine in a raised bed; one side is pasture, the other mown lawn, and there's always someone to give the excess canes to. When Mom was alive, there were four hundred-foot rows over at her house, but five years ago they all succumbed to laminar root-rot. My mother's siblings wore berries and beans on their backs every first day of school, and grew up to plant Sumner series raspberries, which are smooth. I never thought of raspberries as prickly until I planted the varieties I have now (Coho, Autumn Bliss, and two others I forget the names of). Autumn Bliss is an amazing fruit, but I'm going to get surgical gloves to pick the damned things because they're covered with hair-sized prickles and my fingers are at odds with my tongue.

#305 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 12:08 PM:

Terry @299:
That's more than just a tool to transmit information. That's a rights grab.

I haven't read the TOS of other social networking sites but am fairly certain that similar clauses can be found there too. Three hours after reading the article, I've more or less reached the conclusion that my anger is in direct proportion to Facebook's usefulness, without which I wouldn't be uploading stuff, and stems from the prospect of losing that usefulness.

Re: gardening, I do not have kudzu or blackberries, but grass seems to be a worthy substitute. There's enough room in the backyard for a vegetable patch, but the grass is immortal! How can I get rid of, say, a 6' x 10' patch safely and neatly? Weed killer is out - we have three in-and-outdoor cats.

There are wild strawberries growing in the backyard, and I am looking forward to tasting their fruit.

#306 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 12:08 PM:

JESR @ 304... For some reason, we get only one Rufus at a time. As for the feeder, I stopped using one last year when I realized that the hummers much prefer this to anything I could concoct for them.

#307 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 12:47 PM:

Apropos of the squirrel problem: Brunswick Stew.

Lori @ #300, the cocoa mulch is both attractive and toxic to dogs. It's also expensive, which is why I've never had that particular problem.

#308 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 01:20 PM:

Squirrel fishing looks like fun, but I don't know if I could be charitable enough to catch-and-release...maybe release into a stewpot, though.

#309 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 02:08 PM:

Ken @6: Unless you live in a desert then something will grow there naturally.

Even if you do live in a desert, something will probably grow there naturally. What grows "naturally", however, is often likely to be a noxious weed. (Puncture vine was very happy to grow in our yard in Tucson, for instance.)

Better to find something that's actually native to the area, and plant that, rather than just accepting whatever seeds happen to drift in from your neighbor's yard.

#310 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 02:31 PM:

Pendrift @ 305: Layers of wet newspaper. Works like the black plastic stuff only cheaper. Layer it on at least a quarter inch thick, black and white only, wet it down, then mulch over it. I'm planning to do this around the small boxwoods at the edge of my yard. I used pine bark mulch when I planted them but that was totally ineffective against the grass.

At home I have a copy of Mother Earth News that has a great guide to creating a vegetable garden over a patch of lawn, without having to kill off or plow up the grass first. When I get home I'll either summarize, or see if I can find a link to it online (my search-fu is failing at present, and since I can't recall the month of the article I really can't find it). It largely depends on thick layers of mulch, IIRC.

#311 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 02:42 PM:

Can you get western red cedar bark mulch where you are? Takes a long time to rot and contains so many phenols not much can eat it. Dust when dry is nasty.

#312 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 02:58 PM:

"Have you ever eaten a pine tree? Many parts are edible."

#313 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 03:01 PM:

"Have you ever eaten a pine tree? Many parts are edible."

However, when you try this, it helps a lot to be a termite or a bark beetle.

#314 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 03:09 PM:

Today's "Food Day" section of The Oregonian has an article about squirrel eating in England, with a sidebar (well, middlebar) about a columnist's personal experience stewing squirrel.

#315 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 03:16 PM:

Crazy hateful "patriots" ponder what to do with all the people on Social Security after they take over the country in a bloodbath:

Prediction: If any of this jerk's fans do shoot anybody, they'll claim it was a setup to justify oppressing them.

#316 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 03:31 PM:

I have a half dozen bamboo varieties, of which only the golden pleases me. What I wish I had planted decades ago is timber bamboo. Have you considered timber bamboo? Properly confined, it gives you years of useful material.

#317 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 03:36 PM:

PJ Evans @ 313... I'm relieved I wasn't told I had to be a sap.

#318 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 03:38 PM:

Have a gander at this, Stefan: misprison

#319 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 03:45 PM:

Caroline @310: Thanks, much appreciated! Pine bark mulch didn't work for me either. I tried black plastic (and left it for months) but the grass grew back fast, so some steps are probably missing.

#320 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 04:19 PM:

#310 ::: Caroline #310: At home I have a copy of Mother Earth News that has a great guide to creating a vegetable garden over a patch of lawn

Is this what you were talking about? Google search terms were mother earth news garden, first hit.

#321 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 04:26 PM:

Teresa: it's just a matter of practice

#322 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 04:39 PM:

Pendrift: Livejournal has no such clauses. In fact the closest equivalent I can find there is: LiveJournal claims no ownership or control over any Content posted by its users. The author retains all patent, trademark, and copyright to all Content posted within available fields, and is responsible for protecting those rights, but is not entitled to the help of the LiveJournal staff in protecting such Content. The user posting any Content represents that it has all rights necessary to post such Content (and for LiveJournal to serve such Content) without violation of any intellectual property or other rights of third parties, or any laws or regulations;

The clause they seem to get by with for the transmission aspect which Facebook claims is legal necessity is LiveJournal reserves the right, without limitation except by law, to serve any user Content on the web, through the downloadable clients and otherwise.

They have a clause about reserving the right to resell that content back to the user. I think this is to make sure no one gets sniffy about having to pay to see their own content, should Lj become some sort of closed set, as Facebook is.

Myspace says: does not claim any ownership rights in the text, files, images, photos, video, sounds, musical works, works of authorship, or any other materials (collectively, "Content") that you post to the MySpace Services. After posting your Content to the MySpace Services, you continue to retain all ownership rights in such Content, and you continue to have the right to use your Content in any way you choose. By displaying or publishing ("posting") any Content on or through the MySpace Services, you hereby grant to a limited license to use, modify, publicly perform, publicly display, reproduce, and distribute such Content solely on and through the MySpace Services.

They go on to explain that such license is needed to do things like compress files, allow them to be played etc.

Yahoo claims the right to use such materials as you post to promote the services to which you have posted them (Flickr, YahooGroups, etc.). If you withdraw the posted material, Yahoo ceases to have the right to use them. The exception is for text you submit to the publically viewable areas of Yahoo.

Which is to say the things which actually have the likelihood of real commercial value, they aren't claiming to have bought by letting you pay them to host.

So, again, it looks as though FaceBook is making a rights grab. That they are not alone in this (because Microsoft [which seems to have introduced this sort of clause when it launched Microsoft Passport], and Google, place a similar clause in their ToS), doesn't mean they are legally required to do so, nor that it's right.

#323 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 04:40 PM:

Open threadedness roster of Flame Warriors.

Flame Warriors

I aspire to be a Godfather. :)

#324 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 04:54 PM:

P J Evans @#313: ... or a porcupine.

#325 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 04:55 PM:

P J Evans @#313: ... or a porcupine.

#326 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 05:03 PM:

Terry @322:
Amanda French compared the Facebook TOS with those of MySpace, Twitter, Flickr and the like. The main site is down but there's a cached copy here. The story is being covered heavily by major news outlets, which is A Good Thing.
Much of the reaction from those who are downplaying the issue is along the lines of "duh, internetz, there's no privacy, lulz", with no consideration of the ownership issue. The reactions from equally-appalled friends were, like my own, largely unarticulted and expressed more or less as 'smells fishy, do not want.'

Earl, even if that's not what Caroline had in mind, nice article! I may finally have that vegetable patch I've been dreaming of.

#327 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 05:24 PM:

Lori Coulson at 302, I don't think a water garden would work, and really... the planter just doesn't work so well. While the rest of the garden is covered, I can't remember a time the planter didn't have bare dirt. It's kind of like putting shrubs out front-- no matter how many types or tries, it's not going to happen. I've suggested hostas before, but I think it might freeze or something. It's a weird place to put a planter anyway.

Underneath the pine tree out front is nice, though; same shade, but there are several levels of containers, ranging from the ground to tables and a little chair to things hanging from sawn-off branches. We are big believers in hanging baskets.

Can you tell it's February?

#328 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 05:38 PM:

takuan at 316: I love timber bamboo, and have a shinai which one of my teachers made for me out of locally grown timber bamboo. Do you like black bamboo? I do, much.

Just in case anyone wants to know: it's raining buckets out here in San Pablo, CA. According to the weather report people, we can expect rain through Wednesday. I am very happy about that.

On the other hand, our governor is about to lay off 20,000 state employees. As we used to say -- bummer.

#329 ::: Ralph Giles ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 05:56 PM:

abi @ 230:

I went off and sewed the headbands on my Latin grammar, which has been sitting half-bound for over a year now.

Hey, I have one of those! Clendon and Vince, Oxford, 1931, reprinted 1954. Part one only, sadly. But hey, it's been from England to Australia to Canada in its short life.

In theory it's waiting for me to buy some matching tissue for section guards. Because more paper is always the answer.

#330 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 06:07 PM:

Mine's an Allan and Greenough, 1913 reprint of 1903 revision of 1888 original. It was originally a pea-green clothbound hardcover. I bought it used at Moe's Books while everyone else bought their new large format paperbacks at the student union. It still smells of old book, twenty years on.

I'm not trimming it, nor trying to clean the ink stains, marks of lavender pressed between the pages, nor removing the pencilled annotations in the calendar section. It's a working book that's been with me for my entire adult life so far, and which now needs a better binding so it can outlast me.

My fervent hope is that sometime in 2089 some Latin student will run across it in a used bookstore, marked down to practically nothing, and use it in defiance of all of her classmates' code plugins that annotate the declensions in the texts they read through their iris-implant viewers.

At the very least, I need it so I don't make declension mistakes like I did on Whatever today.

#331 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 06:27 PM:

Earl, that's it! I rejected that combination of search terms without trying it -- thought it would be too general. Sometimes it is possible to overthink things.

#332 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 06:46 PM:

It is with extreme sorrow that I must report the departure of The Great Cat Sophie (1992?-2009), to old age and rampant kidney failure. She was a good and loyal friend, and the greatest purrer I've ever met, always taking joy in life. I hope she's got--she certainly deserves--lots of warm sunshine, butterflies, mice, the occasional dab of cream, and a good supply of free-range catnip.

#333 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 07:00 PM:

Lizzy L @ 328... According to the weather report people, we can expect rain through Wednesday.

That'll go well with my flying to the Bay Area next week for my yearly reaming... I mean... my yearly review.

#334 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 07:02 PM:

joann @ 332 ...
My profound empathies. It's wretchedly hard to lose a part of the family.

#335 ::: Ralph Giles ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 07:20 PM:

abi @ 330: Sounds wonderful. I have a paperback copy of Wheelock I used in school, but I didn't get very far, and there's not much to be done for it. The rebinding project I found falling apart at a used bookstore much more recently. I hope it survives another 100 years too.

#336 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 07:22 PM:

Dear Lizzy: sadly, Phyllostachys Nigra isn't in my kennel, an oversight I really should remedy. If any plant is shibui, that is it. You remind me I should go through the attic and find my shinai case and see how they fare. Probably long since dried, perished and cracked.

Bamboo is a legacy plant, a grove planted today could greatly benefit your grandchildren. Species carefully chosen of course.

#337 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 07:31 PM:

joann, I'm so sorry.

I have to believe there is a place for cats in the afterlife; they give us so much love here. I'm sure Sophie is there.

#338 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 07:35 PM:

joann, I'm sorry. May there be rainbows, soft cushions, and someone to throw a catnip mouse for her.

#339 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 07:45 PM:

All cats go to heaven.

#340 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 08:02 PM:

Bamboo can be quite invasive as my family has found out when some of it started growing inside the barn. (Family farm in New Jersey)

#341 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 08:08 PM:

Oh yes, if you wish to contain bamboo you need an underground fence and constant attention on surface runners. Dig down at least two feet (make it three) and use something impermeable and non-corroding.

#342 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 08:10 PM:

A literary challenge Lizzy: describe the sensation of receiving a full-power men strike.

#343 ::: Adrian Smith ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 08:18 PM:

Bamboo can be quite invasive as my family has found out when some of it started growing inside the barn.

Here in Japan it can easily (well, over a few years) wipe out whole orchards if neglected, which it almost inevitably will be.

#344 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 09:08 PM:

I'm so very sorry, joann.

#345 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 10:07 PM:

takuan, I must decline: I don't train in kendo. We use the shinai occasionally for Aikido weapons work. In Aikido, one receives a shomenuchi strike by not receiving it, that is, by getting off the line and letting it pass, by drawing it in so that its power is dissipated, or by moving in to it before it manifests.

#346 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 10:10 PM:

ahh. Very well then; describe the moment of impact when you take ukemi and hit the mat.

#347 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 10:31 PM:

Terry, #299: ...including by offering a Share Link on your website...

IOW, if you put one of those handy little "Share On Facebook!" widgets on your personal or commercial website, Facebook is now staking claim to anything on YOUR site as well, whether you post it to Facebook or not. Not that I'd have been likely to link my (still-under-construction) jewelry website to Facebook anyhow, but they've just guaranteed that I won't.

Pendrift, #305: If you live in a neighborhood where people put huge collections of those ugly plastic street-spam signs up on the street corners, you can collect them* and put an overlapping layer of them on the grass you're trying to kill. You might have to leave them there for a full growing season, but it will work -- we cleared a largish patch of our back yard that way. And not only are they free, but you're beautifying the neighborhood by getting rid of them!

Lila, #307: At risk of sounding callous, that would seem to make it a good solution for places plagued with feral dog packs -- especially if said places also have leash laws.

joann, #332: My condolences. Kidney failure was what finally got my late beloved Mina.

* In most places, it's perfectly legal for you to remove a sign that's been placed on the right-of-way. Check your local ordinances if you want to be sure.

#348 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 10:32 PM:

Bamboo... must be contained. Chickens will slow it, but the least spot of innatenntion and it will be the bane of the yard, and almost impossible to eradicate.

takuan: Men strike.... blaze of stunning light. A brief hesitation in all forward movement. Done wrong, it just hurts.

ukemi (aikido)... unless done wrong it's just the logical outcome of the event. Generally it's painless; though at time shocking.

I have taken ukemi from some who are being less than gentle, those can be abrupt, but so long as I am flowing, they are just that, abrupt, not painful (well, excepting yonkyu which has pain built into it. Doran Sensei is of the opinion this makes it the least of the teachings, because not everyone can be controlled by pain, but simple physics is irresistable.

ukemi in judo (which was the first art I studied, lo those many moons ago) is a bit more breathtaking, because a lot of them are falls from which the bottom has been taken out of the uke and all one has to keep it from stunning one to immobility is the proper application of the arms. Sometimes one is slow, or soft.

#349 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 10:39 PM:

"blaze of stunning light", good, good... I've thought of it as "being at the center of an explosion" (oddly enough also described in such words to me when firing the grandfatherly Carl Gustav),but I'm looking for something more lyrical.

#350 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 10:46 PM:

Keeping in mind that I have never managed six continuous months of aikido practice and that, well, I suck at it--

There's one aid to front roll practice that makes the front roll perfectly inevitable... if you trust your partner. If not, at least if you're me, the moment of inevitability ends in a splat*.

Many techniques end in, "Oh! I am made of levers!" Many others end in, "Why don't I have a third leg?" The first are perfectly elegant, with an edge of marvel that my body does that. The second are sometimes frustrating for both of us because if I don't know where I'm supposed to lose my balance, I sometimes don't.

*this is my own term for not doing a front roll due to headspace failure. I really, really do not like bending, losing control, or not being upright.

#351 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 10:58 PM:

takuan: It's nothing like being in the center of an explosion. Being in the center of an explosion is quiet, and slow, and full of memorable detail.

Then it's all chaos, and noise and confusion and pulling one's mind back into one's body.

Being just outside an explosion is different again... that's like being bounced off the grill of a mack truck; into a wall.

Further away than that... it's a lot like being near lighting.

#352 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 11:01 PM:

Diatryma: does this help?

#353 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 11:03 PM:

Takuan, I am completely failing to figure out context, beyond 'bendy is interesting'. Help me out?

#354 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 11:05 PM:

Diatryma: I'd say the other half of the balance in ukemi is trusting yourself. The few occaisions I've really fallen out of the exercise is when I forgot to let myself just be.

It's probably my ukemi is as good as it is (and I've been praised for it, more than once, even when all else was elbows and angles) is because I started with Judo. We did about 100 meters of forward rolls, left and right, before we started to practice falls.

That sense of being able, once released, to just let muscle memory take over is liberating in the extreme.

So my advice (worth at least what you paid for it) is, when next you take up the art, go to class early, and practice rolls, forward, backward, atemi, side falla and any other way you might want to be able to part ways with your nage.

#355 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 11:22 PM:

hmmph, I've blown myself up a few times as a child with homemade black-powder and the like, nothing military though. Two at least were fatal loads but Satan protected me for my destiny. I've been around innumerable special effects bursts,but always had the wit by then to be elsewhere than the epicenter. Close to howitzers and fifty calibers for salutes and the like. But not really in the middle of anything large and hostile. Yet. Lightning now, that's another tale altogether (picture being a hundred feet in the air in a wire cage on a metal pole).

No, the quality I'm trying to capture is the instantaneous shock that fills the world silently, bright without light, a zen-katsu moment when before thought has time, you realize you are slain. - you know, the moment you think, "shit!he got me!" and then you foul him with a low and dirty tsuki thrust in the soft meat of the upper arm. Kidding! Just kidding! (maybe)

#356 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 11:28 PM:

Diatryma: exactly as Terry says, come early, stay late, do lots. It is possible you are self-conscious, so try to be alone for a bit and keep your head clear and empty. Your body is a wheel, not a collection of levers. Bite your tail and roll,roll,roll. Even the most hopeless case will get better with enough practice - even if it is by breaking off all the pokey-outey bits.

#357 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 11:42 PM:

takuan: I've had the odd mistake with pyro (and thank goodness for goggles... hair grows back, eyeballs... not so much).

Those were booms. I used to think they were explosions.

Howizters, cannon, and things like machine guns and rifles;I don't know how to explain the difference, but they are nothing like explosions. They are directional is the best I can cime up with.

There isn't any awareness of the impending explosion No awareness that you left an opening and it's being exploited (well... one may be aware, for incoming; but it doesn't signify, there isn't any sense of impending to it, mere inevetibilty, and fatalism), the world is divided into now, and after. Before was just regular time.

The explosion was special time, and the after is rushed and hectic time, until regular time comes back again.

It's nothing like anything else, really.

#358 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 11:45 PM:

I sense an amusement park ride. What shall we call it?

#359 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 11:53 PM:

JESR, #204, cleaning and making more sugar syrup is why I don't have a hummingbird feeder, either. I'm just not always up to that. Getting a scoop of sunflower chips and putting it in the feeder on my porch (condo mgmt doesn't allow feeders on the common property) I can usually handle.

Stefan, #315, I suppose some of us Social Security folks could fight back. I can't handle a gun anymore, but I could make a b...oh...hmm.

joann, #332, I'm so sorry about Sophie. I hope you find comfort.

#360 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 11:58 PM:

that "exterminate the useless eaters" item reminded me of South Park when all the old folks drove on the same night.

#361 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 11:59 PM:

Thanks for the aikido advice, and at some point I may follow it-- I am very self-conscious. Once I'm not spreading plague around, I may show up early, but I also get discouraged very easily after a certain point, and I'm trying not to let aikido become another Physical Thing I Fail At Because I Suck At All Physical Things And Always Will.

Why yes, I did leave karate with some baggage.

Most of my problems with aikido come from my head, and the rest are an unwillingness to bend or fear of my head going somewhere my feet haven't. I know exactly what to do to help fix them, I just don't do any of it. I know all the words and can say them back to you, but I can't or haven't tried to do the steps.

#363 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 12:09 AM:

Aigh. I'm sorry, my last post came off more snarly than I had intended. I am grateful for talk and ideas, but more because then there is community-level talk about interesting things-- the we're-in-this-too-- than because of specific advice, and so I tend to encourage conversation by mentioning my specific problems and then bite the heads off anyone who suggests solutions. My apologies, Terry and takuan, and the community in general.

#364 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 12:15 AM:

Go comfortably Diatryma. In your space, in your time. Budo is littered with current and past masters who took it up because they weren't as strong as they would have liked as youths. We all find our own way. Just make sure you have the minimum of technical teaching to prevent you hurting yourself. Basics like "look at your belt" when you fall. After that, chip away. I recommend a nice heated pool in the shallow end for gaining confidence in fluidity of rolling. Watch your breathing, it matters.

#365 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 12:29 AM:

can't find the old carnival footage, but this is the general idea.

#366 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 12:53 AM:

Diatryma: No apology needed (and accepted, as offered). I offered free advice. Not always the best course of action. I allowed my enthusiasm to overide my restraint.

If you go back to the mat, and want to talk, you know where to find me. :)

As for the head/feet thing, there are aspects of ukemi which take faith, in you, your nage, and gravity. Sometimes I choke, my body can't go "there", at which point it doesn't and I end up in a graceless pile.

Anything else I might add is probably just rubbing a sore spot, so please forgive me the preaching I just did.

#367 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 01:09 AM:

Does anybody have recommendations for dealing with the "all email sent to a mailing list must be responded to" problem?

Several of the mailing lists that I'm on (public and private) have at least one member (although not the -same- member in all cases, fortunately!) who seems to feel that every email that appears in their inbox must be replied to (not infrequently including their own replies!) -- and seem to be immune to standard gentle (and not so genteel) hints.

In one case, I suspect cultural difference -- it's clear by name and content that the poster isn't a native english speaker, and also isn't culturally 'western' -- in another, that's quite clearly not the case.

I'd like to say "stop trying so hard, and just listen a bit", but that seems to be much easier to understand in the context of face-to-face interaction[0].

[0] Doubtless because it's fairly hard not to notice volume, or social cues like the audience vanishing.

#368 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 02:05 AM:

Serge@312 "Have you ever eaten a pine tree? Many parts are edible."

Clear Creek Distillery, in Oregon, makes an interesting eau de vie with the new spring growth of Douglas fir. Unfortunately it's even more expensive than their wonderful pear brandy.

#369 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 03:53 AM:

Thomas @368:

That sounds like an eau de vie made by the Distillerie de Biercée in Belgium. They're most famous here for their citrus-based Eau de Villée but they make a range of lovely liqueurs and eaux de vie. I wonder if their products are available in the US.

Terry and Lee: Facebook has now reverted to the previous TOS after the backlash, and is asking for input before putting up new terms of service. It's a step in the right direction and gives users an opportunity to fix even older ownership issues.

Open thready, free-association note to no one in particular: The more I comment, the less intimidated I am, but oh my! I can feel how underused my spontaneous writing skills are. Making Light forces me to hold myself to higher standards and it takes me ages to finalize a comment*.
As a translator I work with words all day, but it's enlightening to discover** that rendering an existing thought in another language is far easier for me than shaping my own thoughts into new content.
*It took me a good 20 minutes to write and rework all of this, and I'm still not happy with it.
**Joining the Fluorosphere: another butterfly moment!

#370 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 04:13 AM:

Speaking of pine-based alcohol, I was recently alerted to a pine ale from Fraoch. I've only had their heather ale so far, since that's all that tends to make it this far south, but on the showing of that I'll try anything they make. We're going off to Ardnamurchan in a few months' time, and we'll be stocking up on Fraoch ales for the holiday - I'm particularly keen to try the seaweed version.

#371 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 05:56 AM:

Lee @ 242

It's a 10 kg (22 pound) bag of rice. The "Best Before" date is two years from now - we should manage to eat it by then (we went and bought it) - not that I believe in "Best Before" dates.

I do recycle plastic icecream containers as stackable containers for rice, pasta, lentils, chick peas, sugar etc.). Problem is we're a household of two and I don't have any large plastic containers - oh wait! Lateral thinking has done it (thanks to your prompting): plastic boxes which 1 kg assorted biscuits-for-cheese came in (bought when on half-price offer, of course). I have two of those empty, with "resealable for freshness" lids. And they will fit on top of the kitchen cupboards (which is about the only space available - our kitchen is a bit small).

Re sorting things-we-don't-need, I have that on my list of "to do" - now I've finished the big project I've been working on for several months and can reclaim things called "evenings" and "weekends". Problem is working out what's "keep in case needed (like empty plastic biscuit containers) and what's "you're never going to use it"...

#372 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 06:10 AM:

Sam Kelly @370, would heather ale be like Drambuie beer?

#373 ::: Ken Brown ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 07:55 AM:

dcb: earlier this week I noticed that the 10-kilo bag of basmati in Sainsbury's was selling for £22.50 (UKP) But pretty much the same stuff was about five quid cheaper in the normally much more expensive corner shop! Its not much more than half the price of the smaller packets.

We kept ours in an airtight plastic box that holds about 5 kilos (so bought the 5 kilo bags more than the 10 kilo) But the box is lost. Where can it be? My daughter insists that she has no idea. But it wasn't me!. And cats don't take large plastic boxes from the tops of fridges

I bet someone took it to a party with party food in it. But who? And where?

Still on food prices, I looked at the price of meat and was surprised how cheap chicken is. You could buy a single largish one (not frozen) for four quid - that's about 1.50 a kilo, the same price as most of the dry pasta or porridge oats. What the heck do they feed the hens on?

Its the same kind of price per kilo as the cheapest sardines or mackerel (which are cheaper fresh than tinned)

Lamb and pork were a bit more expensive than I thought. Or maybe the price has just gone up since I last bought any, which us months ago.

Beef is too expensive to consider as a staple food, but I don't buy it anyway. (Though I have occasionally bought a greasy steak-and-kidney pie when less than sober and in great desire of stodgy food)

But the cheapest meat of all is liver. You could get pigs liver for about 40p a kilo if you tried hard, and certainly less than a pound a kilo for pig or sheep or chicken. That's pretty much the price of cheap potatoes or onions or cabbage. I'm tempted, just to see if I can cook myself an outrageously large meal with meat in for less than 50p. Though as you can't buy small quantities at those prices actually it would be four outrageously large meat meals for two quid and who would eat the others?

Talking of livers and torture and eagles and mobbing... I once sat on a hillside in Ardnamurchan (far west of Scotland) and watched two hoodie crows push an eagle off a ledge. They landed beside it and sidled up to it and squawked a little, making it clear they didn't want any eagles on *their* ledge. It moved a little to the side. The moved closer. The eagle moved a little more. the crows followed. Like impolite commuters on a crowded train.

After some minutes it got to the end and there was nowhere further to go so it jumped off and glided away down the hillside. It was raining gently and the poor bird looked very grumpy. Quite young I think - can't remember exactly (it was years ago) but perhaps in its second year.

#374 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 08:06 AM:

Pendrift, #369: The more I comment, the less intimidated I am, but oh my! I can feel how underused my spontaneous writing skills are. Making Light forces me to hold myself to higher standards and it takes me ages to finalize a comment*.

I've had the same experience, here and on my own intermittent blog. Sometimes it alarms me to realize how long I've taken to come up with a couple of paragraphs.

#375 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 08:06 AM:

joann @ 332

Sympathies. It's always horrible losing a furry friend.

#376 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 08:22 AM:

Ken @373:
But the cheapest meat of all is liver.

Easy chicken liver and gizzard adobo recipe
1 lb each of chicken livers and gizzards
1 head garlic, peeled and crushed
1 onion, chopped (optional)
1 tsp peppercorns
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup vinegar (palm vinegar if available, apple cider vinegar is a good substitute, as is sherry vinegar)
1/4 cup light soy sauce (Marca Piña from the Philippines if you can find it, or Pearl River Bridge. Kikkoman will do in a pinch but I don't recommend it)

Wash the giblets well. Cover gizzards in water and bring to the boil, then simmer for 30 minutes. Chuck out the water, then add all other ingredients except liver plus about 2 cups water and stew for an hour or so until the gizzards are tender. Do not stir before the sharp smell of vinegar is gone. In fact, avoid stirring if you can help it. About 10 minutes before the gizzards are done, add the livers. Serve with rice.

Small pork and chicken cuts can be prepared the same way. It's even easier, because you can just dump all ingredients in a pot and forget about them for an hour. Tweak proportions at will. Done right, this tastes even better the next day.

#377 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 08:33 AM:

@joann at 332: All my sympathies as well.

#378 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 09:02 AM:

Thomas @ 368... Fir booze?

And let's not forget spruce beer, aka bière d'épinette up in Québec.

#379 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 09:29 AM:

Yes, 'beer' and 'bier' are the same word in French.

#380 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 09:30 AM:

If I may ask for a technical tip...

I recently downloaded to my laptop David Gerrold's episode "Blood and Fire" of Star Trek's New Voyages. It consists of five mp4 files, one for the teaser, and one for each act. I wonder if there is something with which I could integrate all 5 files, and where the menu would give me the choice to watch the whole thing in one continuous viewing, or to skip to the next act if I so chose. I'd then burn the whole thing into my own DVD.

If you know, or if you don't know but you know someone who knows, do let me know.

#381 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 10:09 AM:

Serge @ 380 -

I've used Pinnacle Studio Version 11 for making some vids, and I think most video editing/moviemaking packages could do it. I'm not sure if Windows MovieMaker can do it.

I found this forum entry addressing your problem.

#382 ::: Stevey-Boy ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 10:17 AM:

Serge @ 380: I've not tried it, but I think iMovie or iDVD should be able to perform such a function. I recently purchased iLife '09 and have not had a chance to sit down with in for any length of time. It was only $30 with an academic discount, so I splurged.

#383 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 10:28 AM:

joann @#332, my condolences. Judging by your wishes for her afterlife, you gave Sophie a good time while she was here.

Lee @ #347, that's pretty callous, especially in the same breath as sympathy for someone's cat's kidney failure. I acknowledge the necessity for the killing of feral dogs in some circumstances, but I draw the line at doing it by slow poisoning.

Terry @ #366, re "graceless pile", I like my TKD teacher's expression: "Try not to fall like a bag of antlers."

xeger @ #367, aikido is supposed to be good for teaching a person that not everything that impinges on your awareness has to be responded to...

Talk of artisan beers and such leads me to express my sorrow at the passing of Ben and Jerry's limited batch Ginger Snap ice cream, which is, bar none, the best ice cream I have ever tasted. And now I shall never taste it again. *retreats to the corner, sobbing quietly*

#384 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 10:40 AM:

Steve C @ 381... Stevey-Boy @ 382... Thanks, both of you!

#385 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 10:45 AM:

@Lila 383:
I suspect that that tastes very much like speculoos ice cream. It seems Häagen-Dazs came out with a limited edition, maybe that one's still available.

If you can find Lotus-brand Speculoos* over there, crumble some and sprinkle over vanilla ice cream. It will assuage your pain.

*They appear to be sold under the Biskoff brand in the US and the prices are outrageous.

#386 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 10:48 AM:

takuan @ 321: Depending on the lock, you don't need those. I picked a standard Kwikset lock with two large paperclips.

joann @ 332: My sympathies.

Diatryma @ 350: Echoing what you said and Terry said at 354, it's both a matter of trusting yourself and your partner. And gravity. Gravity can be frightening. I'm still learning to trust my body when I dance, but it can be hard. No real advice, other than to say that it comes eventually.

xeger @ 367: Sorry, no help for the must reply to everything syndrome if gentle advice and reminders hasn't worked. On a related note, I've been having fantasies of taking piano wire to a few colleagues who don't understand the difference between reply and reply to all.

Pendrift @ 369: Don't worry, I'm still bad about having to rework some of my posts too. And rework. And rework. And then look at them, decide it's still not right, and close the window. You're doing fine.

Serge @ 379: Because if you drink enough you'll have to be carried out?

Serge @ 380: It depends on what you want. Do you want a normal DVD that you can bung into a DVD player and watch on TV? If so, I think pretty much any DVD authoring software would work for you. Give it all your mp4s, then tell it to make a title with the chapter breaks you want. If you're looking for making a single media file to play on your computer that you'll then burn to a data DVD, I've heard good things about the mkv container format for holding video with breaks like that. Sorry, I don't have any particular software recommendations.

#387 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 11:06 AM:

Everybody: Thank you all so much for your thoughts.

Sophie was a very happy beast, not only because we treated her well, but because she had an amazing capacity just to seize the moment and enjoy it. The only things that ever worried her were vets and doorbells. And a fear, from sometime in the years before we got her, that the food would run out. With us, it never did.

#388 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 11:37 AM:

Joann @ 332: Sorry I'm late, but my condolences are sincere. Sophie sounds like she was a Happy Cat, and I had one of those too. Buzz was a large cat, purred loudly, and never got into a fight with anyone (and he would have won since he easily outweighed any two cats in the rest of the group). Happy Cats are such a joy to have around, even when they have some bad habits. Despite Buzz's lack of reliability with respect to the litter box, he provided us with 14.5 years of happiness, and I'm sure he's happily sharing the catnip with Sophie.

On a lighter note, I just have to say that Kriek Lambic (which is not cherry earthworms, Serge) tastes wonderful.

#389 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 11:41 AM:

In San Francisco last May, I had a beer called "Will Work for Tips." It used redwood tips at least partly in place of hops. I described it at the time as "tasting like a mountain cabin." An unusual flavor, but delicious.

Re: the martial-arts discussion: It makes me want to take a martial art again. I took TKD when I was 17, from a fellow who taught in a much more traditional Korean way. I have since gathered that most American TKD schools are largely focused on street fighting. My school was largely focused on meditation, form, and control.

Diatryma, I have pretty much never been good at physical things either -- I was always the slowest, weakest kid. I can't say I was much good at TKD but I certainly accomplished some personal bests. It really helped me to limit my focus to my individual achievements, rather than comparing to others.

(Currently I've taken up weight training, which is all about individual progress. This may be why I like it so much.)

#390 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 11:53 AM:

Earl at 372: I have a lot of trouble getting Drambuie and beer into the same place in my mind- I can't imagine what it would taste like, and for me that's saying something.

The heather ale tastes, well, heathery. There's some tasting notes here that do a far better job than I can.

#391 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 12:03 PM:

Ken Brown @ 373

Tesco is selling the 10 kg bags of basmati rice for half price - so under £12 for the sack, which is about 50% of the cost of buying it 1 kg at a time, which is why I decided to get it.

I'm vegetarian, and trying to rely less on (a) cheese; (b) prepared Quorn-based etc. foods. I'm trying to get into the habit of cooking at least four portions at a time - eat one, eat a second in the next couple of days, freeze the others as home-made "ready meals". I'm also trying to remember to get those ready-meals out in the evening and defrost in the refrigerator for the following day's lunch, thus reducing energy use a little bit.

#392 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 12:36 PM:

My shiny new digicam takes videos! But now I find myself in need of video-editing software that's cheap and reasonably easy to use, since Flickr only lets me put up 90 seconds or less, and I don't always want the first 90 seconds of whatever I got. Can anyone point me to something that might help, or suggest something that comes bundled with Windows that I haven't looked at? (I'm still running Windows XP here.)

I continue to be bemused by the tendency of boozemakers to market non-food flavors and flavorings as if they were a feature. :-)

#393 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 12:37 PM:

Pendrift: From my point of view the old ToS are not different in substance from the new. The only difference is they don't assert absolute control forever, just absolute control so long as they have it, and they aren't required to get rid of it if you leave the service. A difference which makes no difference.

What do they feed the chickens on? Well if it's a modern eating bird it's bred to gain weight fast, and they are buying feed in bulk, so the cost is a lot lower. If it's a battery hen they made money from the eggs. It won't be all that tough, because she didn't move much.

Earl Cooley: Heather ale doesn't taste like Drambuie. It's yummy, but it's not sweet, and none of the other spicing is in there. A bit grassy, with hints of spice, but a very different taste/feel on the palate. I like it, but at $6US, it's a treat, not a steady, in the bar.

KiethS: I think the problem is I have an almost unshakeable faith in gravity. The sheer ability of good ukemi to limit the effects of gravity is what makes it so amazing.

#394 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 12:47 PM:

Caroline: re martial arts, and TKD (at the risk of offending some with my personal beliefs): TKD is a lousy street art/defense art.

It's not that it can't be effective, it's that so much of it is big, and therefore slow, moves; in a very linear style.

I've looked in at lots of TKD dojos (because it's pretty), and never seen one which, even when punching was being done, didn't focus on kicks, and big kicks at that (the sort which, should they land, will put you down/out; real "night, night bunny rabbit" stuff).

And really, all one has to do to dodge most of that stuff is step to the side a little. To attack it isn't much harder.

There was a very good karate dojo which had open sparring. Every so often a guy who took TKD would show up (usually trying to prove something) and get clobbered. There was a group which came in one week. Karate belts who were ranked below them won the bouts, handily.

The next week some of the black belts showed up to show the karate people how it was done; same story.

This may be too many years of too many integrated disciplines (and I sure wouldn't want to make a mistake in fighting someone who was skilled, but that's true of any art), but TKD feels very limited to me; in a fighting context.

Which is why I don't understand the aggressive/combative aspect of so many US dojos, as it's not taught in a way which suits it to that.


#395 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 12:56 PM:

Ginger #388:

I must have been telling her how to find your cat all those years: she'd purr, and I'd put my head down next to hers (the better to catch the full rumble) and say "buzz, buzz, buzz ..."

#396 ::: Velma ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 01:03 PM:

Good, patience required, and weird:

Good: Yesterday, Soren received the hemi-cane, and we will be taking it with us when we go out. This will allow us to go to restaurants that are up or down a few steps, and to get into rest rooms that are not really accessible with a chair.

Patience required: He's not allowed to use it in the halls of the floor he's residing on, only in his room and during physical therapy. I suspect that this is because he's not yet adept at dodging people, and there are some wicked wheelchair drivers at Atlantis. (I have bruises on my calves to vouch for that.)

Weird: Shortly after Patrick and Elise left yesterday, Soren went into the bathroom, and the toilet tank broke. From my side, there was a loud cracking sound, then the sound of running water. I knocked, and dashed in, to discover a very puzzled and disconcerted Soren, standing in a large pool of water. I got him out, and into his chair, then spent some time trying to get the nurses to understand that THERE WAS A FLOOD IN HIS BATHROOM. YES, A FLOOD. THE TANK BROKE AND WATER IS POURING OUT AND INTO HIS ROOM AND THE ROOM NEXT TO HIS. HELP, PLEASE.

And, of course, it happened while much of the staff on the floow was on dinner break, and just as maintenance was about to go on break. Fortunately, people did come quickly to turn off the water and mop the floors.

(No, we have no idea how it happened. I hope to find out tonight when I see him. At least the nursing supervisor thought it was amusing.)

I hope that today will be dry and boring.

#397 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 01:04 PM:

KeithS @ 386... Thanks for the tip.

#398 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 01:06 PM:

Ginger @ 388... It never even occurred to me theat those might be cherry earthworms. I did think they could be deep-fried ones dipped in chocolate.

#399 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 01:11 PM:

Alaskan winter ale is brewed with Spruce tips. Quite tasty, if not a bit past the season for it.

#400 ::: don delny ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 01:42 PM:

Lee, 392,
or suggest something that comes bundled with Windows that I haven't looked at? (I'm still running Windows XP here.)

It pains me to say so, but windows movie maker (comes with xp) is actually really good for that sort of thing.

I also use VirtualDub, which is free/open source and runs under windows. That's much handier for converting avi files to divx files.* You can just point it at a folder full of video and tell it "make them smaller, de-interlace them, compress them using this codec with these settings and sound a chime/shutdown/make a cheese sandwich when done."

Let me know if this is helpful - too much info, too little, etc.

*codec download required. Terminology is not technically correct. Avi is a container format, divx is a compression format.

#401 ::: don delny ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 01:45 PM:

ObGeek note:

VirtualDub was originally created for the purpose of compressing anime videos of Sailor Moon.

#403 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 01:57 PM:

Terry Karney #393: Heather ale doesn't taste like Drambuie. It's yummy, but it's not sweet, and none of the other spicing is in there.

Ah, well, I don't use Drambuie in the normal way anyway: I usually pop open the bottle and smell at it for a while, or sometimes use it to sweeten iced tea. My apologies if anyone thinks of this as insufficiently respectful to the elixir.

#404 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 02:02 PM:

The scissor sharpening guy caught up with me, and has done a lovely job of sharpening and aligning my shears :) I've added two rather bad "after" photos at the bottom of the page.

They're cutting beautifully, and now I'm really not wanting to work -- I'd rather drag the table out and do some cutting.

#405 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 02:14 PM:

Serge @116: Was Ian Ballantine at Iguanacon, or am I conflating him with someone else...?

#406 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 02:20 PM:

Jacque @ 405... I think Ian Ballantine passed away some time ago.

#407 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 02:30 PM:

Ginger @ 388:
kriek lambic is good - yes. I like most krieks (and cherry tea - that's tea with cherry, like lemon tea is tea with lemon, not a herbal or fruit thing).

I've just finished a looong project (electronic encyclopaedia volume on "Rabbits and their Relatives: Health and Management", since you might actually be interested to know) and I'm going to celebrate with a bottle of Kasteel Rouge - which is a rather nice kriek.

The Fraoch ales is very good as well.

#408 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 02:42 PM:

For the Vista users, Windows MovieMaker has been superceded by Windows DVD Maker. I haven't tried it, but I wondered if there was an equivalent under Vista, so I looked on my machine.

#409 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 02:43 PM:

Earl: Seems a reasonable thing to do with it to me. I figure, (mostly) that what one enjoys with a thing is a good thing to do with it (some things, not so much... really good champagne is not meant for mimosas, nor French 75s).

It is, in that regard, nothing like Drambuie.

#410 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 02:45 PM:

I just noticed the following items on the San Francisco Chronicle's site;

Supe: Bring back nudity to B2B 4:00 AM

'Wife Swap' makes S.F. man's life a mess 4:00 AM

Fake agent in clown suit arrested 10:22 AM

#411 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 02:57 PM:

dcb @ 407: We are slowly trying out Belgian beers (ales, lambics, etc.) as they appear in our favorite wine-and-beer shop. In our area, the selections tend to be limited (partly by law, as Montgomery County is weird), so each new beverage is carefully assessed before being added to our repertoire. In this case, both of us liked the lambic*, which is unusual as my partner is the beer drinker of the house; what I like tends to be less appealing to her.

"Rabbits and their relatives" does sound interesting. What do you propose for coccidiosis?

I am now adding Fraoch and Kasteel Rouge to our shopping list, and thank you for the tip!

*As in, we finished that large bottle in one night. Granted, it was a weekend night, neither of us had anywhere to go, and I wasn't on call. Still. That's a lot of malt beverage for us.

#412 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 03:10 PM:

Terry Karney @ 394:

Which is why I don't understand the aggressive/combative aspect of so many US dojos, as it's not taught in a way which suits it to that.

I think you answered your own question much earlier in your post when you said "because it's pretty". There's a lot to be said for just looking cool even if it's not entirely practical. Hollywood fighting is notorious for this. The fencing in The Adventures of Robin Hood looks amazing, even if Errol Flynn would be neatly spitted in a real fight. The same goes for Jedi swinging weightless lightsabers in ponderous arcs and intentionally hitting each other's blades. Very flashy, very pretty, very fun, but not tactically sound in the slightest. The fighting in the Matrix films looks cool, and is, of course, entirely impractical. All of this looks wonderful on screen, though.

There might also be something cultural going on. Aggression, channeled correctly, is seen as a virtuous trait. It's more heroic to give the bad guy a good kicking than it is to wait for him to come at you so that you can use your judo skills.

#413 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 03:20 PM:

Shiny shears! Did the sharpener get them apart finally?

#414 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 03:23 PM:

KeithS @ 412...

Would you say that the duel between Robin and the Sherriff looks more realistic in Robin and Marian? Those swords look heavy.

One of the things I liked in Clive Owen's King Arthur is when Keira Knightley, instead of taking on the big Saxon guy in a swordfight, jump him along with a bunch of other women.

#415 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 03:24 PM:

joann, I'm sorry for your loss.

#416 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 03:35 PM:

Serge @ 414: I wouldn't know, unfortunately. Looking it up, I see I should probably rent it. I hope I made it clear in my above post that I am not in any way against unrealistic fight scenes in films (depending on the type of film, of course). Looking cool can make up for a lot.

#417 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 03:38 PM:

takuan @ 413 ...
Shiny shears! Did the sharpener get them apart finally?

Sure seems that way -- but since I didn't want to annoy him by watching, I couldn't say for sure :)

#418 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 03:39 PM:

I've always figured a typical medieval duel consisted of having your friends swarm your opponent and then writing the story afterwards.

#419 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 03:45 PM:

KeithS @ 416... Oh, I was just asking your opinion of that movie's fights, but you've never seen it. Definitely try to. Great story. Great cast too. Sean Connery as Robin, Nicol Wiliamson as Little John, Audrey Hepburn as Marian, Robert Shaw as the Sherriff.

Maid Marian: Let's take a look at you.
Robin Hood: [opens his shirt] Just a few bumps and bruises.
Maid Marian: [Reacting to his scars] Oh!
[She touches them gently]
Maid Marian: So many... You had the sweetest body when you left. Hard, and not a mark. And you were mine. When you left I thought I'd die. I even tried. I walked into the woods and laid down by a stream and cut myself. Some damn fool forrester came by, took me to the abbey. So they say. No more scars, Robin. It's too much to lose you twice.

#421 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 03:56 PM:

Insufferably cute:

25 My Little Pony Modifications

I like the "My Little Cthulu" and the Batman & Robin pair.

#423 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 04:06 PM:

Terry Karney @ 398 -- I've heard that before, and it's probably true. I don't have enough experience with other martial arts to form an opinion. I do know that I was treating it more as a meditative form of exercise than real fighting skills -- although I was also taught a set of practical self-defense skills, how to break out of different ways that someone could grab you, how to push them off balance and throw them. Those were cool. (I also learned some Korean vocabulary, which I've completely forgotten.)

I would quite like to take up either karate or judo or both. Although I imagine it would take me some time to mentally cope with falling and rolling -- I never even learned to do a cartwheel when I was a kid and it took me a long time to be okay with flip turns in swimming, where you can't fall and hurt yourself while upside down. But I think it would be good for me.

#424 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 04:06 PM:

I am humbled before your Ponies!

#425 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 04:10 PM:

Bruce Arthurs @ 421, the only thing that makes me sad about George W. Bush leaving office is that we will no longer have a new My Little Pony posted on Eschaton every time a new approval rating comes out.

#426 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 04:18 PM:

don, #400: I think you're just a bit over my head there. I'm not using either .avi or .divx files, just plain old .mp4. But I'll see if I've got that Windows Movie Maker installed (sometimes we de-install things we're not planning to use) and whether it can do what I want, thanks!

Serge, #406: Your statement is not incompatible with Jacque's, given that Iguanacon was in 1978...

#427 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 04:37 PM:

Lee @ 426... Ahah.

#428 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 04:38 PM:

My condolences, joann.

#429 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 04:51 PM:

takuan @ 422... God, I love that movie.

#430 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 05:02 PM:

My only TKD experience is 2 brief exposures in college (Macon, GA and Athens, GA), 5 years at a single dojang in Athens and the state and national tournaments sponsored by the AAU.

I have never met a street fighter in any of those venues (I have met at least one cop and at least two bouncers). YMMV, and obviously many people's does.

#431 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 05:02 PM:

Serge @ 414
Two middle-aged guys in mail, swinging away at each other, apparently for quite a while?
I'd expect them to get tired fast.
(Seen that one, more than once. Somewhere I have a tape of it, from when I had a TV and a videoplayer.)

#432 ::: don delny ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 05:13 PM:

Lee, 426,
don, #400: I think you're just a bit over my head there. I'm not using either .avi or .divx files, just plain old .mp4. But I'll see if I've got that Windows Movie Maker installed (sometimes we de-install things we're not planning to use) and whether it can do what I want, thanks!
Ah! I see. Glad to be of help.

The feeling of being a bit over your head is perfectly natural and totally familiar to me: video formats are a maze of twisty little passages, all alike. Except when they are different. Mark Pilgrim wrote up a nice, human readable description of what's actually going on with all that here. It's even funny in places.

#433 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 05:20 PM:

PJ Evans @ 431... I'd expect them to get tired fast.

We should indeed, but it seldom is what we are shown, because we usually want the fantasy. There are only so many times realism can be used before it becomes a cliché. Meanwhile, having Errol and Basil cross swords and banter is great fun. (They certainly were better at both things than Bananakin Skywalker and Ben Kenobi.)

#434 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 05:25 PM:

Hoom, hom. In spite of my resolution to save all my money for Worldcon, I'm about to lose my saving throw against old roses. I'm in zone 6. What advice have y'all got for me?

#435 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 05:52 PM:

re 434: Well, I can highly recommend 'Prosperity': it has a strong scent, blooms like mad, has pretty foliage, and pretty well takes care of itself.

re 411: If you really want beer selection you should go to one of the stores in Laurel, especially Corridor (which I realize is as far from you in Laurel as it is possible to get).

#436 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 06:15 PM:

abi #211:

I've been feeling the same way lately, so I'm the wrong person to offer reassurance just now. But I agree that thinking about what you can do now to prepare for the possibility of the economy going south in various ways, and then finding concrete actions, is much more healthy than churning over what you can't fix.

#437 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 06:28 PM:

KeithS @ 416

Looking cool can make up for a lot.

And thus, Shaolin Soccer and Kung Fu Hustle

#438 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 07:41 PM:

I sortof have gold raspberries, purple raspberries, and red raspberries--something chews through the canes of them in the winter on me, sigh. Whatever it is has left the black raspberry canes alone, however.

I have a nearly thornless black raspberry plant, by the way.

And no, the spearmint or peppermint in my yard has spread a bit over the years, but has not taken over the yard, or come anywhere near to in. The other true mint mints have mostly died off--orange mint, chocolate mint, Kentucky colonel mint, catmint and catnip (done in by the neighbor's cats...)... the mountain mint which isn;t really a mint has done a bit of spreading.

The oregano, again, has massively played spreading weed, but given its attraction to butterflies....

I meant to mention another mint relative, which might spread in other people's yard but is quite tasty, but I can't remember the name of it... it marginally survives a year or two in my yard, alas.... ah, anise hyssop--it is not hyssop (which I had but it got completely crowded out and extirpated by the oregano/marjoram).

The stuff that really likes the soil in part of my yard, but is definitely not hardy, is pelargonium generaniums, included the scented herb use ones. Fast-drying acid sand, which even blueberries aren't that thrilled with, the geraniums thrive in.

Oh, regarding pine trees -- retsina, and pine nuts--but the pines around here don't tend to bear pignolias.

Red cedars have edible juniper berries, though. And for the daring, the red berries of yew can be sweet--but DO NOT!!! eat the seed inside, unless you really want to poison yourself.

There's even a hardy citrus, poncirus trifolata or something like that, aka "sour orange" which can survive outside in zone 5/6, and if you have neighbors you want to keep out, it is extremely spiny and prickly. Some of the nastiest native spiny things I've seen going, though, belonged to a native Massachusetts opuntia (prickly pear cactus) at my aunt's on Cape Cod. A particularly vicious salt-laden windy stormy winter killed it off, but the spines were slender and at least five or six inches long on the particular plant.

Warning, those things spread, too. I've got a less offensive specimen of the species in my yard, busily spreading up. It has the other variety of nasty opuntia spines--the little tiny filament thin hard to see equivalent of nearly invisible metal short needle varieties.

Of course, being an prickly pear cactus, everything above ground on it except the spines, is edible--flowers, fruit, and the pads. But one has to deal with the spines, and embedded in hands and lips etc. is not pleasant!

#439 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 07:46 PM:

In no order, sorry:

Texanne @434, Zone 6 and what kind of wind exposure? Snowcover or no? Do you like fragrant roses or are you more enamoured of shapely ones? If you're going to Antique Rose Emporium, can I go with you?

Easiest and most smelly reblooming roses: Rose de Rescht and Stanwell Perpetual.

Earl Cooley @403, I believe Queen Victoria often took Drambuie in her hot tea; it's a rare treat for me, but when I do it I find Earl Grey and Drambuie is a wonderfully tasty thing.

Terry Karney, about booms and explosions: having grown up on Yelm Prairie four miles from Muck Creek impact zone, and then moved to a place where my father took agin' stumps, I concur with the difference between booms and explosions. Booms are compact and concise, even the ones from the WW1 vintage big guns, while explosions are raggedy and bigger and digressive.

Marilee, the problem I have with hummingbird feeders is the same as the one I have with growing things from seeds: they need consistent and focussed attention, and from February to the end of June my life is not my own.

Thomas @368, douglas fir tips are nicely perfumed, but I wish there was a way to contain and imbibe the smell released when one splits a chunk of green doug fir wood.

Busy day, here, having lost yesterday to a stupid toothcleaning. I've now learned how long my camera battery holds a charge: long enough for me to take a dozen photos up by the house and then balance and totter down to the lower garden and no longer have the juice to take photos of the Chimonanthus. Bother. Two months, minus sufficient time to do what I'd wanted to do all day.

#440 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 07:46 PM:

A comment: since ukemi is not something uke does alone, how it feels depends on the experience, skill, energy, kokyu, state of mind, responsiveness, etc. etc. of both partners. But the feeling of taking good ukemi for a skilled nage is amazing and wonderful. Ukemi was what I fell in love with when I first saw Aikido. I have some memories of taking good ukemi for my teacher (T. K. Chiba) -- oh, wow. (I try not to hold on to the many, many moments in which my ukemi sucked...)

My best breakfall was one I had to take on concrete, on a San Francisco sidewalk, when my dog came around the corner at a dead run and took my legs right out from under me. I went down as I was taught, and arose without a scratch or bruise, laughing. Of course, that was about 30 years ago.

#441 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 08:01 PM:

Because it is the open thread:

Alpha is a ten-day writing workshop for young writers of SFFH. This year's been a little disorganized, but it's always a fun time. Pro writers, near-constant* conversations about stories and writing, hanging out with people who read the same books you did, and lots of writing. If you are a young writer, if you know a young writer, send in a story.

Alphans are going to rule the world someday.

*there is a short time between 'last one goes to bed' and 'I have consumed enough waffle to crit something'.

#442 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 08:08 PM:

JESR: Wind? Uh...I don't think there's much, but I haven't been paying attention. I'd rather put them in my front yard, which faces north, but I could put them in my sunny back yard. I don't know what you mean by snowcover. We had three days of snow in December and another 4 a month ago.

I like fragrant roses; hips are a bonus. Shrubs would be better than climbers. If I ever do any non-internet shopping, I'd love to have your company. (Alas. When I lived in Waco, I didn't know I wanted to grow roses, and even if I had, I couldn't have brought them with me.)

#443 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 08:30 PM:

If one has a death wish, Drambuie is part of a Rusty Nail. 1.5 oz Scotch, .5 oz Drambuie, garnish with a twist.

They're aptly named -- they will paralyze you.

#444 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 08:38 PM:

Texanne, if you've got a place in your north-facing front yard that gets 6 hours of sun in the summertime and isn't too close to walkways (because it's a prickly beast), you could put a Stanwell Perpetual there- it's pale pink, highly fragrant (rosewater scented), disease resistant, and the foliage is fern-like and attractive by itself; it blooms with a huge flush in late May and then more modest ones until winter sets in. I have it next to old-fashioned lemon lilies and they are a luscious combination. It tolerates being cut to size, but doesn't need it, and the old canes live for four or five years before they need cut to the ground.

Rose de Rescht can also take a little shade, but it blooms best in full sun- it's a bigger shrub than Stanwell Perpetual and needs heading back so that it blooms in clusters rather than singly. It's deep rose-red and damask scented.

I should really put all the rose photos in my LJ in memories, shouldn't I? I think you could grow both Old Pink China, the ultimate Texas pioneer rose, and Ghislaine de Feligonde, an apricot noisette "rambler" which really behaves like a small shrub, in zone 6. If you go back to June of 2008 in my journal, there's also a photo of my favorite yellow rose, the single Golden Wings. If you've got the room and can put a couple of days a year into maintenance, there is nothing on earth like the big damask called Ispahan; also, if you want a cabbage rose of the oldest fashioned sort, get Rosa Centifolia and whack it back to the ground after it blooms, because otherwise it gets blackspot in the natural course of things, and it blooms on new wood anyway.

There's a pretty species rose worth growing for foliage, canes and hips- Rosa glauca. It has star-like little bright pink single flowers and blue, blue foliage and canes, with vermillion hips in the fall. If you want hips to eat, look at Rosa rugosa varieties but be aware it is a seaside rose and doesn't like damp feet or alkaline soil.

To be getting on with.

#445 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 08:57 PM:

I'm rather fond of Hortico's rose catalogue, which includes hardiness and reasonably accurate commentary about the roses.

#446 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 08:59 PM:

I've a question for the rose-savants; we'll be retiring two ancient rose plants from a border planting and I'm wondering: how far down should I replace the soil? They've been there at least thirty years.

#447 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 09:06 PM:

If you're out that way then:chelly brossoms

#448 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 09:07 PM:

(I'm pimpin' it for the guide author)

#449 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 09:24 PM:

takuan, thank you for digging that video up. Now that I've seen it, I can answer Serge's question. To my admittedly untrained eye, the duel in Robin and Marian looks more realistic. I suppose it could be accused of even being boring by those looking for flash, but I didn't find it so. Rather, even without seeing the rest of the film it had a certain gravity to it. Toward the end of the duel it seemed that there were openings left, but I fancy that they were not taken because the Sheriff was hoping that Robin would yield. Whether this is true or not, or whether it's just because they were tired, it's a credit to the film that it led me to think that in so short a time with it.

Would swashbuckling fencing look out of place here? Most definitely. That said, this would look just as out of place in an Errol Flynn film.

I'm definitely going to rent this now.

#450 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 10:07 PM:

C. Wingate @ 435: I've also heard of good places in Anne Arundel, which have the added benefit of being even cheaper, or so my source tells me. Since he's had He'brew at their yearly party, I think he knows what he's talking about. It may even be Corridor, since they're listed as a purveyor of He'brew (not to mention many fine Belgian products).

It's too bad we're going skiing this weekend, or I'd be making a road trip in the opposite direction.

#451 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 10:49 PM:

takuan (#318) (Slowly catching up down the thread, still 100+ comments behind 'now'.)

Switching into copyeditorial/pedantic mode, you probably mean 'misprision', as in "Misprision of felony" … Mmmm. Does roll off the tongue when linked to Certain Persons.

(One of the enjoyable parts of Making Light is that I can use otherwise dormant parts of my vocabulary. (Another is expanding it, and also knowledge.))

Timber bamboo: D'you think it'd grow OK in a planter/tub in my tiny, not all that sunny Sydney, yard or deck? (See #15, supra)

#452 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 10:53 PM:

Timber bamboo in a tub? Hmmm, kind of defeats the biggitude point. For a tub I'd go black or golden for sheer prettiness.

#453 ::: siriosa ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 11:13 PM:

Diatryma @ 361
Most of my problems with [some discipline] come from my head, and the rest are an unwillingness to bend or fear of my head going somewhere my feet haven't. I know exactly what to do to help fix them, I just don't do any of it. I know all the words and can say them back to you, but I can't or haven't tried to do the steps.

Oh, Diatryma, you are strumming my strings. We know what to do. We know what the steps are. And yet, and yet ... we do not. I've been considering why.

Weather? Astrology? Zeitgeist? Feels like the entire world is holding its breath just now. Maybe I'm afraid of upsetting the balance.

I've been saying this for years: "If I ever get organized, I'm going to be dangerous." And I am more organized now (and in better physical condition) than at any previous point in my life. Maybe I'm afraid that the next step is going to be the one that starts the avalanche.

And I'm not confident in my ability to bodysurf with boulders. Do I need more confidence? Or is it a reasonable caution?

Pendrift @ 369 Making Light forces me to hold myself to higher standards and it takes me ages to finalize a comment

Boy howdy. In the time it took me to compose this, the comment count went from 369 to 452.

#454 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 11:32 PM:

Siriosa, I've seen it theorized that if you don't give it your all, you don't feel as bad when it fails, but if you try and try and put everything you have into it and it still fails... then it's really bad. Staying put is safe. Staying put doesn't hurt the same way-- it's a thousand tiny strands binding together and crushing you, the weight of one carrying the weight of all, rather than a punch in the gut of oh no.

I'm trying not to be frog soup.

I am probably not the first person to wonder if I'd be better at aikido slightly drunk. It's not only possible but kind of likely-- I think too much-- right up until things got very very ugly.

#455 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2009, 11:50 PM:

First: go to practice. Don't plan it, schedule it, prepare for it, involve others - just go. No expectation, no apprehension. Time for practice. Go.
You will not die. You will not achieve enlightenment. There will just be practice. Like any other time. Like every other time. Just practice.

#456 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 12:03 AM:

Joel over at Tools for Working Wood has a quite interesting blog post which references the lovely, if haunting song Four Loom Weaver. I commend them both to you.

#457 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 12:51 AM:

KeithS, #449: Yes, exactly. I remembered, after re-watching that clip, that this was one of the few movies I've seen where I wasn't SCA-critiquing the big swordfight scene; both actors fought as though they knew what the hell they were doing with those things. There's a lot of other good stuff in it, too -- you should enjoy watching it.

#458 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 01:12 AM:

good site Xeger, thanks.

#459 ::: siriosa ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 01:15 AM:

Diatryma @ 454: I've seen it theorized that if you don't give it your all, you don't feel as bad when it fails, but if you try and try and put everything you have into it and it still fails... then it's really bad.

If at first you don't succeed ... redefine success? I used to write poetry, and I put everything into it, and one day, it just stopped. I kept writing for months, but the poetry wasn't happening for me any more. So I had to let it go.

The love of my life came down with cancer, and I cared for her at home for the last year of her life. When I reached the bottom of my reserves, I just started digging. It was years before I was back up to empty.

Did I fail? No. I did the best I could with what I had, and when I had to let go, I did.

Damned if I've been able to fling myself into anything since with that utter abandon, though. I don't think I'm afraid. It just isn't the right thing to do right this minute.

Maybe the problem is in thinking it's a problem. Maybe it's just a fact. The great thing about facts, in this material world, is that eventually the odds are good that they'll be different.

After Cara died, for years my mantra was "I will not always feel this way." It worked because it was true.

#460 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 01:50 AM:

KeithS: I think I failed to make it plain that I don't mind the showy, what bothers me is the sense that showy is practical.

takuan: That depends on what you count as either typical, or a duel. The motives were different. Judicial duels were something else altogether (and there's a wonderful account of the last one fought in France). No matter the outcome in the lists, one of the two was going to die, on the field or the gallows.

Tended to concentrate the mind.

Caroline: From both a preference, and from attitudes (generally) I'd reccomend aikido. There are some aggressive dojos out there, but most are more contemplative. My present affiliation is with Aikido Ai, in Whittier Calif. They are, for an aikido dojo, fairly martial, and the only way to know is probably by comparing them to other dojos.

It's a defensive art, at core (though one can induce an attack, and then get very unpleasant to the person who decides to accept the invitation), and ukemi (the art of self-protective falling) is paramount. Excercises are shared, there is no, "aggressor" (though many see nage in that role; it's not quite the relationship). Esp. if one has doubts about falling, it's a very good place to begin.

Lizzy L: Ukemi is what keeps me coming back. The sense of, I don't know... smooth inevitabilty to the rising mat, and the slowness with which it can come... as well as suddening wondering where the smooth support of it under one's flat body came from. That's a rush. Being nage is different, and while performing a technique well is a fun thing (esp. when doing rondori or [moreso] jiu-waza) it's not got the same ease of entering selfless time.

The best roll I ever did was having a skateboard come to a dead stop... I (of course) continued to proceed. That was best because all I got was a skinned elbow. That too was about 30 years ago.

The most amusing was when Leus dropped me from his shoulder. Smooth forward roll, and to my feet; one motion.

Steve C. Ah... like a French 75 (equal parts champagne and brandy). Like being hit with a shell from one.

takuan: Don Fitch (commenter here) taught me (he having spent a lifetime as a professional gardener at aboreta) explained to me that when planting the size of the hole will (for some years) be the same as a pot. So dig it wide and deep.

#461 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 01:53 AM:

Robin and Marian will just about rip out your heart. And per the Child Ballads, except for the exact name of the person who NOPE NOT GONNA TELL YA NO WAY, it's canon.

I would watch it back to back with Ladyhawke, one of a handful of medieval movies in which (a) the non-period score works (in all its '80s syntho-riffic glory) and (b) the climactic battle features people actually getting tired (even if the swords look an awful lot like stainless steel wall hangers). Plus, even if the story wasn't taken from a period source, it's got the right moves for a ballad: stalwart knights unjustly slain, star-crossed lovers, clever outlaws, corrupt prelates, drunken monks, riding a good steed on a mission of doom, little homely touches, and the occasional psycho.

#462 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 02:17 AM:

KeithS, #449: I agree heartily with Lee and Serge about Robin and Marian. It's not just the realism of the weapons handling and the pace of the battle, it's that it is an extremely satisfying story, told with humor, pathos, verve, and, dare I say it, panache*. It was directed by Richard Lester, who has my vote for the best action film director in the second half of the 20th Century**. Also see his versions of the Three Musketeers and Four Musketeers, which I like best of all the versions. If Lester were alive today I'd introduce him and Steve Brust to each other and suggest they work together on a film adaptation of The Viscount of Adrilankha or maybe even some of the Vlad Taltos cycle.

* Just saw another version of Cyrano, and that damn feather's stuck in my mind.
** And he wouldda been a contender for the first half too, but for John Houston, in particular The Treasure of Sierra Madre.

#463 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 02:22 AM:

Oops, meant to include Jenny Islander in the list of people I'm in heated agreement with about Robin and Marian. Not nice to leave out people with taste that good.

And while I'm here, I have to agree about Ladyhawke as well. It's been one of my guilty pleasures (because so many people foam at the mouth when they hear it mentioned) for many years; I own a copy, and play it once in a while when I'm feeling particularly in need of being reminded that there is nobility in the universe.

#464 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 02:36 AM:

#443 Steve C.

Nonsense, Rusty Nails aren't paralyzing, and even Irish Mistakes -- Irish Mist and vodka -- aren't!

#465 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 03:01 AM:

Paula Lieberman @ 464 ...
It was a dark and stormy night ... and the hangover the next morning was something else again.

#466 ::: Andy Brazil ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 05:36 AM:

Kudzu (Pueraria montana)and Japanese knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum) are actually different plants:

Boy is my face red. That's a factoid I was told some years ago and have been happily repeating ever since without ever checking. My apologies for the thoughtless dissemination of duff data.

#467 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 05:59 AM:

Lee @ 457... I dare not think what your SCA critique of King Arthur would be. It was flawed, historically and otherwise, and yes, it's highly unlikely that beanie Keira Knightley would be able to use a bow with much penetration-into-Saxons power left in its arrows after crossing all that distance.

#468 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 05:59 AM:

I seem to recall that Ladyhawke has a total eclipse of the sun taking place only two or three days after the moon is full.

#469 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 06:00 AM:

Does anybody else remember this Robin Hood? It's somewhere between the silliness of Errol Flynn and the realism of Sean Connery, and, as far as I know, is the first time that Robin ventured into fantasy. (The later attempts include the honorable one with Patrick Bergin, and the one with Kevin Costner, but the less said about that one, the better.)

#470 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 06:04 AM:

Jenny Islander and other LadyHawke fans... Here is the climactic battle.

#471 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 06:08 AM:

Oops. Wrong link. Well, I'm sure there's a LadyHawke battle scene somewhere on YouTube. But the above clip does have Bishop Fu.

#472 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 07:15 AM:

re 461 & Ladyhawke: You can keep the Alan Parsons score; just give me the horse.

re 450: Corridor is in AA County, being at the far eastern end of Maryland City.

#473 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 08:22 AM:

Jenny Islander @ 461... And now, for your enjoyment, here is Ladyhawke in all its '80s syntho-riffic glory.

#474 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 08:28 AM:

TexAnne @ #434, Zephirine Drouhin. It seems to need less light than other old roses (that does not mean it will grow in full shade), it has few thorns (not "completely thornless" as this page claims), it was less bothered by aphids than my other roses, and it has the most delicious, deep, fruity scent. Mine (in zone 7, on the north-facing brick wall of my house, and in partial shade) did not go nuts like this person's, but it was gorgeous.

On a totally unrelated note, last night's PBS show about the career of Jerome Robbins had a wonderful line from an ex-collaborator about Robbins' perfectionism: "He wouldn't take yes for an answer."

#475 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 09:25 AM:

I like Zephirine too, but it's something of a climber-- at least, mine wants to grow about 6-8 feet tall.

#476 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 10:21 AM:

Jenny, #461: Small wonder the Ladyhawke score worked so well; it was done by Alan Parsons Project, arguably one of the best art-rock bands.

#477 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 10:23 AM:

Serge @ 469

Does anyone remember "Robin of Sherwood"? You bet I do. I loved that series and my heart fluttered over Robin (Michael Praed in Dynasty did not have the same effect).

The Patrick Bergin film was MUCH better than the Cosner - pity it was overshadowed.

And yes, I really like "Robin and Marion" as well.

Why yes, Robin Hood was my favourite legendary character when I was a child. He's why I took up archery when I had the opportunity at university.

#478 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 10:29 AM:

dcb @ 477... My own first exposure to Robin will probably betray my age, but it was the British TV series that starred Richard Greene. (And I won't embarass myself by bringing up Rocket Robin Hood.)

#479 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 10:38 AM:

Terry Karney @ 460:

I'm sorry if I didn't make myself clear enough or inadvertently misinterpreted you. Still, I think that the answer to your question is because it's showy. It looks like what's on TV and the movies, and it looks flashy and dangerous. That it's not practical is rather lower down on the list than the fact that it kind of looks like it is.

Jenny Islander @ 461 and Bruce Cohen @ 462:

I guess it's time to bump Ladyhawke up from where it's been languishing at the bottom of my Netflix queue, then. I loved his Three Musketeers and Four Musketeers, although I haven't seen them in a while.

I did see the very beginning of the Kostner film (it was on TV). Dover to Nottingham in a day? I don't think so.

#480 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 10:41 AM:

dcb @ 477:

Archery always wound up conflicting with other classes that I needed more, unfortunately. Maybe once I'm better at dancing I'll take up archery and fencing.

#481 ::: sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 10:46 AM:

dcb @ 477 I have to admit Robin is the reason I took up archery as well, and the reason I've always preferred the longbow to the recurve.

Serge @ 478 You mean the one with the incredibly accurate portrayal of Eleanor d'Aquitaine's personality? I have it on DVD. It's one of my favorite sets.

#482 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 11:08 AM:

Serge #478: 'Feared by the bad, loved by the good' eh?

#483 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 11:10 AM:


Your comment reminds me of one of my favorite books as a child, written by E.L. Konigsburg. I didn't understand the title and didn't fully understand the book the first time around, but loved it all the same.

Miniver brings to mind the Cinderella glass-versus-fur slipper debate which, to my knowledge, has yet to be resolved.

#484 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 11:12 AM:

sisuile @ 481... I don't remember Eleanor as it's been a long time since I saw the show, but not so long ago that I don't remember its opening sequence. Ah, and the song at the end of each episode...

#485 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 11:12 AM:

Serge's memory of the 1960s Robin Hood makes me wonder if anyone else remembers Sword of Freedom, starring Edmund Purdom as Florentine artist Marco del Monte, with Kenneth Hyde doing a regular role as Machiavelli (Marco, when Machiavelli declaimed the 'Fortune is a woman' passage from The Prince, 'Who said that?' Machiavelli, 'I did.')

#486 ::: sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 11:50 AM:

Serge @ 484 Queen Eleanor, pt 1

#487 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 12:18 PM:

sisuile @ 481

I've got a nice light draw-weight longbow as well as a modern recurve. Not as accurate, but... I can't get interested in compound bows at all. I keep thinking that if I got organised I should be able to rig up an archery net at the bottom of the garden ('though they are expensive) and get a new archery boss (my old one having been lent out and probably fallen to pieces by now) and start practicing again.

Serge @ 478 Rocket Robin Hood? Never heard of it before - but I just watched the opening credits on YouTube. I've often wanted to write a story with bows and arrows in space but regretfully decided they would be impractical - swords, possibly (if you wanted to avoid fighting with projectiles from guns which might do nasty things like going through spaceship walls), but longbows - not so much!

#488 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 12:28 PM:

Lila @474, where did you get Zephrine Drouhin? I'd forgotten about it, mostly because the one I struggled to keep alive was from the dreadful virus-infested days of Roses of Yesterday and Today and I finally gave up on it.

Not that I have room for another climber.

Also, takuan (I think?) asked about removing soil to replant roses where old roses have been; the current best practice, from the BNFs of rosedom, is to remove all the roots (use a soil sifter if you can) and then replace about half of the soil with a mixture of half clean soil, half compost, and a handful of epsom salts. I've also seen recommendations to clean out the old roots and then saturate the root zone with compost tea instead of replacing any soil.

I should get started on cleaning up the Ispahan rose today, since it's not actually raining and I'm a month behind on these things.

#489 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 12:37 PM:

Terry Karney @ 460, perhaps it's a sign. When I wrote that comment our IT guy was perched at the machine next to mine, troubleshooting the printer. He also teaches aikido and I've often considered joining his dojo.

takuan @ 455, I'm going to repeat those words to myself. I'm in a headspace right now where I need it. "You will not die. You will not achieve enlightenment. There will just be practice." ("Practice" meaning everything I'm practicing right now.)

#490 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 12:38 PM:

Fragano @ 485... I remember that show although not as well. It was called L'épée de Florence in French. The main character was a painter (and swordsman - so much for the pen being mightier than the sword) and was a buddy of da Vinci. Right?

#491 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 12:40 PM:

Sisuile @ 486... That Eleanor is quite different from Katharine Hepburn's, and from Sian Phillips's, I'd say.

#492 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 12:45 PM:

dcb @ 487... Elizabeth Moon's "Kylara Vatta" novels have people use crossbows onboard starships, if I remember correctly. A bit easier to handle in cramped quarters than Rocket Robin Hood's longbow. (I think Little John had an electro-quarterstaff to zap bad guys with.)

I could use my backyard as an arhery range without our neighbors being at risk. Our dogs on the other hand...

#493 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 12:54 PM:

Serge #490: Right.

#494 ::: Jason B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 01:12 PM:

Hopefully someone out there will know this, because it's driving me nuts. I'm trying to remember the name of a form of poetry. Here's what I can remember: It's a poem about a person. It's written in rhymed couplets, somewhere around 10 lines long. The first and last lines end with the subject's name. It's not a clerihew. Any ideas?

Here's an example, from The Nation's Calvin Trillin:
They used to say that John A. Thain
Was master of the Street's domain.
His copy book, though, got a blotch
When, losing billions on his watch,
He didn't recognize some onus
On taking quite a hefty bonus
Or buying for his suite ambrosian
Décor Kozlowski might have chosen.
And now, they say, you'd search in vain
For dimmer bulbs than John A. Thain.

#495 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 01:14 PM:

Serge: Robin of Sherwood (Which is, of curse, never called that anywhere on the actual program, just int he things to distinguish it from every other robin hood) remains my favourite of all; althugh i haven't seen Robin and Marian. On the one hand, i was young enough that Michael praed had a great influence on my adolescent mind - on the other, i still like it, and I'm not so easily swayed by pretty faces (Besides, if i were, i'd actually like the Jason connery episodes more, and, alas, many of them are weaker, and even at 14, I noticed.)

(Apologies for inconsistent capitalization. I'm on a computer with a less than responsive shift key, and don't feel like correcting every single instance.)

#496 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 01:14 PM:

You could revive the grand old yabusame tradition of inuoumono. Only with Nerf-arrows and a unicycle.

#497 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 01:15 PM:

Fragano @ 485: I do remember Sword of Freedom (a bit), which was, like The Adventures of Robin Hood, produced by Sapphire Films at the height of the McCarthy hearings, the House Un-American Activities Committee and Hollywood blacklisting. Sapphire was funded in part by the Hollywood branch of the Communist Party USA, and employed a number of prominent blacklisted writers under pseudonyms. Discovering this as an adult explained a lot of things about the shows.

I don't remember Sword of Freedom as well as Robin Hood, but I remember Robin Hood having rather progressive attitudes for the time. Not that I noticed in the 50s, but seeing them again as an adult, I noticed many of the episodes were political allegory, and concerned (besides the obvious oppression of the common people) anti-semitism, racism, feminism, weapons proliferation, brainwashing, and investigative journalism. I also learned about the Great Chain of Being from this show.

I wish I could find them all on tape/dvd. I have the first season, from the days when a season of TV was 39 shows.

#498 ::: Stevey-Boy ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 01:30 PM:

I have visited all the Robin Hood tourist venues in Nottingham, and the one part of the whole story that seemed implausible to me was a nobleman, back from the crusades, that could use a longbow with great accuracy. As I recall from history lectures etc..., archers were predominantly from the peasant classes and with years/decades of training.

#499 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 01:36 PM:

Caroline: I've been trying to avoid preaching, but; for what it's worth...

A bad day on the mat, is still a pretty good time. If I can remember that, then I can make myself go to practice (when I am not broken).

After that... everyone feels they are in need of improvement. Everyone has something to offer everyone else (that aspect of aikido, which I've seen in every dojo I've been a member of, or visited, is one of the great joys of the art. The least of us has something to share, be it stunning insight, or just a new person to share the mat with), and everyone contributes; just by being present.

#500 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 01:43 PM:

Tracie #497: There were some very clear political messages in those series -- not just Sword of Freedom but also William Tell.

#501 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 01:48 PM:

Takuan @455 -

Thank you for that. I've just been thrown another challenging (for me) piece of music that's had me looking for short-cuts and magic spells and whatnot. Everytime I've run through the piece I hear mistakes and despair, as if practice = performance. I'm going to print that out and shove it in my choir cubby and music stand as a reminder that practice is an end unto itself.

#502 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 02:01 PM:

Serge @ 492

Yes, they had very small crossbows (described as a pistolbow, as I recall).

Sounds like you backyard is a little larger than ours, which is about 70 ft long - enough for shooting arrows, not enough for the safety margin (unless I want to start shooting at a target just 30 ft away, to give the same distance behind, and even then I'd worry).

Fencing was what I wanted and failed to try at university (I did do archery and judo) - but the beginners fencing lessons were on a Wednesday afternoon, when most people didn't have classes, but we veterinary students did. Or maybe kendo would be interesting. I've been concerned about taking up judo again because I dislocated my shoulder a while back (ice skating - bad idea) and I'm concerned it would be vulnerable to poping out again (it was out for three hours - not good).

#503 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 02:12 PM:

Ginger @ 411

What we (Wildlife Information Network) do is basically a huge review, so we provided a range of suggestions for treatment of coccidiosis, including:

Sulphadimidene 100 - 233 mg/l via the drinking water for the treatment of rabbit colonies. (B600.10.w10);
Sulfadimethoxine 50 mg/kg by oral administration for the first dose and then 25 mg/kg every 24 hours for ten to twenty days. (B609.2.w2); Sulfaquinoxaline (B614.10.w10)
Toltrazuril 25 ppm in the drinking water for the treatment of rabbit colonies. (B600.10.w10, J32.22.w1) - (This medication is highly effective in reducing the oocyst output of hepatic and intestinal Eimeria species. Two days of treatment repeated after five days is an effective regimen for reducing clinical signs and output of oocysts while allowing the development of immunity. (B600.10.w10, J32.22.w1))
Trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole - 30 mg/kg orally every twelve hours for ten days. (B609.2.w2) or 40 mg/kg orally every twelve hours for seven days. (B600.10.w10)

References: B600.10.w10 is Harcourt-Brown Rabbit Medicine & Surgery Chapter 10, B614.10.w10 is The Biology of the Laboratory Rabbit 2nd Edition Ch 10., B609.2.w2 is "The Five-Minute Veterinary Consult: Ferrets & Rabbits) Chapter 2, J32.22.w1 Peeters, J.E. & Geeroms, R. (1986) Efficacy of toltrazuril against intestinal and hepatic coccidiosis in rabbits. Veterinary Parasitology 22, 21-35.

Do you want a look at what we do? I can e-mail you some more info.

#504 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 02:19 PM:

I once had the opportunity to shoot a traditional longbow, drawing about 65 lb. It was hard work, even then when I was doing a lot of heaving and hauling on the farm. I still have stronger than average back and shoulder muscles, but not that strong.

I hit the target too. Mostly luck.

The thing is, going by the ballads, the longbow is added to the Robin Hood legend quite some time after it seems to have started. And the best guess is that they're stories which started out about other characters, and got added to the soup.

Yes, the Costner movie has a more than usually Hollywood grasp of English geography, skipping from the south coast to Hadrian's Wall. Which is a bit excessive, even allowing for the problem of finding locations. Oddly, I didn't object to a movie using a medieval walled town in France as a stand-in. They were careful with the camera angles.

#505 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 02:57 PM:

Fragano @500: Yeah, and Sapphire's The Buccaneers and The Adventures of Sir Lancelot as well. As I recall, Capt. Dan Tempest's girl friend ran a huge plantation with no help at all from her ineffectual lay-about brother. Anti-slavery action, redistribution of wealth, cross-dressing, etc. I don't remember Lancelot much, but based on these episode synopses there was much rescuing, especially of women, or in once case, from women.

Another thing I noticed watching The Adventures of Robin Hood as an adult was how funny they are. Also, they were originally not aired in the US as children's show, but in an early prime time slot suitable for the whole family.

Ow! My eyes. And ears!! The Rocket Robin Hood intro and theme song. I am so glad I missed this the first time around -- I would have been scarred for life.

#506 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 03:06 PM:

KeithS @479: Re: Costner Robin Hood

For some reason the landing spot registered as King's Lynn on the North Sea, so riding to Locksley from there didn't seem to be such a stretch. If it was supposed to be Dover...oof!

Did they shoot at Hadrian's Wall? I know the waterfall fight was filmed in England...and I can't remember which English castle was a stand-in for Locksley.

I was fairly certain that "Nottingham" was Carcassone in fancy dress...

#507 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 03:25 PM:

Warning: Lay in your insulin supplies before viewing.

#508 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 03:34 PM:

Catching up, sort of, on one of the most interesting Open threads in a long old time:

Terry @357:
the world is divided into now, and after. Before was just regular time...The explosion was special time, and the after is rushed and hectic time, until regular time comes back again...It's nothing like anything else, really.

Childbirth is like that.

Pendrift @369 & KeithS @386:
Don't worry, I'm still bad about having to rework some of my posts too. And rework. And rework. And then look at them, decide it's still not right, and close the window. You're doing fine.

You're both doing more than fine. I still average about 5% comments abandoned at preview; more in heated or political threads. When I first came here it was more like 15% (well, after I got over the 100% Lurker Rate).

siriosa @459:
I don't really know what to say about this comment, except that I think I'm going to reread it a few times over the next few days. I'm crashing hard—a combination of sleepless worry and the grey tail-end of winter, feeding off of each other. This is good thought material for such times.

#509 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 03:43 PM:

Ah, Robin of Sherwood. Serge, thanks for the reminder (and two of your three videos have been removed for copyvio claims, by the way). I, too, found Michael Praed to be a formative influence during my adolescence.

Also, it gave me music in common with many of the people I met on my junior year abroad to St Andrews. They were all Clannad fans, and the music still reminds me of the emotional intensity of that year.

One of these days I will have to finish writing that story about the time that Robin Hood met the dragon and bested it in a riddle game, winning not only his life and his freedom but a tithe its treasure. At the very least, I should finish writing the riddles; the rest isn't nearly as much fun. And I am Not A Writer, so I don't have to do it if it's not fun.

#510 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 03:47 PM:

Tracie @ 505... I would have been scarred for life

I was.

#511 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 03:52 PM:

About Prince of Thieves having Robin land at Dover... Maybe it's not supposed to be Dover. Maybe it's like John Ford's The Searchers, which gives the impression that the whole West looks like Monument Valley, but, hey, the scenery looks awesome so let's use it. I'm trying to be kind to Costner's movie. It did have neat opening credits, with a Bayeux-like tapestry, if I remember correctly.

#512 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 03:52 PM:

it's simple Abi-chan, go look at the art and see love made manifest.

#513 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 03:54 PM:

Dave Bell @ 504 ...
I once had the opportunity to shoot a traditional longbow, drawing about 65 lb. It was hard work, even then when I was doing a lot of heaving and hauling on the farm. I still have stronger than average back and shoulder muscles, but not that strong.

Really? My recollection is that shooting a heavy traditional longbow is a bit more work than a recurve, but not all that much worse -- and I shot a short 50lb recurve for ages without finding it to be all that much work.

#514 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 03:56 PM:

I like the convergence of these ideas:

1. Kudzu
2. Viney plants grow better at higher atmospheric CO2 concentrations
3. Carbon sequestration
4. Terra Preta

#515 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 03:56 PM:

Dear Nerdycellist: the principle applies, some call budo moving Zen, music can be the same. In either case, practice stops time. It is important to laugh

#516 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 03:58 PM:

Abi @ 509... I, too, found Michael Praed to be a formative influence during my adolescence.

How nicely put.

As for the clips being taken down, yes, that keeps happening. At least the pictures are still there. It was nice watching them when I originally put this up because it reminded me I still liked the Praed era. (The Connery season wasn't quite right. Not sure why, besides his acting abilities.)

Ah, yes, that Robin and the Dragon story... You're not a writer? You sure are doing a good job of fooling us.

#517 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 03:58 PM:

Lori, there are no white cliffs anywhere near Kings Lynn. Though I don't recall if they used that name or not.

The scene beside the low strip of ruined wall: that was Hadrian's Wall.

They used Aysgarth Falls in Yorkshire for the meeting between Robin and Little John.

#518 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 03:59 PM:

dcb @ 503: Since I work with SPF rabbits, they're free of the common things that show up in wild or non-commercially raised rabbits, but coccidia are one of the remaining problems. One thing to note, just anecdotally perhaps, is that rabbits under 2 kg are far more susceptible to coccidial infections (some die suddenly, some get sick and die, some get sick and are treated). Even the "minor" coccidial species are dangerous in small rabbits.

I suppose we should take this to email so the rest of ML doesn't have to wade through our increasingly technical discourse on rabbit poop. I'd love to see the rest of your work -- please feel free to email me at the address embedded here.

#519 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 04:11 PM:


Since I work with SPF rabbits

The other advantage of SPF rabbits is that you don't have to worry about them getting sunburned...

#520 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 04:12 PM:

Serge, Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves is one of my guilty pleasures.

The movie is about a legend, and the legend is turned into a doozy of a fantasy...nowhere in the original tale do we have a Moorish wizard and a Sheriff with a witch for a mother? or grandmother?

Look at the scene where Lockley's father is slain -- the blade the Earl is wielding has a pentacle on the pommel! This was never meant to be an accurate portrayal of history. Hell, has anyone ever proved that Robin existed?

All in all it's no worse that Disney's twist on the tale...

#521 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 04:35 PM:

Dave Bell @517: Right -- from what I remember Kings Lynn is pretty flat, with pebbly beaches. Nothing like Dover!

Went and checked imdb, and it seems like film crew went to many places in Great Britain and several in France as well.

Dover to Nottingham in one day...well, you can do it now by car or train, but no way in hell you'd be able to do it on horses!

#522 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 04:35 PM:

Lori Coulson @ 520... I had no problems with all the changes and additions, or with the cast - exept for Kevin Costner. I liked him in two of my other guilty pleasures, "Waterworld" and "The Postman", but he can't play a leader of men (and women).

#523 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 04:37 PM:

another crash... I am SO HAPPY Cuba is rooting out all Windows and going Linux.

#524 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 04:48 PM:

@516 Connery literally hasn't been able to remember more than half a sentence of lines for some years now. Have a gander at League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. That was six years ago and the edit makes it clear.

#525 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 04:48 PM:

Serge, I'll admit that Costner is not my idea of Robin. The only thing I'd ever seen him in prior to Robin Hood was "Dances with Wolves" which I enjoyed.

These days, when I watch the DVD again it's more for Alan Rickman and Morgan Freeman.

#526 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 04:51 PM:

takuan @524: The Connery mentioned in 516 by Serge would be Jason, Sean's son, who took the role of Robin in the HBO series "Robin of Sherwood" during the 1980s.

#527 ::: Stevey-Boy ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 04:59 PM:

Add me to the list of guilt-ridden Costner watchers. Particularly "The Postman".

#528 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 05:00 PM:

bigods! he bred!!???

#529 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 05:01 PM:

Serge, #469: OMG, I remember the show, but I'd forgotten that Clannad did the music! Now I need to look for a soundtrack album...

Jason, #494: Epigram, perhaps?

#530 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 05:03 PM:


I'll e-mail you. I'm a wildlife veterinarian rather than a lab. animal vet, and the Wildpro rabbits volume isn't really aimed at lab. rabbits, but you may find it interesting anyway.

Michael I @ 519
*chuckle* I always have to watch what subject someone is talking when they use the abbreviation "AI": artificial insemination, avian influenza and artificial inteligence are the three I think of, in that order...

#531 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 05:08 PM:

Lee @ 529

The soundtrack album is called "Legend."

#532 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 05:44 PM:

Ai, Ai, Ai, Ya?

#533 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 05:46 PM:

"Stiff" is the most appropriate word for Costner in The Big Chill.

[ducks, squeaks, runs off]

#534 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 05:51 PM:

I've never held the lack of ability against Costner, his heart is in the right place as evinced by his subject material. Compare him against the Ahhhhnold.

#535 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 05:54 PM:

Bruce Cohen @284: I'm starting to think about goats. And I'm inside a large city.

See if there's something like Nip It in the Bud in your area.

#536 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 06:38 PM:

Terry Karney @351: I am given pause to consider that I am grateful for not having a basis for comparison...

#537 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 06:46 PM:

ahh, der goats, ja. Mixed feelings about goats. (no, not THAT, you filthy-minded person, you.) They are terrific lawn mowers and weed eaters, no question there. Completely biodegradable and chemical free too.

The problem begins when they get out of hand. They just don't stop. After a bit you essentially have goats and rocks. I recall...

The island where they shot Battle Royale. A prison colony within a prison colony within a prison colony (with a sidebar prison colony on Mikurakima). During the times of the Edo Bugyo, the politically inconvenient and heinously (but oddly enough, not immediately executable) condemned suffered transportation. First by long voyage to the Isle of Three Huts, where some were discharged for indefinite exile - and the others plucked clean of what they had smuggled - and then the remainder on to Eight Lengths Island, the Island of Women. A hard living of sorts to be had, evinced by still standing kilometers of stone wall erected at the price of rice-ball a day for labor. A largely cultured band of convicts all considering. Understandable since education and thought frequently put one at odds with Shogunate policy. A genteel Devil's Island in many ways. But for the irredeemably anti-social; Hachijokoijima. Exiled from the exiles, a thorn of lava separated by Charybidis from the main isle. A bad and forlorn place to be. Which along the way became inhabited by bloody goats. White goats, nimble footed, flocking and hungry. When I first set foot there with a party of day-tripping colleagues, they had cropped half the islet raw.
A raven haired maiden with our party found her way to a bare stone in the greenery that still clung to the mainly barren stone and waited quietly. In not much time at all, the flock of goats made their way down to her stillness and began cropping. Sylvan comes to mind, Eden perhaps. She kept her gaze down and remained perfectly still as the white herd grazed about her. Half naked in dirty khaki shorts I began the stalk. Creeping on all fours from stone to stone I closed the gap. The rest of the party sat stock still and watched the magic unfold. A short sprint away from the nearest and suddenly the lead billy jerked his head up, champed jaws and snorted a streamer of goat-snot in warning. The herd turned like a school of white jacks and in one collective leap, was gone. Spell broken.

#538 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 07:03 PM:

Terry Karney @393: All this talk of ukemi brings up one of my fondest memories:

I was at a weeklong aikido workshop that Jon Singer alerted me to. One sensei there (I want to say Jim West?) was amazing to watch. He rolled like an egg.

#539 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 07:06 PM:

Tracie #505: I don't recall The Adventures of Sir Lancelot or The Buccaneers. I do recall Richard the Lionheart, which also involved deeds of derring-do, and a progressive subtext.

#540 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 07:13 PM:

Serge @406: I think Ian Ballantine passed away some time ago.

Iggy was in '78, so that's not diagnostic.

#541 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 07:16 PM:

Side-effect of culling my book collection:

I have empty spots an either side of my Pile of Home Entertainment Equipment.

I'm thinking of putting plants there.

Plastic plants sounds too tacky.


What kind of big-pot ornamental plant would do OK given:

* 60 F temperatures (I often leave the balcony door open so the dog can get in and out)

* Moderate sunlight. Windows on all sides of the apartment, but with blinds at half staff most of the time and only a couple of hours of direct sunlight a day.

* Big plus: Can go a week w/o watering.

#542 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 07:16 PM:

oooh! someone made a flickr set

#543 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 07:39 PM:

Terry Karney @394 TKD is a lousy street art/defense art.

OTOH, this is not necessarily a bad thing. If one trots out one's braggadocio (preferably in non-lethal circumstances) and blows it all over the wall in most humiliating fashion, this can have a certain salutorily...humbling effect.

This then can result in a strong motivation to avoid the need for street/defense art. Ahem.

siriosa @453: Weather? Astrology? Zeitgeist? Feels like the entire world is holding its breath just now. Maybe I'm afraid of upsetting the balance.

Balance? What balance? Where did you see balance?? Oh, and: Mercury is in retrograde.

#544 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 08:01 PM:

takuan @537: ::blink::

Wow. Do that some more.

#545 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 08:06 PM:

C. Wingate @ #475, yep, Zephirine is a climber. Mine went about 8 feet; might have gone farther, but I cut it back.

JESR @ #488, I believe I got it from Jackson & Perkins.

Stefan @ #541: How about Norfolk Island Pines? They like it on the dry/cool side, with moderate amounts of light. The one I had thrived for years until it got too big for the space and I passed it on to someone else.

#546 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 08:27 PM:

Lila, 474: Wow, that's a pretty rose! Having poked around some, I think I'd rather have shrubs--to start, anyway. I suspect that I'm a latent rose grower, rather like I was a latent knitter for years without knowing it: one exposure (here, of course) and the syndrome declared itself.

What Robbins program did I miss? I haven't been paying attention to TV lately, but I'd love to catch it on DVD later.

#547 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 08:48 PM:

Lila @545: Huh. I'd forgotten that J&P carried anything except HTs and Floribundas and Blaze and Golden Showers; it's been decades since I've even seen a catalogue. Cool!

#548 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 09:06 PM:

be of good cheer, Anne of Texas.

#549 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 09:07 PM:

Takuan @ #537: That may not be verse, but it's poetry.

#550 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 09:29 PM:

Jacque, #543: People talk about "Mercury being in retrograde" as if it were something weird and scary. It's not; it's a normal and predictable consequence of solar system mechanics, and it happens without fail at regular intervals. To blame something like that for things that happen in our daily lives is just plain silly.

#551 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 09:42 PM:

hey, true story yo, she was very pretty.

#552 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 10:06 PM:

Open threadiness: A problem with the neutrality of Wikipedia articles.

(But I was waiting for him to involve Russel's paradox somehow.)

#553 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 10:33 PM:

dcb@530: Thanks!

(and in conjunction with Michael I @ 519:)
SPF is used so widely in my field that I completely forget the other, more accessible meaning, even though I select high SPF sunblock for myself. (35? Ha! It is to laughing. Give me the 50+ and stand back.)

I think the same things for "AI". Another good example is "AU". I think of "both ears" and "gold"; my father thinks of "and under", an economist's term; my mother thinks of "astronomical unit", being a physical chemist; my partner thinks of "American University", her alma mater..I'm sure others can add their meanings to the list.

#554 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 10:48 PM:


#555 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2009, 11:12 PM:

so! 口が軽いと島流しよ。

#556 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2009, 12:07 AM:

dcb: Me too. It was really bad when the Speilberg movie came out, because Maia was studying AI for large animals, and both of us wondered why there was a movie about it.

Jacque: That's actually touching. Thank you, for both comments.

abi: Also, thank you. It's charming to think I was able to say something which maps to that.

#557 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2009, 12:12 AM:

Jacque: Philosophically I have a problem with teaching things as "sef-defense" which have such a high chance of going pear shaped in a big way.

See my comments about guns and knives (both of which I like, a lot, neither of which I commend as a means of general defense).

#558 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2009, 12:58 AM:

Terry Karney! Have you ever seen the TV show "Burn Notice"? It seems like it has the potential to be a guilty pleasure for you in the same way that the Robin Hood (&etc) movies mentioned above are for medievalists and historians. Plus it has Bruce Campbell.

#559 ::: Marna Nightingale ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2009, 01:53 AM:

Joel: I am supposed to remind Terry to tell you that 'gluten flour' can be gotten in the organic section of Hartman's, and also at Herb and Spice on Bank.

So, Terry, you should remember to tell Joel this. :-)

#560 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2009, 02:12 AM:

Making Light by the Sound: A couple of months ago, I mooted the idea of a Seattle area get-together. Any interest? Respond here or shoot me an e-mail.

Pre-empting Serge: Yes, we could call it Son et Lumière.

#561 ::: siriosa ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2009, 02:33 AM:

More about Diatryma's and my knowing what to do and yet not doing it.

I'm not stuck everywhere. I'm making good progress in the areas of getting regular exercise, and doing some writing morning and evening (as a general creativity practice). Where I'm stuck, I think, is in the places where I imagine it would be a Very Bad Thing to fail.

When I noticed the economy going south, I asked myself what I was going to wish I had done, and the answer was "Grow food." I started a garden. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, where it's actually possible to grow food year round. I cleared 20 years of wilderness out of my back yard, and I gave myself permission to fail utterly.

It's very freeing. I am totally not stuck in the gardening area. If I actually get food out of the ground: bonus! No matter what, I'm getting good cardiovascular exercise, and wherever I fail, I learn something. (Like "Wow, that sure didn't work. Better try something different next time.") Also, I've been composting madly. The soil will be better, no matter how much food comes up.

For me, I think it's true that if I don't have permission to fail, I don't have a prayer of succeeding.

#562 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2009, 02:46 AM:

siriosa, #561: There's an ancient engineering maxim that runs, "If you can't make a mistake, you can't make anything." Something you might think about trying to internalize?

#563 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2009, 03:35 AM:

dcb @ 502

I fenced in high school and my freshman year in college (foil and saber), and enjoyed it a great deal. Living in Portland the last few decades has given me an opportunity to see some high level matches*. Some time back at a series of standards committee meetings I discovered that two of my fellow committe members were students of kendo, and practiced together in mornings before meetings. I asked permission to watch them, to see if there was any relation to European sword-handling; it was very interesting, enough that I would have taken it up myself if I'd had any extra time, but it was not at all like the discipline that I'd learned.

* The US Olympic team coach lives and trains team members here.

#564 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2009, 06:21 AM:

Lee @ 529... Clannad's soundtrack was released in the 1980s, on a tape cassette, so maybe someone eventually re-released it on a CD. Or maybe it's downloadable off the intertubes.

#565 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2009, 06:24 AM:

debcha @ 560... Hmmm. I like that. "Son et Lumière". Oui, as Gabrielle Anwar said in last night's episode of Burn Notice.

#566 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2009, 10:58 AM:

Terry and Marna @ 559-- thanks for the info.

There's a health food / bulk foos store only a couple of blocks away from me (Kardish's on Merivale) which probably also carries gluten flour. However, I avoid that store on principle: on several occasions they've had serious cross-contamination problems, and the owner's reaction when it's pointed out is to shrug. (1% of cumin seed in the caraway makes a startling difference in rye bread! The seeds can be told apart by eye if one looks carefully. The store owner refused to even try to taste one of the wrong seeds when I pointed it out to him, claiming that he wouldn't know the difference.)

On an unrelated note: I didn't get where I am today without watching The Fall And Rise of Reginald Perrin. The series is finally being released on DVD in North America in May. lists it for pre-order; I hope that will make it available soon.

Also, Volume 8 of Girl Genius is to be released in May.

#567 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2009, 11:16 AM:

Lee @ 550: I agree with you, but to keep peace in the family, Keith and I still had to pick a wedding date and time where 1) Mercury was direct and 2) the Moon was not void.

Luckily the date and time we wanted anyway happened to fit both of those requirements.

I figure, if this is the most religious compromise we have to do for our wedding, we've gotten off easy.

abi, I don't know what it is but I've been crashing hard for the past week or so, too. I'm hungry for spring. I bought tiny little hosta plants to fill in the large empty spaces in my dooryard garden, since it's in full shade. I think I need to wait until we're past danger of frost to actually plant them, though. And I want to start vegetable seedlings.

Hmm. How do hostas do as houseplants? I find at least one link that says they are cat-safe, so that is good. The package came with 4 hosta sprouts, and I don't think all 4 will be needed in my garden. Would be nice to have some plants indoors. One of my cats likes to merrily dig, but if I put some flat river rocks over the soil, that would take care of that.

#569 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2009, 12:30 PM:

Bruce Cohen @ 568... Speaking of Warren Ellis, may I recommend his graphic novella Aetheric Mechanics for a Hugo? Like Neil Willcox said to me, this would probably please Stephen Baxter, with its Edwardian England where hovercars zip around London and ships on their way to space cross its skies while war rages on the Continent.

#570 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2009, 12:36 PM:

David 468: I seem to recall that Ladyhawke has a total eclipse of the sun taking place only two or three days after the moon is full.

No, they figure out that the eclipse is taking place the next qnl NSGRE gur punenpgre gheaf vagb n jbys, fb gurl unir gb svtug uvz vagb gur pntr* that night...under a full moon. Yes, the eclipse takes place the day after the night of the full moon. That's one fast-scurryin' moon they got there.

At the time it was Matthew Broderick's Dick Van Dyke-level fake accent that bothered me more.

* Not sure why I'm ROT13ing spoilers for a movie released in 1985, except that several people in the thread said they haven't seen it and intend to.

#571 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2009, 01:18 PM:

Now, via Susie Madrak, comes Shakespeare's 25 things about me. I see an almost unlimited opportunity for silly humor, here; think of all the historical figures whose lists one could make.

#572 ::: Mike McHugh ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2009, 01:18 PM:

In another entry in the Small World, Innit? file, Nasir from Robin of Sherwood (Mark Ryan) was the swordmaster on the King Arthur movie.

#573 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2009, 01:26 PM:

Mike McHugh @ 572... A small world? King Arthur's Ray Winstone was Will Scarlett in Robin of Sherwood.

#574 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2009, 01:42 PM:

OK, fluorosphere, I want to say that I had one set of duties at my company before 9/11, and that after the chaos resulting from that event subsided, I had completely different duties.

The metaphor when the dust settled is a little too apposite. Other suggestions?

#575 ::: Stevey-Boy ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2009, 01:52 PM:

Linkmeister @ 571: Oooo. I foresee a thread not unlike "Trilchy wings" where you guess the famous person from their "25 things about me".

#576 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2009, 02:05 PM:

Stevey-Boy @ #575, you go first; my imaginer hasn't begun operations yet this morning.

#577 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2009, 02:06 PM:

Joel: Then go to Hartmans, and get Bob's Red Mill. No contamination (they are pretty assidious about avoiding it, exp. with the gluten, as they make stuff with the intent of being able to sell it to gluten avoiders, intolerants, allergics, etc.

#578 ::: siriosa ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2009, 02:40 PM:

Lee @ 562: "If you can't make a mistake, you can't make anything."

That's very good; I will vector that meme.

The distinction between "failure" and "mistake" is worth preserving, though. Most of the people I know aren't afraid of making a mistake: we've made so many, it'd be like being afraid of having breakfast. Fear of failure, though, is pretty widespread. I think it's because the definitions we use for success and failure are not useful. I'm working on both fronts: redefinition and acceptance.

#579 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2009, 03:37 PM:

Lee @550: I am not a big believer in astrology, but I'll sometimes use "Mercury in retrograde" as an "explanation" of things or people going screwy or just plain dumb. Since I'm not an astrology person, I naturally turned to the internet for an astrological explanation of this (which in the last sentence gives some good advice regardless of the position of the stars):

In general, Mercury rules thinking and perception, processing and disseminating information and all means of communication, commerce, education and transportation. By extension, Mercury rules people who work in these areas, especially people who work with their minds or their wits: writers and orators, commentators and critics, gossips and spin doctors, teachers, travellers, tricksters and thieves.

Mercury retrograde gives rise to personal misunderstandings; flawed, disrupted, or delayed communications, negotiations and trade; glitches and breakdowns with phones, computers, cars, buses, and trains. And all of these problems usually arise because some crucial piece of information, or component, has gone astray or awry.

It is therefore not wise to make important decisions while Mercury is retrograde, since it is very likely that these decisions will be clouded by misinformation, poor communication and careless thinking. Mercury is all about mental clarity and the power of the mind, so when Mercury is retrograde these intellectual characteristics tend to be less acute than usual, as the critical faculties are dimmed. Make sure you pay attention to the small print!

There are situations when "Mercury in retrograde" is as good an explanation as any.

also Lee @529: Clannad's album Legend is out of print, but is available used online.

#580 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2009, 03:38 PM:

From CNET via CNN: Bill proposes ISPs, Wi-Fi keep logs for police

Quote: Republican-led bill is certain to draw fire from businesses and privacy advocates. You think??

#581 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2009, 03:45 PM:

Thanks for the rose ideas, everybody. Here are the ones I'm thinking about: Caldwell Pink, Old Blush, Reine des Bourbons, and Prosperity. Mmm rosehips.

#582 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2009, 04:00 PM:

Xopher @ 574:

Are you looking for metaphors in particular? If not, might I suggest "at the end", "after things calmed down", and "after the chaos resulting from that event subsided"?

#583 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2009, 04:25 PM:

siriosa, #578: I've known a fair number of people who were paralyzed by the thought of doing something new. A common factor among them appears to be that they equate "mistake" -- or even "imperfection" -- with "failure". If they can't do it absolutely right the first time, they're terrified to even try. The idea of a learning curve appears to have gotten lost somewhere along the way. Not saying this is necessarily your problem, but it is something to think about.

Tracie, #579: Thanks, but I've had that explanation, in interminable detail, several times already. As I said, I don't care if people want to use it as a throwaway joke; I've been known to do that myself, just as I'll sometimes say "must be a full moon" when people are acting nutty, no matter what the phase of the moon might actually be. I do have an issue about people taking it seriously as an explanation for whatever.

Now that several kind folks have reminded me, I do recall having Legend on a vinyl LP. Which means it's either been sold to Half Price Books, or is in the very small number I kept back from that run. Amazon Used Music, here I come...

#584 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2009, 04:40 PM:

Lee, do you have a similar problem with people who say "it's God's will" or "by the grace of God" and really mean it? If not, why not? Do you think a belief in astrology is stupider than Christianity?

I don't believe in either one (though I see usefulness in both), just for the record.

KeithS, it's for a resume, so it has to be short, but "when things calmed down" will work fine. Thank you! I was just in brainlock about that for some reason.

#585 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2009, 04:50 PM:

Lee @ 583... About doing something new...

"Meet me at Omar's. Be ready for me. I'm going after that truck."
"I don't know, I'm making this up as I go."

#586 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2009, 04:52 PM:

Lee @583:
I've known a fair number of people who were paralyzed by the thought of doing something new. A common factor among them appears to be that they equate "mistake" -- or even "imperfection" -- with "failure". If they can't do it absolutely right the first time, they're terrified to even try. The idea of a learning curve appears to have gotten lost somewhere along the way.

Me, me, me! That's me you're describing!

It's why I have trouble speaking Dutch. It's why I don't find it easy to take up sports.

I managed it once, with bookbinding, and I've done my best to help other binders through it by mercilessly diagramming all of the mistakes of my first few years of binding on the web.

But apart from that, I tend to fail at failing.

#587 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2009, 05:03 PM:

abi-san: read Davidson's The Gargoyle?

#588 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2009, 05:10 PM:

taku-kun, I have not. Should I?

It is worth noting in this conversation that I once had 15% partial thickness burns, and spent eight days in the hospital as a consequence.

#589 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2009, 05:14 PM:

Abi @ 586... I tend to fail at failing


I've never thought of myself as particularly eager to try new things, and yet... I'm the only person in my family who's moved to another country where the language isn't the one where I grew up. I'm the first person in our dept who telecommuted, as in being physically very far from the group I work with. Last autumn, when I was given the job of upgrading our job flow, I was not content with simply upgrading, and I threw out obsolete jobs, renamed jobs to make them more meaningful, rethought some of the job flow to take care of things that others were putting up with.

Now, where is my Indiana Jones hat?

#590 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2009, 05:21 PM:

Xopher: I see a difference in the two (astrology/God's will). The one is fatalistic. As such it can be a useful coping mechanism (it can also lead to unwillingness to fix things, esp. social, but I digress).

A lot of astrology seems to be usd to say, "this is the way the universe is set up for you, right now... so this is the good/bad/so-so time to make "x" sorts of decisions. The intentional nature of the latter leads to things like, "x is in y for next month, and z is ascendent, so this is the best time to look for a job," (which honestly, isn't the loopiest thing I've seen done with astrology, but I've heard that sentence). T

#591 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2009, 05:35 PM:

I think it worth your time, abi-chan.

#593 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2009, 05:54 PM:

Takuan @ 591... I thought she was Abi-wan.

#594 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2009, 06:07 PM:

I sort of did a sort of astrological year-long thing last year, where each month, we studied one sign and various things pertaining to it. I tended to look at the entire thing as a Rorschach blot and get meta about it.

On failure/mistakes: I am having a difficult time reframing 'failed at PhD' to 'getting an MS'. Nothing I've done with respect to my job feels like a success except an impulsive hormone dose that killed half the trees I gave it to. It's fractally related to the aikido thing, and more frustrating.

#595 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2009, 06:13 PM:

All things in their order and time. Ne? Abi-sama?

#596 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2009, 06:33 PM:

To everything, takuantje, there is a season.

#597 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2009, 06:36 PM:

oooh! I love it when she Dutches at me!

#598 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2009, 06:43 PM:

soft hooting

#599 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2009, 06:45 PM:

and further

Der's a tym 4 Ebberythng

1 theer has is a sison for evryting, and a tiems for every perpos under teh ceiling. 2 a tiemz 2 git kittehs, an a tiems 2 get ded. a tiemz to bury the cheezburger and a time to dig up the cheezburger you has planted. 3 tiemz 4 killin the mouses and tiemz 4 being ok with them but not rly. 4 theres a tiemz 4 lollin and a tiemz 4 not lollin so much. A teimz 4 weepins and a teimz 4 dancin. 5 a tiemz to keep cheezburger and a tiemz to give them away, srsly. teimz 4 hugs, tiemz when hugz are NOT WANTED. 6 a tiemz 4 lookin round and a timez 4 getin bored and stop lookin. 7 a tiemz 2 brak and a teimz 4 fix and a teimz 4 STFU and a teimz 2 talkz. 8 A teimz 4 LUV and a teimz 4 HAT. A teimz 4 lots a killin and a teimz 4 only killin when nobodys lookin. u get teh picture. 9 wat gud is it 2 a kitteh from all dat trbl? 10 i has sees wat all trbl ceiling cat can makes 4 kittehs. 11 teh ceiling cat mades teh bestes cookies and cheezbuergrs. but he aslo mades us wantz the invisibl sandwitches he keepz up in teh ceiling, omg, ftw. 12 i knows teh invisibl cheezcakes has are not filling, but better is to do gud, liek mading cookies, upgradin ram, ect., k, srsly. 13 an also of cours teh surprize buttsecks wenever possibl, lol. ceiling cat sez so. 14 teh buket of cookies meads by the ceiling catz, is ful 4ever. no wai. wai! 15 now iz alredez haz been eaten. ceiling catz wants moar but iz hungree lol. 16 in teh sun iz judgd teh cookeez, an teh wikid buttsecks, an thai dont compair to teh rightisnez of teh cheezbuergrs. 17 ceiling cat iz teh judge, jury, xecushioner 4 a purpiz. itz hiz job - he Judj Dred. 18 ceiling cat gits in the est8z of men's kidz an showz them hoos bestes, so they see they has buttsecks 2. 19 4 kiddiez an bestes rofl; one dies, and then another; thez cant breeth from the lolz; men an bestes make a big buttsecks sandwhich to the ceiling. Thai likez it. 20 evereeone cumz from teh littursbox an goez back when they takes a break. 21 kittehs and nimulz upgradez and downgradez as ceiling cat watchz. 22 i knows what it looks liek, an we should be happy, 4 their iz plenty to share: who wants sum? wink wink. tis teh sison.

#600 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2009, 06:55 PM:

takje, schat, wij moeten niet de hele tijd aan het flirten zijn

#601 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2009, 07:03 PM:


#602 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2009, 07:10 PM:

One day, when my Dutch is better, I will try to render Prufrock into the language.

For the moment, though, I am to bed. Play nice, kittens.

#603 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2009, 07:19 PM:

Voting has opened on the name for the new ISS node. "Serenity" started out at 96% but has fallen to 85%. You can vote once per computer per day.

#604 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2009, 07:25 PM:

TexAnne @ 603... the name for the new ISS node. "Serenity"

"This is the captain. We have a little problem with our entry sequence, so we may experience some slight turbulence and then - explode."

#605 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2009, 09:25 PM:

#586, Abi: First of all, I second Serge's 'Really?' I'm sure you've learned many new things that you are simply not giving yourself credit for.

More broadly, the way I usually describe it is, 'Don't be afraid to suck at things.'

I think we are socially conditioned that we are supposed to do all our learning (and failure) in childhood, and as adults we are expected to be good at things. The consequence of this is that we don't try anything new, because we don't want to fail in front of others (or ourselves).

Sucking at things is a necessary step to getting good at things. Not sucking means that you are not doing anything new.

As an adult, I learned to swim, to mountain bike, to blog, to do scientific research, to teach, to run meetings, to speak in public, to play basketball. I trained for and ran a marathon. I got my scuba diving certification. I taught myself how to knit. I can do some easy rock climbing, despite being somewhat acrophobic. I got my driver's license. I just started to learn how to play bass guitar. And I spent most of today trying to learn how to carve turns on my snowboard. This list is by no means exhaustive, and yes, I'm sure I still suck at quite a few of those.

But here's the thing: We think that everyone will look at us and say, 'Wow, you suck at x.' But the reality is that the people around you think it's cool when you learn something new. Whether it was my family cheering for me when I finally arrived at the finish line of the marathon, my friends waiting patiently on the bunny hill as I fell and fell and fell again on my snowboard, or my colleagues being really happy when they received baby sweaters, everyone around me has always been super-positive about me trying new things. It's only in my head that I'm an uncoordinated klutz and they are tired of my incompetence, and I've decided not to let that dumb little voice stop me from doing stuff that I want to do.

#606 ::: glinda ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2009, 09:28 PM:

Debcha @ 560:

*waves hand from Bainbridge Island*

I've got other things going on during the weekends of April 25th and May 10th, though the May one could be changed if that's the date decided upon. Just let me know enough in advance that I can factor the ferry trip over into the budget, 'k?

#607 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2009, 09:50 PM:

Sorry, didn't mean to get all preachy there. It's just something that I feel strongly about (in case it wasn't obvious...)

#608 ::: siriosa ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2009, 10:07 PM:

debcha @ 607:

We may suck at stuff, but at least we're not doing the same stuff we were doing 20 years ago. Things I've learned as an adult: drive (32), swim (56), garden (59). Oh, and I got my bachelor's degree when I was 43.

If you're not pressing up against your limitations, they're closing in on you.

Ah, here's the quote that's been lurking at the edge of recollection: "The people who succeed and do not push on to a greater failure are the spiritual middle-classers. Their stopping at success is the proof of their compromising insignificance. How petty their dreams must have been!"-- Eugene O'Neill

#609 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2009, 10:41 PM:

Xopher @ 584: No worries. Sometimes the words flow just like a clear stream, and sometimes they get stopped up like, uh, thingy.

#610 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2009, 11:06 PM:

siriosa, I'm proud to suck at stuff (okay, maybe not indefinitely, but for a while at least). But I think the issue here is not so much the'why?' but the 'how?' For me, a lot of it was getting over my self-consciousness of looking dumb (strangers don't care, and friends support me). Do you have any strategies, advice, or attitude that you think help you learn new things as an adult?

#611 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2009, 11:39 PM:

Xopher @ #570: "Dick Van Dyke-level fake accent".

Last night I watched Mary Poppins for the first time since its theatrical release, and, um, just yes.

Cross-threadery: Mary had an overpocket.

#612 ::: siriosa ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2009, 12:51 AM:

debcha @ 610: Do you have any strategies, advice, or attitude that you think help you learn new things as an adult?

Fear of getting old Like That is a big motivation. I know people in their 90s, and their fragility is terrifying. I want to keep my brains, and I want to forestall frail until the last possible moment.

How do you do that? You learn new things, and you make your body strong.

I don't mind failing. I've turned it, judoesque, into a badge of honor. Just as I have never learned a single thing from being happy, so I find doing things I do easily kinda dull. If I do something perfectly the first time, I'm not pushing my limits. And if I'm not pushing my limits, they're pushing me.

The most useful concept I retrieved from college calculus (at the age of 40) is successive approximations. (To the math-endowed: it's entirely possible I got it wrong. I'm okay with that, because how I understand it is hella handy.)

Nobody has to do anything exactly perfectly the first time out. Your successive attempts need to get closer. That's all anybody can ask for.

As you say: strangers don't care, and friends support. (And if they don't support, reevaluate their friend-credentials.)

#613 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2009, 01:09 AM:

My big griefs aren't the things which one can work on in private. I am a tolerable player of the pennywhistle. I really need (I think) some tutoring. I am at a pair of plateaux, one of which I can leave on my own (I just need to practice more, both reading music, and noodling).

The other (playing of non-airs) I am not quite able to get started on.

But I am, by and large, afraid to look as though I am clueless; because it seems (I think) this is something I should be better at. Speaking is like that. My Russian is passable (in fact it's tolerably fluent, if oddly limited [most people can't discuss the details of Russian/Soviet Order of Battle), but I am afraid to look the lazy/clumsy dolt.

Rinse and repeat.

Somehow things like Aikido, and other interactive (don't ask me why language isn't in that category) aren't the same. Nor are other, more athletic, occupations. I don't worry (in the same way) about how I look astride (which is to say there are some people whose good opinion of my seat matters to me: a great deal. The rest of the world can go hang).

Those I have no fear of failing at (going to a new dojo has a bit of apprehension... I don't know the mood of the place. If I know someone, and that someone is there, or I can use them as a letter of introduction, then I have no worries).

#614 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2009, 01:20 AM:

"I have never learned a single thing from being happy" from Siriosa... that one hits me kind of hard.

Okay, my issues are my issues, and I am working on figuring out what's part of the fractal and what's not. But one problem I have with the general "struggling is a way of life" is that I read it (and typed it, the first time) as "if you're not struggling, then you have already failed".
So I can either be in the process of failing, actively and permanently, or be a failure of a level even beyond that. It's not okay to be happy or content, it's only complacence and settling for least.

Part of what I'm working on right now is acknowledging when I have achieved something. I don't get a happy feeling when I finish something for work, even if it's been making me miserable for months. I don't think, "How nice it is to no longer have that hanging over my head!" I think, "I suck because I didn't do that earlier."

The inside of my head has not been a happy place the last couple days. Now to read about cheerful things, like infectious diseases.

#615 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2009, 02:02 AM:

Serge @ 573

King Arthur's Ray Winstone was Will Scarlett in Robin of Sherwood.

You mean he used to be pretty?

#616 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2009, 02:25 AM:

I have trouble with sucking at stuff, too. There's a little voice in my head that's always telling me to mind what other people think of me.* So there are things I've tried to do, not been immediately successful at, and dropped, like playing the recorder. And there are things I've never tried to do because of being afraid to visibly suck. I'm getting better at it as I get older; being dared to write poetry helped a lot.

But there's another area of new things that almost everyone I know has a problem with, but that doesn't faze me much at all: trying new experiences: new foods, whole new cuisines, new music, new theater, etc. When I go to an ethnic restaurant with a crowd of people I find that most people find one or two dishes they like on the first few exposures to the cuisine, and repeat them ever after ("I'll have the Pad Thai, it's what I always have"). I tend to keep going back to a restaurant if it was good the first time, and just work my way through the menu, trying anything that looks or sounds interesting. That's how I found out about Tom Yum soup, which I consider a gift from the gods.

* About some things, that is; I can't seem to convince Eva that anyone who happens to be peering into the windows of my house and sees me naked is just going to have to live with the image.

#617 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2009, 02:31 AM:

#614 ::: Diatryma @ 614 ...
"I have never learned a single thing from being happy" from Siriosa... that one hits me kind of hard.

I'm learning a great deal from being happy -- namely how deep of a hole I'm slowly extracting from, and just how damaging the previous job was/is.

I think I'd forgotten joy to a far greater extent than at all reasonable -- and can't begin to describe how amazing it is to now be sitting here, enjoying music, company and code.

#618 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2009, 02:42 AM:

One thing I learned from free-diving and swimming alone in the open sea: it is possible to just go with the flow. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to experience a state where happiness is and doesn't matter, and where you don't have to consciously (or self-consciously) work at it.

#619 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2009, 03:39 AM:

One thing I have not failed at (even in February) is learning to be happy. I went through a profound depression, one that went further and deeper than Seasonal Affective Disorder, a few years ago. I got out of it by learning how to find the gold in sand*.

But this conversation reminds me of the ski trip my company took last year, when our boss declared that any time I started talking about how clumsy I was everyone was simply to dog-pile on me.

Like debcha, like sirosa, like Bruce, I am surrounded by friends who cheer me on when I succeed and comfort me when I lose heart. The only curmudgeon in the situation is me.

Now if only the sun would come out...

* obAnna Karenina: "Those joys were so small that they passed unnoticed, like gold in sand, and at bad moments she could see nothing but the pain, nothing but sand; but there were good moments too when she saw nothing but the joy, nothing but gold."

#620 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2009, 06:48 AM:

Abi @ 619... if only the sun would come out...

Here comes the sun.

#621 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2009, 06:50 AM:

Bruce Cohen @ 615... Heheheh. He looks better in the last Indiana Jones movie.

#622 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2009, 06:53 AM:

Terry Karney @ 613... Rinse and repeat.

#623 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2009, 06:57 AM:

Referencing my recommendation relayed by Serge @569 - If anyone is not quite sure whether to read Aetheric Mechanics I would describe it as "a 48 page self-contained science fiction comic with an alternate universe steampunk detective solving the Case of the Man Who Wasn't There".

I also note time travel, the informational nature of the universe, and a romantic subplot that is vital to the outcome of the story. That ought to get people off the fence, one way or the other.

#624 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2009, 07:10 AM:

Neil Willcox @ 623...

Thanks for elaborating some more(*) on Aetheric Mechanics. My own recommendation was a tad succinct.

(*) Is that a pleonasm? Or just plain redundant?

#625 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2009, 07:57 AM:

I wrote a novel last year.

This year I'm converting a chunk of it to a radio script, which I might just submit to the BBC.

And here's a chunk of something else I'm working on:

Wolf had been given a map-case, in amongst all his other kit, as he'd squeezed into the 'plane. It was an old 'plane, stripped of weapons, filled with fuel tanks, and horribly overloaded. Even without two fully-equipped parachutists. And the take-off had been interesting, in the same way as it is interesting when a tracer bullet seems to hang in the darkness, before seeming to make its mind up and come straight at you, very, very, fast.

Wolf had seen the trick done before, from the deck of the destroyer, making a finely judged high-speed pass across the seaplane lane so that the flying boat got kicked free of the water-drag.

It was different, this time. For one thing, Ardent was long-gone, and so the wake came from a submarine, flat-out and trailing a haze of unburnt diesel,, which was lucky to make half the speed of a destroyer, even on the surface. For another, Wolf was on the inside, with no view of the world, just the noise and the shuddering and a god-awful kick in the pants.

The plane managed to stay in the air. He was confident that his stomach would, eventually, get delivered.

The Osprey tankers, and the Forward Basing Commando, were two very good ideas, he thought, which were ahead of their time. They just couldn't lift enough to do anything useful in a war. Today it meant that, at sunrise, there would be four of the latest Maritime Patrol versions of the Osprey, in the search area and fully fuelled. That was a good three hours extra search time, per plane, per sortie.

Well, some guys had refuelled in flight, but it was too much a stunt.

He looked through the map-case.

OK, it was ugly. A tramp steamer, the sort of ship which was criss-crossing the Pacific all the time, but with the crew of genuine scum. Seventeen women and older girls missing, two pregnant women shot out of hand, and two more bayoneted. This place sounded about the same size as the place he'd grown up in: this was enough to destroy a community.

He'd being feeling uneasy about Standing Orders. He hadn't been looking forward to executing prisoners. Looking at the bald outline of events, he figured he could do it.

#626 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2009, 08:04 AM:

Dave Bell, 625: More, please.

#627 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2009, 11:02 AM:

TexAnne, you have mail...

I can see a couple of edits I ought to make in that last little extract.

#628 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2009, 01:11 PM:

A footnote to the song sung by Bloodnok above: this was during a period where the BBC had caught on that Spike Milligan was using "dirty phrases" from his army days in The Goon Show, i.e. "knee trembling." They started picking apart every script to a degree unmatched until Richard Pryor started doing a children's TV show. Milligan decided he's show up the censors and included the punchlines of what he considered extremely disgusting dirty jokes into the scripts to prove that the censors were clueless. That Bloodnok song is the best known of them: the title/chorus is the punchline, and I'm sure any interested parties can find the full joke through Google.

#629 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2009, 02:00 PM:

Have to catch up with the rest of the thread, but meanwhile, tech question:

Can someone recommend a good pointing device for a user* who often has a thick layer of cream or ointment on their fingertips? The cream tends to muck up the space under and between the mouse buttons, so an alternative is sought. I was thinking of a graphic tablet, but maybe something else is more suited to their needs.


#630 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2009, 02:13 PM:

Many modern computer mice use purely optical sensors. but the gunk might still be a problem for buttons and the sensor.

I know virtual keyboards have been done. A virtual mouse?

#631 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2009, 02:16 PM:

Pendrift @ 629: I've used graphics tablets in the past, for graphics. Not sure how much I'd like them for more text-related PC use. They're rather expensive, too.

The sort of trackpads that are commonly built into laptops are available as separate units, but they have buttons, too.

The Apple Mighty Mouse will also work on windows. It does have a tiny trackball, but there's less in the way of buttons than is typical. I use one, and really like it. I don't see any way to open it for cleaning.

#632 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2009, 02:24 PM:

abi @ 586, it's me too. All the way through.

I'm always unwilling to give myself any learning curve. I've been this way all my life. I remember crying in frustration every week, practicing for timed tests on the multiplication tables in second grade. I still remember how, when I struggled in my quantum mechanics course during my senior year of college, I declared myself hopelessly stupid and incompetent and just no good at physics (despite the fact that I graduated with a degree in it). Two years later, I told someone about this, and suddenly I heard myself talking. I couldn't even allow myself to need time and effort to learn quantum mechanics -- famously described as something "no one understands."

I realize this about myself, but it hasn't really helped me get any better. Whenever I try something new, and fail, or struggle, or get confused -- the little voice in my head judges me very harshly, calling me stupid, useless, and incompetent.

This is largely why I don't play video games. The entire structure of the game is based on failing and retrying. That's not fun for me, even in a setting where I know it doesn't really matter at all (no one's going to hire or fire me based on how well I play Super Mario Galaxy).

On the other hand, maybe I need to force myself to play more video games, to desensitize myself and get more comfortable with failure as part of the process.

I find it oddly comforting that someone like you, whose job/life/etc. is the sort of thing I aspire to, might feel the same way. It means that I may not totally fail at life after all, despite having this problem.

#633 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2009, 02:30 PM:

Caroline @ #632 writes: "maybe I need to force myself to play more video games, to desensitize myself and get more comfortable with failure as part of the process."

Golf. At least you're outdoors while failing, and everybody else fails too.

#634 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2009, 02:49 PM:

Linkmeister @633:

Oh, no, golf was the worst. I married into a golfing family and did not do at all well taking it up. Everyone was relieved when I sold my clubs and forswore the game.

#635 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2009, 03:14 PM:

Golf has a significant problem: You play against perfection. In any other sport that I'm aware of, the standard of comparison is the person (or people) you're playing with. Of course, the other problem with golf is that it's impossible.

#636 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2009, 03:25 PM:

Caroline, one of my Stupid Brain Tricks is to put myself into the persona of someone who doesn't use organic chemistry/physics/engineering/whatever, and then read the bit of book that's giving me trouble. I am so far ahead of the pack because I know the words! I understand the individual sentences!

I know a lot of really exceptional people via writing and the internet (most of my internet is related to writing somehow). It's hard to figure out what to compare myself to without setting the bar for 'worth the carbon footprint' too high or too low.

#637 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2009, 03:43 PM:

janetl: Shooting is also against perfection. (at least for small-bore, air-rifle, skeet, and trap. Large Bore is different, and hunting not the same at all).

One refers to one's score as, "drop 'x'", where x = number of points below perfection.

At the upper ranges of the sport "x", effectively, equals how my times one shot the slightest bit out of the bullseye.

Air rifle is a little different, as the pellet it larger than the 10 ring, so failing to completely obliterate the pip = 9.

Small bore (.22 cal) rifle has a .25 10 ring, which means one can shoot an "X", which is when the bullet doesn't touch the ring at all. Prone competitions are often resolved with scores like,

1st Place, with 67X
2nd Place, with 66X
3rd Place, with 64X

Where X = number of times the bullet was completely within the ring, and (for men) the string was 60 shots.

Women shoot 40 shot strings,and post similar results.

There have been a few people who shot perfect 27s in skeet competitions, but the stress is high, and there are more variables, so it's still notable.

#638 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2009, 04:01 PM:

Caroline, #632: On the other hand, maybe I need to force myself to play more video games...

My heart goes out to you, Caroline.

There are lots of activities that you can practice 'failing' at, and at the very least you should pick one that you, yourself, find really fun and worthwhile to do (whether it's video games or something else). Because you're not just going to fail at it forever - you are going to get better at it!

#639 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2009, 04:02 PM:

I forgot to give ranges.

Small bore is fired at 15 meters (it was 50 feet).

Air Rifle is fired at 10 meters.

Neither of them allows the use of scopes.

Air rifle is a 4.5mm pellet, being fired at a 1mm bullseye.

The trick of the sights is they are two circles. The read one is a small hole in a large disk. The front is a larger hole, mounted on a post; and covered with a shroud (the shroud keeps the ring shaded in the sunlight.

As you know Bob: The human eye can't focus on more than one thing at a time. That arrangemet actually makes the three objects (rear sight, front sight, and target) into one object.

The eye, if relaxed, will look through the brightest part of the rear peep (which is the optical; the part you want).

The front ring is a given size.

The black of competition targets is scaled, to that front ring will exactly surround it at the distance the target is meant to be used (there are other events which are more than 15 meters, and the same sights are used both small and large bore events).

If you don't see any white at the edges you are dead on. All one needs to do at that point is not move from the moment the sear releases, until the projectile leaves the barrel.

#640 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2009, 04:08 PM:

Debcha, terry, abi, etc: This is a wonderful discussion.

The last few months have been really stressful and hard for me. My wife's pregnancy was very difficult--not in terms of major health problems (mom and baby were and are fine as far as we can see), but in terms of stuff like morning sickness[1], fatigue, and false labor[2]. This all overlapped with moving into a new house, trying to establish ourselves in a new neighborhood[3], etc.

And one result is, I've been pretty lousy even at the stuff I am normally good at. I've been pretty unproductive at work, I've gotten used to being interrupted in meetings by cellphone calls from my wife ("I've had four contractions in the last hour, and I think I may need to go to the hospital if these keep up."), etc. The secondary stuff (working out, speaking Spanish, etc.) has fallen even more off the map, though I've managed to keep doing at least some of it.

Failing at the secondary stuff, I was always kind-of okay with that. (Though Terry's comments about Russian apply to me w.r.t. Spanish--it's just hard to let yourself make the kind of mistakes you can easily make in a second language in which you're not quite fluent.) But seeing myself fail at stuff I'm good at, seeing my coworkers become less inclined to try to pull me into a project because I always add something interesting (now, I'll miss half the meetings), that's really painful.

I'm not sure where I'm going with all this. It's just a bit of resonance with some of what others here have been saying, with a different twist.

[1] My wife could barely keep anything down for about the first four months, and I would routinely come home from work to find that she'd eaten nothing since breakfast, because she just couldn't bear to think about food for long enough to go get anything from the kitchen.

[2] And you should hear my *wife*'s symptoms. *rimshot*

[3] I suspect I'm labeled now as "that guy who's always too busy to talk to us, and is always hustling his kids into the car, urging his dog to hurry up so he can be done walking her, running out to the car unshaven with an electric razor in one hand, etc."

#641 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2009, 04:17 PM:

To tell the truth, I have gotten much better at (failing at) one thing: coding. I'm still not good at coding. I can hack it together so that it works, but it isn't usually elegant or particularly efficient. (I never had any formal education in computer science or software engineering; I learned by being told "We need this analysis of the data" and flying by the seat of my pants in figuring out how to implement it. In FORTRAN, no less. That was the entirety of my first job.) But debugging used to stress me out much, much more than it does now. There's still the occasional ARGH! moment, but these days I mostly view it as part of the process. Which, of course, it is.

Linkmeister, I do drive past a public golf course twice a day every weekday....but I rather do think aikido may be a better choice. That was the experience with TKD I was describing above -- I was able to put myself in a "personal best" kind of headspace, and be proud of myself for progress, rather than demanding perfection.

#642 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2009, 05:52 PM:

I'll be having dinner with Doug Faunt at Jesso's on Monday at 6pm. Interested? The place is in Oakland, and not too far from the 12th Street BART Station.

#643 ::: siriosa ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2009, 06:46 PM:

Diatryma @ 614: "I have never learned a single thing from being happy" from Siriosa... that one hits me kind of hard.

OMG, Diatryma, I was totally not aiming that at your head. Sorry, sorry.

Part of what I'm working on right now is acknowledging when I have achieved something. I don't get a happy feeling when I finish something for work, even if it's been making me miserable for months. I don't think, "How nice it is to no longer have that hanging over my head!" I think, "I suck because I didn't do that earlier."

Learning how to talk to oneself is absolutely crucial. When I hear a friend calling herself names, I ask, "Would you say that to somebody you liked?" Or, more combatively, "How dare you traduce the name of my good friend? I won't have it."

What we say to ourselves is often habitual, but habits can be changed. Decades ago a friend told me about a game she played with herself, by way of changing negative self-talk. When she'd trip over something, she'd say (aloud if possible) "I love it so much that I'm graceful." The absurdity of it made her laugh, but over time, she found herself tripping less, and actually becoming more graceful.

Whatever I say to myself, I am listening.

#644 ::: siriosa ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2009, 08:12 PM:

Caroline @ 632: the little voice in my head judges me very harshly, calling me stupid, useless, and incompetent.

In my particular case, that voice is my mother's. (My mother loves me dearly. I guess that was just how everybody talked to kids back in the day. On certain memorable occasions, anyway.)

I am blessed with a full set of stairstep inner children[0]. A baby, a toddler, a 4-yr-old, all the way up to a surly 17-yr-old. Everybody has an opinion. Everybody gets a vote.

Besides my mom, there's also an inner adult, who usually has the last word. When mom's voice pipes up, everybody turns on her and yells "Be Nice."

That usually shuts her up.
[0] I do not identify as multiple; I feel quite integrated. But when I'm scared, for example, it helps to figure out what part of me is freaking out.

#645 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2009, 09:56 PM:

siriosa @ 644: Saw a new play called "Holidazed", by Marc Acito and C.S. Whitcomb. The story follows Julia, a woman with husband, kids, job and house to decorate who gets overwhelmed during the Halloween-Thanksgiving-Christmas period. This is complicated by a homeless teenager or two.

In an early scene, Julia's delivering a monologue, alone on stage, when an older woman walks out and addresses her. Julia answers her tartly, the older actress walks off, and then Julia says something along the lines of "So I hear my dead mother's voice, that doesn't make me crazy."

Every woman, and most of the men, in the audience erupted with laughter. Oh, yeah.

#646 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2009, 10:58 PM:

debcha, #605: It's only in my head that I'm an uncoordinated klutz and they are tired of my incompetence, and I've decided not to let that dumb little voice stop me from doing stuff that I want to do.

That dumb little voice is what I call the Goddamn Tapes (because a lot of us get it from internalizing what other people told us when we were kids), and I applaud your determination not to let it win!

Today I learned the basics of finger-loop braiding. I think it was a simplified version (based on the only online description I can find) but it was fun, and I'll probably do some more of it. Hell, I might even try the more-complex online version!

For those who struggle with trying new things, it's worth noting that new things which are related to something you already know are often easier to pick up. (That finger-loop braiding, for example, has enough similarities to the kumihimo braiding I already do that some of my knowledge was cross-applicable.)

It's also permissible to decide that you do something well enough, that you don't have to get to the professional level with it in order to enjoy it. (A lot of musical stuff falls into that category for me.)

Diatryma, #614: I'm with you on most of this. There is certainly a great deal to be said for being happy! And you nicely articulated what was niggling at me about that quote; I think it must have been said by someone who was never able to be content with anything, and who therefore made a virtue of necessity. But most people aren't like that. IMO the key (again) is balance -- you need both things about which you are happy and content, and things to which you are pushing yourself, in order to have a satisfying life.

OTOH, I also identify very strongly with Siriosa's desire not to get old Like That! This is one of the reasons that I push myself to do things that I can do but would rather not, like driving in traffic in the dark in the rain -- because if I don't do them, sooner or later I won't be able to do them. "Use it or lose it" takes on whole new levels of meaning once you're past 50. And mental exercise is as important as physical for this, if not more so.

Dave, #625: I would also like to see more of this.

Caroline, #632: I think you may be onto something with that idea of using video games to desensitize yourself about having a learning curve. There's a similar technique sometimes used to help people with things like agoraphobia or social anxiety -- you invoke it deliberately, under controlled circumstances, over and over again until your own coping skills build up to the task.

#647 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2009, 11:15 PM:

There's a balance in happiness/striving. It's not good to feel like you're constantly failing/not measuring up/unable, and it's not good to become so boxed in by contentment that it chokes you and you become afraid to change any part of it.

Oh, hi, Making Light as therapist. Because I am kind of in both of those right now.

It's more like muscles, I think. You work hard, you hurt, and you rest, and that's how you get stronger. You can't only lift impossibly heavy things; you'll only hurt yourself and never lift them anyway. You can't only lift safely light things; you'll never need more strength, so you won't develop it.

It's weird knowing all the words to make myself feel better. I know them, but I can't or don't apply them. I just make more and more interesting metaphors for living in general.

#648 ::: siriosa ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2009, 11:28 PM:

Diatryma @ 647: I just make more and more interesting metaphors for living in general.

I dunno, Diatryma. That sounds like a life well lived to me.

#649 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2009, 11:29 PM:

Diatryma: it's interesting in that context that lifting an appropriate-sized weight enough reps that you can't lift it another rep (which is how you build muscle mass) is called exercising "to failure".

#650 ::: siriosa ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2009, 11:33 PM:

Open threadiness: for the knitters.

Especially the fourth strip down. Anybody know the tune?

#652 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2009, 02:12 AM:

Sitting around at Boskone talking with TNH about things that included Buddha's Hand citrons, with her saying that the distortion in the fruit compared with non-Buddha's Hand citrons was a genetic defect that also ought to manifest in the tree form being distorted too--and the tree form itself is distorted and that all the Buddha's Hand citron trees have to be clones....

Looking up at the sky to -look at the sky-
Seeing the progression of birds in my yard, even the grackles--actually, grackles amuse me enormously.
Seeing birds nesting in trees in my yard.
The crunch of snow under my feet in cold crisp air (but NOT with a foot of the stuff and the snow going down into my boots!).
The jewel-like glittering of freshly fallen large ice crystal flake snow from overhead lights at night
The quiet from a blanket of new fallen snow, muffling road noise to oblivion.

#653 ::: siriosa ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2009, 03:06 AM:

Jim @ 651:

That pretty much defines awesome. Thank you. My heart is full.

#654 ::: B.Loppe ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2009, 03:14 AM:

I am in the middle of marking, and, following in the footsteps of the great Fragano Ledgister, I thought I'd share this gem:

"As well the deliberate acknowledgment of inter-personal relationships between parent and child, it is irrational and illogical for a parent removing the possibility to save their child if given a way to do so, and so Dr. X's 'ethical' concept is shrewd without having full understanding."

Mind, this is the final sentence of this case study, and as close to a thesis as this student has gotten.

#655 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2009, 05:56 AM:

Sounds like the only chance he has of seeing a thesis is in the zoo.

#656 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2009, 08:30 AM:

So... Does anybody want to join Doug Faunt, David Goldfarb and yours truly in Oakland for dinner at Jesso's on Monday, at 6pm?

#657 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2009, 08:34 AM:

Serge @656:
So... Does anybody want to join Doug Faunt, David Goldfarb and yours truly in Oakland for dinner at Jesso's on Monday, at 6pm?

Want? Yes. Able to? Not so much.

Have fun.

#658 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2009, 09:23 AM:

Abi @ 657... Hopefully your wanting to and your being able to will both be possible in in the not-too-distant future -- even if it's not next Monday A.D.

#659 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2009, 03:19 PM:

B. Loppe #654: That one has a very strong odour of the lamp.

#660 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2009, 03:33 PM:

Dave Bell @630 and janetl@631: Thanks for the suggestions.
I use a cheap* A6-sized Wacom graphic tablet in lieu of a mouse and am very happy with it. I don't work with graphics, though will probably get around to it someday.

Virtual mousing may well be the solution for my friend. That, or a mouseless browsing plug-in for Firefox. We'll probably worry about keeping the cream out of the keyboard next, though voice recognition software may take care of that.

*28 euros

#661 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2009, 03:46 PM:

B. Loppe @654, that makes my head hurt. A lot.

General conversation, 1. What I have learned from being happy: that I can be happy, that unhappiness is not my default state nor my role in life. Do not underestimate the importance of that lesson.

General conversation, 2. I am currently learning to fail at photography, over and over again. I forget every time how hard it is to learn a new camera, forget that when I first learned 35mm photography, that was all I was doing: taking photos, developing negatives, making contact sheets and work prints, and meeting with my teacher two hours a week- 90 minutes of small group seminar and a half-hour of one-on-one tutorial. And I was 22 and not fighting presbyopia, which really messes up one's ability to see focus, not to mention a knee which refuses to stay still under me and makes holding the camera steady a new and exciting adventure.

#662 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2009, 03:51 PM:

Failing at photography over and over again costs less than it used to because now with a digital camera you do not have to keep buying the film.

#663 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2009, 03:58 PM:

My new Nikon Coolpix P6000 has built-in compensation for the photographer's hands waggling about (a.k.a. optical VR image stabilization). I was dubious about how well it would actual work*, but have been pleasantly surprised. With my old Coolpix S2 camera, if the situation was low light at all, I got blurred pictures. I'm getting much better results with the fancier camera.

*I am always dubious about how a feature will actually work, of course.

#664 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2009, 04:18 PM:

janetl @ #663 "I'm getting much better results with the fancier camera."

That, of course, is how things are supposed to be. It's always gratifying when it turns out to be true.

#665 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2009, 08:11 PM:

Eric Nelson, that is a very true statement; even when I was self-loading, at the top of my consumption I was going through more than a hundred dollars (1974 dollars, at that) in film and paper every week.

My finite commodities right now are time and energy.

janetl, I've got image stabilization on my Nikon D60, but it only works in autofocus mode. I've pushed autofocus as far as it can take me(look at posts in my live journal from October, November and early December for evidence), and am back to my old tricks with manipulation the plane of focus to isolate the subject in the picture and stuff like that. I'd mastered that in the long-ago days, but am having to relearn the skills with a different system. I coud not learn to control my desires, and was always unsatisfied with autofocus.

#666 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2009, 09:28 PM:

Pendrift @660: We'll probably worry about keeping the cream out of the keyboard next [..]

That shouldn't be too difficult; I've seen plastic keyboard covers in common use (for instance, at the counter of a local shop that deals in Buffalo-style chicken wings; keeps the sticky sauce out). It occurred to me that you could seal an optical mouse in a plastic bag (protecting the buttons) and it would probably still work.

Ages ago, when I was curious about chord-keyboards* (never did get one), I had a catalog from an outfit that specialized in accessibility gear for computers. They had a range of devices and software: large buttons, foot switches, the chord keyboards (useful for the one-handed), etc. I don't remember the name, and in any case it had been several years ago, but I'm sure that if you googled 'accessibility' and 'chord keyboards', you might find a similar store online.

* Douglas Engelbart, inventor of the mouse, visualized it used in combination with a chord keyboard: mouse in right hand, chord keyboard in left; no need to let go of the pointer to type in text or command codes.

#667 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2009, 10:30 PM:

janetl, #663: Yay for better equipment! I've been absolutely delighted with the FujiFilm Finepix Z20fd my partner got for me last year. While it's not expensive as digicams go (being readily available for under $200), it's by far the best camera I've ever had. I've never been anything but an intermittent photographer, and until now the best camera I'd had was an ancient 110 model that cost $20 at K-Mart in the 1980s. This one... is turning me into a bit of a shutterbug, and it definitely takes better pictures than I ever thought I'd be able to achieve. As a bonus, it takes video too!

If you'd like to see what a total amateur can do with this camera, take a look at my Flickr page. The first page of photos is all close-up work from the wire-wrapping class I've been taking. Go to page 2 for examples of video and normal-length photos.

#668 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2009, 10:50 PM:

Here's a question I've had for a while, on an issue where folks here might well be specially knowledgable. So in the spirit of open-threadiness:

What's the best way to find out exact or official publication dates (down to the month and day) for mid-20th century American and British books? I often see these noted in author bibliographies, e.g. "first British edition August 3, 1939; first American edition October 21, 1939". But I'd like to be able to find these out myself when there isn't already a bibliography published for a particular author.

Are there standard trade publications that compile these dates from multiple publishers or that tend to have them in their ads? Or do you usually need to check individual publisher catalogs? Or do you have to fall back on unpublished sources, such as publisher files and author correspondence?

I'm particularly interested in the period from 1923-1963, and primarily but not exclusively interested in trade publishing in the US and the UK. Thanks to anyone who can give me some pointers.

#669 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2009, 10:54 PM:

siriosa @ 644, I considered putting in my comment that I really don't know who that voice is in my head -- because it isn't my parents, who never spoke to me that way. I remember my father trying to get me to go easier on myself during those second-grade practice sessions -- "All you can do is your best, and you can always be proud of doing your best." I wish that had recorded, rather than this other stuff. It might make it easier if I did know who it was, and could put it in context.

Lee, I like the Goddamn Tapes label. And yes -- controlled exposure therapy works really well for phobias and anxiety -- it would make sense that it would work for this particular brand of anxiety.

#670 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2009, 01:39 AM:

Caroline @ 669

I think I finally figured out who the voice in my head is: it's me. When I was a child I would often refuse to try to do new things, but not all new things, even if coaxed to do them by my parents or friends. It was never clear what new thing would cause this reaction, until the opportunity to try it arose. I now believe that this was the first clear symptom of ADD, which wasn't diagnosed until I was 50, but which is quite clear in a lot of my early behavior, in retrospect. One of the effects of ADD can be to cause memories to be improperly associated with each other, or to be confabulated, or outright created out of whole cloth.

Whatever the cause, I think there are a lot of people like me who make odd connections that lead them to accept or reject things for non-obvious reasons. It's not the result of anything said explicitly by someone else.

#671 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2009, 02:24 AM:

Overheard in an Ottawa coffee shop (and immediately obvious as marking papers).

"The Canadian form of democracy can be described as a type of democracy."

It's nice to know tht freshman in Canada can form such solid tautologies.

#672 ::: Marna Nightingale ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2009, 03:43 AM:

I am currently failing, um, "not working to potential" at:
Keeping the house tidy.
Managing my sleep in order to manage my chronic condition.
Managing my pain without regrettable amounts and combinations of pills.
Balancing four intimate relationships.
Managing being joyfully in love with someone who is going through deep grief without shortchanging either of those things.
Quitting smoking.
Going back and finishing my degree.
Skincare. (It's a DRY cold...)

I am continually failing at:
Saving the world.

I am currently reminding myself:

That anything really worth doing is worth doing badly, if necessary.

That you not only have to walk before you can run, you have to crawl before you can walk. Some days you have to make it as far as the floor before you can crawl. Fortunately, falling out of the bed is an option at that point.

That if the most you can do is wash one dish, you should wash it.

That if somebody goes to the trouble to give me a compliment, the least I can do is accept the damned thing and treat it kindly.

That the people who love me get to have an opinion about my basic worth just the same as I do. And that they're quite smart people, most of them, which I why I love them.

That if I really need to cut something out of my schedule so that I can get more stuff done, the self-loathing and self-flagellation parts of the programme are a good place to start.

#673 ::: Marna Nightingale ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2009, 03:49 AM:

Oops, forgot:

Terry @ 671: we don't have freshmen; we have "first-years".

Also referred to around the Department as The Wee Dear Smalls, though not in public.

(Somebody gave Obama a Beavertail! I danced with glee. GLEE. The Tasty Sugary Yummy unhealthy but Additive Traditional Foods Of My Peoples FTW.)

#674 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2009, 10:46 AM:

John Mark Ockerbloom @ 668:

Your best bets are probably the Library of Congress for the US, and the British Library for the UK.

#675 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2009, 10:49 AM:

Although now that I look more closely, they don't go right down to the day, and you're looking for that. Sorry.

#677 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2009, 12:21 PM:

cgi was that good in 1983?
or did they use models?

I don't remember really good computer graphics on TV commercials until 1984 or 1985.

#678 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2009, 12:47 PM:

Erik Nelson @ 677... That was in 1983. As far as I know, it was all done with models. There was CGI being done in those days. I remember that 1982's Wrath of Khan was the first movie, even before aqnything from Lucasfilms, to use CGI starfields. I think that buildings were beyond the capaqbilities of the day, but I may be wrong.

#679 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2009, 12:48 PM:

In keeping with the "daft costumes" particle, with a nod toward the "portable hole" meme:

Gaping Hole costume.

Re that "Cities in Flight" ad--very Close Encounters, right down to the soundtrack.

#680 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2009, 03:03 PM:

Cities in Flight is one of favorite SF series that I'd like to see as a movie or mini-series. On second thought, they'd probably totally botch what is essentially a tragedy.

#681 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2009, 04:24 PM:

Lila @ 679... Funny thing is that Close Encounters of the Third Kind is what we're apparently supposed to think of, but, even in 1983, which was only 6 years after the movie came out, I never thought of that. I thought of Cities in Flight even though I've never read the stories, but I knew the imagery of it very well. (As for not having read the stories, that's a situation I intend to change.)

Steve C @ 680... There is a reason why I'll never see Will Smith's I Robot.

#682 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2009, 06:15 PM:

Serge @676, kind of a chill & a pause when I recognized what the ‘funnels’ were. [Thoughtlink: Life on Mars (USA) just started here on commercial TV. Not yet seen, reports good.]

#683 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2009, 06:47 PM:

Epacris @ 682... No kidding. Even 2000's X-men, recent as it is, gives a certain sadness to those scenes that show Manhattan.

#684 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2009, 07:08 PM:

Thanks, KeithS@674. Those libraries have two of the most comprehensive library catalogs for those two countries. But they don't seem to get more precise than publication year in most cases. As I mentioned in my query, I'm looking for something more precise.

I do see that the online Books in Print database often has publication month, which is somewhat better. Ideally I'd like to find an exact official pub. date when one has been specified (as I gather it often was, at least in the past.)

(My main interest in this is for copyright research. The US copyright status of a mid-20th century book from the UK or another foreign country sometimes depends on whether it was published in the US* within 30 days of its publication abroad. So knowing the exact days in question can be important in some cases.)

*There are various ways a book can be considered "published" here for the purposes of copyright law, not all of which involve a US imprint, but we'll leave those complications aside for the moment.

#685 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2009, 10:46 PM:

Warren Ellis points to something utterly wonderful:

The Shadow Over Innsmouth: The Musical

Go there now. Really.

#686 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2009, 11:36 PM:

re 682: uh, yeah. The dullest buildings in NYC, and the skyline still looks wrong without them.

but re BA ads: remember the Conan ad?

#687 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2009, 01:17 AM:

We're having a wicked windstorm in Portland. Or at least my suburb.

I kind of miss violent weather. An occasional crackity-boom storm is invigorating.

#688 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2009, 04:12 AM:

Marna (#672) Thank you. I've a list as least as long (only slightly overlapping yours) and many 'issues' with struggling through all of them. Those are thoughts it will be good to hold.

seriosa (#453) “Maybe I'm afraid that the next step is going to be the one that starts the avalanche.” So very true.

#689 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2009, 07:12 AM:

Diatryma @ 647: "There's a balance in happiness/striving. It's not good to feel like you're constantly failing/not measuring up/unable, and it's not good to become so boxed in by contentment that it chokes you and you become afraid to change any part of it."

In game design, finding the right level of difficulty is often one of the trickiest challenges—not in the least because different people have totally different thresholds for hard and easy. This doesn’t just mean that some people succeed or fail more, but that different people have different definitions of what “too hard” or “too easy” means. Alice might consider beating 75% of the levels on her first try easy unto boredom, and Bob might find the exact same rate of success far too difficult.

I picture it as a spectrum, with two (hopefully) overlapping fields:

100% success |[ succeeding enough { just right ] challenging enough }|0%

For some people, that “just right” zone might be further left or right, or wider or narrower. For me, that “just right” zone can be pretty narrow. In fact, it can get so narrow it disappears: either I’m winning and bored or I’m losing and frustrated, with no sweet spot in between. I set goals that are too high, and then succeeding at anything less is uninteresting.

This is mostly interesting because I think I do the same thing in real life. Real life, considered as a game, is absolutely botched. Practically every endeavor starts with a success percentage of roughly zero, which is rarely satisfying, and the amount of effort required to get better is staggering. In order to have fun at life, it's important to have a sweet spot that stretches pretty far to the right. It's something I work on.

#690 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2009, 08:17 AM:

Serge, I've seen most of Will Smith's movies as my wife is a fan, and "I Robot" is far from the worst. I was surprised by how Asimovian the premise was considering that it's an action movie.

Of course, there are eye-popping moments for Asimov fans (like when Dr. Susan Calvin is introduced), but overall I thought it was Quite Good.

#691 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2009, 08:28 AM:

Recently one of my primary mottos in life has become "Perfection is the enemy of the good." It is sobering to see how perfectionism has diminished potential joy in my life -- either through my own perfectionistic tendencies and standards, or through conflicts with my partner because I'm not good enough or trying hard enough for him (or because he can't/won't relax a little). So yes, balance is the key, because the joy I can find in even modest accomplishments (Hey! I figured out the directions on the answering machine!) energizes me to keep going and keep trying.

#692 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2009, 09:29 AM:

Movies, with infrequent exceptions, trigger my "I can write better stories" reflex.

#693 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2009, 10:20 AM:

Cities in Flight is one of favorite SF series that I'd like to see as a movie or mini-series. On second thought, they'd probably totally botch what is essentially a tragedy.

Great concept, but the plot doesn't live up to it. The big dramatic moment in Earthman Come Home is SPOILER the discovery that the hmmf wmmmf grmmf underpinning the grmmf hmmf wmmmf has collapsed. (I refuse to ROT13 on principle.)
I just don't think that can be made into good cinema. It barely made good novel, to be honest.

But the descriptions of Scranton and Manhattan sailing through space... oh, yeah. To be honest, it would make an even better series than a movie. Combination of exploratory sensawunda SF and hard-nosed city politics. (Literally machine politics, in New York's case. Ah ha ha ha.) It's Star Trek meets The Wire!

#694 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2009, 10:37 AM:

Wow! Anyone who's ever wondered where Revolution 9 came from should check out that Beatles sidelight, which is effectively Revolution 1-8.

#695 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2009, 10:41 AM:

ajay @ 693

One touch in Cities in Flight that would be very nice for a series is how most of the global action (interstellar war with an alien race, rise and fall of a "galactic" empire) takes place in backstory, or between the episodes that Blish wrote. That leaves lots of unfinished business to create series eps about.

#696 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2009, 11:07 AM:

Niall McAuley @ 690... So, you'd recommend I Robot? I never went to see it because it looked like a betrayal of everything that Asimov's robots were about. Bicentenial Man was closer to the spirit of Asimov, but rather dull white-bread, Which I guess is to be expected from director Chris Columbus, who apparently thought that in the late 21st Century most of the Bay Area will be populated by white people, except for on black singer at a City Hall party. But I digress. Did you know that, circa 1976, there was a project to adapt Caves of Steel, with Paul Newman in it?

#697 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2009, 11:37 AM:

C Wingate... Hmmm. I don't think I ever saw British Airways's "Conan" ad. Does it have him as a pilot for AirBorean?

"What is best in life? To crush your passengers into tiny seats, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their children."
#698 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2009, 11:38 AM:

Serge, I wouldn't go so far as to say I recommend "I, Robot", but I wouldn't avoid it. If you like sci-fi action flicks, it's a good example.

#699 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2009, 12:13 PM:

Since there are a lot of people posting here who have chronic medical conditions, including chronic pain, I thought this might be of interest. (Also ties in, obliquely, with Teresa's post several years ago about one of her most important medications being discontinued.):

I found out a few days ago, when I tried to fill Hilde's latest Oxycodone Rx, that there ain't any Oxycodone available, except on a hit-or-miss basis. This has apparently been going on for several weeks, but I hadn't heard about it until now.

The best discussion I've found of what's been behind the shortage has been this forum at

Hilde's main pain control comes from Duragesic patches (timed-release Fentanyl), but she uses the oxycodone for a night-time boost to let her sleep. We can juggle other pain meds for a while, though it will be inconvenient and not as effective.

But this shortage (it will probably be weeks or more before the supply chain gets back to anything near normal) is going to be, close to literally, Hell for one heck of a lot of people.

#700 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2009, 12:34 PM:

Serge @ 696 -

Paul Newman in The Caves of Steel? That would have been interesting. When I was doing my imaginary casting of it some years back, I would have picked William Hurt for Daneel Olivaw, and Sam Waterston (Law and Order) for Elijah Baley.

Kinda strange to see that Earth's population in the novel was 8 billion, a figure that's not too far away.

#701 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2009, 01:14 PM:

695: very true. And annoying. All of that (Alois Hrunta, the Vegans, the Web of Hercules) sounded much more interesting than Mayor Amalfi and the Great Interstellar Currency Crisis.

697: "Welcome aboahd dis British Airvays flight to Cimmeria. Please listen carefully to de following safety announcement. And if you do not listen... then to HELL with you!"

700: no, no. Roy Scheider for Lije Baley, Mandy Patinkin for R. Daneel.

#702 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2009, 01:22 PM:

Niall McAuley @698: It was better than I expected, and did have a nice, Three Laws twist. One nit I'd pick jnf jul n cresrpgyl tbbq ubhfr jbhyq unir orra frg gb or qrzbyvfurq.

#703 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2009, 01:36 PM:

Debcha - yes, I'm up for something Making light by the Sound. Preferably no more than one ferry ride from Whidbey Island.

#704 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2009, 01:47 PM:

I like all those casting choices for Caves of Steel. If I could pluck some actors out of Time though, I'd probably go for James Stewart and John Philip Law.

#705 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2009, 01:56 PM:

Serge @ 704 -

I like all those casting choices for Caves of Steel. If I could pluck some actors out of Time though, I'd probably go for James Stewart and John Philip Law.

That would make for an interesting triple feature with Rear Window and Barbarella.

#706 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2009, 02:07 PM:

Steve C @ 705... Mind you, we can't pluck actors from Out of Time, which means they'd probably make Caves of Steel into a comedy, with Will Ferrell as Daneel Olivaw.

#707 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2009, 02:37 PM:

Serge @ 706

Could be worse. Consider Adam Sandler (as in Punchdrunk Love*) for R. Daneel, and Owen Wilson for Lije Bailey.

* If I had known before pushing play on the DVR what I knew by the end of the movie, I would never have done it. Or, as Bob Seeger said, "I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then."

#708 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2009, 02:43 PM:

Raphael: Yes, the yellow booklet. Not required. Only mandatory when travelling to places which require vaccinations (and heaven help you trying to get things up to date if you didn't take care of it at the time). The only one I really don't worry about recording is my flu shot.

#709 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2009, 03:54 PM:

And so it begins.

Hope dims for smoking gun Bush administration email criminal evidence. (sigh)

#710 ::: siriosa ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2009, 04:11 PM:

heresiarch @ 689: Real life, considered as a game, is absolutely botched.

Yes! When I was in hard grief, it seemed to me that I was in a beta reality, and my bug report was very long.

"Excuse me, this grief stuff? If you want to encourage people to be loving, why tf do you punish them for it? This can't go in the release version. Fix it."

#711 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2009, 04:24 PM:

re 697: I couldn't find a snip on YouTube, but I'll attempt a description. Technically, it's more of a Frank Frazetta ad, down to mimicking some of his characteristic poses. I'm pretty sure it ran not too long after The Movie. Anyway, here goes:

The scene opens in a jungle set, and shortly a nubile young woman, dressed like, well, a nubile young woman in a Frazetta painting, comes running through, looking around anxiously and dodging verious jump-out-of-the-trees perils. She arrives at "Conan's" throne or whatever it is, and there he is, standing with the requisite female supporters attached to his legs. She runs up and kneels/collapses at his feet, and hands up to him an airline ticket-- and he is Displeased. And raises his mighty hammer on high, and lightning flashes, and brings it crashing down. And Robert Morley's voiceover says, "Oh, the disappointment of not being booked on your favorite airline" as the BA logo appears on the screen. (fade to black)

#712 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2009, 04:28 PM:

C Wingate @ 711... That does sound very familiar. Thanks.

#713 ::: edward oleander ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2009, 05:14 PM:

Oh, Makers of Light, Illuminate me...

I am searching for a short story, or it might even have been a book, title and author unremembered...

The story was of a human in an intergalactic dentistry school. He was in competition with other students who were part of a race of multi-armed creatures who were natural dentists. Towards the end, the hero forfeited his study time to aid an alien patient, who was like some giant whale with a bad tooth. The "patient" turned out to be one of the examining board testing the students' level of compassion to see who would make the sacrifice of whatever test they were studying for to help a patient in need.

I'm looking for the name of the author and story, and especially the name of the race of multi-armed critters...


#714 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2009, 05:21 PM:

Edward Oleander at 713, part of me is saying it's by Piers Anthony-- but that's because I remember another dentist-in-space story about a whalelike being who eats too many sweets and gets a toothache. That one was in Young Extraterrestrials, and from the table of contents, the story "In the Jaws of Danger" is most likely to be it. It seems to be part of the Dr Dillingham stories.

No idea what any of the aliens were called, though.

#715 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2009, 06:17 PM:

Edward Oleander @ 713 -- That's got to be Piers Anthony's Prostho Plus, slightly rearranged. Dr. Dillingham sacrificed his study time for an Oyster, who turns out to be the Director of the School of Prosthodontics; the whale-like creature was his first alien patient. The dentistry-adapted race was referred to as "Anteaters", per the naming convention that Dillingham taught the translator device.

I don't think the Anteaters were described as having any particular number of arms, just "a four-legged cylinder with a head tapered like that of an anteater, and peculiarly thin jointed arms terminating in a series of thorns."

#716 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2009, 06:53 PM:

IMT made the sky -- fall!

What city has two names twice?

I loved Earthman Come Home and The Triumph of Time when I first read them, and loved them again, 20 years later, and again, 30 years later. The vision of the city of Manahttan spinning about in space like a giant over-decorated pie was irresistible. Still is.

#717 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2009, 06:54 PM:

Um -- Manhattan. Yes. Preview button there. Thank you.

#718 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2009, 07:24 PM:

Re #694 and the Sidelights:

Sadly, the embedded Youtube video in the "Revolution" story says: "This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by EMI Music."

I guess the revolution was over quickly.

#719 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2009, 07:35 PM:

#718: Don't worry; you know it's gonna be alright.

#720 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2009, 08:31 PM:

Does that mean that the revolution will not be televised?

#722 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2009, 02:19 AM:

Who else in the Fluorosphere is going to be at Potlatch 18*--books of honor 'Growing Up Weightless' and 'Always Coming Home'--this weekend?

* in Sunnyvale

#723 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2009, 06:28 AM:

716: read "A Life for the Stars" first, when quite young; and the other thing that struck me, beside FLYING CITIES! was the description of the poor and underpopulated Earth after all the cities had left... also worth working on. (And if Earth was that poor, how did it afford to maintain the UN police across the whole of Arm II?)

#724 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2009, 06:29 AM:

While I've enjoyed the Potlatches I've been to in the past, I'm not going to be at this one for two reasons:

1) I don't want to spend the money on staying at the hotel when I'm spending money later this year going to Worldcon, and commuting there from where I am isn't feasible.

2) There's a bridge tournament this weekend, and it may well be the last opportunity for me to play face-to-face with my current partner before I move to Houston.

#725 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2009, 07:49 AM:

David Goldfarb @724: may well be the last opportunity for me to play face-to-face with my current partner before I move to Houston.

You're moving to Houston? When? Why? Is Katie moving too?

Tell! Tell!

#726 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2009, 08:52 AM:

David Goldfarb @ 724 -

...before I move to Houston.

Hey, another Making Light person in Houston is good! You'll enjoy the First Summer (October through April), the Second Summer (May through September) not so much.

#727 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2009, 09:13 AM:

About casting The Caves of Steel:

When the BBC did it back in 1964, Peter Cushing was Lije Bailey. They did The Naked Sun a few years later (there was this one producer at the BBC in the 1960s who had a fondness for Asimov adaptations) with David Collings as R. Daneel Olivaw.

(They played opposite, respectively, David Carson and Paul Maxwell, both the kind of character actor who's been in everything but never as somebody you'd remember off-hand.)

I gather both productions have gone the way of so much of 1960s BBC SF.

#728 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2009, 09:35 AM:

Applicants needed high-speed reflex ability, to think fast, to learn fast, and to be completely ignorant of what they were really getting into.

From a description of the qualifications needed to be a US Army helcopter pilot in Vietnam.

#729 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2009, 09:58 AM:

Paul A @ 727... In other words, this was considered old crap not worth saving? Idiots. I'd have loved to see those adaptations.

#730 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2009, 10:00 AM:

Abi @ 725... I found out on Monday night. See, I told you you should have come to that dinner.

#731 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2009, 10:54 AM:

I understand that the Beeb made it a standard practice in the 60's to erase the tapes within a few months after the final broadcast.

#732 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2009, 11:08 AM:

Serge, #729: In other words, this was considered old crap not worth saving?

The reasons so many BBC programs are missing are a little more complicated than that--they involve the assumption that TV was an ephemeral medium (British TV producers thought of their work in terms of stage plays rather than little films, meaning among other things that they were thought of as one-off events), contracts between the BBC and actors which stipulated that programs could only be repeated a limited number of times, the high cost of videotape (encouraging re-use), and limited archive space. There's more information at these links.

#733 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2009, 11:26 AM:

Steve C... Wesley... Still, that's a shame. To put it mildly. It's not that Cushing is my idea of Bailey, but he was a fine actor and I'd liek to see him in the role.

#734 ::: Carol Witt ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2009, 12:14 PM:

Philip José Farmer passed away peacefully in his sleep this morning.

The link goes to his official homepage, found via Locus based on a mention by Neil Gaiman.

#735 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2009, 12:16 PM:

David, #724: You're moving to Houston? When? Where will you be living? We'll have to do lunch sometime.

Steve, #726: Okay... this clearly calls for a Fluorosphere Event.

#736 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2009, 12:29 PM:

Carol Witt @ 734... May he find himself on the Fabulous Riberboat.

#737 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2009, 01:22 PM:

Lee @ 735 -

Okay... this clearly calls for a Fluorosphere Event

I'm up for that. Do we have an idea of the number of Fluorospherians here?

#738 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2009, 01:24 PM:

Re: C. Wingate@580 fwding the amazingly brainstoopid Internet Safety Act...

I reviewed the text of the proposed legislation (see here and here). The article is silly.

Both House and Senate versions of the bill include the following amendment to Title 18 section 2703 of U.S. Code: "`(h) Retention of Certain Records and Information- A provider of an electronic communication service or remote computing service shall retain for a period of at least two years all records or other information pertaining to the identity of a user of a temporarily assigned network address the service assigns to that user.'"

Why am I laughing? Because there isn't now (and there won't be even after this stupid bill passes) any requirement in the U.S. code to keep any records of the personal identifying information of users accessing the Internet. The assumption is that such information is kept for billing purposes, and that nobody would ever have any sane reason to provide access to the Internet without requiring users to present personal identifying information at the time of access.

I shouldn't need to say this: that's stooooopid, yes with five O's.

The bills, as written, appear to be aimed at forcing only those ISPs that actually bill customers for access to keep a record of which IP addresses they assign to those customers at what times, and to provide those records to the cops when they have a warrant. What they don't do is require ISPs that don't actually bill individual customers, e.g. free Wi-Fi hotspots and such, to start collecting personal identifying information about their users, much less sort out the difference between the billing identity and the actual person (or persons, or software agent acting on behalf of a person or persons, or or or) using the network.

The hilarious part for me is that even the ISPs that do bill individual customers for access are still not required to disambiguate the users of the network from the people paying for the access to the network. When I first read that CNN/CNet article, I was afraid we were going to have eat a bunch of flash memory in our router product so that it can store a historical record of the DHCP and IPv6/ND assignments of every connected client just in case the cops come to your house and confiscate your network gear.

Thankfully, it doesn't look to me like we have to do that, and I feel pretty confident I can talk our legal department down off the wall if they get confused. Your router is not required by law to match every MAC address it sees with an authenticated taxpayer ID before it forwards your packets, so what's the point of keeping a record of something that doesn't actually identify any particular users?

Anticipating that lawyers will ask what reasonable steps we can take to identify actual users based on observable MAC addresses, I'm already crafting a measured and balanced response: "How about Not A Goddamn Thing? Does that work for you?"

#739 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2009, 01:26 PM:

Serge #736: I concur with that sentiment.

#740 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2009, 01:52 PM:

Farmer wrote a hell of a lot of daring stuff. He was one of the authors whose books were cleared off my shelves when I moved west, but I don't really need them around; I remember them well.

* * *

As I recall, Farmer wrote himself into Riverworld. Not by name, but there was a character based on himself. He had himself dying of cancer when the aliens zapped the Earth.

#741 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2009, 02:03 PM:

By coincidence I picked up The Best of Philip Jose Farmer at the library on Saturday. I remember reading the Riverboat series and thinking the concept was exactly as the title said: fabulous.

#742 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2009, 02:30 PM:

Didn't Farmer also write himself into The World of Tiers as trickster Kickaha, who on Earth had been known as Peter Jairus Frigate?

#743 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2009, 04:34 PM:

Can I put a nomination in for Steve Buscemi for Bailey, and Samuel L Jackson for Olivaw?

As to playing CoS as a comedy: as I recall, Bailey does keep fainting a lot. I could see that being played for laughs, quite easily. "And the murderer is none other than... oh, dear, I feel faint...."

#744 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2009, 05:19 PM:

Kathryn @ 722: I'll be at Potlatch, and I have an extra bed in my room if anyone wants to split the cost.

#745 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2009, 05:41 PM:

(Smiling as I imagine the Three Laws being recited by Samuel L. Jackson in his Jackie Brown persona)

#746 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2009, 05:55 PM:

Steve C @ 745... I vote for Pam Grier as Susan Calvin.

#747 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2009, 07:04 PM:

Steve, #737: I don't think there are many -- you're the first other person I've ever heard mention living here (as opposed to visiting here), so it looks to be a fairly small gathering. And I'd like to put in an early preference for it being held midweek, because my partner and I are on the road many weekends. (The perils of being traveling vendors.)

Alternatively, if David will be here by then, I wouldn't mind having it as a sub-gathering in my Chocolate Decadence party, which will be April 4.

#748 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2009, 07:10 PM:

Tim @744

P18 is the first con that's been in walking distance. Sadly, 1 mile probably is a bit too far to use the house for a room party.

We will be bringing just-picked lemons for lemonade.

#749 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2009, 09:01 PM:

Wasn't Samuel L. Jackson the guy who wrote that weird, long SF novel about the guy in the dying city...what was it called...ORCHIDS ON A PLANE?

#750 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2009, 09:35 PM:

Xopher: Not to mention the classic 'Time Considered as a Motherfuckin' Helix of Motherfuckin' Stones'.

#751 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2009, 09:41 PM:

*bows to Master Clifton to acknowledge being pwnd*

#752 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2009, 09:52 PM:

Serge #746: I vote for Pam Grier as Susan Calvin.

I would watch that version without complaint (although she might well be too busy these days to appear in that film).

#753 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2009, 11:01 PM:

I won't be at Potlach, as I am still in Ottawa. On the flip side, I managed to successfully pitch another show up here. This one is at least a dozen images, and is going to be semi-curated.

Since the guy with the space isn't online, it's going to be interesting getting images he likes for the wall.

The show in in Sept. With a little luck/work, I might be able to head back up here for the opening.

Ok, a lot of work, and more than a little luck.

#754 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2009, 12:13 AM:

heresiarch, #689: Real life, considered as a game, is absolutely botched. Practically every endeavor starts with a success percentage of roughly zero, which is rarely satisfying, and the amount of effort required to get better is staggering.

I suspect that you've nailed the reason why games are phenomenally popular. See also Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi's concept of flow.

#755 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2009, 12:16 AM:

eric, #703: Do you monitor the e-mail address you use here? Alternatively, can you shoot me an e-mail at my address?

I'm going to wait for at least a few more responses before we start to organize - right now, the turnout is, if you'll pardon the pun, a little light.

#756 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2009, 05:42 AM:

abi 725, Lee 735: Actually I'm the "too". Katie has been offered a job with CGGVeritas; she's almost certainly going to take it, and I'm coming with. It's a major upheaval to say the least.

Exactly when is still up in the air, but likely sometime in April or early May. "Chocolate Decadence Party" sounds very intriguing, but I doubt we'll be there in time.

We don't know where we'll be living -- if you know of someplace good, please by all means let us know!

We are going to be visiting briefly next week, so that Katie and her new employers can meet and negotiate things like her start date.

#757 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2009, 05:50 AM:

743: Well, the obvious Elijah Baley in that case is John Travolta, surely? ("You know what's fascinating about Solaria? It's the little differences...")

#758 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2009, 07:54 AM:

At one point, when it looked as if I Robot would be filmed (NOT the thing where the studio bought the rights because they didn't want to be sued by the Asimov estate--I knew that free subscription to Variety would pay off someday) Joanne Woodward was proposed as Susan Calvin. There was also a CoS planned that would have featured Robert Duvall as Daneel.

#759 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2009, 08:17 AM:

Slightly related - has anyone else seen all three of "Apocalypse Now", "The Dead Zone" and "The West Wing" and had the disturbing suspicion that the Martin Sheen character is the same one in all three? That's the main reason I didn't like the West Wing: kept expecting "Bartlett" (aka Stilson, aka Willard) to lose his mind and order a nuclear launch...

#760 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2009, 11:17 AM:

Dave Bell @ 728

Applicants needed high-speed reflex ability, to think fast, to learn fast, and to be completely ignorant of what they were really getting into.

Failing to meet that last requirement was what prevented me from volunteering for helicopter pilot training on enlistment. I suspect it was a barrier for a lot of other enlistees.

On the other hand, "There are none so blind as will not see". A friend of mine, having almost completed a tour in Vietnam as an MP was dead set on volunteering for another year there as a helicopter door-gunner, despite knowing how low the odds of survival were. I never did find out what happened to him; at least his name's not on the Wall.

#761 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2009, 11:24 AM:

I've been happily posting pictures of crocuses in my garden, and going out in sweaters to check the cattle, forgetting that March is a cantankerous month, and February not really reliable.

26.4F, an inch of icy snow, and those strange sort of beige clouds floating in with promise of more. Bother. At least the days are longer and there's a chance that the stuff will melt before dark.

#762 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2009, 11:29 AM:

Wesley @ 732

Also, the standard videotape format for broadcast was 2" quadruplex, which takes up an awful lot of room. A one-hour tape is stored on a 12" reel, a little over 2" thick; the same amount of program today (for a much better image, in color instead of b&w) fits into an 8mm cassette or an SD memory card.

Archives containing hundreds or thousands of programs quickly get out of hand with those sorts of storage requirements.

TMI brought to you by memories of running a 2" quad VTR, editing a program by cutting and splicing the tape.

#763 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2009, 11:54 AM:

760: the original quote sounds like something from "Chickenhawk" (one of the three books about the US side of the war in Vietnam that everyone should read...)

#764 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2009, 11:57 AM:

David Goldfarb @ 756 -

Probably the best source for home listings in the Houston area is


#765 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2009, 02:17 PM:

Serge @ 746

I've been watching Dead Like Me again on Skiffy, and I think Jasmine Guy would make a great Susan Calvin.

#766 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2009, 04:18 PM:

ajay: What do you think the other two are?

#767 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2009, 06:31 PM:

Randall Bewley (of Pylon) RIP.

#768 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2009, 06:48 PM:

Obama Administration Supports Telco Spy Immunity

The Obama administration vigorously defended congressional legislation late Wednesday that immunizes U.S. telecommunication companies from lawsuits about their participation in the Bush administration's domestic spy program.

President Obama has officially used his halo as a hula hoop.

#769 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2009, 08:37 PM:

Was anyone else disappointed that the "Time travel maps" particle was in fact travel time maps, rather than maps for the use of time travelers?

They're still very cool, but it was disconcerting for a moment that they were actually talking about travel time circa 2008.

#770 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2009, 08:44 PM:


Yep. The Obama administration seems better than the Bush administration in a great many ways (this is not a high bar!), but they seem to have little more interest in limiting governmental power, spying on US citizens, etc., than the Bush or Clinton administrations did.

I genuinely hope people on the left take them to task for this. I can't properly describe how dispiriting it was, to me, to watch all the I-dont-trust-government types on the right become absolute lapdogs when the spying and torture was being done by someone they imagined to be on their side.

#771 ::: glinda ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2009, 10:17 PM:

Marna Nightingale @ 672:

That if somebody goes to the trouble to give me a compliment, the least I can do is accept the damned thing and treat it kindly.

Oh. Oh my.

*adds that to quote file, and attempts to memorize it*

#772 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2009, 01:00 AM:

Bad news for me. A couple of weeks ago one of our cats got out the back door, and we couldn't lure her back or catch her, although she stayed in the immediate area. Today my partner found her body in the back yard. I've written a eulogy for her here.

#773 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2009, 05:48 AM:

766: I'd say "A Bright Shining Lie", for a grounding in the US politics that led to involvement, and the advisor operations before LBJ committed ground troops in 1965; and David Donovan's "Once A Warrior King" for insight into the post-1965 counterinsurgency "war among the people" side of things.
"Chickenhawk" covers the other side of the post-1965 war - the "war of the big battalions", Ia Drang and so on, and it's told by an increasingly cynical warrant officer, rather than the true-believer Green Beret narrator of "Once a Warrior King". Between the three of them - all cracking good reads as well - you get a fairly good basis, without having to wade into formal histories like Karnow, which are rather harder to get through.

#774 ::: R.M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2009, 08:39 AM:

#772, Lee -

Oh no. My deepest condolences. That's hard.

#775 ::: R.M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2009, 08:41 AM:

I seem to have mixed my phrases - Lee, you have my sincere condolences, and my deepest sympathies both.

#776 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2009, 08:51 AM:

Lee, my condolences -- it's always painful when a companion is taken.

#777 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2009, 08:58 AM:

All my condolences, Lee. Losing a furry friend is tough.

#778 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2009, 11:40 AM:

headline of the month:
Octopus floods Santa Monica Pier Aquarium
The mollusk diassembles a valve at the top of her tank, flooding the place with some 200 gallons of seawater.

#779 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2009, 12:10 PM:

lorax @ 769, I saw a set of maps (might've even been those) a few months ago, and it literally took me five consecutive re-readings to read "travel time" instead of "time travel."

#780 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2009, 12:14 PM:

Lee, I'm sorry for your loss.

#781 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2009, 01:39 PM:

Lee, I'm so sorry to hear that.

#782 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2009, 02:08 PM:

Apropos of absolutely nothing, I'd like to say that I always type out the phrase 'Short-Term Disability' in full. Our HR department does abbreviate it, but "I'm going to be out on STD starting Wednesday" just sounds wrong.

#783 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2009, 02:39 PM:

Lee, my condolences. I read your eulogy; that is an especially hard and sad situation. I wish I could offer tea and hugs.

Xopher @ 782, I have the same problem with any wedding-related internet communities, where STD means "save the date," and people write things like "I got my STDs today! They are so cute!"

(On the other hand, you can get adorable plush STDs.)

#784 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2009, 02:48 PM:

Lee -- I'm sorry for your loss.

That happened to us a year and a half ago, though in our case, the cause of death was obviously a Large Animal.

#785 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2009, 03:21 PM:

heresiarch, #689:

Real life, considered as a game, is absolutely botched.

You know, I was just thinking the same thing....

Practically every endeavor starts with a success percentage of roughly zero, which is rarely satisfying, and the amount of effort required to get better is staggering.

Oh, it's not just experience -- life in general is poorly balanced!

Rewards: Besides the experience issue, many massive bonuses are available only from certain starting positions (while locked out from others), and most of the big payoffs are hidden behind unmarked choices, requiring chance or extensive side-quests to discover.

Hazards: Dangerous events and subgames come out of nowhere, often with little warning, and no consideration of your experience level.

Pacing: The overall pacing is almost random, with significant events often reinforcing or conflicting with each other.

#786 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2009, 03:22 PM:

Speaking of cephalopods and plush toys... I'm thinking that small rare-earth magnets embedded along the arms would be extra-fun.

#787 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2009, 03:23 PM:

Lee, my condolences and sympathies.

#788 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2009, 04:07 PM:

The thing I want to know about the Game of Life is where are the freaking cheat codes? Where's the one that makes me invulnerable? Hell, I'll just settle for the cheat code that let's me drop 20 pounds. :)

#789 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2009, 04:17 PM:

Lee, my condolences.

#790 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2009, 04:46 PM:

Steve: I've dropped 20 lbs. Once by virtue of illness (which falls under one of the aforementioned design flaws). The rest of them, becuause I lost my grip.

The latter method is easy, though it can trigger one of the aforementioned design flaws in the game.

#791 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2009, 07:30 PM:

Lee #772: My condolences, that's a terrible loss to bear.

#792 ::: edward oleander ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2009, 09:10 PM:

Lee, I've lived through that scare twice (with the same cat 8 years apart), but got lucky both times and got him back... My wife's family lost a wonderful longhair that same way right after we got married.

My cats have been my kids over the years, and I'm very sorry to hear of her loss...

#793 ::: edward oleander ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2009, 09:18 PM:

Diatryma and Joel Polowin... THANK YOU! I'm sure i have that downstairs... I needed it for a character quote and it was one of those nagging things that was driving me nuts... None of my local sci-fi friends could help me... Danke!

#794 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2009, 10:37 PM:

David Harmon @ 785: "Rewards: Besides the experience issue, many massive bonuses are available only from certain starting positions (while locked out from others), and most of the big payoffs are hidden behind unmarked choices, requiring chance or extensive side-quests to discover."

I think that an interesting way to think about society and government is as a game in beta development. Hmm, certain starting races have significant disadvantages vis a vis others...maybe we should rebalance them. Players begin the game with wildly unequal amounts of wealth, which translates into wildly unequal skill distribution. Maybe free skill training for all will result in a more equitable system. Injuries occur largely at random, and can entirely derail character development. Maybe a basic level of freely accessible healing will help. And so on.

After all, the whole point of society is to be less unforgiving than nature.

#795 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2009, 12:43 AM:

Hey, abi! Here's a song about a boy who has two fathers -- in Dutch! (With English subtitles, so the non-Dutch-speaking can also appreciate it.)

#796 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2009, 04:00 AM:

heresiarch #794: After all, the whole point of society is to be less unforgiving than nature.

I thought that the whole point of society was to rationalize the need for the many to work for the benefit of the few.

#797 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2009, 05:27 AM:

Lee @795:

Neat! It looks like there's a whole "Kinderen voor kinderen" (kids for/in front of kids) series of songs and shows*. I'll have to trawl them for useful ones for the kids.

I enjoyed the combination of listening (being able to understand, but still being a little surprised and pleased at the rhymes) and reading, but I do think they missed the point a little in the last verse (the one about bullying).

The lyrics go:
’t is niet zoals bij anderen, voor mij 's het heel gewoon

The subtitles translate this:
It’s not ordinary, but for me it’s quite OK

The sense is better rendered thus, (while keeping the meter):
We're not like everybody, but for me it's normal life

Also, Lee, I've not been commenting much of late, so I'm behindhand in offering my condolences for your cat. It sounds like you gave her a happy life; I hope that stands foremost in your mind over the days and weeks ahead.

* According to Martin, they've been going for years and years.

#798 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2009, 09:18 AM:

Sorry for your loss, Lee.

#799 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2009, 11:23 AM:

Damn, I never thought I'd feel sorry for George RR Martin. I mean, he has a pretty good life (all justly earned, which doesn't keep me from being jealous of it). But it's never good for anyone to have other people think they own hir life. That totally sucks.

I haven't seen the emails he's been getting, of course. I suppose some people think it's funny to tell a writer he ought to do nothing but work to please them. I remember Walt Willis getting a letter from a fan in America that he found really insulting, and it was pretty stupid, but it was also clear to me that the young writer was attempting ironic reversal and missing the boat.

I personally have had to bite my tongue not to say to, for example, Lois McMaster Bujold "More Miles Vorkosigan! Hurry up and write the other two Chalion novels! And where's that second Athos novel?" All of which would be cool if she did them, but it's HER LIFE and I'd much rather have her write what her heart is in...or not write anything if her life is better another way.

You see, I am as much a fan of Lois herself as of her writing. She's not only one of my favorite writers (if not my very favorite at the moment), but one of the nicest, warmest people I've ever met. She and Connie Willis are both EVEN NICER in person than I expected them to be before I met them.

OK, rambling here. Honestly, if you hear anyone gripe about GRRM not putting out fast enough (and I chose the term deliberately), swat them for me.

#800 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2009, 11:31 AM:

Deeply sorry for your loss, Lee.

#801 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2009, 11:33 AM:

What is best in life?

To crush your economy, see it driven down before you, and to hear the lamentation of the economists.

#802 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2009, 04:29 PM:

Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) #801: Clearly you are channelling the spirit of Conan the W.

#803 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2009, 04:46 PM:

On fans and artists: Joni Mitchell once said "Nobody ever asked Van Gogh to paint 'A Starry Night' again, man." She was tired of playing concerts where she was expected to sing "Both Sides Now" and "Circle Game."

#804 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2009, 07:21 PM:

Xopher @799, in case you haven't heard, Lois is finally writing another Miles book. I've heard her read the first chapter at Dreamhaven not too long ago. Now I have to wait until sometime in 2010 or later to read the whole thing.

#805 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2009, 07:22 PM:

Linkmeister @#803: "Freebird!" :-)

#806 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2009, 08:20 PM:

#804: Given that Bujold uses "what's the worst thing I can do to my characters" when plotting, I expect both Gregor and Aral to die in the upcoming book, leaving as Emperor ...

#807 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2009, 09:02 PM:

Linkmeister, #803: While I certainly think musicians should play what they want to play when they do live shows, I think that Joni Mitchell's comment is a bit disingenuous. After all, if that's her argument, why is she touring at all? We can all sit at home and listen to her albums.

I think the worst is when musicians play what their fans want to hear, but with bad grace (Kaki King did this, at her Seattle show with the Mountain Goats in the fall).

#808 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2009, 09:24 PM:

Both times I've been to a Richard Thompson concert he's played "Vincent Black Lightning 1952." I suspect that's his "Both Sides Now" and I sort of wonder whether he's tired of it, but each time he looked like he was enjoying himself. Or possibly enjoying the audience's enjoyment.

On the other hand, once during the nineties I heard a DJ badger Steve Forbert--in the studio to promote a new album, full of new songs, which were, y'know, new--into singing "Romeo's Song." He agreed, wearily, and made it through one verse and the chorus. The DJ was oblivious. I felt sorry for both of them.

#809 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2009, 09:32 PM:

Jon Meltzer #806: ...Ivan Vorpatril?

Sorry, I couldn't resist.

#810 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2009, 10:54 PM:

debcha @ 754: "I suspect that you've nailed the reason why games are phenomenally popular."

Yes, and also civilization.

I'd read about flow before, but I'd lost everything but a vague general idea. Thank you for reconnecting me!

Earl Cooley @ 796: "I thought that the whole point of society was to rationalize the need for the many to work for the benefit of the few."

Well, there's some debate there.

Jon Meltzer @ 806: "Given that Bujold uses "what's the worst thing I can do to my characters" when plotting,"

I think it's time to move to the next generation. There, the worst thing that could happen is that Miles' son dies, leaving the daughter as the Vorkosigan heir. Wouldn't she make an interesting protagonist?

#811 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2009, 11:02 PM:

heresiarch, I actually meant to say how lovely I found your metaphor of 'civilisation as game development.' I think I'll be perpetuating that meme...

#812 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2009, 11:28 PM:

One thing I like about Bujold is that she understands that the worst thing that can happen isn't usually death. Besides, I like Ivan a lot.

#813 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2009, 12:29 AM:

debcha @ #807, but that was Mitchell's point. She was touring to promote her new album, not to play a Greatest Hits set.

I remember going to a Jefferson Airplane concert in San Diego back in 1972 (looking at the discography, they were probably touring for Long John Silver) and the crowd being positively angry that they weren't singing "Somebody to Love" and "White Rabbit." They refused, even through the encore. I admit I was a little disappointed, although if they'd played the whole Volunteers album (1970) I'd have been quite happy.

I suspect it's only artists like Springsteen who know their albums are gonna sell like hotcakes the moment they hit the streets who have the luxury of playing a lot of the old stuff in their shows.

#814 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2009, 12:42 AM:

debcha @ 811: Thanks!

#815 ::: broundy ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2009, 01:57 AM:

Re: musicians playing old material

I just returned from a They Might Be Giants concert where, in stark contrast to Joni Mitchell, they played their 1990 album "Flood" in its entirety. In order. Plus about 10 other songs from more recent albums, before and after. It was glorious. That album was the soundtrack of my junior year in high school, but I hadn't heard it in full since I lost my original cassette about 10 years ago. Still, all of the songs came back to me immediately.

TMBG encourage sing-a-longs and audience participation, so maybe that's why they don't mind playing the classics (they've played "Birdhouse in Your Soul" every time I've seen them). But my favorite part of going to a live show is hearing new versions of songs that I loved on the albums - for instance, tonight the Giants added an extra verse to "Particle Man" and an extended guitar solo to "Istanbul". That will probably never show up on a record - it's something that can only happen live, and it helps keep things fresh for the audience and the artist.

#816 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2009, 02:05 AM:

Linkmeister @ 803

The flip side of that is not getting to play other songs from the same period of your work that you might like better, or at least be less tired of. Especially stuff that other people haven't covered (to death).

#817 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2009, 02:19 AM:

Diatryma @ 813

I like Ivan too, but I'm curious to see just how his personality would handle being shoved at high acceleration into the limelight. Ivan's made a lifestyle out of hiding his intelligence behind his lazyness; what would he do if that luxury weren't available? If Miles were dead or incapacitated*, I think Ivan's best strategy would be to formally ally with Count Mark. And with that choice available, Aral doesn't have to be dead for this scenario; he'd be old enough that it would be a good idea to have someone from the next generation be the visible head, with Aral as the eminence grise. But would Aral be willing to trust Ivan's abilities, or would he want to back Mark against Ivan ... and would Cordelia agree?

* He'd have to be for this scenario; Miles is at least 2 steps closer to the throne, IIRC.

#818 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2009, 03:02 AM:

Well, I finally got a login account over at Daily Kos to complain that I'd rather see Rush Limbaugh's sedition trial on TV than speech coverage by CNN and C-SPAN, but I can't post there for 24 hours. As Homer Simpson would whine, "but I'm angry now!" heh.

#819 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2009, 11:16 AM:

TNH Particle:

It rather makes a difference that the linked-to cake is for Sonya's 40th birthday, not "Sony"'s as the link says.

#820 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2009, 01:30 PM:

Lee, belated sympathies.

Magenta Griffith @ 804. Thanks for the info. - now I have to wait too!

#821 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2009, 04:45 PM:

Linkmeister, #813: She was touring to promote her new album, not to play a Greatest Hits set.

I don't know if those two things are mutually exclusive. And, frankly, keeping your fans happy seems to be a good way to sell albums. I understand that, if you're an artist, you might get tired of playing your hit song every night. On the other hand, as a fan, this is my one and only chance to hear you play it. While you may choose not to, you should at least recognize that it has a cost in fan goodwill.

As Wesley (#808) suggests, it is pretty amazing to see an artist play a song you love, that they've played hundreds or thousands of times, with every evidence of enjoyment. (At the aforementioned Kaki King/Mountain Goats show, the difference between the two artists was pronounced, to say the least.)

#822 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2009, 11:14 PM:

I've spent the weekend discovering the downside of large multi-drawer printers cabinets -- that's a hell of a lot of real estate from which to remove years of detritus.

It's also mildly vexing that the process of cleaning and putting things away can best be described as turning chaos into chaos, with an eventual hope of organization.

#823 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2009, 11:19 PM:

File under "it could have been worse:"

Driving home from Potlatch this afternoon, on the freeway in the pouring rain, a mattress flew off a pickup truck and landed right in front of me. Fortunately,

--it was still vertical when I hit it, and it went over the top of my car;
--my airbag did not deploy;
--my hood unlocked, but did not fly up and block my view;
--although the mattress borked my windshield wipers, causing me to have very bad visibility forward, I was able to pull off to the shoulder;
--I stopped about twenty feet before the end of the (curbed) shoulder, purely by luck, since I couldn't see it;
--I was able to unbork my wipers and proceed;
--my car sustained no damage except for a bent wiper blade.

I hope the driver behind me was as fortunate. I hope the pickup driver learned a lesson about securing loads.

#824 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2009, 11:27 PM:

Tim: Yikes! That sounds strikingly lucky, in fact.

#825 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2009, 01:38 AM:

xeger, #822: That's what I call the "it gets a lot worse before it starts getting better" stage. It's extremely frustrating.

Tim, #823: Yikes! Glad you didn't take any worse damage. The reason your hood didn't fly up was the safety catch -- that thing you have to reach in and unfasten manually after you pop the latch -- and that is exactly what it's there for.

We see the shredded remains of mattresses on the freeway around here a few times a year, but I don't think we've ever seen one come off. The worst such incident I've ever had was out on a back road in the country, when a lawn chair flew out of the pickup truck in front of me; fortunately, I had enough room to dodge, and it bounced off my front fender with no significant damage.

But the one I'd have paid money to see happen (from a safe distance!) was in Austin, shortly after I moved here. We were driving along in the suburbs, on our way to a party, when we saw a great smear of shattered tempered glass on the road. A little further along was a pickup truck, pulled over, with the frame of a round glass-topped dining table still lashed into the bed. Apparently the driver had assumed that gravity would hold the top securely in its frame, not allowing for wind pressure (and perhaps an ill-timed bump). That glass top must have made an impressive splash when it hit! All I could think of was, "I sure hope that was HIS table, and not one he was moving for a friend."

#826 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2009, 02:22 AM:

A follow-up to my comment #843 on Open Thread 118: The Author's Guild has managed to bludgeon Amazon into submission over the Kindle 2's text-to-voice handicap accessibility feature. Kindle's DRM (Digital Rights Manglement) is still plenty enough reason to disdain the platform altogether, though.

#827 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2009, 02:33 AM:

Also, the National Federation of the Blind has commented on the Kindle accessibility issue.

#828 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2009, 03:37 AM:

Do folks remember the fuss about web-archives of newspapers and magazines?

I can see why the Authors Guild don't want to let Amazon automatically take this right, if it is one.

But I doubt authors will have much choice. And some publishers seem to already do some crazy stuff with ebooks.

Now they can blame the Authors Guild.

#829 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2009, 08:16 AM:

Random weather from Virginia: February seems to have yanked the March lion's tail on the way out! The weekend's rain and sleet has given way to snow this morning, 4-6 inches expected. IIRC, this is only our fourth or fifth snowfall for the season, and possibly the heaviest.

And kitty connection: When I tried showing Gremlin the bad weather the other day, she went out anyway, and then tried to settle under the bushes. (She doesn't mind light rain that much.). But then I noticed sleet rapidly sticking to her fur.... (I dragged her back in, natch.) Snow is another story -- this morning, she took one look out the door and backed off.

#830 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2009, 10:45 AM:

Tim Walters @ 823... Yow.

#831 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2009, 10:50 AM:

I received my Kindle 2 on Friday, and so far I'm loving it. I'm a bit dismayed that Amazon caved on the text-to-speech issue. I have no idea how many authors or publishers will ask that it be disabled for their books, but I hope that it's very few.

#832 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2009, 11:19 AM:

Lee #825: À propos of nothing in particular, are you going to ImagiCon in Birmingham at the end of this month?

#833 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2009, 12:28 PM:

Dave Bell: As asserted the Authors' Guild is saying any reading aloud of a book is an infringement of copyright.

Since the prima facie elements (almost all of which require levels of permanence which the Kindle's read aloud feature can't fulfill; or other things, independent of the device itself, such as charging money), and are things any one can do with any book, it's a poor place to make a stand.

Either they lose, and look really foolish, or they win, and some really bad case-law comes out of it.

In either case I think the consumer ends up losing.

#834 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2009, 01:12 PM:

Terry, if the Authors' Guild loses and ends up looking really foolish, what's the downside for the consumer? The Authors' Guild are just copyright trolls, and nothing they do benefits the consumer, does it?

#835 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2009, 01:57 PM:

Fragano, #832: No, we aren't. We lost about $500 in table fees for what was supposed to be the next OmegaCon (paid at the last con and not refunded when it disappeared), which made us disinclined to put up a similar amount for its replacement. The whole mess really left a bad taste in its wake, because we had done extremely well at OmegaCon and were looking forward to being there again. If you go, would you mind making some mental estimates of the number of people they get and dropping me a note? If they manage to pull it off -- and don't implode afterwards like OmegaCon did -- we might consider doing it next year.

Open-thread question: I remember reading a short story, possibly an alternate-history story, in which the viewpoint character was someone living in the Mediterranean Basin at the time of the great flood which eventually created the Mediterranean Sea. I think it was specifically mentioned (perhaps in the narration?) that vague oral histories of this event would become our legend of Noah's Flood. It's not Poul Anderson's "Gibraltar Falls", although that story is about a different facet of the same base assumption. Does this ring a bell for anyone -- title, author, collection, anything? It was a neat story, and I'd like to find it again.

#836 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2009, 02:30 PM:

Lee @ 835... Randall Garrett's "Gandalara" cycle?

#837 ::: JHomes ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2009, 02:30 PM:

Lee @#835

Short story, no. There was a seven-short-novel series by Randell Garrett (and I think his wife Vicki Heydron) in which this situation was a key element of the grand resolution. It started with The Steel of Raithskar, (spelling not guaranteed), and finished with The River Wall.

Sorry if this is a bit spoilerific, but under the circumstances I don't see how to avoid that.


#838 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2009, 02:33 PM:

The special Ig Nobel issue (vol. 15, no. 1) of the Annals of Improbable Research is the special Mummies, Zombies and Bagels issue.

Download a free low-res PDF (which we will post any day now), or subscribe to the traditional comfy paper edition (which has just been mailed out from the printers), or get a spiffy hi-res PDF.

Many back issues are online at

#839 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2009, 02:36 PM:

Lee @835:

Could it have been the end of The Golden Torc, the second book in the Saga of the Exiles, by Julian May? That certainly has the creation of the Med, though I don't recall it well enough to know if it has the Noah's Flood reference. It might; that kind of thing is May's style, but I haven't reread that series in years.

#840 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2009, 04:08 PM:

I am not a fan of poodles, in general, but they don't deserve the grotesque mistreatment in the poodle particle.

#841 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2009, 04:26 PM:

Xopher, I am a fan of poodles; several of my dogs have had friends who were standard poodles. But I'm an opponent of those awful grooming styles, and of docking tails or forcing ears to stand (that's something they do to Dobermans, another breed that should get more respect). Standard poodles are very smart, and very energetic, and I suspect a lot of the trouble people have with them is that they're wired from not getting enough exercise, and out for revenge for the humiliating hairdos.

And a practical reason for not dolling poodles up like that: they love mud bathing, which somewhat reduces the impact of an expensive 'do.

#842 ::: Harriet Culver ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2009, 05:11 PM:

A query for Jim Macdonald -- what ought one do with a colleague who is experiencing chest pains but cannot take an aspirin because they are pre-op for scheduled cataract surgery on Thursday (n/e/x/t/this coming) and are supposed to be "off" such things? [Note: I am not at the same location as colleague but was just on phone with her - another colleague is there and is supposed to make her call 911 if it doesn't clear up right away - this is an uninsured freelancer type patient who has already had a lot of medical expenses lately]

#843 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2009, 05:44 PM:

Lynda Barry's poster "Poodle with a Mohawk"

#844 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2009, 05:46 PM:

Oops, I meant to say "Poodle with a Mohawk" can be seen at

#845 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2009, 05:48 PM:

Hi, Kathryn and other Potlachers - I'd planned to attend, but found myself hibernating for most of the weekend instead, plus a small filk party (warmup for Consonance next weekend) and Korean dinner in Sunnyvale.

Tim #823, shortly after I moved to the Bay Area, somebody wrote a letter to the editor of the Chron asking if anybody had identified the leaders of the conspiracy to leave furniture on Bay Area freeways, and the radio traffic reports seemed to have furniture events at least weekly. Glad to hear you're ok - a friend of mine was driving her Miata behind a truck that lost a ladder off the side, and had no time to dodge it. The airbags did their job and she was fine except for a bit of seatbelt bruise; her car was totaled, having spun around a few times and hit the median barrier.

#846 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2009, 06:01 PM:

Lee #835: I have been given to understand that the con part of OmegaCon was, shall we say, susceptible to more than one interpretation. I'll try to estimate the turnout for you if I can. There should be quite a few people going from Atlanta.

#847 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2009, 06:52 PM:


I'm not Jim, and I'm not any kind of medical person, but I'm pretty sure if he's having chest pains, he ought to be talking to his/a doctor about it right now, at least calling the doctor and asking for advice. Taking asprin and ignoring the chest pains in hopes it will go away is almost certainly not the right thing to do.

FWIW, my chest pain turned out to be an ulcer. Asprin would have made this worse.

I believe Jim's advice was that if you think you're having a heart attack, you should take some asprin while you're waiting for the EMTs to arrive and get you to the hospital.

#848 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2009, 11:43 PM:

Lee: Short story no (far from it!) but Julian May's Pliocene Exile series are set in that location and the series more or less ends with the opening of the gates of Gibraltar, flooding the Mediterranean basin. It also has a strong implication that the conflicts and events will become human myth (aliens resembling the Tuatha de Danaan and others resembling dwarves or goblins, and so on.) Of course, both that and the legend of Noah's flood are a few million years off from being related to the flooding of the Mediterranean, but why pass up a hook like that?

#849 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2009, 11:50 PM:

In some of those poodle pictures, I swear Cindy the poodle's expression conveys "Just put me out of my misery now!"

#850 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2009, 11:55 PM:

OK, I have some slightly bitter memories of being handed a cookie and sent outside, only to have Coco the standard poodle steal my cookie (he was taller than I was at the time)...but no. I know the dog probably has no grasp whatsoever, but I still feel sorry for it!

#851 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2009, 12:11 AM:

We have a pair of dog groomers who brings their standard poodle out to our local Renaissance Festival. For the past several years they've done him up as a dragon, and it gets better every year. And this year they brought a friend dog who, because she's black, just had her wristlet poufs dyed blue. Well, she also had some fairy wings that they bought for her, and a flower garland.

Both dogs looked extremely happy about the attention they got.

#852 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2009, 12:57 AM:

Oh, man, Clifton @ #848, like I have no other books to get to, you have to mention one that sounds interesting!

I've still got Jo Walton's Ha'penny and Farthing sitting unread on my table, waiting for me to get through the pile of library books. Unfair of you, I sez.

#853 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2009, 01:05 AM:

Serge, jhomes, abi, Clifton: No, this was definitely not a novel or part of one, unless it was an excerpt in a collection. *sigh* It's probably buried somewhere in my ever-increasing category of anthologies and theme anthologies, and wouldn't have a specific tag in LibraryThing because it's a one-off. I've got the niggling idea that it's an alternate-history tale, so I guess that's where I'll start looking.

#854 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2009, 01:45 AM:

Linkmeister: Actually, it was OK but I don't recommend it so much. The concepts were really great and interesting - I just scratched the surface there - but as I recall it the writing mostly plodded, and it's long. Not Wheel of Time long, but still pretty long.

#855 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2009, 01:47 AM:

Xopher: If they end up losing, then a lot of time, money and effort was spent in things which will make the consuming public less happy.

We can assume this isn't really likely to hurt publishing, but I'm not sure it won't.

#856 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2009, 02:03 AM:

Clifton @ #854,


#857 ::: Stevey-Boy ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2009, 08:24 AM:

From today's Daily Telegraph:

>"He is an interloper, a usurper, a fake, a scam artist, a Chicago crook, a recipient of bribes and gratuitous income for which he paid no tax, a socialist (perhaps only a communist or Marxist), and a grave danger to the future of the America that I love and have protected since I was 17 years old," Maj Gen Childers wrote in a statement on the website for Ms Taitz's Defend Our Freedoms Foundation.

Apart from the "Chicago crook" and the socialist claims, I thought he was referring to George W. Bush.

Where do they find these wingnuts?

#858 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2009, 08:29 AM:

Earth's Facebook page.

#859 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2009, 09:34 AM:

Stevey-Boy @ 857... a socialist (perhaps only a communist or Marxist)

"If you can't get a taxi, you can leave in a huff. If that's too soon, you can leave in a minute and a huff."

#860 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2009, 10:18 AM:

BBC radio is having a season of what it calls "SciFi" (their word, not mine), including H.G.Wells, J.G. Ballard, Arthur C. Clarke, and more. Starting two days ago.

#861 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2009, 10:45 AM:

Paula Helm Murray @ 851:

Dragon poodles sound like fun. While I question the taste of some of those poodles' owners, I have to say that poodle fur is just the right texture for poodle topiary. How could you resist?

#862 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2009, 10:09 PM:

Linkmeister #852, #854: I rather liked it May's Mileu and Pliocene Exile series, and still have the whole lengthy series on my shelf: 5 novels of the Mileu, and 4 of the Pliocene.

Basically, this is a soft-SF the Mileu sequence chronicles humanity's development to a new developmental stage (including the general development of psychic powers), and our entry into the Galactic Mileu. (The characterizations and of the other races are sometimes silly, but I like them.)

The Pliocene Exile covers a side branch -- an eccentric inventor has discovered and opened a time tunnel to prehistoric Earth, which the human government of the Mileu era uses to exile malcontents and occasional criminals. The period in question, and the locale of the tunnel exit, are hospitable, lacking only humanity and human technology. A quick operation so they don't breed, and the exiles can live out their lives in an empty world. But there's something the Mileu humans don't know... nyvraf pnzr gb Rnegu va gung ren. Naq gurl svaq uhznaf gb or hfrshy fynirf.

PS: The Firefox plugin "leetkey" does Rot13 quite nicely. (You just need to assign it to a key.) I found it invaluable in the Trilchy thread...

#863 ::: CommonwealthofBob ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2009, 05:16 PM:

It was a simple five minute job. The geologist was none other than Oscar (Gem)Frankel, the notorious, freelance, geologist. The worst kind. Often unable to make enough for his worldly travels to studies of far flung strata of sandstones, necessitates a pre or alter occupation. Arson...
Yes, Frankel knew the rug dealer from his travels, and they made their pact in a Tangiers bar and grill... Oh goody! an Open Thread!

#864 ::: Stefan Jones sees . . . spam? ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2009, 05:33 PM:

Strangeness on out-of-date open thread.

#865 ::: frank ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 08:14 AM:


#866 ::: fidelio sees what could be a spam forerunner ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 08:40 AM:

First-time commenter, single word comment, thread over a year old...

Maybe I'm too suspicious.

#867 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 08:44 AM:

No, I'm watching it, but I think that the door has to swing wide here.

(First they came for the one-word comments from old posts...)

#868 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 08:55 AM:


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