Saturday, April 25, 2015

Oh, happy morning!

Oh, happy morning!  When it got light this morning, I took the dogs out for their morning walk.  The grass was soaked, and the dogs were happily inhaling all the moisture-enhanced scents.  The forecast when I went to bed last night had a 63% chance of rain, 0.13" predicted.  The actual: 0.72" – that's wonderful news for all the plants around here, and most especially for the field crops just planted.

Our south field changed quite dramatically overnight.  The little two-leaf alfalfa sprouts roughly doubled in density (plants per square foot), but the real change was the co-planted grass.  That wasn't even above ground as of yesterday afternoon, but this morning there are lots of 2" high grass stalks, and there are a few topping 3".  The entire field now has a tinge of green, and I'll bet by the end of the day that's changed visibly.  Our north field now has been thoroughly watered, with perfect timing for the newly planted seed.

Things are looking up from a botanical perspective :)

Mo'i update...

Mo'i update...  He's still hanging in there, and we're cherishing every day we're lucky enough to have with him.  You may remember that back in January he developed an odd excessive drinking (and subsequent urination) behavior that the vet could find no cause for.  We started using diapers with him as a defensive maneuver, and we also keep him on tiled floor when he's in the house.  Mostly this was not a problem, except that he would start barking around 2 am every morning to wake us up and take him for a walk.  That was a challenge, even for early risers like us :)

The past couple of weeks, he seems to be drinking (and urinating) less often.  We have no idea why, but we're not complaining – because now he isn't barking to wake us up before we would normally get up (around 4 am, most mornings).  That's quite ok by us :)

Otherwise, for a 16 year old dog with cancer he's doing really well.  He can still walk just fine (though the stairs present a more serious challenge these days).  He's walking around a half mile a day, on three separate walks.  With his hearing completely gone and his vision pretty much shot, you might think he'd not get much from the walk – but his nose seems to be working just fine, and he explores the world with that.  Yesterday during one walk he met up with our neighbor's dog (Annie), and that nose of his was working overtime – he smelled her carefully and deeply from head to toe, while Annie stood perfectly still to let him.  His tail was going a mile a minute the whole time...

The cancer in his muzzle was supposed to have overwhelmed him by about six months ago.  That was the assessment of a veterinary oncologist early last year.  Later in the year, the oncologist could see no particular growth.  We have no explanation, but his cancer doesn't seem to be expanding at all – we can see no change.  He has a couple of fatty tumors, non-malignant, that are growing – but those aren't life-threatening.

So Mo'i just keeps right on trucking, a little bit more slow-mo than before, but still hanging in there...

Bored little old ladies at the flower show...

Bored little old ladies at the flower show...  Via my brother Scott...
Two little old ladies, Connie & Evelyn, were sitting on a park bench outside the local town hall where a flower show was in progress.

The short one, Connie, leaned over and said, 'Life is so boring. We never have any fun anymore. For $10 I'd take my clothes off and streak through that stupid, boring flower show!'

'You're on!' said Evelyn, holding up a $10 bill.

So Connie slowly fumbled her way out of her clothes. She grabbed a dried flower from a nearby display and held it between her teeth. Then, completely naked, streaked (as fast as an old lady can) through the front door of the flower show.

Waiting outside, her friend soon heard a huge commotion inside the hall, followed by loud applause and shrill whistling.

Finally, the smiling Connie came through the exit door surrounded by a cheering, clapping crowd.

'What happened?' asked Evelyn.

'I won $1,000 as 1st prize for 'Best Dried Arrangement!'

Comet 67P on tax day...

Comet 67P on tax day...  As seen by Rosetta.  It's outgassing more every day.  No word from Philae yet, dang it...

Friday, April 24, 2015

Progress report...

Progress report...  Yesterday was consumed with a modification to my Rincon ATV, to add a 12V accessory socket to the rear.  I also modified my sprayer (which has a 12V electric pump) to fit that.  Result: I can now tow the sprayer behind the ATV, which is much better suited to that job than the riding mower I previously used.  The sprayer has big pneumatic tires, so now I can take it over rough ground to attack weeds.  That's going to come in mighty handy!

Today I worked for a while clearing brush again, down in the southeastern corner of our property.  We've got a couple of 50'+ black willows there that haven't been taken care of for at least 20 years.  Those things have branches that break easily, so the trees are full of broken branches – some of them 8" or so in diameter!  We had rain come in, though, and that put a stop to my work outside.

I also installed the oak handrail on the stairway between the first and second floors in the barn.  I've been putting coats of polyurethane on the railing for the past week, one coat a day (top and bottom separately).  The handrail looks great and it's strong as all get out.  I'm glad to have it there.

The past few days, as it started to get warm, I noticed that the second floor of the barn has been getting mighty warm.  If it's warm now, just think what it will be like in the summer!  There's no ventilation up there now, so I've ordered a gable-mounted attic fan that's solar powered.  It comes with a fairly large (50 watt) roof-mounted solar panel.  That will be an interesting job :)

The field south of our house was planted in alfalfa about 10 days ago, and it's just starting to sprout.  The field north of our house was planted with an alfalfa/grass mix just yesterday.  In both cases the farmers are praying for rain in the storm that's just started wetting us down.  We've gotten very little so far, but the forecast (over the next three days) is calling for close to an inch...

Bipartisanship is decreasing...

Bipartisanship is decreasing...  Is that to be lamented?  The author of this article seems to think so.  I'm not so sure, myself.  Decreasing bipartisanship means less compromise deals get done.  Less compromise deals means less overall legislation.  Is that bad?  I think not!

“A Strangely Funny Russian Genius”...

“A Strangely Funny Russian Genius”...  Essay by Ian Frazier in New York Books.  A passage that caught my eye:
Russia is the funniest country in the world. Some countries, like America and England, are funny mostly on purpose, while others, like Germany and France, can be funny only unintentionally. (But that counts! Being funny is tricky, so any way you do it counts.) Russia, however, is funny both intentionally (Gogol, Zoshchenko, Bulgakov) and unintentionally (Vladimir Putin singing, as he did at a televised event a few years ago, “I found my thrill on Blueberry Hill”). Given the disaster Russian history has been more or less continuously for the last five centuries, its humor is of the darkest, most extreme kind. Russian humor is to ordinary humor what backwoods fundamentalist poisonous snake handling is to a petting zoo. Russian humor is slapstick, only you actually die.
Thanks to my work in Estonia and Russia, I've gotten to know a few hundred Russians (including ethnic Russians who happen to live in Estonia).   The paragraph above jibes with my own experiences with Russian humor.  I've been struck by the everyday fatalism of the ordinary Russian, and also the prevalence of dark humor.  Reagan retold some good examples, at right.

Quote of the day...

Quote of the day...  From the one, the only Cecil Adams, writing in The Straight Dope:
“Meanwhile, somewhere a civet is rubbing its scraped perineal glands and thinking: Ah, sweet revenge.”

Things I trust more than Hillary Clinton...

Things I trust more than Hillary Clinton...  Via my pistol-packing mama:
  • Mexican tap water
  • A rattlesnake with a "pet me" sign
  • OJ Simpson showing me his knife collection
  • A fart when I have diarrhea
  • An elevator ride with Ray Rice
  • Taking pills offered by Bill Cosby
  • Michael Jackson's Doctor
  • An Obama Nuclear deal with Iran
  • A Palestinian on a motorcycle
  • Gas station sushi
  • A Jimmy Carter economic plan
  • Brian Williams news reports
  • Loch Ness monster sightings
  • Prayers for peace from Al Sharpton
  • Bill Clinton interviewing for an intern
I'll add a few of my own:
  • Obama's economic policies
  • Eric Holder's prosecutorial judgment
  • Harry Reid's trustworthiness
  • Nancy Pelosi's bipartisanship
  • Greek bonds
  • New York Times' editorials
  • Iranian nuclear development
  • Putin's intentions

They made it!

They made it!  The “Wil can fly!” Kickstarter project hit its funding goal late yesterday.  They're on their way!  Now they've got 10 days more in their funding campaign to get a little extra...

Thursday, April 23, 2015

On drug legalization: an interesting question...

On drug legalization: an interesting question...  Fred Cole, writing at Ricochet, asks this: What's your general rule on drug prohibition?  There's a fascinating (and civil!) conversation in the comments, with a nice illustration of many different viewpoints.  Fred's happens to be close to my own, but that's certainly not true of the Ricochet inhabitants in general.  A second thread was started this morning; it will likely be just as interesting...

Belated celebration of Earth Day...

Belated celebration of Earth Day...  That was yesterday, but I just found this – my favorite Earth Day commentary evah!  It's by George Carlin, so there are some naughty words in here...

“Will can fly!” update...

“Will can fly!” update...  At this writing, there are $11,738 in pledges – less than $1,000 to go to hit their funding mark.  I think it's likely they'll hit the mark today, and there are still 11 days to go in the campaign.  Woo hoo!  Wil's gonna fly!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

If you're of a certain age...

If you're of a certain age ... as I am, then this will bring a tear to your eye.  It's Paul Simon, Graham Nash, and David Crosby in December 2009, singing “Here comes the sun” as a tribute to George Harrison.

Do we need silver bullets and stakes in its heart?

Do we need silver bullets and stakes in its heart?  I speak of the Patriot Act, which Mitch McConnell (Republican, not that there's much difference between them and Democrats these days) has just put forward for reauthorization.  This is the legislation that authorizes the NSA surveillance that Snowden disclosed.

But to answer my own question: no, we don't need magical assistance.  All we need to do is to elect liberty-loving, honest politicians.  Which is apparently impossible in the U.S. of 2015.  So maybe we do need magical assistance...

Kindness on the 6 train...

Kindness on the 6 train... 

“Wil can fly!” update...

“Wil can fly!” update...  They're almost there!  At this writing, the pledges are at $10,463.  New backers are signing up very fast now.  Woo hoo!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Cirsium discolor...

Cirsium discolor...  Complete with soldier beetles and a bumblebee.  I know from personal experience just how difficult it is to get a closeup like this.  Hats off to the photographer, Robert Klips!  Via BPOD, of course...

“Wil can fly!” update...

“Wil can fly!” update...  At this writing, the pledges total $7,942 – over the halfway mark and headed for two thirds.  They've got thirteen days to go.  If they keep getting pledges at the rate of the past few days, they're going to make it easily!

Road trip!

Road trip!  We made the trip down to Salt Lake City yesterday evening, to have dinner with our friends Doug & Dee W.  We ate at the Red Iguana, which is becoming a tradition for us much as the Fish Market used to be in San Diego.  Through a series of coincidences, we've actually been seeing Doug & Dee more often since we moved than we used to in San Diego :)

Great company, lots of entertaining stories (ask Dee about her dad, if you know her!), and delicious food.  As I told Doug last night, that's a hard combination to beat!

Weird sighting there (by Debbie): at a table near us, a young man was seated.  On his belt he wore a hanger that held a role of duct tape.  On his chair back was a sort of backpack, with lots of small spring clamps and clothes pins attached to it, along with a walkie-talkie, a pair of screwdrivers, a pair of pliers,  a ball of string, and a few other things we couldn't identify.  We couldn't figure out what that collection of stuff might be for, and I forgot to ask him on the way out, as I'd intended.  Any ideas?