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Friday, 24 April 2009

Topic: Weird Science

I've been taking a blog-holiday.  Not intentionally, my web host has had a few issues.

I've been working on my maxi dress.  But it's no longer a maxi dress, it's now a midi dress.  And i made one big HUGE mistake, I forgot to cut the side back skirt panel. There wasn't enough fabric to cut a panel so i had to improvise.  i found a solution and I think it will be unnoticeable to everyone except me. I cut a simple pattern from paper, then cut a test from muslin, then tossed it all out and started over by draping on my body.  That worked out much better.  The stretch silk satin was far easier to sew than I expected, normally it's a bit of a pain in the butt.  I increased the pressure on the foot and switched to feed dog plate to the delicate fabric plate, so that also helped.  When it's all finished I'll post a picture.

For Dave: here's a few new exciting things about Slime molds.  This is what came to my RSS feed, it's the easiest to understand.  Slime molds seem to be brainless, but are capable of thinking and learning. Quite an accomplishment for something that is neither plant nor animal, while having characteristics of being both plant and animal. Slime molds used to be considered fungi, primitive plants, due to superficial resemblances.  Slime molds are quite different, each is an individual single celled organism.  The single cell seeks out other single cells and they coalesce into a large plasmodium, and in this plasmodium they do many odd things.  They move, they consume, they search for a reproducing place, they develop into a mass of fruit bodies, produce spores and the spores become single cell organisms. They don't handily fit into the class of plants, as they move around.  They aren't quite animals as the reproduce by spores.  They have a very interesting "hive mind" when they form the plasmodium.  Either we need to change our definition of plant and animal, or we need to recognize that slime molds might be a snapshot of evolution where plants and animal begin to divide.  Plasmodium could become autonomous blobs, and they could have also become very primitive bryrophytes. Even more interesting, slime molds respond to the red spectrum of sunlight, meaning they were around when our sun was much younger, cooler and redder. We know plants have their origins that far back as all plants have that evolutionary echo in them, the response to the red light of the sun over the yellow or white light.

Here are a couple of links. Really great pictures of slime mold fruit bodies:  Technical Paper PDF:   Other thinks that think but don't have what we would consider brains:  usenet posting archived on google groups: this draws comparisons between brains and fungus, how the brain got its early evolutionary start,.  While this was posted on a druggie site, the writer is a professor and this article was a springboard for much of this recent research. No links to the russian and japanese language research, sorry.

Speaking of brainless and slime molds: In other news, Yahoo pulled the plug on crappy websites -i mean GeoCities.  This sad news, where else could one find so much crazy in one place?  Or such a horrifying abuse of I-Frames?  Or gifs, blinkytext, and eye searing layouts on web-safe colours?  Even more surprising, after so many years, my geo cities site is still there, although it's nothing but a placeholder.  i don't know where all the content went, I'll never ever find spinning sparkle purple pentacle gifs again! I miss the old days, the golden age of web insanity.  Not even myspace can come close to the utter madness of original angelfire, Geocities, 50megsfree, xoom, xoopiter and those other free site.  If Portal of Evil has become a bit of a wasteland, this will almost be the final nail in its coffin.  There's no one left to make fun of anymore!

Finally, i made a loaf of Gluten free bread from the Gluten Free Pantry's bread mix.  It's not too bad, a little heavy, but moister than the stuff from the market.  One a scale of one to ten, with the market bread being an eleven, this is about an eight.  I makes good toast.

And that's all for today.  I have some gardening to do.  it's far too nice outside to be indoors!

Posted by lincatz at 11:43 AM EDT
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Friday, 6 February 2009
Connect With The Whole Universe (and get a cool card)
Mood:  caffeinated
Topic: Weird Science

It's the International Year Of Astronomy!  To celebrate the anniversary of Galileo's first gazes into the sky, someone somewhere decided that this will be the international year of astronomy.  I think it might have been Brian May, or not.  He made astrophysics almost as cool as guitar solos.  Here's the Official Canadian website:

I've always enjoyed stargazing for as long as i can remember.  I think I first caught the bug in school, around grade four when I took out a book on how to recognize the constellations.  I was surprised that I wasn't the only one to put Orion together in a group, or Ursa Major, or Cassiopeia, and the little group of stars that i called "the tiny dipper" was called "The Pleiads" and had an interesting story behind them.  The turned out to be part of a larger group, Taurus, and the big red star was called "Aldebaran" or "the eye of the bull" 

Orion has always been my favourite constellation, and my first "Galileo moment" where you take a binoculars or telescope to the stars.  That's the point of this international festival, the "Galileo moment" where you look in a telescope and see beyond what you usually see of the stars.  The best part of the blackout several years ago was the sky and the stars.  They felt so close, and there were so many, a carpet, a blanket of stars wrapping up a warm summer night.  It's what the sky looked like to our primitive relatives, far away and so close.  In Orion I could clearly see the nebulae in the sword, and I could see so much else, so many stars that weren't visible without the telescope.

There are many sponsored Galileo events planned, from outdoor stargazing groups to museum displays, to whatever  If you participate in one of these you can fill out a "Galileo moment" card and have your moment officially recognized.  It's a way to spread the word that the sun isn't the only star and earth isn't the only planet, and we are one of many millions of stars and planets and this is a small way to connect with the rest of the universe.

Here's NASA's IYA site:

This is the official USA event site:  Notice the prominent placement of Star Wars Stormtroopers on the page?  In the coming months you will be able to buy your own Galileo telescope to commemorate this important event. 

Here we have the official site of the Gallileoscope!  I think we can all agree that this is a totally cool present for everyone who has a birthday sometime this year!

And just in time for the year of astronomy; we have a new comet visiting the earth!  This one's name is Lulin and it''s visible through binoculars in the east sky just before sunrise.  it's a fuzzy patch above the horizon in the zodiac.  Here's an article about it, and advice on how to find it: 

No collection of internet astronomy sites is complete without a mention of "the night sky guy"  he has all the latest and greatest from the world of sky gazing and he has a segment every Friday morning on the Weather Network.

Speaking of things beyond earth, Google earth can now also be called "google mars"  the Latest edition of google earth allows you to search mars maps the same way you can search earth.  you can also search the ocean with the google earth 5, and maybe find cthulhu's secret lair (and the source of "bloop")

Let's not forget the one thing that helped revive astronomy and helped us to see not only beyond our Galaxy, but beyond time: the Hubble telescope.  it's brought us galaxies without end, nebulae that are beyond imagination, it's revealed stars and stars secrets better than TMZ could ever hope. What should it look at next?  More deep field images?  Star clusters?  Planets orbiting far stars? Galaxies colliding?  You can decide what it should look at next!  The official Hubble Telescope Site;  has a page where you can help decide Hubble's next big project.  it's called You Decide!  I voted for the interacting (colliding) galaxies.

The part of the site I would love to try is the instructions telling me how to make my own hand held Hubble with parts from the craft and hardware store!  you can make it out of PVC pipes which is easy; paper which is classified as moderate difficulty; or you can make the expert level paper telescope classed as very difficult found here:  The paper ones can be printed at home and glued together with dowels, wires

And let's not forget the guy who started all the Galileo himself:  Yes, i know it's really fun to sing "Galileo! galileo!" at the top of your voice whenever you hear his name, but he's so much more than a line in Bohemian Rhapsody.

Lastly and not leastly, here's the official international hub site: 

In other closer to earth news, yesterday look like it might have been the last of the inhumanly cold days for a while.  Today is to be -3 which at this point seems almost tropical compared to what we've been experiencing.  Also, tomorrow's the last day of operation for the Waterloo Farmer's Market. I'm buying 6 loaves of rice flour bread and that should hold me for a while. We might have to go to the tourist market across the street or pay for parking at the kitchener market.  They spent all that money on a new market and they screwed it up again! I'm going to miss the waterloo market, it was known as "the local market"  oh well, things change and there's not anything I can do so I'll save my frustration for things i can change.

Posted by lincatz at 10:58 AM EST
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Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Mood:  loud
Topic: Weird Science

So my oldest had a second interview for his co-op work term.  He tells me he really wants a rim job.  I asked him why when he doesn't have a car or any kind of wheels that need rims.  Then I looked up rim job on the urban dictionary and then I went and slapped him and his girlfriend too.  Then he told me that what he wants is a job with the guys who make the blackberry thingies.  Then I understood, but only slightly.  No...I knew all along what he wants!  He's had a second interview for a second job, and he's quite optimistic about both.  He's learning all the ins and outs of job interviews, resumes, and all that stuff.  And then when he gets a job he can hand over his entire paycheque to me and Dave HAHAHAHAHA! evil laugh.  No...I think he wants to find and apartment and move out.  That's good, hen we move Ben to Dan's room and turn Ben's room into a HUGE walk in closet and extra bedroom space.  I like that idea!  You can never have too much closet space!

So as I did not know or really care, this is apparently lent season, when one is supposed to deny one's self something for some arcane reason...I think it has something to do with the church...I dunno...I grew up mennonite and we didn't really do anything for lent, except in school there would be a construction paper palm tree and we were given construction paper palm fronds and we had to write on it what we gave up for lent on the fronds and they would be posted for all to see.  I usually gave up something I never really enjoyed in the first place, like dessert after dinner. I've never been a dessert eater, right from the time i was a kid.  I used to think it was fruit and chocolate that made me ill, now I think it might have been the wheat flour all along.  So I would give up dessert after dinner, which looked like a big sacrifice but really wasn't and the teachers were happy because dessert is supposedly a big thing to give up and I still didn't give a flying fu** one way or the other.

I mention this because from my weekly e-mail from an atheist newsletter I get was a link to this irreverent and thought provoking article, The anti lent:  Try a new indulgence for 40 days because life is too short as it is!  The writer's point is that we should experiment with something that drags us completely out of our comfort zone and in the process we might discover something new about ourselves.  It ties in with this year's Darwin Day theme, that we should adapt and evolve some idea or something within ourselves. The article is amusing and worth a few moments of thought.

And speaking of indulgent, here's a fish that indulges in terrorizing the people of britain and would never give up munching anything in it's path.  Look at the teeth on that thing!  And the expression on it's fish face!  That is one seriously pissed off fish!  And as a bonus, it can crawl on land and live four days without being in the water!  That is one freaky fish.  And we must ask ourself a difficult question:  How does it taste?  Is it any good to eat?  Can it be breaded and made into fish and chips? Or is it better grilled?

And speaking of big things from wet places, a new fossil was found of a giant toad.  Toads are classed under the scientific name "bufo" the scientific species name for most toads is bufo this or bufo that or bufo whatever.  Others are compounds words with the root still being bufo.  This makes it easier for scientists studying toads to identify and classify their particular toad.  This new toad lived several million years ago, had big scary teeth, was big and scary himself, and has been saddled with the common name of devil toad and the scientific name of "beelzebufo"  which translates literally to devil toad.  I wonder if it was one of them hypno toads, the ones where you get stoned from licking them?

Also interesting and involving an animal:  here's an article featuring a two faced kitten.  Let's all give a great big AAAWWW! for this one.  Perhaps it will live a little longer than the previous two faced kitten. 

Speaking of Kittens, Fatboy Slim has covered "the Joker" originally by the Steve Miller Band. I never got the Steve Miller Band.  Fatboy Slim adds nothing new to the song. The video, however is well worth watching just for the kittens.  Prepare to overdose on Kitteny cuteness! And FatboySlim...we Praise You like we should!


And nothing to do with animals: tonight is the lunar Eclipse.  It begins at eight and ends after ten.  From the window in the upstairs door we have a clear view of the full moon as it rises.  I hope there's no snow tonight so we can watch the moon.  That will be twenty times more entertaining than American Idol, or as my hubby calls it, "American Idiots"

And that's all for today.

Posted by lincatz at 11:43 AM EST
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Tuesday, 29 January 2008
Mythbusters are the Greatest!
Mood:  lucky
Topic: Weird Science

On sunday evening there was a new episode of The Mythbusters.  The myth of the day was about a water heater exploding, taking off into the sky like a rocket and demolishing a house by lifting it from the foundation and blowing it outward. I didn't need the mythbusters to confirm this one for me, I know it's true.  It happened 25 years ago and it woke me in the middle of the night.  And there were eyewitnesses to the actual explosion and subsequent destruction.  What's more, the official report contradicted the eyewitnesses, the destruction and and the preliminary reports given to the neighbors.  The statement concluded that a water heater would not build enough pressure to blow a house off the foundation nor would it blast mortar off bricks and it would shoot the tank into the air, it only sent it into a tree.

The neighborhood was non plussed by the whole official report.  We knew what we saw.  The eyewitnesses knew what they saw.  And now, the mythbusters confirmed what we always knew what was true.  A water heater when all safety features are defeated, will explode with enough force to rocket the tank into the sky, lift the house off it's foundation, and blow the mortar from the bricks. Or in the case of the mythbuster house, blow the nails from the 2x4's.

Let's begin at the beginning, one warm summer night in June -25 years ago.  We had our windows open, the sound of the breeze rustling through the tree coming it, a little bit of traffic and every once in a while a metallic clunk, probably a car or truck or someone dropped something somewhere, no matter...A night made for sleeping with the windows wide open and I drifted off....

Only to be awakened by a loud explosion, followed by the sound of bricks and mortar and splintering wood, followed a few seconds later by a loud "CLUNGGGG!" noise.  I looked out the window and at some point in time fog had rolled in, fog was churning through the yard...soon followed by the smell of old plaster dust.  Wait.  The only fog was close to the ground and it was was steam!  Soon the night air was filled with a thousand what was thats and did you see what happened and what happened and I saw everything as the neighborhood came out attired in pajamas, robes housecoats and slippers.

On Willow street we were greeted with an odd sight. A house was gone, nothing but a hollowed out basement remained. The structure was outside the foundation or balanced precariously on the foundation.  The wood was free of nails, the bricks were clean of mortar. and some were laying out on the ground in an alternating pattern, just as they had been when forming the wall of the home.  In a tree across the street was a 60or 80 gallon water heater, upside down and slightly sideways stuck where the main trunk branches out. 

The house was an apartment building boarding house that housed university students.  The place had been emptied out on the weekend and the owner had been there two days previous to shut everything down for the summer. Shortly after the owner closed up odd noises began coming from the house.  The neighbors were concerned.  As time went on the noises became like groaning and banging, mechanical and metallic.  In the middle of the night the noises became very odd, which brought out a few neighbors who discussed calling the gas people or the police or who do you call when a house is creaking and groaning and that's when it exploded.

The eyewitnesses who discussed options reported that the house lifted off its foundations, seams and gaps appeared and steam came blasting out of the seams and gaps and blew the mortar right off the bricks and the nails right out of the frame.  The house then collapsed and a few seconds later a water heater fell from the sky into a tree, where it stuck.  When we came out we could see the bricks, the wood, the water heater and several men with large dilated pupils from shock telling the story to who ever would listen.

Later in the day the tall foreheads and men in suits with boxes filled with gadgets covered in dials and knobs began looking at stuff. They talked to the eyewitnesses only to tell them that they didn't see what they saw and that what we were seeing wasn't how it happened.  Water heaters don't launch like rockets.  They don't explode with enough force to lift houses from foundations, it was all silly and we didn't know anything: they were the experts.  The official report released to the pres said that the water heater had a broken valve, and escaping steam made it fly out of the house only as far as the tree and on it's brief flight it took out a supporting beam and the house collapsed from the lack of a supporting beam.

The entire neighborhood went into a brief ker-fluffle over the report.  There was no way one beam could make a house that size collapse in that way, and they knew they saw the heater rocket into the air.  After a summer of discussion and debate, the debris was cleared away and the next spring a new house was built on the old lot.  It became the house that was built where the house blew up and everyone talked about the water heater that blew up and maybe did or didn't lift a house off it's foundations...who knows...and it passed into the land of urban legends.

I know what I saw.  I know what I heard.  I know the men across the street were all reliable witnesses and not prone to making up tall tales.  I always told the story with the house lifting, the bricks clean, the water heater rocketing and the official report contradicting what everyone heard and saw.  They said that water heaters can't do any of the things we saw, it's impossible.

Years pass and sunday rolls around with the Mythbusters.  Is it impossible?  Adam's story of a water heater exploding with enough force to lift a house from its foundations sounded enough like our neighborhood event to make me think I wans't the only one not happy with the official explanation. It sounded exactly like what happened 25 years ago.  They built a small house, put a water heater in it, defeated all the safety features of the heater and watched.  When it blew it did everything the eyewitnesses recounted.  The house lifted off the foundation.  The walls blew outward, not inward.  The steam explosively escaped from the seams and gaps.  Nails flew everywhere.  And the heater rocketed into the air before falling back down seconds later.  Myth confirmed.  And my memories vindicated.

Here's the video of the explosion.  If the youtube screen doesn't show up, the in can be viewed by clicking this link here: I feel totally vindicated now!  The water heater in the house was at least 60 gallons as it was a boarding house apartment building, it needed a larger one.  And there were rumours that the owner couldn't sell it as a boarding house because of changes to zoning rules, no more boarding houses in the neighborhood, and he was about to lose money, so he could sell the lot and collect insurance, but that was never proven.  Truth is, there was little left of the water heater to investigate.  Sort of makes you want to call the plumber to have your water heater checked out, doesn't it? 

Posted by lincatz at 11:02 AM EST
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Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Mood:  chillin'
Topic: Weird Science

Yesterday was bill paying day, the day i make the rounds and take care of all the futility-I mean utility bills.  While it was rainy and foggy and I got quite wet, it was mild and the walk was reasonably pleasant. I took my Van Gogh Starry Night umbrella and wore my Pervy McPerv overcoat so I was warm and dry.   What wasn't pleasant was the surprise i got when i went to Kitchener Textiles.  The store is closing.  Forever.  That's so odd, as Fabricland and Len's and the sewing machine stores are saying that they are busier than ever, KT saw their business trail off to nothingness.  Fabricland says fashion sewing is on the upswing thanks to shows like Project Runway, but KT couldn't capitalize on the fad.

I'm sure their location didn't help, being by an old abandoned factory, train tracks in a depressed and depressing part of town.  And the store looked a little old and tired.  To be sure, it was clean and well kept, but the decor was a bit too yellow, but not a bright yellow, more like a faded with age yellow.  And their fabric selection became unfocused over the years.  They didn't have enough fashion fabrics to be a fashion store, they didn't have enough home dec to be a home decorating store, and there's no way they could keep up with Len's for quilting.  They found themselves in a netherworld of linings, broadcloths and basics.  The fashion fabrics tended to be beige and black and white and grey, basic un exciting colours.

They were selling everything in bolt and roll lots, so i now have eight yards of white lining, five yards of brown, six yards of grey, five yards of woven shirt interfacing, and six yards of grey featherweight fusible. I got one roll of fashion fabric, a nice chiffon print in brown and turquoise for only 2$ a meter.  The linings were all of a dollar and the interfacing was a dollar fifty and two dollars.

I didn't get to post after PR Canada last night as my hubby is on call and needs to work from home every evening this week.  MG came back, and Carlie got screwed over by Megan.  As if the world needed another reason to hate Megan.  Megan still has yet to successfully sew in a zipper, and she passed her zipper curse to Carlie.  They worked as pairs, with the theme of "opposites"  Lucien and Stephen deserved the win, especially Lucien's over the top suit.  Carlie was bounced because Megan, as team leader, screwed her over every step of the way on the challenge. 

So Carlie is out because she used cheap fabric and it puckered and there were sooooo many ruffles it looked like Seinfeld's puffy shirt exploded on the dress.  I think Sharnett would have been better off doing a preppie look as an opposite to MG's goth girl.  And what was with Iman's heated defense of the goth?  That was soooo totally cool!  I wanted to go and put on one of my goth outfits!  I am now a total Iman fan for that "in praise of the goth lifestyle" speech!  Stephen and Lucien deserved the win, for sure, I think Lucien is the best of the bunch and this whole competition is his to lose.  Bidell and Kendra somehow managed to blend into the scenery and not do anything outstanding.  Apropos to nothing, reports that Brian Bailey has shaved off his hot and sexy porn-stache!  That's so sad.  The world needs more porn-staches.  Again, poor Carlie.  Could they make Megan into any more of a villain?

And now for something completely different.  I have linked to old sears wish books before, including one post that has galvanized everyone that I knew back in the eighties.  So it is with very little trepidation and absolutely no hesitation that I present another eighties wishbook based web article.  X-entertainments top ten toys from 1985.  Dan was a newborn in 1985, and I remember looking through all the toy catalogues thinking this so is cool!  I get to buy toys for me...I mean my kid!  I always wanted a rock tumbler, and a crystal growing kit, and a chemistry set...I admit it, i was a geeky science nerd, back then that was something to hide but now it's something to be totally proud of... The boys got one of those crayola multi sets, I think there were a hundred or so colours.  Dave brought it home from South Carolina back when he was going there for business for two weeks at a time.  Dan also had a pound puppy when he was a preschooler which he liked, but not nearly as much as he liked his "Pooch Patrol" dog.  Now there's no reason to have a rock tumbler, polished rocks are easily available at the rock store and at the local pagan store.

If you want to look at more wishbooks, here's a site that has several wishbooks scanned and posted.  It has the notorious 1983 one, with the famous Sewing Machine That Destroyed A Relationship.  There's also a set of scans on flikr, this guy has even more old catalogues scanned and posted.  These books are a wonderful resource for anyone interested in what real people actually wore in the sixties, seventies, eighties,  not the high fashion magazine clothes, but the real items you would have seen in the malls, supermarkets and schools back in the day. 

Keeping in the topic of nostalgia and childhood, do you remember those little pellets that you lit of fire and then they expanded into snakes? They were available in the novelty stores, back before nervous nellie fretful marg simpson type moms decided that they were dangerous; along with other such harmless things as cap guns, cherry bombs and black cats.  Steve and I would buy these and light them and watch the long black snakes hiss and sizzle while the pellet burned.  Here's an article from BoingBoing on how to make these pellets from things you have at home.

It's been a while since i featured anything about food, so it is with gruesome glee that I present this little article about the world worst food! This includes Casu Marzu, the infamous Maggot Cheese from Italy.  The local italian food importer recently had a small hand written note posted near the back of the store that Casu Marzu will no longer be available. This is hardly surprising as it is illegal in the place where it was once a delicacy --people do have a tendency to die from eating rotten food after all --and the difficulty in getting this cheese means that it's no longer available.   This cheese is notorious for being stinky, gross and filled with live maggots, which allegedly add to the flavour. The maggots, when eaten, will bore holes in your intestines, leading to bloody vomiting and bloody diarrhea, and to death.  Excuse me while i puke. If that's not disgusting enough, there's also boiled sheep head, baby mice wine yes MICE as in plural of MOUSE from Korea, and Balut, which are cooked duck eggs in which the baby duck is just about ready to hatch.  In other words, you are enjoying a nice ducky fetus for lunch.  True, some of these are acquired tastes and regional, but even the most jaded gourmand has to admit that eating something rotting with maggots is disgusting.

It's even more disgusting than fast food!  And here's a page with charts of the fat sodium and *whatever* content of some very popular american fast foods.  To be honest, It's been years since I've eaten anything at McDonalds, at least seven years I think.  And I haven't eaten at Wendy's in close to five years, and I haven't eaten in a Burger King in over fifteen years.  Even when I wasn't having stomach issues, much of that food disagreed with me.  One good thing about my stomach issues, we eat almost no fast food anymore.   

SO that's all for today, I hope you enjoy a nice slice of cheese for lunch, one without deadly maggots.  My internet connection keeps dropping, and i hope it lasts long enough for this to post.  Tomorrow: More weird science including the vomiting birds of Lake Erie!

Posted by lincatz at 11:03 AM EST
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Friday, 5 October 2007
It's the Ig Nobel Awards or Why Hamsters need Viagra
Mood:  silly
Topic: Weird Science

Have I mentioned I strongly dislike my cats some days?  Especially when they barf hairballs?  Especially when they barf hairballs and everything they have eaten and drank for the past twelve hours?  Especially when they barf hairballs and everything they have eaten and drank for the past twelve hours on MY BED?!? And then I have to change ell the sheets and everything because there's cat barf all over the bed?

On the plus side, We did get to sleep on fresh clean sheets, fresh clean pillows, under fresh clean blankets and a fresh clean comforter.  On the minus side I will be washing pillows sheets blanket and comforters today.  On the plus side, it's still summer so I can hang them outside to dry.

Yes, summer is still hanging in there, yesterday I was thinking, "I wonder if anyone sells tank tops in fall and winter colours? or Flip Flops in winter colours?"  But that's silly, in two weeks we could have snow on the ground and then where would I wear winter flip flops? We are, however; considering methods of barbecuing turkey for thanksgiving dinner.  Turkey burgers!  Turkey steaks!  Turkey hot dog!  YUMMY!

It's no secret that I'm a bit of science nerd, The poster in my sewing area are of the galaxy and the solar system and the periodic table of the elements and I memorize scientific names of plants for fun and my favourite shows are mythbusters and all the CSI' once again it the time of year when we study the annual Ignobel science awards

This year's winner include a team that researched how to extract vanilla flavour from cow dung.  Everyone sing the mini-wheats vanilla jingle!  Another winner was a group that researched the hows and why of wrinkled sheets.  There's also the military creators of "the Gay Bomb" who are developing a chemical weapon that will make enemy soldiers irresistible to each other.  There was also a study that showed rats couldn't distinguish between people speaking japanese backwards and people speaking dutch backwards. And there was some brave person who took a census of all the living things we share our beds with, including arachnids, psuedoscorpions, bacteria algae ferns and fungi --they forgot cats and snoring husbands.  And the piece de resistance is something about jet lagged hamsters taking viagra. Yes, every years, just when you thought science couldn't get any more absurd, out comes the Ig Nobels to remind us that absurdity, like stupidity, is infinite.  The ignobel award website is slow and almost impossible to get to today, maybe tomorrow.

One of my all time favourites was the alarm clock that rings, then runs away.  It's now marketed as "Clocky."

Sometimes I'm not so scientific.  For example, dreams.  I find dreams fascinating. SOmetimes they are like little novels and movies, with plots, twists, characters, and the have beginnings, middles and ends.  Sometimes my dreams follow similar themes with similar imagery all subconscious symbols of waking situations.  Not interesting, but I know and understand them. Some dreams are utter nonsense, mixed up and without meaning, these come when I'm stressed and trying to do too many things at once.   Then there are times I think that Morpheus gets mixed up and I get someone else's dream.  Last night was one of those nights where none of the symbols or situations had any relevance to me, but I knew some of what they meant, but it didn't relate to me.

I seldom dream of oceans, only lakes.  Last night I dreamed of a black ocean, and I was at the top of a wave, wanting to surf down the side but too afraid. I knew the motion of the wave would hold me up, I had surfed before in waking but I was nervous.  Then I stood at the side of a cliff, similar in colour to the wave.  I had lost something very important and I realized it was too late, and I thought about falling off the side of the cliff, like it would solve all my problems, but again I was too nervous, if I would have taken that step off the side long ago, I wouldn't have lost anything.  The wings of the black birds would have caught me and taken me down to a calm river. Finally, I got down to the bottom where there was a river, but not what I expected, what I expected was dead.  The feeling of someone dying was quite strong and that's when me, my own voice interrupted the dream and I realized that I was in someone else's dream, it was about me and so strong that it sucked me in.  The person dreamed I had died and it was too late for something, what I don't know.  I couldn't speak to the person, only send black crows.  I never dream of black crows, ever.  Black crows are not part of my dream-scape.  But, someone else told me that they are part of this person's dream-scape.

I woke up feeling weird.  Whoever's dream I had was someone who spends much of their time as an observer of life, not an active participant. The person knows they have to come down and become a liver of life, not just a watcher of life. Like a long ago friend, whenever we would go to Toronto he would say things like "someday we should visit the museum" or "Someday we should go to the CNE" but he would never go, he would hide in bookstores. That's what i was reminded of, looking at people having fun, but not willing to let go and have fun himself.  For some reason black bird symbolize me in the dreamer's dream world, they appear black but there are really rainbows of colour in the black, which the dreamer is now belatedly aware of.  And for some reason the person is worried that it's too late for something. It's never too late, ever as far as I'm concerned.    As i said, the dream was totally weird and I felt a bit freaked out in the morning. Or maybe I've been reading too many of Ben's "Sandman" comics!

At least I don't write product reviews for things I see in my dreams, like this guy does!  Like the laser printer copier, do not buy this! When it prints pictures of animals, they come to life!

Today I have no time for silly dreams of my own or sillier dreams of others.  Ben and I are going to the Opening ceremonies of Oktoberfest, maybe, and then we might go elsewhere...I don't know.  The weekend is going to be very busy, with thanksgiving dinner and the parade and all. 

Oh yeah! CSI!  A mythbusters episode, with Grissom wearing Jamie's silly hat at the end.  Sara and Gil really make a sweet couple, especially the way they were shown at the end of the episode.  If Sara does leave it will leave a big gaping hole in the show, the off screen romance over the years has added a sympathetic center to the show, a grounding place if you will; a place to escape some of the violence and gore.  So they've been together since Nick was kidnapped?  Or since the doctor and the dead nurse who looked like Sara?  I think they make an adorable couple.

And that's all for now.  Tonight i hope my dreams are my own and not someone else's.  Later!

Posted by lincatz at 11:26 AM EDT
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Thursday, 11 January 2007

Mood:  hungry
Topic: Weird Science

I got quite a few things accomplished yesterday.  I sewed up a top from the leftover white stretch lace, it took maybe forty minutes.  I started at track two on "The Pacific Age" by OMD and I was un threading the machine during the last track.  Because the scalloped edge is used as a hem, there's no hemming.  And because facings would destroy the neck edge, which must be stretchy and sheer, no interfacing or facings were needed.  if only everything could be so fuss-free!

I overlocked, turned and stitched the hem of the pinstripe skirt. I also added a couple button holes in the waist band.  Because I can't find nice buttons in my stash, and I'm too lazy to make the ten minute trip to Len's, I sewed the buttonholes on the underlap and the button of the wrong side of the over lap so now buttons and button holes are invisible and won't get caught in any fancy or decorative belts.  Sometimes lazy works out better.

I also cut out one PJ top for Ben from the deep burgundy waffle knit.  The top is supposed to cover the seat and go half way down the thighs, unaltered and cut according to directions, the top barely covers his boxers!  He doesn't want them too long, he says they ride up at night anyways, but that's just a touch too short.

Because I have a cold I can't go to my Mom and Dad's to use their table.  My mom had a Liver Transplant several years ago and she isn't supposed to be exposed to too many cold and flu bugs because of the immune system suppressants she takes for anti-rejection purposes.  So I'll ned to clear off a large expanse of the living room floor so I can lay out the pants fabric and cut that.  I need a nice table about 70 inches wide and three yards long.  That would be perfect for single layer layouts, which I need to do for fine fabrics; stripe, plaid and pattern matching; and other couture layout techniques.

Speaking of's finally winter.  The high for yesterday was -5 with a crisp windchill of -12.  That kind of temperature is surprisingly refreshing and invigourating... --for about five minutes.  Then it's just damned cold.  I shouldn't complain, I have a whole bunch of old archived message board posting on my hard drive from 2003-4 complaining about how cold it was.  One morning in Feb was -32 with a -40 windchill.  That freaked out a bunch of Australians on a message board where I was assistant mod.  I had to assure them that we had something called central heating  provided by an apparatus known as a furnace.  And we kept warm with a fabric called gore-tex lined with something called thinsulate and when that wasn't enough we wore an extra layer underneath made of something called polar fleece, named for the polar conditions it insulated against.  One guy said it was so cold at his ranch the night before he had to put on a shirt with sleeves and shorts that reached the knee.  I told him I felt no sympathy. 

In other news...I have a bunch of old message board postings hiding in a .dat file taking up 750MB that I didn't know existed until this morning.  What other crap is hiding in the depths of the disk?  It doesn't want to be deleted, so I changed it to a .BAK file, put it in a different folder and I'll wait a few days to see if the computer fries without it.  There's nothing newer than 2005, when I deleted my delphi membership.  A person can spend far to much time on message boards.  If I go to the sewing ones, I can spend more time there than on the sewing machine.

Dan is settling into his second semester with little trouble.  The only book he needed to buy this year was one for his "Introduction to Meteorology" book.  he may need to buy a new one.  I'm thinking of confiscating his and hiding it from him.  It's totally cool, with pictures and maps and diagrams of all my favourite weather! There's a section of atmospheric phenomena, including clouds like glories, iridescences, sun pillars, sundogs, mother's day about ten years ago we went to a hiking train on the edge of the Niagara Escarpment and we were high enough that we could see glories on the lower clouds.  Above us were iridescent clouds in violet and pale green.  It was quite a sight!

Things like glories, bockens, iridescent clouds, earth shadows, cloud shadows and the like once all had superstitions associated with them, and many had deep religious significance.  Crepuscular ray clouds were supposed to be god...indeed many sunday school books that I read as a child had illustrations of crepuscular ray cloud shadows over bible characters who were in the presence of god.  The sunday school teacher and her husband the minister pointed these out to us while on a sunday school picnic and proof of god...hoping to shut me up I assume. Even when I was eight I knew some of the science.   They certainly aren't proof of god, but they are proof that water and light does odd things under the correct conditions. These rays are merely light and shadows, but fascinating light, and amazing shadow.  Once again the science is far more interesting than the superstition.

I always try to watch sunsets.  Sunsets are one of the most glorious things about the earth, yet too few appreciate the beauty of a sunset.  Some of my favourites, one that I have stored permanently in my memory are the one after Mount Saint Helen's erupted in 1980.  Every evening in the summer i would volunteer to take the store's trash to the bin outside just so I could gawk at all the pretty colours.  Summer's at my aunt and uncle in Oliphant on Lake Huron...and every evening we would go out to the lakeshore to watch the show the sun put on every evening.  Now with my own family, every evening the entire town of Sauble Beach comes out to the shore and everyone turns to watch the setting sun, seeing squashed and stretched suns, green flashes, ghost suns, (That's when a big red squashed and bloated sun re-appears above the horizon a few moments after it's already gone down!)  Here's a title page that will take you to a whole bunch of sunset phenomena pages and pictures.   The weirdest great lakes mirage is the very rare one where the opposite shore appears to be only a mile or so away...and in the sky.  Here's a site dedicated to atmospheric phenomena.  I spent an hour here!  Once again the science is far more fascinating that the superstitions.

Her's a site for cloud aficionados, the cloud appreciation society.  They have a wonderful cloud of the month page. I have never thought that having one's head in the clouds was ever a bad thing.  Someone with their head in the clouds is usually the one who brings the umbrella. And the person who thinks it's bad to have one's head in the clouds is asking to borrow it.  It's not an insult.  Sort of like, "A cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind." And it's often said by someone with an empty desk, not realizing what they just said about themselves.

Here's a game where you can be the cloud...or the cloud maker!

You can buy a poster of all the different and most commonly seen clouds.

Did you know that the bi-nomial method of naming clouds came from an amateur cloud watcher named Luke Howard?  Here's a page about him, courtesy of the cloudman  Here's the cloudman's site.  He loves clouds more than anyone!

I like to paint clouds and skies.  Many of my paintings end up being clouds and sunsets in colours not often found in real sunsets.  But they should be found in real sunsets.  I use gouache, once again for the luminous matte qualities of the paint surface.  Somewhere on the site i have some paintings that I've done in gouache.  I would look for them but remember?  I'm lazy!

And that's all for today.  I have to keep working on those jammies, and hopefully get as much dome as possible today.  Then I can sew something fun.  Also I don't mind sneezing on pajamas I;m making for ben, but I don't want to sneeze on expensive fabric.  AAACHOOO! Later!

Posted by lincatz at 11:16 AM EST
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Tuesday, 3 October 2006

Topic: Weird Science

Bonus entry! Regular blog entry below! I admit it...I'm blond!  Adn occasionally I have absolute blond moments.  It took at least a month for me to stop telling the kids to rewind the DVD's.  Its a habit...I spent yeras reminding the kids to rewind the videos and it's a hard habit to break. I still have to bite down on the urge to say "rewind the DVD"  what I really need is a seperate DVD rewinder.  Which just happens to exist right here!

Also I've linked to useless USB gadgets before , simply because I am right and that guy at the computer store is sooooo totally wrong!  Now we have the all time most useless USB toy...the USB hamster wheel.  It runs around in circles as you type.  Perfect for those in the rodent race.

Posted by lincatz at 10:47 AM EDT
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Friday, 8 September 2006

Mood:  loud
Topic: Weird Science
And speaking of worm that spit...and who isn't contantly talking about large tubular things that spit?  MSNBC has an article about a giant worm that spits and needs to be protected because --for some odd reason --people hate spitting worms and want them all to die in a fire...or some such.  a quote from the article:

"This worm is the stuff that legends and fairy tales are made of," worm supporter Steve Paulson declared. "What kid wouldn't want to play with a 3 foot-long, lily smelling, soft pink worm that spits?"

Okaaaayyyy --But when i was a kid my parents always said you should never play with pink things that look like worms and spit.  And aren't worm supporters usually named Jock? And I know of very few that smell like lillies, dead fish, maybe, but not lillies.  All I can say is "Save the worm!"  "Worms have rights too!"

Posted by lincatz at 8:38 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 8 September 2006 9:57 AM EDT
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Tuesday, 27 June 2006

Mood:  hug me
Topic: Weird Science

Fungus Fun! For all your mycology merry making! so many resources in one place, for the serious phungophile! The forums are worth the price of admission, there are a few "weekend web" worthy threads. Sadly, there's no fungal fetish stuff...what a fungus fetish? trust me, you don't want to know...but looking up phallus impudicus on GIS will give you your first clues.

The very BEST INSECT PICTURES you will see this week! It's a russina site, but pictures need no language; especially the hairy green guy at the top. Dialuppers note: graphics intensive site, but worth the wait for some of the pictures. Picture number 5 on the scroll down is a very acrobatic larva! Let's see you touch your ass with the back of your head! 12 down is a very vicious looking butterfly thing crossed with a mantis sort of....and there's an assortment of adorable mantises showing their mandibles.

Finally, what's weird science without a hack or two? Here's today's weird science hack,Hacking a single use disposible digital camera. To turn it into a multi use camera. This comes from the do it yourself site Elephant Stair case Which is filled with silly electronic things to make and hack. It's a user community, so the projects change for week to week.

That's all the science for now. Unless your interested in more Tesla coils, rail guns, or things found in snakes.

Posted by lincatz at 9:38 AM EDT
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