Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Senioritis: a reality even two decades later

Senioritis has hit. My graduation date is only two months away, if that. I had a rough round of first tests, so a sparkling clean 4.0 this term seems impossible (thought might not be), which aggravates my symptoms.

Wikipedia states that some of the symptoms of senioritis include:
slowness, procrastination, apathy regarding school work, a feeling of entitlement or privilege and a tendency toward truancy, increased drug use, malingering or feigning illness in order to avoid presence in a school setting, cognitive impairments, and changes in sleep patterns.

Yeah, that sounds about right.

Enjoy recognizing those things that change, and those things that stay the same,


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Amazing building design, Singapore

This bitchin' building is an art school within Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. Here is a quick writeup of the building with more pictures -- too cool.

Enjoy innovative design, especially when it's eye-catching,


[via Criddle]

Pandora online radio

Weeks, or maybe months ago my good friend Catherine the Great suggested I try out, knowing what a music freak I can be. I checked in with it, and it didn't really catch my attention. Today is another day, however, and in the computer lab while I was wrestling with printers, I logged back in. Now I'm crazy about it.

Pandora is personalized online radio, connected to the Music Genome Project. Whatever algorithm they use to choose music based on what you've told the stations you like, it's good -- real good. Consistently I get songs and musicians coming up in my theme stations that I had forgotten to add voluntarily.

Enjoy yet another online media choice that is customizable,


Monday, April 28, 2008

Poor bees, more bad news for the Pacific N.W.

Apparently, West-side Washington bee hives are being lost at a catastrophic rate according to this article in The Oregonian. Stud Farmhand turned me on to this article, and since his hives are out in Walla Walla I'm betting he is unaffected. My hives, however, are in the strike zone. Yikes.

Nationally, a third of the food supply depends on bees for pollination, from melons to cranberries to carrot seed, according to National Research Council. Native pollinators, from wasps to bumblebees, are not present in the numbers needed for industrial agriculture -- and those pollinators are also in decline.

You know, most of the apocalyptic talk in the last few decades involves nuclear bombs, or nuclear waste, or anarchist loss of societal control... but what about the bees. The simple bee -- who would have thought such an enormously disastrous effect would happen through a domesticated insect of all things.

Get those backyard gardens rolling folks, looks like it's going to be a bumpy flight.


Sunday, April 27, 2008

Beautiful paintings of irradiated bugs

No kidding, check out these amazing watercolors by Cornelia Hesse-Honegger. Click around on the words and you will figure out how the navigation works.

You will see in the comments on Boingboing where I originally found the link that there is some heated debate as to whether these are truly deformities caused by radiation or not. There is also a scientific paper by the artist, who turns out to be a scientist as well, that supports the idea that the mutations are caused by the radiation.

Jury's out, but cool stuff nonetheless.

Enjoy art and science mixing as it did in the days of yore,


[art credit in first linked web page]

Saturday, April 26, 2008

An important reminder for me today

" The important work of moving the world forward does not wait to be done by perfect men."

-- George Eliot

I've been reading up on public school inequalities, re-segregation of schools, and school reform. It gets depressing to think of what kids are up against. This was a timely quote for me.

Enjoy getting back off of your duff and doing something for the better,


Righteous moth predicted, and found, in Madagasgar

Here is a great video clip about the Darwin's Comet Orchid, and its requisite pollinator. When he first encountered this bizarrely formed orchid, Darwin predicted a pollinator, probably a moth, with a 12" proboscis. Yet again, he was right.

[via my Canukistani operative Yuri, under the title MMOOTHRAAAAAAA, hehe]

Enjoy ginormous aerial pollinators, and the predictive capacity of science,


Friday, April 25, 2008

Songs Stuck in my Head Series: Modest Mouse -- Missed the Boat

You know, when I was watching a bunch of MM videos to figure out which one was the song that's been stuck in my head for the last two days, I really saw how good these guys are. I don't listen to much guitar pop -- hardly any actually, but I may have to get a bunch of MM. Everything I came across was good. I don't know what it is about their songs -- his voice, or the simplicity, the interesting cadences, or the elaborate lyrics -- but they're really catching my fancy this morning.

Here's the one that's been haunting me lately.

Enjoy identifying which of the ghosts that have been prying on your brain,


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Can't stop laughing at the new xkcd comic

It's just killing me...

Enjoy a good laugh,



Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Al Green, slaying it

Here's another prime 1974 musical performance -- Mr. Al Green rocking the house with "Tired of Being Alone."

Again, need I mention the outfits -- oh, and check out the rings too. Fantastico, simply fantasico.

Enjoy talent -- silver, be-dangled, over-the-top, nearly-shirtless talent,


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Bee Crazy

I'm getting a lot of behind the scenes interest in Backyard Bee information, so I wanted to post a list of some of the sites I've found the most helpful:

First and foremost,, because the emphasis there is on Top-Bar hives. Once you read some articles there, you may come to the same conclusion about that hive style as I did -- this is as much about having healthy bees as it is getting tons of honey.

Next, for the P-town folks, is Ruhl Bee Supply. They have everything you need outside the top-bar hive itself. I bet, very soon, they'll start carrying top bar hives if the demand is there.

Here's a cool article by The Peace Corps on Small Scale Beekeeping.

Here's another top-bar oriented site:

Washington State Beekeepers association has a ton of good information.

For that matter, here is the Oregon State Beekeepers Association.

Remember too how to use "labels" in blogger blogs. Scroll down this page and look on the right hand side, eventually you will see "topic labels for easy cruising." There is a "back yard bees" label, and although I have only just begun posting about them, all my posts regarding the bees are there.

Enjoy helping out a belaboured caste of unappreciated workers,


Monday, April 21, 2008

Getting the bees into the hives

My Dad took pictures as I unpackaged the bees. The sky was ominous and I would have preferred warmer weather for the little ladies, but you do what you have to. The packages arrived, so we install the bees.

I'm just using a European bee jacket instead of a full suit here. Considering that de-packaging bees is probably the most disruptive, violent thing I'll be doing with them, and I didn't have a smoker yet, but I didn't get stung -- I'd say it's going to be easily sufficient for my needs. Oh were the girls pissed when I removed their queen and then had the audacity to shake them out of their cage to boot. Such an angry hum, I can't tell you.

The second picture shows me holding up a top bar with the queen cage hanging from it (I used a thumb tack to secure it). At that point I had removed the cork from the cage and installed the mini marshmallow as the time-release fuse for the queen. Should take the bees a day or two to eat up that marshmallow and let her free into the hive. By that time her scent is fully ensconced in that hive and they won't bolt on you.

For more of a blow-by-blow of de-packaging bees, here is a video I found that gets pretty specific. Of course they're using commercial hives, but you do get some more detail regardless.

Tonight I also made some bee-fondant to feed the hives tomorrow. It's cooling now. It's basically a sugar syrup that's been brought up to "soft ball" temperatures, then whipped as its cooling to add a bit of air to it. For bees you add some apple cider vinegar as well, to adjust the PH a bit and possibly provide a tiny bit of nutrient. The weather is just too cold right now for them to be flying much, so even though there are blooms everywhere for them to forage, they'll starve if I don't feed them a bit til it warms up. Fondant seemed the cleanest way to do it. I'm going to put chunks into cheesecloth and hang it from string from a top bar for them to feast on.

Enjoy learning new husbandry skills,


The Bees Arrived!

So my Carniolans arrived at Ruhl Bee Supply, and I waited in line with the other bee keepers yesterday to pick up my two packages. It is such a trip to hold a box with 3 lbs. of bees in it. That's somewhere around ten to 15 thousand bees, I do believe.

The hives are up on our carport roof. The bees will get a good flyway up here and nice early and late season warmth, as well as morning sun.

I'll post more later, I'm going to hit the sheets and nurse this sore throat of mine for now.


Sunday, April 20, 2008

New post over at the Fur Shark blog

Check out the new post over at the Fur Shark Chronicles. That blog is the repository for all things Cat that I write or post. I didn't want to overwhelm the rigorous and scientific focus and cadence of this blog with such frivolous material.

Stay tuned for more 70's bad hair videos.


This should be an interesting experience.

So I have two mid-terms on Monday -- Genetics and Mammalian Physiology. Mam Phys looks to be one of the harder classes I've taken yet in college. My father and step mother are visiting this weekend for the first time in a decade, and I've not studied a lick since they got here on Friday. We're having a great time.

I'm not ready for the tests, and I'm not getting ready for the tests.

There is a strange feeling building in my gut. I'm about to have an experience that is new to me, I suspect. I'm going to learn to let go of this maniacal drive for straight A's and have a different type of test day than I'm used to. I already feel like I need to write a note to the profs and explain the situation -- apologize ahead of time for my lackluster performance on this first test.

I'm nervous and getting a bit distracted. I don't know if I'll be able to resist staying up all night on Sunday to try and make up some ground at the last minute. I understand most all the basic concepts for these tests, but just haven't practiced the math . Both of these tests are math-heavy, with very little vocab and concept -- pretty much all word problems, one of my weak points.

If there is a sound track for my life, I believe right now it sounds something like Silence of the Lambs, or The Shining.

Enjoy setting yourself up,


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Apocalyptica rocked the effing house

Finally finally I've seen Apocalyptica in concert. As I've mentioned before, The Wife introduced me to these guys a dozen years ago, and I've wanted to see them live ever since. It's been a long time coming, and they did not disappoint. It was a fucking fantastic show, just fantastic. I'm so glad I went, even though I know my mid-term grades will suffer. Hearing those amazing instruments blazing out live is a whole other experience than listening to a recording. The depth and resonance of the sound just makes you high.

For all the folks who don't like metal and skip these posts, I hope I still have your attention. Just watch this first video. It's a Metallica cover, and it's just beautiful -- seriously, just give it a play, for me.

This video was their first encore (they had two or three). For this song, they got rid of the drummer and singer and just laid the tune out purely acoustic. One of the few instances where I feel the remake is better than the original -- it's like this song was written for them.

In other contexts, the blazing leads played in speed metal by guitarists just leave me yawning -- we call it Guitar Gemetzel ("massacre" in yiddish, probably spelled wrong). To be honest, I don't particularly like the grand majority of the songs they play in their original form. However, those same songs with blazing leads -- played on cellos, live, with big rockstar drumming and screaming fans pumping the Corna is pure genius.

At one point Eicca said something along the lines of (we couldn't understand them through their thick accents) "we're going to play some classical, you shut up and listen now." This song is the next video down. Check out the fingerwork here kids, it was stupendous [if you want another view, different lighting so you can see, try this link]. Also stupendous -- these musicians had a whole concert of bubbas and metalheads moshing and freaking out to classical music. Does the heart good, I tell you.

Oh and speaking of genius -- if I get the info right through the accent (and a little internet research) the guest drummer was Dave Lombardo of Slayer. Now rad is that, seriously!

The guest vocalist was Adam Gontier of Three Days Grace. Not a big deal for me, but the audience loved the kid. Even with a singer, the cellists ruled the stage and made the music great.

So there's my night, screw grades lets rock,


Love songs to Condi Rice

First, here is subtle piece from ZeFrank -- a lilting melody with a dark undercurrent, appropriate for Ms. Condi -- Freaking hilarious.

And second, a tropical bootie shaker from the always fantastic Steve Earle, via Stud Farmhand.

Enjoy the amorous tributes that the Queen of War and Torture has inspired,


Gandhi quote

"What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans, and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is brought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty and democracy?"

- Mahatma Gandhi

Nuked coral reef now flourishing

This picture depicts the nuking of the Bikini Atoll in 1954 with the Bravo nuclear bomb. People avoid the island to this day, for obvious reasons. This avoidance, however, has created quite a sanctuary for the marine environment to recover in. Nearby islands are apparently seeding this coral reef, which is flourishing, according to this article in Newscientist. Some seafaring poachers approach close to the island, but no one else.

The background radiation, apparently, is no more than any large metropolis. The coconuts that grow on the island, however, are red-hot (metaphorically) with radiation. Because the trees concentrate fats in the coconuts, and fats accumulate and store radiation well, the coconuts are extremely toxic. This is called bioaccumulation . This is the same process which makes non-organic avocados (again, very fatty) the super-fund sites that they are.

As an added bonus, Monty Python fans need to check out the comments below the Newscientist post -- a hint, they involve the African Swallow.

Enjoy flourishing and vibrant nature wherever it happens to get a toehold,


[photo credit in linked article, article via slashdot]

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Stud Farmhand scoops me on a grim subject

The subject is U.S. Torture -- grim, true, and completely illegal. A few films have cropped up and Stu presents them in the post -- they implicate some of the highest officers of our government in direct approval of torture.

Wondering what to do? Write or call the campaign of your favorite presidential candidate -- hell contact them all (even those who dropped out). Let them know this is important to you and you won't stand for Torture under our flag. You can also head over to the Condi Rice Must Go website for information about further action in that campaign. Demand that the candidates to walk their talk. We've got them a bit over a barrel while they're campaigning, good time to make noise on issues you care about.


In Space Science News: 13-year-old German Schoolboy pwns NASA

In a paper for a regional science competition, a 13-year-old schoolboy in Germany corrected NASA's calculations regarding the chances that Apophis, a "killer asteroid," could collide with earth. NASA's prediction for whether this asteroid would collide with Earth was only 1 in 450,000. The kid figured in the chances that a collision with a satellite in 2029 could alter its course, improving the chance of a collision with Earth to 1 in 450. NASA has since stated that the kid got it right.

Wonder if they sent him a job application as well.

Poor NASA, they've just had the worst press over the last few years. But I couldn't resist this one.

Enjoy statistical corrections, especially when they involve a cataclysmic event,


[image credit in linked article]

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Social science classes vs. "hard' science classes

I have a social science class this term, a small class, taught in the round. There is a lot of feeling going on, and resonating, and speaking about things. Sometimes I look at the clock, wondering when class will actually start, and I realize that it did like 1/2 hour ago, and this isn't just some conversation -- it's the class.

I talked about how different it is with another science major friend of mine, and she said "oh, I love those classes -- it's like DISNEYLAND!"

Compared to the "sit down, shut up, and try to keep up with me" lectures I'm now used to, this is a completely new experience. I mean... how do I *feel* about the content of the class..... seriously?

I balked a bit at first, but now I'm enjoying it. The style is a lot more like my life outside of school. I can see it's going to be quite interesting to go full time into an education graduate program after having ground out a hard science bachelor's degree. There is going to be a lot of reflecting, feeling, and communicating going on I'm sure. So novel.

Enjoy switching gears when you're given the opportunity,


Pearl coated planes?

Imagine a pearlescent or nacreous airplane glinting in the sky. The Air Force is thinking that the same mechanisms that Oysters use to make pearl, or Abalone use to make mother-of-pearl could be used to coat various metallic surfaces. A process developed by modeling the natural ways these animals create enamels could provide an alternative to the high-temperature, toxic processes currently in use.

[via Stingite]

Enjoy the potential of garishly adorned flying machines of war,


Sunday, April 13, 2008

Golden Eagle shows its power

Quick video clip showing a Golden Eagle taking a goat that surely weighs more than it does. It then flies away with it -- amazing stuff.

Enjoy learning about the unexpectedly ginormous power of animals,


Additional clip: for the more sturdy of you -- here is a quick clip of a golden eagle taking a deer in the Czech republic. It's a trained bird being used to hunt.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Crazy Uncle

Taking a long drive today, up past Seattle. On the way back I'm going to visit my dear friends and their 6 children -- The Good Reverend's House of Children (tm). The Wife and I are godparents or Crazy Aunt & Uncle to this clutch of pupating humanity.

As I was packing this morning, I showed T. the gifts I'm bringing to the kids this visit: 250 flash cards I made for Ornithology class with pictures of birds on one side and their class, order, family and some field I.D. notes on the other; and a recently-deceased cordless drill that they can dissect & tear apart. T. thought these gifts were fabulous, confirming their perfect Crazy Uncle stylings.

Gever Tully and his "dangerous things you should let your kids do" talk inspired the defunct cordless gift, I dig his perspective on the chillens.

Enjoy your day, there's a finite amount of them left,


Addendum: I just realized, the eldest of The Clutch of Chillens regularly reads this blog. Fiona... keep the gifts a secret for me would ya? I want to surprise them.

PPSS: I'm going up north for a special session with a Qi Gong instructor in our lineage to finish off my first level of Golden Shield training. Took almost a year to complete, and I'm excited to move on to the next set of trainings. Cool stuff.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Barry White on Burt Sugarman's Midnight Special

Barry White performing Can't Get Enough of your Love Babe in 1974. The outfit and the hair are, again, just superb in this video. And who can't use a little Belly Rubbing Music (tm) on a Friday eh?

Ps: Is that the Wolfman who flashes on the screen for an instant at the beginning, introducing Barry? Sure looks like it.

Enjoy musical romantic entreaties performed in velvet and rhinestones,


Water, the new oil

A quick read for folks interested in the current state of water resources and their privatization. There are many links to stories and actions one can take about the problem of corporate control of natural resources, water specifically.

[link via Estu, photo credit in first link]

Enjoy a quick morning reminder of your global citizenship,


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Finally, the border fence fiasco comes into focus

According to the NY Times -- the building of the much-touted border fence with Mexico requires breaking as many as 30 laws that may impede the process of construction. Congress also stepped in to forbid courts to second-guess the secretary of homeland security's waivers of these laws.

NOW this stupid idea makes sense -- it sets precedent for the further consolidation of power, eradicates checks and balances, and shows that the power of law can be superseded at will by the government. It also is a very generous ceding of powers of congress to a new position, the secretary of the office of homeland security. Can't have a new and wasteful bureaucracy without some extra POWER now can we boys?

For a more thorough stroll down constitution-wrecking-lane, do read the linked article it's a doozy.

effing great


Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Bat Dog

CJ is a chocolate lab trained to find certain types of wildlife and apparently he's very good at it. In this great photoset on, my blog friend Michael Durham traveled with and shot CJ tracking down Allen's lappet-browed bats (Idionycteris phyllotis) in the Coconino National Forest in Arizona.

As usual, his photography is just superb -- the man does excellent work, check out the full photo set here. [remember to click on the pictures to get a bigger, higher resolution view -- especially that last one]

Enjoy animals helping humans help animals,


Yeah for privatization

Profit motive mixed with government need creates bizarre results. Looks like we're beating China in something after all.


Tuesday, April 8, 2008

And now for something completely different: fish with captions

humorous pictures
see more crazy cat pics

Enjoy viewer-made media, or whatever you call collaborative internet stuff like that,


Deep-water tide power going in off Ireland, and a philosophical explanation

Some tide power generators are going to be tested very soon off the coast of Ireland. I'll be curious to see how the system goes -- being a deep water system, the disruption to the environment is greatly minimized.

A note here about my "green," "sustainable," and especially alternative energy posts on this blog. During a conversation with a detail-oriented friend, the need was impressed upon me to explain my overall stance on alternative power and fuels.

I don't expect any of these solutions to be able to completely compensate for the type of energy consumption that the world, and especially the Industrialized world, currently takes for granted. I'm not posting about "magic bullets" that will allow today's practices to continue ad infinitum. I am posting about technologies that hopefully will allow for diversification of energy and fuel production, and help ease the transition into a post-petroleum world.

Lifestyles and industrial practices have to change and become more streamlined, because the 'good ol days' of burning smokestacks and 110 mph speed limits are going away. Every step in the direction of efficiency of current uses, green production of future sources, and complete change of systems to those that don't use electricity at all are encouraging to me in this light.

And a quick pet peeve: the words "green" and "sustainable" are ones that now have been fully co-opted by the system and the powers that be to make projects sound better than they are. Without totally going off here, I'll just say that they are being used to label projects with the barest hint of engineering and design to make them less impactful, as opposed to being truly sustainable in any long-term sense. That definition is a whole 'nuther conversation entirely, and I have a bus to catch.

Enjoy your magic-bullet-free, closed-loop, lower carbon footprint potential future,


[tidepower article via my Canukistani Operative "Yuri", graphic credit in said article]

Monday, April 7, 2008

Spy on a Great White shark

A juvenile Great White shark that was on exhibit in the Monterey Bay Aquarium has been tagged and released into open ocean, and is being tracked in real time on this website. Apparently, he's headed to Mazatlan -- seems like a reasonable plan to me. The life histories of juvenile Great Whites aren't well known, so scientists are watching this guy with great interest.

You can check out many other satellite-tagged pelagic animals on that same site by clicking different species in the sidebar. Fun stuff.

[photo credit in linked article]

Enjoy spying on our open-ocean friends,


Sunday, April 6, 2008

Bats appreciate organic coffee, so buy up

A quick article from Born Animal about how bats are important in the control of insects in organic, shade-grown coffee plantations. The plantations provide excellent hunting for crunchy bits of tasty goodness like the one depicted in the picture below.

[photo credit in linked article]

Enjoy your morning cup, and bless the bats in the process,


For anyone who has read or commented on blogs or discussion boards

T. and I are just dying over this cartoon, reading it over and over and howling with laughter in the office before breakfast. Worth a full and careful read.

[source: xkcd - A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language.]

Enjoy spot-on comedic writing,


Saturday, April 5, 2008

Obscure Animal Alphabet: Axolotl to Zebu

Another great find by my Canukistani operative Yuri -- the obscure animal alphabet. There are plenty of animals on this list that I've never even heard of -- and some beautiful ones we don't hear of nearly enough. Great stuff.

Enjoy seeing new faces,


Friday, April 4, 2008

Jungle Boogie on Burt Sugarman's Midnight Special

Kool and the Gang kickin' it on the Midnight Special. It's Friday, shake your bootie.

Enjoy music that takes over 5 people on stage to perform,


Thursday, April 3, 2008

Halliburton poisoning U.S. Troops in Iraq

Found this at the trusty Piglipstick blog. Water purification expert talks about Halliburton and Iraq.


Velvet worm attacks beetle -- in spanish

Ran across this great footage of a velvet worm hunting a bioluminescent beetle. The Spanish commentary makes it extra awesome. Watch as it puts its pistolas to use.

Some of these weird animals actually bear live young -- very trippy.

Enjoy multi-lingual Panarthropodic attacks,


Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Another Taser victim in Portland Oregon

Ok, I've been sometimes quietly, sometimes not, watching the Taser situation with U.S. law enforcement.

This morning over breakfast, a fellow student relayed a story about yet another Taser victim in Portland Oregon. This kid is not doing well, and I can't say more than that as there are lawsuits pending. The situation is seriously effed up, and having someone this close to me be hospitalized with very serious medical issues really sets the issue home.

There will be organizing around the abuse of Tasers in the near future in Portland, and I will be keeping you apprised of the situation, both of this kid and the movement itself.


Jill Bolte Taylor: My stroke of insight

This amazing talk is a brain scientist explaining her experience of a stroke. But, the stroke hit in a spot on her brain where she could experience some serious epiphanies/peak experiences -- this is worth your time (18 minutes), trust me.

You may have heard of this video -- it's truly viral on the net right now. But, like me, you may have skipped it. Just give it a shot -- it's truly a trip.

[Technical Note: -- The Link has been fixed give it a try now]

Enjoy the amazing and unpredictable events by which we can learn what is true,