TWEET: “There’s an old … | 1:19 am | 2 August 2009
whoosh | 8:09 am | 17 July 2008
We signed up for MG&E‘s wind power last month, and so far have not used 577 pounds of coal.
We also got a new air conditioner last week, after the forty-year old Carrier gave up the ghost. They figured the old unit’s SEER value was about three, and the new one is thirteen. It’s also so much nicer / more efficient that it needs to run a lot less, so it’ll be interesting to watch our usage over the summer. Then again, with the way the cost of energy has been going, the bill will probably stay the same even if the use plummets.
iStar Hustler | 9:56 am | 23 October 2007
Starry Night is now available for your iPhone. This is much handier than those cardboard slidey things, but since it’s a web application and doesn’t actually live on the phone, you’ll still need a network somehow — which means the really dark sky places are out of reach. Then again, if you’re on that hard-core of a stargazing expedition, you’re probably already at the point of rattling off “GC 19728″ instead of “Alpha Centauri” or “The Bright Shiny Thing Up There; No, Not That One — To Your Left A Bit.”
math jokes | 5:51 am | 20 July 2007
how contact lenses are made | 9:25 am | 8 June 2007
words words words | 10:45 am | 17 April 2007
Hey, if I had a wine blog, but just wrote complaints about bad wine experiences, it would be a oenomatopoeia.
Is there a word for words that look like their meaning, as opposed to sounding like their meaning? Because “fizzy” should totally be spelled “fizzi,” and then it would be an excellent double trick.
If you ever see me giggling in the corner all by myself, it’s because this shit in my head? never stops. It’s like a shit circus. Hey! I wonder if ShitCircus.com is available…
Were the skies not cloudy all day? | 7:45 am | 31 January 2007
Mythbusters’ Adam Savage asks the hive mind for ideas for an old-west-themed show.
What’s behind Niagara Falls? | 7:03 am | 20 January 2007
Eyeglasses Stores are for Suckers | 3:22 pm | 15 November 2006
Eyeglasses Stores are for Suckers: Amen. When I got new glasses this year, it was because my five-year-old frames were getting ugly and boring, not because I couldn’t see. When I got the glasses with the new prescription, everything was so fun-house distorted that I couldn’t wear them even after the “getting used to them” period. Since LensCrafters has a 90-day guarantee, I took them back, someone else wrote me a different scrip, and I waited another two weeks for them to be ready. The new new ones? Still fucked up. Six weeks, four visits, and five hundred dollars later, I had new frames with my five-year-old prescription in them and I can see just fine. They even had the gall to say that when you “get older” you have a lower tolerance for adjusting to new glasses! Now that I’ve got the actual scrip numbers (most places I’ve been to in the past wouldn’t give it to me so that I’d have to return to them for new glasses – even though that’s against the law), when I next need contacts or glasses, I’m hitting the internet.
Canning: thanks, France! | 2:58 pm | 27 August 2006
I made salsa yesterday, and while the jars were sterilizing I got wondering about the history of canning. I hope all those “freedom fries” morons cleaned out their pantries, because the French invented it:
Nicolas Francˆois Appert (1750 – 1841) was the French inventor of airtight food preservation. Appert, known as the “father of canning,” was a confectioner. In 1800, Napoleon Bonaparte offered a 12,000 franc reward to anyone who could devise a method for the food preservation in order to provide his troops with daily rations in order to keep his armies adequately supplied while on the march. After years of experimentation, Appert submitted his invention and won the prize in 1809. The following year, Appert published L’Art de conserver les substances animales et vegetales (or The Art of Preserving Animal and Vegetable Substances for Many Years).
Time Fountain! NEATO. | 9:56 am | 10 August 2006
Check out this very cool little DIY fountain with flourescent dye, a calibrated strobe and blacklight that lets you see –and play with– individual drops of liquid. Triptastic science!
Free tech school in basement: GO RIGHT IN | 10:49 am | 3 July 2006
coolest weather radio ever | 7:08 pm | 19 June 2006
Between growing up in Iowa (and still living in a tornado-tastic area) and having spent EVERY FUCKING CAMPING TRIP EVER cowering in a tent with nobody having adequate weather information (let alone CHECKING the fucking forecast before departure), it’s been really bothering me that we don’t have anything on hand should there be an emergency. We’ve got satellite TV, too, so if there’s something nasty in the area, we don’t get reception at all. Fed up, I ordered (and just got) the coolest emergency radio (almost) ever. DUDE! We’re talking well designed. Check it out:
– A/C adapter, OR
– three AA batteries, OR
– the rechargable battery OR
– the hand-crank (which will also charge the rechargeable battery)
– NOAA Weather Channels
– AM / FM
– Television audio (hugely cool, because they’re the ones that update shit in an emergency)
– CHARGE YOUR CELL PHONE!!! Even if there’s no power you can use the hand crank to charge it – NOICE.
– Alert Mode – leave it on and it only squawks if there’s something coming your way
HOLY SHIT IS THAT THE COLLEST EVER?! We’re ordering more — for the car, and for our parents. The only thing I find annoying is that the siren is on the same knob as the power and alert — so you try to turn off the alert mode and you easily end up going EEE AAAAW EEEEE AAAAW at ear-splitting levels. Other than that, and the fact that we have to order a different adapter because our cellphones are Treos, it’s SO worth the money and I will never be a loser cowering in a tent with “experienced campers” again. Rock.
Why suburbs will never have tall trees | 10:42 am | 7 June 2006
Now consider what’s happened at the subdivision. Once the topsoil is removed, you’re left with the rock and clay underneath, which hasn’t seen the light of day for thousands of years. Landscapers call it “hardpan,” and from an engineering point of view it’s an ideal material to mould into the site’s drainage plan.
Run heavy equipment over material like that, and it quickly gets compacted into something with much the same consistency as concrete.
Once the houses are in place, the topsoil gets put back, but usually to a depth of only 20 cm., which is the typical municipal standard and enough to support healthy turf.
The rest of the stockpiled topsoil is usually sold off and eventually ends up in nurseries, but only after it’s been rehabilitated by adding manure or peat moss or sand. That’s because the soil became anaerobic after sitting in a pile for so long. “There’s no oxygen within that pile anymore, and eventually all the living microbes and organisms in that soil die,” says Ubbens.
So you end up with less-than-ideal topsoil spread thinly over a layer of clay hardpan that often includes pieces of brick and other debris. “In our business, we call it `builder’s loam,'” says Ubbens. “It’s unfortunate that it’s so bad that it’s even got a name.”
Planting trees in that is like sticking them in a clay pot. “We bore a hole in that heavily compacted clay, put the tree in with a certain amount of soil, but the tree will eventually start to decline,” says Andy Kenney, senior lecturer in urban and community forestry at the University of Toronto.
Niagara Escarpment | 11:43 am | 15 March 2006
I’ve always heard from my mother that “the ledge” in Green Bay /DePere (or Scray’s Hill) is part of the Niagara escarpment, but until recently when I thoughtlessly parrotted that knowledge to a visitor, I hadn’t realized that I really didn’t know what the hell that means. Here’s more than you wanted to know:
Wikipedia: Niagara Escarpement
Aerial photograph of Niagara Escarpment near Green Bay
UWGB page about the Niagara Escarpment
New name for the Chicago Bears | 10:04 am | 2 February 2006
It seems there’s thousands of coyotes living in Chicago:
He [Gehrt] found they have a 60 percent annual survival rate — twice that of their rural counterparts… …Their presence can be helpful, though. Gehrt found they’ve reduced a growing population of Canada geese, and said other studies cited coyotes as useful deer and rodent population controllers.
That’s really cool! (And another reason to keep the cats inside.)
It’s like France is in my mouthâ€¦ and everyone’s bathing! | 9:33 pm | 18 January 2006
Scientists name world’s whiffiest cheeses. This deserves a celebratory trip to the fromagerie. I’ve had the Pont lâ€™EvÃªque, Roquefort, Reblochon, and Livarot. I’d put the Livarot ahead of the Reblochon; it was distinctively farmy. I don’t remember specifics, which means it’s time for a stink-off!
Thanks again, Jim, for the post title
turkey != tiring | 10:54 am | 28 November 2005
CAW! CAW! | 4:28 pm | 20 November 2005
The Earth is expensive | 10:20 am | 1 November 2005
that’s too bad | 2:35 pm | 13 October 2005
I wish that you could call dead people on the phone.
Remember when we said there was no future? | 9:32 am | 10 October 2005
bang! | 8:39 am | 23 August 2005
pretty much my favorite animal | 1:03 pm | 15 August 2005
National Geographic features the Liger, bred for it’s skills in magic.
Big brother for your car | 8:46 am | 10 August 2005
The British government is preparing to test new high-tech license plates containing microchips capable of transmitting unique vehicle identification numbers and other data to readers more than 300 feet away.
Officials in the United States say they’ll be closely watching the British trial as they contemplate initiating their own tests of the plates, which incorporate radio frequency identification, or RFID, tags to make vehicles electronically trackable.
They can already get my plate from their eyes, and all those cameras. What the hell do they need $300 plates for that broadcast the number for?
Clockwork Orange diet | 9:21 am | 4 August 2005
Induce a bad memory associated with a food through hypnosis, and people avoid it. Duh. I got violently ill after a sushi feast, and even though the Night-of-Long-Yaks was not related to the food, I didn’t go near sushi for years after. Too bad it doesn’t work so well for more familiar foods, you know, like beer.
foggy mountain breakdown | 1:19 pm | 2 August 2005
rarebit fiend | 7:51 am | 20 July 2005
Google Moon! Sadly, not the whole thing, but still pretty sweet. Be sure to zoom ALL THE WAY in.