Thursday, January 24, 2013

Winter wonders

It's winter here, and the weather seems to have settled into a pattern with two major themes; one of these themes will persist for a week or so, then be replaced by another.  Today's theme is rain/drizzle/overcast, but for the preceding two weeks, the theme was freezing fog in the morning, followed by a sunny but cold afternoon.  Freezing fog is a pain for driving, but it produces some amazing sights.

The most amazing thing we saw was on Monday morning; it was in the low 20's F, and the fog was just starting to lift.  It was clear off to the east, where the sun was rising, but to our immediate west, there was a depression with a dense pocket of frozen fog.  The result was astounding:
You must click on that picture to blow it up.  The picture, alas, doesn't quite register what the eye saw.  I didn't see any color in it, none at all--and I almost had to look at it sideways to really see it, blending as it did into the fog.  I'm not sure I'll ever see the like again.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Wednesday Wordage--in praise of the Oxford Comma

From a New York Times article about performance-enhancing drugs, post-Armstrong, on the dangers of steroids: 
Higher doses increase the odds of damage to the heart, mood shifts, reduced sperm counts and masculinization in women.
I think that too many editors have been engaged in a jihad against commas.  If you want an orthographic/grammatical shock, read the New York Times, and then a page of Pride and Prejudice.
 Unrelated, except perhaps as a plea for intellectual honesty:  a radio program yesterday noted the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade.  They featured an anti-abortion activist who felt it was immoral to perform abortions after a certain period of gestation, because the developing fetus "had a heartbeat and could feel pain."  I sincerely hope--but also doubt--that this activist was an ardent vegetarian.   

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Tuesday Tool

Winter nights are cold in Wisconsin.  It is only natural under such circumstances to seek warmth; the animal mind, freed of the encumbrances of conscience, won't hesitate to leave others in the cold to stay warm.  So, it should not have been a surprise to me, many years ago, when the Real Doctor would execute a quick manoeuver in the middle of the night: grabbing the blankets to her body, she would roll in place about 120 degrees away from me, then about 270 degrees towards me, then back to lying on her back.  For her, the result was to be completely swaddled in a layer of blankets.  For me, the result was no blankets at all.  She did this in her sleep, so she was blameless--but I was still in the cold.  This behavior was stereotypic; we called it the "Roto-zip," and thankfully, she has largely forsaken it. 

Today, I was putting up some drywall.  If you're doing this, you can carefully measure everything out, and precut holes for outlets and windows and such using your knife.  Or, you can roughly measure out where the cutouts will be, tack the sheet of drywall up, and use a small, one-handed router to cut the drywall to exactly fit.  It works great.  The tip of the router bit is smooth, and rides around the outside  of the outlet or the window, and the rest of the bit cuts through the drywall like a hot knife through butter.  The router is made by Bosch, but it's sold under the brand "RotoZip."

I never thought I would feel so positively about a RotoZip. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

T-t-t-t-tuesd-d-d-d-d-day t-t-t-t-t-tool

It got down to almost 20 degrees F/-6 C last night, making morning chores chilly.  The tool of the day--of the week--is the flannel lined denim jeans by Carharrtt, for making life better.

The Tuesday tool was almost the caulk gun, but it was used Monday, not today.  There was a contractor here yesterday, installing "LivingStone" on the walls of what will be our shower.  He's a local guy, been here all his life, and he knows I am a foreigner from exotic, urban Los Angeles.  He was industriously shooting dollops of silicone onto the drywall as I helped hold things up, and asked, so Alex, do you have any guns?  I said sure, let me go get one, but yours seems to be working fine.  He had a good laugh at me; he meant firearms, but I was thinking about caulking guns.  He has four; his coworker has five--all small calibre rifles and such for hunting and plinking, not semiautomatics.  He couldn't see why anybody would get excitable about guns out here, but he also couldn't see any social or personal good from having a gun in  L.A.

People seem all to be talking about guns, guns, guns--and this is still mighty relevant, a good daily reminder.  Today's contractor noticed that the gun shop he passes on his way here had a full parking lot and looked really busy.  He hears people talking, scared that they won't be able to buy an assault rifle any more.  He's a pretty peace-minded, religious man--incidentally, also not a native, also from urban southern California--and he marveled that people should be in such a rush to buy things whose only and intended use is to kill other humans.  If it comes to a point where we are expected to be ready to kill other people, he said, I don't want to be part of it.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Friday Flora Fungal Friends edition

It's winter here, not prime flora season. It's fungus time, and there's so many good ones.  My field guides are still packed away, so no good clues on what these are; they're from a hike on the North Umpqua trail, near Steamboat.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Today's nugget of down-home wisdom

If you're going to collect eggs in your jacket pockets, do so after you attempt to pick up a squirming goat that doesn't want to go back into its pen. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Wednesday wordage etymology edition

I do so like etymology.  It's the paleontology of words, and it lets us study another beautiful, messy way that evolution works.  And, like fossickers living in central Oregon, those of us who live in the English language are surrounded by lovely, eccentric fossils. 

So--what's the shared link in the heritage of the following words?
a) pundit
b) juggernaut
c) pajamas
d) shampoo

Highlight for the answer:  All entered the English language from India.  "Pandit" is master, and was rightly used to describe the amazing Ravi Shankar.  "Jagannath" is a Hindu deity, honored by religious processions with massive floats that earned notoriety for crushing the occasional devout follower.  PJ's are PJ's, and though the word has Persian roots, it arrived here by way of the Raj.  Shampoo is from a Hindi word, originally meaning something like "to beat or pound" but evolved into a word for cleaning. 
Feel free to add any related in the comments.