Archive for the ‘Other’ Category.

Blood on the Moon

We pretty much had a full lunar eclipse tonight with clear skies.  Of course my Nikon with the tripod and the 300mm lens had to have a dead batter, so I used the Canon Sx260 I had such good luck with at concerts.  The results are grainy but pretty good for a pocket camera.  This is about 5 minutes after the peak.  No tripod, just sitting on top of my trash can in the driveway.

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Here it was a bit before the peak

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Modern pocket cameras use some sort of multi-shot HDR process to take low light photos.  My Sony RX100-III does even better at night but does not have the zoom to do justice to the moon.  It s a better camera, and I still intend to share pictures from my trip to Europe but just have not gotten around to it, but here is what the Sony saw:

blood moon2 (9 of 15)

Sort of apropos to this blog, the local coyotes went absolutely apesh*t right at the peak of the eclipse.  Howling from every direction.




Coyote Cocktails

My guess is that there are no new cocktails under the sun, but I have not found anything similar out there so here is my current favorite homegrown concoction.  Call it a Coyote Cocktail if it has not been named yet.   I suppose it is sort of kind of like a Sidecar but I actually started from an Old Fashioned to get here:

  • 2 parts Bourbon (I think a slightly sweeter one like Makers Mark works well)
  • 1 part Cointreau
  • 1 part fresh grapefruit juice (we have a tree so this is easy)
  • a couple dashes of orange bitters

stir over ice.

A lot of restaurants in my area are serving slightly spicy tequila drinks, making Palomas or Spicy Margaritas with pepper-infused tequlia.  We have home-infused a bottle of tequila with peppers and really like it.  Our first try was a disaster -- we put 2 or 3 small dry peppers in bottle of tequila and let it sit for 5 days.  Mistake!  That is way too long.  A day is all that is needed for a good infusion and a nice level of spice.  We held onto the five-day flamethrower tequila.  It is fun to serve as a shot to friends who think they are manly for pounding Jagermeister.  Really gets their attention.

As an awful aside, apparently my son and his friends at college drink some concoction made of Jagermeister and Red Bull.  I am told this is a standard at clubs nowadays.  gahk.  Possibly even worse than the Schmidt Beer I drank occasionally at college when we were short on cash.

July 4 Shooters


I wanted to make an appropriate cocktail for our July 4 party, so I tried a red, white, and blue layered drink. The key to all layered drinks is to put the densest material on bottom, followed by the next lighter, and so on. The problem with this kind of flag drink is that most clear liquors tend to be the lightest and thus aren't appropriate for the middle band.

The bottom of this drink is grenadine syrup. The middle is peach schnapps. The top is blue curacao. Unfortunately, both the blue and the red on the first try were too close to the clear such that after about 5 minutes they started bleeding into the clear area. I solved this by adding some honey to the grenadine to make it heavier, and I diluted the blue curacao with water to make it lighter (even a 50:50 dilution did not seem to have much affect on its color). That did the trick.

Typically, one carefully pours each layer over an inverted spoon to keep them from mixing, but I wanted to use these tall thin glasses and a spoon would not fit. After trying several things, I used one of those large 4-6 ounce eyedroppers that are for feeding babies and pets. That worked great.

How do they taste?  Uh, don't they look great!  Actually, they tasted better than I had imagined for a drink concocted of ingredients chosen solely for their color and density.  Tasted sort of like grape juice.

Great Hand Vacuum

After a lot of unsatisfactory purchases of handheld vacuums, I can say this one is fabulous.  The only problem is that it sites in a charging cradle that does not attach well to a wall.  I am not sure why all these handheld vacuum makers have abandoned wall-mounting, but they seem to have.

Hey, I Love Eating Alone in Public

There are few things I enjoy more when I am on the road alone or even at home with my family gone for some reason than going to a nice restaurant, sitting at the bar, and having a few drinks and dinner.  All by myself (OK, maybe with my Kindle too).

My favorite right now is the bar at Eddie V's steakhouse.

As a weird aside which I cannot explain, I am a pretty severe introvert who finds it almost impossible to make conversation with strangers at cocktail parties or at nearly any other venue.  This week my wife and I were walking up Canyon Road in Santa Fe looking at art galleries and I just plain stopped going in because I didn't want to deal with the way every gallery salesperson tends to immediately overwhelm one with small talk.  I worked long and hard to find a hair cutter and a dental hygenist that didn't insist on trying to have a conversation while they did their work on me.   But despite all this, I can comfortably meet and interact with people while sitting at bars.  Not sure why.

Why We Southerners Are Apparently the Least Misogynist Americans

Because we say y'all, not you guys.

Thank the stars that we don't have gendered nouns (and thus adjectives and articles) as do Spanish, Italian, and German, among others.  Beyond the extra memorization hassles (the frickin' Germans have 3 genders to remember), what would the modern American Left do with that mess?


Bring Back Concubinage!

Until they were purged by the Medieval Catholic Church, many western cultures had marriage alternatives -- legal, contractual, long-term relationships within which children could be reared but which were not until-death-do-us-part marriage.  Ironically, Church father Augustine had a child in just such a relationship.**  Reading articles like this one, it strikes me that it is time for some modern innovation here.

We are in a position where we have just two alternatives -- marriage, which is a full-blown legal merger of two people into one for what is theoretically life -- and nothing.  Given the rise of childbearing in these no-long-term-commitment-whatsoever relationships, the state has taken a few halting actions to bridge the gap, but most of these have been ham-fisted and fraught with problems (our efforts to impose financial responsibility on fathers is one example).

If this were a market, I would say that there is clearly a consumer demand for an alternative product that fits between marriage and nothing, and allows two people to make long-term commitments to child rearing without necessarily commingling assets or making lifetime sexual monogamy vows.


** At the time, such concubinage relationships were often to satisfy class issues -- people of certain classes simply were not allowed to marry each other.  In Augustine's case, it allowed him to pursue a 15-year relationship with a woman who was not wealthy but left him available to marry when a rich woman later came along.  In short, it was used for reasons that are mostly irrelevant today.  But that doesn't mean we can't invent marriage alternatives of our own for our own modern reasons.

Awesome Homemade Donuts, Gluten Free Too

After dissing the Food Babe in the last post, I guess I need to recover some karma.  The whole gluten-free thing has been justly skewered (e.g. here) because the vast majority of people who want to live gluten-free have no biological justification for doing so.    That being said, there are people who are legitimately gluten-intolerant, like my mother-in-law.

When she visited, I knew nothing about gluten-free stuff.  But I bought this home-made gluten-free donut mix and a donut baking pan from Amazon based on the reviews.  Well, screw the gluten-free part, these things were awesome.  And really easy to make.  No vats of oil, they are just baked.  Recommended even for us wheat-eaters.

This is Strangely Awesome

My Contributions to Social Science

It occurred to me that I have reached important insights into human behavior that it would be negligent of me to withhold from the world, so here they are:

The Cheerleader Effect:  The cheerleader effect describes a human perception issue where pictures of any woman in a group are often considered more attractive than a picture of that woman alone (this may apply to men as well, but I have always heard it referred to women).  Apparently women exploit this effect by posting pictures on dating sites that show them in groups of their friends rather than alone.  Anyway, I have developed two corollaries:

  • Polo Shirt Effect:  Polo shirts in a store appear more desirable when grouped with other similar shirts in an array of colors than when presented alone.  This effect is strong enough to trump the paradox of choice, where offering consumers more choices can tend to flummox them and cause them to buy less.  I believe arrays of multi-hued polo shirts presented together increase purchases of these shirts.
  • Christmas Tree Effect:  We almost never buy ornaments for our tree.  95% are individually ugly, but meaningful, constructions by our kids over the years.  The rest are what remain after breakage of some commercial ornaments we bought 20 years ago on deep discount in the after-Christmas sales.  But a tree constructed of these ornaments is beautiful.  So ornaments look far better when massed on a tree than they look individually.

Towards A Theory of Pedestrian Behavior:  One of the things I enjoy is urban running -- ie running through the streets of cities.  When we travel, this is one of my favorite ways to see cities, and it also helps me run further because I do not get bored.  But trying to run through sometimes crowded pedestrian areas can be frustrating, since one is trying to move faster than the crowd and the crowd typically does not expect a runner coming up behind them on the sidewalk.  As a result of many such runs, I have developed two laws of pedestrian behavior:

  1. Groups of pedestrians will expand to fill the width of the space allotted.  If the width changes, groups of pedestrians will respond very quickly and expand their group spacing to fill that width.  While this behavior is almost certainly natural, it is almost impossible to distinguish a group walking naturally from one purposefully trying to block passage by a faster pedestrian.  Corollary:  Groups too small to fill the width of a passage or sidewalk will weave.
  2. Groups of pedestrians, everything else being equal, will choose to pause and congregate at the bottleneck in any sidewalk, thus constricting an already narrow passage.  DisneyWorld is a great location for spotting this behavior.  Corollary:  A disproportionate number of people will choose to stop right at the exit door from an jetway when exiting an aircraft.


I Wonder...

I wonder if American tattoos with Asian characters look like this to the Asians.

When the Giant Alien Ship Arrives to Find Out What Happened to the Dolphins Who Were Marooned on this Planet Millennia Ago, This Guy May Have Saved the Human Race

Picking A Lock with a Hairpin

Now I know what I am going to be doing all weekend.

Lost Joy

When I was in high school, there was a dating ritual in which the guy (ie me) went to pick up the girl at the girl's house.  The girl was never ready, so the guy was forced into an awkward (particularly on the first date) conversation with the girl's dad.

Apparently, this sort of dating ritual is gone, at least at our school and in my family.  As my daughter gets closer and closer to leaving high school, it finally struck me last night that I may never get to enjoy the payback of being the "dad" in this ritual.  And I was all ready, too.  I never use my shotgun any more but I keep it around solely in the hope of having it out on the table for cleaning when my daughter's date comes over.  Now I fear I will be denied this small joy.

(Of course, the fact that I have communicated my fantasy of cleaning my shotgun on my kitchen table when my daughter's dates come over may have something to do with my daughter structuring her social life such that boys never come over.  Corollary to Heisenberg:  You cannot discuss a fantasy without disturbing it).

Greatest Thing Since Duct Tape

Don't let Amazon's placement of it in the "craft" section fool you.  E-6000 is the best all-purpose, stick-any-two-arbitrary-things-together adhesive I have ever found.

I made my daughter a Christmas present which was a reproduction of the painting in the Disney Haunted Mansion where the man in the picture slowly turns to a skeleton.  I will post a build report at some time, but I had to anchor a heavy computer monitor to a wood box and an Ikea plastic frame, and E-6000 welded the whole thing together.  I also have used it recently to glue studs to a concrete floor to support a cabinet and to put a rubber weir under my garage door.  It takes a day to cure, and will not go on thin and sometime can be messy, but it makes an awesome bond.   I almost never touch epoxy or  Liquid Nails any more.

Update:  I know Gorilla Glue has its adherents.  The problem is that it expands so much (it kind of foams), it is really hard to control and get good results, at least in my opinion.  Neither of these replace ACC when you need to bond something fast or when you want your fingers stuck together all day.

So Much For the Patrimony

Would a visiting alien look at these photos and assume men were in charge?

Sentence Planning

One of the transitions English speakers have to make in Romance languages, and I have found particularly in Italian, is that the object of the sentence that we so often put at the end ends up at the beginning of sentences.  For example, in Italian, when translating the phrase "I can show it to you", the "to you" and "it" end up as the first two syllables ahead of everything else.

I was working on this just yesterday in my Italian lesson so I got a laugh out of XKCD

You absolute-fucking-... shit.

My Idea of Luxury

If I had a stupid amount of money to spend on a home, I would not go in for the French Chateau style mansion.  This is the house I would want.  The garage has a better view than any house I expect to own.

A Brief Rant -- Believe it or Not -- On Table Legs

Last night I was at a wonderful dinner in Sedona (report to follow in a later post).  However, at this very nice restaurant, the table wobbled, as tables so often do in restaurants.

Here is my question:  Why do restaurants still buy tables with four legs?? I understand in the old style table, where legs were at each corner of the table, four legs facilitates having 1-4 guests at a table without the legs getting in the way.  But most restaurants nowadays use tables that have a single pedestal in the middle, that then sits on -- and this is my problem -- four legs.   Here is an example:


Why not three legs?  Three legs are inherently stable, and in the pedestal design don't have to be any more obtrusive than four.  Even if the ground is uneven flagstone, a table with three legs still will not wobble.  A table with four legs almost always will.

Stop the madness.

Subjunctive in English -- Are There Examples Other than "Were"?

The other day I joked that most of my memories of Spanish in high school were of trying to learn and conjugate the subjunctive, an activity for which English speakers are not well-prepared.

In fact, the only example of a unique subjunctive verb conjugation I can think of in English is "were".  For example in "if I were a rich man,..."

I am sure there must be others.  I could Google it, but does anyone know any off hand?

Update:  We already have an awesome answer in the comments.  Though I am unclear how anyone that proficient in grammar can stand to regularly read this blog.  Makes me even more self-conscious about proof-reading better, which I actually have been attempting, even if the results are not obvious.

You Know You are A Geek When...

... the first thing you think of with this video is the Wrath of Khan


The Internet is full of examples of the humble brag.  You know the type of thing -- "I am such an idiot, I cannot find the fusebox on my Bentley" or "I must be a real loser, Kate Upton ditched me after only sleeping with me twice."  So I am not going to be coy, and am going to straight out brag about this new bad boy I acquired -- A Tetris light.  Each piece has a light inside, but only turn on when stacked with the others (the blue one is the one that plugs in and acts as the based, which is why it is on in the first picture).

photo (12)


Obviously they can be stacked in about any manner, and my family spent most of yesterday rearranging it over and over.  The metal rails on the edges act as the conductors, which is why they light when stacked.  No way to change the bulbs that I can see, but they are all LED so hopefully they will last.

I got it here but they sell them a bit cheaper on Amazon now.


All It Needs Is A Big Red Self-Destruct Button

I kind of like having a window in my office, but otherwise this is a pretty cool office / lair.

Remember Richard Jewell

My wife and I were discussing the Atlanta bombing last night and it struck me that, with all the false reports out of Boston, it would be useful to remind folks of the fate of Richard Jewell, a man whose life was essentially destroyed by our collective need for quick answers about a tragedy.  But Patrick at Popehat has already done the heavy lifting, so I will turn it over to him.

By the way, in an odd local angle on the story, for some reason Fox decided to interview Joe Arpaio as an "expert" after the blast.  Joe is an expert -- at getting himself media attention.  But I am trying to remember the last terrorist incident we had here in Phoenix.

Damn April Fools! I Wanted This to be Real