Tuesday, January 27, 2015

half bike, half car



January 23


On the 23rd we made another stab at buying a kitchen-sink faucet.   The current faucet has issues besides being too old to change the washers any more (and it leaks).  One issue with the current faucet is that it is so low it can be hard to get a teakettle under it.

I mean the new faucet to be high enough to easily fill the teakettle.

I am pretty sure I picked one that can be installed with the existing sink.  And -- it's one that includes the pull-out sprayer thingie as part of the faucet.  This means height is not an issue -- if you pull out the sprayer thing, it can be as high as I could possibly need.

But.  After I got home, I thought about how much plastic was involved with getting the water from the supply into my teakettle.  The faucet I picked has plastic supply lines, AND every drop of water goes through a yard or more of plastic line from where the water temp is mixed to the place where the water comes out.


I am afraid I will be making YET ANOTHER trip to Lowes.  And maybe to somewhere else, to see if they have different faucets!

Sigh, and argh.

While I was at Lowes, I wondered if there was a kitchen sink faucet that I actually liked, design-wise.  The answer was -- no, there wasn't.


There was one (1) bathroom-sink faucet that I liked.  I don't know that I would buy this, even if I were actually looking for a bathroom-sink faucet.  It is a brand I never heard of.  But I do like how it looks.................


Monday, January 26, 2015

black squirrel in the 'hood


I've seen black squirrels in Ann Arbor a few times in the past.  Once last year, there was one in our back yard.  Today I saw one across the street.  It was small, for a fox squirrel, but I don't think we have gray squirrels around here.  And sometimes fox squirrels are as small as the black one I saw.

I wonder what the color genetics are in squirrels.  I wonder if black is dominant or recessive, or if it's not that simple......


scary health-care statistic


Here's a quote from The University of Michigan Record update email.  The updates keep subscribers informed about faculty contribution to articles in various publications.

"Wellness programs should be targeted to those at risk for illness since the healthiest 50 percent of the population generates only 3 percent of health care costs," said Dr. A. Mark Fendrick, professor of internal medicine and health management and policy.



January 21


The maple trees along our street were all planted at more or less the same time.  I'm told (by a landscape architect) that they are "trashy" maples.  Not long-lived.

Two of them, in front of one house a few doors down, were in very bad shape.  Many branches obviously dead, even in winter -- no bark........

On the 21st they were dismantled, and the smaller bits were shredded.

It's always sad to see big old trees go.  At least these were clearly at the ends of their lives, rather than "healthy but taken down on some human whim"..........


Sunday, January 25, 2015



Here are two quotes from one of the articles that is part of GEOINT [geospatial intelligence]:

At this point you may be asking, “How is GEOINT different as a discipline and unique from other geospatial analytic activities?” GEOINT is a sub-discipline of geography and is unique from other forms of geospatial analysis because of its tradecraft. Specifically, GEOINT delivers insights gained from place and time for a decision advantage by integrating Geographic Information Science (GIScience), Geographic Information Technology, and its unique tradecraft.


Place is fundamental to geography and perhaps the most important concept in GEOINT. At first glance, location and place might seem to be similar terms; however, places have physical and human attributes that make them what they are.

The following two quotes are part of discussion of the difference between "location" and "place," and are from an article published by Dr. George Van Otten in the April-June 2014 Issue of the Military Intelligence Professional Bulletin.

Although places are unique expressions of human occupancy in time and space, most are also interdependent.


In some places, people are resilient and open to change, while in others, people are tradition-bound and resist even the mildest cultural, social, economic or political changes. Moreover, such resistance sometimes results in conflict, violence, and even war. Understanding the degree to which a people are committed to preserving the status quo relative to the places in which they live should be a fundamental part of the IPB process [intelligence preparation of the battlefield], because conflict (even low intensity conflict), nation building efforts, and peace-keeping missions all involve changing the nature of the places in which they occur.

So interesting, I think.  These are ideas which make sense once I hear (or read) them, but which I had never considered before..... 


another really cool use of GEOINT -- cyber tracking


Tools made for traditional trackers (in Africa, in the video) who cannot read or write, to help them keep track of, and map the location of, animals and plants in their territories, to help them with land rights, and to help science keep track of those animals and plants, and change in same over time.

Again, if you click through the above link, you should be able to see a video.  I like the nice peaceful music in the background......

Really cool!


using GEOINT to bring peace to Bosnia


Now this is really cool -- use of GEOINT (and some pretty cool software) to help bring peace to Bosnia.

If you click through the link above, you should be able to watch a video on that topic.....


CIA documents


O my.

The very next thing, after the video in the previous post, is a link to a CIA document on geographic intelligence.

Not only is this the only CIA document I've ever looked at, it's the only government document with redacted words and/or phrases............

Kinda creepy....

And kinda interesting....  There is a lot of discussion of problems with data collection.  Most of which, I bet, have pretty much become obsolete, now that there are satellites and high-flying planes, and drones, and all that stuff........


the power of GEOINT


This is the first video I've watched for a MOOC that has an official "ok to show this to the public" US Government release number on it. In fact, I'm pretty sure it's the only video I've ever watched, period, with such a release number.....

Kinda weird.................


January 20

On the 20th we had the water to the house shut off, so we could get new whole-house water shut-off valves installed.  Ball valves this time, instead of gate valves.....

I didn't know how long I'd be without water, so I collected a supply.

It snowed pretty hard for a while.

The city came, and turned off the water.  The shut-off is RIGHT by the tree in the pic, between that tree and the sidewalk.

If someone had deliberately intended that tree to straddle the water line, they could hardly have done a better job.  Sigh and argh.  (Wondering where the sewer pipe is, and suspecting it is pretty near the same place.................  Double sigh, double argh.)

The plumber came and installed the new valves. 

I had picked out a new faucet for the kitchen sink, but unfortunately I didn't pay enough attention to that task, and the faucet wouldn't work with our sink. 

Sigh, and argh.

I guess we're better off than we were before the 20th, but not as much so as I'd hoped.



Friday, January 23, 2015

thinking about retrofitting buildings to better withstand earthquakes


Isn't it nice to know that people are thinking about how to help existing buildings better withstand earthquakes?


January 17


We tried to get milk on our previous trip to the grocery, but they were nearly out of Calder milk.  We got two quarts, which lasted us two days.

On the 17th, we were happy to be able to get our usual 4 half gallons.

As we grabbed up all the things we expected to need, running errands (library books that had to go back, for example), I forgot the camera.

These were taken with the phone, which did a very creditable job.

Hooray for grocery-store flowers!


Thursday, January 22, 2015

January 16


On the 16th we had lunch at Zingerman's Bakehouse with my better half's golf buddy and his spouse.  You can see from the Bakehouse's shop into the bakery.  Or -- it must be *part* of the bakery -- I can't imagine that all the goodies they produce can come from this one (biggish) space.  Clearly they bake bread in here.  You can see a lot of dough on the table, and a lot of loaves on the rack, ready to rise.....

The results of their labors.  Or their colleagues' labors, maybe.  Mmmmmmm.......

We had peanut soup with hunks of baguette, and shared a slice of gingerbread cake.  Mmmmmmm......  Our friends had salads, and split a cup of peanut soup.  We had an enjoyable lunch!

Later, we walked outside for the first time in a long time.  We seem to finally be over the coughing.  Almost entirely.

Someone must have tossed a poinsettia.  Here is a poinsettia leaf, on the snow.


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

January 15


Dropping the offspring at the airport for her trip to California.

Hooray for grocery-store flowers!


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

January 14, late afternoon and evening


Late afternoon sun, on a blue-sky day.

Nearly all the marks on the snow in the back yard are the result of snow falling off the trees.  This is the first time we've ever lived in this house with no dog prints in the backyard snow.

Someone left the tracks in the upper right corner of this image, but I don't know who.  Not a dog, I'm pretty sure.

On the way to yoga.  Wow, eh?


Monday, January 19, 2015

January 14, morning


Early on the 14th there was frost all over everything.  This seemed odd to me -- usually when this happens, it's been warm (and humid) and when it gets cold, frost forms on twigs, branches, etc.  On the 13th, it was cold.  Overnight it was cold.  On the 14th it was cold.

So what happened to cause frost all over everything is a mystery to me.

It looked pretty cool when it was cloudy, and then the sun came out.........

I like this black and white version of the above, too.

Frost on the window.  When I took this image, I expected the result to look like a flower, but now that I can see it "on the big screen" I think it looks more like some sort of sea-anemone (or coral?) creature, waving tentacles in the water, ready to catch whatever touches them.......

A very pretty morning.


dog playing with ice cubes


Gotta love a dog doing that tuck-butt run..............

Seen at CuteOverload.com.


Sunday, January 18, 2015

digitizing collections of paper stuff at the Smithsonian


Here's an article on digitizing paper stuff at the Smithsonian.  Pretty cool -- much faster than digitizing used to be, and with crowd-sourced transcription of the documentation!


January 13


Cold, and ergo, frosty.  Sometimes the frost is an all-over pattern.  This is interesting, I think, but not as interesting as what sometimes happens on the edge of the totally-frosted glass....

Closer crop of the above....

Isn't the appearance of depth fascinating?  I can't imagine there is any appreciable depth here, but it looks like some of these fronds are significantly farther away than some of the others.......

Love the frosty hand in the lower left corner.........

Glad for blue sky.

It was a pretty day.  Look at all the sparkles...........



Saturday, January 17, 2015

January 12


The sky in the east was darker than the sky in the west.  I'm not sure I've captured the way the light was odd.

Snow on the tulip tree.

These flowery structures are the seeds left from last year's tulip-tree flowers.  Full of snow.

In the lower left corner is what's left from the flowers of two years ago.  All the seeds are gone, leaving only that pointy thing in the middle.  The pointy things in the middle of last year's groups of seeds are mostly covered by the snow.  You can just see the tip of the one in the top "flower".

You can see more pointy things sticking out of the snow in a few of these sets of last year's seeds.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Missing Microbes


This is an interesting and scary book.  We have to stop handing out antibiotics like they are candy on Halloween!  There is clear and compelling evidence that antibiotics are seriously messing us up, and we don't even know in how many ways, at this point.

Nothing I read in this book is contradictory to what I learned in Human Microbiome class last fall.

A little knowledge is very dangerous, but that never seems to stop us humans from rushing ahead to change things around, as soon as we are able to do so.

So many of the things we are messing up have catastrophic potential.........

I recommend this book.


the Beckers


One of the albums at Granddad's is full of congratulatory cards received by his parents on the event of their 50th anniversary.

There are also some other items taped in near the end of that album.

We have no idea if Granddad's parents knew the Beckers, or if, as their own marriage reached the 50-year milestone, they were looking forward at others who had reached their 65th anniversary.  Or both.  Or neither.

We were all struck by Henry's hairstyle.  So glued-down on top, but with those two little ... protruberances ... on the sides.....  Our daughter suggested it was to match his wife's hat, sticking out on both sides, and maybe it was.  (Surely that's not some random dark thing on the wall behind him?  Who knows.)

It's clear a lot of thought went into their garments (and, no doubt, into the hairstyles).

They lived a long life together.  I hope it was very happy and fulfilling.


Thursday, January 15, 2015

January 11


Hooray for grocery-store flowers!


Grocery-store roses often look pretty tired.  These were in very good shape.