Wednesday, February 10, 2016

February 1


Not long after sunrise.

As I took pics of the sunrise, I became aware that there were a bunch of birds hopping around in the trees........  If you watch for moving spots, those are the birds.  I suspect they were starlings.  I didn't see any color.  But it was not all that light out...................



Want to spend the night in Van Gogh's bedroom?


You, too, can spend the night in Van Gogh's bedroom, too..............

La Chambre à Arles, by Vincent van Gogh, from C2RMF

This picture of Vincent's painting is in the public domain.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Toledo Zoo


We went to the zoo on Friday.  I have hundreds of photos to process.

Here's some excellent color, posted on a snowy Michigan day.

Panther chameleon.


corgis herding cattle


Big dog, small package.  Corgis herding cattle.

Seen on Corgi-L, the biggest, oldest, and best mailing list for corgi lovers.


Monday, February 08, 2016

The Uncommon Reader


I hadn't finished a work of fiction by a new-to-me author in a LONG time.  Every book by a new-to-me author I've picked up (and I pick up a lot) I have closed with disgust, having read less than a quarter of the book, for months and months and months.

We visit the library every week.  I keep bringing novels home; I keep reading a smidgen; I keep closing them and sending them back.

Finally, last Saturday, my streak of losers was broken.

I wish I remembered where I got the recommendation for The Uncommon Reader; I'd be glad to read something else recommended by the same source.

It's small, light, lightweight, but with comfortably serious undertones.  It made me laugh out loud several times.

The premise is that the Queen of England, who has always been too busy to read very much, stumbles across reading, and becomes a voracious reader.  Which leads her to think more, in different ways, about what she knows, and what is going on around her, and about her place in the world........

I enjoyed it.  I thought the ending rather abrupt, but not enough so to put me off the book.



Sunday, February 07, 2016

Lego models of ancient structures..........


There exist Lego models of ancient structures, intended to correctly imitate what was once reality.

Having taken Roman Architecture, I'd be interested in seeing the Colosseum and Pompeii, up close and personal............

(If you click through the Lego link above, have a look at the BINS of Lego blocks behind the artist responsible for the models.........)


more grocery-store flowers



Friday, February 05, 2016

another interesting time line -- history of maritime archaeology


Here's another interesting timeline (with pictures!).  This is the history of maritime archaeology.

This timeline, too, is from my Maritime Archaeology class.


We've controlled fire for 800,000 years?


Here's an interesting interactive timeline of human evolution (from the Smithsonian).

It says bi-pedal primates been able to control fire for 800,000 years.

Wow.  That's a lot longer than I would have predicted!

I heard about the timeline in my Maritime Archaeology class.




Gerbera daisy?


Thursday, February 04, 2016

January 30



The 30th was a very nice day -- bright blue, not too cold, not windy, excellent clouds.  Every time I looked up, the sky seemed worth recording.

Walking downtown for Saturday breakfast at Zingerman's.

After my making-grits adventure, I am eager to eat grits made by someone who makes them all the time.  They are on the breakfast menu at the Deli.

I'd thought I would have grits for breakfast, until I saw that the sandwich of the month for January was a tuna melt.  The only thing I learned in junior high school "home economics" was how good tuna melts are.

Home ec. was a waste of time for me.  My mom had already showed me how to use a sewing machine, and I already did more cooking and recipe-reading than they taught in home ec.  I really wanted to take shop, because I didn't know how to make any of the interesting wooden and metal things I saw coming out of shop class.

But it was the late 1960s, when girls took home ec., and boys took shop.  Period.  Never mind what any individual wanted to take, nor what anyone might (or might not) learn.  (So stupid!  When people are feeling nostalgic for the time of their youth, they should remember all the stupid arbitrary rules that have since been abandoned..........)

I did some agitating to be allowed to take shop, but couldn't find anyone to back me up. 

Instead of actually learning something, my time was wasted in home ec.  Wasted, that is, except for encountering tuna melts.

The Deli's tuna melt was made with balsamic vinegar on the tuna (instead of mayonnaise), with excellent cheddar, and pea sprouts.  This sandwich is not on the regular menu, so I decided I'd better have it on January 30, before it was too late.

It was yummy.  Mmmmm.  I had half for brunch, and the other half for ... mid-afternoon second lunch? 

Our daughter has built herself a dining table, and is now in the market for chairs.  When she was in San Francisco recently, she ate in a restaurant which had all different chairs.  All of them were painted white, so they worked together well despite their differences.  This is the current plan to accompany the new table -- different chairs, painted alike.  She knows how tall they need to be, and, of course, they need to be comfortable, and not too expensive. 

Ann Arbor's favorite consignment store is half a block from the Deli.  After breakfast, we left our farmers' market purchases in the car (I bought apples, and applesauce), and then we perused the chair selection at the Treasure Mart.

Once upon a time, I spent a lot of time at the Treasure Mart.  They have everything, from furniture, to Chinese treasures with documents from an appraiser, to tchotchkes of every kind.  I saw a horse-riding saddle, on the 30th.  Something for everyone.....  The Treasure Mart is packed with stuff, and crowded with people.

One of those people, on Saturday morning, was an old friend.  Her daughter was my daughter's best friend when the girls were little.  The two of us spent a lot of time together, back then, while our kids played.  She and her husband have since moved to another part of town.  We don't see each other often, but I'm always so glad when we do.  We spent some time reminiscing, and laughing, and catching up.  So nice to see her!

Before and after that quick visit, we checked out chairs.  Some were too fancy, some were uncomfortable, some were too low for her table.  We looked at a LOT of chairs, and sat on a lot of chairs.  One was identified that met the criteria.  Hooray!  One down, three to go.

Excellent company, yummy breakfast, good conversation, a chat with an old friend, successful shopping -- that's a good day, right there.

The day continued quietly.  My esteemed spouse was off at a bridge tournament.  I worked on finishing up my Extreme Microbes class, as I have signed up for too many interesting classes that all start in February!

I glanced out the study window at one point, and saw this guy at work. Do you remember, just recently I showed you some city workers messing with something under the manhole cover at the end of our driveway?  On a frosty cold January 19?

Less than two weeks later, here's someone about 30' from where those bundled-up workers were.  He's outside in shirt sleeves.  Short shirt sleeves.

Weird weather.......


Wednesday, February 03, 2016



Theropods to Birds is my new dino class.  Week 1 is on bird anatomy.  Birds are not like us.  In many ways.  Do you remember that I was gobsmacked, in Dino 101, to learn that birds breathe in a completely different way from mammals

Cranial sinus and postcranial air sac systems in birds
Strange and curious.  Birds keep air all over the place, and a full respiration takes two inhale/exhale cycles.  Who knew............  Birds need to be able to expand their skeleton, in order to breathe.  You can suffocate a bird, by holding it too tightly.............

The "birds breathe" link describes the whole process, with excellent images.  (The above image is part of the story, and [unlike the pics at Foster & Smith Pet Education] this one is ok for me to copy and use here.)

Anyway.  Bird anatomy.

One of the things we were asked to contemplate in Theropods to Birds is the difference between the sternums of cats, and the sternums of flying birds.  (cats have tiny sternums; flying birds have enormous sternums)

In class they gave us some tiny skeleton pics to look at.  I went hunting for better pics.

Wow, did I ever find them!  This page, from the University of Wisconsin at La Crosse, has some spectacular skeletons!

I've only looked at the chicken and the cat.  Scroll down, and click on the individual links.  Nice clear pics, nice labels..............

Really excellent!  So grateful to the people at UWLAX who took the time to make this wonderful learning resource available to all of us!  I wrote them a mash note.  I bet it went to the people who put up the web page.  I mean it for them, as well as the people who did the work on the skeletons, and the people who took the pics and got them ready for the web........  I hope the web people will share it with the biologists.

Speaking of why we love modern times, the www is surely a big reason!  All of this excellent info, available at the click of a few buttons............. 

This is a great time and place for a curious person to be alive.





Tuesday, February 02, 2016

January 29


Hey -- this is my very first animated gif!  Yay!

My better half was sitting on the couch, in the sun, reading.  Our library puts thin stiff-ish plastic over the dust jackets of hard-cover books, and then puts the jackets back on the books.

The plastic really reflects the sun, and does so in more interesting patterns than I would predict, given how relatively flat it is..........

You can see that his index finger is moving up and down, and I believe that is most of what made the shapes of the reflection change.

I love reflections, and shadows, and would love to work with them, but do not want to use any fossil fuels to generate light.

Any way I can use sunlight to make reflections (or shadows) -- I am eager to play with it.

Here's my first art project with reflected light on the ceiling and wall.

Both light bunches are the result of library books sitting in the sunshine.  I positioned the shapes on the wall and on the ceiling, but had nothing to do with the shapes of the bunches.

I like it!

My better half patiently waited while I fussed with library books, tilting them and shifting them, until I had both light bunches placed where I wanted them.

Then we went to Zingerman's Bakehouse for lunch.

They were all set up to teach a class.  Looking at the set-up, I guessed flour, water, olive oil.....

Someone else who was looking in through the window looked like she might be taking the class, so I asked.  Yes, she was, and it was pizza class.  I bet they had a lot of fun.

In this next image, you can see the mirror over the teacher's table, so you can see what s/he's doing without having to stand right there.  Isn't it clever how they've made a really big table, with a slot down the middle, so an instructor can go down into the middle of the table?

We had peanut soup for lunch.  Mmmmmmmmmmmm.  !!!  You get bread with your soup.  We picked sesame semolina.  It's good.  Yum.

After lunch, we went to the library, and then to the grocery.  Hooray for grocery-store flowers in the dead of winter!


Monday, February 01, 2016

more flowers


Gerbera daisy, I think.

Roses, mums, and ... itty bitty yellow stuff.  Is that goldenrod, I wonder?


January 28




Sunday, January 31, 2016

learning about history through examination of works done by children


Here's an idea that never occurred to me -- studying history by looking at the way children perceived their world.


Google's artificial intelligence can beat Go masters


Google's artificial intelligence can beat Go masters.  Pretty amazing.  What's next, bridge?


January 24


Early morning it Tree Town.  I love trees, but I love to see an unobstructed sky, too.........

There was no place to put a cup of tea, at the north end of the study couch, so I got this small shelf and hung it on the wall.  It's a bit precariously hung (one hanger, smack in the middle), so you need to put your cup in the center or it may tip.  But as long as you are careful, it works just fine.

Tea in the sunshine.

That peculiar shape under the shelf is the shadow of the rhinoceros on the window.

Another look at the light coming through the glass mug.

Later.  Errands.  Grocery-store flowers.


Saturday, January 30, 2016

something like zero gravity, on Earth.....


Look what can be done in a wind tunnel!  Wow!

My brother told me about this.


January 23


Sunrise in Tree Town, a month after the solstice.

Zingerman's Bakehouse makes really good pecan pie.

We really like their pain au chocolat and bostok, too.

Pie for breakfast.  Mmmmmmmmmm..................


Friday, January 29, 2016

NYC snow cave listed on airbnb


Ok, this made me laugh out loud.

Someone in NYC built a cave out of snow, and then listed it for rent on airbnb.

You couldn't pay me to sleep there, but ... different strokes for different folks............


January 22


Winter in Michigan.  Tire tracks on a tiny bit of snow.

Gorgeous blue sky, with interesting clouds, and a jet trail.


Thursday, January 28, 2016

helping Anna Marie


Sometimes people ask me what I do, now that I'm retired.

Here's one thing that takes a lot of my time.

I help see to it that sad lost corgi puppies like Anna Marie, who have serious health challenges, are able to get the medical care they need, so they can get healthy, find loving homes, and sleep on the bed, snugly wrapped in quilts.

Corgi people are amazing!  They take care of their own (and that includes homeless corgis, in addition to their own personal corgis).


January 21


The two places where cars blocked snow from hitting the street caught my eye.

Circles of rocks, and a circle of footprints.


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

finished Orion class


I just finished Orion class.  It wasn't mostly about Orion.  It was mostly about astronomy in general.  But I enjoyed it, and learned many things.

Here's the Orion nebula, from Wikimedia Commons.

This file is in the public domain because it was created by NASA and ESA. NASA Hubble material (and ESA Hubble material prior to 2009) is copyright-free and may be freely used as in the public domain without fee, on the condition that only NASA, STScI, and/or ESA is credited as the source of the material.

That's 21 certificates earned, out of 32 MOOCs in which I listened to all of the lectures.  (Leaving 11 classes which I listened to, but for which I did not do exercises or take quizzes/tests.)

Given that I started my first MOOC in September of 2012, that's not too shabby.  :-)

How does anyone ever get bored, when there are so many interesting things to learn about???

Today, as we finished lunch, my husband asked me what I was thinking about.  I told him "Comet tails!  A comet has two of them -- one is dust (yellowish and curved), and the other is plasma (blue-white and straight) -- and both point away from the sun (because the sun is pushing them away)."

It occurred to me that I was probably the only person on the face of this Earth whose spouse had just asked that question, and gotten that answer!  :-)

I told him so, and he told me that he thought that I was very often the only person on the face of the planet to have said whatever I just said.  :-)


Want to try putting a lander down safely on a comet?


Want to try putting a lander down safely on a comet?

My first try got me "75% success" (better than the actual mission....).

I tried two more times, with worse results.............

If you scroll down on the page linked above, you can see the BBC's description, in a slate quarry, of what it might be like to try to land on a chancy surface with sharp pointy boulders (nevermind trying to do that landing from millions of miles away, on a moving target, unable to see what you're trying to land on!).............


January 19 -- frost


Another cold and frosty night.  More long spikes, and fewer curls than the morning of the 18th.  (wonder why.................)


Christmas tree.

Same "tree," with sunrise behind.

Another closeup of the "tree," with different lighting from the first.

Long viney things.

Later in the day.  These guys came, knocked off the manhole cover at the end of our driveway, put something I think was an enormous socket wrench down into the hole, and then turned the "wrench."

I saw them do this last year, with a pole through the top of the wrench, which they walked round and round and round.  This year they had a machine to turn the wrench, and the guys stood still bracing the machine that spun the wrench.

Round and round and round in one direction, and then round and round and round, back in the other direction.

I assume they are exercising some valve down there, but what do I know.....