Monday, March 27, 2006


It has struck me that the majority of pets owned today are actually in solitary confinement. Most of them come from social structures that are usually composed of many individuals in nature: packs of dogs, clowders(?) of cats.

We disappoint our pets every day, closing the door on their questioning faces, and condemning them to an unknown and unknowable period of solitary confinement.

Unless of course, you have multiple pets. This was the major driver for me to have two dogs, and to now have three cats (not simultaneously). At least they have each other while the humans are away, doing whatever it is that humans do.

 Wednesday, March 22, 2006

There's something different... did you cut your hair?

No, I changed skin. Templates, actually.

Why? Not because I disliked the last template, but because it had become unwieldy and unpredictable. I wanted my blog posts to have a clean, uniform look, and my previous style sheet obviously had serious problems which I did not have the time or skills to solve. There were serious differences depending on whether the page was viewed with a Mac or a PC, and differences between browsers. I also wanted to manage search tools and do comment moderation all from the same site, rather than having to log in to many different places for each function. This is a simple, clean start with a nice look that matches the previous colour scheme fairly well. I'm not sure, but it looks like it might have an imbedded format for PDA browsing.

So, out with the bathwater it all went. Well, not all, since you will still see iconic elements from Newton that I included in this new template. I'm sure I will be tinkering with this template as well to make it a little different from all the other versions of it in the blogosphere. That picture at the top, for a start (but that seems to be quite an involved process). All that tweaking will probably make for some of the same problems and mess up the PDA browsing ease. Sigh.

There were several consequences to the change, the main one of concern to readers being that your previous comments are "gone." I'm working on that, but transferring comments from enetation to blogger will probably be a tedious, one-by-one process (not to mention that I have lost my enetation password and userID). Luckily, you are a shy lot, and haven't said much. "No, you just don't spark conversation" was the quietly mumbled reply I distinctly heard despite your best efforts at hiding it behind your hands...

The other change is having blogger host the searches rather than Atomz. Atomz has the nice feature that it gives statistics on the searches done each month, and e-mails them to me. It does (did?) have a flaw in that it had trouble indexing archives. I have not been impressed so far with blogger's search, but perhaps it takes a while for the index bot to crawl my site. We shall see - Atomz may yet reappear (legally, since blogger does allow use of external tools).

I got rid of the list of books, and I'm still not happy with how the blogroll looks. It is just not clean. Ditto for the propaganda icons. I may ditch them and simply have text links to clean it all up - but I have no idea how to handle the hit counter for now.

I will leave that for other late nights. This change all happened yesterday lunch, and most of last night.

Now it's time for a kip, before my lunch break is gone.

 Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Quizlet 2:

El Niño years have twice the average precipitation, and La Niña years have one quarter of the average precipitation. If all years are either El Niño or La Niña (i.e. no neutral years), how often does El Niño occur?

What if you allow neutral years?

Answer to Quizlet 1: Northbound, port-side

Seeing something setting means you are looking West. If it is rotating counter-clockwise, then you are rotating clockwise. Facing West + rotating clockwise means Northbound. If you are Northbound and looking West, you must be on the left (port) side of the aircraft.

 Saturday, March 18, 2006

Eyes front!

I often hear discussions about eyes as indicators of the principal direction of locomotion. It makes sense for creatures to have their eyes primarily perpendicular to that axis.

So how do crabs fit into this? I know their eyestalks are highly manouverable, but it still reduces their separation and therefore 3-D perception if they are always moving obliquely...

Perhaps there are some predator-prey pressures at work here? Do they only need highly accurate 3-D when they are right over their food?

I will have to investigate next month, when the appropriate folks come to visit me...

 Friday, March 17, 2006

Pendulous condensates:

No, it's not the subject line from junk mail, but an obscure reference to an atmospheric condition.

A friend sent me this link to a set of spectacular photographs of mammatus clouds - which are the best I have seen.

Within the same week, I read this news release from the Geological Society of America, talking about a new form of ash plume over an Ecuadorean volcano. Although the article does not explicitly say it, they are describing volcanic mammatus.

I would bet there are some slight differences in the dominant wavelengths because of density differences between regular cloud and an ash-steam mix, but the "hundreds of meters" wavelength looks about right for the Nebraska photos.