Saturday, June 30, 2007
The Buckhorn Valley Kennel Club show had 18 Akitas competing, as well as about 1500 other dogs of all breeds. It was a lot of fun to see all the dogs, and wander around looking at all the "dog stuff". It wasn't the most productive visit -- no one I talked to locally has any planned litters -- but it was fun, nonetheless.
My sister and her husband show their Pug, Truman. Or rather, the breeder who co-owns him shows him on their behalf and he's been doing really well. They love the whole dog-show thing, and it's definitely eaten up their weekends traveling locally to shows with the little beast.
I can't say that I want to show dogs. There seems to be two level of interest in this "sport" -- those who enjoy the company and the competition, and those who reaaaaaalllly like winning. I guess it can be pretty cut-throat at higher levels, but this show was a local one, and everyone was pretty laid back and nice. I've heard that talking to exhibitors during some of the larger national shows is a no-no; they are likely to bite your head off for trying to engage them before a show. They want to show off their dogs, of course, but only to the judges.
Everyone we me was thrilled to talk to us about their breed, ask about our own dogs, and in general was thrilled to see people coming out to the show. Rather nice!
Otherwise, it was just HOT this weekend.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
I still don't think so, and I think the side-effects of everyone rushing off to the Super Fabulous Solution to all our Problems are going to difficult. Apparently, Germany is thinking the same thing. Beer in Germany is up over 40%, and the brewers are blaming the rush to grow food crops for fuel.
The head of the German brewers' association, Richard Weber, has caused outrage among friends of the annual Oktoberfest beer jamboree by predicting the hefty price rise. He pointed out that the German barley crop has been halved this year and that prices have soared by 50 per cent within 12 months
Brewers are demanding that farmers stop growing crops to make fuel (well, perhaps not the best response to the problems) and I think are highlighting a problem that makes many of us nervous: if we're using the acreage to grow crops for fuel, what happens to food production and food prices? I'm far more concerned that people worldwide won't be able to afford food -- or even get food -- than I am that the First Worlders can feel better about driving their SUVs.
Maybe biofuels are part of the solution, but they are no panacea.
Not much luck, really. No one has puppies, and only a few are planning litters this year. We found a local woman who has a litter of puppies on the ground now, but she's definitely a "backyard breeder" who isn't genetically testing her two dogs, and while she loves her dogs they are not the best examples of Akitas that I've seen. Not even close. We found a really, really cute white puppy there, but we're balking at getting him because his dad has the weirdest looking head we've ever seen. I've never seen a jowly akita before.
But one of the sites that I found has a 9-month-old Akita puppy for sale. He was originally kept as a show dog, but didn't quite make the cut. I opened the site and burst into tears. It was Rukh. Seriously -- the pictures are so eerily similar that I'd be hard pressed to identify who's who if I saw them side by side. It's kind of freaky.
My gut went "now! your dog! get him now!" but the rational part of my brain freaked out a little at the thought of getting a dog that was such a perfect doppleganger for our old dog. That might just be a bit weird.
But it's Rukh's face. Click on the 'for sale' link here to see. The picture above is of Rukh, of course.
Fred Fielding's letter telling Congress to f--- off is not so much a legal notice, but a lecture. It spends two paragraphs saying "no," one paragraph spinning the White House as cooperative, and then seven paragraphs talking about the exalted tradition of executive privilege.
More troubling, however, is what Fielding attaches: an opinion written by Solicitor General Paul Clement, explaining that OLC has reviewed Congress' requests and found that those requests fall squarely within the realm of executive privilege.
Paul Clement, as you'll recall, is the guy currently in charge of any investigation into the US Attorney firings, since Alberto Gonzales recused himself some months ago. He's the one who technically oversees the Office of Special Counsel investigation into whether politics played an improper part in Iglesias' firing or the hiring of career employees in DOJ, he's the one who oversees the joint Office of Professional Responsibility and Inspector General investigations into whether anything improper--including obstruction of justice--occurred in the hiring and firing of USAs. And now, he's the guy who gets to tell the President that he doesn't have to turn over what might amount to evidence of obstruction of justice in the Foggo and Wilkes case, among others.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Stayed at the Hotel Monaco downtown, right on the 16th Street Mall, so we could wander about and have great food, went to the Colorado Renaissance Festival (the source of the sunburn!) and then went down to check out a litter of Akita puppies in Colorado Springs. We saw the new Cirque du Soleil show Corteo on Sunday, and walked through the La Piazza del Arte Festival (the source of the blisters)
Finally, we saw the Titanic exhibit ta the Science Museum yesterday, followed by dinner at The Fort (where we had rattlesnake as an appetizer).
I'm exhausted. But what fun!
Friday, June 22, 2007
5. If a camera is present, you will need to execute the difficult "hug/smile/lean" maneuver to achieve the best photo quality.
My sister has a mastiff like this one -- although her beast is fawn-colored, and a bit bigger. At his last vet visit, Colonel weighed in at an astounding 209 pounds. Makes my dogs seem tiny in comparison!
Why? Well, to bypass the rules, of course. Cheney is refusing to comply with a presidential order regarding annual reports on security with the National Archive. All federal offices are required to file reports, based on a presidential order to provide a uniform, government-wide system for safeguarding classified info. Cheney filed in 2001 and 2002...but since then? He has decided that he doesn't have to. He's not "fully part of the executive branch", so the rules doesn't actually apply to him. He has also refused to comply with orders to disclose how much information was begin classified and declassified.
The Vice President's office's refusal to comply with the executive order and the National Archives's request prompted the National Archives to file a complaint with the Attorney General's office. But the Justice Department has not followed up on the Archives's request. [Rawstory]
Isn't that nice? He has 'executive privilege' or 'executive immunity' whenever it suits him, but when it doesn't suit him (as when he's been requested to provide information to Congress regarding his activities and those of his close aides), he claims executive privilege. Nice to have it both ways isn't it?
When the National Archives lodged a complaint with the Justice Department, Cheney's office retaliated:
It has requested changes in the executive order that would abolish the ISOO and
eliminate the ability of the National Archives to appeal disputes to the Attorney General.
At least he didn't shoot anyone.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Harry is getting older, and find that he is unable to...ahem...perform to his satisfaction. Visits to his doctor result in pills and such, but nothing works. Finally, desperately, Harry seeks the help of a local witch doctor.
After much chanting and smoke and incantations, the witch doctor tells Harry, "This is a very powerful spell, so it will only work once every year. Just say '123' and you'll have an erection for as long as you like!"
Harry is very pleased "What about when it's over, and I don't want to continue?"
"You or partner just have to say '1234' and it will go down. But remember--you can't try again for another year!"
Harry rushes home, eager to try the new spell. He spiffs himself up, shaves, uses his best cologne, and climbs into bed next to his wife. Putting his hand lovingly on his wife's shoulder, he whispers, '123' and suddenly is more aroused than he has ever been in his entire life! It worked! Just like the witch-doctor promised!
His wife rolls over sleepily, and asks, "Harry? What did you say 123 for?"
And this, dear readers, is why you never end a sentence with a preposition.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Well, I shouldn't cringe away in horror, it doesn't actually gross me out that much, but I know if really gives some people the heeby-jeebies.
We noticed a very strange phenomenon, though.
After dinner, we usually give Uulaq the bits of leftovers (the rest of the rice, or the last few meatballs, that sort of thing) on one of the dinner plates (and no, don't worry, we prety much scald them into an antiseptic state in the dishwasher!). So the Adorable Husband mixes the rest of the veggies in with brown rice with the serving spoon and both of us suddenly realize that we both now consider the spoon "dirty" and, even though we haven't done anything with it but touch the food that we were planning to give to the dog, the spoon had cooties. The spoon went from perfectly fine serving spoon to "touched-the-food-for-the-dog" icky just by intent.
The dog at this point is still outside, hasn't even seen the bowl yet, and we realize that we are both absolutely unwilling to use the spoon again. Same thing a fork or knife used to cut up something. In this case, we had been eating the rice and veggies all mixed up anyway, so it wasn't even that the food was in some sort of weird mixed-up, inedible combination. We had just decided that it was now the dog's leftovers.
And then, of course, there's Clocky, which runs away and hides when the alarm goes off so you have to follow it around to turn it off.
On the forum, it came up in a discussion regarding admonitions about marriage and how the rules about who to marry, who not to marry, etc were derived. So someone asked the rather odd question of how it was determined to be "bad to marry your brother or sister". Well, we all sort of know this, right? I mean, cultural taboos against incest are pretty deeply grounded. And we all know now that there are some very good physical reasons not to interbreed (the Hapsburg Chin, anyone?), but how has this decision been explained by others?
Well, someone remembered a discussion by St. Thomas Aquinas regarding the topic, and we all were rather amused by the hilarious justification he gives for not marrying your sibling (quoted here from Russell's book):
[According to St. Thomas] Divine Law directs [...] There must be strict monogamy; polygyny is unfair to women, and polyandry makes paternity uncertain. Incest is to be forbidden because it would complicate family life. Against brother-sister incest there is a very curious argument: that if the love of husband and wife were combined with that of brother and sister, mutual attraction would be so strong as to cause unduly frequent intercourse. (H.W.P.p459)
Thomas Aquinas wrote the Summa Theologica, which has commentary on any number of questions and is intended as a teaching tool for theology of the 13th century He's generally considered to be a fantastically smart guy. But the reason he could come up with to bar sibling marriage was too much sex? You have to admit that's pretty funny, and pretty telling about medieval attitudes towards women and men and the natural things they do together!
Monday, June 18, 2007
It sounds good on the surface, of course -- fewer emissions, using a "renewable" resource vs reliance on fossil fuels (and the necessary reliance on foreign supplies of oil). I'm all for changing what we do if it's really better; I'm not a tree-hugger by any means, but I think we all have a responsibility to use resources better and try to keep our impact on the rest of the world as small as possible. We Americans love our cars, and I think we need to be more careful how we use them and fuel them.
But the ads that I've been hearing have some disturbingly vague information. Most notably, the "Live Green, Go Yellow!" campaign touts that "Ethanol can cost up to a dollar less per gallon and save x dollars a year in fuel!".
Well, not quite. First, in many states, E85 is actually more expensive than gasoline, and it is available in only a few places. In March, the adjusted average for gasoline was 2.30 a gallon, for ethanol, 2.96. The difference was a bit smaller recently, but only because gas is climbing near the 3.50 mark, at least around here.
Second--and more importantly--Ethanol has fewer BTUs than gasoline (about 80K/gallon, vs 109-125K), that is. it has less energy in it. So, your car gets fewer miles per gallon of ethanol than it does for gasoline, despite the higher octane. Estimates range from 25-25% decrease in fuel efficiency. The latest studies from the Energy Dept suggest that the drop could be as high as 40%. (Their tools are here)So that mythical dollar you save on buying ethanol is easily outweighed by the additional gallons you have to buy. It's hard to get actual numbers, since Ethanol is not yet widely used and most cars mix a tank of gasoline in once in a while, but at least one example noted a 17% difference in fuel efficiency running "mostly E85" and 24% using solely E85.
Newer cars, with computer-managed fuel-injection systems are likely to do better, but even cars designed as flex-fuel vehicles show a definite drop in fuel efficiency. Ok, so it doesn't cost less -- that has never really been a goal of using alternate fuels (although it sure seems to be touted as a benefit in advertising). Does it at least cost less to produce? Early data suggested that it actually was a zero-sum game: it took as much energy to produce a gallon of ethanol as it contained. Newer methods of generating ethanol are not as bad, and there is a net energy gain from ethanol. I was also surprised to learn that ethanol cannot be transported in pipelines like gasoline (it picks up impurities and excess water too easily) and thus must be trucked to processing plants and distribution centers. If you balance the cost of having to drive trucks to haul the stuff, the balance sheet doesn't look as good, either. [Ethanol's Net Energy Balance]
[Businessweek] From General Motors, an ad campaign called "Live Green, Go Yellow" gave America the impression that by purchasing GM vehicles capable of using E85 ethanol, we could help reduce our dependence on foreign oil.
What GM left out of its ads was that the use of this fuel would likely increase the amount of smog during the summer months (as the EPA's own attorneys had admitted in 1995) -- and that using E85 in GM products would lower their fuel efficiency by as much as 25%. (USA Today recently reported that the Energy Dept. estimated the drop in mileage at 40%.)
But cost of fuel is not really the driving issue here. Even if it costs you the same to drive with E85, the benefits of cleaner air, etc, would be enough to get people to swap, right? Well, even that is up in the air. E85 use can actually cause more smog during some periods even if it doesn't belch out hydrocarbons and other greenhouse gasses.
But it's the invisible cost that strikes me as more dangerous. If we pursue creating ethanol from food crops (corn, beets, etc) as a primary use, we're going to drive up the cost of food. No one is really sure just how far the ripple effect will go -- but the demands of producing corn, for example, as a source of ethanol have already impacted corn prices and land use. Recently, the UK reported that:
the final figure is equivalent to 1.2 billion litres of bioethanol and 1.35 billion litres of biodiesel. If this were to be produced in the UK, 1.2 million hectares would be required, about 20% of the UK's arable land.
Now, the US has a lot more land under cultivation, as does the rest of the world, so the assumption is that most ethanol/biodesiel will be shipped around the world from producers to users.
So if I sound skeptical about the lovely claims that ethanol is "the perfect plan", I am. Perhaps in the balance, it is a better choice, but the campaign to get it accepted seems to be relying on some pretty shady marketing tactics. Appealing to my pocketbook might get me to look at other options, but when in the end, it might cost more to use it, I'm definitely going to be doing a lot more research first. If a large chunk of the things I buy get more expensive because we shifted land-use, transportation methods, and other costs from oil to cover crops...the benefit of fewer emissions may not be enough to sway most people away from common, (relatively) cheap and familiar gas.
Sunday, June 17, 2007
It's odd, really. Most of our peers haven't been together half as long, and many are on their second or even third marriages. We've been very, very lucky, I know that. I still look over in the morning and think, "Damn, I'm lucky I married this man!"
We've actually been together a bit over 25 years. Couple that with turning 41 next week, and attending the graduation party of our friend's daughter (when I remember her when she was TEN) and I'm feeling quite old this week.
I say it in a rather facetious way, because I certainly don't really feel old except for those first few minutes in the morning when I'm trying to get my back straightened out. But in general, I realize that I've definitely hit adulthood with all the requisite responsibilities and stuff. Kind of daunting, actually! I suppose I can get older but I'm not going to grow up. Nya-nya-nya!
The Adorable Husband was on call all weekend, so we are taking time off next weekend to wander around Denver, see the new Titanic exhibit at the museum, go to dinner, that sort of thing. It'll be fun!
Friday, June 15, 2007
That bill, the Preserving United States Attorney Independence Act of 2007, has been on the president’s desk since June 4th. Do you know it seems he just can’t bring himself to sign it? Instead, we were informed yesterday through the Justice Department that the attorney general has used the power that we voted to repeal again.Well, Bush got what he wanted, and by delaying, he was able to get one more loyal Bush-follower into a public office. The bill was finally signed yesterday. After Gonzales did his spiffy little two-step around the law.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
This has been a topic of much discussion in the Phouka household this week. We open the house up at night to take advantage of the lovely Colorado summer weather, and the temperature in the house in the morning has been dipping into mid-50s territory. It's perfect sleeping weather, and if we are conscientious about shutting the windows in the morning, the house stays cool enough that the air conditioning doesn't really come on until early evening, even on the 90-degree days. That sun blasting into the house from the west tends to heat things up a bit, but otherwise, it's pretty comfortable. The temp outside was 85, and even at 4pm it was still only 68 in the house.
Anyway, it's pretty dang chilly in the house in the morning, and even cooler downstairs. The Adorable Husband has been exercising in the basement each morning, and enjoying the cool mornings. I had to laugh at him -- if the house was the same temperature in January, say, he'd be bitching to high heaven that the house was like an icebox and refusing to get out of bed in the morning! (Well, me, too, but I tend to like it cooler than he does in general).
But now? When the days are climbing to 90 degrees? It's "refreshing" and perfectly ok that the house is at 56 in the morning while he runs around in pajama bottoms and no slippers.
Well, why does this happen? Obviously, it has to do with perception of "hot" and "cold" compared to the normal environment (I found an interesting explanation here in Hot and Cold Questions), but my body temperature is the same. Do I just get used to it being warmer, so my body thinks that 75 degrees is the "right" temperature instead of 35 degrees? So at some point in the spring and fall my body temperature sensors readjust? What triggers it? Average outdoor temperature? Longer daylight hours? Humidity?
It's all a sensory illusion, of course. 55 degrees is 55 degrees, but the relative difference in what we see as "normal" temperature accounts for the difference. I'd be curious, though, to find out the specific trigger points for when we think 55 is hot vs when we think 55 is cold.
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Many moons ago. the Adorable Husband bought a truly inspired flavor of ice cream: Dreyers Ultimate Caramel Cup. Caramel ice cream, caramel swirl and--the best part--caramel filled chocolate chips.
Mmmmmmm. Caramel-filled chocolate chips. Like teensy little Rollo candies. Bliss.
At first, we ate the ice cream like normal people. But then, in what I now shall call The Perfect Crime, I started to pick out the caramel cups and just eat those.
Soon, this was not enough. I discovered that if I left the ice cream out for just a bit to get soft, I could root through the entire carton of ice cream, eating ALL the caramel cups, and then sort of squish the ice cream back down into the bottom of the container so it looked all normal again. Like I said, The Perfect Crime.
The poor Adorable Husband must have wondered if there was some sort of manufacturing problem, that the top of the container had plenty of chocolate bits, and the bottom half was strangely devoid of anything resembling a Caramel-filled chocolate chip.
Mauna Loa is the tallest mountain. Measured from the base of the mountain (which starts on the sea floor), Mauna Loa towers over Everest by about 3/4 of a mile -- at about 30,080 ft. Of course, about 15,000 of that is under water, but the mountain rises as a single slope from the sea bottom to its crown.
A technicality, to be sure, but at least one other site notes that
Geophysical evidence indicates that the full height of Mauna Loa above its base is an astounding 19 kilometers, more than twice the height of Mount Everest above sea level.
Monday, June 11, 2007
Ok, so it wasn't enough to get freaked out about the History channel show, oh, no -- I had to do a bit more googling to see what else I could find out. (Me? Obsessive?)
One of the scenarios in the show was the enormous eruption of the Yellowstone caldera, releasing about 1000 cubic km of material into the atmosphere as it did 640,000 years ago. It tends to erupt about every 600K years, according to the layers in the surrounding park, and an eruption of this size would be catastrophic to life in the US. (To compare -- Mt. Saint Helens burped up only 1.2 cubic km of material. A tiny little blip in the company of the "supervolcanos".
So what else do I discover? That the largest supervolcano caldera ever discovered is in Colorado!
La Garita was the site of truly enormous eruptions about 26–28 million years ago, during the Oligocene Epoch. The scale of volcanism was far beyond anything known in human history. The resulting deposit, known as the Fish Canyon Tuff, has a volume of approximately 5,000 cubic kilometers. That is more than enough material to fill Lake Erie. For comparison, the May 18, 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens was only 1.2 cubic kilometers in volume. The area devastated by the La Garita eruption must have covered a significant portion of what is now Colorado, and ash could have fallen as far as the east coast of North America and the Caribbean.
It was one of the largest known eruptions, if not the largest, to have occurred in Earth's history.
Well. At least it is considered "extinct" at this point. We hope.
My standard response to these is to explain it, once, and then jokingly reply, "Well, I know you're not stupid, you can do it!" And sometimes, not so jokingly. Most people can't figure out a way to reply to that without admitting that yes, they are indeed stupid. They either do it themselves, or find someone else to do it.
Now, I do sympathize with people when faced with a new technology -- but everyone can figure these things out once they've been shown how. Refusing to do it after you've been shown is just trying to be purposely helpless or blatantly arrogant.
A couple of excerts from the Invisible People:
That's my boss. She also believes when you fax a document, you lose it, so you
must make a copy of it before faxing. How she thinks the original document is
transported physically from our machine to another machine is something I should
ask her sometime.
And, finally, this absolutely hysterical exchange recounted by one poster:
"Did your boss ever live in Albuquerque, say around 1990? I ask because at that time my then BF, now DH was working in copy shop. This woman came in & really insisted, vehemently, that she needed to fax her daughter the airline ticket she was holding in her hand.
The daughter, who did not have a fax machine on her end, was sitting by the phone waiting for a physical piece of paper to arrive somehow & allow her to catch her plane. The one that left within a couple hours.
He tried to explain it to her, but she was so insistent that he started to lose his temper. I stepped in (I was waiting for him to get off work) and tried, too. She just would.not.believe us.
She and her daughter truly believed that the ticket would be sucked into the machine & spit out into the phone at the daughter's house. Eventually, I suggested calling the airline & seeing if they could reissue the ticket & have it waiting for her when she arrived, but that was declared a 'stupid' idea and she stomped off in search of a copy shop where they could HELP her.
Sure, there have been disaster movies on SciFi for years about the giant asteroid heading towards earth, or a volcano erupting in Los Angeles or something. At the last moment, while the desperate people on earth watch in awe, the asteroid is destroyed, or the lava is rerouted, or most people excape the giant tsunami. It's a popular genre.
But the reality -- as this History Channel special explains with computer simulations and detailed scientific explanations of the predicted results -- is never so pretty. A massive eruption of the enormous caldera that sits under Yellowstone Park could drop ten feet of ash and sulfuric acid over the entire US and within weeks over most of the globe. The oceans would have the pH of battery acid and the darkness would kill off most of the plant life for many years. And we're about 30,000 years overdue for a massive eruption, if history is any predictor.
A black hole swinging close to our solar system (not as far fetched as it sounds) would give us decades of warning that the earth was going to be destroyed. And not a damn thing we could do about it.
Asteroids are a common movie villain, but the rosy outlook promised by the movie Armageddon isn't quite reality, according to the experts. An asteroid the size of Connecticut is currently plotted to come close enough to the earth in 2029 that it will actually pass beneath the orbit of some of our communication satellites -- and when it returns seven years later, no one knows whether it will hit us or not. If it does -- well, we know how the dinosaurs died off, and if anyone actually survived the firestorm in the atmosphere that would follow such an impact, it would be a short and painful existence. One of the interesting discussions in the show was of the movie-version of an asteroid hitting the earth: everyone standing outside, lookup up as the glowing rock leaves a shooting-star trail across the sky. Nope, according to science. THese things move at hundreds of miles per second, supersonic. We'd never hear it, and if we were anywhere within a thousand mile radius, the heat of the asteroid coming through the atmosphere would fry people instantly. No pretty glowing trails in the sky, just boom!
We can't actually waste much time worrying about this sort of thing, of course. These events are of such scope and impact that there isn't anything we can do to stop them -- and if they occur, there isn't any way for anyone to "fix" things. We can plan and we can have warning systems in place, but these would be world-ending events. Or at least, species-ending events for anything that needed to breathe and eat and drink. Nothing we do will avoid mile-high tides caused by a black hole, or the blasts of gamma radiation that quite literally shuts down our cells. We can't respond to this sort of thing, and the reality is that we shouldn't spend a whole lot of time trying to do it.
Not quite the nice end to the weekend that I envisioned!
Keep an eye out for the show on the History Channel -- or pick up the DVD here. It's interesting, even if it is enough to keep you up at night staring and the ceiling and wondering.
Thursday, June 07, 2007
The house is making faint booming noises each time a wind gust hits, and even the closed and locked windows upstairs are whistling in the wind. The outer edge of a huge storm system is running through Colorado -- no rain, but hurricane winds!
It's died down a bit finally (only about 35 mph gusts, according to the Adorable Husband's weather center thingy) but yesterday evening would not have been a good time to fly a kite or walk a teeny little dog. Keep a hold of small children, too!
Here are a few of the recorded wind gusts:
Berthoud – 101 mph (north of us)
Boulder – 92 mph (just a wee bit east of us
Genesee – 74 mph
Louisville – 70 mph
Greeley – 58 mph
Estes Park – 53 mph
A fairly recent notion in biology and genetics is the concept of Most Recent Common Ancestor (MRCA) ; that is, if you go back far enough, there is a common person in everyone's lineage. No, this is not a pitch for a "Genetic Eve" or any such nonesense, it's actually much simpler than that, and computer simulations have suggested that a common ancestor for ALL people of European descent is as recent as 1700 years ago.
Now, I'm the last person to try to explain statistics...they are mostly incomprehensible to me. But a statistician at Yale has apparently done a proof that points back to a common ancestor from about 800 CE. The logic goes something like this: everyone has two parents, four grandparents, 8 grandparents, 16...you get the picture. That number get really really big, really really fast. At some point, it surpasses the actual available population alive at the time everyones great-to-the-40th or whatever grandparents were alive. So, this means that people obviously shared ancestors. So far, so good.
At some point, the statistical count of people and relationships and time and DNA testing and whatever other magic mathematicians use converges on such a small group of people that everyone is somehow related to everyone else.
I get pretty fuzzy at this point. Lots of people have died, right? Not everyone has children, some people have more children than others, etc. But the math is sound, although even the statistician who did the paper admits that ht has probably overlooked a variable or two. But his conclusion? Everyone of European descent is related to Charlemagne -- a random choice of people living at the time that the MRCA existed, but a plausible choice, nonetheless.
Further study (by a gentleman named Mark Humphreys, a profressor a the Sschool of Computing at Dublin City University) has generated computer models that show that everyone in the world is eventually related to the Egyptian Royal house (1600 BCE), and other equally throught-provoking results.
I don't even claim to understand how they got to that conclusion, but if you want more information, here's the blog that I discovered this morning, and another explanation of how it's supposed to work.
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Basically, a little package of drink mix, a little water, and voila! Alcoholic lime-ade! Powdered alcohol has been sold as a "flavoring" in the US for a few years, but it looks like this bunch of Dutch science students have figured out how to powder the stuff and actually reconstitute the alcohol content.
Top it up with water and you have a bubbly, lime-colored and -flavored drink with just 3 percent alcohol content.
"We are aiming for the youth market. They are really more into it because you can compare it with Bacardi-mixed drinks," 20-year-old Harm van Elderen told Reuters.
I'm a bit concerned that the targeted markets is "youth", because it's not technically illegal in the Netherlands to sell this sort of product to minors -- only alcohol in liquid form is covered under existing law. Of course, the legal drinking age in the Netherlands is already at a low 16 years old.
The whole "alcopop" set of products-- sweet, soda-like drinks with the same alocohol content as watery beer -- has been pretty popular in Europe, where drinking ages are lower and punishment for DUI are higher. Personally, the allure of a sweet, fizzy lime-ade-like drink is rather hard for me to figure out. Sounds kind of gross, actually.
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
Uulaq loves them, and apparently Rukh went too close to it. Huge vet visit ensued (she bit him through his eyelid, among other things) and after we got everyone back to the house, we went out to search for the offending toy and get rid of it.
It had dissapeared.
We looked everywhere -- no signs of recently dug-up dirt, no holes in the "regular" places, no tucking it behind the bushes or under the porch. We combed the yard for over an hour looking for the thing. We coudln't find anywhere that it might be buried and finally gave up, figuring that one of us int he heat of the moment had probably tossed it, or it was somewhere outside the yard. It had quite simply vanished from existence.
Apparently bored with the fact that I sit in my office do not amuse her all day, coupled with guys digging holes in the yard for new trees -- Uulaq has unearthed the four-year-old, dirt and fungus-encrusted chewie man from his not-so-shallow grave under the oak tree. It's all digusting and zombified and lumpy with unspeakable grossness and she looooooves it.
I don't even want to touch the disgusting thing, but she is carefully guarding it's shallow resting place and tries to dig it up every few hours. I know it's unfair, and I should just dig the horrid thing up and throw it away (instead of telling her to 'leave it!' every time she tries to dig)...but it's sooooo gross. I will have to find some gloves and unearth the chewie-corpse and dispose of it. Perhaps by burning. Ugh.
The NEW chewie toys have been dropped completely in favor of Zombie Chewie. Dogs is weird.
Monday, June 04, 2007
I'm having a hard time believing that he actually wants another attack on the US, but his blithe assurance that it would get people to support the president is pretty off the wall. I know a few poeple who believe this sort of thing.
He said he’s “150 percent” behind Bush on the war in Iraq.
“At the end of the day, I believe fully the president is doing the right thing, and I think all we need is some attacks on American soil like we had on [Sept. 11, 2001 ], and the naysayers will come around very quickly to appreciate not only the commitment for President Bush, but the sacrifice that has been made by men and women to protect this country,” Milligan said.
All we "nay-sayers" need is to have more people killed and we'll just realize how Fabulous and Special the boy king is? That we don't already understand the sacrifice of every man and woman who has died in this fiasco? Really? Is that a size twelve shoe you have in your mouth, there, Mr. Milligan? Or do you stand by this one?
Seriously, I have to imagine he's kicking himself for phrasing it that way. I sincerely hope he is.
Sunday, June 03, 2007
Friday, June 01, 2007
After warning her that I was still in sweats and looked dreadful, I said OK and went outside to meet her.
And what do I see? Her golden retriever puppy (well, not quite a puppy anymore, a year old) prancing up the driveway with a red bandanna with hearts on it around her neck, and two matching ribbons on her ears. And, to round out the ensemble, red painted toenails.
She had been to the groomer today.
I just about ruptured something laughing. K explained that she just laughed when she saw "nail polish" on the list of grooming options, and just had to check it. She thought it was hysterical.
Poor Maggie. She didn't really seem to care one way or the other about having red toenails, but she certainly didn't like every human who saw her bursting into slightly hysterical laughter.
People should NOT dress up their dogs in clothes, or dye them to match their purse, or paint their toenails. It's just wrong, people! Wrong! Next thing we know, K will have her in little legwarmers and a doggie sweater and we'll have to stage an intervention!