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Archive for the 'Weather' Category

The election is (nearly) over!

Monday, November 5th, 2012

Thank goodness the election is hopefully over tomorrow. I’m weary of going to get the mail and feeling like my mailbox is shouting at me mostly about things like rape (I live in Indiana). I don’t actually believe people ever vote based on ideas or ever change their minds. I believe as this article points out Republicans and Democrats have inherent differences in their brains.

I tend to avoid writing about politics directly but as some of you know, I do believe changing the composition of the atmosphere by filling it with greenhouse gasses is a dangerous experiment. There is certainty no doubt  the oceans are becoming more acidic, sea levels are rising, and the weather is doing some crazy things. We didn’t experience the kind of destruction Sandy did on the northeast but after about 86 days with only a trace of rain the summer, you just have to wonder how could anyone take the risk of making the drought or the megastorm worse.

In Indiana, hurricanes are not a problem. Actually the reverse is true because since Katrina the remnants of hurricanes are about the only time we get rain in the summer. We get tornadoes and by the time one is near you, you don’t evacuate, you cower in the basement. I often wonder about people who choose to ride out hurricanes. I always figured there are a few people like the character Burt Gummer in the movie Tremors, or maybe they live in houses like these. According to this article it’s actually pretty much what you think. They have no money and no where to go.

I guess I always wanted to live on the beach but I doubt rising sea levels will really personally affect me.  Even if they rise a lot faster than people are predicting. You wonder if the hole in the ozone had happened today if the world would have united as they did then to solve the problem. Or if we would have had a million lobbyists suggesting it was some sort of science conspiracy and more studies needed to be done before action was taken. It’s shame by the time anyone really does anything about it, it will be too late due to run away effects like this.

OK I’m off on a negative rant. Here are some cool snowflake pictures.

And finally, something to make you say awww

Free Water From The Sky

Saturday, July 28th, 2012

“This year is going to be different”, I thought to myself as I put in my tomato plants a month earlier than normal. Yeah, it was different alright. The last nine years we haven’t had a significant rain in July or August. This year we went nearly 90 days with only a quarter inch of rain. It’s not like it wasn’t in the forecast. We found ourselves glued to the radar many times as it passed north, east, south or west of us. Sometimes it would split or fizzle out just as it got near. I know it’s been nine years because we had our apple tree trimmed that year and I haven’t had to shovel apples in the fall in that long.

Indiana Drought map

Check out this picture of Morse Reservoir in this article from NBC.

I really miss the smell after a rain in the summer. Before they banned sprinkling I would run it when we sat out just to get that smell. It’s pretty bad when you are out there with a hose in your hand trying to decided what lives and what dies. Then yesterday it rained. It wasn’t a lot, maybe a third of an inch but it was more than we have gotten in the last 9 Julys put together.

Notice how dry the ground is in front of my tomatoes

I love tomatoes and the last couple years were pretty disappointing. This year I went a little overboard. I went in to buy Better Boys, one of my favorite varieties. Having trouble finding them I asked a clerk and not paying enough attention, I came home with Big Boys instead. I kept them and went back for Better Boys, an Early Girl, and a Cherokee Purple. I don’t think I’ve ever put in more than six plants and this year I have ten.

  

(Part of) Today's Harvest

I know weather isn’t climate but after nine years of thinking it would go back to what I used to consider normal I’m thinking next year I really need to go to some sort of container / drip system or full hydroponic. The tomatoes are doing fine with lots of watering but I buried them deep and got them in early. The squash and cucumbers have been struggling. I gave up on the raspberries completely. The birds started to get the blueberries so we netted them. For days afterward we would come out side to realize a bird was trapped in the netting. I have no idea how they were getting in.

It was a good year for these.

I don’t know if it was the hot dry weather or the fact that we left them on the bush for so long because it was too hot to pick them, but the blueberries are like blueberry flavored sugar this year.

This is an interesting article about using fungus to make crops more resistant to heat, cold, drought, and salt.

Another surprising thing about the drought was our peaches did well. The tree must have very deep roots.

Yummy!

We have been so busy the last couple of months. We had some rush jobs on a couple of web sites. One was pretty complicated. We also did an SQL Express database in C# that generated charts in a couple weeks. It’s nice to kick back and the weather today is beautiful.

 

Kicking Back.

Speaking of beautiful.

And something to make you say awww…

Better Batteries

Friday, March 20th, 2009

I haven’t been blogging much lately as I have really gotten caught up in writing this little game I’m working on. Since it’s based on a game I wrote many years ago and I’m learning Flash for the first time, it’s really striking how even though I’m learning something new how productive it seems since the machines and tools have improved so much.

This past week or so there has been some big news in batteries. First they found out how to make common lithium ion batteries charge and discharge rapidly.  Imagine charging your computer, cell phone, or camera in seconds. Secondly although technically not a battery, nanotechnology has lead to some amazing improvements in capacitors. Batteries store chemical energy and capacitors store electrical energy but the most surprising to me was the announcement of a system which could deliver electricity based on storing magnetic energy.

Speaking of energy, the newer designs of nuclear power plants are a lot safer than the old ones but the problems of how to manage the waste persists. The traveling wave reactor is a really clever design that deals with both the waste issue and the nuclear proliferation issue.

If you had a secret nuclear bunker, maybe you shouldn’t … oh, never mind!

If you have ever wondered how various engines work, here is a nice site with animations of different types.

I got a chuckle out of the other side of America.

That is one bug grub! Wonder what kind of fish would go for that.

Ever start to fall asleep and feel like you are falling and wake up? It’s called a Hypnic jerk. This used to happen more to me when I was younger but I suppose I was often sleep deprived.

This is a pretty cool optical illusion. You have to go to the last picture to see it.

Talk about amazing! In the following video they use sheep as display devices.

This young boy decided to do something similar but much less complex with his dog.

What the heck is a long eared jerboa?

Motion capture systems have really come a long way. Check out the videos from Mova.

This article on artificial muscles is really impressive but as I was reading it I couldn’t help but think  it reminded me of a late night info-mercial. But wait! It can also do this! Who would have guessed the amazing material of the future was going to be carbon.

When I was reading this article on the top 10 inventions of the Middle Ages, it occurred to me how big a role the church used to play in supporting science.

This is one very determined bear.

I’ve seen this guy’s work before. Willard Wigen makes microscopic sculptures.

Here is a nicely done cat close-up.

This is a rather bizarre story about a paralyzed man who was able to walk again after being bitten by a spider.

It’s nice spring is finally here but you know there are always some big storms ahead. Check out this tornado shot. Also this shot of what they can do.

Here is lightning of a different kind; from a volcano.

And finally, here is a nice collection of pictures of big cat families.

Competence

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

Here is an amusing article. I suppose it wouldn’t surprise anyone to find out incompetent people are unaware they are incompetent. I guess I did find the part about joke telling abilities a little surprising because getting a good laugh verses polite chuckles should be semi-obvious. Then again, a lot of it has to do with the quality of the joke and just not messing it up.

From MSNBC here is a list of 10 odd creatures. Now, I was familiar with most of those but have you seen the fish with a transparent head? How about a pink dolphin? Look at the size of this stingray! Look at the size of this wasp!

Just plain weird but I suppose not surprising are Japanese bug fights.

I liked the surreal clouds in this storm photo.

I linked to one of these the other day but here are more street art paintings. I think the lava one is the most impressive one I have seen yet. I suspect the artist had a sponsor for this one.

My sister and her husband went on a vacation a while back and my parents stayed at their house. We went to visit and at one point attempted to turn on the TV. It occurred to me everyone has integrated their speaker systems in such a way they are all custom and the only way to figure them out would be to follow the wires. I suppose some day we will just tell our computers to configure the systems to do what we want. This solution wouldn’t even work here but it’s kind of amusing.

I was just outside and it’s cold out there. Lucky for us the forecast is for nice spring-like temperatures late in the week.  Here is a nice photo to remind you of spring.

I got a laugh out of this.

Check out this TriceraCopter!

If you watch the TV show Mythbusters you’ll laugh at this.

The world’s largest salt flat, the Salar de Uyuni in Southwestern Bolivia is like standing on a gigantic mirror.

Imagine standing in a tunnel made out of 40,000 LEDs.

This is a funny video about how to “hack your old VCR”.

That’s one happy looking elephant.

This is pretty funny video of a dog dreaming but you have to feel a little sorry for the dog at the end.

In this video a person asks someone for directions. In the middle of the discussion they move a large picture between the two people having the conversation and change the person asking for directions. It was one thing when people didn’t notice the change with similar looking people but they didn’t notice when they changed to a different race or sex! Amazing! I suppose with the map and all the pointing, there are a lot of distractions.

My friend Matt sent me this video about everything is amazing but nobody is happy. It reminded me how you used to have to waste a lot of time going inside the gas station and wait in line when you bought gas. I wonder if I have put that  extra time to good use?

Here is a collection of photos of birds stealing ice cream. I didn’t realize birds liked ice cream.

And finally check out this cute video of a cat who adopted a rabbit.

Thaw

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

We are finally getting a nice break from winter here in the Midwest. It’s funny how just not having to bundle up or watch your footing can seem so nice.

We spent part of the weekend playing this physics game called Perfect Balance. I can’t say I cared much for the sound track so I just turned off the audio but it was a good example of how a simple balancing game can get your puzzle solving skills fired up. We also played a game at the BBC called CDX. It’s the second game we have played from the BBC and in both cases they were terribly disappointing. It’s painful to see a game with a lot of professional video production but such terrible game play.

Speaking of the Brits, the following interview is actually from Australia and it’s a real interview but if you have ever seen Monty Python you’d swear it was one of their skits.

I have Matt to thank for that little gem; he also sent me this rather amazing video of dolphins.

Last week I created my first hand draw animation in years. I can’t say it was very good. It was just a stick figure walking and I’m just trying to learn some tools. While searching the web for animation resources I ran across this page on claymation. Most of what it says is pretty obvious but one of the tricks it mentioned was putting magnets in the feet of the characters and placing them on a cookie sheet. Years ago when we did a very short claymation, we did have problems with the characters falling over and that would have helped.

Speaking of stop action, here is a simple stop action video done by a couple kids.

I got a laugh out of this.

This is another one of those street painting perspective illusions. This one is of a glacial type ice age scene. I wonder how large the painting was.

Ever wonder how cats purr? Skip down towards the bottom for the simpler explanation.

I have seen fractal zooms before. This one is just a lot longer than most.

Darpa is funding a project to reverse engineer the brain.

A company called Jovion Corporation has been issue a patent for a zero point energy device. I’m a little skeptical useful energy can be extracted from the Casimir effect but I hope the thing works.

The RepRap 3D printer can finally make a copy of itself!

Here are some pretty cool pictures of an Alaskan ice festival.

If I saw one of these crossing the road, I would definitely stop.

I have seen pictures of these monkeys in a hot spring before. I think this is in Japan.

This is a funny bear cub shot.

Here is a cute story about a hot koala.

And finally, here are some very cute pictures of a kitten and a bird.

Installation Issues

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009

I’d probably not purchased a new computer except my parents were having trouble with the one they had. Don’t get me wrong, my new one is going to be awesome but right now I don’t have many apps installed. Some time back my Dad mentioned their computer was emitting a strange smell. In retrospect I suppose that was the first indication their power supply was going. Last week I finally got around to setting up one of my systems for them. After resolving some strange disk issue I finally got their old system to boot but it wouldn’t stay on long enough to back it up. I wasn’t able to follow the recommended procedure on moving their old drive. I considered replacing the power supply but decided to just move their drive and do a repair install. That’s when things got tricky. You know you are in trouble when you google the problem you are having and other people have had that problem but no one seems to have solved it. After spending 3 days doing something that should have taken an afternoon, I gave them their new system last night. The system seemed to  be running OK but I suspect skipping over some of the installation files because Windows couldn’t read them is going to come back to haunt me.  I’m looking forward to working with computers this week as opposed to working on them.

This is one of those pictures where you wonder what happened right after it was taken.

I got a laugh out of this story of a cake gone wrong.

This story about places having names that well, you would be glad you are not from might offend some people. If you are in the mood for some juvenile snickering about naughty words click here.

Some of these entries in a Photoshop contest about you are what you eat are pretty good.

Speaking of image editing done well, I liked this one.

When our van was running we used to take it camping. We would set up a gazebo outside the side doors for extra living space. Since we used to backpack a lot it didn’t seem like we were roughing it much. When we would walk around campgrounds, I would look at those big trailers with the expanding rooms and think it would be cool to make something van sized that became really large once you got where you were going. Well this thing is truck sized but it expands into a two story structure.

I have seen pictures of these Margay Tiger Cats before. There is something so strange about the way they look.

Here is another silly cat picture, and more cute cat pictures are here.

Speaking of silly animal pictures, here is a collection of animals drinking. It kind of makes you think twice about using an outdoor water fountain.

It’s funny how sometimes animals really look like they are smiling.

I have been trying to learn Flash and rewrite a small game I created years ago. This is the home page of a design company who created the Samorost series. We played their Questionaut game the other day. It’s a cute little point and click game for kids where you have to answer questions to complete the game. In spite of my education I got a little careless and missed one or two.

It’s interesting how the interest in casual games has grown so much lately.

If you have never seen the TV series Dr. Who, there is no point in clicking here.

Here is another very cool lenticular cloud photo.

This photo of what I think are salt piles seems surreal.

Bad dog! Bad dog!

So you think you have a lot of snow?

When I took my first computer graphics course, the professor hung our assignments up outside the classroom. I had created a picture of a simple but  impossible (MC Escher style) crate.  It was fun to watch the expression on the faces of the people change when they ‘got it’. Some of these what would happen if everyday objects were designed by MC Escher pictures require a little study before you see it.

These are the most elaborate watermelon carvings I have ever seen.

This guy is planning to cross the Atlantic in a one-man pedal powered submarine.

And finally, if you enjoy cute animal pictures it doesn’t get much better than this.

The Lost Week

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

After putting together my computer this week I was left with the decision whether to update my old drive or do a clean install and set it up from scratch. I chose the latter and what a pain it has been. You just want to sit down with your shiny new hardware and do something but instead it’s an endless series of installs and reboots. On top of that, the connector on my old keyboard got loose I had to replace it. This is the first time I have tried to type very much on my new one and it’s going to take getting used to.

Last week someone left a comment asking if I had tried the Nick Bounty games at Pinhead Games. Saturday we spent a lot of time doing things like dealing with frozen water pipes. Luckily they weren’t damaged. So it was nice to kick back on Sunday and play some games. The Nick Bounty series are classic adventure games with full voice acting and the look, talk, get, etc. verb set. One thing I was reminded of when playing them was although choosing a verb as opposed to just clicking on an object is more work, in the old adventure games as well as these, adding the extra step provides a way to inject more (often silly) humor into them. The plot lines were pretty silly too but that is the point to playing them I suppose. I did laugh at some of the jokes and there is a pretty funny scene in the second game where everything is dark and the voice actor describes an outrageous scene to you.

I’ve been writing this blog long enough I have gotten to the point where it is hard to remember whether I have already mentioned something or not. I guess if it’s a good thing it’s worth mentioning again. That’s the way I felt about this video of people doing maintenance on high voltage cables. I suppose you probably get used to it but there’s no way I would get out there.

I know I’ve mentioned this alloy before, I’m pretty sure I linked to this video. It’s also known as muscle wire because it is not only a shape-memory alloy but it also shrinks when heated so you can make things move by running current through it.


More Science experiments at 5min.com

Check out these awesome ice storm photos.

Speaking of winter, that’s a lot of snow!

Last night we watched Resident Evil- Degeneration. I wasn’t particularly impressed by the other Resident Evil films but I wanted to see it because it is computer generated. It’s funny how not-quite-real computer generated people look creepy. This article at New Scientist talks about that and how machines are coming closer to people in other ways like talking and playing music.

According to this article the next group of people to be put out of jobs by technology will be call center workers.

I thought this was kind of interesting; this guy was an expert at putting things in bottles.

If you’re not a programmer you probably have never heard the phrase “That’s not a bug, it’s a feature“.

It’s kind of fuzzy but this is what meteors look like from space.

This is what a hermit crab in a glass shell looks like.

Here are some long time exposure photos. The one of the fireworks is particularly cool.

If you are prone to seizures you probably don’t want to follow this link. Here are more examples of what I call wiggle vision 3D photos. The author calls them lenticulations. It kind of makes my head hurt to look at them. I thought the one of the dog (14) was the best one.

I suppose you could call lenticular clouds lenticulations. This one looks a lot less like a UFO than others I’ve seen.

How would you like to live in a house made of paper that costs 5000 dollars? By the way, 36 square meters is 387.5 square feet.

Here are some large computer generated fantasy landscapes.

This is a pretty cool picture of a drop of seawater and what is inside.

I thought this was kind of funny. A bank made a mistake and deposited a bunch of money in a couple’s account. They claimed they didn’t notice. This actually happened to a friend of mine, but he was smart enough not to try to keep it.

This is just a nice sunset picture.

My fingers hurt from this new keyboard. Here is your funny animal picture of happy seals.

New Hardware

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

I haven’t been posting this week because I needed to buy the parts for a new computer. This is probably the longest I have ever gone without replacing one. Except for 3D rendering, the machines I have are fast enough for everything I do. I found I was out of touch with what has been going on in hardware and had to do some studying including a search on a number of terms to find out what they mean. The parts are on their way and next week I should be able to put it together. It should be blindingly fast compared to my old hardware. We’ll see.

Last I checked it had climbed up to a warm -4 degrees F out there today. I’m not sure I even want to step out for the mail. It’s probably just junk mail anyway. This site starts out with snowflake pictures but for a real treat, scroll down to the frost and ice images.

Here is another photo of a ship encased in ice.

I didn’t realize large circular disks of spinning ice would form in rivers.

Here is yet another cool ice photo.

Brrrr, after that I had to throw in a picture of someplace warm.

And now really hot; check out this image of a truck out running a volcanic blast.

I mentioned Megan Fox once a long time ago in one post, yet she shows up as the top search string in my stats for my blog month after month. This is for the Megan Fox fans out there.

It’s a little heavy on the science but this article entitled “Our world may be a giant hologram” is a pretty interesting read. I guess it wouldn’t surprise me if space-time was quantized, everything else is.

If it hurt your head to read that last link, take a moment to gaze at this cute shot of a mouse riding on the back of a frog.

This past Christmas I was trying to teach my nephew to juggle and realized I hadn’t done it for long enough I needed practice. When my friend Matt sends me a link and tells me to turn up my speakers I’m naturally a little cautious after some of the links he has sent me around Halloween. The following video is pretty good example of someone juggling to music. Definitely turn up your speakers.

While I’m writing I’m listening to NASA TV. There was an announcement today they found methane on Mars which may be being generated by some sort of life.

When I realized a virus was basically a chemical that could take over a cell, the line between what is alive and not seemed to blur for me. This article show that the difference between what is alive and what is chemistry can be very subtle.

Speaking of odd life forms, here are some very strange creatures, and more strange creatures.

This cat has an interesting way of using the stairs.

Check out this slo-mo video of a water drop hitting fine sand.

I got a laugh out of this.
fail owned pwned pictures

These images of ‘light pillars‘ are both strange and beautiful.

That is one big cat!

This is one elaborate cake!

This is a crazy staircase!

This video of a UFO would be fairly easy to fake but if it’s real, it’s pretty amazing.

Here is another funny sign.

If you read my blog, you know I end with some cute animal pictures. Since I haven’t posted in a while, I have a few for you. Here are squirrels, bears, and sleepy animals.

Technology

Monday, December 29th, 2008

I think it’s somewhat ironic humans could create a bomb that operated using fusion in 1952 but to use it to generate power always seems to be 20 years away. There are so many methods, normally very high tech to attempt to fuse light elements; I was pleasantly surprised when I read this article. From the article “Somebody described it as a thermonuclear diesel engine,” but actually I would call it a thermonuclear steam engine. What an amazingly low tech approach to the problem! The other thing is these guys are talking about producing clean cheap power for a paltry $50 million. That’s million not billion. Compare that to the type of money the government is currently throwing around in the financial markets!

Not that there aren’t people making progress or at least doing experiments with more sophisticated technology. I just think the contrast is pretty amazing when you compare the methods being used in the above approach with this experiment.

Speaking of technology, this is a chart of the difference between how casino machines and electronic voting machines are regulated. I think the chart speaks for itself.

This looks very low tech.

This is a great use of low technology. A professor has produced a set of eyeglasses for the world’s poor. They use water pressure to adjust the thickness of the lenses.

It seems like one of the side effects of technology is it gets easier and easier for someone to get you in trouble for something you did not do. In this link, a group of college students reproduce the license plate of someone they have a grudge against. They tape the plate over their own and drive fast through intersections with speed cameras.

This is kind of slick. If you want to download a youtube video to watch later, put the word kick before the address and there you go.

There isn’t much story accompanying this series of cat rescue pictures. I was left wondering how the cat got in there in the first place.

I’ve never seen a purple squirrel, I never hope to see one…

Speaking of strange creatures, at about 30 seconds into this video, the shark extends its jaws in a manner eerily similar to the alien in the movie of the same name.

What is up with this chicken?

This is just a nice bridge picture.

Here are some very cool nature pictures.

Pushing your face into powdery snow has to be cold, but the results can be very artistic.

And finally, I’m not sure if these are chipmunks or baby squirrels but it’s a cute picture.

It’s a Wonderful Life

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

I’ve seen the movie It’s a Wonderful Life a zillion times. I happened to catch the second half of it the other day. In light of recent events, the film took on a whole different meaning. I sat there giggling at the irony. Here is the film online. Today George Bailey would sell balloon mortgages to people who couldn’t afford them and package the loans as derivatives. Instead of $8000, it would be a trillion dollar bailout.  Bank examiners, what a quaint idea! Here is the movie in thirty seconds done by animated bunnies.

If you are not familiar with the Antikythera mechanism, it was a device of astounding technology for it’s time. You have to wonder how it was possible for the technology to disappear. Not just the technology of the way the device worked but the ability to build it. It took over a thousand years before similar gear technology appeared again.  I can’t help but think if it wasn’t lost in time we would be living like the Jetson’s now. This article has some interesting background on the device. Below is a video of a recreation of it and how it worked.

I’m not sure how much faith I have in this story but maybe they invented Swiss watches a lot earlier too. There is nothing like finding one in a 400 year old tomb. It must have been a careless time traveler!

Have you had enough? Check out these stories of eight metal objects. At least the other ‘finds’ were dated to a time when humans were around. These reminded me of a sci-fi story where they would send prisoners back in time so far they wouldn’t be able to influence the future.

I tend to step outside for a minute before I write to clear my head. We got some freezing rain last night. Not enough to damage things and not enough to make it pretty, just enough on top of a small layer of snow to make a really large crunching sound when you walk.  Here is why even looking at this lovely nature picture could improve your memory and attention. Here is another nice nature shot and here are some real ice storm photos.

Besides the sliding track I use to create 3D pictures I wrote about here, I’ve also built a macro lens but I need to redo it to fit my digital camera. Here are some pretty nice do-it-yourself photography tools. I should try the Pringles can tube for my macro.  They mention using a scanner which is how I produced this image. The resulting image is so large, I have yet to see it printed at full resolution. Some day I’d like to see an eight foot tall print of it.

You have to love a silly dog photo.

If you are at work, this next bit contains an image of a woman in a seriously small bikini. It’s some cool gadgets for winter fun. We didn’t have snowball guns when I was a kid.

Prepare to be grossed out in this fascinating look at zombie animals and the parasites that control them.

I have been following the story of Blacklight power for some time now. I’m becoming convinced these people have found a way to generate power in a way that violates the laws of physics as we know them. They have a theory but personally I don’t think it’s correct. Here is some recent news about them. Ha! Maybe it works but it has the side effect of sending metal objects back in time.

Remember Teddy Ruxpin? Check out this robot teddy. The video is not very good. There is something really bizarre about seeing it with its skin off. I’m just waiting for it to grab a gun and start looking for Sarah Conner.

As you watch this video where guys put the equivalent of giant caps on the ends of hammers and slam them into the ground, you have to think, what could possibly go wrong?

And finally, here is your funny cat photo.