Sunday, May 26, 2013

Cold North Wind

Honeysuckle Flowers

The house at Tops
After close to 6" of rain in the past two days, the sun came out today.  R and I went up to Topsmead State Park in Litchfield to see the bobolinks.

Tree Swallow:  You looking at me?

The wind was so bad that the bobolinksmostly stayed hidden in the grass and I only grabbed one poor shot.
Not a very good photo of a wind-blown bobolink

This tree swallow had a very low opinion of me.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Funny-Looking Bikes

Funny-Looking Bike
Now that the danger of freezing nights is past, I've cleaned up my bikes and loaded them into the trunk of my car. They will be there until the November frosts. Anywhere my wife and I go, the bikes will be available.

We like to take the rail-trail from Farmington to Massachusetts, where
we've found a great place for ice cream. However, we have often just stopped at an interesting place, unfolded the bikes, and taken off.

People often stare at the bikes and laugh, but they are so well engineered that we can easily keep up with a "full-sized" bike on a 30-mile trip. And, they fold into a 2-foot by two-foot square that fits into a pack.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

What My Local Board of Education Thinks of Teachers

Apparently not much:

First they hold a ceremony for retiring teachers - during class. They were surprised when I declined their invitation.

Then they gave every teacher a form note and a gift: a photo album stamped with my name. Now I can keep all of those snapshots that I haven't taken in 15 years.

Remember, these are the people in charge of creating educated, thinking students.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

How to Fool People Who Don't Think

From a review of The Full Facts of Cold Reading on, to which you should subscribe:

"If you want to become a psychic, which is a $2 billion industry in the U.S. alone, there is perhaps no better instruction book than Ian Rowland's The Full Facts Book of Cold Reading. Rowland, a highly successful practitioner, freely admits the tricks involved, and meticulously catalogues them for his readers. A good part of the book explains how the psychic can convince the client of his or her psychic abilities (e.g., "The Fuzzy Fact") and achieve a successful reading, but the book also explains how to handle situations where the client rejects the psychic's statements as incorrect. "

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Flowers that Bloom in the Spring

Flowering Dogwood
Black Birch
Jack in the Pulpit
Solomon’s Seal
Wild Geranium
Wild Oats
None of these flowers were in bloom yesterday.  The warm, wet weather has pulled them out of the ground.


In the first decade of 2000, says Susan Freinkel in Plastic: A Toxic Love Story, we produced as much plastic as did the entire 20th century.

Freinkel’s book begins with a description of her casual plan to document how thoroughly plasticized modern life has become.

Her resolution not to touch plastic for twenty-four hours was abandoned almost immediately, when she realized she couldn’t sit down on her plastic toilet seat in the morning.

She then reversed her plan, documenting every new article of plastic that she touched over the day.  Her list was 196 items long, from her minivan dashboard to the sticker on her apple to both the notebook and the acrylic-coated pencil she used for her list-making.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Louisiana: Science Proud

Wanna barf?  Here is some news from Phil Plait, the Bad Astronomer:  

In 2008, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal signed the “Louisiana Science Education Act” into law. This legislation was an attempt to allow creationism to be taught in schools. Jindal has essentially admitted as much.

Every time a bill is put forth to repeal this awful law, it fails. And last week, Louisiana politicians decided, once again, that their personal beliefs trump the United States Constitution.

Sen. Elbert Guillory, D-Opelousas, said he had reservations with repealing the act after a spiritual healer correctly diagnosed a specific medical ailment he had. He said he thought repealing the act could "lock the door on being able to view ideas from many places, concepts from many cultures."
“Yet if I closed my mind when I saw this man—in the dust, throwing some bones on the ground, semi-clothed—if I had closed him off and just said, ‘That's not science. I'm not going to see this doctor,’ I would have shut off a very good experience for myself,” Guillory said.

If you have not eaten yet today, read the rest at

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Good Ole Amurica

The great thing about the US is that it is a democracy. Any idiot can be elected to public office. The bad thing about the US is that they are.