Thursday, August 31, 2006

At the State Fair on Tuesday, we saw a baby pygmy goat who looked a lot like this one. It was in a pen with its mom, and was jumping around a lot. Very cute.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

"... and Pluto, little Pluto is the farthest planet from the Sun" -- Interplanet Janet

I'm glad that cooler heads at the IAU have prevailed, scrapping the "compromise" plan floated earlier this week that would have paved the way for hundreds of new planets, and opting in favor of demoting Pluto to a more-appropriate class of "minor planets".

Perhaps the compromise proposed by a sub-committee of the IAU earlier this week was meant to force the larger body to see that a decision had to be made. Regardless, I am pleased with the outcome of logic prevailing over sentimentality.

The press has really done a bad job with this one, announcing that there were 4 new planets, including the asteroid Ceres, before a decision had even been made, and running headlines such as "Solar System Expands!" and "Solar System Shrinks!" as if the actual dimensions of the solar system were effected by how solar system bodies are classified on our little planet.

On a related note, the tendency to pity Pluto because of its demotion is misguided. Pluto does not care whether it is a planet or a minor planet or Kuiper Belt Object or whatever. Pluto is not a sentient being! And, even if it were, I'm sure it would have a much more Zen attitude about its status, contentedly drifting out among thousands of other little icy spheres.

Really, we are just pitying ourselves because as a rule we humans do not like change. "I learned the nine planets! I can't handle losing one of them!" cry the masses. But how many of these same people can name all nine -- er, eight -- planets in order? How many of these people know anything about the planets? How many of these people think that Mars is hot?!

That said, I really enjoyed this "key quote" from the article at The Scotsman:

"I have a slight tear in my eye today, yes; but at the end of the day we have to describe the solar system as it really is, not as we would like it to be." --Professor Iwan Williams

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

So, back to politics for a moment. The price of gas doesn't affect me much (my commute is less than a mile), but I know it is a big deal for a lot of people. I had this idea for an election-winning ad that I'm really hoping will run this fall, so I decided to try it out. Anyway, here it is (click to see it bigger):

(I got the data here.)

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Friday, August 18, 2006

I have a new idea for a deep-fried State Fair treat:

Deep Fried Ball of Spaghetti with Meatballs

Thursday, August 17, 2006

I think I am going to rename my cats after Morris Day and the Time.

The current Mr. Jones will become Morris Day, which is appropriate since his pre-adoption name was Morris.

And Sparky will become The Time. Like The Edge.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Wrapping things up.

Well, summer is coming to a close. It shouldn't mean a whole lot to me, since I am a working gal. But because I find it necessary to take math classes at Sacramento City College, and because I took the summer off from this endeavor, I am feeling the end of summer keenly.

Back in May, I made a list of things I wanted to read and watch over the summer. Here's my list and how I did on each.

If anyone out there has read or watched these things, I would love to hear your thoughts and opinions on them.


Astro Turf by M.G. Lord. Done! This is a history of JPL intertwined with a memoir of the author's relationship with her father, who worked there. It was good, but it seemed a bit truncated. Seemed like more could have been done and explored. But maybe it was good to leave it as it is ...

Independent People by Halldor Laxness. Partway done.
I am on page 100 or so.

Cruddy by Lynda Barry. Done!
Yikes, this book is good but not for the faint of heart.

Responsible Men by Edward Schwarzschild. Not read yet.

Wine for Dummies. Not read yet.

Art of Project Management by Scott Berkun. Not read yet.


The Elegant Universe (NOVA 3-part series on string theory). Done! :)
It was pretty good, but I have 2 quibbles: (1) Brian Greene, the host and a physicist at Columbia, is kind of irritating. He seems very self-conscious in his role as a host. (2) The special effects were mostly pretty dumb and did not help a lot in understanding the theory. During the interviews with scientists, there was lots of ridiculous editing and effects like flashes of light and panels moving in the background. Distracting, pointless, and hokey all at once!

Guns, Germs and Steel (Natl Geo 3-part series on why some societies advance(d) so much more quickly than others. Based on the book by Jared Diamond.)
Partway done: Going to watch the last part this week.

Evelyn Wood's Reading Dynamics. I watched this and it was very good. I wish I had learned this stuff when I was 13.

Books I read that were not on the original list:

Cashing in On Content by D.M. Scott. Handy, interesting book for those in my line of business.

The World is Flat (audiobook) by Thomas L. Friedman. Very interesting book! I may post more about it separately, later.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

On Saturday, my friend Abigayle said she wanted to get a shirt that says "I Don't Care About Your Blog", which made me laugh, especially since most of the other people who were at the table have blogs.

I think the rampant proliferation of blogs is pretty ridiculous, especially since most of them are like a diary and -- contrary to popular belief -- most people don't want to read someone else's diary, and don't really care that much about other people's lives.

I think maybe I will take a new twist on the theme, and get a shirt that says "I Don't Care About My Blog".

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Perhaps for next year's State Fair?

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