Fractal flakes

To decorate for our winter party before the semester-end break, we made paper snowflakes in art class at school.

Being the geek that I am, I made a mobile from the fractal of the Koch snowflake, which starts from a single equilateral triangle, and keeps adding triangles onto the triangles. The mobile is made from the first three iterations, cut out as nested pieces, plus the background to the largest, which is trimmed as a circle.

(The mobile’s crossbar is the metal edge that came loose from a ruler; it’s being employed in this manner to prevent misuse by unruly students.)

mobile made of three successive fractal iterations of the Koch snowflake, and the background piece of the largest

mobile made of three successive fractal iterations of the Koch snowflake, and the background piece of the largest

More on the Koch snowflake: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koch_snowflake

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One Or More

Do you like odd words? If so, today’s post is for YOU!

I enjoy words. I love learning new words, and now and then feel the need to make nifty neologisms. I take pleasure in playing word games and punning around. I use a vigorous vocabulary for producing prose and programming. I revel in vicious verbiage when needing venomous invective.

Weird words are wonderful. Exceptions excite intrigue. Luckily for us, the English language (in its multitudinous international forms) is known for being an absolute mish-mosh of exceptions to dang near every orthographic rule that has been imposed upon it over the centuries. This is not surprising considering how many other languages have been sources for our vocabulary!

Being familiar with many of those weirdnesses is great when one is an editor, writer or proofreader. (Alas, not everyone shares such passions, so we logophiles must sometimes refrain from exercising too much pedantry.*) It also gives me a number of opportunities for musing …

Today I ran some errands on the way home, which caused me to take a different pathway. En route, I espied a cellular antennae tower array (mobile phone mast), one of those tall poles with transceivers and other prickly bits plated upon them. Several of those tower arrays or television UHF/VHF (Yagi-Uda) sets atop houses are called antennas. But — insects sniff their environments with antennae.

Some words are the same whether you have one or more; not just the same spelling in singular and plural, but also the same pronunciation:

Fish (As children, many of us learned this from Dr Seuss, “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish”). Ditto salmon and trout. (I bet readers can inform me of other species of fish.)

Thrips (A small insect that often infests flowers and spreads diseases; especially problematic in greenhouses.)

Sheep, deer, moose.

Bison – pedantic technical note: the North American animal is a bison, not a buffalo, but buffalo is so entrenched in history (i.e. Buffalo Soldiers, buffalo nickel) that the term “bison” seems reserved for ecological/zoological discussions.

The American buffalo has just one species: Bison bison. A single category of interbreeding organism is a species, several are different kinds are also species. “Specie” refers to coins, such as our buffalo nickel. If I recall correctly, one of the new coins the U.S. mint has released in their recent series is a nickel with a bison on one side. Series is another word that is the same in both singular and plural.

Swine (unlike pig -> pigs or hog -> hogs)

Complaint:  people calling plural bovine animals “cows”; the cow is a female that has calved. Call them a herd of cattle. Of course, then one has the problem of knowing if the single animal is a calf, cow, [castrated] steer, or bull. Then again, depending upon where you are, most of the cattle one passes might be breeding or milking cows, or maybe young steers shortly destined to be burgers and roast-beast. But like “buffalo”, “cows” seems to be a common-usage term.

(Except, of course, amongst small children, who invariably call them “moo-cows”, which is odd because I’ve never heard any preschoolers saying “quack-ducks”, “neigh-horses”, “baa-sheep” or “meow-cats”; go figure.)

Interestingly, draft bovine (used for ploughing) are ox -> oxen. There are few words that retain this archaic plural: child -> children, one brother -> several brethren, and hose -> hosen (from when one tied their individual hose onto the hem of a garment). Clothes is one of those words that just comes in single form, except it is by default plural.

When I teach gardening classes, I add a couple seconds pause after explaining, “If you’re making a new garden bed, you can either kill what’s there with glyphosate, or slice off the pieces of turf and re-use them, or compost the turves.” Turves is the correct plural for pieces of turf, but we don’t use the term much, so there’s a bit of a mental speed-bump.

Did you know that J.R.R. Tolkien invented dwarves as the plural for his Middle-Earth race? All other sorts (cutesy fantasy beings, or small-growing forms of plants or animals) are dwarfs.

In Zoology class we learned that the plural of penis is penes. Common usage (when not using one of the many silly slang terms) is penises. But if you are needing to talk discretely over the heads of younger folk, penes will likely be off their radar.

Right now I’m listening to Etta James singing the blues; no one ever sings “a blue” (tho’ you can blow a blue note).

Then there are the pluralisation questions about which only geeks worry: one Mus musculus is a mouse, and several are mice. But what about the computer accessory (um, Mus digitus ?) – computer mouses or computer mice?

One datum, a bunch of data. But when or how the hell does a person have just ONE datum? A single point?  I suppose that’s possible, unlike news. Good or bad, there’s never just one news. A “new”? I tend to get out of the news loop when on holiday; but invariably when I catch up, I find that the news seems more like recycled “olds”!

One spectrum, a wide spectra, as in “spectral analysis” – unless of course, one is doing a bunch of analyses on your spectra data.

How about one index -> two indices. Indexes is a verb: “My program indexes everything for me!” Then of course, it turns around and creates indexes to hold that data. Hmn. Meanwhile, we still have one index -> two indices in science, and on the radio news I hear indices used as indicators of how the world is going.

In geometry, our geometric shapes have sides (planes). Each pair of planes intersect at edge, and several will meet at the corner, called a vertex. A triangular pyramid has four vertices and a cube has eight.

And lastly, Marshall McLuhan said, “The medium is the message,” meaning that what is used to spread the message is important. Newspapers, YouTube videos, and blogs are all kinds of media. So too are my choice of growing medium for my seedlings.
If some yahoo grabs a can of spray paint as their medium of choice, and scrawls a graffito on the side of a building, you can be sure that someone else will want to join in and next thing you know, there will be graffiti everywhere.
My thanks (always plural) to all my readers!
______

*Unlike those grammar mavens dedicated to eradicating excessive and misused apostrophes, whom I heartily encourage to be ever-ready with their jumbo-size bottles of correction fluid!

Also, thank you everyone for your tireless efforts trying to rid the world of misspellings; Valentine’s Day is coming up, and I know that I shall be wanting to face-palm with each sale banner for  Valentines Bokay’s.

Set the Wayback Machine

to 1994. Just the ordinary sort of 1994, when my children were two and six years old.

We are watching X-Men during Saturday morning cartoons. My son is really into super-heroes, and in case you don’t know, the X-Men are mutant super-heroes.

My daughter asks me, “What’s a mutant?” I take a deep breath, trying to figure out how to explain genetic mutation to a six-year old. Thankfully, with my children this wasn’t too difficult.

“Remember the other week when I told you what DNA is? The instructions that tell the different parts of your body how to grow?” She remembers. “Sometimes the DNA changes, and that’s called a mutation. A Monoceratops changing into a Triceratops s a mutation.”* We watch some more of the cartoon.

She asks me, “Are all mutants weird like the X-Men, and have super powers?”

“No. That’s just the cartoon part. If you always have yellow flowers and suddenly get a red flower, that’s a mutation. In fact, everything in the world started out as a mutation, or else there would be nothing but itty-bitty plants floating in the ocean.”

She decides that would be boring.

“Why do those people hate the X-Men? The X-Men are good guys.”

“They hate them because they’re bigots. ‘Bigots’ means when people hate other people because of something like what church they go to, or where they’re from, or how they look. The people hate the X-Men because they look different, and can do different things, and they’re scared of them.”

“But that’s not fair,” she complains, “The X-Men are nice.”

“That’s right. Bigotry isn’t fair, and it isn’t nice.”

“I like Storm the best.”

Storm is a black woman with long white hair who can control the weather, and fly. “Me, too.” I answer.

“I want to be Storm for Halloween.”

“O.K.”

A few nights later, we are reading The Enormous Egg by Oliver Butterworth. This is one of my favorite stories from when I was growing up, a tall tale about a Triceratops dinosaur that somehow hatches from an egg laid by a chicken, and the consequences for the boy in the story. She has loved dinosaurs since she was a mere tot of two. We read two chapters into the book. She read a few paragraphs, sounding out new words, and then realised, “The chicken laid a mutant egg!”

This is why you should watch television with your children. In one Saturday morning cartoon, we have covered biology and bigotry, and made a tentative Halloween costume decision.

__________

* I know, I know, it’s more complex than that. All you evolutionary biologists out there will have to work with me on that. (-;

WHO?

WHO: “The Eleven Doctors”

Interestingly, the cartoon appears to have been designed by/for the faceblind — although maybe that’s just my interpretation!

V1brat0rs for Ensuring All Your Cucumber Needs

Bug G. Membracid recently had a radio show appearance!  (Is it called an “appearance” when you’re on a wireless programme and no one can see you?  Nevermind.)

But it featured her line about honeybees being ‎”little flying phalluses” – which is really funny when you remember that worker honeybees are girls!

That in turn reminded me of a story during a horticultural study tour to a Dutch production greenhouse …

Tomatoes and peppers do not need insects to transfer pollen between flowers, as the flowers are “perfect” (have both male & female parts). But for the pollen to get moved/bumped from the pistils to the stigma there still needs to be some kind of wind or other vibration.

There’s not enough wind for this to naturally happen (or rather, efficiently happen) in a greenhouse, especially when the panes are shut to the weather. So it used to be that the operators would equip their greenhouse workers with *little vibrating wands* (oh yes), which they used to buzz-pollinate Every. Single. Fresh. Flower. (Insert inevitable sniggers from the undergrads.) Of course, that’s a lot of paid worker hours.

Nowadays the thrifty Dutch use bumblebees, who work for much cheaper wages of cardboard nesting boxes and some supplemental nectar. The big, gentle bees still visit all the flowers for the pollen, and resultant heavy buzzing results in flower fertilization for good crops.

 

[N.B.  Derf; “cucumbers in the title is incorrect – they DO need to be insect pollinated! Except of course for the parthenogenetic cukes, which basically set fruit by a sort of “virgin birth” process…]

Kitchen HazMat: Allyl propyl disulphide

My daughter stopped and looked at me, puzzled.

Safety goggles,” I explained.  The elastic strap was losing its spring, so the limp tail ends hung down past my ears as I worked.  “Because I couldn’t find my chem-lab goggles.”

I continued to trim the tops and tails off the onions and slice them up with the mandoline.  “These are really loud onions,” I added.

She walked past me to the refrigerator and suddenly exclaimed, “Omigod, they just attacked my eyeballs!”

A few minutes later my son-in-law walked by the sofa, making a small snork noise at my incredibly nerdy appearance.

“I heard that!”

“I  didn’t ‘say’ anything!”

“Hey, four pounds of onions is a lot of onions!”  Apparently the pungent Allyl propyl disulphides had not yet diffused as far as the living room.

Later he came by to ladle up his French onion soup from the big stock pot, and found the pong to still be strong.  I opened the kitchen window a crack, mumbling, “Just imagine what it was like when I was slicing them up fresh!”

I don’t care how the goggles look – they are excellent for making onion-slicing painless.  (Well, at least for the cook.)  They’re now sitting on a kitchen cabinet shelf, since I cut more onions than I do lumber.

4011 IF EAT THEN SIT

My hungry 9-month old grandson is being a wiggle-worm.  He wants his banana now, and like Prot, is trying to eat it whole, peel and all.

“Come on lad, let Grandma mash this up for you – no, we don’t eat the peel – here’s your high chair -”

Much squirming and complaining, “NANA NANA!”  (I’m not sure if by “nana” he means banana or some pet name for grandma; I’m usually the one who brings home the bananas from the market, and the one who feeds him an evening snack of “happy smile fruits” — our code name for the nosh of choice, especially if we’ve run out.)

“Ow no let go of my glasses, Grandma can’t feed you until you’re in your chair-”  This operation of Insert Boy B Into Chair C almost takes two women.

I revert back to child-training using simple commands. Given enough repetitions, it will sink in, just like “OPEN” [mouth], “NO BITING”, “TOUCH GENTLY” [flowers, cats], “STILL” [stay in place for diapering], “REACH UP” [un/dressing], and all those other thrilling conversations.

“IF eat, THEN sit!”

The lad was sufficiently startled by this novel command to pause a split-second, thus allowing us to plop his tuchis on the chair and snap on the tray.  We’ll be using the IF-THEN logic construct for the next few years, along with FIRST-THEN.  (There’s nothing like reinforcing order of operations, whether mathematical or procedural.)

Now I can finally start spooning mashed banana into the lad’s mouth, and he’s thumping his feet and smacking his hands on the tray with delight, exclaiming a pleased, “Nom-nom nom!”  (Seriously.)

“That’s a good boy,” cooed his mum, “Listen to Grandma’s Boolean logic!”

Ah, the great moments of geeky family life – gotta love ’em!

P.S.  4011 refers to an imaginary line of programming code, and also to the grocer’s PLU number for bananas.

Bird of Prey

baby bib made from starry sky print calico, with Klingon Bird of Prey ship outline embroidered in green floss

Uncloaked!

Pureed pea and carrot torpedos fired, the ship is more visible!

Web buzzing

Just wanted to share some cool things I found recently!

INSECT-RELATED FUN

Amazonian ants apparently adore Tetris – ’tis a tee from Threadless Tees.

Cartoon with a green background, the upper half with five army ants on a branch, carrying pieces of leaves cut into various Tetris shapes. Below, the crowned queen ant awaits by a Tetris-shaped stack of pieces. (Unfortunately, she's about to get a square and won't have a place to set it!)

and,

NPR has a short episode with guest comments by the inimitable entolomogist and highly entertaining author, May Berenbaum,

There has been a worldwide proliferation of urinal flies, observed May Berenbaum, head of the department of entomology at the University of Illinois in her new book The Earwig’s Tail.

You can listen to the episode and/or read the transcript, “There’s A Fly In My Urinal”.

realistic black and white fly decal

and,

Jessica (the painter) and James (the author) of Project InSECT have a couple of books out, How Mildred Became Famous (book I and book II).  Mildred is a mantis, and one of the many gorgeous, large paintings that Jessica has done.

Detailed painting of Mildred, the praying mantis, plain chiaroscuro background

GARDENING / NATURE

A brief video:  One year in 40 seconds. Eirik Solheim’s gorgeous time-lapse of Norweigian woods.  Suitably short for the ADHD brain or a coffee break.  (Alas, I’ve tried several ways to get this URL embedded so it will display from this post, but WordPress is being funky.  So you’ll just have to copy-paste it to get to the YouTube page directly.)

youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lmIFXIXQQ_E

and of course, a bit of geeky

ACCESSIBILITY


A dismotivational poster with the image of a Dalek (robot from Dr Who show) stuck in a concrete room with only stairs as a means of exit; its word balloon says, "FUCK". The poster caption is, "LIMITATIONS everyone has them"

Sound check

“Testing, 1, 2, 3 …”

Hooray, I got my MacBook back from the shop!  It would completely lose the wireless signal two meters from the router, and kept getting hot.  Due to teaching commitments, I wasn’t able to take it in until now, just a couple weeks before the AppleCare programme expired.  Lessee … they replaced the main logic board, battery, top case, heatsink, fan, and airport (wireless) card.  Essentially, I have a nearly-new computer inside my old case.  (Yes, it’s my old case, with the spider sticker on top.)  So even though the warranty will expire soon, my computer ought to hang in there for quite a while longer.

Now I can finally get blogging again.

But meanwhile, let’s do a sound check to see if there’s anyone out there still … roll call!

Q.:  What’s your least favorite Ohrwurm?  (song that gets stuck in your head)

Sugar, Sugar … Billy don’t be a hero … Who let the dogs out … It’s a small world after all … that WHOOMP thing they play at ball games …

Hanging around the Web

Cruising the Web BW

A shiny robot spider hangs upside-down from a metal mesh

My son and I recently hauled a long dresser+mirror up two flights of stairs, and I cleaned up the master bedroom in preparation for the return of the new baby & parents from the hospital.  The downside of course is that after a day of labor, I must spend a couple-three days recuperating.  (In other words, I used up all my “spoons”, down to the last demitasse.)

I’m also on Day 2 of one of those low-grade-three-day migraines.  Right now it’s manifesting as misreads, which when I catch myself is kind of entertaining:

In light of all that, I thought I’d share some interesting reads/cool finds on the Web recently:

My sleep-deprived daughter would be envious of ant queens, who spend nine hours a day sleeping, while the workers must squeeze in micro-naps.

From the world of delightful architecture, an adult tree[less] house shaped like a bee skep, made of recycled lumber (wheelie adaptation not included).

The CitizenM hotels have the most amazing showers, which look like Star Trek transporter pads.  To start the shower, you simply shut the door.  I don’t know if they’re large enough for a wheelchair transfer to a shower seat, but with the zero-clearance there’s a chance of it (maybe Dave knows). Want!  (Or at least the trés geek LED shower head that changes from blue to red when your water’s hot.)

Reimer Reason posted It’s a Family Reunion! for the most recent Disability Blog Carnival.

In further hexapod news:  while I was distracted by our little geekling, Bug Girl has been faithfully covering Pollinator Week, including important information about CHOCOLATE. For more funs, Cheshire has teh latest Circus of the Spineless up.

And of course, what would a list of fun be without a LOLcat?

Six white kittens lined up and looking at the camera, while a seventh is distracted with a play ball

Six white kittens lined up and looking at the camera, while a seventh is distracted with a play ball. The photo caption reads, "PUZZLE PICTURE Find the kitten who has ADD."

712

My daughter was finally moved back from school and doing the librarian thing, organising hers and her honey’s and everyone’s books all together.  “We have too many books,” she complained, “Or at least, not enough bookcases.”

“Yeah well, what can I say …”  At least she hadn’t had to sort out the ten shelves of my horticulture, entomology and reference texts.

She was next sitting on the floor sorting through picture books and pulling the board books for the nursery. “Okay, we have enough science books in the children’s section.  Really, there are twenty books just on orcas!”

“Well, it was your brother’s special interest for several years.  And how many books do we have on elephants and dinosaurs?”

“That’s different; every kid loves dinosaurs.”

“Uh-huh …”

“All of our science books have Pluto, and I will teach him ‘The Controversy’!” she grinned. “Hey, there’s not enough room for all this science fiction; how ’bout we keep it down in the basement?”

“Fine with me; you’re in charge.  We can keep the boxes of comics on the wood table.  Your brother will need to pick up his gaming cards and stuff first.  And some day, I would like to get my train set back up.”  Thinking of her baby, I paused a minute and asked, “What if the boy isn’t a geek?”

The odds, we decided, are vanishingly small.  He’ll be a third-generation geek.

~#~

“I think I’m over the top,” said papa-to-be, M.

I looked up at him.

“For being a Star Trek geek.  I have 712 images of the Enterprise.”

“What’s geekier, you think,” I asked my daughter, “having that many images, or counting them?”

“Counting them.” she decided.

Hotbed of Apathy

*sniff, sniff*

“You sound sick,” stated my daughter’s fiancé, M.

“I can’t be sick,” I mumbled in protest, and honked into a tissue.

“Redunculus; you’re sniffling.”

“I can’t be sick; it was Mr W’s day to be sick,” I explained.  “He got first dibs on being out sick today …  If all the classroom staff members who were sick stayed home, there wouldn’t be anyone left!”

I’m sure the students wouldn’t have minded having some of their classes cancelled.  But no, we slogged through the day, hour after dreary, mind-numbing, O-PLZ-STFU hour.  It was, I decided, a veritable hotbed of apathy.  The lead teacher was battling a sinus infection, and I was suffering from what felt like temporal phase-shifts.  And my aches ached.  My ears were ringing and making sharp pains and I was having dizzy spots and nausea.  I was cold and then would have a sneezing fit and then be hot, and would have some odd spastic tic and then be cold again.  They cannot invent a vaccine for this shit any day too soon.

It’s worse when you’re feeling crappy and working 60 hours a week. But it seems like every few days I discover yet another person who’s working multiple jobs, the latest being a cashier with two jobs and Lupus.  (Maybe what the economy really needs is for everyone to take a week off just to get some rest already.  All in favor say, “Aye!”)

And then there’s the strange stress nightmares I get before a semester starts, going through an interminable dream about teaching 3rd grade but starting the same day the students do, and having an unworkable U-shaped classroom without a chalkboard or whiteboard, and the women’s bathroom stalls all cost 75 cents in quarters to use, and …

If you, too, are ready for a diversion, our favorite engineers (previous post) have a new video up on Advanced Cat Yodeling.  M just about ROTFL, as he has been Yodeling with his cats for a long time, and favors the Machine Gun Kiss™  approach.

Itsy-Bitsy

The other night we were holding vigil in the ER (A&E) waiting rooms while a family member was being treated.  Having spent plenty of hours in the waiting places of life, I had brought with me my latest amusement, a sorting box containing a bunch of old necklaces that I was dismantling for salvageable parts.  Aside from the whole reason for being in the waiting room, it was a pleasant experience, and I sat there rocking slightly, filled with the delight of organising bits into rainbow order.

I parked myself in an empty waiting area down the hall from the seats by the ER entrance, free of drafts from the automatic doors, the distractions of anxious people bursting in, and germ-laden sneezes.  I sat there snipping strings, slipping off beads where they rattled into a tray, sorting them, scooping the pieces into small containers, and carefully snapping lids shut.

So I was sitting there at a table where I could keep an eye on the hallway, when a guy shuffled into my airspace.  The first thing I noticed about him was that he reeked of old cigarette smoke and looked disheveled, which I discounted slightly as no one spiffs up for ER visits.  As he began talking to me, I noticed that his speech and comprehension were a bit off, and quickly realised this wasn’t likely a manifestation of an intrinsic impairment — the grungy bloke was drunk.

Oh, joys ( /sarcasm).  I don’t like chit-chat*, and here I was being engaged by a garrulous drunkard.  We then had the most incredible conversation, which he began by asking me,

“Are you counting pills for the pharmacy?”

(Yeah, this was my first clue that the guy was drunk.) Read the rest of this entry »

“Danger Will Robinson, Danger!”

Sigh.  My laptop is in the shop.  So, cannot share new insect pix, and am working through convoluted annoyances getting classwork and job apps done.  Meanwhile, I was stuck waiting for someone …

Uh-oh, I discovered the fab crafts at Etsy, and there are more insect-themed prints-clothes-jewelry-et cetera than you can shake a stick at.  I don’t mean just the usual kitschy hair-clips, stuffed animals, aprons and tee shirts; they also have very nice cufflinks, neckties, beaded chain mail, steampunk type stuff, capacitor insects, necklaces made of resistors

I don’t need any coasters.  But dang! You gotta love someone who not only crafts nice things, but also is so literate:  “Karl von Frisch Coasters” found at theseawithin’s shop. (Karl von Frisch was the ethologist who deciphered the honeybees’ waggle dance.)

Wow.  Geek out to your heart’s content; I have reports to write.

 

 

“Do Children In Scotland Have A Right To”

I’m off to the tub to soak off the gardening grime and cogitate upon my next posting. But meanwhile, here’s the next installment of Weird Search Terms (WST), absurd poems created from those curious search-engine queries that have landed people to my blog.

WST May cause drowsiness. Alcohol may intensify this effect. Use care when operating a car or dangerous machinery. Avoid direct sunlight.

  • mr escher
  • i am doing a research paper on arthritis
  • butterfly mudbath
  • what type of math problem would a person
  • number asperger agent
  • prove that you’re not the same
  • “red queen” recent research 2008 2007
  • safe ways to inflict pain for fun
  • it was good sitting with you
  • please dont say a word
  • why do i suffer. i do not get stimulas?

Who’s Got the Button?

I did it again — I gave away one of my buttons (badges) to a student.  I’ve extras of some, but that was the last of this one, so I thought I’d place an order with NancyButtons.com and get a few more copies of it:

“I was born weird – this terrible compulsion to behave normally is the result of childhood trauma”

And then of course, I had to look through some of the new slogans to see what she had … (a Most Excellent Time Waster).  These caught my eye:

“Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not to their own facts”

“Come on, brain! You & me together …”

“The problem with hammering a square peg into a round hole isn’t that hammering is hard work–it’s that you’re destroying the peg.”

“There’s no such thing as being overeducated.”

“I’m not performing any experiments on myself without a larger control group”

“There is a fine line between genius and insanity. I have erased that line.”

“What do you get if you cross a tse-tse fly with a mountain climber? Undefined. A tse-tse fly is a vector and a mountain climber is a scalar.”

“But this IS the simplified version for the general public!”

“You put your hand on the Bible and swear to protect the Constitution, not the other way around”

“Knowledge corrupts. I spent ten years in school. Run!”

That explains everything; after acquiring 230+ credit hours, all of my code is corrupted…

 

 

“CATS ARE NICE.”

“I meant,” said Iplsore bitterly, “what is there in this world that makes living worthwhile?”

Death thought about it. ‘CATS’, he said eventually, “CATS ARE NICE.”
~ Terry Pratchett

Two great videos about two great things we love, Geeks and Cats.

This first one is captioned; Data is trying to train his cat, Spot. Well, that was the plan …

One of our cats is named Spot, after Data’s cat. Our Spot is also a very smart kitty.

Alas, the second one is not captioned, but is a hilarious video by a couple of engineers on cat care.

It’s Final Exams week over here; everyone’s up to their touchis in studies. Back to more serious blogging soon on the usual education-, disability- and insect-related issues.

“i’m going to ghana, why take garlic pill”

Now if you guessed that cryptic headline means this is another issue of Weird Search Terms, then you’re right! (I’ve plenty of serious posts to write, but am not feeling spiffy, so I’m posting this instead.)

For those of you who aren’t familiar with such, about once a month I make “Dada-ist” poems out of the most peculiar weird search terms that landed people to my blog. (Each line is a different term; the Web seems to be used by a lot of very odd people.) These are guaranteed to stretch your brain all out of shape, so set your Grammar Editor aside, and engage the Willing Suspension of Disbelief.

  • it was a dark and stormy night
  • casual conversation for aspergers
  • star trek galaxy class wallpaper
  • change of barometric pressure causes
  • stimming in normal children
  • how to make a phone call in 70 easy steps
  • cats drawing
  • port stain birthmark metaphysical meaning
  • insects are our friends
  • words disabled people don’t mind hearing
  • superstitions ain’t the way
  • inclusion in the 4th grade classroom
  • need more chocolate brownie
  • why i would be a good counselor for
  • arachnids and tics
  • speaks well, high scores in tests poorly
  • stimming spinning strategies
  • signed I+love+you
  • bedroom bugs

Wicked Good funnies

Two short things I want to post before I get distracted (again!):

BigHeathenMike put up a riotously funny edition of The Skeptic’s Circle: “Every One Of You Is Expelled!”, narrated by Ben Stein, if that is his real name. Probably should be rated NSFW, if only from the coffee-spew LOL potential.

The second is the funniest prank I’ve ever seen; it’s clever and tongue-in-cheek rather than mean. Safe for work, silent YouTube video with captions.

TIP:  This vid seems to “stick” a few seconds in; just pull the thermometer bubble to the right a millimeter or two. 

lego scorpion surgically remove broad shoulders

Don’t I feel special – my blog seems to be a sink for a great many weird search terms. Owing to a long week full of short sleeps, I’m posting this mind-bending nonsense for today, and will resume usual blogging again tomorrow.

This time I have put them into “dada-ist” poetic form. Each line is a different search term that landed someone to my blog [sic]. This is even better than wee “poetry magnets”, because I get a bunch of different phrases each time!

Hat tip to Bev who came up with the idea after one of my earlier Weird Search Term posts.

lego scorpion
surgically remove broad shoulders
people that got shot in the arm
a condition in which a person has no rot Read the rest of this entry »

Geek holiday alert!

Don’t forget — this Friday is Pi Day and Albert Einstein’s birthday! (March 14 = 3/14 in American-style date marking.)

In addition to eating your favorite kind of pie, you can also enjoy the non-repeating music of pi in the key of your choice.

Hmn … gooseberry? Blueberry? Pumpkin? … mmm …

(buzy with jobs — back to normal blogging again soon)

22 Things That Give Crippled Trekkers Away in “Normal” Company

This is a pass-along joke rather than something I’ve written — I don’t even use a wheelchair, but it’s too irresistibly geeky to not share! Need I mention that our children grew up watching Star Trek: Next Generation? Or that one of our cats actually is named Spot?

22. You have tried to breed legless hamsters so you can have a Tribble.

21. You write the President to let you join the Navy. Not to get PWD into the services but just so you can serve on a ship named “Enterprise.”

20. When you go to vote and the polling place is not accessible, you flip open your cell phone and say loud enough for the voting officials to hear, “Now would be a good time, Scotty! One to beam up!”

19. Bombed out of your mind at the office Christmas party, you attempt the “Vulcan nerve pinch” on the guy who keeps leaving his brief case on the floor in your way.

18. You never really finished college, yet you have a “Federation Academy of Technology” or “Vulcan Academy of Science” sticker, proudly posted on the battery box of your wheelchair.

17. During an argument with your city manager about finally getting more curb cuts downtown you call him an “ugly bag of mostly water.”

16. When you get out of your wheelchair and onto the toilet you say, in your best Patrick Stewart voice, “Transfer of data is complete.”

15. You once seriously hurt your roommate trying to figure out how to do that Vulcan neck-pinch thing.

14. You get so confused when people don’t understand why it goes against the Prime Directive to help little old ladies with walkers across the street.

13. When speaking about nuclear disarmament, you sneer at the idea that the able bodied can be trusted not to exploit any sign of weakness.

12. Every piece of your durable medical equipment somehow reflects something Trekkie.

11. You work words like “warp”, “blue alert”, “imzadi,” and “p’toQ” into disability jokes.

10. Your bulletin board at work looks like an ad for Paramount and is SO interesting your co-workers pull up a chair to look at it so they don’t miss anything new you’ve added at wheelchair user level..

9. You wear your communicator pin on your wheelchairs safety strap for convenience.

8. You’re giving blood at the lab, and you start singing “You tiny little life-forms…”

7. You shave your head to look “really hot” but friends start asking you if you have cancer, too, besides just being crippled.

6. The “warp factor” modifications you’ve made to your wheelchair’s joy stick box…

5. When people really irritate you, like when they offer to hold open a door for you, you say “No thanks, I can get it,” but they do anyway and then stand in front of the door so you can’t roll on through, you whip out your dustbuster, point it at them, and make a buzzing noise.

4. “Fully functional” has a very special meaning for you.

3. You get a cat instead of a service dog just so you can name it “Spot.”

2. That pointy-eared guy tattooed on your shoulder has prosthetics for all four limbs.

1. Whenever you get off the mainline bus you don’t just say goodbye to the driver, you make the Vulcan V-sign and tell everyone on board to live long and prosper.

The joke comes from Crip Humor ~ By and For the Severely Euphemized. You too can get a motley collection of disability-related funnies in your e-mail box by sending a blank post to: CripHumor-subscribe [at] topica [dot] com

phlegm ringing dyspraxia stars

With a title like that, you know it’s gotta be another edition of “Weird Search Terms”! These are just some of the phrases that landed people to my blog recently.

There’s the usual run of unintelligible combinations:

  • phlegm ringing
  • migraines tapioca pudding
  • gluton in humans
  • epidemiology of sowbug
  • chit tea and water
  • punishment in inflation
  • old teacher big bread sucking student
  • drawing cat 45 tool holder
  • winded bugs
  • epidemiologist investigate humor
  • beautiful crush bug media
  • back titties
  • prosopagnosia number pi
  • “baking soda” “insomnia”
  • euphoniuc dissonance

(A euphonium is like a baritone tuba; does your brass need tuning up?)

  • cat hitting forehead

(Is that cat hitting its forehead or yours?)

  • dyspraxia stars

(Media stars that are dyspraxic?)

  • the venus of

(… of what?)

I suppose that with millions of humans on this planet, there are bound to be some odd word or concept combinations in search-engine queries. But why do so many of them land at my blog?

Then we have the Complete Nonsense queries (quack, quack, quack): Read the rest of this entry »

Got a Booking

David tagged me with the latest meme, and like him I’ve taken a while to get around to posting on it (maybe this virus has a latency period).

Here’s the formula:

  • Go to page 123 of the nearest book.
  • Find the 5th sentence.
  • Write down the next 3 sentences.

And like David, I didn’t think a textbook would be very interesting (zoology is closest at hand) so I’m grabbing another nearby book, Executive Function in Education: From Theory to Practice, edited by Lynn Meltzer (2007, The Guilford Press, New York). This chunk of text quite nicely stands by itself, which I find somewhat amusing, as many people’s quotes don’t make sense out of context.

Schema theory states that all knowledge is organized into units, or schemata, and that information is stored within these units. Thus, a schema is a generalized description or a conceptual system for understanding information — it is how knowledge is represented, stored, retrieved, and used. Though the system is called by different names (frames, schemata, and scripts), the common assumption is that new, incoming information activates, or stimulates, these higher-order structures of relevant prior knowledge.

The book just arrived in the post the other day, so I’ve not yet read it, but it looks promising.

Let’s see, I’m curious what sorts of things other people are reading, so I’m going to query a range of intelligent and opinionated bloggers out there. I’ll tag (in no particular order): Shark-Fu, Elizabeth, lilwaterchergirl, PalMD, and Ms Cornelius.

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