Monthly Archive for August, 2008

If You Give a Director a Cookie

Or rather, if you give a director a huge budget…

Saw Ace the other night at Signature. It’s advertised as a story about planes and war and WWI flying aces and stuff. About 20 minutes into the show I was thinking, “Either we came to the wrong theatre or this sure is a huge frame they’ve put this story in.” It seemed to be set in the 50s, and didn’t have much to do with flying. Well, except the set, which was all metal and riveted, with two enormous metal contraptions on either side of the stage, all set about with doors and lights and flapdoodles.

Turns out it’s really a story of a boy learning about his past. And said past does have not one, but two flying aces in it. And sure, all that the setup is more or less necessary to build up empathy for the characters, but it musta coulda been done quicker. As the story went on, it got much better. The songs tended somewhat toward the insipid, but the book (with the exception of the part where Ace pulled up and flew up to heaven or something) was really very good. Oddly, the book was written by the lyricist and composer. Perhaps I’m just spoiled; not everyone can be Sondheim when it comes to words. Maybe you have to be Joss Whedon (or a close relation) to do that.

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I can haz turkeys?

Okay so plants is one thing.  This is even better!  (As usual, click to embiggen.)

We noticed a herd of turkeys in a yard one street over sometime last winter.  Well, we noticed a herd of something, and upon investigation it turned out as turkeys.  So apparently someone around here keeps turkeys.  Much to the amusement of our friends Mark and Eric, who had already decided that we live out in the middle of the country with cows and barb wire and such.

Well, two of ’em wandered into our yard this morning.  It certainly amused our monorail:



Note added 9/26/08: Shawna assures us these are Guinea Fowl. Yep, sure looks like ’em.

And Now with Plants

Hah!  I knew there was a use for all that comp time!  Another load of topsoil arrived today.  It wasn’t as excellent as the first load; had some clay clods in it, and a bit more extraneous mulch, but at least it wasn’t manufactured in a facility that also processes peanuts.

We got all the plants in, and ground up as much as we could of a recently removed dead oak branch for mulch, but I think we need a bit more.  Good thing the Behnke sale is still on.

The hostas sure look nice.  There's lots of Japanese grasses too, and some ground cover that claims it'll spread real good.

The hostas sure look nice. There's lots of Japanese grasses too, and some ground cover that claims it'll spread real good.

And the only downside is it seems to have become mosquito season all of the sudden.  Which is weird since it’s only just now stopped raining 3 out of every 5 days.

Look I Made a Wall!

…where there never was a wall.

Look what you can do with 6000 pounds of stone, a good mason's hammer, and two weekends.

The first course goes below grade, for stability. On about 4" of crushed rock. That's about 16 bags of it, if you buy it from Home Depot.

Look what you can do with 6000 pounds of stone, a good mason’s hammer, and two weekends.
Started with a vision in SketchUp, but y’know, having just a vision’s no solution. Everything depends on execution. You gotta start with a solid foundation.

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Silly Google, Ski-jumping is in the Winter Olympics

Don't drive like my brother!

Apropos of this, look what just came up when I used the “look at street view” tool on Google maps! This sort of driving would make sense in Boston, but this scene is Providence.

Aaaand, WP 2.6 ain’t smart enough to put a <break> tag after the left-aligned image, so here’s some lorem ipsum to get the text far enough along so that it all looks good on the main page.

Yeah, WP is okay, but, y’know.  Issues.


Well, as Jubal Early said, here I am.

WP 2.6, I hope you can upload photos, since I seem to have lost the ability to do that recently.  Let’s see if it works now.  At least the upgrade seems to have gone smoothly.

I Have Proof, I Was There, Look at this Photo!

And now, a photo from the Chilean sojourn I mentioned in the last post. Somewhere I’m pretty sure I have a photo of the condor eating leftover meat outside the cafeteria, but I only found this one and one other. Maybe the rest will turn up someday. If you look closely, you can see the round circular office building in the background that proves this is Cerro Tololo.  It’s easier to see if you click to embiggen.

If you look really carefully you can see the round office building in the background that proves this is Cerro Tololo.

They had a mess o’ these carts up at the observatory, and charging stations everywhere. I remember being confused that the battery was full when the meter read “0”. That would have been the meter measuring the charging current, of course. I was 9, what can I say. But hey, I got to drive around some. How cool is that?

Also, no grid power, cause y’know, big mountain in the middle of nowhere. So they had a big generator, running at 60Hz cause all the telescope drives were from the US and needed 60Hz. But the wall clocks were all local, and Chile running at a slower pace than the top gear zoom zoom zoom of America, they preferred 50Hz. So pretty much they were never right. Shoulda just unplugged ’em all so’s they could be right at least twice a day.

And then there were the sidereal clocks, which confused me even further. I should have complained more, but at that age I didn’t understand the greatness of a good Chilean whine.

Astronomy in the Dark Ages

By which I mean, in the age when you did astronomy in the dark.  In response to a post at the Bad Astronomer’s blog, I was reminded of some long-ago nights.

I spent a month at Cerro Tololo one summer, and it was totally awesome! Mostly because I was 9, and if I fell asleep in the dome it was no problem! And yeah, I think I made it to midnight once or twice.  Actually I was probably up the mountain only a handful of times, but it was so cool I remember it more than staying down in La Serena.  What more could you want: Magellanic Clouds, giant condors eating meat out of your hand, beautiful mountains, electric carts to drive around in, night assistants to develop all the photos I was taking with my box camera (with VP-620 film! Yeah, shooting medium-format at age 9, woo-hoo!) And plenty of Creedence Clearwater Revival in the dome.  A friend had sent my dad a tape of all the CCR albums.  Y’know, a reel-to-reel tape.

And the cocoa made from hot water was the best ever, because the powdered milk down there had fat in it!  Didn’t last forever like the nonfat dry milk they have round these parts, but it tasted like actual milk.  And you haven’t lived until the sun has been blotted out by the shadow of a passing 12-foot-wide bird.  So that was all very cool.

And my dad is still cool, even if he’s gone on to studying scallops. Wait, because he’s gone on to studying scallops.  Apparently science is like joy:  You make your own.