Sunday, April 23, 2017

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Last of Her Kind

Emma Morano -- last of her kind
I haven't been posting recently due to over-busyness (see my previous post),  but this is just too epic to miss: the last surviving human from the 19th century has passed.

Requiescat In Pace Emma Morano, and farewell 1800s.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Production Note

Stuff I gotta do
Image by Tom Ventura
Due to being deluged with various financial things (like doing a couple of income taxes, etc), I'm going to have to suspend my usual daily stream of drivel for a little. I'll be back as soon as I can.

In the meantime there is plenty of older blather you can shake your head at if you take a mind to.


Wednesday, April 05, 2017

My Neighbor, Sasquatch

Native Texan?
As we all know, Bigfoot is a cosmopolitan citizen of the world. But for some reason very few people can imagine him living in Texas.

This, however, is a major misconception. According to the Texas Bigfoot Research Conservancy he (or she) sometimes hangs out close to where I live.

Their files hold the report of a September 2006 encounter between Sasquatch and one of my fellow Texans. Back then at least, the mysterious creature was spending his time in the swamp behind the Addicks Flood Control Reservoir. The anonymous witness was taking an early morning ride along the reservoir bike trail with his wife and son, he suddenly saw a big, hairy monstrosity resting in a pipeline crossing. He also reports that Sasquatch was very stinky.

The Bigfoot Conservancy made a detailed study of the event and were converted from initial skeptics (it is next to the thriving metropolis of Conglomeration, Texas, after all) to true believers.

Now, in April of last year torrential rainstorms filled Bigfoot's possible marshy home to overflowing, possibly endangering him and any family he may have. There have been no reports of man-ape corpses being discovered or of any Sasquatch home invasions. We can only hope that Bigfoot made it to high ground and lives today in more hospitable surroundings.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

The Ins and Outs of Belly Button Lint

Your navel hard at work

Now for a cultural reference that Star Wars nerds like me will recognize: Remember the Sarlacc from Episode VI -- the ravenous creature in a huge desert pit lined with inward-facing spines that swallowed hapless victims (like Billy Dee Williams) alive?

Well, that's how your navel gathers lint.

An Austrian researcher named Georg Steinhauser devoted 3 years of his life to studying belly button fuzz and here are his in-depth findings: You belly hair scrapes it off your shirt and sucks it remorselessly down into your omphalos.

"The hair's scales act like a kind of barbed hooks," Dr. Steinhauser proudly reported. "Abdominal hair often seems to grow in concentric circles around the navel."

Monday, April 03, 2017

In Praise of Ebooks

Image by Kelson
I am so glad to be living here in the future. There are so many things I wished for -- or would have wished for if I'd have had sufficient imagination -- that now are an ordinary part of my life. The one I want to sing the praises of today is eBooks. I love, love, love eBooks.

I have always been a book-a-holic since my earliest days, and before I could read I insisted that my mom read to me (which, fortuitously, she was quite willing to do). And not just fairy tales; I made her read from the Encyclopedia Americana and a companion series for kids called "Wonder Books," which were filled with questions and answers: What happened to the dinosaurs? What were the labors of Hercules? What's it like on the Moon?

Books, I perceived fairly early on, were a door to other worlds, to meeting other people ancient, modern, and imaginary. As Mrs. Pleonic can attest, anyplace we live gets filled up with books. Right now though, all those books are in a storage facility waiting to be liberated. The way our stuff is wedged in there it's no simple chore to go down and pull out a book to read. In fact, it's so hard that I never try it.

But there are eBooks. When they first became popular I wanted nothing to do with them because I'm a Luddite. An actual book filled with actual paper and actual ink was the only true, honest way to read. "An elegant way to read, from a more civilized age," you know.

EBooks won me over, though. They became easier on the eyes. They learned to imitate turning the page and flipping back. Many of them -- the one's I most want to read, at least -- are free. They're sort of like cats: adapting to us so we'll feed them.

And most of all I can take my entire library with me on a SD card. Right now I'm walking around with (at last count) 4000+ books on my tablet!  And counting.

I understand that, according to some statisticians, eBook sales are leveling off and real books are staging a come back. And I still pick one up now and then, even though we have absolutely no room for them.

But -- 4000+ books!!!

There's just something about sitting in the doctors office reading Quantum Mechanics: The Theoretical Minimum one minute, then being able to turn to Uncle John's Trumphant 20th Anniversary Bathroom Reader the next.