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Well, that was amusing.

I'm one of those people who tend to pick up coins I see while walking. I am also a scientist, so I tend to collect data. So--I made a coin log.

Between February 11 and May 31, inclusive, I picked up: 4 quarters, 24 dimes, 7 nickles, 133 pennies, 1 Canadian penny, and 2 $1.25 bus tickets.

Total value found over 3.5 months (111 days): $7.59.
Average per day: ~7 cents.
# days I found something: 73
Average per "lucky" day: ~10 cents.

I'm not sure which is funnier. That I tend to pick up coins (hey, free money is good), that I decided to start a coin log, or that I actually computed the statistics above.

Hi, my name is Verdant and I'm a dork.
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In my increasing frustration with my roommate (and her cat) and pondering next steps and the possibly of finding a new roommate, I came up with a short quiz to determine compatibility. For amusement purposes, I share--take the quiz to find out if you might be a compatible plant roommate!

Instructions: take the 15 question quiz, noting how many A, B, C & D answers you have. Use the handy chart at the bottom to convert your score.

Questions are:  )
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So, my roommate drinks a lot of coke. She doesn't use the mycokerewards code thingies. Is there anything there worth saving them for? The site has enough flash that my old computer won't work with it.


Aug. 2nd, 2007 10:14 pm
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A bit earlier this week I went up to visit my sister, who has a friend with several plum trees. As anyone who has had a plum tree knows, they're rather like zucchini. One tree makes more than you can use. Four trees is madness. So she was more than happy to have people come up to help remove some of the plums before they fell and rotted.

While thus picking plums, I made an amazing discovery:

Two adults working with one ladder and the aid of six small children, can, in the course of almost two hours, pick the same number of plums that one adult, working unassisted from a ladder, could harvest in 20 minutes.

On the other hand, they were all good kids, and surprisingly calm and accepting of the idea of taking turns being the one on the top of the ladder (even the 2.5-year-olds). Which didn't stop them from occasionally trying to climb the other side of the ladder, or me, but it was more from an excess of energy than a desperate need to be the one on top. (And, in case you've been keeping track at home and are trying to figure out how there were two adults and six kids involved: my sis has 2 and was baby sitting 1. Friend owning plums had 1 child and 2 nieces visiting, and was herself not feeling up to helping us pick.)

Saturday, if all goes as planned, the plums become jam, plum sauce, and oil substitute for baking (plum puree).

The next post may well be plum-related anguish similar to that experienced last Labor day after the Pear Canning Marathon of Doom, 2006. There might even be pictures.
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Just a really fascinating article--why and how praise can be a demotivator. (I suspect most of the people on my friends list have experienced this.)


Shorter summary of the work, but fewer details: http://cbs5.com/topstories/local_story_045221101.html


May. 12th, 2007 07:32 pm
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So, a couple weeks ago I went to a tatting convention in Spokane. I had a blast, as I generally do, and learned a lot of things, and spent a fair amount of time drooling at the vender's booths before deciding how to spend my budgeted $$.

I generally limit myself to one expensive shuttle. That was difficult this year, because there is a new shuttle maker from the Philippines, who does really amazing, gorgeous work. I settled on buying one made of water buffalo horn, with a checker board inlay of mother of pearl and paua (abalone). (Note that I have shamelessly violated copyright and have stolen this picture from the indicated website.) Also, the picture doesn't really do it justice--it's much prettier when you can see the play of light in the shell.

Interestingly, while almost every tatting supply shop carries his shuttles now (even though a year ago he was unheard of), very few shops carry *all* of his shuttles. He uses a lot of materials, and has several shapes. This store carries the engraved shuttles I also found very tempting (you'll need to scroll down). Engraved dragons and phoenixes. So pretty! I was saved from purchasing one (the reddish "bleached horn" phoenix w/a point) only because they sold out of the ones with points before I got around to buying. Not sure if I'll wait until next year or order it from that site. I might wait until they have black dragons in stock and get both...

I could continue rambling about how wonderful these shuttles are, and how well made, but will instead point out that the shop link above has a link about the Carabao (domestic water buffalo) of the Philippines. If you click on that link, there is a lot of interesting information, some neat photos, and a link at the bottom to "How to work with me [the water buffalo]?" The link is a pdf titled "Rice Production Skills Development Series" and explains how to use a carabao to plow and harrow. It is both informative and (if you have my sense of humor) very amusing. For example, the materials called for include:
  • carabao
  • moldboard plow with harness
  • comb tooth harrow with harness
  • 1/4 ha wetland field

I'm not sure why it needs to be exactly 1/4 ha. Also, whenever the document mentions the carabao, it adds the warning to "avoid its pointed horns". This occurs several times.

Maybe it's only funny to me. But the shuttles are pretty, and I will likely acquire several more.
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Something my knitting friends in the PNW might be interseted in--a "knit shop hop". If nothing else, it's a nice list of yarn sources in the area.

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You know you've got a fun fluffy sci-fi novel when the protagonist, a secret-service agent on a diplomatic mission, has a day in which he meets with three major players in the Empire's home planet politics, has his office destroyed by a bomb, and foils 6 different assassination attempts (not counting the bomb). And the action hasn't even really started yet.

Though I think my favorite was the scene in which he invited a secretary to lunch, slipped her a truth-tell drug, and then realized half-way through questioning her that she had slipped one into his drink as well. The back-and-forth trying to be the one asking the questions was well done.
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I am a

What Flower
Are You?

I'm rather fond of snapdragons.
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As many of you (e.g. anyone who has spent more than 5 minutes with me in the last couple years) know, I really want a house. With a yard. Unfortunately, I live in a place where the housing market laughs at people who want house, yard, and short commute for under $750,000.

A misunderstanding in a completely unrelated conversation provoked the idea that I was considering building my own house (that is, with me doing the hammering and digging and such things.) As crazy/desperate people sometimes do, my imagination latched onto this and suggested that I do own a tent...it will be summer soon, so living in a tent would be okay...I could use the bike commuter showers at work...I could cook with my camp stove...I'm capable of doing most of the framing/wiring and possibly plumbing myself in the evenings after work...THAT COULD WORK!!!

Okay, really it couldn't. But I was thinking that if I did design and build my own house, I would like to include a number of resource-conserving measures, particularly considering the expected increases in cost for electricity, water, and heating/cooling needs due to global warming.

So I have a starter list, purely as an intellectual exercise. I am interested in comments, additions, and suggestions, since I know some of you are also into this sort of thing. These can include both retro-fit possibilities and options which would have to be built into the house.
  • basic things like efficient appliances, on-demand water heater, programmable thermostat are assumed

  • heated floors - I'm not sure how efficient they are, per se, but I like the idea of not having cold toes.

  • green roof - reduces heating costs, reduces urban heat island effect, reduces impervious surface, possible source of some home-grown food or just pretty flowers (depending on planting type and accessibility)

  • gray-water recycling system - reduces additional water needs for irrigation for yard/roof. It might be possible to have an initial filter to reuse fairly clean gray-water for additional in-home uses, but I'm not sure how feasible this really is.

  • windows:
    ---insulated/double-pane windows - reduce heating/cooling costs
    ---lots of windows, particularly in high-use rooms - reduce day-time lighting needs
    ---orienting windows and window awnings to permit passive heating during winter - not sure if this is possible with the double-pane above

  • trees! - shade in summer = reduced cooling costs. Fruits/nuts = extra food. If I install squirrel traps, anyway. No, I am not planning to eat the squirrels. Though I suppose I could...

  • house-fan - my Dad discovered these in the south and installed one in the desert house I grew up in. A powerful fan in the ceiling which pulls air in through living space windows and exhausts into the attic crawl-space, forcing that (hot) air out through the vents. Can reduce a 10 degree difference between internal and external temperature to zero in five minutes. Amazingly nice when the house has heated up over a summer day. May not work well in a large heat-island.

  • geographic orientation - aligning the structure to either encourage or avoid passive solar heating, depending on climate. I suspect that around here, encourage is a better bet. Particularly since I seem to be constantly slightly cold except for about 4 months in the summer.

  • solar panels or passive solar water heating system - this may not be compatible with a green roof, and I've heard conflicting reports on how cost-effective solar panels really are, but either might reduce electrical costs

  • Exercise bike wired to a generator - mostly because I'm a dork. Winter exercise not in the rain! Feeding power back into the grid! Fun design projects!

  • other???

Yeah, you can tell I'm a botanist. Suggestions welcome.
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Turns out that in the morning my roommate was much more reasonable about the whole thing, and has taken down her post and send an apology e-mail to people who had already responded. (The fact that I sneakily opened her bedroom door so the cats could go cuddle with her seems to have helped her realize how very unhappy she (and they) would have been if she gave them away.)

So now I have some enzymatic cleaner, blacklight, and a lot of cleaning ahead. Unfortunately, the blacklight doesn't seem to find much on the hardwood floor, just the carpeted areas. And I'm pretty sure there's some on the floor. I may just do some indiscriminate scrubbing.

Thanks for the suggestions.
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And I have no idea who to ask.

I got home from being out with friends to discover that my bedroom (and it's very clearly my bedroom) smells of cat urine. Several hours of rearrangement later, I can't tell where it comes from. I also don't know which of the two cats is responsible.

I am, understandably, not pleased.

My roommate is, understandably, also not pleased.

However, she is reacting in a way I did not expect and that concerns me. Her immediate response was "cats are going away" and she promptly posted them on craigslist.

I hadn't realized that until she commented that she'd gotten a response. Some querying revealed that she did not want to get rid of the cats (she is very fond of them, and has had them for years) but felt that since one(?) had urinated in my room, they could no longer reside in this apartment. However, it turns out that she wants to move to a new apartment with them--she simply does not have the money--and is very upset about the whole thing (but mostly, I think, the idea that she must get rid of the cats.)

And while I don't think she is the best cat-owner, she is very fond of them and desperately unhappy (more so than I am at the prospect of removing everything from my room to find the source of the odor). The cats are also very fond of her--one has only known her since kittenhood, and loves to come cuddle when no-one is watching. The other likes her, but is not very picky about which lap he curls up in. And I feel she is acting very hastily, and I think she might have some way of getting money for an apartment (suggested her dad, to which she vehemently stated she was not borrowing any more money from him--she has some money management issues and he's bailed her out a number of times).

I am at a loss of what to do. I am honestly very tired of the cats and odor and whining, but I also think that the cats are somewhat attention-starved and the cat might have somehow been trapped in my room?? And it seems like there should be a way to enable her to move into her own place. I don't want to loan her the money, because I don't think I'd see it anytime soon (if at all).

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This is so cool I am posting from work!

This animation is amazing--great if you remember your cellular biology, but fascinating even if you don't. Best with the sound turned on; the score definitely adds to the experience.

The Inner Life of the Cell: http://aimediaserver.com/studiodaily/videoplayer/?src=harvard/harvard.swf&width=640&height=520

A play-by-play description (just in case your biology is rusty):

And a bit of background about how the whole thing came together:

According to the comments from the last link, there is also a version of the animation with voice-over explaination at http://multimedia.mcb.harvard.edu/media.html (but I haven't tried it).

Go watch! So neat!
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It occurs to me that I don't really so much make chicken soup, as I make a hearty chicken-vegetable-pasta salad with a lot of chicken-and-veggie-broth-based dressing.

Considering I was 2/3 of the way through the bowl before I got to the broth.

It's really too bad that the QFC near me doesn't have good cheap bread. (Or, generally, any good bread at all. I don't know how that store manages to make bread go stale so fast.)
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Left work a bit early because I am absolutely exhausted. I suspect I'm fighting something. I hope I win.

However, that meant I was walking home during some of the oddest precipitation I've ever seen. Sort of a cross between snow and hail--solid 1/4 inch wide white lumps but with a lot of air in them, so that they fell fairly slowly and didn't sting your face when they hit. Also, they were all shaped like diamonds--a cone with a gently rounded base. Looking closely, it almost looked like they had grown like snail shells, wrapping around and around. Very pretty.
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Public Service Announcement: The Friends of the Seattle Public Library book sale is next weekend, Sept 16-17.

More details at their website.

Be there or miss a lot of cheap books. :)
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That was interesting. I disapprove that the only pictures it came up with for "good things" were naked women, though.

My Interests Collage! )
Create your own! Originally Written By [livejournal.com profile] ga_woo, Hosted and ReWritten by [livejournal.com profile] darkman424
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So, I was wandering around on craigslist skimming the free ads (cute kittens!) and noticed an ad titled "free pears" from a family with pear trees and no desire to eat pears. I thought, "I like pears!" and I e-mailed them that I would be happy to come pick some of their pears.

I picked a goodly pile of not-quite-ripe pears. (Pears will finish ripening just fine off the tree.)

The goodly pile of pears was placed in my bedroom, where the cats could not decide they were cat toys.

Pears, like most fruit, produce ethylene as they ripen. Ethylene tends to both speed and (more important) synchronize fruit ripening. Note that my bedroom is an enclosed space, which quickly generated a strong (but not unpleasent) ripe pear smell.

I borrowed my mom's canning equipment and unpacked my food dehydrator.

One Labor Day weekend later: )
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Some weekends exist so that the universe can mock your plans.

I would like a reset.
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Not turning on my computer much these days, since I'm on the computer all day at work.

Staying surprisingly busy...yesterday was the first Saturday I spent at home in about a month, and the weeknights aren't much different.

But I stayed a bit late at work on Friday and borrowed the photo-editing software briefly, so I have pictures!

stripey orchid and dirty coins )
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