Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Ideal TV Night

Recently, I was thinking back over all the television shows that I've watched over the years.  Imagine if your TV could receive ANY show that was ever broadcast.  What would your ideal TV night be?

To make it easier to think about, I decided to pick just one show from each decade.

Without further ado, here is my list:

1950s I Love Lucy
1960s The Twilight Zone
1970s All In the Family
1980s Cheers
1990s Seinfeld
2000s The Office

The biggest surprise to me was that I picked The Twilight Zone over Star Trek! *

Some other favorites that I found difficult to omit: The Honeymooners, The Bob Newhart Show, The Odd Couple, M*A*S*H, Match Game, The Simpsons, Dinosaurs, ER, The West Wing, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and The Big Bang Theory.

I'm sure I've missed some really good shows that I've simply overlooked, because I have a bad memory and I'm not using the internet as a reference.  So I reserve the right to change things around.  :)

What's your ideal TV night?

*Another surprise is that I can surprise myself!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Good Enough

To all you chronic perfectionists out there, I just wrote this.  Maybe it will help.  :)

Good Enough

Sometimes perfection is needed
Sometimes "good enough" is good enough
May I have the wisdom to know the difference

Friday, October 29, 2010


I guess naming this blog after the art of perendination was a good way to guarantee that it fades quietly into obscurity as updates come less and less frequently.

Daily updates went well until I went on vacation and fell out of the habit.  Monthly updates are too infrequent.  How about weekly updates?  Hmmm...

Friday, September 24, 2010

Visionary Thoughts

Lately I've noticed that I have to hold things further away if I want to see them in focus. For example, to see the food on my fork, I have to first move it away, look at it, then bring it closer to eat it. I must look really weird at a restaurant!

I've been trying to figure out why I can't focus on close objects. I know that the atmosphere can bend light, and I think this is related to my problems.

At the horizon, light from the sun or moon has to travel through more air than it does slightly above the horizon. This is why the sun and moon look like ovals instead of circles when they're on the horizon. In fact when the bottom of the sun's disk appears to be just touching the horizon, it is actually below the horizon, but the atmosphere bends the sun's image up into view.

So it stands to reason that the atmosphere has changed recently, causing my focusing difficulties. I don't know whether the air is more dense than it was, or less dense. If it's more dense, than it's probably caused by the same thing as my weight gain, Eath's gravity has increased!

I'll have to keep looking into it...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Preschool Astronomy

I love astronomy. I always have, as far back as I can remember. I recall sitting on the living room floor in front of the TV, waiting for one of the lunar landers to lift off. I was probably about four or five years old. That's the earliest memory I have of anything astronomy related.

Today, children don't really have the novelty of the dawn of manned spaceflight to inspire them, so here are some ways to introduce children to astronomy.

(Note that some of these are actually intended for children older than preschool level, but you can still use them.)

There's No Place Like Space: All About Our Solar System by Tish Rabe

The two children from Dr. Seuss's Cat in the Hat books take a rhyming journey through the Solar System, learning about the Sun, planets, asteroids, and comets along the way. It's not authored by Dr. Seuss, but it's written and drawn in his familiar style.

Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me by Eric Carle (of The Very Hungry Caterpillar fame)

This is a book about a girl who asks her father to give her the moon, literally. Although it's far from scientifically accurate, it's inspirational, and the phases of the moon figure into the story. It also has some fold-out pages.

The Stars, A New Way to See Them, by H. A. Rey (co-author of Curious George)

I never had this book as a child, but it seems that most kids did, and loved it. It shows a child-friendly way to connect the stars in each constellation to make a shape that matches what it's supposed to be. For example, Gemini the Twins really looks like two people holding hands. There are two drawbacks to this book. 1) A lot of the stars he uses are very dim, so you won't see them from the city, or even the suburbs. 2) He takes liberties with the traditional constellation shapes. For example, his Ursa Major has the bear's nose at the end of the traditional tail.

"A Galactic Goodnight"

This episode of the Little Einsteins has them cruising the solar system to count the planets for Rocket can go to sleep. The song is very catchy; we sang it for a long time afterward! I highly recommend this episode for preschoolers. I don't think it's on DVD yet, so you'll have to check one of the Disney channels.

"What Experiment Does Blue Want To Try?"

This episode from Season 2 of Blue's Clues is about things that sink and float, but because Saturn would float on water, they wind up in space singing a cool song about the planets. It's nice that they incorporate an interesting fact about each planet into the song.

As I remember other resources, I'll add them here.

Do you have any recommendations?

Thursday, August 5, 2010


Why are there so many belts in astronomy?

Orion's Belt
The belts and zones on Jupiter
The Belt of Venus
The Asteroid Belt
And my personal favorite, Gould's Belt

And now that I've written "belt" so much, it looks funny to me. Does that ever happen to you?

Thursday, July 29, 2010


I was thinking about the calendar recently. Specifically, I was wondering why different months have differing amounts of days: 28, 29, 30, or 31. No, that's not quite it. What I mean is: Why do we STILL have differing amounts of days? In the olden days (whatever THAT means) the calendar was used to keep track of agricultural milestones, taxes, mythological festivals, and other stuff that we don't care about anymore. The calendar got all juggled around, with politicians moving days and months around, renaming things on a whim, etc. It's now a mess. So let's start from scratch.

Since all calendars have names (e.g. Gregorian, Julian), I think I'll name this one the Paulian Calendar. No special reason.

There about 365 days in a year. Let's call it 360 plus 5, because 360 is a nicer number to work with.

We can divide 360 by 12 months to get 30 days per month. Now every month will have the same number of days.

There are 7 days in a week, but the numbers 7 and 30 don't play well together. Instead, let's make it 6 days in a week. Each month would have 5 weeks of 6 days each. Which day of the week should we omit? How about Wednesday, since it's not pronounced at all like it's spelled.

Notice that each month has exactly 5 weeks, with no days left over. This means that each month starts on the same day of the week. I nominate Monday for that honor, since we all think of Monday as the start of the work week anyway, and the weekend would now be at the end of the week, where it belongs.

That takes care of 360 days, but what about the 5 days that we set aside? Let's call those the Extra Days and consider those to be outside the calendar altogether. We won't even name them Monday, Tuesday, etc., we'll just number them 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. We'll stick them between Sunday December 30 and Monday January 1. People could use them for anything they want: cleaning the house, making snowmen (in the northern hemisphere), going to the beach (in the southern hemisphere), backing up their computers, catching up on a good book, attending various bacchanalias, etc.

What about leap years? Currently, we add a day to the end of February. In the Paulian Calendar, we'll add a day to the Extra Days to make six altogether.

One byproduct of this calendar is more time off from work. In our current calendar, there are about 260 working days in the year. In the Paulian Calendar, there are just 240. Nice.

Here it is. Sorry it doesn't fit nicely here!

January February March April
Mo Tu Th Fr Sa Su Mo Tu Th Fr Sa Su Mo Tu Th Fr Sa Su Mo Tu Th Fr Sa Su
 1 2 3 4 5 6 1 2 3 4 5 6 1 2 3 4 5 6 1 2 3 4 5 6
 7 8 9 10 11 12 7 8 9 10 11 12 7 8 9 10 11 12 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 13 14 15 16 17 18 13 14 15 16 17 18 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 19 20 21 22 23 24 19 20 21 22 23 24 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 25 26 27 28 29 30 25 26 27 28 29 30 25 26 27 28 29 30

May June July August
Mo Tu Th Fr Sa Su Mo Tu Th Fr Sa Su Mo Tu Th Fr Sa Su Mo Tu Th Fr Sa Su
 1 2 3 4 5 6 1 2 3 4 5 6 1 2 3 4 5 6 1 2 3 4 5 6
 7 8 9 10 11 12 7 8 9 10 11 12 7 8 9 10 11 12 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 13 14 15 16 17 18 13 14 15 16 17 18 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 19 20 21 22 23 24 19 20 21 22 23 24 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 25 26 27 28 29 30 25 26 27 28 29 30 25 26 27 28 29 30

September October November December
Mo Tu Th Fr Sa Su Mo Tu Th Fr Sa Su Mo Tu Th Fr Sa Su Mo Tu Th Fr Sa Su
 1 2 3 4 5 6 1 2 3 4 5 6 1 2 3 4 5 6 1 2 3 4 5 6
 7 8 9 10 11 12 7 8 9 10 11 12 7 8 9 10 11 12 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 13 14 15 16 17 18 13 14 15 16 17 18 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 19 20 21 22 23 24 19 20 21 22 23 24 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 25 26 27 28 29 30 25 26 27 28 29 30 25 26 27 28 29 30

Extra Days: 1 2 3 4 5 (6 Leap Day)

Friday, July 23, 2010


I've noticed that fingernails and toenails grow at different rates. If you trim them on the same day, you'll have to trim your fingernails next time sooner than your toenails. I wish they would stay synchronized.

Same thing with hair. It grows at a different rate too.

Shouldn't everything grow at the same rate? After all, it's coming from the same person.

Tune in next time when we discuss drying paint and growing grass!

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Wouldn't it be cool if we used the Greek names for the planets, instead of the Roman ones? For some reason, I've always liked the sound of the Greek names better.

Here are the names of the planets, the sun, the moon, and some other objects:

Greek Roman

Hermes Mercury
Aphrodite Venus
Gaia Earth (Anglo-Saxon)
Ares Mars
Zeus Jupiter
Cronus Saturn
Ouranos Uranus (already Greek)
Poseidon Neptune

Helios Sun
Selene Moon

Eris (already Greek)
Hades Pluto
Demeter Ceres
Hestia Vesta
What do you think?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Metric System

Here in the U.S., we do not use the metric system. Instead we use inches, feet, yards, miles, ounces, pounds, ounces (different ones!), cups, pints, quarts, gallons, degrees Fahrenheit, acres, etc.

I hold a terribly unpopular view, which is that we should be using the metric system.

Back in the 1970s, we all prepared to go metric, but it fizzled out. The only remnants of that effort are that soda bottles are sold by the liter, and everything is dual labeled: 15 fl. oz. (444 mL)

I don't think anyone has a good reason for avoiding the metric system. Sure, it would be inconvenient for a while as various industries changed over. But every nation on Earth managed to do it, and they all survived just fine.

Instead, I sense an "us vs. them" mentality. Somehow, if you advocate a position that is in line with another country's, you are decried as anti-American or un-Patriotic.

It's strange that in a world that is becoming more closely knit together (since the rise of television, satellite communications, the Internet, and social networking), Americans are working harder and harder to distance themselves from the rest of the world, all in the name of Patriotism.

(Wow, that turned into quite a ramble. I didn't expect to go from the metric system to Patriotism!)

Sunday, July 11, 2010


My vacation's over! New posts should resume shortly.

We spent time at my brother-in-law's in-law's beach house in Loveladies, NJ. Although there was a heat wave back home, with temperatures in the low 100s (38°C), at the beach the sea breeze kept the air temperatures in the mid 80s (30°C).

This picture is a late afternoon view at low tide. The tides have carved a "cliff" in this section of the beach. At high tide, all the sand to the left of the cliff is underwater.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Two gogyohka

Here are my contributions to Tina's gogyohka party on July 1, 2010.

A genie gave me a wish
but I gave it back
I already

We chat
As I watch the summer moon rise
And you watch it set
Earth separates us
Moon connects us

Monday, June 28, 2010


I'll never be
An angel
Too great
A price to pay
For wings

(my first ever gogyohka)

Saturday, June 26, 2010


My dad taught me to play chess as a kid. Thanks, Dad! :) I used to play chess in high school, but then I dropped it for a long time. Nobody I knew really enjoyed playing it. Eventually, I started playing against various computer programs, like Battle Chess, Chessmaster 3000, and gnuchess.

The problem with playing against a computer opponent is that I started taking the game less seriously. After all, if you blunder and are down a piece, why play out the game? Just start a new one. I seemed to think ahead fewer moves, and to look only at the obvious positions. It was almost like playing speed chess: you take a short amount of time to consider the obvious moves and lines of play, and go with your instinct. That strategy works against weaker opponents, but not stronger ones.

Once I was on twitter for a while, I realized it would be the perfect medium for correspondence chess. I searched a bit, and sure enough, I found ChessTweets. Playing against live people again really highlighted how rusty I'd become.

Now I'm reteaching myself how to look ahead at various lines of play, and consider all the viable moves. So far I have no wins, one draw and four losses, but I think I'm getting better.

If you want to play me there, please challenge me to a game. All you need is a twitter account, and it's free. My twitter name is @pn8r. See you on the boards! :)

Friday, June 25, 2010

New Holiday

I discovered a new holiday to celebrate.

Today is June 25 or, as I now call it, Halfway-Between-Christmas-Past-and-Christmas-Future Day!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Here's an open letter from me to XM Radio:

Dear XM Radio,

I never in a million years thought that I would want to pay for radio service. After all, I've been getting it for free my whole life, and I've been perfectly happy.

But then I bought a new car with a free three-month trial subscription to XM Radio. I printed out a list of the stations and began to explore. I loved the idea that I could listen to any decade from the 1940s to the 2000s. I loved all the different genres that are available. I liked the comedy stations and the children's music.

I was ready to spend some money!

Unfortunately, the factory radio is really stripped down regarding XM functionality.

It will only display the first 16 characters of a song title or an artist's name. That's usually not enough. It could have been designed to scroll across, or even display successive 16 character chunks.

In addition, the radio will not pause or rewind the music - there's no live buffer.

If I'm going to pay for radio service, I expect more than a bare-bones radio receiver to go with it. There are plenty of fancy XM Radio receivers available for less than two hundred dollars; they have those feature above, plus many others. Since the car's radio is built in, with a safety video system for driving in reverse, I can't even replace it.

So, XM Radio people, when you license out your technology, you need to have better standards in place. You just lost a potential customer.



Wow, that sounded really whiny and complaining, but I just don't understand how a so-called "premium" car audio system could turn out to be so bad. It actually took a great radio service and made it unappealing!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Wish Me Luck

Tonight I plan to upgrade my iTunes to version 9.2 and my iPhone to iOS 4.0.

It would probably be a no-brainer, except that we have a PC, not a Mac. This means that I'm worried.

If you never hear from me again, you'll know why!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Mooning Around

People love the crescent moon. When people think of the moon, many imagine it as a crescent, shining in the west after a beautiful sunset.

The full moon is popular too, rising in the east as the firmament fades to black after sunset. There are even special names for full moons, like the Harvest Moon or the Full Cold Moon.

The new moon is special because it marks the beginning of a new lunar cycle.

Even the half moon is memorable, showing up in names of many restaurants, pubs, locations, etc.

However, I always feel bad for the gibbous moon. Nobody ever talks about it. Most people have never heard of the word gibbous, or know what shape the gibbous moon is.

The gibbous moon is like the opposite of the crescent moon: wherever the crescent is lighted, the gibbous moon is dark and vice versa. It's partway between a half circle and a full circle.

After the moon appears to grow in width (to wax) from new to crescent to half, it then becomes gibbous. It gets fatter and fatter for almost a week until it is a full moon.

After that it appears to shrink in width (to wane), reversing the order of the phases from full to gibbous to half to crescent to new.

Even though the moon spends the better part of two weeks as a gibbous shape, most people don't realize it. I think it's because when the moon is a really fat gibbous, people think of it as full, and when it's a day or two past half, people still consider it to be half.

Also, the gibbous shape isn't very common in general. The full moon is a circle, like a pizza, a CD, an orange. A half moon is a half circle, like half a pie. A crescent is like a banana. But what's a gibbous shape like?

So here's to the gibbous moon, the overlooked shape!

Friday, June 18, 2010


Happy Father's Day Weekend!

What's that, you say? How can a day be a weekend? Isn't that an oxymoron of some kind?

Welcome to my world. I stretch out holidays as far as I can. My favorite is when my birthday lands on a Wednesday, because then I manage to celebrate the weekend before AND after!

I aspire to someday stretch out enough holidays throughout the year so that every single day is a part of some festive occasion.

The summer is tough because there are fewer holidays. I guess that's what vacations are for!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Time for an Idea

Once in a while I have ideas for great inventions! This one might not be great, but it IS an invention.

I haven't worn a wristwatch in years. There are a few reasons. One is that I don't like the feeling of it constricting my wrist. Another is that I feel like I'm a slave to time. A third is I discovered that nearly everywhere I go - car, office, home - there is a clock, so why do I need to carry one around?

The final reason is boredom. I used to buy a really neat watch, but after a few months or a year, I'd be tired of looking at it (or playing with its features), so I'd buy another. After a while I had a few of my own watches to choose from each day, but I was used to them, and I always wanted something different.

So here's my idea: the iWatch. Just like the iPhone, the iWatch would be a watch with a touch screen for the face. You could go to the iWatchStore and download any watch face and features you want. Some would mimic analog watches, some would be digital, others would have extra features, like sunrise/sunset times, etc. Just like there are app developers for the iPhone, there would be iWatch face developers.

I would buy an iWatch. I might even wear it.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


Since I spent so much thought creating this limerick for the @Loqwacious word game, I decided to share it here.

The word of the day was gamine. Wikipedia even has an article on the subject!

There's a good reason that I rarely craft limericks, as you're about to find out.

There once was a pretty young queen
Who everyone said was gamine
She didn't agree
But as you can see
She has a well worn trampoline

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Titanic Rodomontade

The unsinkable RMS Titanic slowly inched away from her berth in Southampton, headed for Cherbourg, Queenstown, and ultimately New York City.

Poseidon watched, seething. How dare these mortals declare their handiwork unsinkable! Had they forgotten the powers that he and his fellow Olympians could unleash?

He saw the SS New York nearly crash into the Titanic, pulled in by her wake. He chuckled. That should remind them what they were dealing with.

A while later, he looked in on the Titanic again. He saw a mortal proudly standing at the very bow of the ship, shouting "I'm the king of the world!"

Poseidon grew furious. First they claimed their ship to be unsinkable, and now came this puny mortal's rodomantade!

He looked across the vast ocean and saw what he needed. He carefully changed the currents slightly, rearranged his domain slowly.

When the iceberg loomed out of the fog, Poseidon saw the look of surprise on their faces. Even after the iceberg ripped a gash in their flank, most of them still thought they were invincible. Not even enough lifeboats for them all! Hubris!

And that one who would be king, where was he? In the icy water, barely clinging to life. As the ship broke and sank, as the mortal's lifeless body was claimed by the sea, Poseidon chortled.

He was satisfied.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Keys and Buttons

I've had my new car for a few weeks now, and there's one feature that has taken time to get used to.

Instead of a key, I just have a key fob. As long as the fob is within a few feet (about a meter) of the car, I can press a button on the door handle to unlock it. And there is no ignition key slot, just a big ol' glowing pushbutton.

What's hard to get used to is leaving my keys in my pocket. For decades, it's been completely normal to reach into my pocket as I walk up to the car, use the key to unlock the door, slide into the seat, and then put the key into the ignition.

Now I have to leave my keyring in my pocket. It doesn't sound like much, but it's actually been very hard to do!

A weird side effect is that I will walk up to other locked doors and expect to press a button to unlock them. When I realize there's no button, I have to sheepishly get out my keys. Maybe I could find a way to make my house doors work without keys too!

Thursday, June 10, 2010


It's June, and I haven't seen any 2010 coins yet!

Here in the U.S., the quarters are going through another series of redesigns. This time, they are honoring National Parks. I haven't seen any of the new quarters. Last year, there were six quarter designs to honor Washington D.C. and five territories. I haven't seen any of them either.

For 2010, the reverse of the Lincoln cent was changed. The Lincoln Memorial was replaced by a shield. Nope, I haven't seen that one either.

Dime? No. Nickel? No. Half Dollar? Don't make me laugh!

Where are they all?

UPDATE: The day after I wrote this, I got one of last year's 2009 U.S. Virgin Islands quarter! It's got an outline of the islands, with some trees, a bird, some flowers and a bit of beach.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Snide News

When did the local newcasters become so snide? I feel like I'm
watching a bunch of well-dressed people sitting off to the side at a
party, gossiping about the other guests.

Isn't the news supposed to be presented objectively? I guess viewers
tune in to watch the pointless banter and the snarky remarks.

Since I get most of my news from the Internet, I should really break
this bad habit of watching it on television.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Two Sides

At dinner, my wife was telling me how my middle son misbehaved today. Then my oldest turned to me and said, "Let's hear what he has to say. You know, Daddy, there's two sides to every story." He's eight years old. I'm going to have my hands full, aren't I?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Mars and Regulus

Tonight, after sunset, I saw Mars and Regulus in a close conjunction in the west. Regulus is a first magnitude star in the constellation of Leo the Lion.

Mars and Regulus are only about one degree apart. That's pretty close for two of the brightest objects in the sky.

There were two things I found interesting.

One is that you could fit two full moons between the pair, because the full moon is about a half degree wide. Usually the moon looks pretty big, because of the Moon Illusion. But knowing that TWO moons would fit in that tiny space illustrates just how small the moon really appears to us.

The second point of interest is the color. Mars is currently the same brightness as Regulus, but you can tell them apart because of their different colors. Regulus is a blue-white star, while Mars is a reddish-butterscotch planet. Many people have trouble seeing that stars are various colors, but seeing these two objects close together should make it obvious.

Don't forget to look at Venus, the brilliant object to their lower right!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Julie and Bailey

I saw the movie Julie and Julia. I thought it was going to be about cooking, but it was actually about blogging.* It inspired me to blog again.

When I started this blog, I thought I'd blog at least once a day. When that didn't work out, I aimed for every other day, then once a week.

My problem is that I expect every entry to be a masterpiece. As a reader, I tend to gravitate to blogs that not only have clever writing, but also contain relevant illustrations and links. But I couldn't make all my blog entries into encyclopedia articles AND still stick to blogging every day - it took too much time. Unfortunately, my feeling was that if it wasn't just exactly how I wanted it, I'd rather have no one see it at all.

Recently, Bailey, whose writing I admire, told me that I should just type my thoughts out and revise them later. When I complained that I was a perendinator, she did this: *shrug* That put me in my place, and I won't use procrastinating as an excuse anymore.

So from now on, I will be blogging everyday, even if I don't have anything earth-shattering to say, and it's not formatted perfectly. So beware! :)

* I exaggerate slightly. It was about blogging AND about chopping onions into a pile so high that when you enter the room, your eyes instantly tear up.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

And So We Wait

When the booming voice came, everyone heard it.

As nanotechnology is to you, so you are to us. Let us explain.

Even with our most advanced instruments, the smallest objects and forces were beyond our technology. However, we knew they were vitally important to understand. So we created your universe and encouraged intelligence to evolve. We knew that intelligent life would eventually seek to explore and understand the world around it, which you have done admirably.

Thanks to your unquenchable thirst for knowledge, we now know more than we had ever dreamed possible about the building blocks of our existence.

We wish to congratulate you and thank you.

Now, however, you have begun to probe even further. Some of your recent cosmological observations and theories prove that you are on the verge of discovering the truth about your universe. Your research would no longer advance, because all your focus would turn to us. Therefore, we have decided to end this experiment.

We hope this message provides solace - your existence has had tremendous meaning and usefulness.

And so we wait.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

On spills

Oops, you spilled your juice on the table. Here let me wipe that up for you. There, all clean!

I guess that's the image that they want to conjure up when they say there's an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Instead, here's what's we ought to be thinking of:

You come home from work and discover that someone has broken into your house and taken a sledgehammer to your kitchen faucet and its shutoff valve. Water is spraying like a fountain out of a broken pipe, and there's no way to turn it off. There's water all over the kitchen, ruining the cabinets, the furniture, etc. It's collecting on the floor and making its way into your dining room to ruin your family heirlooms. It's also seeping through the flooring into the basement, where it's dripping onto your pool table.

But it's just a spill, right?

Friday, April 30, 2010


Pretend I just wrote a clever, witty, and insightful post. Now make appropriate comments... :)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

iPhone Moon

Anyone can do astrophotography. To prove it, I took a picture of the moon using just my iPhone 3GS. I aimed it at the sky, tapped on the moon, then took the picture. I didn't even steady it against anything.

It was 2010 April 20 at 7:37 pm, and it was still twilight - that helped to reduce the contrast. The exposure time was 1/60 seconds at f/2.8.

If you look carefully, you can see a darkening near the terminator. That is a combination of Mare Serenitatis (Sea of Serenity) and Mare Tranquillitatis (Sea of Tranquility).

For comparison, here is a computer generated image for the same approximate time:

Thursday, April 15, 2010


I always have trouble finding time to ride the exercise bicycle. I ought to be more motivated - after all, I always feel better when I'm done riding it. But somehow there's always something more pressing, or more interesting, or I'm just too tired.

I probably wouldn't have to ride the bike at all, except that I sit at desk all day typing away at a computer. Even if I take a break to walk around a bit, it's not the same as exercise.

Then I thought, why not combine the two activities? If I could pedal a bicycle WHILE working at my desk, I'd be maiming two birds with one rock feeding two birds with one seed, so to speak. But it would be way too easy to just sit there, stop pedaling, and mouse around.

Then I had an epiphany. What if I were forced to pedal to make the computer work? In fact, the bicycle could generate the electricity to power the computer! I'd be exercising, I'd be productive, and I'd be helping to reduce the drain on the power grid!

If everyone around the world did this, we'd be healthier and happier.

Of course, we'd all have legs like tree trunks, but you can't have everything!

[Edited to fix the awful bird comment!]

Monday, April 12, 2010

Taciturn Churn

Today's Artwiculate word of the day was "taciturn", meaning habitually untalkative.

At some point, this popped into my head:
taciturn snowmen
I pictured a group of snowmen slowly and quietly advancing across a snowy lawn, with animals dispersing in confused fear ahead of them. My yard is often full of rabbits. So I changed it to:
Taciturn snowmen / bunnies retreat
I considered "rabbits retreat" because it's more alliterative, but I liked the image of bunnies better.

But what's the one thing that would stop a snowman? They are afraid of melting in the sun. So:
Taciturn snowmen / bunnies retreat / the sun their only nemesis
This also uses a recent word of the day (nemesis) which is always a bonus.

Then I started to overthink things, as usual. What does "their" refer to? The most recent noun? The subject? Is the sun the bunnies' nemesis or the snowmen's? I changed it to:
Bunnies retreat before taciturn snowmen, the sun their only nemesis.
I couldn't decide which way was correct, or which way sounded better. Then I thought that it shouldn't be "their only nemesis" because by definition there can be just one nemesis. Or maybe not. Frustrated a bit, I avoided the whole problem by lopping off the end:
Bunnies retreat before taciturn snowmen
This is the version that I tweeted as an Artwiculate entry. A few minutes later, I wanted to delete it and start over, but by then Artwiculate had picked it up, so hope was lost.

Most days are like this! I would have been better off remaining taciturn myself.

UPDATE: This tweet got an astounding 49 points, enough for a four-way tie for 27th place. That's four points better than my other entry which I thought was better: Taciturn lurker becomes a berserker. Film at 11.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


A mondegreen is a misheard word or phrase in a song or poem. My kids invented a wonderful mondegreen. We put on the song Juke Box Hero, by Foreigner, and they loved it. They were singing and shouting out the words. When we listened carefully, we discovered they were singing "Juice Box Hero".

We tried to explain what a juke box is, but to no avail. So now the song will forever be known as "Juice Box Hero" in our household.

Here are some Christmas mondegreens and some very creative mondegreens from Artwiculators.

Thursday, April 1, 2010


Does anyone really enjoy dragging smelly, unbalanced garbage cans to the curb in the dark? I sure don't.

When I was growing up, Thursday night was garbage night. Hot or cold, rain or snow, the garbage had to be put out. Then when I moved out on my own, no matter where I lived, it always seemed that Thursday night was garbage night. I was haunted by it, like I was living a bad Twilight Zone episode.

Finally I moved to my current house, and garbage night is no longer on Thursday. Still, every Thursday night at some point I remember that it's garbage night, but then a moment later I realize that no, it's not anymore. O frabjous day! Calloo! Callay! For the rest of the night I feel like I'm on vacation, where I can ignore the drudgery of quotidian chores. Even though I've been in this house for nearly ten years, this scene still plays out every Thursday night. I guess old habits die hard.

Of course, on previously-garbage-free Friday night, I now feel like I'm in the army on K.P. duty whenever I belatedly realize that it's garbage night. Everything evens out over time.

Monday, March 29, 2010


I was folding some laundry. At the end, I had one leftover sock. This happens fairly often. But this time, I had a flash of insight.

What if instead of eating socks, like everyone always assumes, the washer or dryer is CREATING SOCKS?!

This could be the discovery of a lifetime! I quickly checked my sock drawer, and it looked pretty full. I couldn't remember the last time I'd bought socks, and yet there were BRAND NEW SOCKS right in front of me!

If new socks really are appearing, just think of the implications. I could collect them in pairs and give them away as gifts. No more agonizing over what to buy someone for their birthday, because who wouldn't appreciate a nice pair of clean socks!

I'm going to start keeping accurate track of my socks.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Story

Some time ago, I decided to make my artwicutweets (artwiculate tweets) more interesting (at least for me) by telling a story, one tweet per day. My first tweet of the story was on Saturday, 2010 March 13.

I know where the story is heading, but on any given day, the WOTD (word of the day) can take it in an unanticipated direction.

I was originally going to tweet the story every day, come hell or high water, but some days I'm either not in the right frame of mind, or I don't want to fit a square peg (the WOTD) into a round hole (the story), or I just can't make the time. On the other hand, I'll occasionally make more than one story tweet for the same WOTD, if it helps the story along.

Here's the beginning of the story:

Zak awoke. A new day, a new job, a new town, a new life. A satisfying pandiculation seemed like a good way to start!

Zak reflected on his past - all his yesterdays at that onerous job - all his yesternight-s with that odious woman. He shuddered.

As Zak thought about about how parsimonious his former boss was, he realized that his ex was stingy too, in more ways than one.

Thinking of his new life ahead dispelled the languor of years of delusion. Zak headed out, upbeat for the first time in years.

Is desire fungible? Zak had been treated as a cog in a machine. He looked forward to being someone's irreplaceable inspiration.

New job. First staff meeting. Zak listened intently. "Nice tae meit ye! Whaur ar ye frae?" Oh no, an impenetrable brogue!

On Zak's office tour... "And if you need a break, she'll talk your ear off about absolutely nothing." "Flibbertigibbet, check."

And Zak, in case you have a penchant for social media, you should know that the company blocks access to Twitter. "Nooooooooooo!"

Zak's first day done, he knew he had an oneiric job (even sans Twitter). With any luck, he'd meet his dream girl soon, too.

"Falling in love is a misnomer," thought Zak. "It's more like being hit by a freight train. Why is my train so late?"

"All I want is someone to share a lifetime of playful persiflage and amorous adventures," thought Zak as he left the bookstore.

As she entered the bookstore, Ann thought, "All I want is someone to share a lifetime of playful persiflage and amorous adventures."

Sunday, March 21, 2010


This weekend I worked on cleaning up some of the tree damage from the February 2010 snowstorm and the March 2010 nor'easter.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Best Laid Plans...

I was planning to update my blog at least once each day, but you see how well that's going! I always seem to get an inspiration for a post when I have no access to the internet.

Well, that's my life in a nutshell: I get inspired to accomplish things when I have no ability to do them, yet when I have the ability, I am not inspired.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Weighty Matter

Hey, I gained a pound last week!

Since weight is equal to mass times acceleration, either mass or acceleration must have changed.

The acceleration of gravity at Earth's surface is about 9.8 m/s2. My weight increased by 1 pound, which is about 0.6% for me. If the acceleration of gravity at Earth's surface increased by 0.6%, then Earth's mass must have increased by that amount. Earth masses1 about 5975 x 1021 kg, and 0.6% of that is about 36 x 1021 kg. That's about the same as Europa, one of the four largest moons of Jupiter. (Europa is just a bit smaller than our own Moon.)

So an object with the mass of Europa collided with Earth last week, and only I noticed!

Or maybe I just ate too much shoo-fly pie.

1 I'm using "mass" as a verb, because Earth doesn't "weigh" anything!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

More Time

Whenever I get to the end of my day, I always want to stay up later and do more things. I never have time to read in bed anymore, or watch a movie on television uninterrupted from start to finish. I used to play all sorts of strategy computer games. No more.

I estimate that the day would have to be about 29 hours long for me to do everything I have to do plus everything that I want to do.

Couldn't we all find good use for an extra five hours each day?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Daylight Saving Time

Daylight Saving Time? Really?? We all have to change the time on our clocks to "save daylight"? That's the most inane thing anyone's ever thought up!

Hey, people commute too much. Let's redefine 1 kilometer to be 900 meters so that we can all keep doing what we've always done, yet pretend we are making a difference.

(Yes, it's an imperfect analogy.)

Twice each year we have to change our clocks, causing a week or so of increased accidents, heart attacks, and inconvenience. And for what? Maybe 50 years ago, it made a difference in electricity bills, but not any more.

Please, let's stop this madness. How I envy you, who live in areas that stay on Standard Time.

No More 140 Char Limit

I joined twitter in August 2009, so I've spent the last seven months microblogging -- fitting everything into 140 character posts. I need to retrain myself!

Friday, March 12, 2010


I thought of a new title for my blog: A Perendinator's Musings

Okay, so it's a mouthful. But it fits my twitter name: @pn8r. And I think it's unique!

Maybe it should be spelled "Perendinater" instead, but I like the -or suffix better.

Oh... to perendinate is to put off until the day after tomorrow. That fits me perfectly!

Thursday, March 11, 2010