Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Big Oil

An oil commodities broker in London went on a 3-day drinking binge and bought 7 million barrels of oil from his home computer at 2 a.m. At first he lied about it, then confessed he didn't remember doing it. It took him only 2 hours to create a $10 million loss for his company. He was fired, fined, and barred from working in the field for 5 years. The man is now enrolled in an alcohol abuse program in Switzerland.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Active solar period

The sun's solar flare cycle has entered its active phase again and scientists say it's likely we will see some damage on Earth in the next 5 years because of it. Electrical grids are the most vulnerable to solar storms and widespread power outages are not uncommon (e.g., Quebec 1989). Satellites and aircraft are also affected by solar flares. Experts say it's unlikely, but if the Earth took a direct shot from the sun it could create a doomsday scenario that would knock out power around the globe. Banking, for instance, would come to a halt. Gas station pumps, elevators, ATM machines — anything that uses electricity would be affected. If transformers were fried, it would take at least 9 months to build new ones and get the grid back up again. Imagine the U.S. without electricity. Fortunately, if engineers have an early warning, the grids could (and would) be shut down as a preventive measure and then rebooted. Space weather is very closely monitored and there is usually enough lead time to prevent major outages. But if there is no warning, this could be a real-life disaster movie. Just thought you ought to know!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Tiny houses

Tiny houses are a new, fast growing segment of the real estate market. A tiny house can range from 100 to 800 square feet. Most have lofts. They come with a bathroom sink, toilet and tub, a kitchen with full-sized range and a built-in microwave, a dishwasher, electric wiring, and insulation. You build the foundation or they can sit on basements. The smallest ones fit on a trailer and you can haul it around. The houses are finished on the inside.

There are many builders of these houses, and the styles and square footage varies a great deal. A Google search on "tiny houses" found 1 million hits. There's even a Tiny House Journal magazine and several forums to discuss them.

You can download the architectural drawings online for $300. You can buy a do-it-yourself kit for $10- $25,000. Or you can have them made and delivered for around $45,000 or less, depending on the size.

The houses are coveted by people who want to downsize, save energy, save resources, reduce yard work, and really go Green by reducing their footprint. It seems that people are excited to live on what they really need. Purging one's old life has a practicality and a spirituality about it.

There are neighborhoods of these houses being built, with sidewalks, a bank, a grocery store, a post office, a park, etc. Are these the future of retirement living? I'd love to have one. But my house is already 1,000 square feet, so I guess I'm ahead of my time.

My brother-in-law is a builder — I should tell him about this. 

19 sets of twins graduate

Two Syracuse-area high schools graduated 19 sets of twins on Sunday, according to The New York Times. One school graduated 12 sets, the other 7. The school with the 12 twins established a new Guinness World Record, beating a Massachussetts school's record of graduating 10 sets of twins.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

George Harrison

The Hollywood Reporter says a new George Harrison documentary is on the way in 2011. "Living in the Material World: George Harrison," will be directed by Martin Scorsese in full collaboration with Harrison's widow, Olivia.

Definition of a tree

A woman in Mt. Lookout let her yard overgrow. Her neighbor complained but the city did not cite her. The neighbor wrote to WKRC's Troubleshooter Howard Ain for help.

Ain discovered that Cincinnati does not have a definition of a tree which prevents it from taking action against the woman. They have to write a new ordinance that includes the definition.

Pictured above is an invasive weed that can grow 20 feet tall, called the Saltcedar or Noxious Weed. This is probably what they are talking about, defining whether this is a tree or a weed.

Has the city never prosecuted this problem before? This is ridiculous.

Kindergarten graduation

Two women were arrested and 20 other adults were detained after a brawl between parents broke out at a kindergarten graduation ceremony in the Southern California town of Victorville on Wednesday. Police placed the school on lockdown and charged the women with "causing a disruptive presence at a school." Police said there could be more arrests. There were no reported injuries.

My poor crows

The West Nile Virus is alive and killing again this year. Bad news for my beloved crows who suffered a massive population decline since the virus hit ten years ago. Crows and ravens are very intelligent. Crows are the Hell's Angels of the bird world. They like to gang up on hawks and owls and harass them, and generally cause trouble while making a racket.
I love them. 

Friday, June 25, 2010

Frog water taxi

This is a real AP photograph taken in the wild during a large flood in India several years ago. I was reading the news when I saw it and I downloaded the image.

British teeth

The Guardian newspaper in London published a column asking whether British teeth are as awful as Americans portray them to be (think Austin Powers). What followed was a long, interesting "comments" section. If you want to know what people think regarding British teeth, read this:

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Monty Python and Wimbledon

There's a Monty Python's Flying Circus sketch about Tibetan sherpas who refused to climb Mount Everest because "it's Wimbledon fortnight!" The sherpas were filmed mulling around with small transistor radios glued to their ears. Well, it is Wimbledon fortnight right now, and what do they serve at Wimbledon?? — Strawberries and cream!

Really, I just wanted to post this cool picture.
(A British fortnight is two weeks.)


I love the fact that "write" and "writhe" 
are only one letter apart. 
They go hand in hand.

Morning at my house

Smoking coffee and drinking cigarettes.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

There should be a law

If you don't work, don't go to the grocery at 5:30-6:30 p.m. 

In fact, don't leave the house after 4.

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