December 28, 2008

Ice Storm Aftermath

I bought this electric Black & Decker Chain Saw Lopper (at Lowes) today and started the clean up of all the downed limbs on my property. It's really quite nice... I don't particularly like using a full-sized chain saw; I don't like the kick back and always have trouble propping up the wood so I don't dull the saw by digging it into the ground. The vast majority of the work I need to do is on branches 5 or 6 inches in diameter or less and this alligator jaw lopper works great for that. You just grab the branch with the jaws and the chain saw cuts through it.

The chain popped off a couple of times when I either twisted the saw while it was cutting, or when I grabbed onto too large a limb, but it was pretty simple to take apart the saw and rethread the chain. I was using vegetable oil to keep the blade running smooth -- the more the better. There's still a lot of junk I'll just have to burn in the burn pile, but I'm able to harvest at least some nice firewood for our fireplace.

2008 - The Turning Point

2008 - The Year Man-Made Global Warming was disproved

Easily one of the most important stories of 2008 has been all the evidence suggesting that this may be looked back on as the year when there was a turning point in the great worldwide panic over man-made global warming. Just when politicians in Europe and America have been adopting the most costly and damaging measures politicians have ever proposed, to combat this supposed menace, the tide has turned in three significant respects.

1)  Global Temperatures have dropped, a lot, against all models

2)  "Scientific Consensus" has collapsed, if there ever was one

3)  The global financial crisis has put political global warming agendas onto the back burner

If you click on the article, there are hundreds of comments... those, too, make interesting reading.

December 23, 2008

A Brighter Christmas

We got our power back Monday evening.  Even though I feel for those 17,000 or so families who are still without power, our Christmas will feel a little bit brighter this year.  Three and a half days without power, without water, reminds a person of just what luxurious lives we lead.  Flushing a toilet, washing a dish in warm water, taking a hot shower, seeing those thousands of twinkling little lights on all the Christmas trees -- there's  much to be thankful for.  I hope you all enjoy every little bit of your Christmas and New Year's Day.

December 21, 2008

Power Status

Click here for relatively recent information on the power outages in Ft. Wayne... next update is scheduled for 9pm.  This morning at 6am, there were 40,000 customers in Ft. Wayne without power,   By 11am it was up to 52,000 customers... by 3pm it was up to over 53,000 customers...

We're going the wrong way!

December 20, 2008

Icy Pics

For the benefit of those in warmer climates, here's a little Indiana weather. You can click on them to make them larger.

December 17, 2008

The Dodge

Some kind soul converted the Bush shoe toss into a Matrix Style animated gif... click on the picture to animate it.

Flickr Commons

Flickr Commons is an online collection of the world's public photo collections... wonderful browsing.

December 16, 2008

Ball State loses Football Coach

After a great 12-1 season, Ball State's football coach, Brady Hoke, is headed to San Diego State, turning down Ball State's $350,000 offer to stay.

Thanks a lot...  see ya, wouldn't want to be ya.

Movie Theater in Bluffton

Remember the talk, way back in January, of a movie theater coming to Bluffton?  It looks like the owner of the Bones Theatre in Columbia City is moving ahead with that idea:

"We don't have a location finalized yet, nor do we have a set timetable as to when it will be open," Jones told the News-Banner Monday afternoon.  But he added that he has obtained commitments from the architects, consultants and projection firms.

More details are due out Wednesday.

December 11, 2008

Area Basketball Rankings

Boys' Rankings

  • 4A:  Snider is 14th, NorthSide is 27th, Northrop is 37th, Homestead is 53rd, Carroll is 58th, SouthSide is 95th
  • 3A:  Wayne is 4th,  Bishop Dwenger is 6th, Elmhurst is 33rd, New Haven is 49th, Concordia is 55th, Bellmont is 66th
  • 2A:  Bishop Luers is 2nd, Bluffton is 13th, South Adams is 68th, Woodlan is 71st, Adams Central is 86th
  • 1A:  Blackhawk is 7th, Canterbury is 29th, Southern Wells is 38th, Keystone is 73rd

Girls' Rankings

  • 4A:  SouthSide is 15th, Homestead is 39th, Snider is 45th, Carroll is 63rd, Northrop is 77th, NorthSide is 82nd
  • 3A:  Emhurst is 3rd, Norwell is 4th, Concordia is 25th, Bellmont is 30th, Bishop Dwenger is 58th, Heritage is 68th, Wayne is 90th
  • 2A:  Bishop Luers is 15th, Woodlan is 65th, South Adams is 73rd, Bluffton is 81st, Adams Central is 98th
  • 1A:  Southern Wells is 9th, Canterbury is 15th, Blackhawk is 55th

It's a bit harder to follow the games this year since the News-Banner has gone to pdf subscription only format on-line.  But the Norwell girls are looking good and the Bishop Luers boys are averaging a 30 point blowout-win per game, they are averaging 90 points a game to their opposition's 60.  The Norwell Girls advantage per game is averaging nearly 22 points.

Best books of 2008

An long list of editors' top book choices for 2008

China and Music

The article, China's six-to-one advantage over the US, is an interesting read.

"Chinese parents urge their children to excel at instrumental music with the same ferocity that American parents [urge] theirs to perform well in soccer or Little League," wrote Jennifer Lin in the Philadelphia Inquirer June 8 in an article entitled China's 'piano fever'.

The world's largest country is well along the way to forming an intellectual elite on a scale that the world has never seen, and against which nothing in today's world - surely not the inbred products of the Ivy League puppy mills - can compete.

. . .

American medical schools accept more undergraduates who majored in music than any other discipline (excepting pre-med).

Any activity that requires discipline and deferred gratification benefits children, but classical music does more than sports or crafts. Playing tennis at a high level requires great concentration, but nothing like the concentration required to perform the major repertoire of classical music.

We live in interesting times.

December 10, 2008

Popular Mechanics -- Free Online

106 years of Popular Mechanics

Bengal Tiger Captured in Albion

Noble County 911 Director Mitch Fiandt said the 18-year-old female Bengal tiger escaped from the Black Pine Animal Park in Albion about 3:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Park officials say the tiger returned to the property around 11 p.m. and was back in its enclosure about an hour later. 

They figured the tiger would return home after getting a taste of the Indiana weather... cold and wet.

Little Girl gets Christmas Wish

A very nice video

Ukulele Weeps


December 9, 2008

Want a quick headache?

Click here

The Bailout

Click on the picture to get a larger image of just how much money we're talking about.

December 8, 2008

The Soviet Collapse

The Soviet Collapse:  Grain and Oil is an interesting read, for those who have interest. 

December 4, 2008

Periodic Table

For those of you (or your kids) who have an interest in Chemistry... is a wonderful site.  If you go to the site, you'll see a picture like the one above, but each of the elements are clickable hyperlinks that show more information about the element.

December 3, 2008

How to live on Mars

The other day, I wrote about "What we have learned in Space" and how manned space travel is likely too dangerous and too expensive for humanity to spread out to other planets.  Robert Zubrin disagrees -- in book form -- with "How to Live on Mars"

For us to say we can't go to Mars today is to basically say that we've become less than the people who got us to where we are today, and that's something that we can't afford. The risks associated with a human mission to Mars, given what we know today about Mars and about space technology, are much lower than the risks of the Apollo moon program were.

I think that this freedom to be the maker of your own world instead of simply being the inhabitant of one that has already been made is a truly grand form of human freedom. We had that during the period from Plymouth Rock through the closing of the American frontier in the late 1890s. There's a famous quote from a great historian, Walter Prescott Webb, that says "People will miss the frontier more than words can ever express. For hundreds of years they heard its call and bet their lives and fortune on its outcome." This is why we still look back today at the time of the American frontier as a great time, despite the fact that it was filled with all kinds of harsh experiences and heartbreak.

So with Mars, there will be grand successes and there will be heartbreak. Not everyone will strike it rich, but everyone will get a chance for a new start. There's a reason why millions of people in the Old World sold everything they had to get a ticket on a ship to get them to America. And for some of them it didn't work out so well. But it did for enough of them that they're still coming today.

I'm all for it, it's just that I doubt it will happen.  It's not that I believe the world lacks for Christopher Columbuses, no... no, the world lacks for Queen Isabellas.  Who out there can fund a trip to Mars?  Which country?  What people?

Grief Hallucinations

Scientific American has an interesting article this month titled, "Ghost Stories: Visits from the Deceased." The article contends that mourning is a time when people are quite prone to hallucinations:

Mourning seems to be a time when hallucinations are particularly common, to the point where feeling the presence of the deceased is the norm rather than the exception. One study, by the researcher Agneta Grimby at the University of Goteborg, found that over 80 percent of elderly people experience hallucinations associated with their dead partner one month after bereavement, as if their perception had yet to catch up with the knowledge of their beloved's passing. As a marker of how vivid such visions can seem, almost a third of the people reported that they spoke in response to their experiences. In other words, these weren't just peripheral illusions: they could evoke the very essence of the deceased.

Well... this leads me to ask. Why is Scientific American so sure that what eighty percent of people experience is unreal? Just how equipped are scientists in differentiation between hallucinations and visits from the great beyond?

The Night Sky

The Moon, Venus and Jupiter.  Nice.