Supermoon Saturday!! May 5th

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Also… the Full Flower Moon – In most areas, flowers are abundant everywhere during this time. Thus, the name of this Moon. Other names include the Full Corn Planting Moon, or the Milk Moon.

The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

First of all I want to say that this book was well worth the wait!  The first book was wonderful and had me chomping at the bit waiting for the second and Rothfuss delivers!  The second book in the Kingkiller Chronicles is even better than the first (if that’s even possible)!

As always, Pat’s writing style is smooth and a delight to the senses.  Almost as if Kvothe were singing the story with lute in strum.  Like the Adem he wastes no words here.  Every line of the book is purposeful and telling.  I have read many books with more filler than plot and that is not something that you are going to find here!

The other point I want to try to get across to my readers is how this book made me feel.  I am certainly not a writer of the caliber of Rothfuss (or Kvothe) but please let me try to endear you to this incredible and enchanting book.  As I was listening to Kvothe tell Chronicler the story of himself and all the tales within tales I couldn’t help but feel that I knew these stories.  I had the strangest feeling that I had heard them before, like they had been written on my heart from a young age.  Probably a bad analogy, but I seemed to recall them in memory like childhood bible stories.  It was as if those stories of the Fae and Amyr and of old magics had been with me always.  Of course, logically I know this is the first time I’d read them but it didn’t feel that way.  The same of the characters.  Even though it had been near two years since reading the first book I felt that these were old friends, long lost aquaintances come to call.  I think this is perhaps the highest compliment that I can offer the author – that his story resonates with me somewhere deep, it’s not something I will forget.  This series is destined to become ‘ficstorical’… meaning you will someday talk about the people, places and stories within as if they were historical fact and be amused at anyone who doesn’t know the references. (Something like the way most of us today talk about Frodo or Anakin.) On a lighter note, I couldn’t help thinking to myself that Pat would be a far better author to base a religion on than Hubbard.  But I digress.

This the kind of story that you simply can’t put down until you turn the last page.  And then you’ll find yourself breathless in anticipation of the rest of the tale.  I pray to Merciful Tehlu the final book is sooner to pint than the last!

The Wise Man’s Fear (Kingkiller Chronicles, Day 2)

Another episode of funny forwards…

Did you ever notice…

  • Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you’re wrong.
  • I don’t understand the  purpose of the line, “I don’t need to drink to have fun.” Great, no one does. But why start a fire with flint and
    sticks when they’ve invented the lighter?
  •  Have you ever been walking down the street and realized that you’re going in the complete opposite direction of where you are supposed to be going? But instead of just turning a 180 and  walking back in the direction from which you came, you have to first do  something like
    check your watch or phone or make a grand arm gesture  and mutter to yourself to ensure that no one in the surrounding area  thinks you’re crazy by randomly switching directions on the  sidewalk.
  • I totally take back  all those times I didn’t want to nap when I was younger.
  • The  letters T and G are very close to each other on a keyboard.  This recently became all too apparent to me and consequently I will 
    never be ending a work email with the phrase “Regards” again.
  • Do you remember when you were a kid, playing Nintendo and it wouldn’t work? You take the cartridge out, blow in it and that would 
    magically fix the problem. Every kid in America did that, but how did we all know how to fix the problem?  There was no internet or message  boards or FAQ’s. We just figured it out. Today’s kids are  soft.
  • There is a great need for sarcasm font.
  •  Sometimes,  I’ll watch a movie that I watched when I was younger and suddenly  realize I had no idea what the heck was going on when I first saw  it.
  •  I think everyone has a movie that they love so much, it actually becomes stressful to watch it with other people. I’ll end up  wasting
    90 minutes shiftily glancing around to confirm that  everyone’s laughing at the right parts, then making sure I laugh just a  little
    bit harder (and a millisecond earlier) to prove that I’m still  the only one who really, really gets it.
  • How the hell are you  supposed to fold a fitted sheet?
  • I would rather try to carry 10  plastic grocery bags in each hand than take 2 trips to bring my  groceries in.
  • I think part of a best friend’s job should be to immediately clear your computer history if you die.
  • The only  time I look forward to a red light is when I’m trying to finish a  text.
  • A recent study has shown that playing beer pong contributes to the spread of mono and the flu. Yeah, if you suck at it.
  • Was learning cursive really necessary?
  • Lol has gone from meaning,  “laugh out loud” to “I have nothing else to say”.
  • I have a hard  time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger.
  • Answering the same letter three times or more in a row on a  Scantron test is absolutely petrifying.
  • My brother’s Municipal  League baseball team is named the Stepdads. Seeing as none of the guys  on the team are actual stepdads, I inquired about the name. He  explained, “Cuz we beat you, and you hate us.”  Classy, bro.
  • Whenever someone says “I’m not book smart, but I’m street smart”, all I  hear is “I’m not real smart, but I’m imaginary smart”.
  • How many  times is it appropriate to say “What?” before you just nod and smile  because you still didn’t hear what they said?
  • Every time I have  to spell a word over the phone using ‘as in’ examples, I will  undoubtedly draw a blank and sound like a complete
    idiot. Today I had  to spell my boss’s last name to an attorney and said “Yes that’s G as  in…(10 second lapse)..ummm….Goonies”
  • What would happen if I  hired two private investigators to follow each other?
  • While  driving yesterday I saw a banana peel in the road and instinctively  swerved to avoid it….thanks Mario Kart.
  • MapQuest really needs to  start their directions on #5.  Pretty sure I know how to get out of my  neighborhood.
  • Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they  told you how the person died.
  • I find it hard to believe there are  actually people who get in the shower first and THEN turn on the  water.
  • Shirts get dirty. Underwear gets dirty. Pants? Pants never get dirty, and you can wear them forever.
  • I can’t remember the  last time I wasn’t at least kind of tired.
  • Bad decisions make  good stories
  • Whenever I’m Facebook stalking someone and I find  out that their profile is public I feel like a kid on Christmas morning  who just got
    the Red Ryder BB gun that I always wanted. 546 pictures?  Don’t mind if I do!
  • Is it just me or do high school girls get  sluttier & sluttier every year?
  • If Carmen San Diego and Waldo  ever got together, their offspring would probably just be completely  invisible.
  • Why is it that during an ice-breaker, when the whole  room has to go around and say their name and where they are from, I get  so incredibly nervous? Like I know my name, I know where I’m from, this  shouldn’t be a problem….
  • You never know when it will strike,  but there comes a moment at work when you’ve made up your mind that you  just aren’t doing anything productive for the rest of the day.
  •  Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after DVDs? I don’t want  to have to restart my collection.
  • There’s no worse feeling than  that millisecond you’re sure you are going to die after leaning your  chair back a little too far.
  • I’m always slightly terrified when I  exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten  page research paper that I
    swear I did not make any changes  to.
  • “Do not machine wash or tumble dry” means I will never wash this ever.
  • I hate being the one with the remote in a room full of people watching TV. There’s so much pressure. ‘I love this show, but  will
    they judge me if I keep it on? I bet everyone is wishing we  weren’t watching this. It’s only a matter of time before they all get  up and
    leave the room. Will we still be friends after this?’
  • I  hate when I just miss a call by the last ring (Hello? Hello?Damnit!),  but when I immediately call back, it rings nine times and
    goes to  voicemail. What’d you do after I didn’t answer? Drop the phone and run away?
  • I hate leaving my house confident and looking good and then not seeing anyone of importance the entire day. What a waste.
  •  When I meet a new girl, I’m terrified of mentioning something  she hasn’t already told me but that I have learned from some  light
    internet stalking.
  • I like all of the music in my iTunes,  except when it’s on shuffle, then I like about one in every fifteen  songs in my iTunes.
  • Why is a school zone 20 mph? That seems like  the optimal cruising speed for pedophiles…
  • As a driver I  hate pedestrians, and as a pedestrian I hate drivers, but no matter  what the mode of transportation, I always hate cyclists.
  •  Sometimes I’ll look down at my watch 3 consecutive times and still  not know what time it is.
  • It should probably be called  Unplanned Parenthood…
  • I keep some people’s phone numbers in my  phone just so I know not to answer when they call.
  • I think  that if, years down the road when I’m trying to have a kid, I find out  that I’m sterile, most of my disappointment will stem from
    the fact  that I was not aware of my condition in college.
  • Even if I knew  your social security number, I wouldn’t know what do to with it.
  • Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys  in a pocket, and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey – but I’d bet my
    ass  everyone can find and push the Snooze button from 3 feet away, in about  1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time every time…
  • My 4-year old  son asked me in the car the other day “Dad what would happen if you ran  over a ninja?” How the hell do I respond to that?
  • It really  pisses me off when I want to read a story on and the link takes  me to a video instead of text.
  • I wonder if cops ever get pissed off at the fact that everyone they drive behind obeys the speed limit.
  • I think the freezer deserves a light as well.
  • I  disagree with Kay Jewelers. I would bet on any given Friday or Saturday  night more kisses begin with Miller Lites than Kay.
  • The other night I ordered takeout, and when I looked in the bag, saw they had included four sets of plastic silverware. In other words,
    someone at  the restaurant packed my order, took a second to think about it, and  then estimated that there must be at least four people
    eating to require such a large amount of food. Too bad I was eating by myself.  There’s nothing like being made to feel like a fat bastard
    before dinner.

Oops! There goes another rubber tree plant… or not!

The tyres of the future may be made from dandelions

Tremble, Michelin, tremble

OTHER than being an ingredient of the more recherché sorts of salad, herbal tea or wine, dandelions are pretty useless plants. Or, at least, they were. But one species, a Russian variety called Taraxacum kok-saghyz (TKS), may yet make the big time. It produces molecules of rubber in its sap and if two research programmes, one going on in Germany and one in America, come to fruition, it could supplement—or even replace—the traditional rubber tree, Hevea brasiliensis.

Despite the invention of synthetic rubbers, there is often no good substitute for the real thing, for nothing artificial yet matches natural rubber’s resilience and strength. This is because natural-rubber molecules, the product of a stepwise synthesis by enzymes, have a more regular structure than the artificial ones made by chemical engineering. Around a fifth of an average car tyre is therefore made of natural rubber. In an aeroplane tyre that figure can be more than four-fifths. Moreover, the price of synthetic rubber is tied to that of the oil from which it is made, rendering it vulnerable to changes in the oil price. Because oil is likely to become more costly in the future, natural rubber looks an attractive alternative from an economic point of view as well as an engineering one.

Natural rubber has problems, though. Growing Hevea in the Americas is hard. A disease called leaf blight means the trees have to be spaced widely. Even in Asia, currently blight-free, planting new rubber trees often means cutting down rainforest, to general disapproval. And trees, being large, take time to grow to the point where they can yield a crop. A smaller plant that could be harvested for its rubber therefore has obvious appeal.

One proposal is to use guayule, a shrub that grows in arid regions and produces rubber that is free from allergenic proteins, which makes it useful for items such as surgical gloves. Desert plants, however, tend to be slow growing—guayule takes two years to mature. Yulex, a firm that has commercialised guayule, gets an annual crop of 400 kilograms per hectare. Hevea can yield four or five times that figure. Which is where TKS could come in. Dandelions are regarded as weeds for a reason—they are robust, fast-growing plants that can be pulled up for processing and resown easily, possibly yielding two harvests a year. If they could be turned into usable crops, they could outstrip even Hevea.

To this end, Christian Schulze Gronover of the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology in Aachen, Germany, and his colleagues have identified the genes that allow TKS to produce usable rubber. In particular, they have discovered an enzyme called polyphenoloxidase that is responsible for making its rubbery sap coagulate.

From the plant’s point of view this coagulation is a good thing. The evolutionary purpose of rubber, and the reason why it has appeared independently in plants as diverse as trees, guayule and dandelions, is that it gums up the mouthparts of herbivorous insects. Human users, however, do not want it to coagulate too soon, and Dr Schulze Gronover has found a way to switch polyphenoloxidase off, using a technique called RNA interference. This intercepts and destroys the molecular messengers that carry instructions from the polyphenoloxidase gene to make the enzyme, meaning that rubber can be extracted more easily from the plant.

Meanwhile, in America Matthew Kleinhenz of Ohio State University is working on increasing the yield of rubber from TKS. Dr Kleinhenz is doing things the old-fashioned way, growing different strains of TKS, grinding up the roots (where most of the sap is found) to see which have the highest rubber content, and crossbreeding the winners. His aim is to create a plant that is both high-yielding and has roots chunky enough to be harvested mechanically by the sort of device now used to pick carrots.

Combining the two approaches—high-tech bioengineering and low-tech plant breeding—may produce that rarity in the modern world, a whole new crop species. It would also mark a step on a journey that some see as the way forward: a return to the use of plant-based products that have, briefly, been overshadowed by the transient availability of cheap oil.


Vocabulary you can *trust*

Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not after you.” ~ Kurt Cobain

con?spir?a?cy??/k?n?sp?r?si/ [kuhn-spir-uh-see]
–noun, plural -cies.
1. the act of conspiring.
2. an evil, unlawful, treacherous, or surreptitious plan formulated in secret by two or more persons; plot.
3. a combination of persons for a secret, unlawful, or evil purpose: He joined the conspiracy to overthrow the government.
4. Law. an agreement by two or more persons to commit a crime, fraud, or other wrongful act.
5. any concurrence in action; combination in bringing about a given result., “conspiracy,” in Unabridged (v 1.1). Source location: Random House, Inc. Available: Accessed: August 24, 2009.

Patternicity – The tendancy to find meaningful patterns in random noise.

Agenticity – The bent to believe the world is controlled bu invisible intentional agents.

Confirmation bias – which seeks and finds confirmatory evidence for what we already believe.

Hindsight bias – which tailors after-the-fact explainations to what we already know happened.

Scientific American, September 2009, “Paranoia Strikes Deep” by Michael Shermer, page 30