Paying homage to Lord Internet

It must have been my taunting of the Season of Chill that brought its own chill to my home and work environment this last week. Not more than twenty-four hours after my last post my area suffered what they call an Ice Storm. First came the meager snow, far from the epic house-high accumulations of which I wrote. Then came the freezing rain, rain that starts as water 5000 feet up, but due to the cold lower layer, freezes on contact. Well, it froze to the snowy branches of thousands of trees, trees that had long enjoyed a leisurely lean out over open fields and roadways.

And then this legion of woody soldiers all began to fall. And fall they did. By the hundreds.

Big, fifty to eighty year-old trees fell into roads and onto houses and cars and onto fields and open-spaces everywhere. If the tree was “branchy” and lopsided then it probably lost major branchage if not outright fell over.

Fortunately, the power returned the next day. But the internet did not. Six days later it’s finally been restored. I’ve had to drive over to a friend’s and work from their bedroom as their net connection remained viable. I mean, I work from home, but if I can’t connect… “Sorry, Mole, you’re no good to us — disconnected.”

Spending the evenings watching old DVDs (Harry Potter), as the cable was also kaput, was nice. But, oy, when you’re jonesing for the juice and even the cell-tower’s data is temporarily wounded, no power, no net, no cell-coverage… It felt like the 90’s. The 1890’s that is.

How good we have it. How much we take for granted. Sure got cold. Maybe if it hadn’t been winter…


Oh, and WP’s Block Editor really does suck. If Microsoft Word had used such an idiotic block metaphor it would have died along with Clippy. No editor worth its salt forces such a paradigm on users. Adding blocks TO a document is vastly different than forcing all content to be blocks. If Word or Google GDocs ever adopted such a draconian technique I’d go back to writing in Notepad.
I suspect WP might have done this to make it easier to inject ads into posts as content is schlepped around the net.


$10,000 Covid Coat

A truck pulls up to the back of the plant and a guy gets out, pulls down his mask and wipes his nose. He hoists his pants and bangs on the back door where a sign reads “This is a safe work place. Please respect our workers.”

“I gotta delivery here. Open up the bay and get one o’ your lifts out here.”

“Is this the…”

“Yeah. Now, can you hurry it up. I got the sweats somethin’ awful.”

The guy sits in the truck and drinks the last of his water. In back, the panel slides up and he can feel the forklift drive on and begin offloading the crates of dead mink.

What do you do with 10,000 dead mink?

You make Covid Coats of course.

Minks in South Carolina? | South Carolina Public Radio

ermine /ˈəːmɪn/ Learn to pronounce noun 1. a stoat, especially when in its  white winter coat. 2. a stout-bodied moth that has cream or white wings  with black spots. : words


REF: https://www.cnn.com/2020/10/09/us/mink-covid-outbreak-trnd/index.html

Basket hummingbird nests

Another set of baskets, tiny ones, woven from pampas grass.

pampasgrass

They’re rough, but entertaining to make. Who knows, maybe I’ll find nooks in trees and tuck them away for hummingbirds to find. They take about 10 minutes to make.

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Take a half-inch wide six-foot long blade of pampas grass:

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Strip it into three bands, one rib down the middle and two wings:20200411_142546

Break off three seven-to-eight inch strips. Take the tail of the remaining ribbed band and set the other three strips on top arranging them into a star. You always need an odd number of ribs, here we’ll have seven, which means the tail of the remaining ribbed strip will then be wound around the others to start to form the bottom.20200411_142745

Keep winding until the strip becomes too narrow and weak to use. Wrap it as best you can around the ribs, tucking in where you can. Then take one of the wing bands and begin weaving it following the same pattern, over under, over under. Having an odd number of ribs allows the pattern to never duplicate.20200411_143022

Begin to bend the ribs as you wind. You’ll exhaust the first band and end up using the second until it’s depleted. As you near the end of that strand, wrap it around and tuck it in as you can to self-seal the basket from unwinding.20200411_143736

Then bend over the ribs and tuck them into the wrappings.

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As we walk around the neighborhood, various pampas grass mounds, massive, knife sharp things cast off their decaying stalks and blades. I pick a blade, one per walk, and weave as I go.

There are a few good videos on youtube that illustrate this technique. And there are other materials that work too: https://anonymole.com/2018/09/23/baskets-are-easy-and-fun/

It’s silly stupid shit like this that lets my mind blend into white noise. When I’m working with my hands, my brain seems to turn off. Of course, once I get into it and the rhythm of the motions, the whirling starts back up and I’m once again drifting over deserts, seas and forests, or meandering down ancient cities, or forgotten ruins.

[Here’s a two blade basket:]

Apocalyptic Scenario 7.b

Surrounding the Arctic Ocean, the continental shelf harbors thousands of gigatons of of methane in the form of methane hydrate, fire-ice. This substance, methane gas surrounded by water ice, forms when microbes eat organic sediment and release methane (like in the bowels of a bovine) which gets trapped by high water pressure and low temperature.

Were just five of these gigatons of methane to be released into the atmosphere the concentration would double methane’s current contribution of 25% of global warming.

Fifty gigatons would wreak an environmental catastrophe. Five hundred, released in a continuous stream around the Arctic would induce another PETM (Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum).

Deep beneath the East Siberian Sea stretching across the straight into the Beaufort Sea and around to the Barents Sea the earth is shifting. Tectonic forces have been pulling apart the crust, magma is seeping upward, and now the once frozen methane hydrates are thawing. Swelling. Bubbling to the surface.

Vents along the Siberian coast crack open and haphazard lightening strikes have ignited the plumes of methane. Volcanoes of flame burn hundreds of meters into the sky. What doesn’t burn, drifts high into the atmosphere where it traps the reflective solar energy. The Arctic has become a tepid bath. Greenland’s ice cap and its hundreds of glaciers steam and melt. Measurements along the Eastern Seaboard measure an inch a month sea level rise.

Life is about to experience Sauna Earth.

Bring your beer and spruce brushes because we’re gonna get sweaty.

Science writing: To the point

If you’re going to write about science — get to the damn point. All I need is the highlights, the topics, the bullet points. And if there are pertinent details, make them brief and absent of flourish.

So many of the literary news outlets publish narrative science articles that I’m afraid it’s become an art. A pointless and irritating art.

Take this one for instance (don’t go here, don’t give them the courtesy):

7,800 words in that frickin’ thing. I don’t have the time or patience to burn thirty minutes slogging through some “writer’s” portrayal of science dudes’ childhoods: “When he was 11, his mother bought him a subscription to a medical encyclopedia series.” Fuck-me-Alex.

Get to the point and get out. It’s science — just the pertinent facts, ma’am. All the actual data required to deliver the concepts of brain tissue reanimation could have been provided in a tenth the words. But no, the writer had to turn it into a biography.

And this happens time and time again. 10,000 word diatribes about artificial intelligence and machine learning, or meandering missives on Neanderthal DNA in modern Homo Sapiens. It seems that every sexy scientific topic begs a “story.” Sorry, I don’t want window dressing on my low earth orbit launch technologies, or thermal depolymerization of ocean plastic…

I just want the concise, to-the-point facts about the advances or failures of the science and technology. Spare me backstories, please. If you have to, write a sweeping expose’ on some social or historical topic or event — leave the science for the fact writers.