26 May 2008

Question for Today:

Can Catherine Deneuve do any wrong? Apparently not.

Read more about this talented actor, and the smash she made (again) at Cannes here.

25 May 2008

Phoenix - Prepare for Landing

Any minute now, about 35,000,000 miles from Earth, the Mars Phoenix Lander will touch down on the face of Mars. It is a joint venture between the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the University of Arizona, Tucson. Go Phoenix!

More information will be found

21 May 2008

Little Visitor

Matt and I have been greeted by a little visitor.

Yes, that's right: It is the larva of the Genista Broom Moth that we found had infested our newly planted Spanish Broom. I have included a photograph of our bouncing baby moth larva.

While I love animals, which includes most insects, I did not love the damage they were doing to our Spanish Broom. So, we got a pair of scissors and clipped all the stems occupied by the caterpillars and placed the stems in the grass. We just could not kill them outright, although I am certain depriving them of their food source amounts to the same thing.

You can find out more about the Genista here.

Please, no gifts.

20 May 2008

Why Do They Call It "Googie"?

When I was a wee lad, growing up in Phoenix in the early 1960s, I used to go to Helsing's a lot. In fact, I used to go to the exact Helsing's shown in this photograph that used to sit at the corner of Osborn Road and Central Avenue. My mother worked just down the street and my father would occasionally drop her off on the way to his work. During the summer, I would often stay with my mom at her work all day, so that meant I would be with them when they stopped for coffee and breakfast at Helsing's.

I don't remember Helsing's very much. At that time, we went to a lot of restaurants that had what is now called that "Googie" look -- named, I suppose, after another restaurant with that same architecture that was actually called Googie's. We had Googie's in Phoenix and I went to them and don't much remember them, either.

All these years later, all these years during which I finally was able to appreciate the "Googie" style I wish I remembered more about those neato restaurants. Sure, you can still visit Pann's or Ship's in Los Angeles, and I am sure there remain many other worthy examples of that "Googie" style, but it is sad so many of them have been grossly renovated or -- like the Helsing's in the photograph -- torn down to make way for another corner drug store. Sigh!

Well, anyway, here is an article in today's Los Angeles Times about the "Googie" that can still be found in California.

10 May 2008

Electronic Eggs in Electronic Baskets

Remember day planners? Those books that so many people carried with them everywhere they went in the 1990s? They contain calendars, address books, notes, pockets for keeping slips of paper, whatever.

I really hated day planners. Not because of the product itself; rather, because it was so tempting to keep everything in one place. What's wrong with that? If you ever lost one, you know the answer to that question.

Me, personally, I never had a day planner. No way. Too great a loss potential. I carried around a small book that had some contact information and my daily schedule. I was a full-time journalist back then, and had interviews scheduled all day, or recording sessions, editing sessions, meeting with my boss, whatever. Too much information to trust to a single source.

Flash forward a few years to hand-held data devices. Same problem. People walk around with those mutant cellular telephones that also have capabilities for carrying calendar information, date books, notes, schedules, photograph libraries, etc. Again, problem. Why? If you ever lost one (or dropped it in the toilet) you know.

Me, personally, I prefer the most simple, basic cellular telephone. And I don't even carry it with me. I leave it at the house unless Matt and I are together, like on holiday. Not only do I not need to keep my daily schedule in a little computer box, I also don't want people calling me when I am driving, or sitting at lunch reading. Who needs all that constant interruption? Not me, thank you.

Now, fast forward a little more to this week. I was driving to work listening (as always) to National Public Radio and I heard a story about some state where they are trying to make it legal for counties to publish meeting minutes on the internet, rather than in the newspaper (which is the current requirement).

This got me thinking about the wealth of information which, pretty much, only resides in a series of binary 1's and 0's on a server somewhere between here and somewhere in India (probably). Does anyone have paper back up copies of this stuff? Does anyone even back up this stuff?

Then, my fertile mind racing in many directions, I thought that this would be the perfect terrorist plan: Wait a couple more years until no information exists on paper at all, then -- wham! -- send out a computer virus that wipes clean all those servers. What more could a terrorist ask for than a system that no one could access? No one would be able to call anyone else for help because their computer address books were hosed. No one could even look up how to help themselves because the computer files were gone.

Am I paranoid? Not at all. Paranoia is fearing something is going to happen when there is no evidence to support that fear. In this case, not only is there evidence, there have been many instances where websites have gone down because they are bombarded with phony requests for information (denial-of-service attacks), interruptions of service because of storms, or glitches, or even viruses. I personally had a case a couple years ago when a telephone trunk line to Sacramento was accidentally severed by a construction crew. We had no access to internet or email for a few days until it was repaired.

The moral of this entry? Don't put all your electronic eggs in one electronic basket. If that electronic basket should fall (or fail) then all your electronic eggs will be broken (or lost).

09 May 2008


I don't have an interesting story to tell about the art of Ando Hiroshige. I just love his work. Don't you? You can read more about the artist and see more of his work here.

08 May 2008

It Is Platypuses or Platypi?

When I was a kid I was really sick. In elementary school, I could not participate in our twice-weekly physical education outings because of my asthma and allergies. So, to make sure I did not waste an hour, I was sent to the school library where I read -- and read, and read. Every so often, I was required to write a report on the book I read. I was graded on these reports and that substituted for my PhysEd grade.

At the time, I really hated this arrangement -- not because I did not enjoy reading. I loved reading and loved libraries. No, I hated being made even more "different" than I already was. Over the years I have come to be very happy that this arrangement existed. I read all kinds of non-fiction books, got all kinds of attention from the librarians who (I suppose) felt sorry for me.

I remember only vague snatches of some of the books I read, but I very much remember one book that was all about the platypus. I remember to this day marveling at how wonderful was this very "different" animal (pictured). I fell in love with platypuses (or platypi) then, and love them still.

Here is a website all about the wonderful mystery animal that is only found along the eastern continent of Australia.

Here is an article about the fascinating results of the recent mapping of the platypus's genome. So, the original discoverers of this marvelous animal were right: it is part mammal, part reptile.

03 May 2008

Eight Belles RIP

This is so tragic. After finishing second in today's Kentucky Derby, both of her front ankles break. I don't know what else to say.

The story is here. It includes a brief video of the accident that is just horrible to see.

02 May 2008


Loyalty oath? A LOYALTY OATH -- in 2008?

Well, all I can say is -- if you are Marianne Kearney-Brown or Wendy Gonaver -- good for you! I did not know we were under threat of a major communist attack on America. I mean, didn't we win that war? (THAT one, at least.)

Please read their stories here and here.

And, if you don't know the name and story behind the asshole illustrated, then I suggest you do a quick internet search for McCarthyism. It appears some people in high places at the University of California and California State University school systems are currently ignorant of history and are doomed to repeat it (repeatedly).