Friday, February 29, 2008

Leapin' Intercalation!!

Taken from the February 6th edition of Red Eye: some interesting numbers relating to the leap year.

This is the "typical" number of days in a year, the number of days it takes Earth to travel around the sun, but we all know it's a bit off..

This is closer to how long it really takes.

45 B.C.
This is the year the Julian calendar was introduced. It didn't take long for the ill effects of the uncounted quarter-days to be noticed: feasts and celebrations seemed to get later and later. So the Julian calendar added a "leap day" to the end of February every four years to even things out. That didn't work out right either. Why?

The real number of days it takes Earth to travel once around the sun. It's a little less than exactly 365.25. So the Julian calendar was adding too much time. How much?

11m 45s
That's by how much. So over the centuries, this extra time started to add up again, and again, the calendars were off...

Introduced under the rule of Pope Gregory XIII, the Gregorian calendar added another level of detail: instead of just adding a leap day every four years, there was the additional caveat. A century year would only be a leap year if it was divisible by...

... so unless the century can be evenly divided by 400, it's not a leap year. So 2000 was a leap year, but 2100 ain't gonna be. Sounds kinda arbitrary? It works out well though!

(or 365 days, 5 hours, 49 minutes and 12 seconds)
The average length of the calendar year using the Gregorian reform we use today.

Additional detail:
10 days: The number of days "lost" when switching from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar. For example, Spain, Portugal and most of Italy jumped from Thursday October 4th 1582 to Friday 15th October 1582.

I remember this being a vital plot point in some tale I read a long time ago, where someone had promised his soul/life to a witch/devil on his Xth birthday, which happened to fall on October 5th 1582, but what with the change in calendars, he never officially had a birthday that year, so he was under no obligation to surrender it. Anyone know about this tale, or similar? I'd like to look it up...

Anyways... this whole issue of correcting man-made calendars to correspond to "reality" ... and by reality in this case I mean if something happened in the height of summer that we want to mark for some reason, it makes sense that we mark it time and time again at the height of summer, right???? The Chinese, the Jews, their lunar calendars correct for the 11-day "drift", the Muslims' doesn't.

I'd moaned about it here previously. This time, I thought to look to Wikipedia, and whaddaya know, I finally got some answers! The practice of adding a day, week or month to a calendar to "correct" it is called intercalation, and it was used in the pre-Islamic Arab calendar. However, insertion of an intercalary month was somehow used to manipulate the occurance of "forbidden (to fight)" months (I'm still unclear about the *why* of this manipulation), so then word came down that "the year has 12 months, so there!".

Fine. So no intercalary month allowed.

Eh. I still have a problem with it.

I have two main thoughts about all this:
    One is that by "releasing" the Muslim calendar from the solar seasons, Muslims are then put in touch with the cool / left side of the subtle system , which would have done a lot to literally cool down the overheated right sided folk that they probably were at that time. (Those with any exposure to yoga / subtle systems will know what I mean)

    Or two, the interdiction was a knee-jerk reaction to the manipulation of the calendar, without much thought about the consequence of said interdiction (and that has *so* many implications that I can't talk about....). Or two-point-one that the consequence of the 11-day drift was minor, inconsequential even, in the eyes of God, in the whole scheme of things. Doesn't quite sit right with me either way.

I won't expand on the above, but I wonder, does anyone have other thoughts on this subject?

Aaanyways, that was one major digression, but let me get back to the original topic:


ciao! :-)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

the verve of some people!

If you look to the right, you'll see a new widget thingy for VerveEarth. It's a place that is attempting to organize the world's internet content by geography. I signed up, can't hurt :-) .. and am passing the info along in case other reader(s) want to sign up too.

I have a post all prepared for Leap Day... stay tuned! :-)

Sunday, February 24, 2008

pussy whipped?

The cat is one spoilt pussy!

So last month, despite the pee-at-the-front-door behaviour, or perhaps because of it, Kosh and I got her two "toys:

1. those "doggy steps" you might have seen on TV: she's got a perch she needs to jump to get to, and of course jump down onto hardwood floors, so we figured with her increasing old age her joints could do with NOT hitting the floor all the time. Of course, the cast sniffs at the contraption leading to her perch, and refuses to have anything to do with it. If nothing else, we've improved her launching skills because she now seems to make a more powerful jump to her perch to avoid the steps.

2. a cat play lounger thingamajig, which is essentially a half-circle high enough for the cat to play under, and wide enough for her to lounge on, covered with three different textures so she can sharpen her non-existent claws, sleep, etc etc - an alternative, lower perch for her, you might say. Well, putting it together was simple and yet difficult because it was *such* a cheap plastic product it didn't even stand level! We've had to wedge it in between other things to keep it in one place. Oh and of course the cat doesn't "get" it at all, and so now it's draped with her toys in the hopes of enticing her to at least play within its vicinity.


Now, based on her last few vet check-ups, she's doing fine, perhaps slightly dehydrated and a bit overweight. To counter the dehydration, we just need to get her to drink more, but of course ideally she prefers drinking running water from a faucet, not stagnant water from a bowl. And for the weight, we need to portion her food instead of just filling her bowl full every three days.

And so...

1. Cat water fountain: with a "free-falling stream that is closest to a faucet" feature, dropped a few tens on this accessory. Pretty simple set-up, and the sound of falling water is rather pleasant too. The cat took to it within an hour of it running. I've twice found junk in its bowl, perhaps she drank immediately after eating and still had food crumbs on her face/whiskers, or she pawed at the water with dirty paws, who knows, but disassembling it for cleaning is a bit of a bother, but still easy enough to do. Overall, a good investment.

2. Automatic pet feeder: I'd figured out the cat's daily consumption of food, then tried to consistently feed her a touch below that amount at a consistent time during the day. Wasn't happening. And most vets recommend twice-daily feeding. Waaay too much hassle! So it was either say screw it and let the cat be fat, or look to an automatic cat feeder. So we got ourselves the latter. The cat seems to not be freaked out by the rotating food dish, and has helped herself to the food without any problems.

But. Some days she seems to finish the food fast, some days not. One factor could be her getting locked up while we're out, so sometimes she'd locked up for 6 hours, perhaps that affects her appetite? But certainly another factor is the consistency of food portioned out to her. I kinda eyeball the kibble doled out in a smaller bowl, but it's not really a good system. And the portion is small enough that I'd need to do some hunting for a scoop or whatever that might be of the correct volume.

So instead.

Okay so ostensibly we've been looking for a kitchen food scale for a while now, for our own portion control efforts. But the first thing it's going to be used for: doling out the cat's food, LoL!

So yeah... in the span of one month, we've amassed waaay too much *stuff* *just* for the cat.

Sometimes I feel that all too soon we'll be in the situation of this cartoon which I took a photo of so it's dreadfully unclear, but it shows the dog in bed with its owners at the foot of the bed.


Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Story of Stuff

One would think that a presentation like this should be old news to everyone... and yet... I think there's a whole bunch of people who practice willful ignorance, who just don't want to know... so please don't be one of them!

Please click here and hear the message about "stuff" - be prepared, it's about 20mins long, but it's a good reminder for us who care, and perhaps a wake-up call for those who have yet to.


... and yeah, i've been slacking again wrt blogging... blame it on boggle/scramble on facebook! :p

Thursday, February 07, 2008

A ratty new year

I was born in 1972, making me not just a Rat, but a Water Rat.

Today, it's another Year of the Rat, this time, the Earth Rat.

Hopefully this signals good things coming my way this year.

To those who celebrate

- or, as it seems to be spelt these days -


Wednesday, February 06, 2008

... putting the onus on... the *answering machine*??!!

So I get back from pottery class to see the answering machine light flashing - ooh, two new messages, wonder who they might be.... turns out they were BOTH from debt collection agencies (they use a more euphemistic term, I forget what..).

On this blog, I refer to my hubby as Kosh Naranek, which is of course a pseudonym. Let's just say that in real life, "Naranek" corresponds to a relatively common family name: just look at its distribution in the graph below!

(image taken from HERE, previously featured in this post)

When we first moved to Chicago, we'd get the occasional call from a human debt collector, looking for either a wrong Kosh Naranek (not the same Social Security #, race, etc), or looking for "K. Naranek", i.e. "Ken", "Kevin", etc etc. Rather annoying, but at least with a person on the line you can just say "Look, this ain't the person you're looking for. Move along, move along."

But now, it looks like these debt collection agencies have switched to automated voice recordings, which put the onus not just on us innocent non-owing folk, but on our answering machines!!

Here's how the message goes, more or less:
"Hello, I am calling for [insert new voice] Kal-El Naranek [end new voice]*.

If you are NOT [insert new voice] Kal-El Naranek [end new voice] please hang up now.

By allowing this message to continue, you are acknowledging that you ARE [insert new voice] Kal-El Naranek [end new voice].

There will be a 3-second pause for you to hang up if this is not the case.

[3-second pause].

[insert new voice] Kal-El Naranek [end new voice], please contact Ms Whoever immediately at the Blah Blah Debt Collection Agency to discuss an important business matter. Please call 1-888-EAT-SHIT extension 666. Thank you.

*W*T*F*? Are they willfully forgetting the existence of answering machines??? Because no thanks to this ridiculous "if the message plays all the way then we've got him/her!!" stance, our phone # is now supposedly the place to locate THREE different in-debt Naraneks, all of whom are neither Kosh nor me.

... and even better - if I were to call back the name/number provided to TELL them they're on the wrong track, would I technically be in trouble for having listened to a message that was specifically NOT for me/Kosh??

How the #*&@Q*&*^%@#@(*^@$ to fix this?

Who the #*&@Q*&*^%@#@(*^@$ to complain to?????

. . . I took pictures of my most recent pottery products, but am now so NOT in the mood to share. Maybe next post, k?

* NOTE: Totally reminds me of how the Lucy Liubot inserted "Philip J Fry" into her sentences... if you've seen that episode of Futurama, you'd know what I mean... and if you don't, this might give you an idea.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

t-shirt temptations

(From an old old draft!)

Hilarious baby tees: here and here. They are original designs by T-Shirt Hell, and you can order a whole lot of similar funnies from them. One day I might actually do that. Until then, I'll just surf and laugh :-)

The geek that is me is really really wants to get an item from THIS page, except that none of the choices are appealing! I've no use for buttons, mugs, or cards, and their choice of t-shirts is totally ickky! And yet... it's the "we are grey" litany from Bab5! Waaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh!! I waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaant!!!! [the cafepress "joe page" here... check out the Election 2008 page too - am I a geek to enjoy that page so much??]

Old Glory's got a huge selection of all sorts of tees - their humor and parody section contains quite a few I think would be a lark to own and wear...

And finally... the latest temptation, one which I will almost certainly give in to: STOOPID MONKEY tees!! For those not in the know, this is the, umm, production company or whatever, related to Robot Chicken. At the end of each episode there's an image of the monkey doing something stupid. I got the "space monkey" for Kosh last year, such a fan I was of the Robot Chicken Star Wars special. At that time, there were just a few other options of image, and a very limited selection of tees per image. Now, I've been informed that things have opened up considerably. Sooooo tempting!! I'd probably get "Reading" and "Kitty Litter" plus a "Space Monkey" of my own.

Pity these tees are usually overpriced :(

Friday, February 01, 2008

... because I didn't grow up in it?

What better way to start the day than to walk through FIVE INCHES of pristine freshly fallen (and still falling!) snow?
> Walking through said snow to get to the snow-covered car, and clearing said car of said snow.
> At 5 am.

Kosh is always amazed that I would get up and out of the apartment to "process the car" at ungodly hours of the morning, in cold weather, for him. Apart form the whole lovey-dovey thing, another explanation is that because I didn't grow up with winter, I don't mind putting up with some of the duties/necessities that come with this season, that can get old really fast. Like having to brave the elements to clean off the car in order to have a relatively functional vehicle to do even more battle with the elements, road conditions and, of course, idiot drivers! My drive to and from the hospital went without incident, but the bottom of my jeans up to my lower shins were crusted with snow just from the walk back.

I think I'm staying indoors today :-)

... I'll reminisce more about snow and winter in another post, if the weather continues...
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