Thursday June 30, 2005

Grocery Bags into Oil

I've never much liked plastic grocery bags. At least paper is a renewable resource. Paper is easier to recycle and it breaks down faster if it does go into a landfill. According to the June 25 issue of ScienceNews*, "every year, the United States generates 25 million tons of plastic waste, but only about 1 million tons of it gets recycled." Ugh.

But if your plastic is recycled, maybe it will turn into lubricating oil, improving the fuel efficiency of your future car. (Interesting idea - oil into plastic, plastic into oil.)

Sometime back, Chevron apparently developed a process for converting natural gas into wax and then into high-performance engine oil. But natural gas is expensive (and finite, although they didn't mention that. Of course, so is gasoline.)

Now a Chevron science team has found a way to make the initial wax from polyethylene, "one of the major constituents of plastic waste. It's found in products such as yogurt containers and grocery bags." Something we all throw away.

More challenging than technical issues, says Pete Dinger, director of technology at the American Plastics Council in Arlington, Va., is finding ways to get consumers to divert more of their plastic waste into the recycling pipeline.
That's for sure.

* Science News, Vol. 167, No. 26, June 25, 2005, p. 406.

Grocery Bags into Oil - posted at Thu, 30 Jun, 19:45 Pacific | Comments (0)

Monday June 27, 2005

Treasures 2005_25

"Never say there is nothing beautiful in the world anymore. There is always something to make you wonder in the shape of a tree, the trembling of a leaf."
-- Albert Schweitzer

Treasures are positive things that strike my fancy, that make me feel happy or thankful or interested. Treasures are memories encapsulated in just a few words. These are my Treasures for the past week.

  • Playing with the "Ravening Bandersnatch" (Raven)

  • Trying to make my iced coffee while Raven lay on the floor, directly behind my feet. At one point he wrapped himself around one ankle. I had to open the freezer door veerry carefully over the kitty.

  • Being investigated upclose and personal by a hummingbird while I was trimming the rose bushes.

  • Squirrel asleep on my pillow

       Continue reading "Treasures 2005_25"

Treasures 2005_25 ( in category Treasures ) - posted at Mon, 27 Jun, 08:18 Pacific | Comments (0)

Saturday June 25, 2005

Weekly Wrap-up 2005_25

The weather has varied from blue to grey and back again, but no rain this week.

Did you see the gorgeous full moon on the 21st? That was also the summer solstice. We had some fog that night but the moon kept peeking through.

NASA posted an article on the "summer moon illusion". That's when the rising moon looks like an enormous sugar cookie. They say "this week's full moon hangs lower in the sky than any full moon since June 1987, so the Moon Illusion is going to be extra strong.". Unfortunately, we missed seeing the moon rise this week, but we do see it often. I love the huge moon effect.

Apparently, there are many possible explanations for why the moon looks so big, but as they say at NASA, it really doesn't matter which explanation is correct. The rising moon can be huge and beautiful. ...
       Continue reading "Weekly Wrap-up 2005_25"

Weekly Wrap-up 2005_25 ( in category Gemisch/Gallimaufry ) - posted at Sat, 25 Jun, 13:27 Pacific | Comments (0)

Friday June 24, 2005

Uphill or Down?

According to a study done by the Vorarlberg Institute for Vascular Investigation and Treatment (Austria), there's a difference in the effect of uphill vs downhill exercise.

Hiking on a mountainside gives the heart a health-promoting challenge, but the nature of the benefit depends on whether one is climbing or descending. A study conducted on an Alpine mountainside suggests that going up improves the body's processing certain fats, while going down enhances metabolism of a key sugar.
Both up and down hiking softened the spike of blood cholesterol that typically follows fat consumption, the team found. But only uphill exercise improved metabolism of fats called triglycerides, and only downhill exercise significantly increased glucose processing, Drexel says.

[ Up and down make different workouts", Science News (Week of Dec. 11, 2004; Vol. 166, No. 24) ]


Uphill or Down? ( in category SciTech ) - posted at Fri, 24 Jun, 17:31 Pacific | Comments (0)

Monday June 20, 2005

Treasures 2005_24

Every scene, even the commonest, is wonderful, if only one can detach oneself, casting off all memory of use and custom and behold it, as it were, for the first time.
-- Arnold Bennett

Treasures are positive things that strike my fancy, that make me feel happy or thankful or interested. Treasures are memories encapsulated in just a few words. These are my Treasures for the past week.

  • Upside down kitties near me as I work. Everything is better when I have kitties nearby.

  • Sharing a dark-chocolate-dipped macaroon with Rich

  • Another post-season rainy day. Taking a nap after work. Lying in bed, rubbing Mezzaluna's ears, and listening to the rain on the screen porch roof.

  • Listening to a hooty owl somewhere outside as I lay in bed one night.

  • Squirrel commandeering my pillow at nap time (and looking most pleased with himself)

  • Playing the "monster in the cave" game with Raven (ohboyohboyohboyohboy)

  • Bright orange wildflowers in a vacant lot a few blocks from our house

  • My new cursor set.

  • The new "South Beach" chocolate flavor cereal bars (yummm)

  • A relaxing weekend

  • Good books to read.

  • Sitting with Rich in the living room in the evening, each of us with a book, surrounded by blobs of sleeping fur.

Treasures 2005_24 ( in category Treasures ) - posted at Mon, 20 Jun, 00:05 Pacific | Comments (0)

Sunday June 19, 2005

Sugar Shock

Soft drinks have overtaken white bread as the main source of calories in the U.S. diet...

[Soft Drinks as Top Calorie Culprit, ScienceNews Week of June 18, 2005; Vol. 167, No. 25


Odilia Bermudez, from Tufts University, studied data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999–2000, for nearly 1000 adults. She discovered that two-thirds of the people in the survey drink more than twenty ounces of sweetened beverages (sodas and fruit drinks containing less than 10 percent fruit juice) a day, on average. That's a lot of liquid sugar. ...
       Continue reading "Sugar Shock"

Sugar Shock ( in category In The News ) - posted at Sun, 19 Jun, 08:37 Pacific | Comments (3)

Saturday June 18, 2005

Weekly Wrap-up 2005_24

The weather has been variable this week, from blue and pretty early in the week to another late-season rain storm on Thursday.

I've started using Mighty Mouse, a cursor customization program from Unsanity software. I like my new cursors.


I am using a combination of cursors from three sets:

  • most of a set called "large arrow" (except that I'm not using the large arrow :-)
  • a blue "wait" cursor that came with the app, in the sample cursors folder
  • a "dragon" pointer from the Skreibe Two set (I really like this one)
What do you think? ...
       Continue reading "Weekly Wrap-up 2005_24"

Weekly Wrap-up 2005_24 ( in category Gemisch/Gallimaufry ) - posted at Sat, 18 Jun, 07:36 Pacific | Comments (0)

Friday June 17, 2005

Blogger Meet-up (and I missed it!)

Is the "traditional media" doing anything like this where you are?

The personal media revolution came to the KRON 4 studios Saturday [June 11] when more than 100 members of the Bay Area blogger community accepted [an] invitation for a meet-up.

[ Bay Area Blogger Meet-up ]

KRON 4 ("The Bay Area's News Station") is one of our local television stations and a big player in the "traditional" media channels. I find it intriguing that a television station is interested in connecting with weblogging; I would have expected a newspaper to do something like this.

KRON 4 recognizes the importance of the blogosphere in connecting with our local communities. If you don't have a web log or "blog" yourself, chances are one of your friends or neighbors does. Bloggers take the time to post their thoughts on virtually any subject imaginable. Their efforts are already changing the media landscape.
In the coming days and weeks, will be launching two major new initiatives designed to support the Bay Area Blogosphere. We will be posting and maintaining a comprehensive list of Bay Area blogs. Also we will be launching a new aggregator that will allow you to come to one place to see the latests posts from local bloggers.

Kinda cool...

I missed the meet-up (I vaguely recall seeing and discarding the evite) but I got the second notice, sent both as email and posted on the KRON-4 website. (Hmmm. They found my weblog :-)

They're asking for feedback. I'll have to think about what I want to say.

Blogger Meet-up (and I missed it!) ( in category In The News , WebTech ) - posted at Fri, 17 Jun, 08:12 Pacific | Comments (0)

Thursday June 16, 2005

Yellow Arrow - More Urban High Tech / Low Tech

Yellow Arrow calls itself "the global public art project of local experiences", its purpose being "to leave and discover messages pointing out what counts." In simple terms, Yellow Arrow encourages people to attach (with proper permission) yellow, arrow-shaped stickies to physical places - walls, buildings, park benches... even people (there are "yellow arrow t-shirts"). Each arrow has a unique code number.

Participants place arrows to draw attention to different locations and objects - a favorite view of the city, an odd fire hydrant, the local bar. By sending a text-message (SMS) from a mobile phone to the Yellow Arrow number beginning with the arrow's unique code, Yellow Arrow authors essentially save a thought on the spot where they place their sticker. Messages range from short poetic fragments to personal stories to game-like prompts to action. When another person encounters the Yellow Arrow, he or she sends its code to the Yellow Arrow number and immediately receives the message of that arrow on their mobile phone. The website extends this location-based exchange, by allowing participants to annotate their arrows with photos and maps in the online gallery of Yellow Arrows placed throughout the world. For specific instructions click here.


You may see yellow arrows popping up soon in your area. Over 15,000 arrows are currently in circulation — in almost every US state, most Western European countries, and cities large and small around the globe. 300,000 sticky arrows are being bound into copies of a Lonely Planet guide, called "Experimental Travel."

If you want to play, uniquely coded Yellow Arrow™ stickers can be ordered online, at $.50/sticker plus shipping, handling, and NY sales tax if applicable. You can even buy a personalized Yellow Arrow tshirt.

The code is the brand. You own the message. Update it every day you wear it. Yellow Arrow is not just places, it's people.

It's weird. I like it.

Yellow Arrow - More Urban High Tech / Low Tech - posted at Thu, 16 Jun, 07:42 Pacific | Comments (1)

Wednesday June 15, 2005

Grafedia - Grafitti meets the WWW

It's certainly nothing I would have thought of. Words written in blue, underlined, painted on a wall. Use your cell phone or computer to send email or a text message to that blue word "" and get back an image or sound file by return mail.

It's hyperlinking in the physical world. It's weird. It's strange. It's also a really cool concept.

Grafedia is hyperlinked text, written by hand onto physical surfaces and linking to rich media content - images, video, sound files, and so forth. It can be written anywhere - on walls, in the streets, or on sidewalks. Grafedia can also be written in letters or postcards, on the body as tattoos, or anywhere you feel like putting it. Viewers "click" on these grafedia hyperlinks with their cell phones by sending a message addressed to the word + "" to get the content behind the link.

Grafedia was created by John Geraci at the Interactive Telecommunications Program, NYU. It was recently written up by CNN. I wonder if there's any in San Francisco yet...

Grafedia - Grafitti meets the WWW ( in category Noteworthy , WebTech ) - posted at Wed, 15 Jun, 16:42 Pacific | Comments (0)

Monday June 13, 2005

Treasures 2005_23

Stop and listen to the heart, the wind outside, to one another, to the changing patterns of this mysterious life. It comes moment after moment, out of nothing, and disappears into nothing. Live with less grasping and more appreciation and caring.
-- Jack Kornfield

Treasures are positive things that strike my fancy, that make me feel happy or thankful or interested. Treasures are memories encapsulated in just a few words. These are my Treasures for the past week.

  • Rain. Actually a very nice day (other than that I had to work and couldn't lay around with the cats :-)

  • Wrestling with Raven; Snuggling with Squirrel; "Messing with" Mezzaluna; Being with Bebop.

  • Our newly illuminated staircase and alcove (rope light)

  • A gold PT Cruiser. Wow!

  • The woman and boy behind us in line at Pet Club were buying a small shark for their 100 gallon aquarium. The shark had whiskers and huge eyes and was about 10 inches long.

  • A candyapple green jaguar. Nice paint job.

  • A lovely old car from the 20's (?). It's such fun to see the well-cared for older cars on the road.

  • Rich and I both thinking of the same place for dinner (that solves that problem :)

  • My Kyocera 7135 Palm OS-based handheld which I am using more and really like!

  • Making Raven into the bed; watching Mezzaluna pounce the "lump", then stare at it.

Treasures 2005_23 ( in category Treasures ) - posted at Mon, 13 Jun, 17:03 Pacific | Comments (0)

Saturday June 11, 2005

Weekly Wrap-up 2005_23

It was an interesting week, weather-wise. There were several nice, almost warm days, followed by one full day of unexpected rain, then two days of thick fog.

On Sunday night, we drove into the City and had dinner with Rich's co-author on a Mac OS X book (still in progress). Said co-author was in town for Apple's World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC).

After dinner we wandered over to Moscone West and Rich registered for the conference.

Rich spent the week attending WWDC. He got back after 9 each night, so I was on my own for dinner. Then he'd tell me what sessions he attended, what he heard and what was interesting.

I worked. Things were pretty much as usual up until Friday morning when we had a meeting to learn about the new organizational structure in Engineering. So I have a new reporting manager now. I don't expect that to greatly affect anything I do.

This week I read Forgotten Truth, by Dawn Cook (if you enjoy Fantasy and time travel, this one is a delight). I also read Shop Till You Drop, by Elaine Viets. This was an entertaining murder mystery, well written. (I recommend it.)

In between and around the rest, I've had almost enough naps and plenty of snuggles with the cats. There have been good meals and interesting conversations with Spouse and friends. I've had a few chats with my Dad and exchanged email with my Mom.

Onward and Upward.

Weekly Wrap-up 2005_23 ( in category Gemisch/Gallimaufry ) - posted at Sat, 11 Jun, 09:00 Pacific | Comments (0)

Thursday June 9, 2005

Getting Things Done

I've been recommending Getting Things Done�The Art of Stress-Free Productivity to friends, co-workers, and techie mailing lists [see my review].

June 16, 2005

Q & A

I also posted a followup discussion with are some of the conversations my recommendation engendered.
Getting Things Done ( in category Books, Movies, Music ) - posted at Thu, 09 Jun, 18:51 Pacific

Wednesday June 8, 2005


NASA is studying one of my favorite activities ;-)

Although many astronauts report feeling fully rested after only six hours of sleep, the fact is, sleeplessness can cause irritability, forgetfulness and fatigue--none of which astronauts need to deal with while piloting complicated 'ships that hurtle through space at tens of thousands of miles per hour.

The solution seems simple: Take a nap.

[Science at Nasa, June 3, 2005]

Ah. My favorite solution to many problems :-) ...
       Continue reading "NASA Naps"

NASA Naps - posted at Wed, 08 Jun, 21:45 Pacific | Comments (0)

Monday June 6, 2005

Treasures 2005_22

The aim of life is appreciation; there is no sense in not appreciating things; and there is no sense in having more of them if you have less appreciation of them.
-- G. K Chesterton

Treasures are positive things that strike my fancy, that make me feel happy or thankful or interested. Treasures are memories encapsulated in just a few words. These are my Treasures for the past week.

  • A three-day Holiday weekend (no work on Monday).

  • Four cats raptly watching a sparrow through the glass roof of our sunroom (the sparrow was on the roof, pecking for fallen seed).

  • A hummingbird hovering over the parking lot when I drove to the Job.

  • A pretty orange and black butterfly. The underside was mostly grey-brown with two "eyespots" and a pinkish orange splotch. I think it was a Painted Lady.

  • Grey squirrels at the feeder; a grey squirrel crossing the "tightrope" (the phone line) over the back yard. I'm still so thrilled we finally have squirrels! in our yard. (Why don't some people want squirrels at the feeder? I love having squirrels at the feeder - and the birds don't seem to mind.)

  • A nifty graduation balloon seen in a local store - it's the head of a bear with a grad. cap. The "eyes" on the balloon are transparent and the "real" eyes are on paper disks that hang inside and spin on threads. You can look at it from either side. Most neat.

  • Blackbirds sitting on the top of a hedge as if it were nothing more than a green carpet.

Treasures 2005_22 ( in category Treasures ) - posted at Mon, 06 Jun, 08:00 Pacific | Comments (0)

Saturday June 4, 2005

Weekly Wrap-up 2005_22

The weather has been particularly nice this week - warmish and sunny during the day, not too hot, some wind at night.

Rich has been working on a software project; he's gotten it to the stage where he can ask other people to try it and give him feedback.

The fluorescent lamp we had lighting the base of the stairwell conked out, so we decided to replace it with rope light. We'll also replace the lamp we had illuminating the upper flight (that quit several months back). The good news is that we had one 12-foot stretch of rope light already. The bad news is that we need two — and the buyers for the hardware stores have gotten the idea into their narrow little minds that rope light is a "seasonal" (i.e. Christmas) item. (I was so pleased when people started using it for more things, such as Christmas lighting. Little did I suspect the flaw in that usage pattern.)

Anyhoo, we finally found an 18-foot "outdoor patio lighting" strand tonight. It's too long (but it wasn't expensive). It's also not quite what we had in mind (it's exterior duty cord; Rich wanted zip cord) but he can make do.

Otherwise, this has been a quiet week. Work, dinner, naps... repeat the next day. The Monday holiday was wonderfully relaxing. Somehow, 3-day weekends are so much more relaxing than normal weekends.

This week I finished Mad Maudlin, by Rosemary Edghill (with Mercedes Lackey), the latest in the"Bedlam's Bard" series. I've also been playing with Palm software.

In between and around the rest, I've had almost enough naps and plenty of snuggles with the cats. There have been good meals and interesting conversations with Spouse and friends. I've had a few chats with my Dad and my friend Bari and exchanged email with my Mom. My sister is on vacation in Hawaii this week.

Onward and Upward.

Weekly Wrap-up 2005_22 ( in category Gemisch/Gallimaufry ) - posted at Sat, 04 Jun, 09:14 Pacific | Comments (0)

Friday June 3, 2005

Riding in the Back of the Bus

Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles, "drove six [school] buses of various ages on a total of 16 runs along actual routes in and around Los Angeles. On about half the runs, the bus windows were open." During the runs, scientists used a nonreactive tracer gas, fed through the exhaust systems, to measure the amount of exhaust particles that would reach passengers and be inhaled.

On average, they learned that the rear of each bus' interior is one-third more polluted than the front. Older buses and buses driven with the windows closed showed more onboard air pollution than other buses.

For example, with the windows open, a 30-year-old bus in the study generated twice as much onboard pollution as a 10-year-old bus did. Closing the windows slightly increased passengers' pollution exposure on a 3-year-old bus but tripled it on the 30-year-old one.

[Science News, May 21, 2005, vol 167, no. 21]

Ugh. (And recall the study was done in LA, where opening the windows is not necessarily a wise thing to do!

Riding in the Back of the Bus ( in category In The News ) - posted at Fri, 03 Jun, 07:37 Pacific | Comments (0)

Thursday June 2, 2005


A few months ago I read an article about three obese sisters who had gastric bypass surgery (March 2005, Prevention magazine). One of the interesting points of the article was that people who have this surgery aren't ravenously hungry, even though they are physically able to eat very little.

The reason is due to a hormone called ghrelin, produced by the cells lining the stomach. Ghrelin (named from a Hindu word for "growth") triggers feelings of hunger. When the useable part of the stomach is reduced by gastric bypass surgery, less ghrelin is produced.

I thought - could this be a non-surgical way to counter obesity? Could we find a way to reduce the production of ghrelin? ...
       Continue reading "Anti-ghrelin?"

Anti-ghrelin? ( in category In The News ) - posted at Thu, 02 Jun, 22:31 Pacific | Comments (0)

Wednesday June 1, 2005

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate - Not!

Ever since I was ten or eleven years old, I've suffered mouth ulcers, aka canker sores. I've seen these referred to as "pesky" sores — obviously that description was written by someone who never had one. They aren't pesky. They are acutely, aspirin-swallowing, can't-eat, multi-day painful.

I don't get them so much any more.

in 1997, I discovered Biotène Dry Mouth toothpaste. Not only is it mild (not overly pepperminty), but it does a good job at preventing morning "sweat sock mouth". The best thing, though, is that switching toothpastes has greatly reduced the incidence of mouth ulcers for me.

The reason? Biotène does not contain Sodium lauryl sulfate, a foaming agent. Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) has been linked to canker sore outbreaks. Remove the SLS and canker sore recurrence goes way down.

There are now several toothpastes on the market that don't contain SLS. (If you like the really minty ones, try Rembrandt ;-)

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate - Not! ( in category Gemisch/Gallimaufry ) - posted at Wed, 01 Jun, 20:54 Pacific | Comments (1)