Wednesday November 30, 2005

A Giant Step

Surgeons in London plan to test a revolutionary stem cell technique using cells from .. the patient's nose! This will be the first trial of a simple technology that could one day allow the paralysed to walk again.
[An] all-important discovery made in 1985 showed that in one section of the nervous system, a part of the nasal cavity concerned with smell, nerve fibres are in constant growth - even in adulthood. Though people with a bad cold may lose their sense of smell, it does come back.

The nasal cells have the added advantage of belonging to the patient, so there is no risk of their being rejected.

[ The nose cells that may help the paralysed walk again, The Gaurdian Unlimited, 11/30/2005 ]

A Giant Step ( in category SciTech ) - posted at Wed, 30 Nov, 16:45 Pacific | Comments (0)

Tuesday November 29, 2005

Don't Be SAD

With winter comes a period of more earlier and longer darkness and much less sun. Less sun leads to depression for many people; the syndrome is called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

In some places, such as Finland, it simply gets dark everywhere for miles around. In other places, such as the Tyrol region of the Alps, the sun can be shining a mile or so away!

The sun has stopped shining in Rattenberg. But with the aid of a few mirrors, the winter darkness that grips this small town could soon be brightened up with pockets of sunshine.

Rattenberg was built between the hill [910m Rat Mountain] to the south and the Inn River to the north starting in the 1300s for protection against marauders. Back then, lack of sunshine was a small price to pay for relative security.

But as such dangers diminished, dozens more settlements sprang up. Some, like Kramsach, are just half a mile away and all enjoy a few hours of sun on a clear winter's day.

[Mirrors shed light as winter grips small town]

Now an Austrian company, Bartenbach Lichtlabor GmbH, plans to install 30 heliostats — "rotating mirrors, mounted on a hillside to grab sunshine off reflectors from the neighbouring village of Kramsach" — to bring spots of sunlight into Rattenberg.

It would be prohibitively expensive to bathe the entire town in sunlight. Instead, Lichtlabor plans to create about a dozen "hotspots" — "areas not much bigger than a front yard scattered through the town, where townspeople can gather and soak up rays."

In turn, the town hopes to save itself. The population of Rattenberg has been steadily declining in the past twenty years. Four years ago, half of those polled listed lack of winter sunlight as their biggest disadvantage.

I can understand how they feel. I wish them well in this experiment.

Don't Be SAD ( in category Noteworthy ) - posted at Tue, 29 Nov, 19:40 Pacific | Comments (0)

Monday November 28, 2005

Weekly Wrap-up 2005_47

It's been a very quiet week. That comes from having a cold all week. My mind gets muffled in cotton. All I want to do is sleep.

I spent most of the week reading, eating (sharing turkey with Bebop), and napping. In other words, practicing being a cat. The cats approved.


We had rain this week, mostly at night. Winter is a-coomin in. ...
       Continue reading "Weekly Wrap-up 2005_47"

Weekly Wrap-up 2005_47 ( in category Gemisch/Gallimaufry ) - posted at Mon, 28 Nov, 10:59 Pacific | Comments (0)

Saturday November 26, 2005

Treasures 2005_47

Memory is the library of the mind.
-- Francis Fauvel-Gourand

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.

  • Moonlight casting a path on the Bay

  • Rich, bringing me a glass of juice when I have a cold

  • My cat family, purring around me

  • A couple more naps with Raven

  • Watching a movie with Bebop

  • Mezzaluna curled on my chest, purring

  • Squirrel next to me on the back of the couch

  • Rain on the roof

  • A blackbird taking a bath in a puddle

Treasures 2005_47 ( in category Treasures ) - posted at Sat, 26 Nov, 09:59 Pacific | Comments (0)

Monday November 21, 2005

Weekly Wrap-up 2005_46

The weather was clear and warm last week. Quite "unseasonable" but delightful. We went for a walk along our favorite trail and saw a few deer.


On Tuesday, I had a call from a former co-worker (now an ex-former co-worker!). Apparently I was part of the shot across the bow. Thirty more people have been "let go" at The Company I Used to Work For amidst great speculation as to WHY. We now have a mailing list to discuss the topic. :/


I got caught by a cold this week. This was fairly mild as such things go but it made the latter part of the week pretty blurry. ...
       Continue reading "Weekly Wrap-up 2005_46"

Weekly Wrap-up 2005_46 ( in category Gemisch/Gallimaufry ) - posted at Mon, 21 Nov, 11:22 Pacific | Comments (0)

Saturday November 19, 2005

Treasures 2005_46

Souvenirs are perishable; fortunately, memories are not.
-- Susan Spano

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.

  • Yes, the rest of the carton of eggs is all double-yolked too!

  • Our beef veggie soup recipe. Yummmm.

  • Relaxing on the couch, surrounded by cats.

  • People flying kites along the ocean beach

...
       Continue reading "Treasures 2005_46"

Treasures 2005_46 ( in category Treasures ) - posted at Sat, 19 Nov, 10:25 Pacific | Comments (0)

Friday November 18, 2005

Colored Bubbles

C o l o r e d bubbles. Coooooool.
... it's not easy to improve the world's most popular toy. Yet the success of one inventor's quest to dye a simple soap bubble may change the way the world uses color

[ The 11-Year Quest to Create Disappearing Colored Bubbles, Popular Science, Dec. 2005 issue ]

Eleven years, half a million dollars, innumerable dye-stains, chemical burns, ruined clothes, and noxious fumes later... one of the toy industry's long-sought technical breakthroughs has become a reality — nonstaining colored bubble solution.

Colored soap bubbles! Of course! Everyone loves blowing bubbles. It seemed such a simple and perfect idea, the kind that would leave other inventors slapping their foreheads and saying Why didn't I think of that? [Tim] Kehoe says, "I remember walking down to the store thinking, ‘This is so easy. I'm going to be rich!' "
...
       Continue reading "Colored Bubbles"

Colored Bubbles ( in category SciTech ) - posted at Fri, 18 Nov, 13:29 Pacific | Comments (0)

Thursday November 17, 2005

How to Lose Friends and Influence People

Today in commentary: I learned a few days ago that the Company That Formerly Employed Me has now laid off some 10 - 20% of its workforce. I guess I was the "canary in the mine". I still feel bad... but less paranoid.

Read my commentary.

How to Lose Friends and Influence People ( in category commentary ) - posted at Thu, 17 Nov, 15:27 Pacific

Wednesday November 16, 2005

Around Town

Scene at the shopping center

About a dozen police officers, from Daly City, Pacifica, San Bruno, and BART (possibly others as well) sharing a break at Starbucks.

But... Starbucks doesn't serve donuts! (Oh, well... this _is_ California after all... :-) ...
       Continue reading "Around Town"

Around Town ( in category Random Thoughts ) - posted at Wed, 16 Nov, 15:59 Pacific | Comments (0)

Tuesday November 15, 2005

Simpy

If you're interested in web-based bookmark management, take a look at Simpy. I already knew about del.iciou.us (love the name, even if I can never remember how to spell it), but I wanted something with "group" access.

Most of these web-based bookmark managers allow you to keep your bookmarks private or share them with the world. I want to share with a specific group of people. Simpy will let me do that.

Use Groups if you have friends or colleagues or family or classmates or ... and want to share links with them. You can share them via a Group, which can be handy for any type of collaboration that needs to bookmark and/or tag links. Once you create a group, you can invite others to join it. You can invite both people who are existing Simpy members (just use their Simpy usernames), as well as people who are not in Simpy yet (just use their email addresses).
Simpy ( in category Odd Corners ) - posted at Tue, 15 Nov, 10:34 Pacific | Comments (0)

Monday November 14, 2005

Weekly Wrap-up 2005_45

We had rain last week. There was a good hard evening rain on Monday night — nice to listen to while reading. We also had a terrific thunderstorm a little later in the week! Rich and I are fond of thunderstorms.


I was having trouble focusing on my computer screens. I don't have trouble driving, reading, or doing anything else... and an eye exam plus new glasses would be very expensive. I've adjusted my desk, keyboard, and screens so I'm a bit further away. The physical change is good enough for now.


We took the Scion in for its third complimentary oil change. Its yellow "Maint Req." light had also come on (some 13,000 mile thing) and it needed the tires rotated. Such a good car. No problems. I just love it. ...
       Continue reading "Weekly Wrap-up 2005_45"

Weekly Wrap-up 2005_45 ( in category Gemisch/Gallimaufry ) - posted at Mon, 14 Nov, 10:36 Pacific | Comments (0)

Saturday November 12, 2005

Treasures 2005_45

We live only to discover beauty. All else is a form of waiting.
-- Kahlil Gibran

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 double yolk in my breakfast egg. Then - another double yolk in the second!

  • Two small groups of mule deer, seen on our drive down the Peninsula and into Stanford.

  • Lots of fat and happy ground squirrels on the Stanford campus.

  • Two more double-yolked eggs a few days later. (I wonder if this whole carton is double-yolked?)

  • Dark Chocolate

  • A thunderstorm, at least half an hour in duration, with plenty of lightning!

  • Sharing a dark-chocolate covered Cherry Garcia ice cream-on-a-stick with Rich

  • Cats sprawled around the living room. Furry tummies upwards.

  • Waking up to kitties. Falling asleep with kitties.

Treasures 2005_45 ( in category Treasures ) - posted at Sat, 12 Nov, 14:03 Pacific | Comments (0)

Friday November 11, 2005

A Very Special Nickel

Imagine if you had a nickel, a very special nickel. With it you could buy a dream — any dream, but only one dream.

What dream would you buy? Hmmm... or would you keep your nickel? ...
       Continue reading "A Very Special Nickel"

A Very Special Nickel ( in category Random Thoughts ) - posted at Fri, 11 Nov, 12:26 Pacific | Comments (0)

Thursday November 10, 2005

Vienna

I am using a new RSS reader called Vienna.

Vienna is a freeware, open source RSS/Atom reader for the Mac OSX operating system. It provides features comparable to commercial newsreaders but it is both it and the source code are freely available for download.

I like Vienna. It's satisfactorily configurable, with a smooth Cocoa "look" and the feel of a simple email reader. It also has a few features I didn't expect but appreciate — tabbed viewing, flagged articles, smart folders, and a built-in browser. Nice. ...
       Continue reading "Vienna"

Vienna ( in category Computerware ) - posted at Thu, 10 Nov, 22:47 Pacific | Comments (0)

Wednesday November 9, 2005

Weekly Wrap-up 2005_44

It was another Autumn week with foggy mornings and crisp, blue afternoons.


Rich and I turned off the porch light and closed the blinds on Halloween night. Living as we do in a hilly neighborhood, we rarely get any trickertreaters in any case. Plus, the cats don't like the doorbell ringing and we don't need leftover candy. So we just act as if we "aren't home" on Halloween night.


I reworked my web pages last week. They hadn't had a style change in a decade. Now everything uses CSS and PHP. The site looks better (or at least, I think so :-) and I learned some things.

Rich and I have been also reworking our "brochure". ...
       Continue reading "Weekly Wrap-up 2005_44"

Weekly Wrap-up 2005_44 ( in category Gemisch/Gallimaufry ) - posted at Wed, 09 Nov, 10:34 Pacific | Comments (0)

Tuesday November 8, 2005

Didja Vote?

Bc20051108
[B.C. by Johnny Hart, Nov. 8, 2005]

Did you vote today? We did... (Does your area have anywhere near as many election seasons as ours does?We seem to have two a year).

It always seems weird to me that we just walk in, tell the people our names, sign the "book", and are given a ballot. No ID. No proof. I could pretend to be the woman across the street. Someone else could say she was me.

I'm still waiting (wishin' and a-hopin') for online voting. Unfortunately, it's going to be difficult to implement in a secure and trustworthy fashion. Voting needs to be both anonymous and controlled (no more than one vote per person but no way to match the person with the vote). Trustworthy isn't the same as secure, either. Something can be secure — difficult to break into — and still not trustworthy. Until then, I guess we have to put up with the annoyance of lines, dried-out markers, and "hanging chad".

Didja Vote? ( in category Trivial Pursuits ) - posted at Tue, 08 Nov, 14:09 Pacific | Comments (0)

Monday November 7, 2005

What Part of "I prefer..." Don't You Understand?

In today's commentary, I discuss a comment, made recently by a friend, that my skills and work preferences "limit the options" in my current job hunt...

Read my commentary.

What Part of "I prefer..." Don't You Understand? ( in category commentary ) - posted at Mon, 07 Nov, 13:25 Pacific

Sunday November 6, 2005

The Tipping Point

What caused Hush Puppies shoes to go from all but dead (30,000 pairs sold per year by early 1994) to a "best seller" (over a million pairs in 1996)? What caused New York City's crime rate to drop by two-thirds in five years? What made Sesame Street such a success with teaching pre-schoolers? And why was Blue's Clues even more successful?

"The Tipping Point is the biography of an idea, and the idea os very simple. It is that the best way to understand the emergence of fashion trends, the ebb and flow of crime waves, or, for that matter, the transformation of unknown books into bestsellers, or the rise of teenage smoking, or the phenomena of word of mouth, or any number of the other mysterious changes that mark everyday life is to think of them as epidemics. Ideas and products and messages and behaviors spread just like viruses do."

[from the Introduction to The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, 2002]

...
       Continue reading "The Tipping Point"

The Tipping Point ( in category Books, Movies, Music ) - posted at Sun, 06 Nov, 12:23 Pacific | Comments (0)

Saturday November 5, 2005

DST: Looking forward to 2007

I have always thought that the decision to end Daylight Saving time on the last Sunday of October was misguided and ill-considered. That puts Halloween in the "standard time" (early dark nights) part of the year. With all of the kids out and about, crossing the streets, this seemed wrong to me.

Things will change, however, not next year but the year after that.

In most of the United States, DST presently begins on the first Sunday in April. It ends on the last Sunday in October, when clocks return to official standard time. That's about to change. In 2007, according to a law passed earlier this year, DST for most of the United States will begin 3 weeks earlier—on the second Sunday in March. And it will end 1 week later—on the first Sunday in November.

[A Change in Time, Science News for Kids, Oct. 26, 2005]

I wish they had chosen the 1st Sunday in March for consistency... but this is the government after all.

DST: Looking forward to 2007 ( in category In The News ) - posted at Sat, 05 Nov, 09:42 Pacific | Comments (0)

Friday November 4, 2005

Treasures 2005_44

A smile happens in a flash, but its memory can last a lifetime.
-- Anonymous

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.

  • Frankenblimp. A very cute inflatable Frankenstein's monster at the door into the hardware store. He had little beady eyes (and very close together too). His bolts were at ear level instead of on his neck. He was holding a paper spider from each green hand.

  • All the children (and adults) in costume at the Berkely/Oakland Halloween day on College Ave

  • Chocolate. The Scharffen Berger factory, redolent of chocolate.

  • The hawk, again in the back 40 but closer this time. He's very handsome when he's not wet :) Bebop saw it. Ckckckckck!

  • Nuthatches at the feeder. So cute, especially when they go "upside down".

  • A fuzzy, frisky, 14-week old Pomeranian puppy, out for a Walk with his People!

Treasures 2005_44 ( in category Treasures ) - posted at Fri, 04 Nov, 22:21 Pacific | Comments (0)

Thursday November 3, 2005

Rearranging the (Virtual) Furniture

I built my "home on the WWW" sometime in 1994. Except for adding new pages on occasion, things didn't change much after that. (Some years back a friend commented that I was still using the same photo. Well, I still look pretty much as I did then...).

Recently, however, I decided my webhome could use a makeover.

I simplified my template and started using CSS (something that wasn't available ten years ago). I'm also using PHP now. PHP handles "including" of content; it also provides support for a large range of possible future features.

The basic content hasn't changed, but the look is a little fresher. I invite you to visit.

Rearranging the (Virtual) Furniture ( in category Trivial Pursuits ) - posted at Thu, 03 Nov, 00:05 Pacific | Comments (0)

Wednesday November 2, 2005

Missing Sync for Palm OS v5.0

I have had a Palm-based handheld for seven years now. About a year ago I upgraded to a Kyocera 7135 "smart phone". The only thing "wrong" with it was that it didn't talk to Palm's Hotsync program.

Enter "Missing Sync for Palm OS" from Mark/Space. Missing Sync allowed me to sync to my Mac — and also provided the memo pad application Apple didn't include with iCal and Address Book.

Now, Missing Sync 5.0 raises the bar:

With support for new Sync Services technology in Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger, Address Book and iCal data synchronization is greatly improved. Now calendar categories, multiple addresses, Birthdays, IM addresses and other fields are synchronized. There's synchronization for iTunes playlists and iPhoto albums, and photos taken with camera-enabled devices can be sent right to iPhoto. Mac/Palm sync has never been this good.
The interface is jazzier too. :-)
Missing Sync for Palm OS v5.0 ( in category Computerware ) - posted at Wed, 02 Nov, 11:08 Pacific | Comments (0)

Tuesday November 1, 2005

Weekly Wrap-up 2005_43

October can be pretty in the SF Bay Area — when it's not foggy and you can see the sky :-). Last week was fair when it wasn't foggy. We also had one day of steady rain (which stopped by 7pm).


Rich made pea soup for supper Monday. Rich makes good pea soup!


I had some nifty and colorful dreams. An especially fun one involved penguins flying in the air — they were harnessed to helium balloons. ...
       Continue reading "Weekly Wrap-up 2005_43"

Weekly Wrap-up 2005_43 ( in category Gemisch/Gallimaufry ) - posted at Tue, 01 Nov, 19:41 Pacific | Comments (0)