No Ranting – Just Links.

Arizona House Bill 2112, the Technical Production Services exemption, has passed the AZ Senate, and sits on Governor Ducey’s desk. Here’s what I wrote about it for the March 2015 Collaborations – the newsletter of the Desert State USITT

Arizona House Bill 2112, currently awaiting a vote in the Senate, intends to remove the ability of live event technical professionals to collect unemployment. So if it passes, which seems likely, just about anyone reading this newsletter would be unable to collect unemployment compensation from the state of Arizona, even if they otherwise qualify.

The official summary says:

HB 2112 exempts technical event production services personnel from the definition of employee for purposes of the unemployment insurance (UI) program administered by the Department of Economic Security (DES).

That’s one of a long list of stoopid things the Tea & Gun party legislature is doing to our state. But I’m not going to turn this into a rant. This is a list of shorter items.

What I learned at my next-to-last board meeting (I’m currently the Secretary, but will be termed out by September) is that our DS-USITT is a unincorporated non-profit association, which means you can deduct fees or donations given tot hem from your taxes, but they can’t provide you with formal documentation.

Also, we learned that Arizona considers our traditional 50/50 raffle to support a student membership to be gambling – even if you are a lowly  unincorporated non-profit association. Because freedom.

No – not going to rant.

When driving to Tucson, don’t stop at Eloy. When I stopped there, I choked down a Carl’s Jr sandwich while surrounded by overweight white people with guns. I am an undersized, unarmed theater nerd. Ate quickly, Got out. Stop at Pichacho Peak instead. That Dairy Queen/Shell station/gift emporium was stocked by non-threatening, if unhurried old hippies.

Now – Links:

Research to replace my old tent:

http://www.outdoorgearlab.com/Best-Camping-Tent/ratings

What adhesive should you use? http://thistothat.com/

Someone thinks about pterosaurs. A lot.

http://www.pteros.com/pterosaurs.html

Background for my work in progress:

https://fantasticalhistory.wordpress.com/2016/05/05/background-for-the-beanstalk/

Curious Continuity looks at the barely forseeable future:

https://curiouscontinuity.wordpress.com/2016/05/06/some-visions-of-the-barely-forseable-future/

And finally, SciShow Space starts out talking about tin whisklers and ends with talking about one of this blogs regular obsessions – strange toilets.

 

Which leads us to the ESA telling you more than you might have wanted to know about that.

You’re welcome.

Now you know.

An Irish Link Dump

For  book research and an ongoing quest for  wakeful drunkenness, I researched some Irish things over the past few months, and collect my learning for you here.

History Ireland has a good summary of how beloved old St Patrick was quite likely a crank who is preserved in history because he wrote stuff down.

Patrick—to his fellow bishops, probably in Ireland, who would have seen his activity at close quarters—had gone completely ‘off message’ with his unique vision of himself as the apocalyptic preacher. Yet by answering these anonymous level-headed pastors, the real founders of Irish Christianity, Patrick became the only one who left a name and any account of evangelising in Ireland!

 

http://www.historyireland.com/st-patrick/st-patrick-the-legend-and-the-bishop/

Which, according to The Guardian leads naturally to Irish Coffee:

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2015/mar/12/how-to-make-perfect-irish-coffee-st-patricks-day-recipe

Wide awake, I kept looking into this.

Christopher Null in Drinkhacker answers What’s the best whiskey for Irish Coffee?

Good question. I sampled all the Irish I had on hand in coffee and it was a tossup between the standard bottlings of Bushmills and Jameson. The only Irish that didn’t work well was Black Bush, which just didn’t play right with the bitterness of the coffee.

http://www.drinkhacker.com/2008/11/01/the-best-whiskey-for-irish-coffee/

 

Finally, Jim Slaughter of ineedcoffee claims to make the Best Irish Coffee in the World.

https://ineedcoffee.com/the-best-irish-coffee-in-the-world/

 

For myself, I replaced sugar with honey – as I often do, and was melting in the microwave when I had an realization: coffee, especially fresh coffee, is hot enough to do the job. This worked well enough for me. I use heavy whipping cream when I have it – if not whole milk.

Oh – and honey is bee puke.

https://youtu.be/Hq0SBwkLvUo

Last harps.

In Beanstalk and Beyond, there is, of course, a magic Harp. I fancied I might find something in folklore from which to draw inspiration – or at least some accurate technical detail.

There was something called the Harp of Dahgda, but that wasn’t quite right.

http://www.livingmyths.com/Celticmyth.htm#Dagda

The harp of our story may be inspired by this artifact though.

ancient-irish

For some actual facts, I relied upon Harp.com and The Harp Foundation, whose site plays such soothing music that you might pass out no matter how much coffee, Irish or otherwise, you might have had.

https://www.harp.com/history-of-the-harp.htm

http://www.theharpfoundation.org/about-us/history-of-the-harp/

Now you know.

 

Check out Fantastical History

My other blog where fact meets nonsense:

https://fantasticalhistory.wordpress.com/2015/09/08/hello-world/

Also:

Ranker lists 37 bizarre toilets from around the world so that I don’t have to

and

Taken from the article in Deep Sea News

Turns out baby squids struggle with “cute”.

Now you know.

A return to Thursday night writer’s group notes

In the distant past, when this was a more regular blog, I used to note things I learned at my weekly writer’s group. Currently, we meet on Thursday night at Armadillo Grill at 7pm. We’re supposed to go about two hours, but we’ve been going 2.5 hours. I choose to interpret that as a good sign.

The group is organized through MeetUp.com, but we welcome any interested writer.

First though, from IO9, and Tumblr, my new favorite blog: “Things I learned as a Field Biologist

Ok, last night we learned – in no particular order:

In China, red envelopes traditionally contain good news (or what the sender supposes to be good news). Red is lucky.

Mexico has 68+ separate languages. Purepechan isn’t related to any of them. But their culture still exists – after a fashion, throughout Michoacan. More from the Mexican Guru.

It’s nearly impossible to research Japanese actors on the interweb if you don’t have the correct spelling of their name.  If Toshiro Wantanabe (how I wrote it down) is an actual Japanese actor, he has been totally eclipsed by a physics professor of a similar name.  So here’s a good summary of Japanese movies about WWII – the reason we cared about this actor at all.

The Wright Brothers have an official website.  So does the cartoonist Rube Goldberg.

The trouble in researching the Druids of ancient history is that they didn’t write much down, and they didn’t feel like explaining themselves to outsiders. Any useful common knowledge about the religion was essentially wiped out by the Christianization process. This is what Father Oak says about human sacrifice

There is far enough evidence to substantiate the claim that the ancient Celts practiced and performed some form of human sacrifice. There is a great deal of evidence that these sacrifices were, however, voluntary in nature and that the sacrificed served as intermediaries, who took the petitions of their people directly before the God(s) of their clan.

There. We’re moving on now. (That’s an inside joke)

Pope Pius XI would have been the See through most of the 1920’s and 1930’s. As much as I hate to violate my wikipedia rule, they have a fairly balanced and thorough account of his life. All the other bio’s I found were either from the church, or from its sworn enemies.

You can still find druids in Florida.

 

Everything you would want to know about Epsilon Eridani.

 

Tesseracts are a real thing and will hurt your head.

 

Perhaps Carl Sagan can help you out with that.

 

Now you know

Complexities of concrete and paper and making a living in the 21st century

Concrete traffic barricades come standard in 6′ or 12′  lengths, which is a problem when you need them less than 5′ in any direction, and still weighing at least 3000#. This is the sort of thing I do at work. Tomorrow, I’m in a harness, in a swingstage, changing lightbulbs in a scoreboard.

There are hundreds of different grades of cement and concrete, including a variety that floats. Engineering students make canoes out of this stuff and race them.

Yes they do:

 

There also exists about a hundred different grades of paper, and keeping track of those is a job skill unto itself. Owning a printer doesn;t make you a publisher.

Writing a book, though, makes you a marketer – and paper is only one format. More on that in Writing Made Visible

(updated after some neglect.)

And Fossil Springs Road is closed for the summer. More on that in Are We Lost Yet?

 

Now you know.

 

 

Moving forward is hard enough without looking back (with maps included)

I don’t apologize for long droughts of posts. If you don’t like it, here’s yer money back.

Due to the lock-out shortened-no camp-compressed nature of this NBA season*, we could see a record in 20+ point victories per game played. While that’s better than no basketball,t should not be confused with good basketball.

*It’s not a real season.

Don’t spend money when you’re drunk. What I’mabout to describe are not bad decisions, but I still kinda wish I was sober.

I’m going to Darkcon – which is the pirate/party con of the now 4 major Spec Fic cons in the Valley. And the one I would normally be least tempted to spend money on. But we were at a party at CopperCon, and a bit drunk, and I had cash in my pocket and I got a really good rate – but yeah. We shall see. Spent the money. I’m going.

I also own the domain sillypenguin.com. Don’t bother checking it out today – there’s just a GoDaddy placeholder. My wife wants to make and sell custom greeting cards. I’ve fancied the notion of doing a webcomic of some sort, just to force myself to get back into drawing.So the Plan is to post comics about a silly penguin as a lead in to the greeting card page.

Silly Penguin was a whim. I searched the term and saw that ti was open. I was a few beers down and didn’t want this “unique domain opportunity” to be lost. As if random gibberish is somehow challenging for me to come up with.

Now we need a webhost. My front-runner is Fat Cow, but I’m open to input if any of my IT buddies has a strong opinion.

And I signed up for Code Year – because I’m tired of having no clue about things that are becoming more and more important to my work.

Now some links (we have a few backed up here):

A Slate case study on how Second Life failed the milk-shake test, and how this informs the theory of marketing.

“Neuroscience is still unable to provide a clear and direct explanation as to how the microcircuitry of the brain actually functions,” says Hugo De Garis, a cognitive science professor and director of the Artificial Brain Lab at Xiamen University in China. “We know that the basic circuitry is the same all over the human cortex, but just how the circuitry works is still largely unknown.”

This from an article in Sloan Science and Film about the frustrating future of artificial intelligence. The authors go on:

One main sticking point for AI research is the idea of consciousness or emotion—vague concepts that aren’t easily quantifiable or scientifically proven but are essential for creating a supermachine because, many scientists claim, feelings are integral to handling our thoughts.

 

Coincidentally, among the four books I’m currently reading is The Universe in a Single Atom by the Dalai Lama. Within, DL asserts that western sience will never satisfactorily explain how consciousness works because objective measurements miss what is an inherently and unavoidably subjective experience. He argues that we must also consider the “rigorous, focused and disciplined use of introspection and mindfulness to probe deeply into the nature of a chosen subject.”

To put it another way, although the experience of happiness may coincide with certain chemical reactions in the brain, such as an increase in serotonin, no amount of biochemical and neurobiological description of this brain change can explain what happiness is.

[pg145]

For some people (myself included) true happiness can come from a really well-crafted map

And tying is all together, you can find this map of Scientific Exploration here.

Now you know.

Vigilance against vermin

My dogs have ticks and my kids have lice and the internet isn’t much help.

On ticks, I’ve learned that anything you buy at the pet store for less than a month’s salary is fairly useless. We have not found a spray for less than $30/bottle that does not leave me pulling at least 6 ticks off the lab every time I pet him. The $40 stuff is coming – but its gotta wait for payday. (The healer, OTH, has been more effective at removing the ticks herself. I only find them in places she cannot reach.)

Ticks don’t live on dogs, they latch on to feed, hide and grow, feed again, and then lay 10,000 eggs. You’ll never find them in all the tiny cracks they can hide in, but cleaning the house  front to back seems to help. They all have to come to the dogs, however, and that is where I have concentrated my surveillance.

Brown dog ticks, which is what we have (I think), don’t feed on humans. They’ll bite though. At least a hundred have gone down my toilet.

I’d link to a website here, but let me save the time: Remove them carefully, buy some products, ask your vet.

The internet is similarly obvious about head lice: Remove them carefully, buy some products, ask your doctor. And wash everything with hot water.

This is what we’ve learned from other parents: If you put a pillow or stuffed animal in a garbage bag and leave it out in the summer sun for two days, that kills everything. Mayonnaise is just as effective a hair lubricant as conditioner, and a ton cheaper. What’s going to do the most good is removing the lice and eggs with a fine-toothed comb. We own the one that came with the lice shampoo, but flea combs (for pets) will also work well. Boil it all (combs, brushes, hair clips) afterwards. OTC shampoos and treatments are hit-or-miss. Some strains of lice are just resistant. The comb is a sure, if labor intensive, thing. The spray is for the bedding – don’t use it on the kids.

The lice I think we’ve beaten back. The tick wars go on.

A segway into politics seems too easy. Let’s just do some links.

Steven Pinker, writing in the Wall Street Journal explains that – despite the news – we are actually becoming more tolerant and less violent as a species.

“Believe it or not, the world of the past was much worse. Violence has been in decline for thousands of years, and today we may be living in the most peaceable era in the existence of our species. “

Feel better? Not so fast. Farhad Manjoo (real name) asks in Slate “Will robots steal your job?”

What I found was unsettling. They might not know it yet, but some of the most educated workers in the nation are engaged in a fierce battle with machines. As computers get better at processing and understanding language and at approximating human problem-solving skills, they’re putting a number of professions in peril. Those at risk include doctors, lawyers, pharmacists, scientists, and creative professionals—even writers like myself.

But can they blog about urinals?

I updated Are We Lost Yet on my adventures up and down Mt Elden.

And finally something cool: (From APOD)

 

Now you know