Although I haven't dated any librarians, I've dated some library science majors so I found this amusing. Unfortunately, I'd be as mortified by the desecration as would the target, so I don't think this is going to work . . .
Shakespeare on the Green starts today. On tap are "Henry V" and "Love's Labours Lost." If you're interested in going at some point in the next few weeks, let me know and we'll see if we can coordinate a group or something.
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Wednesday, June 20
My Corner of Solitude is coming along nicely, with new patio and backyard additions (I'm afraid the overcast day didn't help the photos, but I was too lazy to hose off the bird droppings again when the sun came out the next day).
It only took me about two days of actual work (scattered in 4-hour segments over a month) to finish the gazebo area (that involved tearing out and resodding the old, and long-since overgrown, flower beds, tearing out the grass inside the ring and leveling it, putting down the center and edging stones, filling in the rest of the ring with slate gravel, assembling and painting the gazebo, repainting the old bird bath and putting everything together). It looks much nicer than the overgrown and neglected corner that came with the house.
And let me tell you, getting that 8-foot pole (that now holds the bird feeders) home in my car was fun . . .
- An article in the most recent Discover announced that a team in England successfully extracted stem cells from adult bone marrow and coaxed them into becoming sperm cells. Some biologists are dubious the process would ever work, but it opens the door to, in order from least- to most-questionable by society, infertile men having children, two women having children (always girls, as women don't carry a Y-chromosome) and one woman having children using her own eggs and stem cells. I'd already read that the number of men needed to maintain the species is a shockingly low 100; perhaps in the not-too-distant future the number will be zero.
- Another article on the physical composition of the Universe reminded me of why I love science, and why I'm banned from talking about it in certain places (some guys hear "I have a headache" in relation to sex; I hear it when I'm talking about quantum indeterminacy). Everything we can see, the entire Earth, the sun, all the stars, every comet, asteroid, gas cloud, planet and black hole, everything we can see through a telescope or detect with instruments, makes up a practically minuscule 4% of the Universe (that's not a typo). Another 23% or so, and most of the actual mass of the Universe, is something called dark matter, a substance we can't see but can only infer from its gravitational effects on galaxies. The majority of the Universe, on the other hand, almost three-quarters of everything, is an even more mysterious "stuff" called dark energy, a force that fuels the expansion of the Universe. It sounds like science fiction, I know.
- Thanks to an intriguing episode of Doctor Who (titled, to Lane's delight, "42"), I'm now familiar with the concept of "happy numbers." I doubt I'll ever be able to incorporate them into anything practical, but they're still interesting. (42, I'm afraid, is not happy, Lane.)
My illuminated and adored mother hitched a ride as far as Lincoln with friends on Friday, and after a slight navigational problem (it turns out the exit they set as the rendezvous point doesn't exist on the west-bound side of the Interstate . . .) I spent the weekend enjoying the sights and sounds of Omaha with her. We briefly visited the Taste of Omaha event, saw "Ocean's Thirteen," ate at several restaurants and did a considerable amount of shopping . . . for things we didn't buy due to the constraints of "limited space" in her friends' car. It was interesting to see the mental machinations as she considered putting items in her cart (or later removed them) while calculating available trunk space, the probabilities of purchases at future stores and the likelihood that some items could be purchased closer to home (along with a morass of other factors as complex as multivariable calculus). Most of the garnered trinkets are intended for my brother's impending wedding (table clothes and the like), so much of the shopping had a "party store" direction (I'd never been to Nobbies before).
I took the opportunity presented in being a chaperone in the department stores (a task I honestly don't mind, in my own little Zen way) to snap a few camera phone pictures I found amusing, and we detoured through a nursery so I could buy the missing pieces of my backyard gazebo (which turned out quite nicely). My mother also bought me a fire pit for my back patio (which is quite pretty, although as I discovered the "copper" designation on the box is used rather loosely to designate a color of enamel rather than a metal), a device I quickly used to fill my kitchen full of wood smoke when the wind carried the smoke past the window fan in my breakfast nook (note to self: buy splitting device to break wood up into smaller pieces before burning). She balked on buying me a hot tub or a dSLR camera, though . . .
The visit was good (and the weather was excellent for it). I drove her back to the meeting point in Lincoln (arriving exactly two minutes before the appointed time), and they returned home safely six hours later. My mother left me money to buy a pair of patio chairs to go around the fire pit and I found a pair I liked at Target last night (which I soon discovered did not fit in my car; Cris to the rescue with his Jeep while I sat in the parking lot!). I've been instructed to take a picture of the chairs and fire pit and mail it to my mom so she can wrap it up in a box for Christmas (a system I find vastly superior to attempting to fit presents Tetris-style into my backseat in December). :)
I've been collecting a few choice trinkets from friends over the last few weeks:
From Mull comes this fantastic artist who creates sculptures representing mathematical constructs and etchings of DNA and other biological components. Make sure you click a couple of the links (the Sculpture and Math Models ones, at least). Wow.
I need to renew my CPR certification. I'm planning on taking the CPR for the Professional Rescuer course next Tuesday and Thursday evenings (6 p.m. to 10 p.m. each evening). It's an eight-hour course that includes adult and infant & child CPR. Does anyone else need (or want) to take the class? Let me know.
Americans (and, thanks to Alanis, Canadians as well) have demonstrated a cultural talent for misapplying the word "ironic" in everyday usage. I'm usually fairly cognizant in print, but even I catch myself applying it in speech to situations that are just unfortunate or amusing, a habit I've been attempting to weed along with the last vestiges of my rural Nebraskan dialect (to Lisa's disappointment, I've utterly failed to mention what time "I got left" in recent months). Irony is at times a difficult concept, but a good example would be the letter I received from my mortgage company today. Thanks to the property valuation jump I mentioned in the last post, I fully expected a letter from said company advising me of an increase in my monthly payment, although I found it odd that it had arrived so soon. The irony in the situation is that, in contrast to my expectations, the letter actually advised me that my monthly payments were going down because the company had overcharged me based on an inaccurate estimation of my taxes over the last two years. They even included a little refund check. I laughed. Of course, I'll only enjoy the lower rate for a month or two before they discover the jump in my taxes and raise my payment above what it was before, but the chuckle was worth it.
I also experienced rain today, not on my wedding day but on my mowing day. This was not ironic.
In other news, I was flashed by a 10-year-old today. There was still a properly worn bathing suit present, so no legal issues were involved, but her intent (the sudden opening of a towel and exaggerated thrusting of the chest to the passing cars as she and her friends stood in the rain, followed by laughter) was somewhat less than innocent. Stellar parenting, really.
I'm debating whether or not to spend an ungodly amount of money on a DSLR camera; consequently, it's not surprising that I've been taking more pictures the last couple of days.
There are some pros and cons to making the jump. On the pro side, eventually my photography should improve, the camera is more adaptable and expandable, my low-light and motion photography should become *much* better and the camera just feels better (I spent 15 minutes playing with one at Target the other night). On the con side, not only is the initial expenditure quite expensive (at least $200 more than the newest version of my current camera), but the entire venture becomes very expensive very quickly (as multiple $200+ lenses, flashes and other accessories add up in no time). In addition, DSLRs don't do video, something I'm accustomed to with my S2, and I've read that the learning curve to get back to where you are with a point-and-shoot is somewhere around 3 months/5,000 pictures (because you have to learn how ISO and aperture and F-stops and the like interact with each other and with the scene, whereas a point-and-shoot handles most of that automatically). I haven't decided either way yet, although I ordered a couple of books on DSLR photography to read up on the subject. We'll see.
It may be a moot point at the moment anyway, as the nice little letter from the Douglas County Assessor's Office I received today confirmed that the valuation of my house jumped $40,000 this year. That seems like a lot, and it's a bit of a sticker shock, but it actually brings it inline with what I paid for it, and thanks to the Assessor's Web site I discovered that my entire neighborhood jumped, with most of my neighbors experiencing $50,000 and even $65,000 jumps, so I got off "light." I know several people who are protesting theirs (this was a citywide thing), but really, it's a fair assessment. I don't mind paying my fair share. This will definitely jump my taxes, although at this point I don't know how much. It did introduce me to the above-linked Assessor's site, which I had not seen before; it turns out you can punch in any Omaha property owner's address or last name and see not only the valuation but also the floor plan, the sales history, the year it was built, the construction and what it looks like, so you can imagine how I entertained myself for an hour today (I know you're curious, mom, so just punch in my last name). You can even put in just a street and browse all the residents who live along it, so it was easy to check up on my neighbors.
To add to the last post, I present a roughly hewn and unpolished video of the festivities (including Alec's infamous mispronunciation of "Rich"), as well as the product of 160 photos and two hours of boredom.