Monday, November 29, 2010

Huff and Puff and ....

The wind howled today, at times hitting 50+ mph and the temperature never got above freezing. Right now the mercury is dropping and the wind chill is in the 9 below zero range. I think it is safe to say that fall is officially here.

In contrast to the cold and wind outside, I spent all day in an overheated courtroom.
All day from 8:30am to 5:30pm and there is still no jury empaneled. I hope to find out tomorrow if I am on the jury or not. There is nothing like the maneuvering of attorneys in a multiple felony case to bring out the worst of the jury selection process. Thus my new theme song:
Hi ho, hi ho
It's off to court I go
Defense to the right of me
Prosecution to the left of me
And the judge in the front of me 
How low can we go

So off to court I venture in the morning.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Today I Rant For Tomorrow I ...

Today I wasted yet another two hours of my life sitting through a meeting of a committee I got volunteered to serve on. It seems that in spite of having a paid facilitator, we run in circles week after week. Mostly because there are too many players with personal skin in the game, all trying to act like they don't. I just wish that we could somehow force everyone to stand up and declare their real interests so we could move on to solving the problem at hand without all the posturing and protectionism and hidden pushing and shoving. Oh well, probably much too sane and logical to have happen in a room full of pols and idiots ...

Then to make matters worse, the weekly meetings have been moved to a room in a historically restored court house.

 The meeting room has 18 foot high tin plate ceilings,
hardwood floors,
and absolutely no sound absorption. So the meeting is like sitting in a echo chamber with a jet revving for take off at one end. No one can hear anyone else and that includes the recording system for making the official notes. And so it goes ...

At least there was a football game on the TV when I finally got home.

Odd Thoughts

Yesterday I caught a bit of dialog in a teaser for a TV show that made my day.
"You're building a time machine. Right? So what's the rush?"
Talk about an amusingly deep thought! If you ever succeed in building a time machine, you can always go back to any earlier time with it so that if you have ever built it you already have it now.  If you don't succeed, it will make no difference and you will have no machine ever. I always dreamt of having one of these
ever since I read H. G. Well's novella "The Time Machine" in my childhood. I still wouldn't mind having one, but by the above logic I don't have a snowball's chance in ....

In other completely useless information, it is forecast to get up to 60 degrees today and have highs in the 50s until ... wait for it ... next week around Thanksgiving when the highs will be around freezing. Sort of figures. Wait until the time when everyone has time to wonder about outdoors and then make it turn cool. Oh well.

Time to get on with it. Don't do anything I wouldn't.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Do You ...

Do you ever have a particular taste in mind when you decide to fix or order a dish only to have the actual dish not live up (or down) to your imagination? I do.

Sometimes I come across a recipe and think "Boy, that sure sounds good." But many times the actual taste bears little resemblance to my mental picture of how it should/would taste. The same thing happens from time to time with old favorites. Then I always wonder if I have made the dish wrong. After all, I seldom follow a recipe to the letter. I am more a bit of this and a dash of that type of cook.

The other day the topic came up in a discussion with mom, since it happens to her as well. Her thought was that it might be related to aging and the associated changes in taste abilities and preferences. My thought was that it might be reflective of the different nutritional needs at the time. After all, when I was a teenage football player, every bit of food in the universe in any combination looked good and tasted good. Now? Not so much. We left the topic hanging that so we could go eat. {*grin*}

I was also reminded of how taste and cravings for certain foods can change due to other environmental factors. For example, one of the drugs I took or a couple of years to treat a chronic condition left me with an insane desire for grapefruit. Not citrus fruit, but grapefruit specifically.
I'd peel and eat a couple of grapefruit a day and they tasted absolutely sublime. Then I changed to a different drug regimen and the desire for grapefruit faded. (Not to mention that they taste no where near as good as I remember them from the drug period.)

Now I am left to wonder if my current fascination with scrambled eggs
drizzled with Tabasco Chipotle Sauce
is an artifact of my current drug regimen, a development of aging taste buds, or is just a passing fad for my taste buds. After all, I used to not care for scrambled eggs in any form what-so-ever. That is certainly not the case now.

So what foods do you find you crave? And which ones no longer live up to the taste in your imagination?

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Drear and the Darkness

The last couple of days have been dull and dreary with clouds and occasional skiffs of snow, highs in the low 40s and lows in the teens. Typical fall weather for around here. Because it has been staying above freezing for the daylight hours, the snow is now mostly gone and we are back to the dull drear of fall in the period once the leaves have fallen. There is still a hint of green in the grass and the sagebrush is turning brown, but that too will soon fade. Somewhat like this:
(Picture from UC Collection)

L went skiing for her inaugural run of the year yesterday. That means she was both happy and stiff and sore last night when I talked to her. (Ibuprofen was invented for aging baby boomers. {*grin*}) The interesting point was that it was blowing and snowing up there - pretty much the standard weather in the mountains from now until spring. Right now, it is both colder and snowier in the mountains than out here on the plains. L proclaims that it is now winter in the mountains in spite of what the calendar says. At least it can look pretty:
(The glow of Breckenridge in winter.)

Which brings me to one of the things I dislike about this season - the decreasing amount of daylight and advancing time of darkness as we approach the winter solstice on December 21. Sunset is already at 4:35pm and will get progressively earlier as time rolls on. I really dislike the coming weeks when it is dark by 3:30 - it is depressing. It is even worse in the mountains where the valley walls cut the sunlight off even earlier. I often wonder how people who live at far northern (or southern for that matter) latitudes handle it. Days with no hours of sunlight seem like they would be really hard to endure. On the other hand, the shortening days seem to be ideal weather for soup. {*grin*}

Time to get on with real work.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Hip Hip Hooray for Fall

It was close to 80 degrees this weekend. Truly unseasonable weather for this region. L loved it since the ski areas in her neck of the woods are already open or will open this week. Coming home to nice warm temps in the upper 70's is a bit like taking a tropical island trip in the deepest darkest days of winter - something to be enjoyed and treasured.

With the oddity of our balmy October and November, a major topic of discussion has been "when will fall really arrive?" Last year we had several snow falls in October and a full on blizzard in late October. This year? Not! No snow and no temperatures conducive to snow. Even some debate with myself as to whether I was wise to have shut off the water to the sprinkler system a few weeks ago to avoid freezing pipes.

But this morning! Ah this morning. What did I find when I let Molly out for her morning frolic? This:

Fall has well and truly arrived at long last. Nothing whispers fall better than a soggy, just below freezing, huge flake, dump of wet and wild snow.  I love this kind of weather!
The sky is grey and filled with white flakes, the trees and wires are coated in a rime of lovely white, but it is still warm enough that the streets and sidewalks are mostly clear. In fact, I took these pictures moseying around outside in a pair of shorts and a t-shirt.

Hip Hip Hooray for Fall!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

I Miss Feynman's Wit

I was reminded yesterday of one of my favorite quotes from Richard P. Feynman, the late Nobel prize winning physicist,bongo drum player, artist, and personal idol. It exposes the deep inner feeling of most physicists in a way that anyone can understand. Without further ado:

Physics is to mathematics what sex is to masturbation.
-- Richard P. Feynman

Any dyed in the wool physicist will not only agree but cheer wildly for the aptness of the quote.

I was reminded of the quote because of an afterward on an Abstruse Goose cartoon that presented the quote and then supplied the rather tongue in cheek mathematicians answer - "And your point is ..?" Now anyone who has spent much time with me knows that two phrases that I use often are "Are you done blithering yet?" and "And your point is?" The cartoon struck me as great because it used a favorite quote from one of my heroes and poked at my own foibles. What more could one ask for from an afterward to a good cartoon?

I will leave you with a few other Feynman quotes that only get better with time:

  • Physics is like sex. Sure, it may give some practical results, but that's not why we do it.
  • I think it's much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong.
  • There are 10^11 stars in the galaxy. That used to be a huge number. But it's only a hundred billion. It's less than the national deficit! We used to call them astronomical numbers. Now we should call them economical numbers.
  • If you thought that science was certain - well, that is just an error on your part.
  • The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.

Richard P. Feynman

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Halloween That Was

Like most things in my life for the past few weeks, this post is a bit late. It should have been posted on All Hallows Eve, but instead you get to enjoy it now. At least Pink Floyd's Time is playing in the background to make sense of the utter disregard for chronology this blog shows. So play this as you read. {*grin*}

I don't know about your neck of the woods, but Halloween here was a bit lower key than normal just because of the day.  Since the merchants and the city and the nursing homes all ran their celebrations on Friday, there seems to have been less incentive for the little tricksters to be out and about on Sunday for the official event. Normally we see between 40-70 trick or treaters at the front door before we shut the lights off at ~8pm. This year we only had 31, somewhere between 1/2 and 2/3 of the normal total.

There was also a discernible difference in the composition of the visitors. Most years we see a fair number of teens and tweens in groups of 4 or more interspersed with a lot of sibling groups of 1 or 2 under the age of 10. This year, it was almost all youngsters in various sized groups with the parents standing out at the street watching. When Molly the wonder dog and I would answer the door, it left a lot of them in shock. It took them a few moments to remember that they were supposed to say trick or treat. Some just wanted to pet the doggy, some just wanted to hide from the doggy, and some were heard to say "dad, he gave us snickers!" as they departed for the next house. At least I didn't have to put this sign up to excuse Molly's behavior this year:

The smaller crowd also means that I have several bags of candy left over. It should make L happy when she journeys home this weekend. I'm just happy that it is all in un-opened bags so that it doesn't tempt me!

Time to go vote. Make sure you do too. Vote that is, not go.
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