Scenes from the Rest Stop

Beth, Owen, and I are on a road trip to visit some friends and family. Many rest stops in Maine are nicer than some camp grounds I’ve slept at. Most of them feature a variety of signs suggesting stretches to do while you’re out of the car. Is there anything like this in your neck of the woods?

Some of the “stretches” can even be done while you are actively driving, as this next sign illustrates. I think that the singular buttock is a much funnier word than its more commonly heard plural form. I do this one whenever I have to get toll money out of my wallet.

The next sign suggested having a “healthy” snack. I had to wonder why the quotation marks were necessary. Are they implying that the pictured apple is not truly healthy, or that if you have a snack, you should at least call it healthy to make yourself feel better about your between-meals-pick-me-up.

I further investigated the “healthy” snacks inside the rest area building. The green dot on this note reminded me of the one I’d seen subconsciously on the sign outside.

I looked over the contents of the vending machine and noticed that not a single snack item featured the green dot of health.

The machine next to this one offered nothing but wall to wall Red Bull. Fortunately we brought some green dot type snacks with us.


On the Airplane

Twitchy. That's the first thought, profitability is the second.

Second first. Why hasn't Alaska airlines gone bankrupt. Every other airline (almost) has. Is there something about the routes or the management that makes it possible for them to make money.

I'm currently on a flight from Seattle to Austin and this has to be a profitable flight. There are only two seats free on the entire plane. Unfortunately, the seat next to me is taken by a twitcher. I don't think the woman actually has Tourette's , but she's jiggling all over the place. It's bad enough at times that I feel that I should as I'd she needs help. Then she wakes up and is still for a bit. Kind of disconcerting.


Move Successful!

Thanks to help from many friends on both ends, we had a very smooth and successful move, although our cats might not describe it that way. I was driving the U-Haul, and Beth the Corolla with the cats. One of them never stopped meowing and was hoarse for a few days after we arrived (Hint, it wasn’t Beth). I wish I’d taken a photo of the cab of the truck. It was pretty well packed with curtain rods, a 16″ pizza, back packs, our spinning wheel, and a carboy of 5 year old cider (seat-belted and wearing a fedora and a jacket). In reference to the wheel, one man at a toll booth said, “Nice spinner you got there!” The back of the truck was quite a sight as well, having been packed by a crew dominated by physics PhDs. Nothing budged on the road. Here are a few pictures from the journey:

We got a cool viking truck for the journey! It was a 20 footer.


One Sleeve To Go

Sorry I haven’t posted anything in a while. I couldn’t find my camera for the last few weeks. I eventually realized that maybe I left it on a bus. I took the bus back from the airport in Boston after a recent trip to Chicago for a plasma physics conference. I called the bus company yesterday, and found out I was right. They’ve had the camera behind the counter at the bus station all this time. Hooray for not losing the camera forever! Here are a few pictures of Chicago that I downloaded from the camera on the way home before forgetting it on the bus:

I saw ‘Cloudgate’ or ‘The Bean’, a sculpture by Anish Kapoor in Millenium Park, just a few blocks from my hotel. I’d seen pictures of the bean before, but I had no idea how big it was. You can easily walk under it. The vaulted, mirrored ‘ceiling’ is actually pretty high underneath. This picture is a composite of three exposures, each taken 2 stops apart.

The hotel was also close to the Wrigley building, which is indeed named for the chewing gum company.

I have finished up one sleeve on my orange Rogers-esque cardigan, but haven’t been to the bus station get to get the camera, so here is very low quality picture taken with the tiny built-in iSight camera in my laptop. Sleeves account for a much larger fraction of the surface area of a sweater than I’d thought about. I’ll mass the sleeves and other parts and report on the percentages accounted for by each part before I finish it up. I’ll also post better pics after blocking, seaming, and getting my Canon back:

What kind of buttons do you think would look best on this sweater?


Feral Kittens

My brother rescued some feral kittens two weeks ago. Beth and I were fortunately visiting for my Dad’s 58th birthday just 2 days after they were rescued, so we got to meet them.

The kitties hid inside the space under the dishwasher for some of their first 48 hours indoors. Apparently new kittens hiding inside a dishwasher is common enough that numerous people have posted questions about such a situation online.

My dad constructed a kitty scooping device using a candy cane lawn decoration, but it was not very successful.  I think leaving the kitties alone with the room quiet and a source of food, water and litter outside the dishwasher is the best approach.  They’ll want to come out eventually–and so they did; From the dishwasher they migrated to the under-space of the refrigerator. Here they’ve been blocked from getting back in there again, but they still liked hiding next to the fridge. They climbed around back there for a while, alternating which kitten was on top. I couldn’t tell whether they found it preferable to be on the bottom (and therefore protected by a feline shield), or on top and more mobile. After a while, I moved them to an alternate safe space—a pet taxi with food and water plates and a towel to lay on. They seemed to realize it was a preferable haven compared to the canyon next to the refrigerator. Here they are munching on some chicken in there:

I’m amazed that wild kittens can know how to use a litter box the first time they see one. They understood what it was for right away. After a meal, we put the orange tabby in the litter box, and he scratched around then stood up on two legs to relieve himself—a bizarre technique. I wish I’d captured it on video, although perhaps you will be glad that I didn’t. He’s quite good at standing. The calico cat liked to hide behind the litter box when she wasn’t in the pet taxi, as Kanye is pointing out here:


After all the offering of fingers to kitties, we made some mushroom/asparagus risotto. Kanye was not invited:

End of story.


Reasonable expectations

So, I don't have cool pics from Ireland to post, nor any cute baby pictures, but I'm not going to let little things like that get me down. (And, if I'm willing to waste a whole post on an avocado tree, then let's be honest, I know you aren't expecting much.)

This week's Monday post it about the little things in life , like not having your kitchen flooded when the old faucet turns out to have corroded away to the point that a stuff breeze could knock it over. Hooray fir easily-accessed shutoff valves.

Here's the new faucet, all installed except for the filtration system.

Actually, what's interesting about this is not the end result, but the surprising challenge faced when trying to pick out a new faucet when working with a time limit. First of all, the many options parameters we didn't want, and those we did - no two-tap hot/cold design here, need the single lever to be operated safely when hands are gross, etc... anyway, in the end Home Depot had just 3-4 options that were acceptable, not crappy, not $1000, and in the right finish.