First Dog

January 16, 2009

So Taylor Nikole alerted me to the fact that the Obamas have gotten loads and loads of advice from people about which dog to get once they move into the White House.  (In case any of you were wondering, the Obamas promised their daughters that they would get them a dog, for being good sports about putting up with all of the hassle that comes with, oh, running for President).

One of the recommendations was a Goldendoodle?  What the heck is a Goldendoodle?  This is:

goldendoodle
Brady Backcross Goldendoodle

I’m trying to figure out whether the person who named this a Goldendoodle was being serious or funny.

So what do you think the Obamas should get?

P.S. – Thank you Arelis and Leah for the advice about my sister’s desire for an American Eskimo.  I’ll pass along the info.  🙂

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I See Dead People

January 16, 2009

The always hilarious G, with a knack for naming birds, told me about a study in which people who drank more than 7 cups of coffee in a single day started seeing ghosts or hearing strange voices.  I kid you not.  Neither is G.

What I’d like to know is…what the heck is going on in your life that you need to drink MORE THAN SEVEN cups of coffee a day?

You can read the article here.

G also sent me this other article about this little guy:

solenodon

Do you think this guy is cute?  Cuz I don’t.  Especially considering that it can inject you with poison through its teeth.

Allow me to introduce you to the Hispaniolan solenodon.   This mammal lives in the Caribbean, but is under threat from encroaching human activities like deforestation and hunting.  Now researchers are trying to conserve the Hispaniolan solenodon.  You might be wondering, “What the heck for?  It can poison me with its bite!”  Yes.  But that’s exactly what makes them so unusual.  The solenodon is the only living mammal that can actually inject poison through specialized teeth.  This trait makes the solenodon evolutionarily distinctive, and scientists are eager to study these creatures because so little is known about them.

You can read the article here.  There’s a video too.

Thanks G!

Brainercise: Jessica M edition version 1.0

January 16, 2009

Jessica has joined the fray and sent in the following brainteaser.  Thanks Jessica!

There are six buckets in the ground, three filled with sand and three empty. You have to alternate the full and empty buckets by moving only one of them. There needs to be one full, one empty, one full, one empty, one full and one empty. And you can only move one of them. The buckets in the ground are distributed like this: three full and then the three empty ones in a single line.

buckets-before
buckets-after
(I think this is what Jessica means. If not Jessica, let me know and I’ll fix the picture.  And pretend the blue stuff is sand.  I do have a job you know.)

Oh, and I almost forgot.  My answer to last week’s brainteaser is comment #9.  I’ll update this post with Eddy’s answer as soon as it’s up.

100% All Natural GBD

January 16, 2009

Gooooooood morning GBD!

First, can I say that you guys are awesome?  I mean really.  You guys are awesome.  Y’all have sent me so much stuff, it’s amazing!  So today, I thought it would be cool to have all of the posts be content submitted by you gals.  🙂

First up is a little ditty written and photographed by our very own Auntie Kailin.  Thanks Kailin!

(There will be 4 more posts after this one, spaced a couple hours apart.)

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Sometimes, it is the youngest of us who will lead the way.  This is a true example of a woman (albeit a very young woman) trying to make a difference in the world.  Yes, this is Auntie Kailin’s 2-year-old daughter London Gow, but that’s besides the point.  London is already a young spokesperson for world peace and harmony.  Her favorite saying is “Peace, Love, Hope.”  If you are on Facebook, check out her Actor Fan Page for her credentials.  Model since 5 months old, Actor in commercial, television special, and the lead in an upcoming preschool DVD series, artist, and budding photographer.

This is her artwork:

london-11
london-2

The art is titled (in London’s own words) – “People are Legos.  We Fit Together to Make it Work.”

Thanks,
Kailin

So, whatchu wanna know?

January 16, 2009

Okay! So I was sitting here thinking “Oooh I should write a blog!” and then I realized “I am not even sure what to blog about.” Which is a problem if I want to do this for at least 30 days in a row, right? So I thought, “I’ll poll the audience!”

So! Questions! When it comes to technology, what subjects do you want to learn about or explore? Do you only want details of this website and how its created and how you can do cool stuff on it? Or do you want other stuff like… tutorials on how to merge your favorite actor with your favorite actress into a 100 x 100 icon? Or do you want to learn little html tidbits to make your myspace page look cooler? Or all of the above?

Are there any other subjects that you’d be interested in hearing about from moi?

That’s about it! Gimme some feedback!!!

xo
tabby

Impossible. Yet here we are.

January 15, 2009

rose-center

Chris requested inspirational quotes or stories, and stuff about science and nature.  This reminded me of the Scales of the Universe walk inside the planetarium at one of my favorite museums, the American Museum of Natural History.  The Scales of the Universe is basically a walk around that huge sphere you see in the photo above, called the Hayden sphere (which houses the Space Theater, which is so friggin’ cool…like, if you can’t go into space yourself, this is the next best thing).  Anyway, there are stations set up around the sphere that help you compare how big or small things are relative to each other.  For example, in the picture above, if the Hayden sphere represents our sun, then off to the right, you can see how big Jupiter, and behind it Saturn, are.  Below Jupiter, in the lower right-hand corner, you can see three much smaller spheres clustered together in a row.  I think the one in the middle is how big Earth would be if the Hayden sphere were the sun.  Do you see that?  How small Earth is compared to the sun?  Anyway, every time I visit this museum, I go on this walk around the sphere because it never fails to amaze me, to see how small we are compared to the universe, and how big we are compared to atoms.  It’s mind-boggling.

So Chris’ request reminded me of this walk, which then reminded of something Richard Dawkins wrote:

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We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Sahara. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively outnumbers the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here.

Here is another respect in which we are lucky. The universe is older than 100 million centuries. Within a comparable time the sun will swell to a red giant and engulf the earth…The present moves from the past to the future, like a tiny spotlight, inching its way along a gigantic ruler of time. Everything behind the spotlight is in darkness, the darkness of the dead past. Everything ahead of the spotlight is in the darkness of the unknown future. The odds of your century’s being the one in the spotlight are the same as the odds that a penny, tossed down at random, will land on a particular ant crawling somewhere along the road from New York to San Francisco. You are lucky to be alive and so am I.

We live on a planet that is all but perfect for our kind of life: not too warm and not too cold, basking in kindly sunshine, softly watered; a gently spinning, green and gold harvest-festival of a planet. Yes, and alas, there are deserts and slums; there is starvation and racking misery to be found. But take a look at the competition. Compared with most planets this is paradise, and parts of Earth are still paradise by any standards. What are the odds that a planet picked at random will have these complaisant properties? Even the most optimistic calculation will put it at less than one in a million.

Imagine a spaceship full of sleeping explorers, deep-frozen would-be colonists of some distant world…The voyagers go into the deep-freeze soberly reckoning the odds against their spaceship’s ever chancing upon a planet friendly to life. If one in a million planets is suitable at best, and it takes centuries to travel from each star to the next, the spaceship is pathetically unlikely to find a tolerable, let alone safe, haven for its sleeping cargo.

But imagine that the ship’s robot pilot turns out to be unthinkably lucky. After millions of years the ship does find a planet capable of sustaining life: a planet of equable temperature, bathed in warm starshine, refreshed by oxygen and water…here is a whole new fertile globe, a lush planet of warm pastures, sparkling streams and waterfalls, a world bountiful with creatures, darting through alien green felicity. Our travelers walk entranced, stupefied, unable to believe their unaccustomed senses or their luck.

As I said, the story asks for too much luck; it would never happen. And yet, isn’t it what has happened to each one of us? We have woken after hundreds of millions of years asleep, defying astronomical odds. Admittedly we didn’t arrive by spaceship, we arrived by being born, and we didn’t burst conscious into the world but accumulated awareness gradually through babyhood. The fact that we gradually apprehend our world, rather than suddenly discovering it, should not subtract from its wonder.

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The original passage is here.

I know some people think that science strips away the magic of our experience.  But I don’t see it that way at all.  For me at least, science opens my eyes and sharpens my focus, so that I can see – really SEE – all of the beauty and magic in this life.

Tunable Glasses

January 15, 2009

tunable-glasses
A Zulu man wearing adaptive glasses. (photo: Michael Lewis for The Guardian)

You ever notice how water in a glass will distort things?  Like this…

water-refraction

…so that things will look closer or bigger than they really are?

Well, a physicist has finally figured out how to use that property of water to make “tunable” eyeglasses.  Starting back in 1985, Josh Silver embarked on a mission to help the world’s poor see better.  He knew that many areas of the world didn’t have access to optometrists or couldn’t afford prescription glasses.  So he invented glasses that let wearers adjust their own “prescription.”

How?  The plastic lenses have clear circular sacs filled with fluid.  The wearer uses a syringe to add or remove fluid.  Adding more fluid increases the power of the lens (in the same way that thicker lenses are stronger in regular glasses).

Can you imagine what this means?  Think of all the things you need good eyesight for.  To be able to see is a tremendous improvement in quality of life.  People can read, thread needles, mend their clothes, make a living, support their families.

So far, about 30,000 pairs have been distributed in 15 countries, but Silver hopes to offer these glasses to a billion of the world’s poorest people by 2020.  Within the next year, he and his team plan to distribute 1 million pairs in India.

See?  Science is cool!  🙂

You can read the article here.

Just another morning commute.

January 15, 2009

This video was taken by Lyle Saxon, in 1991 during the rush hour morning commute in Tokyo, Japan.  Those white-gloved individuals gently assisting passengers board the train are called oshiya.

What I’d like to know is…what the heck kinda amazing awesomeness is waiting for them at the end of that train ride?  Does anyone know?

Don’t Starve a Cold of Exercise

January 15, 2009

cold-exercise
(photo: Filip Kwiatkowski for The New York Times)

I know exercising is probably the last thing you want to do when you’re sick, but you might want to give it a try.  Only if you have a head cold though (just a runny nose, sneezing).  Maybe not so much if you have a fever or chest congestion or muscle aches.

There was a study done a while ago which showed that although exercising didn’t get rid of the cold any faster, or reduce the severity of the symptoms, the people were had head colds and exercised still FELT okay, sometimes better.  The same researchers did another study showing that head colds didn’t affect lung function or exercise capacity – in other words, it was perfectly okay to continue exercising since your body could still handle it.

The point?  If you’re trying to start a regular exercise program (which is awesome!), then don’t let a head cold get you off-track.  Try to push through.  If you’re lucky, you might even feel better.  🙂

You can read the article here, which goes into more detail about the studies.

A Genius in Our Midst

January 15, 2009

einstein1

Stop the presses GBD!  Carolyn asked if there was some way we could show our support for the students at the Mirwais School for Girls.  OMG carolyn…are you a genius??  Because this is a genius idea!  GENIUS!

What do the rest of you think?  Got any ideas?  I emailed the reporter who wrote the article to ask how we could help.  Keep in mind that life is rough in Kandahar, so I’m not sure how feasible it is to send our support.  But there’s nothing wrong with trying, right?