For a certain design student

Mr. Jalopy says,

Unbelievably Elegant and Savage Design – This is an easy one. Monkeys can do this. Look at the Ferrari at the top of the page and figure out how it appears so elegant and fine boned while still having the demeanor of a bloodthirsty savage. Decipher that simple formula, update it in a respectful way, carve a many-cylindered engine block out of a single chunk of billet and, with the hammer of Buddha, pound aluminum fenders over Italian stumps that have Enzo’s initials carved in the base. Eat prosciutto for lunch and truffles for dinner, bathe in cognac, drink espressos during victory laps, road test at midnight, change tires for thunderstorm wet practice, whisk baguette crumbs from the oxblood leather seats with a boar bristle brush, keep sterling flasks of courage in the glove box, smoke cigars with the commitment of Mark Twain and feed your chickens at dawn.

Yep, that just about covers it…

Tuesday morning potpourri for $500, please, Alex

Stray thougts and links…

On The Pony Rule – like Ms. Phasmid, I have a full dreamspace. There are many classification schemes I apply to the dreams when I’m feeling meta – one that is actually useful is to divde dreams into Pony Rule/not Pony Rule. Not Pony Rule items are those that, with effort and a little luck (and maybe some sacrifice) are attainable – my ‘move into an Airstream‘ idea/dream/plan is a perfect representative of the genre. Pony Rule dreams involve either the suspension of physical laws (superpowerz!!1!) or factors completely outside my control. The ‘what would I do if I hit the lottery?’ fantasy is a good example – I have no control over it and it’s so improbable that it’s right on the edge of suspension of physics (someone does win, so it’s not over the line, but probability-wise, pretty darn close). Thus, that fantasy can be improved by application of “and a pony!”. It occurred to me this morning as I puttered around, that The Pony Rule has a theme song: Lyle Lovett’s If I Had a Boat.

The mystery masked man was smart
He got himself a Tonto
‘Cause Tonto did the dirty work for free
But Tonto he was smarter
And one day said kemo sabe
Kiss my ass I bought a boat
I’m going out to sea

And if I had a boat
I’d go out on the ocean
And if I had a pony
I’d ride him on my boat
And we could all together
Go out on the ocean
Me upon my pony on my boat

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Great APOD today – not so much for the picture; rather for the links to papers on Martian life. Extremophile bacteria using a hydrogen peroxide/water intracellular fluid mix! (Warning – .pdf link) More investigation will be required!

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It’s the time in the northeastern US when athletic fields start to be used by high school teams – practicing and, soon, playing. Here, women’s varsity soccer and men’s cross country have been in evidence. We do not have a football team, but the boarding school I used to work at sure did. I found this compare and contrast post very interesting – concussion vs. smoking dope. I am a fan of NFL football, but as you work your way back down the feeder system (NFL -> NCAA -> high school) things get a little more questionable; the risk/reward variables change pretty dramatically.

Birds ‘n bikes

This looks like an interesting CD for dreamers like me. “I really need to get this, just in case I end up in Siberia in the next year or so!” Yeah, right…

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How much do you want to bet that the motorcycle in the picture above is a Ural? I don’t think I could fit 3 dogs, 1 hawk, 1 falcon and a yurt into the sidehack, but who cares? Wishes are free! And a pony!

A bit of suspension trivial – until a few minutes ago, I thought all forks like the ones on the Urals were Earles forks. The great Wikipedian oracle tells me that all Earles forks are leading link forks, but the converse is not true – location of the pivot point is the key criterion.

CD via Birding Mongolia.

Fun with maps

I just discovered (via Make:) that one can now embed Google maps. By way of a test, here’s a local landmark – the old prison over at the Navy Yard.


View Larger Map

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My dad served in the Navy – his recollection was that Portsmouth was the end of the line – it’s where people served serious terms for serious crimes. On the other hand, Jack Nicholson headed to Portsmouth with a sailor convicted of pretty minor offense …

More pix of the pup

She’s growing like a weed.

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She has a healthy appetite (understatement). She’s eating almost as much as Janey (middle dog) and is, as you can see, pretty lean. Here’s a really bad phonecam picture showing the serious hoover action she puts on when the bowl has food in it – notice the hourglass shape:

Plane trees and Pratt

We took the son down to Pratt yesterday for his first year of college. He is in the Industrial Design program and is – I think – quite excited. My emotions are a bit of a stew: sadness, excitement, worry, anticipation, and more. Even if I were good at sorting through this kind of thing (typically I’m not), it certainly isn’t going to happen on four hours sleep. The dogs, understandably, don’t really care that I spent 10 hours driving yesterday – their chief concern is the fact that they had a really boring day and would like to go for a run. Now. Again. More.

We did have yet another bit of cosmic synchronicity hit us on campus. The lawn where we were served a cookout dinner last night is lined by sycamore trees. Tree identification is not my strong suit – I know the locals (red maple, poplar, red oak, hemlock, and pals), but get me out of the New England woods and I’m in trouble. I knew sycamores, though. Why? Because Pluvialis mentioned plane trees and lime trees recently and I looked ‘em up on Wikipedia. I had this suspicion that citrus (limes) might not be winter-hardy in Cambridge and was tired of not knowing anything about plane trees other than the assumed fact that they’re trees. If you don’t want to click through, here’s the key point – what are plane trees in Pluvialis’ neighborhood are sycamores here. While we were waiting in line for our picnic dinners, S (the boy’s mom) commented on the trees – the last time she was on campus was January and the foliage makes the area even more beautiful. I allowed as to how I thought they were sycamores; she looked at the leaves and noticed how maple-like they were. I wouldn’t budge and told her why I was pretty sure. Somewhere in my explanation, Jesus College in Cambridge was mentioned.

Aside – both the boy and I have been known to start with a reasonable sounding kernel and spin an increasingly baroque and improbable story out of it – absolutely deadpan. My son is much better at it than I am and does it to his mom regularly, but I’m a known offender as well.

At this point, S thinks I’m spinning a yarn. The Cambridge that springs to her mind is the one 30 miles away outside of Boston, not the one an ocean away. The existence of Jesus College is questioned, but before I can clarify, the man standing behind us (nice south-Asian accent) interjects, “Why yes, there is a Jesus College in Cambridge. I went there.” The sycamore identification went unresolved, but there is now general agreement that Jesus College exists and that the world is weirdly folded-up-on-itself small.

Two pieces of background info

A recent comment clued me to the fact that I haven’t provided much background info on some of the things I do (and post on) – assuming that both people who read my blog are already in the know. Seems like I may have more than a handful of readers, so I’ll try to fill in some of the blanks.

I’m a falconer. Click here for a good definition of what falconry is. I have a six year old male Red-tailed Hawk and a sixteen week old female Peregrine Falcon. Brick, the Red-tail, hunts rabbits, snowshoe hare, squirrel and pheasant; I plan to fly Luz, the Peregrine, on ducks on the salt marsh. My falconry bullet point list:

  • Falconry. Look at the word. Notice it does not contain the letter “d” or the letter “t”. I don’t know if it’s a local thing or not, but if I hear someone pronounce it falcundry one more time…
  • Q: You let the bird go? A: Yes. Q: And it comes back? A: So far. Every time we go hunting there is the chance that – if I haven’t prepared properly – I could come home without the hawk. Lost birds are no joke – falconers try like hell to find them – but that risk is a necessary part of the sport.
  • Q: So it’s a pet? A: NFW. I’m not all that sure what a pet is, to be honest with you. I have dogs – they work for/with me every fall when we go bird hunting and the rest of the year have duties around the house (basically, do as I ask) and are demo dogs when I teach dog obedience classes. There are periods each year when they are in charge – if they tell me there’s a woodcock in the alders I damn well believe them. Pets? I guess, but I don’t think of them that way. The birds? Definitely not. I make myself useful to the hawks when we’re out hunting; we strike a bargain – if the human produces slips (opportunities on game), then the hawk will stay interested.
  • Q: It brings the game back? A: No. (We’ll put aside some of the things I’ve heard you can do with Merlins). Carrying (flying off with the game) is a vice – a bad thing. They stay put and allow you to approach them (it’s called ‘making in’).
  • You may have gotten the sense already that falconry is a vocabulary-rich undertaking. True. Even better, much of the vocabulary has been essentially unchanged for hundreds of years – rich gravy for lovers of good words.

If you are interested in finding out more about the sport, permit me to recommend Stephen Bodio’s A Rage for Falcons. It’s a fantastic overview – not a how-to (those exist too), but a why-to.

Folks who don’t know from falconry, please understand that writing the paragraphs above was more than a little stress inducing. Folks who do know – if there’s something you don’t like, or that you’d like to add, please comment.

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My nom-de-blog, Dr. Hypercube – what’s up with that? First, I’m neither an MD nor a PhD. Also, not multidimensional (beyond three + time). A year ago, as I was starting to blog, I was also setting up a test network. I needed a bunch of host names and rather than do something boring, I decided to use monster names. It was a decent sized net (VMWare rules!); I went to the Kaiju Big Battel web site to replenish my monster supply. From there, it was no leap at all to Dr. Cube – my first modification, Dr. Tesseract, was just too obscure. Hey, presto – Dr. H!

Hooray for Kaiju: professional wrasslin’ moves + crazy monster suits + cardboard buildings in the squared circle = hilarity.

On the subject of anonymity – I thought originally that it might be a good idea. As I did more and more blogging, I cared about anonymity less and less. At this point, if you want to know my real name it’s about four clicks away.

Update - ‘The squared circle’ is the way pro wrasslers refer to the ring. Real wrestling (no make-up, completely trashed ears) is done on a mat within a circle. The pro show is done in a (modified for bounce, I think) boxing ring- a square. Those two factoids plus high school geometry yield a great phrase for the likes of Mean Gene Okerlund.

Update on Dinah

She’s settling in well – still up twice in the night for a pee break, usually midnight and three. I’d forgotten just how quickly puppies change at this age. She’s gone from falling over herself every tenth step to trotting through the woods behind the big dogs and hopping over small logs like she knows what she’s doing. Some pictures of her for your amusement…

The arrival:

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On duty at work:

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Expect most pictures, for the next few months at least, to be of a sleeping dog. When she’s awake, I usually don’t have time to snap away.

I yam what I yam

So, I sees a commoiskill on teevee last night for a reissue of Fleischer Studios’ Popeye cartoons – “Blow me down!” I says. Vol. 1 will be on it’s way to me when my next paycheck hits! Then BoingBoing features this suitably bizarre clip, “Popeye vs. the Anime”. ‘Uck, ‘uck, ‘uck, ‘uck, ‘uck.

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Achewood note

I love Achewood. I fell over it quite some time ago – the Google returned a link to the Great Outdoor Fight main page (I have no idea what the search string I used was – NSA folks – could you look it up for me please?); I followed the trail to the world of Ray, Roast Beef, Phillipe and company and never looked back. I’d move to Achewood if I could, but something tells me that’s not gonna happen.

I realized this morning that Chris Onstad is running a big sale on signed strips and that the sale was almost over. There’s been a strip I’ve wanted on my wall since I read it – no time like the present to order same. I think it’ll hang in my office at home, but I may put it up near the server racks at work.