A little open water swimming

Gary Sredzienski – local accordion celeb and polka maven – recently took a dip in the ocean. He swam the 6 miles from Odiorne Point to Appledore Island to raise money for the Krempels Brain Injury Foundation. Lest anyone think this is a one-time thing, Gary swims daily, year-round, in the saltwater creeks and back channels round here. I like open water swimming as much as (just about) anyone, but it’s a little too brisk for me this time of year.


Full disclosure – I’m at 1 (2?) degree of separation from Gary – the Serf’s drummer is a friend of mine.

The Reserve

A bad review that make me want to read the book.

Compare Kakutani:

Vanessa Cole is a parody of the crazy femme fatale, a woman, Mr. Banks would have us believe, so beautiful that men are willing to overlook her obvious mental illness.

with Bad New Hughes:

Sure, she’s good-lookin’. She’s also crazy. Crazy as a shithouse rat. Run for your life.

I’m with Uncle Patrick on this one. Parody? Hah.

While looking to see if the NYRB had weighed in on Mr. Banks’ latest, I came across:

In Japan neglected or abandoned blogs are called ishikoro, pebbles. *

Completely unrelated to Banks, but too nice a word to pass unmentioned.

Test, then code

Patrick (in general) and a recent post by Steve (in particular) have got me thinking about closed registries, genetic diversity and dog breeding. Some of what I’m about to say is a rehash of other thoughts I’ve posted – sorry for any redundancy – them’s the breaks.

Let me start my explaining the title of the post. Years ago, I attended a software quality assurance training session led by Roger Pressman. The biggest single point I took away? Define the test plan before you start developing software (easier said than done). If you agree with the user on testing – “When I do X, I want Y to happen” – the folks developing the software have a clear statement of what they need to implement. What I call the ‘problem of intent’ remains (to be posted on someday), but letting the test plan drive requirements definition is a neat little bit of ju-jitsu.

You can generalize this idea to good effect: for things with definable endpoints like software development, bike design and dog breeding, define the desired outcome, then measure your work against the definition. In a nutshell – I don’t care how you get there, produce the dog I want.

Here’s my work in process definition of the versatile boreal cover dog:

  • Points feather instinctively. Points in a way that maximizes safety and shooting opportunities (I’m talking staunchness here).
  • Retrieves or indicates downed game (I’m a little more lax than some here, partly because I hawk and partly because ducking in the north really needs a dog focused on that activity).
  • Works at a cover-appropriate range.
  • Able to work in hour and a half blocks without problems.
  • Biddable/trainable.
  • Temperamentally solid.
  • Will blood track.
  • Genetically sound.
  • Between 20″ and 25″ at the shoulder.

Nothing in there about coat color or type, weight, ear or tail carriage, who mom and dad are registered with, etc. All of those things, while interesting if you are trying to differentiate your dog from others, are not central to the task at hand – helping the hunter bring game home. How might the Global Boreal Pointing Dog Certification Association* evaluate dogs? First off – against a standard. If your dog does x, y and z, (finds game, points it and is steady to wing and shot, for example), your dog qualifies on that portion of the evaluation. If your dog misses something entirely – bumps every bird it finds perhaps – you get a DNQ. If your dog does a fantastic job – handles, steady to wing, shot and fall, etc. – maybe you get a Q+. I’d want to include some obedience work – perhaps an AKC Canine Good Citizen/UKC Novice mashup – key element: the dog will listen to the handler and work calmly in the presence of another working dog. Finally, I’d want to have a genetic metric – something that would represent the overall genetic health of the dog. This sounds tough on the face of it, but if I’m not mistaken, it’s something that happens all the time in zoos and wildlife recovery efforts. For an individual dog, it would be a representation of the relatedness of the dog’s ancestors and would be a number you could generate for a litter before a breeding takes place.

It would be interesting – and good for the dogs – to develop a pointing dog land-race, as exists – at least for the moment – for gazehounds across Asia and the Middle East. The same model could be applied to earthdogs, stockdogs – any working dog (seems to be already there for working livestock protection dogs).

A breeder with brass ones could do a lot of this today. Test with NAVHDA, do obedience work w/ UKC (you might have to do some footwork to gin up a registry) and sit down with someone who manages a big cat studbook to figure out the genetics. My sequence would go like this: hit the lottery, buy the Walton Ford book, book a flight to the high Altai (see if Steve wanted to come) and bring back some Taigan, then develop the Indian Stream pointing mongrel. I’m having problems with step 1.

* Pretty impressive name for a non-existent entity, eh?

What am I missing?

Talks in New York with the unnamed banks are part of Insurance Superintendent Eric Dinallo’s effort to stabilize the bond guarantors and bolster the market’s finances, said agency spokesman Andrew Mais in an interview. Insurers MBIA Inc. gained 33 percent in New York trading and Ambac Financial Group Inc. soared 72 percent.

New capital may help preserve the top credit ratings for the bond guarantors such as MBIA, the industry’s largest, and halt any erosion of investor confidence in the $2.4 trillion of assets they guarantee. Ambac, MBIA’s biggest rival, lost its AAA grade from Fitch Ratings this month on concerns that losses tied to subprime mortgages may increase. *

Let me see if I’ve got this straight… Banks/financial institutions hold a lot of iffy CDOs (aka Big Shitpile/matryoshka lemons) – bundles of loans that likely contain sub-prime stuff that may default. They’ve covered themselves against the possibility of the loans going bad by buying insurance from monoline insurers (MBIA and Ambac are the ones in the news). Now, loans are going bad – it’s hitting the fan. The worry shifts to the insurers – how are they going to make good? Because folks are thinking that the MBIAs of the world aren’t going to be able to cover the CDO losses, their stock price tanks. Low stock price = even less capital in reserve at the insurers. If the monoline insurers go tango uniform (toes-up tits-up – de-bowdlerized by audience request), the balance sheets of the institutions holding the CDOs take awful hits. So, lets have the banks (some of whom have got to be holding the paper in question) bail out the people who are insuring them.

Seems a bit circular to me – my guess – only a matter of time before I, as a taxpayer, have the privilege of bailing out Wall Street…

Update – check the comments if you are interested in the topic. Prof. Kleiman replies to my email query:

…if the monolines’ guarantees are seen to be worthless, the shitpile grows. (I love “matryoshka lemons,” by the way.) And they could suffer from a kind of “run on the bank” even if they’re actually solvent. So it’s possible that pumping more equity capital in would actually stabilize the situtation, whether it’s the banks’ capital or someone else’s. But the banks have an especially strong reason to want to stanch the bleeding.

Follow up and new stuff

I am adding new tags to my posts – starting immediately and as I feel like it, I’ll use Chas’ post typology. I’m going to enhance and extend** a bit:

Type1 – !warning – minimal original content!, other than perhaps an “Ooh, shiny!” from yrs truly.

Type2 – what I did on my summer vacation feat. Deep Thoughts. In other words, things I’m thinking about.

Type3 – eats.

So, the first official type1:

Quite some time ago I posted on the work of Walton Ford. I clicked to the Taschen Books web site yesterday and on the home page? Info about Pancha Tantra, a beautiful bestiary. “Bruegel by way of Borges” indeed – I wish I could afford a copy (n.b. if I could afford a copy, I likely would not be working a “normal” job).


Read this (and the comments). It’s caused me to read some new-to-me Orwell, re-read a bunch of T. S. Eliot and think a little more…

** “enhance and extend” is oftentimes IT-corporatespeak for pervert and make proprietary.

A walk with the dogs

Inspired by the use of flickrSLiDR at Curious Expeditions, I took my camera with me when Dinah, Janey and I headed out for a stroll this morning. Boone stayed home by the wood stove – he’s had a tough couple days (just old age stuff) and neither he nor I were interested in running the oldster into the ground. So, my slide show of dogs ‘n woods:

More LOC Flickr

All Library of Congress photos tagged “newmexico” here.

This is gorgeous – I had to post it:


And these pictures remind me of a favorite movie – Where the Rivers Flow North – though these shots are 14 years after the time portrayed in the film. Put it on your to-see list – Rip Torn and Tantoo Cardinal are fantastic in it. Cardinal especially – her character talks in a way I’ve heard just a couple of times – from really old Quebecois/native woods folk.
Backstage at the girlie show:


The barker:


Bring it! The Library of Congress Flickrstream:





Above: Lewis Tewanima



Via WWdN.

Update – this sounds interesting:


Sir Genille, twelfth Baronet of his line, has had a checkered career. Born a second son of the eleventh Baronet he ran away to set [sea?] in 1883 when 13 years old, later enlisting as a private in the army and fighting in several battles in Egypt, was wounded, captured and escaped. After a sad experience with money lenders in London [!], he hunted big game in Africa, wandered about the Orient and finally turned up in San Francisco. Society made a fuss over him but he disappeared to be found again, this time in Kansas City, as a day laborer. * (warning – pdf)

A variation

“I’m an angry Rhesus brain controlling a titanium body, from the government and I’m here to help.”

I don’t think this was the kind of robot (OK, properly this one’s a cyborg) overlord that Rogers was imagining. Unfortunately, given the way the world works, I think it’s a lot more likely that machine-phase overlords will turn out to be upset simians rather than cool, dispassionate intelligences. And just to clarify – I mean a different species of upset simian…


This should be a lot of fun – and it’s practically in my back yard. Frogs, the Black Jungle greenhouses (carnivorous plants, orchids, various and sundry exotics) and perhaps a good field trip or two. Plans right now are for “camping” at Erving State Forest. There are those who feel that no room service = camping – I’m on the other end of the spectrum. Running water and toilets? Lap ‘o luxury.