Error Messages


Good morning Everyone!

Uh Oh!  Photo Credit:  www.clickartonline.com

Uh Oh!
Photo Credit: http://www.clickartonline.com

Anyone who uses a computer has encountered error messages.  While the worst of these is the blue screen of death – a blank page with a single “>” blinking in the top left corner, other messages make me certain that either the computer or its engineers have a warped sense of humor.

Message One:  Windows has encountered an improper argument.

Every time I get this one, I think,”Join the club.”  I didn’t realize that Windows was raising a 13-year-old too!

Message Two:  The trust relationship between this workstation and the primary domain is broken.

Really?  What did the workstation do?  It must have been bad – the primary domain was unrelenting.  Candy, flowers, cards and sweet messages were not sufficient to restore the trust relationship.    A shotgun blast at the primary domain would not have done so either – although it would have been cathartic both for me and the workstation!

Message Three:  Please do not turn off or power down your computer.

This message does not appear during regular business hours, when I will be using my computer for hours  but only when I am trying to turn my computer off so I can take it somewhere with me.  The odds of the message appearing and the amount of time the computer wants me to wait are directly proportional to the degree of my lateness.

Honorable Mention:  Please begin walking to turn the machine on. 

I received this message from an elliptical exercise machine – while I was walking on it.  Exercise is hard enough without a trash-talking machine!

Have a great day!

Nancy

Symbiosis: Lichen


Good morning Everyone!

Today we are going to take a walk into improbable reality:  the lichen.  While we tend to think of and treat lichen as one organism, it actually is composed of two (or more) organisms living together for each other’s benefit:  a fungus and an alga.  The fungus provides structure, support and water for the lichen, while the alga produces food through photosynthesis.  Because of this symbiosis, lichen are not considered to be plants.  (They aren’t animals either, nor minerals – so how do you answer the question “Is it animal, vegetable or mineral?” when it comes to lichen?)

Lichen, Wood

Lichen on Firewood by a House, Photo Credit: Nancy Eady

I became curious about lichen while we were living in our rental house.  The house owner had cut up a tree on the property, and placed the logs by the house.  Over time, rows and rows of fan-like shapes began to grow on the ends of the logs.  I took a picture of them, above.  As best I could determine, they were a kind of lichen.

Lichen Wood

Lichen in Wood, Photo Credit: Nancy Eady

Lichen are ancient survivors.  The oldest known fossil showing both symbiotic components of a lichen is 400 million years old, FN,  so it stands to reason that lichens are even older – it is highly unlikely that the first ever lichen was also the first lichen fossilized!  The variety and distribution of lichen is astounding.  There are over 20,000 known forms.  There are lichen that can colonize the most inhospitable of places, such as bare rock in the arctic, lichen that process and help break down inorganic matter such as wood, and lichen that seem to drift airily down in strands off of bushes and live off of the air.

Lichen, Letharia

Feathery Lichen. Photo Credit: Letharia vulpina JHollinger crop” by Jason Hollinger – Mushroom Observer. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Lichen can live for astoundingly long periods of time; in fact, one lichen from the arctic circle is estimated to be 9000 years old!  I keep looking for a picture of this ancient lichen, but I haven’t located one yet.  I do know that the ancient arctic lichen is a member of what are commonly called “map lichen.”  As you can see, they get their name from the shapes they form on rocks, which resemble maps.  Their growth rate is incredibly slow, yet predictable, so they can be useful tools in dating other objects.  The use of lichen to date objects is called “lichenometry.”

Lichen, Rock, Map Lichen, Arctic

Map Lichen Photo Credit: Rhizocarpon geographicum on quartz” by User:Tigerente – Self-photographed. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Lichen also provide scientists with helpful information about air pollution; most lichen are highly sensitive to air pollution, so if there is an area that normally would host lichen, yet has none, the air quality around the area is likely poor.

Aaliyah Gupta, Lichen, Acrylic on Duralar

Lichen, Acrylic on Duralar, By Aaliyah Gupta, Copied with Permission from the Artist

I have a friend in Seattle who is an artist, Aaliyah Gupta, and she worked on a series a few years ago exploring the symbiosis that creates lichen.  Her work is stunningly beautiful, delicate and unique, capturing the intricacies of a symbiotic dance that has persisted through the ages.

Aaliyah Gupta, Lichen

Lichen, by Aaliyah Gupta, Acrylic on Duralar, All Rights Reserved, Copied with Permission from the Artist

God’s handiwork is astounding.  Nature’s variety and inventiveness is unparalleled.  Taking the time to learn about other organisms on this planet always pays dividends – if only to make us realize how privileged we are to be part of the complex web of life traveling on Spaceship Earth!

Have a great day everyone!

Nancy

 

FN.  400 million years ago was the “Early Devonian Period.”  During the Early Devonian, plants and animals began to colonize land, while aquatic life was farther along and more diverse.  In other words, lichen pre-date dinosaurs, flowers, trees and grass!

Hobbits, anyone?


Good morning Everyone!

As we drove to the store yesterday, to the complete and utter mystification of everyone in the car, Kayla announced,”I need a hobbit!”   To aid her obviously befuddled parents, she added helpfully, “You  know, like soccer or knitting or something.”

Knitting Needles, knitting

Knitting, anyone?

When we explained to her that she meant the word “hobby,” her eyes widened and she said, “No wonder my teachers looked at me so strangely when I told them.”

 

My suggestion that she take up the hobby of studying more for school was not met with enthusiasm.

Have a great day!

Nancy

Just Hangin’ – The History of the Humble Coat Hanger


Good morning Everyone!

Have you ever looked at one of the objects that we use without thinking every day, and wondered who came up with the invention?  I do, and yesterday as I was putting the empty coat hangers from my clothes for the day into my closet (yes, Mark, I do remember to do that occasionally!) I suddenly wondered where coat hangers come from.

Several websites (all of whom, I think, were copying Wikipedia’s entry) say that Thomas Jefferson was believed to have invented a forerunner of the wooden clothes hanger.  However, the foremost authority on all things Thomas Jefferson, the Monticello website, disagrees.  According to the Monticello web site, there is no evidence that Thomas Jefferson invented the individual clothes hangers similar to what we use today, but he did invent the most ingenious closet gadget which allowed him to hang and access over 48 sets of coats, waist coats and other clothing easily.  While the device did not survive the ravages of time, the researchers at Monticello, relying on help from The Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia have come up with a conjectural drawing of what this revolving closet might have looked like.

Thomas Jefferson, coat hanger, clothes rack

Thomas Jefferson’s Revolving Closet Rack
From http://www.monticello.org

Apparently, one of the first patents for a device similar to today’s coat hangers was issued in 1869 to O.A. North, from New Britain Connecticut.  unfortunately, I haven’t been able to locate that patent or the drawing that should be with the patent – records that old at the United States Patent Office are listed by year, classification and patent number only rather than by key word.  Over 13,000 patents were issued in 1869 alone!

Until 1903, coat hangers were made of wood supported by other materials.  The ubiquitous wire coat hanger was apparently first designed by Albert J. Parkhouse in 1903.  Parkhouse was an employee of the Timberlake Wire and Novelty Company in Jackson, Michigan.  His co-employees were unhappy because the company did not have enough coat hooks, so many of their heavy winter coats would fall to the floor during their work shift.  Mr. Parkhouse grabbed a length of wire, twisted it so that one end had a hook on it, there were two ovals below that, and then the other end of the wire was twisted around the stem of the hook.

Coat Hanger, Patent. Invention

The First Wire Coat Hanger

In keeping with the custom of the day, Parkhouse’s employer, Timberlake, patented the idea and reaped the profits.  After a few years, Albert Parkhouse  (perhaps realizing that it is cold in Michigan in winter and not that cold somewhere else) moved his family to Los Angeles where he started his own wire novelty company.  He died at the age of 48 from a ruptured ulcer.

Over the years, many other patents have been issued for designs that improved the original one, to where today the variety of coat hangers is overwhelming.  However, the wire coat hanger is the champion of them all, beloved by dry cleaners everywhere and collecting in our closets in prolific amounts.

Many  Hangers Photogrpah by:  "Grucce" by A7N8X - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Grucce.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Grucce.jpg

Many Hangers
Photograph by:
“Grucce” by A7N8X – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Have a great day!

Nancy

 

An Open Letter to Mother Nature


 

From the Boston Area:

In Boston Photo Courtesy of Corriveau family

In Boston
Photo Courtesy of Corriveau family

Dear Mother Nature:

CUT IT OUT!

Sincerely,

The Lower 48 of the United States.

From Huntsville, Alabama

Huntsville, Alabama Photograph by Kelly Kazek at al.com

Huntsville, Alabama
Photograph by Kelly Kazek at al.com

From the Las Vegas Area:

Las Vegas Suburb Photograph by Jeff Scheid, Law Vegas Review Journal

Las Vegas Suburb
Photograph by Jeff Scheid, Law Vegas Review Journal

 

Lost in Translation


Good morning Everyone!

I was writing  yesterday’s morning post with my habitual glass of Diet Coke beside me when Kayla approached with a straw in her hand.  Being the prescient parent that I am, I knew what she wanted, so immediately said,” Do not drink my drink.  There is an unopened can in the kitchen.”  (It’s not that I mind giving my daughter drinks, but I loathe the thought of her drinking from a drink I’m drinking; all I can think about are all the germs she encounters during the day at school and I at work and how I don’t want to share either with her.  And it’s a territorial thing, too.)

Since she’s not deaf, I know she heard me.   Did she turn on her heel and go forth to the kitchen?  Of course not.

Looking straight at me, she leaned down to put her straw in my drink.

I try hard not to get mad with Kayla in the morning, doing my best to be sure she starts her day off well.  A good friend gave me that advice, although she also warned me there would be mornings when I would be biting my tongue in half if I tried it.  It is a good idea and I have tried my best, but when Kayla ignored me yesterday I lost it.

I slammed my hand down on the sofa’s arm and shouted through gritted teeth, “Stop!  Quit ignoring me!” (What I really wanted to do was clutch my drink to my chest and shout “Mine!  Mine!  Mine!”)

Shocked, she wailed, “I just wanted some of your drink!”

I snarled,” And I told you  no, go get some from the can in the kitchen.”

The child had the nerve to answer, “Well, you don’t need to get all mad; I didn’t understand you!”

In keeping with the whole “bite-my-tongue” thing, I did not suggest that then perhaps she should attend English as a second language classes but let the moment pass so she could finish getting ready for her day.

It is a matter of record that she did not try to drink from my drink the rest of the morning.

Have a great day!

Nancy

 

 

 

Occupational Hazards


Good morning Everyone!

Do you remember all the news reports from a year or so ago that the National Security Agency was “mining” everything Americans write or post online in their quest to prevent terrorism?  Whether it’s true or false, I have always maintained that the banality of my e-mails, cell phones and online messages (with the exception of this blog, of course!) was more than enough to punish any governmental official who is attempting to comb them for information.

When you watch one of the many shows on TV these days that show real life murder investigations, don’t you want to scream at the perpetrator for being stupid when one of the ways he or she gets caught is because he or she googled “how to murder my _______ without getting caught” in formulating their plans on their home computer?  I mean, really!  That’s almost as clueless as was the Wicca-adherent-gone-mad out West who listed the phone number of the man she killed under the label “sacrifice” on her cell phone!  (Yes, that is a true story, by the way.)

I am working on my second mystery novel.  The first, currently called Sleight of Hand  is finished but needs more editing.  Because my plot requires a victim to be murdered by arsenic, I needed to find out where you could get arsenic, how it is used, how it is detected and what it does to its victims and how soon.  I also needed to learn whether there are any medications which are powders taken before meals.  and what kinds of crops are grown in North Dakota.  (Curiouser and curiouser, yes?)  So what do I turn to?  Google!  (Which, of course, led me swiftly to the information I need.)

With queries in my cache now like “how to murder using arsenic” and “where to get arsenic” I now am praying that no one in my household gets even a stomach virus for the next twenty years and am considering hiring a taster for more insurance!  I can just see the conversation now – “Well you see, officer, it’s like this….”  I at least hope that my searches provided a rare flash of interest to the poor NSA employee in charge of mining my data.

Maybe all those people on Investigation Discovery were innocent after all!

Have a great day!

Nancy

Time Lapse


Good morning Everyone!

2004, Age 3

Kayla, right after she came to live with us
Kayla, right after she came to live with us

2015, Age 13

Kayla, 2015

Kayla, 2015

Enough said.

Have a great day!

Nancy

Telephone


Good morning Everyone!

Antique Telephone

How many of you remember the game “telephone”?  Somewhere between 2nd and 6th grade, a teacher, troop leader or other adult in charge of a group of children (because we kids would never have done something like this on our own – we had better games to play!) would have us all either stand or sit in a line.  Then the leader would whisper something to the first child in the line, and that something was whispered all the way down the line to the last child, where the final result was announced.  Usually the message had changed drastically by the time it reached the last person in line.

We had the Middle School version of telephone here the other day.  Kayla called me after school to announce proudly “We were on soft lock down today!”  Apparently, a soft lock down permits the activities of the normal school day to continue with some added locked doors and things.  I asked her if it had been a drill, and she was pleased to tell me that no, the lock down was for real.  She said that at one point, helicopters flying over head shook her school room.

An astute parent such as myself would realize that at this point, Kayla was eager to tell me more, so I made her day by asking about it.  The version at the Middle School was that three men had escaped from prison (and she informed me that escaped prisoners were much worse than men who escaped from jail), and had been seen in one of the lower-income neighborhoods around the school.  However, one of the men had only one leg and he had been captured.

Later on that evening, to help her feel better, I conducted a web search to find out the whole story.  One man had escaped from the Crenshaw County jail on January 2, and someone thought they had seen him in our town walking down a road at 5 a.m. the day of the lock down.  The Middle School got one thing right:  he did have only one leg; the other was a prosthetic.  Three prisoners had escaped from some other jail in Alabama on December 24, but all three of them had been captured quickly.

Have a great day!

Nancy

Next!


Good morning Everyone!

I had to have some blood drawn for a test the other day, and so the doctor sent me over to a lab facility connected with the hospital.  When you entered the waiting room there, you went to the receptionist window at the far end of the waiting room, signed in your name and time, and you were given a number.

Since I arrived at 4:15 on a slow day, I duly received my number and sat down – to an entirely empty waiting room.  I waited for a few minutes, and the door to the lab offices opened and the tech stepped out.  Looking around the empty waiting room, she saw me.  She then looked away from me, and called out into the empty room “#79?”

I couldn’t help it – I thought it was funny.

Have a great day!

Nancy