Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Blogwriting Analysis

Handwriting Analysis

What does your handwriting say about YOU?

The results of your analysis say:

You plan ahead, and are interested in beauty, design, outward appearance, and symmetry.
You are a social person who likes to talk and meet others.
You are affectionate, passionate, expressive, and future-oriented.
You are a talkative person, maybe even a busybody!
You enjoy life in your own way and do not depend on the opinions of others.

Well, Madcap, I got the "busybody" thing too. And I am definitely not talkative; ask anyone I know - they'll tell you all about how I just sit back and blend into the furnishings at a party (if I even go), and they might mention how they haven't seen me in ages, and then when I did show up at a church event I kept babbling on about all sorts of trivial things that happen in my daily life . . .

Hmm. Maybe I've changed. Or maybe I need to get out more.

That first item in the results actually struck me as pretty accurate, but hehehe, look at my hasty, unplanned, asymmetrical scribble there. Seems pretty clear to me that you could take the handwriting test without even doing the writing part - just answer the questions according to your dream vision of your own handwriting, and away you go.

Now for the more interesting analysis. The data: I got up shortly after 5:30 a.m. this morning, hurried through some breakfast and then worked fast and hard all day (well, I did pause to eat a sandwich, while standing in the yard beside the concrete forms and wondering if we would have everything ready before the ready-mix truck showed up), finally sat down to some pizza (kindly ordered in by my brother-in-law) sometime after 7:30 p.m., creaked my way back up out of the chair and went back out to tidy up in the yard and make sure all the freshly troweled concrete was covered up to keep it wet, came in, went to bed, got up thirsty, asked why the computer was still on, and wound up here in the midst of this blog post at 11 p.m. What does all this say about me?

Friday, June 22, 2007

Illich and My Garden

I found an archive of writing by Ivan Illich. I love his analysis of the number of hours put into owning and operating a car in a year, and the mileage gotten out of it. Divide the miles by the hours and you get about five miles per hour. Might as well walk!

This summer I have been resorting to a lot of powered and packaged conveniences in hopes of completing a renovation project quickly, before winter comes swirling in through the gaping hole that will soon be cut in the house wall. Ultimately that hole should let in a lot of sunlight and help keep the house warm, but only after a lot of framing and roofing and installing of windows and such. I'm in a hurry, and Dad has the tools, so I'm using them.

But I couldn't give up my garden, not even for one season. This winter I tried out the Ecological Footprint Calculator and realized that the environmental impact of food transportation is even larger than I thought. So I garden, stubbornly. There are some pictures over at my garden blog. I used to call it The Daily Bed, but now it's The Occasional Bed - still just as many beds, but less time talking.


On the part of the tree, that is.

Here you see Dad in his tractor, pushing at the roots of our chokecherry tree from yet another angle. He has already chewed a pair of six- or eight-inch deep tire holes in the lawn near the centre of the picture, and another pair off to the left out of sight. He stopped several times to cut roots with his chain saw.

It was big for a chokecherry, but chokecherries don't usually even qualify as trees; they're more of a shrub. I couldn't find a good photo of the tree before our onslaught, but this photo gives an idea.

Such a tree-killer I am. We could have just trimmed it back, to get the trucks past it to dump gravel and pour concrete behind the garage, but once I started looking at it closely, I realized that a good pruning to take off all the black knot wouldn't have left much tree. Maybe I'll replace it with an Evans cherry in the next year or two.

So now I look at all that blue sky, and the corpse of the tree shoved over against the garden, and I wonder.

How many gigantic Carboniferous trees went into the fuel for the chainsaw and tractor to take down one Holocene chokecherry?

(Oh, I know, they say the Carboniferous trees went mostly to coal, and the petroleum came mostly from sea creatures, Foraminifera or something. But you get my drift . . . oh, never mind. I'm in a bad mood.)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Ready or Not

Use the front door these days, folks.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Sibling Friendliness: Only If You're a Plant

Experiments at McMaster University have turned up evidence that plants are more friendly toward their siblings than toward unrelated plants. Fascinating stuff, but I'm not sure I agree with the comments in the article about implications for gardening. If growing near strangers causes plants to grow more root mass, is that a bad thing? I'm thinking a little bit of competition early on (maybe eased by thinning a bit later), might make all the plants more vigorous underground, so they would be better prepared to deal with drought.

You would think, after all these weeks trying to garden in sticky mud, I would quit worrying about drought.

Nope. I'm from Saskatchewan.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

The Science Commons

Oh, at last! When I was a biology student, online publishing of scientific literature was just hitting the mainstream. I was excited to think that, in a few years when I was out in the world somewhere away from a university library, I would be able to browse through all this vast array of scientific knowledge and delve deeper into anything that intrigued me.

But even before I left the sheltered wonder of the university, I was quickly losing sight of my dream behind a wall of insurmountable subscription fees. No individual of modest means could possibly aspire to maintain subscriptions to more than a handful of journals. Yet important research papers are scattered across literally hundreds of journals, making it virtually impossible to stay broadly informed without membership in an institution that can afford the subscriptions. And where do those fees go? How could it possibly cost the publishers that much to put a journal online? There must be some enormous profits involved here.

Today, as I dreamed, I can browse through the entire vast array of newly published scientific literature right here at my computer in small-town Saskatchewan. But as soon as an article catches my interest, I come up against that subscription wall. Sometimes Google can find me something similar, but if I want the real thing, I have a choice between an absurd per-article download fee and a two-hour drive to Regina to read it at the university library.

Now, at last, there is an effort to change that. The Public Library of Science is offering a new model that makes scientific literature freely available to all. The Creative Commons website has an interview with one of its founders, Berkeley biologist Michael Eisen, that lays out the rich potential and urgent need for this approach.

I almost want to be a scientist again.

UPDATE: SimplyTim has suggested another repository of free literature, in the medical and life sciences: PubMed Central. I took a quick glance down the first page of the journal title list, and decided I don't dare dig deeper there until the snow flies. Thanks Tim!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Latest from Percy Schmeiser

Through the Environment News Service (see sidebar), I just happened upon an intriguing new video:

Soil: The Secret Solution to Global Warming

from an intriguing new (to me) website:

Quantum Shift TV

In fact, Internet TV is new to me, and I haven't been able to get past a download hitch at about 10 minutes into the video. The first nine minutes had some frustrating questionable generalizations, and some familiar faces whose pronouncements I take with a few grains of salt, but the overall direction seemed plausible and I wanted to hear some more. Any tips on getting the entire video to download?