Monday, April 28, 2008

Click Beetle

Click beetles mate during the first few weeks of spring in Maine. During this time they are very visible, usually perching prominently on the ends of twigs and leaves. Or in this case, on the end of a bottle of Elmer's glue in our yard. Click beetles are probably the coolest creatures God has ever created. Click beetles are my personal favorite bugs of all time. If Click beetles would let me have them as pets, I would do it. I would like to talk to Click beetles on a daily basis and ask them how their day has been and ask them if there is anything they need at the grocery store.

Soda Fired Whiskey Bottles

These bottles were fired at the end of March at the soda/salt kiln at the Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts in Edgecomb, Maine under the expert supervision of my wife, Lori Keenan Watts, who knows how to do this shit. I stood around in the snow and drank PBRs and made dumb jokes and got a third degree burn which my beloved then made fun of in her artsy-fartsy blog.

Visualize Sprouting Peas !!!

Peas sprouted today. 4/28/08.

I planted them Saturday, April 19th.

Note the 9 foot maple branches that will support the "Telephone Pole" shell peas and the "Mammoth Melting" snow peas. These were purloined from the psychiatrist's office across the street before they went into the wood chipper.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Big's Big Spring Day

Big came outside today, April 17th.
Big is 22 years old.
Big is the turtle child of Peter Washburn,
who rescued him from Duke University in 1986.
Big is sometimes a bit odd.
Every day for Big is a Big Day.
Big is called Big
because he is bigger than Red.
Who is redder than Big.
Big is very pleased that Barry Ritholtz
has made an entire huge website about Big.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Oliver Willis

"Reacting like a scared ninny to the prospect of Republicans saying bad things about you has been a recipe for Democratic failure for almost half of my life."

-- Oliver Willis.

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Weather Does Everything

Courtesy of commenter "Yalt" at Calculated Risk:

“Unseasonably cooler weather created a challenging sales environment for many apparel retailers last month,” said NRF Chief Economist Rosalind Wells. (4/14/08).

Warm weather blamed for first retail sales slip in 18 months (Independent, 11/16/01)

Mild weather blamed for slowing retail sales growth (Independent, 12/20/02)

"Retailers on Thursday reported sluggish sales for August, as store chains blamed adverse weather..." (CNN/Money, 9/2/04)

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Retailers on Thursday reported sluggish sales for August, as store chains blamed adverse weather and a late Labor Day for hurting back-to-school business. (9/2/04)

Weather blamed for slow economy (AP, 1/16/06)

Hot weather blamed for cool retail sales (USA Today, 10/11/07)

Worst Retail Sales Gains in 37 Years - Blame The Weather! (Reuters, 1/9/08)

Friday, April 11, 2008


Just finished reading Stonehenge, Biography of a Landscape, by Timothy Darvill. It is excellent. He's an archaeologist who knows his Stonehenge and all of the remarkable barrows and earthworks from 5,000 B.C. that surround the chalklands between the Avon and Till Rivers in Wessex, southwestern England.

In the end, Mr. Darvill concurs with Nigel Tufnel's summation from This is Spinal Tap:

Nobody knows who they were
Or what they were doing
But their legacy remains
Hewn into the living rock
Of Stonehenge.

Kick My Ass, Please ...

BRUNSWICK, Maine (AP) — Thousands of acres on midcoast clam flats are closed because the state failed to complete shoreline surveys that are required by the federal government.

More than 50 commercial clamdiggers in the Boothbay Harbor region have not been able to dig clams because of the lapse.

"We are really cornered right now," said David Cheney, a clam digger from Bristol.

The flats were closed when officials learned that the staff person assigned to the region failed to complete the surveys, said David Etnier, deputy commissioner for the state Department of Marine Resources. The staffer, who was not named, retired in January.

The surveys must be completed every 12 years to comply with Food and Drug Administration and National Shellfish Program requirements. The surveys involve property-by-property assessments of potential pollution sources, such as failing septic systems or illegal washing machine discharges.

The FDA started to pressure the state last year when the missing surveys were discovered, Etnier said. The FDA has been monitoring the DMR’s shellfish program since 2004, citing concerns about understaffing, he said.

"From their point of view, this was unacceptable," he said.

Monday, April 07, 2008

James Brown Teaches You How to Dance

Rexl asks:

i hear these photos are black and white and then colored by artists at nasa or somewhere, so the colors are someone's imagination. right?

The large showpiece Hubble Telescope images are composites of multiple exposures (each one often taking many hours). They are all digital, meaning that the actual light gathered through the telescope lens is creating a bunch of zeros and ones in computer file, rather than creating a bunch of darkened silver iodide molecules (photographic plates). Color film itself is basically three chemical gels which are sensitive to three colors (magenta, cyan, yellow) that are then blended to reproduce something approaching what our eyes appear to see.

It's really complicated. Google Hubble Space Telescope and image details to learn more.