Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year !!

ANTARCTICA FUN FACTS -- Ice cores drilled into the ice of Antarctica exhibit the presence of microbial life at all levels. Recent electron scanning microscope studies of these micro-fossils have revealed numerous forms that are not immediately identifiable. Russian scientists have been able to revive and culture bacteria, yeast, fungi, and other microbes found in ice cores that carbon date to more than 200,000 years old! This is reminiscent of the bacteria that were found surviving in hibernation on the U.S. Surveyor moon lander that was retrieved by the Apollo astronauts, having outlasted the airless and hostile lunar environment for almost three years! Clearly, microbial life "goes on and on and on..." The implications of this ability of microbial life to be "long-suffering" are certainly provocative in terms of biologic viability in the extreme environments beyond Earth. (Source: Life in Extreme Environments: Antarctica)

Seattle Christmas

Here are some pictures of Christmas visit fun. The first is of Dad standing in the window dressed as a skeleton hoping to scare the kids when they drove up. But they're on to his wiley ways. The rest are of playing with new scooters/bikes and the pug.

Just click on the image below for a larger view suitable for download.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Contraband Wine

I'm catching up on the news, having not paid much attention for the past few days. And as if reading my mind, I came across this little ditty in the NYTimes today:

The Airport Security Follies
By Patrick Smith
Dec 28, 2007, 6:52 pm

The clincher (as pertains to my poor wine bottle):
At every concourse checkpoint you’ll see a bin or barrel brimming with contraband containers...Now, the assumption has to be that the materials are potentially hazardous. If not, why were they seized in the first place? But if so, why are they dumped unceremoniously into the trash? They are not quarantined or handed over to the bomb squad; they are simply thrown away. The agency seems to be saying that it knows these things are harmless. But it’s going to steal them anyway, and either you accept it or you don’t fly.

United & Pokemon

That's a picture of me fuming! Arrrrrgh! United has broken my spirit. I'm sitting in SeaTac, watching my flight get later and later and later. Which might be leading us to a "crew" problem in the end, since that seems to be their new modus operandi. I only have one roundtrip left on this airline, time to switch to Delta. Today sealed the deal.

And, dummy me, brought a nice bottle of wine in my carry on bag, which will now be gracing the table of some security guy. I should've known better, I certainly fly enough. But alas, I saw a corked, sealed bottle, never even thought about the 3 oz thing. Lesson learned the hard way. That one I have only myself (and our goofy US security rules) to blame.

So, on to something more fun. While in Seattle, my niece taught me all about the MANY characters that inhabit the Pokemon universe. Too many for this old brain to handle, but she and my nephew have it well under control! For my part, I found a Pokemon skeleton action figure to share.

So, here ya go Allison and Michael -- I doubt this'll show up on the trading cards...


We went to a great restaurant tonight, where I had some fantastic seafood jambalaya. Every fork full brought up a new taste sensation. If you're ever out on Whidbey Island in Washington State, and missing New Orleans, go to Gordon's.

On the not so good news side, this little ditty showed up on today's news. I hope the old adage that things come in 3s doesn't hold true this time...

Norwegian Cruise Ship Hits Iceberg in Antarctic
Dec 29, 2007
Associated Press
ANTARCTICA FUN FACTS -- Salt water with a salinity of 35 ppt (parts per thousand) freezes at 28.5F. As it freezes, the salt becomes more concentrated in the remaining unfrozen water. This makes Antarctic water extremely salty, more so than most of the world's oceans causing it to freeze at a lower temperature. Marine invertebrates in the Antarctic have the same concentration of salt in their bodies as the water. Antarctica has a surprising variety of invertebrates. Many grow to gigantic proportions. The giant Antarctic isopod Glyptonotus antarcticus is 4 inches long. A giant Antarctic sea spider is the size of a human's palm. Both the isopod and the sea spider in other seas are easily-overlooked specimens no bigger than a fingernail. (Source: Salt Concentrations)

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Bon Voyage Alicia !!

Bye-bye Alicia (sniff). Safe travels to your new home in Bangladesh. I hope all of your connections are smooth and uneventful. Here's to a great adventure for 2008!!

Blog lots.

Pug Bonding

Went out shopping at my favorite clothing store, otherwise spent most of the day indoors with family and my pug brother. Cute little guy, could almost make me switch over from cats. Almost. I spent the evening putting together a powerpoint presentation for my father, which might sound like work to some, but kept me quite content.

ANTARCTICA FUN FACTS -- Antarctica's serenely primitive wilderness faces an uncertain future as debate continues over the question of tapping into the continent's wealth of mineral resources. Beginning in the early 1950s, scientists began to notice the value inherent in such an unusual and largely undiscovered continent and began establishing research stations there. Following the energy crisis of the 1970s, several oil companies looked to Antarctica as a possible solution to future world oil shortages by announcing plans to exploit the continent's resources. The Antarctic Treaty, signed during mounting Cold War tensions, successfully banned all military activity, nuclear testing, and the dumping of radioactive materials on the continent. The Madrid Protocol of 1998 designates Antarctica as a natural reserve devoted to peace and science and places a moratorium on mining and drilling for oil for a minimum of 50 years. (Source: Antarctica Fact Sheet)

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Enchanted Evening

Fun time with the kids today. Went off to REI this morning with my brother-in-law, and my niece found the perfect backpack for my upcoming trip. Then off to see "Enchanted" with just about the whole family. Interesting idea, but highly sappy. Now back to Whidbey Island to visit with my folks (and the pug). Fun trip!
ANTARCTICA FUN FACTS -- In 1911, a British trip to Antarctica was led by Robert Falcon Scott. Instead of using regular materials, like down parkas and other Antarctic winter equipment, they used wool. Wool is not a very heavy material. When Scott and his crew were leaving and hiking back to their ship, they stopped for a break about a mile from their ship. It was so cold that they froze to death. (Source: Antarctic Explorers)

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Elf Yourself

Following in Jaime, Mo and Yorke's footsteps, here is an elf-yourself version of my nieces and nephew. We had a great time putting it together, so thanks for the tip Jaime (or Robin I guess).

ANTARCTICA FUN FACTS -- Some stations grow fresh vegetables on a hydroponic system where the plants grow in slowly circulating water & nutrients. The Antarctic treaty forbids the import of soil or similar materials to Antarctica because of the possibility of introducing non-native insects, fungi or bacteria. Despite very careful measures, sometimes an outbreak of pests or disease does occur and in this case, the hydroponic facility has to be shut down and all of the plants destroyed. (Source: Food in Antarctica)

Merry Christmas !! (it's still the 25th here on the Left Coast)

What a great Christmas! I'm actually glad United screwed up, it forced me to get to Seattle early, and I spent the day with family. One of the best I can remember.

Here's a little Christmas card for one and all (look behind the pine trees for the skeletons), I hope it was a merry day for all reading this!

I got a nice Christmas gift compliments of Delta to start the day. United really messed up my ticket, and it took 45 minutes to get things straightened out. By the time they did, the flight to Seattle was filled – in coach. I was willing to use miles to upgrade, but some dumb airline rule said I couldn’t since it counted as a code share. So, the nice guy at the SB airport gave me a free 1st class ticket, with a hearty “Merry Christmas!”

On the flight, we had an incident where someone passed out walking up to the rest room. The flight attendants asked if there were any MDs on board, and 7 folks came walking forward (surprisingly all from coach). Six of them were women. Yeah girl power!!
ANTARCTICA FUN FACTS -- Australian researchers have shown than a ground-based telescope in Antarctica can take images almost as good as those from the Hubble Space Telescope, at a fraction of the cost. "It represents arguably the most dramatic breakthrough in the potential for ground-based optical astronomy since the invention of the telescope," says University of New South Wales Associate Professor Michael Ashley, who co-authored a paper in the journal Nature. "The discovery means that a telescope at Dome C on the Antarctic plateau could compete with a telescope two to three times larger at the best mid-latitude observatories, with major cost-saving implications. (Source: EurekAlert!)

Monday, December 24, 2007

Bah Humbug !!

Got together with Brynn today, she'll be watching 'the boys' while I'm away for the holidays. Here's a picture of them bonding...tho' I think Lemur's a wee bit more interested in the Christmas cookies on the table than Brynn ;-)

And I'm making a big assumption about going away for the holidays. I've been sitting on hold for quite some time waiting for a living person at United to pick up a phone. In an act of Christmas cheer, they canceled my flight for tomorrow and can't rebook me till the 28th. I hope whatever pencil-necked paper-pusher made this decision finds his stocking chock full of coal...and maybe some sharp spiky nails as well. The 'friendly skies' my ass!

UPDATE -- after an hour on hold, United got me booked on the last available flight out tomorrow...on Delta. So, bumped down to a middle seat in coach, on a different airline, leaving at 7 am. I'm not happy. But my kitties are -- I gave them their Christmas gifts early, and as you can see, they took to the catnip quite quickly. Three stoned little a pear tree.

ANTARCTICA FUN FACTS -- Antarctica is surrounded by the world's stormiest seas. The physical boundary most widely accepted today for the antarctic region is the Antarctic Convergence, a zone c.25 mi (40 km) wide encircling the earth along a fluctuating, zigzagging line between 48°S and 61°S,. Within this zone the colder and denser north-flowing antarctic surface waters sink beneath warmer and saltier subantarctic waters; these differences and other characteristics have led oceanographers to regard the waters around Antarctica as a fifth ocean, the Southern Ocean (also known as the Antarctic Ocean). (Source: Geology & Geography)

Happy Homemaker

Spent the day cleaning, and singing along to Christmas carols all day. Not particularly exciting, but necessary.

The cats have been sleeping in the suitcase since I pulled it out, they're not very happy.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Holiday Shopping

I ventured out today because my new glasses came in. I thought the roads would be ugly, not so -- easy parking, no traffic jams, short lines. Very pleasant, so I went grocery shopping and made a pet store stop.

Plus made a stop in Barnes and Nobel because I wanted to find a way for my nieces and nephew to share in my Antarctica trip. So the oldest gets a book about Shakelton's expedition, my nephew got some Flat Stanley books (with Stanley joining me on the trip), and my youngest niece gets to learn about penguins. I already had fun Christmas gifts for 'em, so I guess these'll be stocking stuffers.
ANTARCTICA FUN FACTS -- The ice-drowned, mountainous archipelago of W Antarctica is related to the Andes Mts. of South America and is structurally connected to them by way of the Antarctic Peninsula and the Scotia Arc (South Georgia and the South Orkney and South Sandwich islands). The complex structure consists of highly folded metasedimentary strata from Paleozoic to Pliocene epochs. (Source: Geology & Geography)

Friday, December 21, 2007

Happy Winter Solstice!!

Movies Watched in 2007








Complete List --
* 300 [2006]
* A Bridge Too Far [1977]
* Airport '77 [1977]
* All the Kings Men [2006]
* Alpha Dog [2006]
* Amazing Grace [2007]
* American Psycho [2000]
* Apocalypto [2006]
* Apt Pupil [1998]
* Astronaut Farmer [2006]
* Babel [2006]
* Batman Begins [2005]
* Battlestar Galactica: Razor [2007]
* Because I Said So [2007]
* Blood Diamond [2006]
* Bobby [2006]
* Borat [2006]
* Breach [2007]
* Casino Royale [2006]
* Children of Men [2006]
* Chronicles of Narnia [2005]
* Cider House Rules [1999]
* Come See The Paradise [1990]
* Da Vinci Code [2006]
* Dahmer [2002]
* Deja Vu [2006]
* Diameter of a Bomb [2005]
* Die Hard, Live Free [20070
* Earth Girls are Easy [1988]
* Ed Gain [2001]
* Eight Below [2006]
* Epic Movie [2007]
* Eragon [2006]
* Evan Almighty [2007]
* Executive Decision [1996]
* Failure to Launch [2005]
* Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer [2007]
* Far From Heaven [2002]
* Flags of Our Fathers [2006]
* Flyboys [2006]
* Fracture [2007]
* Galaxy Quest [1999]
* Ghost Rider [2007]
* Gideon [1999]
* Good Night and Good Luck [2005]
* Hairspray [2007]
* Hannibal Rising [2007]
* Highlander: The Source [2007]
* Hollywoodland [2006]
* Independence Day [1996]
* Infamous [2007]
* Inside Man [2006]
* Into the Blue [2005]
* Invincible [2006]
* Jason and the Argonauts [2000]
* Last King of Scotland [2006]
* Lifeforce [1985]
* Lord of War [2005]
* Lost in Space [1998]
* Marie Antoinette [2006]
* Mission Impossible III [2006]
* Mr & Mrs Smith [2005]
* Mr. Brooks [2007]
* Munich [2005]
* Night at the Museum [2006]
* Notes on a Scandal [2006]
* O [2001]
* Ocean's 13 [2007]
* Paradise Now [2005]
* Pathfinder [2007]
* Paths to Glory [1957]
* Pirates of the Caribbean 3 [2007]
* Poseidon [2006]
* Rambo II [1985]
* Rocky Balboa [2006]
* Saw [2004]
* Shooter [2007]
* Sometimes in April [2005]
* Spiderman 3 [2007]
* Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith [2005]
* Superman Returns [2006]
* Talladega Nights [2006]
* The Astronaut's Wife [1999]
* The Bourne Ultimatum [2007]
* The Covenant [2006]
* The Departed [2006]
* The Fountain [2007]
* The Good German [2006]
* The Good Shepard [2006]
* The Guardian [2006]
* The Illusionist [2006]
* The Nativity Story [2006]
* The Piano [1993]
* The Prestige [2006]
* The Pursuit of Happiness [2006]
* The Queen [2006]
* The Rock [1996]
* The Star Chamber [1983]
* To Die in Jerusalem [2007]
* To Walk with Lions [1999]
* Urban Legends: Bloody Mary [2005]
* We Are Marshall [2006]
* Wild Hogs [2007]
* World's Fastest Indian [2006]
* X-Men: The Last Stand [2006]
* Zodiac [2007]