meow, cat, Siamese, catty

Grumpy Bear

It seems that Russia is not pleased about Bulgarian street artists overpainting heroic sculptures from the Warsaw Pact days portraying Red Army soldiers in typical Socialist Realist fashion. Some brightly colored paint has transformed these gray figures into costumed heroes from the comics, along with Santa Claus and Ronald McDonald.

Now the Russians want the Bulgarian government to find the mysterious artists and make an example of them, and make sure that it doesn't keep happening.
  • Current Location: home
  • Current Mood: amused amused
  • Current Music: "Wish You Were Here" by Pink Floyd
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meow, cat, Siamese, catty

There's No Place Like Home

And it's true. After four days being my husband's advocate and PT coach while he was in the hospital for total knee replacement surgery, it feels so very good to be back home, to eat our own food and sleep in our own bed.

Of course, he still has a long road ahead of him to get back to full functionality. No doubt, there'll be some bumps on the road. But I'm hoping that he'll heal best at home, and that the home health care nurse will be satisfied when she does her safety walk-through that, if something isn't right, we can make it right in sufficient time, and he doesn't have to go into a rehab facility instead.
  • Current Location: home
  • Current Mood: happy happy
  • Current Music: "Home" by Phillip Phillips
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meow, cat, Siamese, catty

Ad Astra Per Ardua

One of the hardest things after joint replacement surgery is the necessary physical therapy to get full use of the new joint. It's been a slow struggle, and sometimes it feels like two steps forward and one step back. The need to push hard, but not overdo it. And keeping motivated when the progress seems so pitifully slow.
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meow, cat, Siamese, catty

Amazon Weirdness

On Thursday, in preparation for my husband's surgery, I redeemed some points to buy a hundred dollar Amazon gift card. But today, when I tried to use some of it, I couldn't get at the money.

However, as soon as I logged into the full site on the iPad, I was able to see and use my money. As near as I can figure out, there's a glitch that keeps information from moving between the two versions of this site.
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meow, cat, Siamese, catty

Interesting

And not in a good way. Being in the hospital is exhausting, even when you're not the patient. Maybe even more when you're their advocate.

I'll try to get more up tomorrow. Really.
  • Current Location: Castleton, Indiana
  • Current Mood: tired tired
  • Current Music: "The Waiting Is the Hardest Part" by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
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meow, cat, Siamese, catty

On the Streamlining of Language

When I first started studying linguistics, there was the notion that languages started complex, with lots of fiddly cases and declensions and whatnot, and over time the careless tongues of speakers wore them down, like water eroding a rock. Yet there was an unspoken question there -- where did that complexity come from? And why did some languages retain more complexity than others, if the erosion were a pretty much universal process?

Over decades, new theories have emerged, ones without the unspoken "simplification is decay" assumption. Instead, a more flexible mindset now is able to ask what are the world's most efficient languages. And instead of the shedding of formal structure being seen as decay, there is a growing view that it reflects a simplification that results when a lot of people have to learn and use it as adults. This is a result of the observation that large national languages tend to be simpler than regional tongues -- Beijing Chinese vs Cantonese, Russian vs many of the small national languages of the XUSSR, etc.

English is a case of several of these factors. Not only has it become an international language, but it also underwent at least two major episodes of social dislocation in its early history that forced grammatical simplification. Most of us are familiar with the Norman Conquest and the period in which English was spoken only by the common people, while the nobility and gentry used the more cultivated French. But even before that, the Anglo-Saxons were overrun by Vikings, whose occupation of England resulted in the simplification of the case structure of English.
  • Current Location: home
  • Current Mood: nerdy nerdy
  • Current Music: "She Blinded Me With Science" by Thomas Dolby
meow, cat, Siamese, catty

Getting Ready

We've got an ice storm moving into Central Indiana, and I'm doing my best to make good preparations. Both vehicles are now up on the driveway as far as we can safely get them, and I have the windshield wipers flipped up so they won't get stuck by the ice.

With luck, we'll get little or no actual freezing rain. But I want to be prepared, although one of the worst hazards -- the loss of electrical power -- is something we can't do a whole lot about.
  • Current Location: home
  • Current Mood: anxious anxious
  • Current Music: "House that We Used to Live In" by the Smithereens
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meow, cat, Siamese, catty

The New Kilogram

When the metric system was designed amidst the French Revolution, it was intended to sweep away the various, often confusing, systems of customary measurements that had grown up to address local needs all over France, and replace them with a rational and universal system in which each measuring unit would be related to the others in a systematic way.

Over time, that system has been refined such that most of the basic units of measurement are based upon physical constants of the universe, rather than measurements of physical artifacts, even the size of the Earth or the length of its daily turning on its axis. However, one key unit, the kilogram (unit of mass, often used as a unit of weight), has resisted such a changed. Instead, its measurement has been based upon a prototype kilogram -- but there have been some questions about whether mishandling of it may have caused it to gain or lose mass over the decades.

But now scientists have developed a new method of measuring that may allow the elimination of the International Prototype Kilogram altogether. This system, the Kibble Balance, is so sensitive that it actually involves some fundamental aspects of both relativity and quantum mechanics.

However, the movement to using universal laws of physics to define measurements has severed the original aims of the metric system, which was intended to be both universal and accessible. In order to make units universal not just on Earth, but throughout the cosmos, it has become necessary to use such sophisticated technology that it is no longer accessible to the ordinary scientifically literate person -- that is, the basic measuring units can no longer be derived through easily reproducible means.
  • Current Location: home
  • Current Mood: nerdy nerdy
  • Current Music: "She Blinded Me With Science" by Thomas Dolby
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And that was Grand Rapids Comic Con

I honestly don't know what was wrong this year. We had good foot traffic, but people just weren't buying. When they did, it was mostly tiny things -- which they bought with twenty dollar bills, chewing through our change at a maddening rate. Several times I'd have to run to other vendors I knew and ask if I could buy ones off them because we were out or nearly out.

I'm pretty sure we came out at a loss, but the con just felt off this year. So we figure that we can afford to give it another chance next year, and have already put down the deposit on next year's space, hoping that things will turn around. In the meantime, we're going to look at our sales from more successful years and try to see what was selling well, so we can take more of it and less of the stuff that didn't even get a nibble.

It's particularly frustrating after Youmacon, where we got good sales in spite of the stress of having trouble with the van. Because of those excellent sales and anticipating similar success this weekend, we went ahead and lined up a large purchase -- and now we're going to have to pay for it in straitened circumstances. But that's one of the risks of doing business -- and why I say I have no interest in going to the casino, because I do all my gambling when I line up shows and buy product.
  • Current Location: home
  • Current Mood: frustrated frustrated
  • Current Music: "Taking Care of Business" by Bachman-Turner Overdrive