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February 29, 2008

Garfield Minus Garfield


As a former Hoosier I've always been a little embarrassed about coming from the land of Garfield. But who knew that if you simply take the dread cat away it becomes a surreal masterpiece?

By the way, Simon, the strip above is for you. You know why.

I Even Have the Collar

larsonserenity.jpgand the stole, and the student debt. Yep, I'm Shepherd Book. No big surprise there, though I was kinda hoping for Wash. I'm a "big damn hero" with a Bible. Shiny.

Which Firefly character are you?
Derrial Book (Shepherd)
Derrial Book (Shepherd)
Dr. Simon Tam (Ship Medic)
Kaylee Frye (Ship Mechanic)
Zoe Washburne (Second-in-command)
Malcolm Reynolds (Captain)
River (Stowaway)
Inara Serra (Companion)
Wash (Ship Pilot)
Jayne Cobb (Mercenary)
A Reaver (Cannibal)
Even though you are holy
you have a mysterious past.

February 27, 2008

What Happens When Things Go Right?

[Click to enlarge]

This is the Adam Hughes cover for the upcoming Firefly comic three parter - Better Days. The plot occurs before the movie and it involves a heist where, for once, everything goes right for our heroes and how they deal with success. The above picture will be used in segments for the three covers for the series.

Hoosier Time Change Wastes Energy

daylight-savings-time.jpgA study from University of California Santa Barbara on Indiana's changeover to DST shows that, contrary to arguments in favor of the change, Indiana actually consumed more energy, not less, in regards to the time change.

Main Conclusions:

  • 1 to 4% increase in energy consumption
  • $8.6 million increase in household energy bills in 2007 in Indiana
  • social costs of increased pollution - $1.6 to $5.3 million per year
  • extensions to DST are most likely to increase demand for residential electricity

I've been a longtime DST skeptic so it's nice to see some solid research done on it. My friends in Indiana, it's not too late! Demand sanity! The cows are right!

From the report's conclusion:

The history of DST has been long and controversial. Throughout its implementation during World Wars I and II, the oil embargo of the 1970s, and more regular practice today, the primary rationale for DST has always been to promote energy conservation. Nevertheless, there is surprisingly little evidence that DST actually saves energy. This paper takes advantage of a natural experiment in the state of Indiana to provide the first empirical estimates of DST effects on electricity consumption in the United States since the mid-1970s. We focus on residential electricity demand and conduct the first study that uses micro-data on households.

Our main finding is that—contrary to the policy’s intent—DST results is an overall increase in residential electricity demand. Estimates of the overall increase in consumption range from 1 to 4 percent. We also find that the effect is not constant throughout the DST period, with evidence for electricity savings in the spring and increases that are greatest in the fall. These findings are generally consistent with simulation results that point to a tradeoff between reducing demand for lighting and increasing demand for heating and cooling. According to the dates of DST practice prior to 2007, we estimate a cost to Indiana households of $8.6 million per year in increased electricity bills. Estimates of the social costs due to increased pollution emissions range from $1.6 to $5.3 million per year.

The results of this research should inform ongoing debate about the recent extensions to DST that took place in 2007. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 requires that research be conducted to evaluate whether the extensions yield conservation benefits. While our results suggest that the extensions to DST are most likely to increase, rather than decrease, demand for residential electricity, further research is necessary to examine the effects of the extensions themselves. Future research should also investigate whether the findings here generalize to other locations throughout the United States. While we find that the longstanding rationale for DST is questionable, and that if anything the policy seems to have the opposite of its intended effect, there are other arguments made in favor of DST. These range from increased opportunities for leisure, enhanced public health and safety, and economic growth. In the end, a full evaluation of DST should account for these multiple dimensions, but the evidence here suggests that continued reliance on Benjamin Franklin’s old argument alone has become misleading.

The entire report by Matthew Kotchen (Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies) and Laura Grant (doctoral candidate), including spiffy charts and graphs, can be downloaded as a PDF. You can also see a Wall Street Journal article on the report.

February 26, 2008

Your Own Personal Google ABC Meme

22425493.jpgYou know how Google suggests searches when you start to type in something in that little window based on your previous searches? Here's my challenge... Post your own Google ABCs based on the first thing that comes up with each letter. And I'll start. Let the humiliation begin!

A is for Apple Intel Core 2 Duo 2.0GHz MacBook - I got the 2.2GHz version.
B is for Bif Naked - A singer on an episode of Buffy.
C is for C-Beams - From a line in Bladerunner.
D is for Danny Strong - An actor who frequently appears on Buffy.
E is for Ecclesiastes - One of my favorite books in the Bible.
F is for Fashion Forward - A term I read that I'm still not sure I understand.
G is for Gabriel - One of the few named angels in the Bible.
H is for Hamlet Cartoon - And that's how I found Savage Chickens.
I is for I Miss Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Which is how I found this song.
J is for Jabba on the Dais - Sing it with me!
K is for Karl Spring - A local weather guy who said some silly things.
L is for Luke 16:1-13 - The parable of the dishonest steward. Because I was working on a sermon and this is a toughy.
M is for Mezzanine Word Origin - For this play.
N is for Nagini - Voldemort's snake.
O is for O Antiphons - Which are read in Advent. Also the basis for the hymn "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel."
P is for Philippians 2:1-11 - One of my favorites. I just preached on this last Sunday.
Q is for Qoheleth - The preacher from Ecclesiastes.
R is for Representative Huntley - A Minnesota legislator and I have no idea why I was looking him up now.
S is for Salisbury Hill - Which, I found out, is actually Solsbury Hill in the song by Peter Gabriel.
T is for Tannhauser Gate - Also from that same quote from Bladerunner.
U is for UNICEF - For which my church has an annual fundraiser.
V is for Von Steuben Day Parade - A parade celebrating German heritage immortalized in Ferris Bueller's Day Off.
W is for Wapakoneta, Ohio - My hometown.
X is for XMP - Some computer extension I was looking up.
Y is for Yvonne Prettner Solon - Another Minnesota legislator.
Z is for Zeppo - One of the Marx Brothers.

Well, that wasn't nearly as embarrassing as I had hoped... I mean feared.

You are officially tagged to do this meme on your own blog or, if you don't have one, in the comments space here. You don't have to do explanatory notes if you don't want to. I just felt the need.

A man walks down the street in that hat, people know he's not afraid of anything.

cunninghat.jpgYou can own a piece of the Firefly legacy. Adam Baldwin, who famously portrayed Jayne Cobb, is auctioning off the hat.

Not just a replica, no, the hat.

The California Browncoats have announced that this cunning hat is going up for auction this fall (Sep 24 - Oct 4, 2008) with the proceeds going to support the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation, which sets up higher education scholarships for the children of fallen marines and law enforcement agents. A worthy and noble thing and thus something that Jayne would never have done, but you can still own his hat.

February 25, 2008

French Can't Agree on Gender

frenchgenderflag.gifIn a startling study, giving all of us non-French reason to smirk, results show that the French can't agree on what the gender of nouns are, even though the language is highly standardized. Dalila Ayoun, Professor of French Linguistics at the University of Arizona, simply asked 56 native French speakers to assign a gender to some sample nouns. Of the 93 masculine nouns they only unanimously agreed on 17 of them. Of the 50 feminine nouns, only 1 of them!

The disparity increases when you factor in age. Teenagers agreed on far fewer than the adult participants. Language Log has more on the study.

All I can say is, Viva la difference! Or is that le difference?

February 24, 2008

Goodbye, Reuben Tuesday...

My friend, Carl Klutzke, appears in this episode of Across Indiana. He's a part of this group which samples Reuben Sandwiches every other Tuesday and then rates them on the Reuben Realm. I've added a few comments of my own. Just for flavor.

Here is the gang's review of the Tie Dye Grill, where you see them eating in the video. They gave it pretty high marks over all.

February 23, 2008

It's a dark and scary world out there and nothing's on TV

stakethetv.jpgI Miss Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Megan Gogerty (playwright and self described wordsmith) wrote and recorded this nostalgic ode to her halcyon days with Buffy and posted it on her website as a free download.

I just really discovered Buffy last year and ran through the seven seasons in about nine months. I bought the series as my birthday present to myself and now I'm rewatching the series with my teenage (gasp) daughter.

Here are some great lines from the song for those too technologically challenged to click on the link or need some encouragement to do so:

A friend of mine met the guy who played Xander at a party and in real life she said he was kind of disappointing. I said, "Of course he's disappointing. This is real life and he's an actor. And in real life everyone's disappointing."

I want metaphorical mythology coupled with ontological authenticity. I really don't think that's too much to ask of a show.

I'm this close to reading fan fiction but writing this song is pathetic enough.

I feel your pain, Megan. I really do. Thanks for the laugh.

February 18, 2008

I Even Have the T-Shirt

greenlanterntshirt.jpgI took this quiz that my brother Dan sent me to find out which Superhero I am. Apparently he's "The Flash." As for me, sign me up for the Corps!

Who's your inner superhero?
Green Lantern
Green Lantern
The Flash
Iron Man
Wonder Woman
Hot-headed. You have strong will power and a good imagination.

You are the Green Lantern!

February 16, 2008

Peanut Allergies PSA

I've been putting my new computer through its paces today and made this little video based on this post.

February 14, 2008

Homeschooling in the Northland


Just because it's called "homeschooling" doesn't mean you hang out at home all day.

Here's a picture of Emma (in the blue) out on an "(ed)Venture" on February 6. She, Simon, and their homeschool buddies, Dane and Ben, have been doing Wednesday activities with them including dog-sledding and snowshoeing. They didn't just go out for a sleigh ride. The instructors taught them how to put on the harness and they took turns driving.

February 13, 2008


fasting.jpgI'm a week into my Lenten fast with mixed results. I decided not to eat any solid food between sunrise and sunset during Lent this year (not including Sundays). So far the good points of the fast have been:

  • Increased awareness of my eating habits - Nothing sharpens your awareness of what and how you eat than stopping it.

  • Increased awareness of the cycles of light and dark around me - I'm charting sunrise and sunset on my computer desktop.

  • Starting the day earlier - You might think this is a downside, but I'm enjoying the early start.

Difficulties have been:

  • Increased irritability especially in the midafternoon - My kids have told me if I don't get a grip and stop being so snippy in the afternoon I will have to break my fast. It's good to have children who look after you.

  • Having to turn down offers of food - I was at a church lunch today and I'm sure I appeared ingracious when I turned down the food, even though I explained I was fasting.

I really haven't been craving food as bad as I thought. The interesting thing about this fast, of course, is that it will become harder as the days lengthen over the next 5 weeks. The difference in daylight between the first day of Lent and the last is over 2 hours.

I'd like to say I've had some great spiritual insight in this fast, but not so far. Just working out the mechanics of it, however, has taught me some things. One thing I've started doing is making sure the kitchen is clean and ready before I go to bed. That way when I get up I can get straight to fixing breakfast without having to clean up after myself from the day before.

It's this sort of little change in habits that I love about fasts.

So, are you fasting for Lent?

February 11, 2008

Equal Time

Since I posted Yes, We Can I thought I should offer the McCain campaign equal access to my blog. Prepare to be inspired!

Yeah. Good luck with that, John.

The Tests are in...

bloodcomic.jpgEmma has Lyme disease according to her blood test. Fortunately that is a lot better than the alternative diagnosis, which was juvenile arthritis. I mean, who wants that? So she's on antibiotics for the next month and being monitored closely by her doctor. Hopefully a round of antibiotics will kick it. The scary thing is that probably this has gone undiagnosed for months. The worst thing according to Emma is that she can't have any dairy within an hour of taking her antibiotics twice a day.

February 9, 2008


420609b-i1.0.jpgI was just moving through the zone between being awake and being asleep when I heard a female voice with a distinctly Chinese accent say...

"Fate has three children: Can't Wait, Long Shot, and Live Dog."

It sounded so familiar and right that I looked it up, but couldn't find that quote anywhere. I guess it was just a special message for my birthday.

February 8, 2008

My Life Sucks... Again

[Click to Enlarge]

My daughter, Emma, has restarted her occasional comic series, "My Life Sucks," for Lent. Like last year she's going to attempt to draw a four panel comic for every day of Lent. I'm encouraging her to post them on her blog because they are just too good not to share, in my humble opinion. Then again, I'm biased.

By the way, all the events depicted in this comic did, in fact, occur yesterday. Yes, indeedy... fun, fun, fun.

February 7, 2008

Adult Language

bookofliz.jpgI'm planning on going to see The Book of Liz tomorrow night at Renegade Comedy Theater. The kids saw the postcard ad over lunch and were impressed that it was written by Amy & David Sedaris. They started to ask if they could come but noticed the caveat - "This show contains adult language."

Emma smirked and said, "'Adult Language' means you say 'maybe' when you mean 'no.'"

Simon laughed and rejoined, "Unless you say it like this - 'Maaaaaaaaaybe' - in which case it means 'yes.' Adult language is a tonal language."

I love my brainy, smart alecky kids.

Ya Think?

So I got these cheap peanuts to make a pad thai the other night...


and Emma noticed something interesting in the allergy information...


because if you're allergic to peanuts you might pick up a tin of peanuts thinking that there may be no peanuts inside the tin of peanuts... yeah... right...

February 6, 2008


Frank on PerfectDuluthDay is famous for his inscrutable posts so I decided to perform a few.

Here are some examples of his craft...

new world
looking for things
unsong thougths

February 5, 2008

Yes, We Can

"We've been warned against offering the people of this nation false hope. But in the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope."
- Barack Obama

Vote Hope.

February 4, 2008

Size Matters

Been there, done that, joined the support group.

Improv Everywhere Rocks... Again

I first heard of Improv Everywhere a few years ago when a handful of "agents" set up a moebius loop of action in a Starbucks. Since then I've been following their exploits with slackjawed amazement. I love the fact that they create a bit of fantasy and wonder in the world. This mission really exemplifies that. They create a Twilight Zone moment for some people in Grand Central Station. Truly inspiring.

February 3, 2008

Select a Candidate

I mentioned this in the post below and thought it might prove helpful to some people. I'd also encourage people to take the Candidate Blind Taste Test.

February 1, 2008

Standing Up and Making a Choice

obama%2Bo%2Blogo%2Bsmall.jpgWell, I've been listening to the candidates over the last year and this Tuesday is the Minnesota Caucus and that means it's time to make some hard choices. First of all I had to decide who I was going to caucus with. Four years ago I caucused with the Greens because I really didn't care for any of the candidates in the two major parties. I flirted with the idea of caucusing with the Republicans this year in support of Ron Paul. But, now that push is coming to shove, I'm going to be at the high school hanging with the Dems this year and I'm supporting Barack Obama.

Why Obama?

I've been torn, honestly, between all of the top Democratic candidates. Every online select-a-candidate quiz I took aligned me with Dennis Kucinich but I never really seriously considered throwing my support behind his campaign, even though I support his idea of a Department of Peace.

I heard John Edwards speak in Duluth 4 years ago and he really impressed me and while I like his ideals, his rhetoric has become increasingly shrill and divisive. But he dropped out this week so that solves that dilemma.

So now it comes down between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. I am persuaded by Clinton's argument that she has experience enough to hit the ground running. She knows where all the levers of power are or, in a less flattering metaphor, where all the bodies are buried. The big problem with Clinton for me is the level of loathing she engenders from some people. The fact of the matter is what I call the "mom factor." My mother, who is, I think it is safe to say, a moderate Republican, would never ever ever vote for Hillary Clinton in a million years, but I can imagine she would seriously consider Barack Obama.

(Mom, I know you read my blog so feel free to weigh in and correct me if I'm wrong. Like I could stop you.)

I initially wasn't supportive of Obama's campaign. I thought it was too soon. I wanted to see him get more experience. I remember talking with people after his 2004 address to the DNC and saying that I could imagine him running in 2016 or maybe 2012. 2008 seemed too soon. But he continually impresses me with his thoughtfulness, his level-headed judgment, his ability to inspire people across lines that often divide us, and his unabashed ability to talk about his faith.

So, there it is. My personal choice. Anyone else want to share their thought processes in selecting a candidate to back?