Monday, November 27, 2006

Dead Flies

Here is the dead stuff; the macabre and disgusting. A dead cluster fly.

Pollenia rudis (Fabricius) . . . When crushed, the cluster fly has an odor resembling "buckwheat honey." . . . from the University of Ohio.

So the house should smell great, huh? I don’t have the infestation of flies that I had when I moved into the house in 2002: but it sure doesn’t smell like buckwheat honey, either!

The bedroom I want.

The photo I took from a website (long since lost but I remember that it was from a web site illustrating rooms at a local bed and breakfast) shows the skylight curtains and bed that I want. Since my bed is king size, I can’t get an antique bed. But this is light and flowery. The problem with the curtains on the skylight is that you want to see the stars, snow, or moon when you can. But you need to keep the sun out because it fades fabrics and creates awful heat.

To see my wishlist you can use the froggle link on the blogroll, click "wishlist" on my tag cloud, or click on the amazon wishlist script. These are all on the sidebar to the right.

You can be sure to find me a wonderful gift at any of those sites! As I become more organized the froggle list will be disabled because it is not as good as a tag cloud.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Last Shrew of Summer

I should not say “of summer” since it was finished long ago. But “of this year” or “of this season” just didn’t have the allure of “last summer”. Buddy went out this morning at 4 AM because I was up with a massive hot flash. It was 28° out and very frosty (still no snow!). He returned at 6am with this poor shrew. I know the photo is grotesque but the shrew enabled me to try out my newly discovered camera’s macro capabilities and they work very well as we can see.

I have gotten three complaints about my fly photos: “they are gross”, “what is motivating you??” and “what’s next, dead things?” (well, yeah, I guess so). But the cluster flies are the only living things other than people and cats to photograph close up. I will look for an alive spider today in the garage. I may even try some landscape photos of the beaver ponds as they begin to freeze.

There are no hunters parked on the road this morning. No gunshots have been heard.

A syncing preference pane for iCal and gCal is coming out soon! All those hours devising ways to manually sync the two with automators, scripts and e-mail are for nothing. But it’s worth it if it works! see for more information!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

My Second Bug Pictures

So there was a poor cluster fly hanging and twirling and struggling on a thread of a spider web from the kitchen ceiling Friday night. I immediately got the camera and shot over 20 photos until I got some that worked (above).

Sports setting works; you need the flash. But the macro that my old camera had? Where is it? I used 10x zoom here. (Update: I found the macro settings that night: see the shrew photo on the next page). I like the glistening of the fly here and the eyes again. The eyes are geometric, as is the “nose”.

I tried the red-eye affect on Mouse: no difference in the photos but I put my favorite one here just because it is a pretty picture. Mouse certainly looks fat here, and she feels fat. She is accepting the brush more often now and at times I feel she is seeking it out for relief from the mats that she always gets.

I saw Flight of the Phoenix tonight while the cats fought and went outside and back inside incessantly. Long boring beginning and very predictable (especially if you had seen the Jimmy Stewart version which I barely remember). I don’t like computer graphics; they imply a lack of creativity of the writers and directors. After that movie, I missed Holiday Inn, which I love. I settled on watching the end of Titanic in bed while I cried because of the sorrow and death of the old lady.

The kitchen is a mess, all the floors are dirty and litter needs to be done tomorrow. Busy day ahead.


Sunday, November 19, 2006

My First Bug Pictures

I finally got a presentable bug photo....a cluster fly (the infamous harmless Vermont pest).

Top: I need to work on focusing.
2ndt: Very nice! I see his eyes! I wish I could get even closer. But I can see the hair on the legs and body.
3rd: The eyes!
Last: I used the flash while cluster fly was on the window. I was going to trash the photo but then I saw the reflection of his body in the glass and thought it was a nice effect.

My goal is to be as good a bug photographer as lepike on flickr.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Great Tile Debate

in order to use this article at school, I have copied it here..... photo by Mark Greenwald

The Great Tile Debate

Metro, the subway system serving Washington, D.C., has a distinctive look. Underground stations resemble immense, minimalist concrete bunkers. The tiles covering the floors are six-sided—large, terra cotta hexagons. Now, the board in charge of Metro is debating whether to switch to square tiles, like those typically found in most other subway systems around the world.

From a mathematical perspective, both square and hexagonal tiles do the job of tiling the plane. As do tiles of many, many other geometric shapes. And the choices get even wider when you consider using several different tile shapes together. My own bathroom, for example, is tiled with octagons and squares.

So, the decision on which shape of tiles to use actually hinges on practical considerations. One of the problems with the Metro hexagons is that they get slippery when wet. But that's a function not of their shape but of their composition and glazing. Still, the companies that manufacture safer square tiles apparently don't do hexagons. And lopping off corners to turn squares into hexagons would be extremely costly and wasteful, a representative of one tile manufacturer told the board.

Then there's the problem of broken tiles and water leakage. Metro officials claim that floors with square tiles would be easier to maintain than those with hexagonal tiles. Fewer sides mean fewer joints, and fewer joints mean less water leakage.

That's an interesting claim. The most efficient way of partitioning the plane into units of equal area with the smallest possible total perimeter is a hexagonal (or honeycomb) grid—not a square grid. So, to minimize the amount of grout required to fill the joints between the tiles, a hexagonal tiling would be more economical than a square tiling, provided the hexagonal and square tiles each have the same area.

However, if the issue really concerns the number of points at which grout joints meet, then a hexagonal tiling is at a disadvantage.

There's also the task of laying the tiles, especially when they need to cover large areas. One Metro board member who had tiled two bathrooms and a foyer in his own home argued that, as a practical matter, square tiles are much easier to handle and place than hexagonal tiles. Indeed, complex tiling patterns can be expensive and time-consuming to install. But are tilings or regular hexagons really more difficult to work with than are tilings of squares?
In the end, the Metro board put off the decision for another day.

Peterson, I. 1999. The honeycomb conjecture. Science News 156(July 24):60. Available at
Sun, L.H. 2006. Board of 2 minds about 6-sided tiles. Washington Post (Oct. 20).

To see the Metro tile recommendations, go to You can find an audio recording of the Metro Board Planning and Development Committee meeting on Oct. 19, 2006, at

MathTrek 10/20/06 6:00 PM Ivars Peterson