Saturday, April 26, 2008

Finding stuff...

Yesterday, we got to the ISGM early--it opens at 11:00 AM. So we went across the street to the Fens and administered a snack to the girls.

As usual, Dahlia found coins on the ground--a penny and a nickel. Then Surenna found a dime and Jemma "found" a quarter; there is some suspicion that the quarter was planted for her to find it. If you know Jemma, a quarter is but a small price to pay to avoid the Götterdämmerung which would have taken place had she been the only sister to not find something.

Then I found something! The thing was glinting in the grass in arm's reach. I never thought it was a coin, due to the shape, I thought it might be a keyring. I got the ring part correct. It is a silver ring that says "Hope" on it. It looks like white gold or possibly tin, it doesn't have the tarnished look of actual silver.

I wore it on my little finger all day and then offered it to my wife on the drive home. She seems to like it, but in the past any jewelry that isn't gold eventually gives her a rash. Maybe her skin will tell us what metal the ring is made from.

A constant buzzing can be heard...

A lot of buzzing can be heard from over there...

Look a little closer...

There she is! An Italian Honey-Bee. (Apis mellifera ligustica)

When did we plant these? Hope they are pretty!

I recognise these as tulips, but neither my wife nor I remember planting these--or where we got the bulbs.

These are nice.

A normal Saturday

For the first time in this four day weekend, we have not done a family outing. It is kind of a relief to just take care of little odds-and-ends errand wise.

I did the long-overdue changing of the oil on my car. This is normally not too difficult to do, but BMW has some really unnecessary complications. Most cars use an oil filter which is an all-in-one unit; sheet metal housing containing the filter element. With this car, the housing is reused. So, if it is tough getting it unscrewed you can't just put a screwdriver through it for extra leverage like you can with a disposable housing. The housing is set low in the engine bay and is surrounded by stuff on all sides, so a normal oil filter wrench is difficult to get in there. I have purchased several sockets--all of which come close to fitting but don't fit well enough. Once you get the housing off, you just drop in the new element and then change the three oily 0-rings inside the housing.

I have changed oil on normal cars and not gotten a drop of oil on myself or the ground, but that is just not possible with this car.

I also changed all three windshield wipers and rainexed the front an back window.

Fresh windshield wipers--ready for the next rain.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Today we put Meenah into doggy daycare and went to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

There is a lot of interesting things about the are a few.

Great art like these two painings...

They are from different eras, but each brilliant in its own way.

The galleries surround an enclosed garden full of color, the smells of living plants and flowers. Most of the surrounding galleries have balconies overlooking the gardens.

The paintings famously stolen in 1990 still have empty frames in the places where masterpieces were once displayed.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Fish and Chips

They get along well together on a plate or in a pond:

The kids are off from school this week, so my wife and I took a couple of days-off so that we could have some outings.

We did a long walk at Minuteman Park in Lexington and then came home, dropped-off Meenah and went back out for some lunch. We ate on the outside deck of a seafood place and the deck overlooked a pond.

Jemma noticed that there are fish in the pond--lots of 1 foot long ones which the waitress thought might be "rainbow fish" After our meal, I thought I would see if the fish liked any scraps from my plate, so I threw-in a shrimp tail. The fish all swarmed to it but none of them gobbled it up. Emboldened by the initial experiment, I threw in a small piece of french fry; they all swarmed around and one fish swallowed it whole. It was a veritable feeding frenzy as all three girls broke apart their leftover fries and fed the fish.

I wondered to my wife what sort of natural selection it was which make fish chase after fried potato?

Sometimes the assumptions made are really correct

In the Democratic primary race, Mr. Obama and Ms. Clinton are essentially tied in terms of how many votes each has gotten. In various sub-populations their support is quite variable: Among African-Americans, Obama has been getting 90% and among white women, Clinton is getting 2/3 of their vote.

The assumption the press seems to be making is that Democratic voters are following racial and gender lines when deciding who to vote for. Well, not all of them are: We can reasonably expect each candidate to get 50%, since on average that is what they are getting. However far the total skews from that can be attributed to "identity" voting. So, in Obama's case he gets 90% of the AA vote. So, 40 of his percentage points are coming from people voting along racial lines.

I expect this is nothing new: For instance, who would be surprised if JFK got higher percentages among Irish and Catholics, then he would have had he not been an Irish Catholic?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Mostly wrong, but there is something to it

We have all heard the quote from Senator Obama and read a ton about it:

"...So it’s not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion..."

Maybe I can add a smidgen more: Mostly I think he is just wrong and fairly condescending as well.

First, the "they cling" makes a strong implication that it is just a matter of time before these rubes come to their senses and realize that religion and guns are bad bad bad. I won't argue this here (though I could and maybe will sometime) but it seems pretty obvious that society is strengthened by the practice of religion and by the private ownership (by the law-abiding) of fire arms.

Second, even if guns and religion were bad and people only cling to them because of their bad economic condition--it is still poor form to point this out. (Although in fairness, Obama made this statement in front of floofy S.F Democratic poobahs and panjandrums--not blue-collar Pennsylvanians.) The statement doesn't take on these "wrong beliefs" on their own terms; as if these folks have no rational or logical explanation for what they hold dear!

Well, like I said: There is a kernel of truth to it though. Who among us has not noticed that the underclass do have some odd tendencies? Like, how come people who must have absolutely nothing anybody would want to steal always seem to have vicious dogs? Even here, there may be an explanation: Maybe people who have some wealth are afraid to own such a dog because if it bites someone they will get sued and loose everything. The poor have no wealth to sue away. The lack of one disincentive doesn't explain it all though.--There are still piercings and tatoos to contend with...

Monday, April 21, 2008

Time is on her side...

Yesterday I went for a jog with Surenna. She wasn't very fast and we didn't go very far. She is closer to 1/3 my size than 1/2 and hasn't done much running. She will get better with time, I will get slower. She will eventually be faster than I, which means that at some point our abilities will be the same.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Soccer Dog

Meenah loves to chase after the soccer ball, but she won't touch it. So, what does that make her? An over-enthusiastic fan or an unagressive player?

It is great exercise for the dog and little trouble for us: We kick the ball up the hill--and she chases it up. Then the ball rolls back and she chases it back. The only hard part is that Meenah often stands in the way and we have to be careful not to hit her with the ball. Her reaction times are pretty quick though: I have seen her jump-over low fast hits and duck under low flying balls.