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Joshua Tree National Park February 8, 2018

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Mutants, Photography, RV and camping, Uncategorizable.
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Warning: foul language

JTNP is a dangerous place for the unwary naturalist or hiker.  Forget about scampering naked through the desert during a full moon; this place is populated by a truly bewildering variety of spiked, barbed,pointed and sharp plants guaranteed to impale an incautious passerby on the briefest hike, or trip to the restroom.

Take, for example, this beautiful specimen of Darwinian selection:

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This is known as the Spanish Bayonet, the Pointy Bastard or the Unwary Thighstabber. My wife says this is her least favorite plant, possibly due to unfortunate personal experience.  Spanish Bayonet is very stiff and the point is very hard.  I do not doubt this pointy bastard could be used as a bayonet.

Next a more delicate, elegant stiletto of a plant:

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Note the barbed thorns and tips. This herd-culling flora is known as the Lacerating Motherfucker, for good reason. Sometimes called the Wait a Minute, it grabs anything organic which brushes it and drags it towards itself in a series of painful spasms.  One presumes the plant benefits passively from the organic matter of its victims decaying around it, thus enriching the local soil. It is perhaps worth noting that many desert species secrete chemicals which inhibit the germination of other plants.  This helps explain why there are small bare patches surrounding most plants in Joshua Tree National Park.  Worth noting, too, is that the space is just large enough for small critters to pass, but not humans.

Ouch.

Then there are the more obvious instruments of torture, the standard cacti, some of which are exceptionally well defended1, such as the Malevolent Spiny Fucker:

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Closely related in terms of armament and disposition is That Dangerous Spiked Fucker:

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Not lastly (because I’m typing this in a very cramped camping chair and I need to go have a beer) is the Psychotic Rapier Clusterfuck.  Do not trip near this plant.

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As usual, the wonders of Nature make me sit back and admire her ingenuity from safely inside a locked room with air conditioning, a stereo system playing Vivaldi and powerful adult beverages to celebrate my narrow escapes.2

I would not have you finish reading this little note without understanding that the grandeur of the place is unparalleled in my experience. The Flintstonesesque scenery will make any visitor think they have landed on another planet designed by Irwin Allen, or maybe Ray Harryhausen.3:

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1.  The best defense is a good offense.

2.  I haven’t even talked about the night hikes through the Stabby Wastelands following an experienced madman to “my spot”, nor the boulder scrambling urges that demand to be addressed by the Flintstones’ rock formations here. Honestly, I don’t know what I was thinking.

3.   Seriously. Maybe Luc Besson?

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The Best Things in Life January 1, 2018

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Mutants, Photography, RV and camping.
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The momentous stuff in my life pales in comparison with a good camping trip…like this one. At our favorite local (abandoned) campground:

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Within walking distance of here we found, well, this:

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All found within twenty minutes, each cluster was part of a greater whole.

pond

This is the view across the pond…reflected in the water, then rotated and cropped in GIMP, the poor man’s Photoshop.

Absolutely Juvenile July 26, 2017

Posted by stuffilikenet in Applications, Awesome, Geek Stuff, Mutants, Toys, Uncategorizable, Video.
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I enjoyed this immensely, but it is about one in the morning and I have been up since about five cleaning house and preparing for my next Great Adventure.

 

I am probably punchy.

My Next Hobby February 7, 2017

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Mutants, Uncategorizable.
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As Reported Previously, the Ice Caps Are Gone November 28, 2016

Posted by stuffilikenet in Applications, Awesome, Mutants, Science, Toys.
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https://i2.wp.com/media.gizmodo.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/s--awA5Xrmi--.gif

Each BigDog(tm) has 8/3 reindeer power.

I’m So Stuffed I Could Just Burst November 25, 2016

Posted by stuffilikenet in Geek Stuff, Mutants, Photography.
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13

From BoingBoing.

Exciting update: Apparently aliens are a thing.  Who knew?

What Could Possibly Go Wrong? November 23, 2016

Posted by stuffilikenet in Brilliant words, Mutants.
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View image on Twitter

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Newtonmas November 21, 2016

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Can’t get it on Amazon…can it be real?

Gluten-free Bread Machine Adventures 5 November 21, 2016

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Mutants, Science, Toys, Uncategorizable.
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Wherein we find Our Hero has found that Pamela’s Gluten-free Bread Mix can be had from Amazon Prime for $2.42/lb delivered, which is no small thing here in the Frozen North, where the only town bigger than 2,000 is an hour away…

See previous Bread Machine Adventures for correct use, misuse and abuse.

I Haven’t Posted Any Mutants For a While November 7, 2016

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Mutants, Photography.
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 0_CATERS_TWO_FACED_CALF_WALKING_01-800x498

Admit it. You have missed these little oddities, haven’t you?  ‘Course you have. two heads are better than one

Most especially the frightening Two-Headed Shark From Bikini Beach (soon to be a major motion picture).

Custom-Made-Giant-Spider-Costume-With-Randomly-Flicking-Tongue-And-Voice

Sadly, it’s just a costume.

Nelson--A-Hedgehog-Without-Spikes

This is what a hedgehog looks like without the spikes.  Sort of sad, hmm?

future me, at 79 years

This guy (future me)is 79 years old. He should be in a category all his own.

もっと枝豆ください November 3, 2016

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Mutants, Science.
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Scientists at Washington State University have kicked up soybean yields 36% by increasing the number of genes coding for nitrogen-transporting proteins. They also believe the genetically-modified soybean plants may be drought-resistant and probably other stressors as well.

Soybeans have a unique ability to fix nitrogen from the air, rather than from their roots due to a symbiotic relationship with the bacteria rhizobia (Gram-negative, motile, non-sporulating rods).  This happy partnership will make my edamame appetizer in the local sushi parlor more profitable for the restaurant and me able to drink more beer with it.1  : )

 

1. Science really is the servant of man, isn’t it?

Homework:  Carter, Amanda M. and Tedeger, Mechthild. Increasing Nitrogen Fixation and Seed Development in Soybean Requires Complex Adjustments of Nodule Nitrogen Metabolism and Partitioning Processes, Current Biology Volume 26, Issue 15, 8 August 2016, Pages 2044–2051.,

Is it a Mutant if it’s Perfectly Adapted? November 3, 2016

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Mutants, Science.
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The bacteria Candidatus Desulforudis audaxviator has been discovered two miles  beneath the surface of the Earth in a gold mine in SouthAfrica.  It’s warm down there; a balmy 60 °C and completely devoid of light and oxygen.

D. audaxviator lives alone, without light or oxygen 2.8 kilometres down inside a South African goldmine

Being too far from light and oxygen has only made the little fellow more hardy; he seems to subsist on radioactive decay of uranium (sound familiar?) instead of grubbing for photosynthesis…or even eating other bacteria. Yes, in the water-filled cracks in which D. audaxviator lives, there are no other bacteria.

That’s right; no food at all. Sure, it has genes to extract carbon from dissolved carbon dioxide and other genes to fix nitrogen, which comes from the surrounding rocks, but that’s enough for this tough little bugger to synthesize all the amino acids it needs to grow and thrive.

It’s not the Andromeda Strain, though; oxygen will kill it—and it hasn’t seen oxygen for three million years, which give scientists (and even me) some idea of how old this strain must be.

Working Remotely October 14, 2016

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Mutants.
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working remotely

I may yet end up with the sort of life I once thought would be very desirable, a quiet country life with a comfortable salary.  I recently landed a gig as a technical writer doing disaster recovery document processing, which has some remote work.  Good thing, too: it’s five hours from my house one way.

Carmelized Garlic Doritos September 28, 2016

Posted by stuffilikenet in Japan, Mutants.
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Sorry; these are currently only available in Japan.  We must visit the Doritos offices in the USA with pitchforks and torches to demand protection from vampires with delicious garlic Doritos.

Dinnertime When The Stars Are Right September 28, 2016

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Mutants, Octopus, Photography, Uncategorizable.
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Mount Huff Golf Course Sunset September 4, 2016

Posted by stuffilikenet in Mutants, Photography.
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Golf Course pano

Plumas County apparently has several golf courses, but this one is three long miles from my house. It’s six holes and pretty well maintained for all that Plumas County is pretty far from the mainstream of California golfing and gets several feet of snow every year.

This panorama was stitched together from photos taken after the enchilada feast.  I should color-correct it (and probably will soon) to compensate for my phone’s poor reproduction.

Every Girl Should Have One August 29, 2016

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Mutants, Toys.
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When I think of all the pool floats I have bought for my girls, I cringe when I realize I could have bought them this.  They never would have asked for another (for one thing. For another, the other kids at camp wouldn’t have swiped this sucker, that’s for damned sure).

From Amazon.

Fluke, by Christopher Moore August 1, 2016

Posted by stuffilikenet in Books, Brilliant words, Mutants, Science.
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Fluke, by Christpher Moore, is another hilarious tale of a, well, tail, specifically the fluke of a humpback with the words “Bite me” on its fluke. The first person to witness this unusual coloration is Nathan Quinn, a whale biologist with a great fascination with whale song.  He and his terminally cute but too young-for-him research pixie Amy Earhart photograph the whale in the course of research… and the frame of film containing it goes missing.  And his sound recordings.  And his boat. And, finally, him.  He is pursued by his colleague and photographer Clay, Clay’s mean sex-fiend schoolteacher girlfriend Claire, a surfer-Rastafarian hybrid named Kona1 (nee Brad Thompson or something not very Jamaican, Hawaiian or surfish, but more New Jerseyish) and The Old Broad who funds them and who insisted that the whale called her to tell him to bring him a pastrami sandwich.

Much funnier when he tells it, of course; Moore’s signature humor is gentle and mocking  and wry and just silly sometimes. Basically, I would die to be a tenth as funny at any time.  Fluke had me laughing in crowded doctor’s waiting rooms.

Available on Amazon, naturally, but I got mine at sfpl.org.

WARNING: contains some actual science.  Does not detract from the story in the slightest.

1Kona refers to the research pixie as “the snowy biscuit”, for her fair complexion and, well, biscuitness

Monster 6502 June 30, 2016

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Geek Stuff, Mutants, Toys.
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MOnSter 6502 (prototype PCB)

Monster 6502 is a circuit-board replica of the classic (in that it appeared an Apple II) MOS 6502 microprocessor. It is the project of a couple of very serious nerds who will be running BASIC programs on it at the local reverse-engineering meetup next Wednesday.  I can’t wait to meet the guys who wrote the following snippets in the FAQ for this project:

How many components are there on the board?

In total, there are 4304 components on the board. There are 3218 transistors and 1019 resistors that comprise the “functional” part of the 6502. In addition to these, there are also LEDs sprinkled throughout that indicate the values of various control lines, registers, and status bits, as well as additional transistors and resistors (not counted in those “functional” totals) that are necessary to drive those LEDs.

As of the current design, the statistics are as follows:

  • Components that correspond 1:1 with transistors in the original 6502:
    • Total active transistors: 4237
      • 3218 enhancement mode n-channel MOSFETs
        • 2599 discrete
        • 619 located on 161 quad transistor array chips (25 of these 644 transistors were not used)
      • 1019 depletion mode MOSFETs (the MOnSter 6502 uses resistors in place of these MOSFETs)
  • 525 Additional parts present only in the MOnSter 6502:
    • 167 LEDs
    • 123 extra MOSFETs for driving the LEDs
    • 20 filter capacitors
    • 2 zero-ohm jumpers for net tie reasons
    • 8 current limit resistors
    • 167 resistors for the LEDs
    • 36 diodes (for ESD protection)
    • 2 connectors (5 V power, 40-pin “ICR” ribbon cable)
  • Total parts: 4304
Are you nuts?

Probably.

Are you going to make one out of vacuum tubes next?

No.

Is there going to be a soldering kit version of this?

No. (But on the other hand, “Anything is a soldering kit if you’re brave enough!”)

Exciting update: yeah, it was just great. Never before in the history of the world has anything so pointless been done so very well, with thorough design, component selection and pre-assembly testing carefully prepared against the day that an obsolete processor’s ghost could be made to rattle the chains of Integer BASIC. Woz would be so proud.  I have some Blurricam™ footage:

Important Update June 30, 2016

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Mutants, Toys.
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