Sunday, January 14, 2007

Somewhat Au(most) Naturale, Technically Speaking

I seem to have a web-surfing issue associated directly with my blogging.

It works kind-of like this:

I have a collection of RSS feeds of websites I follow. As I surf, if something looks good, I make a bookmark of the page in a "To Blog" folder I keep on my Firefox toolbar.

Generally I try to get a post done pretty fast, but sometimes they "simmer" for awhile as they don't really seem to merit a post on their own.

As I collect more of these, I might see a loose theme developing. For a few items in there...I've had them for almost a year...slowly cooking them until I can find the right words to reflect on them.

At other times, I will experience a particular problem, or will get a post subject idea, do research, collect the links, then post a more expanded-subject post.

On Friday, my "To Blog" bookmark folder was almost empty.

Then a perfect storm of surfing and inspiration hit to expand the folder to over ninety (90) bookmarked items at last count.

So here is a loose theme on some of them dealing with nature (for the most part)--time to empty 'em out.

AutoblogGreen - Nice blog on environmental issues related to the auto industry. I've been on the record about wanting to one day purchase a "green" vehicle. A hybrid would be nice, although I'm not certain what the overall cost-of-ownership savings would end up being. I've heard amounts ranging from net-losses to $1000+ yearly. I'm not sure, but if it makes me feel like I'm doing my part to help the world... Right now the hardest thing to overcome would be the higher initial cost of purchase for a comparative diesel or gasoline powered model.

Ford Airsteam concept: a shiny hydrogen-powered PHEV funmobile - via AutoblogGreen. I have only the fondest memories of my grandparent's Airstream travel trailer. They went through several, progressively larger and nicer models over their years. I can still close my eyes and see Grandpa on a ladder toiling to clean and wax the shiny aluminum surface and Grandma fussing at him for getting to dirty. So when I saw this Ford van concept...I can only imagine that Grandpa would have thought it the neatest thing had he still been with us. I bet he would be one of the first in line to try and buy one if it ever came to market. He would have loved having a matching Airstream truck and trailer!

In a blog entry last fall ( Where is Brave Shakespeare? ) I pondered aloud my grief and concern over the status of Animal Planet's Meerkat Manor's heroic Shakespeare. It never was resolved. Doing some web-searching, I found that quite a few folks were concerned as well.

Eventually I came across a well-developed thread at a website devoted to the British edition's narrator, Bill Nightly: More Meerkat Manor . What I discovered buried there was surprising discussion regarding the production of the series, how it is edited for television, and how the Cambridge University research program on the Meerkat's works. It is much larger than the show lets on.

Like this comment:

hi, i just got this from the people who actually film the meerkats check it out
Dear Jordan,
Tim Clutton-Brock passed your e-mail about Tosca and Shakespeare on to me. Shakespeare recovered from the snake bite but then left Whiskers during the filming of meerkat manor 1 (male meerkats leave their group when they are adult and look for groups of their own). We don’t know what happened to him, as he left the study site, but it quite likely that he is now dominant in a group of his own somewhere. As for Tosca, she is still a subordinate females in whiskers.
I hope that answers your questions!
Best wishes

or this comment that is actually a post from a LA Times article on the popular program:

Reached by telephone at Discovery Communications’ Maryland headquarters, executive producer Mick Kaczorowski said he understands viewers’ frustrations, but no one really knows Shakespeare’s fate. “It’s more honest to say we don’t know what happened,” he said. “We didn’t find a body. We don’t know the way it ended. He disappeared. We presume he’s dead.”

Finally, one of the fans got a response to a letter she wrote about the whole subject of Shakespeare to Tom Flower--the Field Project Manager for the Kalahari Meerkat Project.

With regards to Shakespeare’s story, he was bitten by a snake and did fully recover to become one of the best helpers in the group, in fact it was more spectacular than was conveyed in ‘Meerkat Manor’. But we just do not know what his ultimate fate was, meerkats are often killed defending pup’s, Shakespeare was a babysitter the day before and Lazuli were in the area. However it is equally possible that he was killed by a predator, dispersed to another group, or was killed by another group whilst trying to join them, we just weren’t there on that particular day. This is unfortunate, but we cant know everything about each meerkat. The film producers were stuck and probably drew inspiration from an incident at two other groups in the population of over 250 meerkats, where a meerkat was killed defending pups successfully.

So what is learned on the portrayal and fate of our heroic meerkat Shakespeare?

That the series producers have a bunch-load of film, that they do add a dramatic "story-line" element to the show, that when needed, and they will draw inspiration from other "natural" events in the meerkats' lives to fill in blanks. As for Shakespeare...he actually appears to have been seen babysitting the burrow one day when observed...and the next time they checked he was gone. So they decided to present a dramatic (possible) conclusion for him based on events observed at other meerkat groups encountered.

(Sighs) So if you can't trust what you see on Animal Planet...what can to trust on TV now days.....

Did you see the article Dog-fur coats make comeback at J.C. Penney that the Houston Chronicle ran the other day?

This brought a very strong WTF???!!! moment when I saw the headline so I had to read up more on these "raccoon dogs" I had never heard of before.

Turns out, the Raccoon Dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides) while scientifically a full member of the canidae family of animals...are a little bit lower down the development chain than loyal Fluffy who brings in your paper or shreds your shoes. Raccoon Dog - The Wikipedia. They are native to Asia and parts of Europe and used for fur in China. They also are the only member of the canine family to got into a form of hibernation during the winder months.

Turns out there is a sub-species of Racoon Dogs in Japan...known locally as tanuki.

So imagine my surprise when reading this article that I find that the fun (but not enough to buy) Studio Ghibli anime film house's movie "Pom Poko" were not raccoons as suggested in the American issuance, but really tanuki--Racoon Dogs. Now the film makes more sense! It was a great pro-environmental film that Alvis and I both thoroughly enjoyed--but it has some "strange" elements and overall doesn't really capture my heart like "Whisper of the Heart", "My Neighbor Totoro", or "Kiki's Delivery Service".

How about that...Racoon Dogs...I never really knew they existed.

Check the labels on your faux-fur clothes...kiddos.

According to Allen Stern over at CenterNetworks...the true (2-year) cost of an Apple iPhone works out to about $2000. Ouch. The commenter's have jumped in and done and audit of his calculations and come up with some alternatives. However, while I was very enthusiastic about the technology and wiz-bang coolness of it, the added plan features required to use it chilled me down quite a bit.

And this guy reports he got a cease-and-desist request from Apple when he began offering a free iPod'ish theme for Windows Mobile users. Apple Forces Website to Pull Windows Mobile iPhone Skin -via CyberNet Technology news. Get the skin from that link while you can...if you are interested.

And Slashdot posted a report that challenges Cisco's claim to ownership of that trademarked lots of lawyers on both sides are wetting their pants over this fight.

Think your blog is kinda drab? Wish you could add some snazzy Google plugins like an AJAX Websearch box, maybe a Google Maps API, or even a Video search? Google is offering cut-and-paste HTML code for their popular AJAX Search wizards. See their main Google AJAX Search API page for details. And bookmark the Google Code Home page as well. Neat stuff there.

All you Gmail users out there probably have more than a few email that include attachments. Lifehacker helps you manage them in their wonderful tutorial: Ask Lifehacker: Keep track of attachments in Gmail?

Finally, The Firefox Extension Guru's Blog posted Upcoming Releases/Milestones Jan/Feb ‘07

For all you Mozilla is what is (tentatively) coming down The Pipes.

  • January 29th - Firefox 3 (Gran Paradiso) Alpha 2
  • January 31st - Thunderbird 2 Beta 2
  • February 2 - Firefox and

Now where did I put my bucket?


No comments: