Leslie's Cats are official!

Signal boost for Leslie's announcement on Facebook (where probably more people saw it anyway, but what the heck).  And I quote:

I've got another shameless ad for you, friends and fellow-fen. My bloodline of peculiar cats has finally gotten official recognition -- and a new name. Now I'm going to need help expanding the breed. Here's an ad which I put in the local paper, hoping for local fans to come help. I'd really prefer to have people from nearby, since cats don't travel well, but good homes and willing participants are more important than proximity. We can always figure out something.

To Help Develop a New Breed:
The Silverdust
Leslie Fish

Thanks to the luck of mutation, I’ve come up with a new breed, which I call Silverdust, just recently awarded Experimental Breed status by The International Cat Association. At present, we have only two generations of them, and a total of three cats and seven kittens. That makes just ten of them in the whole world. That’s not enough for the breed to survive. We need to breed a third generation, and at least 10 more Silverdust cats, to guarantee that the breed survives -- and I can’t do it alone.

The Silverdust is derived from the Oriental Shorthair, which in turn descends from the Siamese, and these little creatures do indeed have the slender body-build, big ears and eyes, personality and voice of the Siamese. There the resemblance ends, for the Silverdust has a roaned-grey silver coat, gold-green eyes, workable thumbs on each forepaw, a larger-than-normal skull with a larger-than-normal brain inside, and a remarkably high intelligence. Silverdusts are also very friendly and people-oriented, and are shameless petting-sluts.

I need two or three dedicated cat-lovers, right now, to take breeding pairs of the kittens:
to raise them, get them their shots, breed them when they’re old enough, and then select the next generation of breeders from among their kittens. Please stay in contact with me so we can track the breed’s progress. Also, I have developed a reliable way to find good homes for non-breeder kittens.

Please contact me for more information at 602-373-0320 or
glass squid fascinating

Oh, poop!

Figures Tony Wu would be the one to point this out.  Of course goodness knows if you follow whales around with a camera, poop you will see from time to time.  But it appears we aren't getting enough - a lot of the planetary nutrient circulation is based on things like animals that eat stuff down low in the ocean and then poop it up in the higher levels.  Alas, the current situation of the planetary megafauna in and out of the water is kinda dismal in comparison with the early Pleistoscene, and there's an article about it.  Rather than restate the contents, I just point you at Tony's most recent journal (which you should be reading anyway), Missing Mega Poop.

Oh, what the heck - I doubt he'll mind my sharing one photo from the page - a Bride's whale pooping...

A bit of halloween silliness

My response to Medium's October prompt (write a 5 paragraph story with the beginning line "When I got home that night, I noticed the smiling jack-o-lantern in my front yard was crushed.:...)

When I got home that night, I noticed the smiling jack-o-lantern in my front yard was crushed, weeping seedy tears as the garden gnome raised his club for another hit. “Hey! I told you, not to come back here!”

The gnome turned around, smirking. “It’s Halloween, I can go anywhere and do anything I please for the night”.

“Then why are you wasting your time here smashing bitty little pumpkins? Why not collect the other gnomes and march on the big display in the park?”

“Thanks for the suggestion,” he sneered, “Maybe I will. After I ruin the porch!”

I reached behind me and pulled my new acquisition from the seat. “And maybe you won’t either.” With a roar, the chainsaw came to life, and I advanced on the little pest…

A MOST appropriate blog title..

One for the books, if the book is Great Horror Tales of Chemistry anyway.  5 years old, but quite appropriate for the month which contains Halloween.

February 23, 2010

Things I Won't Work With: Dioxygen Difluoride

Posted by Derek

The latest addition to the long list of chemicals that I never hope to encounter takes us back to the wonderful world of fluorine chemistry. I'm always struck by how much work has taken place in that field, how long ago some of it was first done, and how many violently hideous compounds have been carefully studied. Here's how the experimental prep of today's fragrant breath of spring starts:

The heater was warmed to approximately 700C. The heater block glowed a dull red color, observable with room lights turned off. The ballast tank was filled to 300 torr with oxygen, and fluorine was added until the total pressure was 901 torr. . .

And yes, what happens next is just what you think happens: you run a mixture of oxygen and fluorine through a 700-degree-heating block. "Oh, no you don't," is the common reaction of most chemists to that proposal, ". . .not unless I'm at least a mile away, two miles if I'm downwind." This, folks, is the bracingly direct route to preparing dioxygen difluoride, often referred to in the literature by its evocative formula of FOOF.

(update - the blog it was in moved, so updated the link to the still quite interesting article...)


Got my first Kuriositas bulletin in awhile...  Satsop, Washington began an atomic power plant in 1977, only to abandon the uncompleted result when they ran out of funding in 1983.  The result, an fascinating video trip through the ruins of something that never really was. My thanks to Kuriositas for the link.

Atomic Ruin from Andrew Walker on Vimeo.


Enceladus Sloshes

Water, water everywhere....  Thanks, Krypton Radio!!

NASA Confirms an Ocean on Enceladus

enceladusWe have known about the water on  Enceladus for a while now. Hydrothermal vents at its southern pole shoot water vapor into space, high enough and big enough to be seen hundreds of thousands of miles away. But now, thanks to some clever analysis of the wobble in its orbit around Saturn, we now know something else about it: that water comprises an ocean that spans the entire globe, just under its solid crust.

NASA worked out the answer to the puzzle of whether Enceladus had a global ocean using research from Cassini, a spacecraft launched in 1997 that arrived at Saturn in 2004 and has spent the last decade studying the planet and its many moons.

Enceladus isn’t the only worldlet in our Solar System that jets liquids from its surface, and once Cassini arrived in orbit around Saturn it was to confirm that the moon was spouting water. But while there had been suspicions that  Enceladus had a subsurface sea, nobody really knew for sure how big that sea was. In this latest study of the gathered data, however, the researchers noticed a wobble in its orbit that  “can only be accounted for if its outer ice shell is not frozen solid to its interior.”

In other words, Enceladus sloshes.


Earthquake downstairs...

About 9:56 pm, there was a sound like either a very small earthquake or someone driving by, but the house didn't shake enough for the latter. So after a bit I checked the  USGS "Did You Feel It?" site to see if someone had reported one and they had*. Rated about 2.7 on the Richter Scale; won't be surprised if that goes down in a bit - it was teeny.  Tossed in my two bits (Noticed it.  Barely.) For the fun of it looked up the epicenter coordinates on Google Earth - less than 100 yards from here, down the short block and around the corner. Given a depth of 9 km, that effectively puts it right under us.  At this point Vicky called who understandably did NOT feel it being several miles away.  But apparently she had friends calling about "did you hear about the earthquake under your parents' house"... Shared amusement (both of us grew up in SoCal; microquakes are no big deal).  Anyway, may as well assure the World at Large that we are Just Fine and considering what to sell as souvineers.  :)

*2015-09-04 21:55:33 LOCAL if you want to look it up

One Eternal Minute

My thanks to unapologeticliberal, in the Daily Kos for pointing this article out to me.

We all have these memories, at least when we've been around long enough.  The "where were you" moments when you heard of the assasination of JFK, of the events of 9/11... unexpected horrors and the mundane surroundings that will remain indelible in your memory thereafter.  For anybody my age, at least, the assasination of Bobby Kennedy qualifies - how he reached out to shake the hand of a busboy and was shot.  The touching story of how the busboy in question knelt to keep Bobby's head off the floor, and pressed his own rosary into his hand.. and of course how despite all efforts Robert Kennedy died.

Not too surprisingly, this event has followed Juan Romero through the rest of his life.  Steve Lopez has a marvelous article in the August 29, 2015 Los Angeles Times which I am not going to quote - better just to send you to the entire article.  So click on the title (though you may want to keep a box of tissues nearby.)

The busboy who cradled a dying RFK has finally stepped out of the past