The Universe and Me

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Birdie in the hand

Last night after dinner, about 100 crows were perched in the very tops of two trees at my neighbor's place, much like something out of Alfred Hitchcock's movie "The Birds." By the time I grabbed my camera, they had scattered. Apparently this behavior is called roosting. Why crows roost is still speculative. They may be congregating in a favorite, safe spot. They may find protection from predators by this safety in numbers method. They may be near a food source (which I hope was not meant to be me.) Maybe they had word something exciting was going to happen here at a certain time, but it never panned out, so they left.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Searching so long to find an answer

Documentary: "Searching for Sugar Man." Imagine being at work one day and a co-worker you've known for decades non-chalantly says, "I've discovered I'm a rock star in South Africa and I have to go on tour there now." So is the story of the musician known as Rodriguez. He released two albums in the early 1970s in America but they didn't chart so the record company dropped him. We wondered if his voice was too similar to James Taylor's (with a touch of Jose Feliciano and Dylanesque lyrics) and since there already was such a singer, if that's why he went nowhere at that time.

The rest of the story is that some girl traveled to South Africa with one of his records and a friend there copied it. Nowadays the rest of the story would not happen because copying music is illegal, making me wonder how many countries will miss out on future Rodriguezes because music is now property. Back to the 70s: his music spread through South Africa and he became a phenomenon. For decades he was rumored to be dead. Finally in the late 90s, through help from the Internet and one of his daughters posting on a website, he was discovered alive and scraping by in Detroit. Now his records will be re-released. Like everything else, he seems to be be taking this new notoriety in stride with humility and grace.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Me and you, my Pluto

If you'd like to help name the small moons that orbit Pluto, check out Pluto Rocks and vote for your favorite names.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Can you see the real me?

Last January production of the 100 watt incandescent light bulb was terminated. At some point in the fall I replaced the light bulb that died in the living room with a 75 watt. Because my brain bulb was also dim, it took me a few weeks to realize why I couldn't see as well to read in that spot. Well, this January the 75 watts have been eliminated. So I'm left with 90 watt knock offs from Hungary or choosing the new ugly and much more expensive fluorescent bulbs which are dimmer than my brain bulb and take time to warm up, leaving me to wonder what century I'm living in when I'm expected to wait for a bulb to warm up and think it's progress.

That aside, Philips in the Netherlands has created an LED hue home lighting system that can be controlled by your phone so you can switch lights on or off, adjust their brightness and color from anywhere, even another country. They'll remember favorite settings and have possibly 16 million colors to chose from. A starter kit of three bulbs and some sort of router bridge costs $200. Each additional light is $60. I'm not sure how much light they provide.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Do we need 'em : Wovel

I've never used one but I suspect I might need  a Wovel. They are wheeled snow shovels designed to pick up more snow three times faster than an ordinary shovel, plus reduce physical strain. Apparently comparable to walking, you use your body weight to life and throw snow. Snow blowers are loud and I don't want to wake the entire neighborhood at 6 a.m. Plus they're not green. Many days we only have an inch or two of snow, which the Wovel is best used for. So if someone wants to buy me one, I'll give it a try!

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Who Are You, Downton Abbey version

While I haven't as yet seen the British show "Downton Abbey," I do have series one on reserve and hope to catch it soon. I don't know any of the characters, but this Downton Quiz Site says I'm "Robert, Earl of Grantham. Honest and old-fashioned, you’re primarily motivated by honor and duty. You’re so honorable, you’re actually willing to let a virtual stranger inherit all your worldly goods rather than risk breaking up your family’s legacy. Some people might call you a stick in the mud, but you can be extremely generous and forgiving toward those you feel have earned your loyalty."

Friday, February 01, 2013

Do we need 'em : Interactive Ski Goggles

Imagine zooming down a mountain called Whiteface and receiving a text message from the friend who you have tracked as being 50 feet behind you. Your speed, altitude and air time of your last jump? All this data pops up right there on a small interactive screen built into your visor. In the least intrusive spot possible, of course. Still, concentrating on the display may distract you and cause injury or death. Personally, I'd rather focus on whether or not I'm going to smack into a tree and break a leg or neck, but I have a couple nephews who would probably love this technology.