Ronning’s Lake Carvings

It started in January with a local PBS show. I was trying to figure out a really good gift for a really good friend with a birthday in March. I often feel I’m a poor gift giver. It’s not a lack of generosity but that I forget to allow the time necessary for proper gift selection. I find I need that time to find something that both appeals to me and (more importantly) is a great fit for the recipient.

Part of my gift giving philosophy is that the gift should be something I’d almost rather keep than give away. I figure if it appeals to me, it should appeal to my (generally like-minded) friends. I’m not sure that logic always follows, but c’est la vie.

Anyway, I was watching PBS…

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TV Tuesday 8/16/22

Early last year I wrote about Cowboy Bebop, an award-winning Japanese anime classic from 1998. It’s on my list of favorite things ever. It’s so rich on so many levels that I’ve watched and enjoyed it at least half a dozen times. For me it’s an almost perfect combination of anime, hard SF, music, action, and humor.

Late last year Netflix released a live action version with John Cho, Mustafa Shakir, and Daniella Pineda, as Spike, Jet, and Faye, respectively. I watched three episodes and bailed. It wasn’t just me. Netflix cancelled the series only a few weeks after its release.

Ever since, I’ve wanted to give it another try, see if it really is that bad.

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Mystery Monday 8/15/22

Last post I mentioned my third reading axis, the murder mystery, detective, crime, thriller axis. The interest, inherited from my dad, goes back almost as far as the science fiction axis. It started, very early, with Sherlock Holmes, which led to the Agatha Christie version, Hercule Poirot.

Dad introduced me to Parker and Spenser. That led to Chandler, Hammett, Stout, Paretsky, Grafton, and so many others. Some seeds planted in childhood flourish to become large trees, others never even sprout (I tried and rather quickly abandoned stamp, coin, and rock collecting.)

For Mystery Monday, here’s a brief update from the third axis.

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Sci-Fi Saturday 8/13/22

While I may not have been posting much lately, I have not been idle. One good descriptor for me — one that has been valid for nearly my entire life — is voracious reader. One thing I’m not, however, is a broadly eclectic reader. I tend to stay in the realms of science and science fiction, with the latter leaning well towards hard science fiction.

There is a third reading axis I love, the murder mystery, detective, crime, thriller axis (so: Christie, Grisham, Leonard, Child, et many al). And lately I’ve discovered some interest in historical accounts of quantum mechanics and the people behind it.

But Sci-Fi Saturday is all about the science fiction!

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Friday Notes (Aug 12, 2022)

It’s been a few minutes since my last post. Lately, the effort of writing hasn’t seemed worth the almost non-existent return. I find I’ve lost faith in humanity, and the phrase that seems most resonant is: “Really, when you come right down to it, what’s the point of it all?” I think, at least in our case, the Fermi Paradox seems resolved.

Perhaps more crucially, this damned dark cloud over me seems all I can write about. Everything else seems ephemeral. If we can’t solve our most basic human problems (education, race, gender, poverty, pollution) then the rest of it really is fiddling while Rome burns.

It makes me angry. Humanity can do better than this. I think.

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JWST First image!

If you follow stuff like this, you probably already know, but the James Webb Space Telescope team just released the first actual image from the telescope:

More images are expected to be released tomorrow (July 12). Visit their page for details (and the full-sized image — all 4537×4630 pixels of it). Visit their excellent “Where Is Webb?” page for the latest status and stats on the JWST.

Congrats again to everyone involved! This was an amazing (and prolonged) effort. I’m glad I get to see some of the results now!


Eleven Years

One: OTOH, holy cheeseburger with onion rings, it’s this blog’s Eleven Year Anniversary. Not to mention, just last week, the nine-year anniversary of retiring from the rat race. Perhaps it’s because Summer Solstice has passed (and now the light is dying), or maybe that my mom would have been 98 (the day after Tau Day), but I find myself more reflective and thoughtful at this mid-year turning than I do, despite the influence of Janus, at New Year’s.

Other: OTOH, I’m steeped in ennui and have never felt less like writing a blog post. The question is whether the pressure of the anniversary overcomes the desire to putter, read, or nap. I’m writing this (and presumably you’re reading it), so it looks like the day won over the mood.

So… Happy Something day. Here’s a standard disgruntled anniversary ramble…

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Friday Notes (Jul 1, 2022)

The worst of it is the three posts in my Drafts folder that I can’t seem to move forward. They sit there, woefully incomplete, mocking me while other posts spring forth, quietly get dressed, and move on out the virtual door.

They’re stuck, in part, by a need for diagrams, and I’ve been stuck between whether to load my increasingly obsolete graphics app onto my new-ish laptop or invest (time, money, effort) in something new.

And life keeps happening, and that leads to another edition of Friday Notes.

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Matter Waves

A single line from a blog post I read got me wondering if maybe (just maybe) the answer to a key quantum question has been figuratively lurking under our noses all along.

Put as simply as possible, the question is this: Why is the realm of the very tiny so different from the larger world? (There’s a cosmological question on the other end involving gravity and the realm of the very vast, but that’s another post.)

Here, the answer just might involve the wavelength of matter.

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String Evolution

Last post I wrote about a simple substitution cipher Robert J. Sawyer used in his 2012 science fiction political thriller, Triggers. This post I’m writing about a completely different cool thing from a different book by Sawyer, The Terminal Experiment. Published in 1995, it’s one of his earlier novels. It won both a Nebula and a Hugo.

I described the story when I posted about Sawyer, and I’ll let that suffice. As with the previous post, this post isn’t about the plot or theme of the novel. It’s about a single thing mentioned in the book — something that made me think, “Oh! That would be fun to try!”

It’s about a very simple simulation of evolution using random mutations and a “most fit” filter to select a desired final result.

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