Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Super exciting!

Finally, a fundamental definition of a kilogram!

Scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology have now officially defined Planck's Constant as 6.62606983 * (10^-34) (kilograms*meters squared) per second. A second is already fundamentally defined as 9192631770 cycles of the radiation produced by the transition between two levels of the cesium 133 atom. A meter is already fundamentally defined as 1/299792458 of the distance light travels in a vacuum in said second, the speed of light also being a fundamental constant of nature. From these two things, we can now back out a fundamental definition of a kilogram, which we could communicate to aliens on another planet, and they, too, would know what a kilogram was.

Until now, most of the measurements we use have had such fundamental definitions, which were universal and describable in words. The kilogram, in contrast, had been defined by a very specific bar of platinum and iridium, declared as such in 1889 by the General Conference on Weights and Measures: "This prototype shall henceforth be considered to be the unit of mass." It's kept in several protective layers of extremely protected, micromanaged, environmentally monitored vacuum-sealed safes, and they have found somehow that recently it's been losing mass, or perhaps its doppelgangers, created and shipped around the world for calibration, are gaining mass. Either way, to define a kilogram as such is terribly inelegant, ephemeral, and specific to our species, place, and time.

How much more beautiful to say, "A kilogram? Why, Planck's Constant is 6.62606983 * (10^-34) (kilograms*meters squared) per second!" instead of, "Uh, please board your rocket ship and fly over here as fast as you can, and measure our special bar here. See you in 8000 years!"


Monday, June 27, 2016

Wowza! A hail of a storm!

Yesterday afternoon, DL was sweating out in the sun weed-whacking, while I was complaining about the heat and bugs, and all of a sudden, a big gray cloud flew over the cabin and dumped us with pelting rain and the biggest hailstones I had ever seen!

As the later ones fell, they hit the ones already on the ground, and the whole mess of them went leaping and bouncing all over the yard like grasshoppers! Very exciting! Although probably not impressive by midwestern standards of giant hail. But I have no desire to experience that! I cannot believe those photos! I'm like, rreeeeallyy? Those things fall from the sky? God actually does that??


Oh, last Thurs was DL's birthday, so we took the day off and started it with giant omelettes:

He said it was eggcellent.

Omelette you enjoy the photo.


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Miscellaneous photo dump

Starbuck, the Amazing Boneless Husky, comes with foldable appendages for easy storage:

Pretty pink flowers on campus:

After visiting The Denali Center and Pioneer Home last weekend, Starbuckeroo and I went to check out a newly developed park, on the site of what had formerly been a rather rough area, used for drug deals and such. Now it's a cleaned-up city park. I guess this is now its third season, but its my first time checking it out. It has some pleasant little ponds and lakes:

The wild irises were out, and very beautiful!

Starbuckeroo checking out this nice civilized trail:

DL and I have to start envisioning recreational activities with just her and us, and the elderly ladies remaining at home. :( It pains me to think about it, but it's not fair to deny Starbuck all of the fun long hikes that they and I have taken, just because they aren't up for them any more. And I will never, ever, ever deny them their morning walks around the 'hood! We need to get up rather early for those nowadays; the vet warned us that with Autumn's heart condition, she cannot tolerate heat. We still walk a good stretch--2 miles on weekdays and 4 on weekends. Not bad for 17-year-olds!

"Ahhh... this is the life!"


"Oh oh! I am getting squozen!"

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Starbuckaroo's first stint as a ther-roo-py dog!

Starbuckeroo making friends and trying on heart-shaped glasses at The Denali Center:

She loveloveloves her job as as a ther-roo-py dog with Companions, Inc! She sits right next to her elderly friends and rubs her head against their hands for pettings. :)

Friday, June 17, 2016

And what would these pretty things be?

Found 'em growing on the East side of a building on campus. They look like a string of decorative lanterns!

Except up close, they look like Valentine hearts throwing up their hands in surprise!

"Oh my word!"

Monday, June 13, 2016

From darkness, light

Today I have received mass emails expressing love, acceptance, and compassion from my two more conservative alma maters. Although since my third alma matter is Berkeley, "more conservative" probably doesn't mean much! Nevertheless, Santa Clara University is Jesuit, and UAF is the flagship University of a "red" state. And from them we have these words:

Message from UA President Johnsen: salute to the victims of hatred

Outside of every public building where the State of Alaska and the U.S. flags fly, you’ll see both are at half staff today – a somber salute to the victims of hatred and terror perpetrated on Sunday in Orlando, Florida against the LGBT community. I join you in expressing my deepest sadness for those lives lost and for those in the LGBT community including our students, faculty and staff who are traumatized by this horrific act. The University of Alaska works hard at being inclusive and safe, and offering an environment where you can be who you are. Today, please join me in showing our respect and support for diversity and inclusiveness, and please extend your kind words and thoughts to your LGBT friends, co-workers and family.


Sympathy for the Victims of the Orlando Shooting

Dear Santa Clara University Alumni Community,

The joyous weekend celebrating Commencement was darkened by the hateful attack on a LGBTQ nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Forty nine people were murdered, at least 53 wounded and countless families impacted for the rest of their lives. Our prayers are with those who have lost their lives or were injured and their families and friends.

As a Jesuit institution that upholds the inherent value of each and every person, we condemn these shootings as a violation of human dignity not only of the victims but also of the entire LGBTQ community. This horrific act intended to instill injury, terror and helplessness among innocent people makes us all poorer by stripping us of our common humanity and breaking apart rather than building up our communities.

On behalf of the university, I wish to express sympathy for the victims and their families, and offer prayers for all who have been affected by this tragedy. To our LGBTQ campus colleagues and SCU alumni who face hatred and prejudice, I extend my support. As a Catholic community we can take action against these baseless acts of violence by making certain that care, compassion, respect and love are given to everyone regardless of their sexual orientation, religion or ethnicity.

To honor the victims and their families of the Orlando mass shooting, we are holding a vigil service today, Monday June 13th, at 4:45 p.m. in front of the Mission Church. Tomorrow, Tuesday’s 12:05PM Mass will be offered for the victims and their families. In memory of the victims, we shall fly the flag at half-staff through the week.

Please join me and the Santa Clara University community as we draw together in mutual support of those whose lives have been diminished by this unthinkable and targeted violence.


Michael E. Engh, S.J.

It's all very touching, no?

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Drug management, pi, and Roo!

Linden messed with her stitches from her last tumor removal. She'd never done that before, so we weren't so vigilant with the cone. She removed several of them, and the wound got infected. Now she's on antibiotics, and it's healing up nicely. The one extra pill added to our twice-daily routine has sent me over the edge, so I developed this temporary organization system:

Elderly care requires a lot of organization!

A friend's adult daughter is visiting this week from Idaho. She is homesick for many native Alaskan foods, so her parents dug through the freezer and cooked up moose and salmon; I made a blueberry and a lingonberry pie:

I caught Roo yawning in a photo:

Roo sez, "I will be the new Head Spokesdog for this blog!"

Tuesday, June 7, 2016


1) The wild roses are out:

2) A chill couple at the laundry room, just hangin' in their lawn chairs at 9 a.m.:

3) My vet once told me that he kept my girls' tumors he removed, in case he ever needed to examine them again. I expressed curiosity to see 'em, so the receptionist brought me this:

Apparently, one of Booger's latest... but I suspect that it's the benign fatty lipoma. I mean, surely a cancer tumor receiving a blood supply would look bloody and vascular, right?

Friday, June 3, 2016

Dogs pondering the Meaning of It All

Autumn pondering the Meaning of It All:

Linden pondering the Meaning of It All:

Starbuck pondering the Meaning of It All:

Thursday, June 2, 2016