September 2009 Archives

Wandering the Web
September 30, 2009 9:57 AM | Posted in:

We went to the West Texas Food Bank's fundraiser last night, partaking of food from a variety of restaurants (including red curry buffalo from Zucchi's), watching (but not participating) in a sometimes listless auction of goods ranging from a rocking chair to a telescope, and listening to the current incarnation of The Lovin' Spoonful. And as Jerry Yester crooned the lyrics of Younger Girl ("...and the younger girl keeps rollin' 'cross my mind..."), I couldn't help thinking of the unfortunate coincidence of Roman Polanski's long-overdue arrest. I doubt that's the association the band wanted to create.

Anyway....

  • What do you get when you cross a sculptor with a taxidermist and mix in a bit of steampunk? Why, Lisa Black, of course. Her creations are simultaneously disturbing and fascinating. (H/T Collect3d)

  • I know that riding a recumbent already puts me squarely in the category of ubĂ«r-geeky, subcategory human-powered-vehicles, but I'm pretty sure that I'm still not willing to rock this:


It's a heads-up navigational display designed for use with an iPhone, featuring a little flip-down eyepiece via which your route is projected in real-time/real-space. I confess to being taken with the concept, but in reality I pretty much never ride in unfamiliar places. Then there's the idea of strapping a fragile device costing $600 onto something that's designed to banged about with great force.
  • I haven't been on the Google Books website much, but if I was going to commit large chunks of my discretionary time there, most of it would land on the collection of the entire library of Life Magazine in its weekly incarnation (1935-1972). The ads alone in the old editions are priceless. (But I have to confess that I had no idea that Life discontinued weekly publication in 1972. Where do the decades go?) (H/T Kung Fu Grippe)

  • The publishing world just got a lot scarier, with Sony's announcement that it's opening its e-Book reader to self-published authors. That means that I can, theoretically, add  "The Best of the Fire Ant Gazette" to the mix (if there was a "best of" to begin with). Sony says it will vet submissions only for hate speech, plagiarism, improper formatting or public-domain books offered by another other than the legitimate author. They say nothing about quality, so I'm golden.

    Talk about abusing the Long Tail...

Fascinating Animation
September 26, 2009 10:06 AM | Posted in:

Amazing example of stop-action video+animation. The footage repeats itself, but it's worth watching twice. [Via BOOOOOOOM!]

Random...aw, heck...you know the drill...
September 25, 2009 3:05 PM | Posted in:

Perhaps someday I'll come up with a topic that (1) is interesting and (b) I know something about, but until that [unlikely] event occurs, here's more random goodness from the interwebz:

  • Don't you just hate people who write "interwebz"?

  • Xslimmer simultaneously intrigues and scares me to death. This Mac-only application purports to slit open the belly of your favorite software like an overripe tuna, drag the guts out over the dining room table, smoosh them around a bit and then excise the stuff that's not needed for your particular machine. I get antsy just thinking about a program that fiddles with the code of other programs, especially when I use those other programs to make what passes for a living around here.

    At the same time, the theory seems sound. Many Mac apps are still coded in universal binary so they work on both PowerPC and Intel processors. Many also are installed with multiple language options. Xslimmer simply (ha!) removes the code that's not necessary for your machine. It also backs up the original app and allows you to restore it if, as the company itself puts it, "you suspect it does not work correctly after being slimmed down."

    Anyway, at this point I have plenty of hard drive space, but if you're running an Intel machine and are running low on space, you might give it a whirl. Then report back here...if you're able.

  • If you don't want to make your programs skinnier, maybe you could just find some alternatives via AlternativeTO. This site provides suggestions for replacements Windows, Mac, and Linux programs. Of course, as they say, YMMV.

  • While Xslimmer may not be what I need right now, I sure could use some good anatomical charts of Japanese monsters. Not sure what they mean by "mythical," though. [Via tulipgrrl on Twitter]

  • Here's a demo of Honda's take on the Segway. I dunno; the models don't look all that comfortable operating it. I also don't see any place to attach mudflaps. [Via TechBlips]


  • Honda's experiment is nice, but here's what I really want:
Photo of strange bicycle

I'm pretty sure that if we were to see this bike from the other side, we could confirm that there's a steering tube that connects the handlebars to the front wheel via a series of linkages that aren't visible from this side. Our recumbent tandem uses a similar setup for steering. (We look just as weird riding it, but in a different way.) [Via Soup.io]
  • Don't know if you spent any time on Soup.io*, but if you did you might have noticed that it employs a design referred to as "endless scrolling." This isn't entirely accurate, of course, as the amount of possible content for a website is not infinite, even if the boredom associated with much of it is. But what it means is that every time you think you're getting to the bottom of the page, additional content is loaded. No, it's not magic; it's a sufficiently advanced technology known as JQuery, and if you have enough garbage content on your blog to make it worthwhile, here are the instructions for implementing it.

    [Actually, while I wouldn't suggest using this technique on a commercial website, it does have some advantages for blogs and similar sites that are comprised of a series of articles.]
I've got more, but since I haven't implemented the jQuery Endless Crap™ plugin, let's just conclude it here, shall we? Have a great weekend!

*Update: I've removed the link to Soup.io because the site contains some material that's inappropriate for the informal PG rating of the Gazette. I apologize if you stumbled across some of it; the site is an aggregator, pulling content from a variety of sources, and you never know what's going to appear.

Random Thursday
September 24, 2009 6:38 AM | Posted in:

I know...two consecutive days with posts that consist of actual words. Don't get used to it. I started this one to test some new software - MarsEdit, if you must know - and needed to post something other than images to get a good feel for how it works. (I ended up not being too impressed; luckily, I was using it during the 30-day free demo period.) Anyway...

  • Thank goodness Ashley Hamilton and Macy Gray were eliminated from Dancing With The Stars last night, sparing us further pain of watching them. Next up (we hope): Tom DeLay.

  • Security expert Bruce Schneier has another interesting article on his blog, this one about assigning responsibility for the protection of individual financial information to the entity most able to do something about it: the bank. He takes a rather revolutionary view of the situation:
They can't claim that the user must keep his password secure or his machine virus free. They can't require the user to monitor his accounts for fraudulent activity, or his credit reports for fraudulently obtained credit cards. Those aren't reasonable requirements for most users. The bank must be made responsible, regardless of what the user does.
Anticipating push back from the banking community, he then points out that credit card companies already take this approach to security, and they're doing fine financially, and their security issues aren't unmanageable, either.
  • Gotta love these t-shirt designs. I especially like the "Loch Ness Imposter," "Demise of Mr. Flamingo," and "Baby Godzilla." Unfortunately, each one is sold out in my size. Think anyone would notice if I stole borrowed the designs and put them on my CafePress Store t-shirts?

  • I'm absolutely not responsible for what happens if you click this link. Don't say I didn't warn you. (But you'll have a bit of control over what you see if you do click it, if you're willing to stick around long enough to experiment.)

  • Here's a guy who's building a camper that fits on top of shopping cart. I guess his target market consists of those guys who eagerly await the next release of Raisin Bran Crunch at the local grocery store. The same fellow also invented the bicycle-mounted camper, a vehicle that was obviously never tested during a West Texas spring windstorm.

  • I was simultaneously intrigued and repulsed by the thought of taking the silk from one million golden orb spiders and weaving a beautiful tapestry from it. I've also crossed off yet another career option: spider silk extraction technician. I tried to discover just exactly how one goes about extracting silk from a million spiders. I was unsuccessful, which is fortunate because such is the stuff of nightmares. (I did find a reference to a spider silk "reeling machine" along with a highly technical description of everything except how the darned thing actually works.)

  • But I did learn of another intriguing use of spider silk: fiber optic circuitry. This technique is amazing. Scientists have figured out a way to coat the spider silk (don't ask how they get it in the first place) with silicon, then bake it until the silk dissipates, leaving a much-smaller-than-hair-thin tube through which they can shoot light. As with the aforementioned golden tapestry, the silk from the golden orb spider was initially used, but the geeks are planning to use silk from another species of spider that will yield tubes even smaller: around two nanometers, or twelve times smaller than those produced by more conventional methods. (Of course, I just noticed that this article was published about six years ago; I have no idea of if or how this technology was extended.)

  • OK, enough about spiders. I'll leave you with a recommendation for a very sweet movie that was unknown to yours truly until my wife put it on our NetFlix queue. Check out Marilyn Hotchkiss' Ballroom Dancing & Charm School, a gem featuring a dozen familiar faces including Marisa Tomei, Mary Steenburgen, John Goodman, and Donnie Wahlberg, with appearances by Sonia Braga, Adam Arkin, Sean Astin, Danny DeVito, Ernie Hudson, and several others whose faces you'll recognize even if you might not recall their names. And, yes, it does feature some ballroom dancing, although that's not what the movie is about.

Random Thursday - The Wednesday Edition
September 23, 2009 8:15 AM | Posted in:

Lotsa fascinating stuff around the web lately, to wit:

  • For anyone who loves to read, bookshelves are a necessary evil, at least for those who haven't yet drunk the Kindle Kool-Aid. For one thing, they take up space that might otherwise be productively employed to showcase big screen TVs. However, with a little imagination (and an aggressive budget), they can become something very close to art.

  • Jackson Pollock's paintings are immediately recognizable, and now you can create your own online versions, thanks to Miltos Manetas (H/T It's Nice That). If the previously linked site seems unintuitive, let me share a couple of tips. After clicking the "Enter JacksonPollock.org" link, you'll find that every movement of your mouse in your browser window results in "paint" being deposited on the "canvas" of your browser window. Each click of your mouse will change the color of the paint flowing from your cursor. Here's the result of one of my experiments (Pollock has nothing to fear from my competition):

After Jackson Pollock

  • Got a blog or another website containing words? Then you, too, can have your own "word cloud." Why?, you may ask. Why not?, I may reply. And then that brief exchange might someday appear in my own cloud. Here's an example created from the Gazette's home page of a few days ago:

Word Cloud

I'm not thrilled about having "coach," "Mack," and "Austin" appear in my cloud, and I could have actually used a feature in Wordle to remove those or any other words from the cloud had I so desired.
  • Starbucks has finally rolled out an iPhone app for locating its stores. It's free and it works great, unlike some of the third-party apps whose performance is rather dodgy. (I finally now know where the SBUX in San Angelo is located!)

    Also on the drawing board from Starbucks is an app that will allow you to use your iPhone as a Starbucks card for purchases. It's now being tested in certain locations in Seattle and the Bay Area of California, according to this post on the Wall Street Journal's Digits blog.

  • And, finally, while there are a multitude of speakers designed to work with iPods, not very many sport tube amplifiers. I don't know whether the tubes make them sound any better, but they certainly look cool. (H/T MacWorld)

New Gallery Images
September 22, 2009 6:27 AM | Posted in:

I've added a handful of images to the Gallery, including the one shown below.

Stylized photo of a hummingbird

Putting the Obama Dress into Perspective
September 21, 2009 11:51 AM | Posted in:

I'm not sure why everyone is making such a fuss over the dress worn by that soap opera actress - Victoria Rowell - at the Emmy Awards ceremony last night, the gown adorned with an Obama-head pattern. Sure, it's ugly, but it's not like this is the first time that a dress has been ruined by a Democratic president.

Aggies Infiltrate Austin
September 21, 2009 6:05 AM | Posted in:

It was possible that in the hubbub surrounding some football game that took place Saturday night in Austin (*yawn*), a more momentous occasion was overlooked. We at the Gazette want to do our part to ensure it's recorded for posterity.



This photo was graciously sent to me by Gazette reader Lisa, a Georgetown resident  whose husband's construction company just celebrated the topping-out of what is now Austin's tallest building (legacy media news report). Here's an excerpt from Lisa's transmittal email:

This past week, my husband's construction company celebrated the Topping Out (not Topping Off, as the media likes to call it) of the city's now-tallest building. It was a big day in Austin, covered by lots of media. What they didn't talk about, however, was the tradition of construction companies to mount a tree to the uppermost part of the building to symbolize its completion. And since this project is managed by a bunch of Aggies, they celebrated with this photo. And that shot? It was taken from Mack Brown's unfinished suite on the 17th floor.

In case you don't know, Mack Brown is the head football coach for UT (or, tu, for my Aggie compadres). I can't help wondering what surprises might await Coach Brown once he's moved into his new digs.

Sunday Morning Hawk
September 20, 2009 2:41 PM | Posted in: ,

I was sitting on our front porch after breakfast, accompanied by a Bible and a cup of coffee - both being essential to Sunday morning (or any morning, for that matter) - enjoying the beautiful weather. The street light at the corner of our yard was decorated with five or six Mexican doves basking in the sunshine.

My reverie was interrupted by the sound of frantic flapping as the birds exploded away from their metal perch and I looked up, wondering what had caused their alarm. Just then, a young hawk arrived from the east, swooping down and alighting where the doves had previously stood. I mentally kicked myself for once again forgetting to bring the camera, but he was perfectly content to sit and watch the other birds flying quickly past, studiously avoiding him. I crept back inside, grabbed the Canon, returned to my chair and snapped a dozen or so photos before he flew across the vacant lot and perched in a tree by the north pond.




The Mist
September 19, 2009 2:00 PM | Posted in: ,

As we headed out to breakfast this morning, we noticed a bit of fog and mist in some of the low-lying areas and around the golf course across the pasture, but it wasn't until we turned onto "A" Street that we saw this striking bit of meteorological phenomena:





This line of mist or fog stretched horizontally for about a mile, running east and west. It floated about ten or twelve feet about the ground and appeared to be about ten feet thick. I don't recall ever before seeing anything quite like this.

"A modern spiritual"
September 18, 2009 10:48 AM | Posted in: ,

Was Lawrence Welk really this clueless? (H/T Charles at Dustbury.com)



I initially thought this was a very well done spoof, but I'm now pretty sure it's legit.

Here's a tip: just because a song mentions Jesus and Mary - even as proper nouns instead of exclamations - doesn't make it a "spiritual."

Confession: I still have Tarkio Road, the album from which this song came, on vinyl. And, yes, I knew what I was buying when I bought it.

Random Thursday
September 17, 2009 6:02 AM | Posted in:

Some random thoughts (hey, it's what we do) while contemplating what I'd do with an electric car that generates more torque than an M1 Abrams tank (well, other than pulling my house - slab and all - to the vacant lot across the street that has a better view of the pond).

  • I got another of those African scam emails this week, and I decided that the world's most difficult job would be a new account marketer for the Central Bank of Nigeria. I mean, how would you ever convince someone that you're on the level? I'm pretty sure that emailing potential customers would be verboten.

  • This is pretty cool. Some dude took a digital photograph of a handcuff key hanging from a policeman's belt, then used a 3D "printer" to create a plastic replica. Turns out that it actually worked. (H/T Schneier on Security)

  • At dinner last night, we were discussing whether you could actually explode a nitroglycerin tablet. That made me think of this video (H/T Geeks are Sexy):



  • To be honest, I didn't know anything about liquid oxygen (aka "condensed oxygen"). Googling it turned up some misleading ads for a kind of sports or health drink. But the real stuff is used for rocket fuel, and, according to Wikipedia, was discontinued in weapons production due to excessive "accidents." But, if you're serious about LOX, you can make your own.

  • Here's another video brought to light by Geeks are Sexy. It's a modern day riff on a Rube Goldberg contraption, using RFID chips to activate each step:

Nearness from timo on Vimeo.


  • Are you a baseball fan? Even if you're not a rabid fan, you might enjoy this account of the first baseball game, played on a sunny afternoon on June 19, 1846. (H/T Columbia University Press via Twitter)

  • And, finally, having seen its fruit, some of you were wondering what the pomegranate tree looks like. Your wish is my command (for a sense of scale, the brick wall in the background is about 7' tall):
Photo - Pomegranate tree

Plucking Pomegranates
September 15, 2009 6:39 AM | Posted in: ,

We picked our first two pomegranates this evening. The softball-sized fruit looked so red and shiny, we just couldn't resist finding out whether they were really ripe - or just looked that way.

Photo - 2 Pomegranates

Debbie halved one of them and the fleshy seeds certainly looked ripe.

Photo - Pomegranate halves

As it turns out, we might have been a week or so premature, but not being a pomegranate expert, I could be wrong. The fruit wasn't as sweet as I expected, but it was quite juicy and not at all unpleasant.

Pomegranates are a lot of work to eat. I suppose some people eat the seeds, but I prefer to just mush a mouthful around to get the juice and then spit out the remnants. Debbie mashed the rest of the fruit through a strainer (we don't have a juicer) and pronounced the juice quite good.

Our tree has at least a dozen more of the fruit in various stages of ripeness. It will be interesting to see how many of them ripen fully before the weather gets too cold.

Random Thursday - The Monday Edition
September 14, 2009 7:00 AM | Posted in:

A few random thoughts while marveling at the human train wreck that is Kanye West.

  • For a variety of reasons, I watched the second half of the Dallas/Tampa Bay football game yesterday, which is not my usual way of passing a Sunday afternoon. Dallas won the game by a comfortable margin, but the game was closer than the score indicated thanks to a defense that did little more than take up space on the field until Tampa Bay's offsense made mistakes. I think the Cowboys' season could be a roller coaster affair, with their offense scoring at will while their defense allows the other team to do the same.

  • The subject of this recent AP report is Cliff Yeary, aka the kilt-wearing one-eyed blacksmith from Fort Stockton, my hometown. Cliff's dad was one of my Sunday School teachers, his brother a high school classmate, and his sister a former co-worker. His parents still live a couple of blocks from my parents. So, it's fun to see how Cliff's talent for working metal has played out. To say he's led an interesting life is a bit of an understatement.

  • The software company Symantec has created a couple of amusing ads for its virus protection application. One features "Ultimate Fighting" superstar Kimbo Slice facing down a caterpillar with a bad attitude, and the other has the metal band Dokken squaring off against...well, you'll just have to watch. (H/T Geeks Are Sexy via Twitter)



  • Speaking of football, did you happen to catch the score of the Stephen F. Austin/Texas College game Saturday? SFA won 92-0.  The game was relatively close going into the 4th quarter, with SFA nursing a 78 point lead; fortunately, they got two insurance touchdowns to seal the victory and allow their coaching staff a sigh of relief. Seriously, though, the time of possession stat was even more amazing than the score. It may have been a misprint, but the stats showed that SFA had the ball for a tad more than 14 minutes out of the 60 minute game. That equates to scoring more than 6 points per minute, which has to be some kind of record at any level of competition save high school 6 man football. (At least the latter has a "mercy rule.")

  • From the "I think I'm flattered but I'll pass just the same" department. Over the past couple of weeks or so I've been contacted by both sides of an upcoming local political campaign to do the candidates' websites. I stopped doing campaign websites a few years ago, and I clearly state that on my own site, so it was easy to turn down both campaigns. In a community like Midland where everybody pretty much knows everybody else, there's very little upside to taking sides in a political campaign where there's not a gnat's breath of difference between the two candidates anyway.

Cellphone Radiation
September 9, 2009 6:01 PM | Posted in:

As reported in this Wired article, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has analyzed almost 1,300 models of cellphones to determine how much radiation each handset emits. They've created a helpful database of their findings, and you can query that data via the widget displayed at right.

What you won't know after looking up your phone is whether the radiation level is good or bad, because, apparently, no one else knows. The assumption is that any radiation is worse than no radiation, and while the FCC sets guidelines for acceptable levels for cellphones, the EWG doesn't put much stock in those guidelines.

For the record, my iPhone 3GS emits radiation in a range of 0.52 - 1.19 W/kg*. By comparison, the best phone in the study, the Samsung Impression, emits a maximum of only 0.35 W/kg, or one-third the iPhone's level. (I'm sure that has something to do with the Impression's impressive five pound weight; those lead cases aren't light, you know. OK, just kidding.)

*watts/Kilogram - This is a measure of the rate at which a mass of tissue (that's you) absorbs energy (that's radiation)

New Images
September 9, 2009 8:12 AM | Posted in:

I've uploaded a few new images to the Gallery.

This Bud's Taboo
September 8, 2009 6:29 PM | Posted in: ,

Remember that ad campaign a few years ago that featured the Budweiser Frogs? This isn't one.

Photo - Budweiser can lying on lily pad

I learned everything I know from subtitles
September 8, 2009 2:59 PM | Posted in: ,

My wife inexplicably added Dirty Dancing to our NetFlix queue. I inexplicably put it in the DVD player this morning (my copy of Die Hard 3 having mysteriously gone missing), and as is my habit while watching a movie during a run on the treadmill, I activated subtitles so as not to miss any of the deep and moving dialog.

You may not have noticed, but the writers of movie subtitles often exercise what I'll diplomatically refer to as artistic license when generating the text that accompanies the movie's audio track. The really good (or compulsive) subtitlers will even describe sound effects (craaaack!) or musical interludes (cello playing ominously). You'll occasionally see long monologues paraphrased, sometimes in ways that affirm one's suspicions that no aspect of modern industry is immune to outsourcing to workers for whom English is, at best, a second language.

And, sometimes, they just get it wrong, having apparently thrown up their figurative hands in dismay, as if they'd been asked to subtitle the original version of Louie, Louie. Such is the case with one scene in Dirty Dancing.

Remember when Baby and Johnny are doing the mambo exhibition while Johnny's regular partner visits the butcher with the coat hanger? Of course you do; don't play coy. Anyway, she's all, like, nervous and he's all, like, just follow my lead, and he's talking her through the next steps (like anyone ever does that), and at one point he says, very clearly, albeit sotto voce, "cross body lead."

Now, as we all know, the cross body lead is one of the more common moves in ballroom and Latin dancing, where the male turns away from the female and then pulls her past his body in one fluid (theoretically) motion so that she ends up on the opposite side of where she started. One can do cross body leads in everything from cowboy two step to rumba to foxtrot (although I've never seen anyone actually successfully execute the move while doing the gator). So, it's not like it's some exotic move that was specially created at Patrick Swayze's behest just for this movie.

Anyway...well, I've lost my train of thought. Oh, wait; the subtitle. Yeah, when Johnny says cross body lead, the subtitle comes up as now spot a lead. Oh, my. Talk about a disaster of epic proportions.

I think (I hope) the message is clear: never rely on subtitles when trying to master subject material of a highly technical or life-and-death nature. Because it might just be that the next time you're trying to defuse a bomb before it blows up the nunnery, instead of playing through your head the proper snip the red wire, you'll hear strip and head higher, and not only will people die, but you'll probably be humiliated. 

And yet another bug pic
September 4, 2009 7:00 AM | Posted in: ,

We've were hit with a veritable plague of grasshoppers a couple of weeks ago. Occasionally, we'd pick up a hitchhiker on the car, including this one that landed on the windshield, and provided a rather unique perspective for a photo.

Photo of a Grasshopper

Yeah, it's another bug pic
September 3, 2009 9:52 PM | Posted in: ,

This critter was on the wall outside the studio where we had our dance lesson tonight. It's some variety of walking stick insect but I've never seen one quite like it before. It's about six inches in length, and more delicate-looking than most walking sticks I've seen.

Photo of a Walking Stick (insect)

Stalking the wily petabyte
September 2, 2009 6:45 AM | Posted in: ,

I can remember when an 80 megabyte hard drive was an extravagant, four-figure upgrade to a computer. I remember being blown away in 1998 when I learned that Microsoft's TerraServer project contained one terabyte of data.

Today, I've got three terabytes (that's ~3,000 gigabytes) of storage scattered among a handful of internal and external drives, and that's starting to feel a bit cramped. So, where do you go when terabytes are insufficient?

If you're BackBlaze, a company that provides "unlimited" online backup space for $5 per month, the next step is measured in petabytes (~1,000 terabytes or 4 quadrillion bytes, numbers that make even the US Congress look like an underachiever). BackBlaze has built and, presumably, continues to build its storage system in components that they refer to as "pods," each of which contains 45 1.5 terabyte Seagate hard drives, totaling 67 terabytes. Total cost of each pod: just $7,867. And if you want to build one for yourself, BackBlaze has helpfully provided detailed instructions. It really is a DIY project, albeit a bit more technically challenging than painting the guest bedroom.

BackBlaze has managed to get the cost of a petabyte of storage down to $117,000, or around 150% of the cost of the raw hard drives. This is a pretty amazing feat, especially considering that some of the currently available turnkey storage solutions run north of $2 million.

H/T: TechBlips via Twitter
This post at the Freakonomics blog cites a Canadian study that found that 90% of accidents involving bicyclists in its sample were caused by "clumsy or inattentive driving" by motorists.

The only surprise about this is that the author is apparently surprised, writing: When it comes to sharing the road with cars, many people seem to assume that such accidents are usually the cyclist's fault -- a result of reckless or aggressive riding.

Really? Perhaps he runs with a cycling crowd with a heightened feeling of invincibility or an enhanced death wish, but pretty much every bicyclist I know hits the road with the fear that it and its motorized occupants will hit back. In addition, that 90% figure stated above is probably accurate with respect to the accidents leading to cyclist deaths in our area. Many of them occurred on flat straight roads with no visibility issues; the drivers just veered over and struck the cyclists from behind.

Findings like these are all the more reason why a safe passing law is needed in Texas, especially if accompanied by an education campaign.

An interesting footnote to the study is the finding that the third leading cause of cyclist accidents in the study was from drivers opening their car doors in the path of the bicyclists. I find this interesting because I don't personally know of a local bicyclist who has experienced this. I guess it's a function of cycling in a heavy urban area with lots of on-the-street parking. On the other hand, I suspect that at least a few of these "accidents" were actually caused by frustrated drivers stuck in gridlock who noticed cyclists moving through the line of cars.

Bugged
September 1, 2009 6:06 AM | Posted in: ,

I seem to be in a photographic rut lately, but the insect world has presented some opportunities too good to ignore.

I spotted this unknown variety of shield or stink bug on one of the red-tipped photinia in our front flowerbed. I browsed in vain through more than 500 photos via Google's image search without finding a match for this particular coloration and pattern, but I suspect there are thousands of variations. Anyway, I don't recall ever seeing one quite like this.

Photo of shield bug
Photo of shield bug

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from September 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

August 2009 is the previous archive.

October 2009 is the next archive.

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