Sunday, January 31, 2010

Do Cats Play With Their Food?

Why yes... yes... they do.

For those who never heard the tale, we got Mauser to dispose of mice in the barn. She is a cat picked specifically to be "a hunter who isn't too social with people."

When first released in the barn, she immediately ran off, and we wondered if we'd ever see her again. She didn't seem to be eating cat food left for her at the barn, but the mouse population did seem to be in decline. We later decided she was using it as bait.

Eventually she reappeared when some of our friends were over helping us build a bonfire. Since then, she's been a surprisingly social cat. She doesn't like to be picked up, but she will run in front of you and lay down for you to rub her belly.

And she's death on a stick to field rats, rabbits, birds, lizards, and just about anything else she can catch.

Incidentally, this is my first real success at video editing. Go me.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Dubious Email

What a surprise! I apparently won some kind of contest that I didn't even enter!

You have receive this notification because this email account ( ) was enter as a bonified winner in the Euro Million online promotion draw with a prize benefit of (€510.250 Euros). If you are the owner of this email ( and you wish to claim this prize, please contact Mr. Phillip Sillas for more information to claim your Euro Million Prize.

You are to present these Coupon Numbers: EU/3544-2100-10SP for identification along with your Name, Age, Sex, Occupation, address and phone number.

Mr. Phillip Sillas,
(Public Information Officer)
Central Promotion Dept.
No. I don't believe this for a second. This is either an identity theft scheme or an advance fee fraud or both. Tipoffs include...
  • No branding of any sort on the email. While corporate logos and such don't guarantee legitimacy, lack of them is a pretty solid indicator of a scam. If there were really a half-million Euro prize, someone would have to be bankrolling it, and they wouldn't do it without recognition.
  • No web link. A link is no guarantee of legitimacy either, but at least it would be something that could be investigated. Practically every modern company with an email address also has a web page, so this is super suspicious.
  • The email addresses of the contacts are all generic services. An outfit with a half-million Euros to spend on a contest can afford its own domain name and use it in its correspondence. The source address of the email doesn't even match the contact addresses in any way.
  • Shoddy spelling and grammar. You'd think scammers would have learned to use spell-check by now.
So, this is obviously a fraud of some sort. It will get no response from me (except weblog ridicule).

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Tortellini Pulpo

Okay, I'm mixing terms from different languages that may not go together, but they're the labels on the ingredients, so we'll just deal with them.

Dinner in a bowl
This is my second go at making a dish with Vigo brand Spanish octopus ("pulpo" in the Spanish portion of the label). The ingredients here are pretty simple.
  • 1 can of Vigo Spanish octopus
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes with Italian herbs
  • one quarter of a yellow onion, diced
  • about a tablespoon of olive oil
  • about a teaspoon of minced garlic
  • extra basil, salt, and pepper to taste

I started by sauteeing the onions in garlic in olive oil over medium heat. When the onion was translucent, I added the octopus, salt, and basil for a quick saute. Next, the tomatoes and tortellini went into the pan, which I covered to allow the (frozen) tortellini to thoroughly defrost and heat up.

Canned octopusWhat goes inSaute onions and garlic
Open tomatoes, octopus, and tortelliniSaute octopus
Add tomatos and tortellini

Monday, January 18, 2010

Custom Hand Phaser

It's interesting, but I don't think I'd want anyone to point it at me. In the construction tutorial, the maker explains that getting shot in the eye with the beam or a reflection would be bad.

Heck, if you can pop balloons with it, I don't even think I want that dot on my skin, let alone my eye.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Debating Creationists

Ever wonder why scientists are reluctant to debate creationists?

That's a pretty good representation. I don't think the creationist playbook has changed in my lifetime.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Zero Emissions?

I don't really want to knock Nissan for trying to develop an efficient, low-pollution vehicle, but I think their advertising campaign is overstating things just a little bit. I copied the image to the right and the following claim from their FaceBook fan page for the LEAF:
Nissan LEAF is our first zero-emissions electric car. Don't confuse it with a hybrid or any other type of gas-powered, eco-friendly vehicle. This is electric - 100%. That means it burns zero gas and produces zero emissions. But this is no golf-cart. Off the line, Nissan LEAF performs like a V6. Plus, there's room for five, and it comes with all the quality, reliability and versatility you've come to expect from Nissan cars.

- Zero tailpipe emissions
- 100% electric -- no gas required
- Competitively priced
- Speeds up to 90 mph
- 5 passengers, 5 doors
- Advanced airbags, premium audio, Nissan navigation system, and more
I emphasized the claims that really interest me here. While the statements are technically true, they're also misleading. The LEAF, as stated, is a fully electric automobile. While that means that it doesn't burn gasoline or diesel fuel, it doesn't mean that operating the car results in no pollution. Apart from the manufacturing process (which may or may not be less polluting than building a gas automobile, I really don't know), this car could easily have a larger "carbon footprint" than a gas-powered car.

The reason, of course, is that you have to recharge the LEAF's battery, and the car's true "emission" level is going to depend on what kind of power source you use to charge it. If you happen to be getting your electricity from a solar, wind, or hydroelectric generator, then the LEAF really does have essentially zero emissions. On the other hand, if your electricity comes from a coal-fired power plant, then operating the LEAF will probably be at least as polluting as an efficient gas automobile.

I'm actually a big fan of this kind of technology, but I'm not a fan of tricky advertising. Electric cars have great potential for reducing pollution, but the power infrastructure has to support that effort. I happen to also be a big fan of nuclear energy, so I don't think it would be that hard to change the grid to support a less polluting vehicle "fleet" in the US. Of course, electric vehicles can also reduce America's need for imported oil, which is another good argument for them. I just wish the claims in Nissan's advertising were a little less grandiose. Not that they're alone in such statements; I've heard similar claims about the hydrogen fuel cell technology that's in development (from the mouth of George W. Bush, no less), and they have exactly the same issues.